We all want to be more present, but what does that really mean? Like most things experiential, it’s easier to talk about what it isn’t, and go from there. As humans, we spend most of our time time-traveling – projecting our thoughts either into the past or the future, when both are basically imaginary. Yet, it is also folly to completely disregard the past and future. The only point in time you are actually living is right now, but to do it meaningfully, we must have the context of our total existence.
Being present isn’t over controlling or under controlling the flow of life. Being present requires a balanced use of free will (masculine energy, 3rd chakra), and trusting some kind of greater order. The two most common ways to avoid true presence are 1) projecting into the past or future due to an excessive need for control, and 2) completely ignoring the past and future due to an aversion to taking control of our lives. Both options are an attempt to avoid pain, either by over-controlling or under-controlling, but both cause greater suffering in the long run.
Over-controlling is excessive use of free will. It shows an unhealthy level of attachment to the circumstances, people, or situations of our existence, either past or future. It may stem from the weight of responsibility, or a sense of having to prove oneself, or an overreaction to victim mentality. These folks think it’s all down to them, either all the past regrets or all the future progress, and they tend to believe “life is my creation.” An overactive and fragmented ego. This tendency to over-control needs to be tempered with Trust… Trust that life has a rhythm and a reason, and this force is active in all we do.
Under-controling is a lack of applied free will. It shows a basic unwillingness to show up for life, and take an active roll in co-creating existence. It may stem from a deep feeling of powerlessness or unworthiness, or an imbedded victim mentality. These folks just want to watch life, rather than participate. They avoid choices (like voting), and they numb out at every opportunity (like addictions), and it is all justified by saying “everything happens the way it is supposed to anyway.” An under-active ego glorifying animal consciousness. This tendency to under-control needs to be tempered with empowerment… the basic knowing that each choice matters, and life is always responding to your input.
Life is always a co-creation. Free will matters – take action. Divine Will matters – trust the flow of life. Learn from the past, plan for the future, but live right now. Think of driving a car… you don’t stare in the rearview mirror or at the GPS, but neither do you ignore them. You glance at them, but spend the majority of your time looking at your immediate area. Same thing. Don’t dwell on the past or future, but glance at them to be sure you are incorporating past lessons, and taking actions to keep moving toward your chosen future.
Once you are used to it, it’s just habit to glance forward and back before making a choice. Just like looking before switching lanes. Before each choice, I quickly ask myself, “Have I seen something like this before? Will this action keep me moving toward my goal?” Yes, before every choice. Awareness is everything. Mistakes still happen, and I add them to my learning experiences. I’m sure it isn’t a perfect system, but it frees me to live in the present, within the full context of my life.