One way to think about being ‘in the moment’ or ‘being here now’

Right now, I’m plowing my way through the 500 or so pages of The Yoga of the 18 Siddhas: An Anthology. (We saw images of them in at least one of the temples we visited on our Namarupa Yatra nearly a year ago.) These Southern Indian sages are a less known lineage and branch of study. We’re all more familiar with Northern Indian Tantric “counterparts.”

Be here now…

A lot of it, to my surprise, is very proscriptive: Do this, and this, plus this to reach Samadhi or Siva-Consciousness. (The Siddhas are from the Saiva tradition, so the metaphors are of Kundalini and snakes and the nectar of immortality.) Here’s an example, from Bogar:

Directing the vital breath in the sitting posture will stop ageing;

Converting the physical body to ten million suns

Which will exist for three aeons time

Driving away desires and achieving contentment.

Other verses are more — to use one of our favorite words — esoteric. And the language itself, Tamil, is referred to as “twilight language”: Its meaning is obscure to begin with (the perfect language for poetry, then).

Verses like the above get to the heart of one notion of samadhi: eternal life. But it comes through that there is an opposite way of thinking about eternity, not just the grand expanse of time and space and existence. There also is making the present moment last. “Be here now,” as one noted contemporary sage has written.

This is, of course, one core idea to meditation. As I’ve been reading through these poems, a way of thinking about it — new to me, at least — bubbled up. It sort of involves math, so I apologize in advance for that.

You have to imagine two objects and the distance between them. (Back in high school, where I think I first was introduced to this idea, it was a boy and girl across the classroom.) You then have one object move half the distance toward the other. Then the other moves half the remaining distance closer. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

And even if you repeat it infinitely, or forever, the two object never will touch. Some distance — half of what just was — remains.

It occurred to me one night that being here now could be discovered or explored in a similar way. If one could focus first on this moment, and then try to divide it in half and focus on one side, and then divide that in half and focus on one side, and continue to do so, one would remain forever in the here and now, never getting out of this one particular moment.

This is something that our go-to Sage at this blog wrote, in Auguries of Innocence:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour

In this case, we think, he wasn’t being ironic.

Posted by Steve


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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

One thought on “One way to think about being ‘in the moment’ or ‘being here now’”

  1. We search and struggle through practice to become present. I often tell people the greatest gift my daughter and her illness has given me is a focused presence. It’s not that i’m always able to use this moment to the fullest of my ability. Being present hasn’t stopped me from being lazy or eating too much or practicing asana erraticuly. What illness and anticipatory grief (the knowledge of impending death due to my daughter’s life threatening illness) has done for me has given me a type of presence that has released resentment, past grudges, basically the past. It also has released me from planning for the future, as anything to do with the future might not include my daughter and our family as a whole. I’m completely focused on the moment by moment, sitting within myself. It’s been 8 years i’ve mostly been in my house caring for our daughter. I’ve never been in this situation ever in my life but it feels right. Even before my asana practice meditation was my practice and mantra was perfromed from my religion so once i discovered sanskrit chanting etc it was an easy transition. But presence anchored by the immediate treatment and care of a disease which is happening in the moment has become my practice my focus. You can make your day your practice of presence, your job, looking after your kids etc and it releases tons of stress out of your life because you let go of expectations, ego related pursuits (looking after a sick 8 year old girl is no match for an investment banker or race car driver) you just let it all go and sit in the meditation of what you are doing at the moment. You step out of the Starbucks lululemon consumer illusion of life and just be in the moment helping someone breath, eat, turn, play, learn, and basically live no time to think of yourself. Some would say you need time for yourself you need to look after yourself. I sometimes think that my past pursuits of looking after myself was getting me nowhere and once i just let go of the career and minimized all the material stuff to a level where there wasn’t much to care for and just focused on others i became more present. Everything really is mind made, an illusion. In the end you ask yourself are you happy. Is the practice making you happy and are you able to reach that point of stillness in yourself that you can carry with you throughout the day and in any situation?

    Here’s a parable that kind of blew my mind and opened up to me how we get caught up in so much stuff that we forget what we are actually doing:

    “The concept of the relativity of time appears occasionally in ancient tests such as The Yoga Vasistha. A story is told there of the god Vishnu walking and enjoying the beauty of the earth with his students, Narada, who is a wise and advanced student. Narada is in such joy walking with his teacher and wants to understand why people suffer in illusion. He asks Vishnu to please explain the power that time, delusion, and illusion hold over people. Vishnu says it is much too complicated for such a beautiful day and he sits down on a log on a mountain ridge. Their canteens are empty so he asks Narada to please find them some water.

    Narada leaves and has to hike a long way before he finds a river. As he is filling the canteens, he sees on the other bank a beautiful young maiden bathing naked in the river. He is entranced by her full breasts, long hair, shapely legs as he watches her bathe. After she dresses he crosses the river and introduces himself. They are both quite taken with each other and Narada decides to stay awhile. After some days they fall completely in love, and he asks her father for her hand in marriage. They are wed, and have two beautiful children. One day a huge storm arrives, bringing incessant rains. The river swells and starts to wash away the village with his wife and sons. Narada, in great fear and panic, desperately tries to rescue his family from the rising torrents, but they drown in front of his eyes. He struggles to the banks of the river, barely saving himself, and sits on the shore wailing. It is Visnhu, who says, “Narada, where have you been? It has been two hours since I asked you to fetch us some water!” Narada comes to his senses, looks around, and sees there is no village, no flood. He realizes he has dreamed or experienced a lifetime in a few minutes. Vishnu winks at him with a look that reminds Narada he had asked to see the power of mind and illusion.” ~ Excerpt from Yoga Beyond Belief by Ganga White

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