June 2005 – Being Present

Being Present

Live in the present moment, most people when they think of this relate to noticing the flowers or the bunny hopping past. That is part of living in the present moment, even though that may not be simple; it is the softer easier way to apply that to your life. There is a much deeper meaning, to truly be present requires that we not drag our (or someone else’s) past into the present moment. There are no resentments in the present moment; in the present moment no one has done anything to hurt you. This does not mean you need repeat a past action with someone that betrayed you, it means when you deal with this person that past action does not exist. For example, say you decided to let a friend who was having some bad times live in your house for awhile, and during this time they took advantage of you. When you see this friend again you love them as if that did not happen, however it does not mean you let them move into your house again. Being present makes forgiveness much easier. You learn from the past, not reside there! (Also, in the present there are no prejudices, because no one has done anything for you to be prejudice against.)

Worry focuses on the future; it is a fear of a future event. If we stay present we take positive steps toward warding off the effects of fear. Most of our fears will never come to pass, and if they do, foreknowledge probably won’t make us any better prepared. As we grow in our self esteem and self confidence we do not need to worry about what action to take, we will know the right action to take at the right time.

The best gift you can give someone (especially a child) is to be present with them. Sometimes we are preoccupied with thoughts in our head; these thoughts keep us from being present. Listening requires being present too. When listening we do not always need to respond. Do you catch yourself being so wrapped up in what you want to say that you are not listening to what someone is saying to you? There are many times we respond when it is not necessary; if our response is ego based, meaning we want to make our “statement”, it can be a layer or veil over being entirely present.
Click here to view The Work of Attention

Another aspect of being present; each day when you step up to the top of your mat, you do not know what you can and can not do that day! What you can and could not do yesterday does not exist in this moment (that is history). So each time you start the Sun Salutes you do not know if you can hop up or hop back, you come and you try EACH time. This also applies to many other areas of your life! Don’t limit yourself by “knowing” what you can and can not do! When you live in the present you are open to “miracles”.

Being Present requires that you get out of your head! You can’t think about presence, and the mind can not understand it, understanding presence is BEING PRESENT.
Incessant mental noise prevents us from finding the inner stillness that is BEING.

The Work of Attention

1. Having looked at some of the things that love is not, let us now examine some that is. It was mentioned in the introduction to this section that the definition of love implied effort. When we extend ourselves, when we take an extra step or walk an extra mile, we do so in opposition of the inertia of laziness or the resistance of fear. Extension of ourselves or moving out against the inertia of laziness we call work. Moving out in the face of fear we call courage. Love, then, is a form of work, or a form of courage. Specifically, it is wok or courage directed toward the nurture of our own or another’s spiritual growth.
2. Love is always either work or courage. If an act is not one of work or courage, then it is not an act of love. There are no exceptions.
3. The principal form that the work of love takes is attention. When we love another we give him or her our attention; we attend to the person’s growth.
4. The act of attending requires that we make the effort to set aside our existing preoccupations.
5. By far the most common and important way in which we can exercise our attention is by listening.
6. Listening well is an exercise of attention and by necessity hard work. It is because they do not realize this or because they are not willing to do the work that most people do not listen.
7. Love as we shall see again and again, is invariably a two way street, a reciprocal phenomenon whereby the receiver also gives and the giver also receives.
8. You can not truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time. If a parent wants to truly listen to a child, the parent must put aside everything else.
9. The effort required for total concentration on the words of a six year old child is considerably greater than that required for listening to a great lecturer.
10. In other words, it is dull to listen to a six year old, which makes it doubly difficult to keep concentration focused. Consequently truly listening to a child of this age is a real labor of love.
11. If you give your child the same esteem you can give a great lecturer, then a child will know him or herself to be valued and therefore will feel valuable. There is no better and ultimately no other way to teach your children that they are valuable people than by valuing them.
12. The more children feel valuable, the more they will begin to say things of value. They will rise to your expectation of them.
13. The more you listen to your child, the more you will realize that in amongst the pauses, the stuttering, the seemingly innocent chatter, your child does indeed have valuable things to say.
14. The more you know about your child, the more you will be able to teach.
15. The more children know that you value them, that you consider them extraordinary people, the more willing they will be to listen to you and afford you the same esteem. And the more appropriate your teaching, based on your knowledge of them, the more eager your children will be to learn from you.
16. If the reader senses the cyclical character of this process, he or she is quite correct and is appreciating the truth of the reciprocity of love. Instead of a vicious downward cycle, it is a creative upward cycle of evolution and growth. Value creates value. Love begets love.

M. Scott Peck, M.D., The Road Less Traveled
(New York Simon & Shuster. 1978)

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