A Coaching Power Tool created by Joanna Denise Ycasiano-Dejos
(Authentic Life Coaching, PHILIPPINES)
Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be. Wayne W. Dyer
Your only opportunity for being is now. Make peace with the present moment. The present moment is the field on which the game of life happens. Eckhart Tolle
Instead of wanting this moment to be different from the way it is, which adds more pain to the pain that is already there, is it possible for you to completely accept that this is what you feel right now? Eckhart Tolle
Last year, my father turned 65 years old. The family had a grand celebration, taking a trip all together to Hong Kong, China. At his birthday dinner, one of the kids asked him, “What do you think is the most important learning you’ve gained in your 65 years of existence?”
My father paused, smiled, and said, “That all of us would be so much happier if we accepted life for what it is, rather than demanding of it as we think it should be.”
You discover that there is only ever this moment. Life is always now. Your entire life unfolds in this constant Now.
To live in the IS of the moment is simply to be 100% present and 100% alert in each moment in life as it happens.
When we live in the Now, as Eckhart Tolle calls it, we are able to accept each occurrence, each situation as it is, without any judgments, biases, or preconceived notions. We do not label what happens as good or bad; events are not personalized. We look at the facts, take them in, become alert to what is happening both externally and internally to us, and respond with a fullness of presence to what is happening at that very moment; and not based on past memories or future concerns.
There are many great individuals who may serve as example and inspiration for us in choosing to live in the IS, in the Now. Two such people are:
- Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, a Holocaust survivor, who eventually wrote the world-famous book titled Trotzdem Ja Zum Leben Sagen: Ein Psychologe Erlebt das Konzentrationslager (translated: "...Saying Yes to Life in Spite of Everything: A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp"), known in English by the title Man’s Search for Meaning. The philosophy of his writings pointed to the thinking that even in the most absurd, painful and dehumanized situation, life has potential meaning and that therefore even suffering is meaningful. Frankl is proof positive that despite the horrors around, one can still find meaning and peace through an acceptance of what IS.
- Stephen Hawking is a British theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author, who also happens to have a motor neuron disease that has progressively paralyzed him and made him only able to communicate via a speech-generating device. In 1963, when he was 21 years old, he was given 2 years to live. 50 years later, he is now 71 years old, has gotten married twice, has had 3 children, has been multi-awarded for his scientific achievements, has written several best-selling science books, has been dubbed by Newsweek as “The Master of the Universe”, has had movies and shows written about him, has had buildings named after him… the list goes on. Simply because he chose to live in the moment, not allowing fears of the future to stall him. He has been quoted as describing himself as ““a scientist first, popular science writer second, and, in all the ways that matter, a normal human being with the same desires, drives, dreams, and ambitions as the next person.”
Almost every thought you think is then concerned with past or future, and your sense of self depends on the past for your identity and on the future for its fulfillment.
To live under the shadow of Should is never actually to live Life as it happens.
An individual who lives with “shoulds” is someone who has an endless preoccupation with past and future. Each event, each action they encounter is viewed through a lens of bias, individuals trapped within their own made up stories of being victim, being sad, being poor… The primary cause of their unhappiness is not really what is happening; rather it is their interpretation, their thoughts about it: that “this shouldn’t be happening to me!” or “He should treat me better.” Or “I should get promoted after all the hard work I put in!”
When you live in the shadow of Should, Tolle speaks of how you will see the present moment in three possible ways:
- As a means to an end – the present moment is merely the road you must take to get you to your future state, your vision your goal.
- As an obstacle – “I need to finish this project tonight, so I can submit it by tomorrow” or “Let’s just get through this, then we can go back to normal tomorrow” or “How can I be better?” The present is seen as a series of challenges that one needs to hurdle, in order to move forward.
- As an enemy – individuals who hate where they are at right now – those who complain, wish they were living a “better life”, are envious of other people.
Moving from “Should” to “Is”
So to live a life of “should” is really to be stuck – stuck either in the past, where our emotional/psychological traumas and wounds lie, or stuck in the future, hoping for a better life.
When we live this way, we are never truly IN the moment, never truly maximizing nor appreciating the fullness of life as it actually happens.
Life is far simpler than many of us make it to be. No matter what religion you turn to:
- Whether it’s Catholicism (Jesus Christ who tells us to be more like the birds in the sky, who worry not where they will get their next meal)…
- …or Buddhism (who believe in “tathata” or the “suchness” of life - showing their appreciation of the true nature of reality in any given moment. To them, the answer to the question: “What is reality?” is very simple: “Whatever IS.”)
- …or gurus you use to guide your way (Tolle, who speaks about the Power of Now and J. Krishnamurti who simply tells his followers, “I don’t mind what happens.”)
It seems the secret is truly in accepting each moment as it comes and realizing we are nobody’s victim; we have a choice in how we respond to each situation, to every person. We can choose to create our personal hells or be forever in a state of true peace.
4. Does this mean we condone the bad, the evil in life?
Absolutely not. To live in IS, to live in the Now is not to say we will simply put up our hands and let the bad win. It is simply saying, I know there is evil happening at this moment; but I choose not to let that evil affect me.
Let’s say you are feeling large amounts of anxiety about not being able to earn enough money to provide for your family. Does being in the Now mean you just wait for money to come? Not necessarily.
The very first step to living in the Now is to fully embrace what is happening, including the emotions and thoughts that are happening within you at that point in time. To live in IS, you need to acknowledge what you are going through. This acknowledgment frees you from becoming your thoughts and becoming your emotions. It allows you to separate yourself from these overwhelming entities and allows you the full presence to respond in the best way possible.
From acknowledgment, one can now ask oneself – Is there anything I can do in this situation? If there is, then act on it. Once you act on it, ask yourself – how am I now feeling? Am I at peace? Can I live with this? If the answers are yes, then accept and move forward. If the answer is no, then go through the process again – what can I do about it? Then act.
If you cannot do anything about the situation, then you have two choices – either leave the situation or accept. If you leave, then leave in peace, accepting that this is your choice. If you stay, accept. In all instances, acceptance of this true moment in time is the key to peace – no “but this should be”. Once we accept each moment simply for what it is, that is the end of our drama, that is the moment of enlightenment. We are at peace with ourselves, even if we may not necessarily agree with nor support what occurs around us.
How then can we help ourselves live in the Now, savor the IS of every moment?
- Create an awareness of our thoughts and emotions.
- Remember that we are not one with our emotions and thoughts. We can feel and think them, without allowing ourselves to be consumed by them.
- Watch for thoughts that appear to justify or explain negative emotions and thoughts, but in reality, actually cause these negative thoughts.
- Seek to let go of emotional baggage and traumas of the past. There is no need to continuously relive moments that are done.
- Take on a mentality of abundance. In everything – every moment, every object, every person – see an abundance of life. Once we see this abundance outside, we will learn how to recognize the abundance within ourselves also.
- Focus on the facts. Do not personalize events – most often, our interpretations of life’s moments are what cause such drama in our lives.
- Set aside moments in the day to be still, to quiet down and simply BE.