I previously wrote about a concept I called “time travel.” It was about being “in the now,” and in it I discussed Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now.
Personally, I prefer the words “being present” rather than “being in the now” because “being in the now” seems to only refer to the time variable, i.e. not being in the past or the future, whereas “being present” covers both time and space variable. What I mean by that is, being present doesn’t just mean being in the present day, but it also means being physically present, in the space your body is currently occupying. It’s not just about being in the now (time) but also about being in the here (physical space).
I believe Tolle means something similar in his concepts, but his choice of title for his book Power of Now I believe causes many people to focus unduly on the time aspect of being present and not the space aspect. Even though I haven’t read the actual book, I prefer the title of Ram Dass’s Be Here Now because it includes the word “here,” which is important. It’s not just about the “now” but about the “here” as well.
For example, say I am currently in the “now.” I’m not time traveling, and focusing on the past in the form of regrets. grudges, or nostalgia, or focusing on the future in the form of dreams, wishes, dreads, and fears. I am thinking of the present day. However, I am thinking about other spaces in the present day. I keep dreaming of another party going on right now that I’m convinced is better than the one I’m at now. I’m thinking about how my town sucks and how much better I would fit in in the big city like New York or Paris. I am dwelling on some mythical city or country I haven’t discovered yet that will be my paradise where all my dreams will come true, everyone will “get” me, and I will find utopia. Or I am always wondering what is happening right now in my hometown and I am constantly homesick for the place I came from. Or I am thinking of a place I dread and thinking about how horrible it is right now, for whatever reason.
What all these thoughts have in common is that they’re keeping me from fully experiencing the place I’m in now. In all these cases, I am technically in the present-day now, but I’m not in the present-space here. I am mentally picturing myself in places I either would rather be or dread being. I call this tendency “transporting,” after the machine in Star Trek that instantly brings you somewhere else in the blink of an eye. We use our minds to transport us elsewhere all the time, and sometimes the fantasies become more real to us than the world that’s physically surrounding us.
The same rules apply to transporting as to time travel. It’s okay to think about another space, just like it’s okay to think about another time, but you don’t want to dwell there. You always need to touch base in the present and convert whatever insight you gained into an immediate action. So in the case of transporting, what can you do now in your current environment to help you with your goal of getting to that other place? What enjoyable things are you missing out on in your present physical space as a result of fixating on this other space? And if you can’t make your way to that space soon, or ever, for whatever reason, you need to stop fixating on it and focus on immersing yourself in your current space and making the most out of it.
We’ll discuss both concepts more in the near future.
- Be Here Now by Ram Dass. I haven’t read it yet, unlike most books I recommend, but I’ve heard enough good things that I’m recommending it anyway. Anyone who has read it, feel free to give feedback in the comments.
- Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I’ve raved about this enough on this blog, so no need to restate how much I love this book.