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
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
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.
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.