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Being in the Present. Be Here Now.

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Question:

I wonder if you can give me a pointer for following the path. My understanding is that we should be in the here and now as much as we can yet as a teacher I have to be aware of what I’ve taught so I can plan what I will teach next… this means I’m often not in the here and now… (I teach French and German at secondary school…)

Answer:

“Be here, now.” There is a lot to this simple phrase that goes way beyond planning for the future and remembering the past. There are two concepts important to this idea; time and place.

Time:

I don’t think ‚Äúbeing in the present‚Äù means you cannot think about the future or past. We all have to make plans and have certain expectations about the future, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Even monks, or abbots at least, have to make some kinds of plans, otherwise they couldn’t manage a monastery or organize any kind of dharma teachings. Actually, NOT planning for the future can cause no end to suffering; the current global economic crisis is proof of enough of that.

It’s fine to consider and plan for the future, just don’t get too attached to your plans. When situations change, be flexible, and adapt. Don’t get caught up in the plans, and don’t spend time worrying about them. As a teacher, you create lesson plans, possibly for weeks in advance. You also know that no matter how carefully you plan, things are going to come up that will derail your plan. You have to accept that in advance and take the surprises as they come. Don’t worry about changes and problems; expect them and deal with them as they arrive. Worry is a terrible distraction, and it’s unhealthy as well.
Place:

Place:

Are you present? Is your mind here, or is your mind elsewhere?

Whatever you are doing, be present and aware of it while you do the task. It’s more about your concentration than anything else. Being present means that you are focused on what you are doing. In your case, let’s say you are working on a lesson plan for next week. You’re thinking about next week, and that’s fine, you have to do that as part of the task. If, however, you are also thinking about the latest episode of American Idol, or what color to paint the house, or what you’re having for dinner, that’s not good. Your task at hand is making that lesson plan, and all the other ‚Äústuff‚Äù is a distraction.

Whatever you are doing in the present (time), be fully present (location), “Be here, Now.”

Basically it concerns focusing on the task at hand, thinking clearly and on one thing at a time without distracting thoughts. If you have twenty items that you are mentally dealing with at one time, you cannot be fully present. Clear your mind and whatever you do, pay attention to that and lose the distractions. Meditation is a big aid in mastering this, as you quickly learn to put aside distractions.

This idea also involves moving from moment to moment, taking each moment for what it is, not letting the past or future influence you in any way. This is another form of non-attachment.

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