Opening Our Eyes to the Present
A focus on the ‘now’ can bring peace at all seasons
I have found that the more I slow down and become present, the more productive I am. I achieve goals and keep resolutions.
For 12 years, I have been studying and practicing yoga and meditation and exploring the philosophy of mind/body unity. I have discovered that there is real value in simple being — not merely existing, but being in the world in conscious ways.
For Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the question was “To be or not to be?” The desperately miserable prince contemplates quite literally whether to live or not to live. For us, the question can be whether to live or to live more fully.
Doing so requires persistence, but the benefits are absolutely worth the effort. Being present means separating oneself from regrets and desires.
The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu championed a natural existence free from social conventions.
“If you are depressed, you are living in the past,” he wrote. “If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”
Easier said than done? Of course. Can we hope to remove ourselves from conventions, traditions and expectations, especially during the holiday season? Hardly. But, to the extent possible, we can endeavor not to be controlled by them.
Like most everyone, I cherish most my childhood holiday memories. The extended family would gather at Grammy’s house on Christmas Eve, and 16 cousins would go from door to door singing carols. What has happened to caroling? I would love to bring that tradition back!
My two sisters and I slept in the same bed and tickled one another, so filled with anticipation that we were unable to get to sleep. On Christmas Day, we would spend time in my grandparents’ living room where the fireplace roared and my grandmother served us scrumptious fudge until we had our fill.
Life was simpler then, truly. Still, we should endeavor amidst the hustle and bustle of the holidays to slow down enough so that we don’t miss or fail to appreciate the most important parts.
I hope each of you finds peace today and throughout 2022. The now is all we are ever promised. We can’t get back yesterday, and tomorrow is never guaranteed.
But the present is a great present. Immerse yourself in it.
McKenzie Burleigh, Associate Publisher