Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Power of NOW

I thought this email that I just wrote to my sister summed up a bit of what I gleaned from my recent meditation course. I'd like to share it with you all here.

From: Ratna Gill <ratna113@gmail.com>
To: Priya Gill <priyag98@gmail.com>
Subject: Dear Priya

The topic of today's message is worry. The prevention is simple -- live in the present.

The only thing that exists for me is this moment. I am writing to my sister on my laptop. The fan is on. The bed is made. There is a glass of water at my side. Even these small details are pretty much unnecessary -- I am writing to my sister on my laptop.

Suddenly, a thought comes to my mind -- "I have to book my return flight to the US!"

It is important to remember: I am writing to my sister on my laptop. This is what I am doing now, and the other things I need to do will get done later. Fretting and fearing about planning and performing prevents us from living in this moment, and this moment is all we have for certain, all we can rely on.

Goenka ji, the Vipassana guru, says, "Whether or not you believe in past lives, at least believe in the present one!" Similarly, if you are not enjoying the present now, how can you expect to enjoy your present in the future?

For example, you worry about track practice today. While you are running at track, you will be worrying about practicing piano. While you are practicing piano, you will be fretting about a volleyball tournament. What's the point? If we are always worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, we effectively have no present!

I experienced this firsthand at my meditation course. I would be agitated and restless before a group sitting, and would predict that my mind would run away while meditating for the hour -- but it would turn out that I would have a perfectly placid experience. Likewise, I would be feeling very "zen" before a session and then end up fidgeting a ton or falling asleep when the session actually started. We really can't determine how things are going to go, so why live in fear of them?

Don't judge yourself. We hate it when people generalize about us, but a lot of times, worry is anxiety about our own ability to handle situations in the future -- we are limiting our own competence. You have to have a certain amount of faith in yourself and the strengths you already have that will arise to aid you in handling this future situation, and all future situations, appropriately and gracefully.

I have a principle. While practicing meditation at home, of course my mind runs all over the place, reminding me of things I have to do. It is tempting to use the daily hour as a time to mentally plan and organize. But if I do that, I'm not really meditating, am I? So I promise to bring myself back to my mind, my breath, my body. I suppose this can be applied to other activities as well. You're not giving your best to now if you're worrying about then.

So have a great night, sis, enjoy every minute of school tomorrow, and all the best for track practice -- you will be -- no -- you are great.

1 comment:

  1. i love ur write up on: "the power of now" helps me thru the day!