The title of this post is a tip of the hat to Ram Dass’ 1971 clasic about meditation titled Be Here Now.
His book is still marvelous after all these years, and still brings me up short.
You would think that being right here, right now would be the easiest thing in the world, a real no-brainer. And yet I catch myself spending crazy amounts of time fretting over what I didn’t get done yesterday, the awful thing I said to someone, the lack of follow-through on some project, and the endless list of future “shoulds” I carry around on my shoulders like the pads under a football jersey. I’ll bet you never do that.
So how do I help myself be here now?
Meditation does it for me every time. It brings me right into the present moment, which, let’s face it, is the only moment we ever truly have. All that time I spend fussing about the past or worrying about the future keeps me from being in the life I actually have, which always appears here and now.
A lot of people have some misunderstanding about meditation, thinking it’s for those high-falutin’ scholarly types, or at least those who are gifted at sitting still. This is why I love teaching meditation: it’s really remarkably simple, and chances are you engage in it in some form without even realizing it.
At it’s most basic, meditation is simply being in the present moment. And most of us have experienced it in something author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi famously calls flow: ” characterized by complete absorption in what one does,” according to Wikipedia. Whether it’s chopping veggies, flying a kite, playing a musical instrument, making love, or figuring out a complicated mathematical sentence, if you get into a state where you lose track of time and feel totally immersed in your “here and now,” you are in a meditative state.
Isn’t that cool? You already do it! Runners do it; cake decorators do it; dog washers and poets and hunters and knitters do it: we’ve all done it at some time or other, and it feels GREAT!
The remarkable thing about this magical state is different things work for different people. Chopping vegetables is unbelievably boring to many people: I love it and get into a rhythm and flow. I can’t play a musical instrument to save my soul, but the musicians I know report exactly this feeling of oneness and wonder when they are immersed in playing. Everyone I know who loves to fix things, whether cars, computers, or constitutional rights, loses track of time and forgets to come in to dinner.
Practicing meditation helps us feel that sense of timelessness and flow in more parts of our lives. We can learn to feel present even when we’re doing something that isn’t particularly enthralling. And in the process, we take custody of our lives, rather than feeling battered around by circumstances.
The easiest form of meditation: take a deep breath and notice exactly where you are. You can do this anywhere, anytime. And most people I work with are amazed at how much richer their lives become simply by making a habit of this.
One 92 year old said yesterday, “I’ve lived a pretty interesting life, but I also missed a lot of it by ‘being somewhere else.’ This feels exhilarating!”
Recently an 11 year old said, “Wow, I thought the only way I could shut up those adult voices in my head telling me what to do was to play video games. It’s really cool that I can be my own best company.”
Of course, meditation can blossom from there, with many different forms and applications. I often teach what I call a sampler, which is a series of short meditations in different styles, so folks can find out what they like and what makes an impact on their particular lives. For those who are restless, there are moving meditations. There are meditations for people who want to take better care of their bodies. Eating meditations, singing meditations, visualizations, chanting. The possibilities are endless.
Get yourself a book, sign up for a class, or contact me: I love teaching meditation, and it helps keep me in the present moment, too.