I have issues with the present. I don’t quite see eye to eye with it. Yet when I’m on my mat, I can have a fairly civilised conversation with it and we get on quite well. Usually I keep my mind busy with planning, list writing and thinking about the future. So, my practice is a way to re-connect to the here and now.
Sometimes it seems easier to live in the past or the future. Maybe you dwell in years gone by because you enjoyed them or they hold regrets you can’t forgive yourself for. Or maybe you long for the future and a time when your life will be perfect. Yet all the while the present moment is emerging from that past and evaporating into the future. For this is all we really know, this is our reality. The past has become archived now, filed away at the back of our minds. How much of it accurately? All the while the future calls so sweetly, ‘think of me.’ It tempts us with promises of a future life in which we have everything we have hoped for – home, job, partner, travel – yet it offers no guarantees, and cannot give us what we seek unless we do something now, in the present, to help make that future we so long for, happen.
I am in love with the future, constantly striving towards another goal. Always thinking if I can just get to a certain point then I will be happy, and all the while not recognising what I have in the present moment.
‘Yoga is the ability to direct and focus mental activity. With the attainment of focused mind, the inner being establishes itself in all its reality. Otherwise, we identify with the activities of the mind.’ (The Essence of Yoga by Bernard Bouanchaud, pages 5-7)
It is these activities that distract us from where we should be, in the present moment. I was once told that you could tell a lot about a person by how they practise Virabhadrasan 2, otherwise known as warrior pose. If they lean forward, taking their weight more onto the front foot, they tend to live in the future, but if they lean back onto their back foot, they focus more on the past. The aim is to be equally balanced on both feet and thereby completely centred in the present.
So, a little (optional) homework for you – next time you practise Virabhadrasana 2, let me know where you are and if it’s in the here and now.