The Beauty of Now

Recently, one of my clinicians, Dr. Frank Yurasek, was having a rather powerful discussion with me regarding living in the "Now" and how it relates to patient care. He quoted a wise author Eckhart Tolle, who wrote Realizing the Power of Now. Dr Yurasek quoted a passage from Tolle's book that I will paraphrase: Our frustrations derive from living in the past, our anxiety derives from living in the future, and thus the only place to be living is in the now. Seems easy, but as many can relate, many of us have a foot in yesterday and a foot in tomorrow, forgetting to stand in today.

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Clinically, I have found this to be very true with patients. Many cling to the life disruptions that have brought them into patient care, or the fears of what's to come as a result of current circumstances. I am learning it is sometimes equally hard to help a patient let go of the belief system that is keeping them sick, not just helping their bodies heal.

Through acupuncture, we have points to help ground, as I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. We have points and herbs to help the physical body heal, points to help create mental shifts, and so on. But, from my perception, these points work best in tandem with the patient; the patient has to be ready to let go of the disease or illness and ready to step into the present moment.

This doesn't mean that if the patient doesn't heal, they are preventing it. What I mean is the healthiest responses I've seen and been educated about are the ones where the patient let's go of attachment to the disease or illness and its possible outcomes, and becomes more attached to the richness of the present moment. I've watched patients experiencing chemotherapy truly living and enjoying life to the fullest. These patients are free from emotional pains of all they have already experienced and are not worried about what tomorrow brings. These patients never let cancer define them. They let themselves define their lives, not their circumstances. These patients constantly remind me how important the present moment is and to stop living for tomorrow or yesterday.

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I know for myself, I seem to have constant radar up doing my best to keep myself in the present moment. Often on my free time, my mind will instantly jump to a paper I need to write, or dishes that need to be done, or some other form of responsibility I am putting upon myself. But, what I realize and remind myself of in those moments is nothing is more important than what I am doing in the present moment. Those other responsibilities will still be there and will be accomplished at the appropriate time.

I think our minds use living in the past or future as a form of procrastination from living in the present moment. If we place ourselves into a different aspect of time, we don't have to experience what is in front of us in real time. The thing I have come to learn, though, is there is little that compares with being fully in the moment and experiencing all it holds. Sometimes it's blissful, and sometimes it's filled with heartache. But those feelings are all part of here and now, allowing us to choose who and how we desire to be in this exact moment of time. 

Rightfully so, I think we as students and our patients often have fears and worries driving us to be anywhere but in the present moment. As a result, many of us proceed on autopilot and miss out on so much of life's journey. We push through circumstances that are rough in an effort for tomorrow to be better. Or, we miss out on the momentary bliss because we are stuck in pains of the past. All of this is justifiable and can be a reasonable way to live; I think it is just a less fulfilling way of life when the present moment holds so many gifts and wonders. 

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Dr. Yurasek also shared with me a theory of living a purpose directed life versus an emotionally directed life. I think this is like a lock and key to bridging living in the present while knowing you're on a path for your future. Living a purpose directed life helps prevent the anxiety about the future, as it assures us that what we are doing in the present moment will support us tomorrow. I feel listening to our emotions in each moment as guideposts to direct us is key if what we are doing is on course with our purpose. But, being driven by emotions from the past and fears of the future will never lead us to the tomorrow were dreaming of, or most importantly, the fullness of today.

Years ago I saw the comic Family Circle and it said something to this effect--yesterday is called the past because it's gone, tomorrow is called the future because it's not here yet, today is called the present because it is a gift. This has always stuck with me and feels so true!

With the beautiful weather this month, I've been spending as much time as possible outdoors. The recent blooming of the flowers reminds me if we allow things to be in the present and let nature run its course, many times, beauty will result. We don't have to think about these flowers in December for them to blossom today, they just happen naturally in their perfect time.