Well it’s a hard question to answer.
Essentially a moment comes in three parts – a beginning, middle and an end. If you want to stay in the moment you need to stay in the middle, which can be as long as you want it to be. The beginning and the end are all about what you need to do to come into and out of the present. In realty there is no beginning or end… that is why it is sometimes called the Eternal NOW.
Sorry it’s confusing….
It gets even more confusing when you realise that a moment cannot be measured, and even though we say things like, ‘just give me a moment’, it has nothing to do with time as we know it. However, even though we can’t measure it we can experience it. The key is to try to remember being in the moment and that’s hard because we are constantly forgetting. One of best ways is of course to practice yoga. If you don’t its often a good idea to learn to stop and experience. Tell yourself to, ‘BE HERE NOW’ as often as you can, for example as you start something new, walking and sitting, watching the television. Take part in what’s happening, fully. It’s a simple as that….
In Island, Aldous Huxley’s last novel (1961) he creates a utopia Island called Palla based on deep yogic principles. The inhabitants are reminded to stay present because the Mynah birds on the Island have all been trained to constantly repeat, ‘its all about the here & now boys…’
As one of the Island’s heroes says,
“Well… …That’s what you always forget, isn’t it? I mean, you forget to pay attention to what’s happening. And that’s the same as not being here and now.
I like the expression, ‘Here and Now’ because it describes an action, an event and a place. That’s the architect in me. The cover of Ram Dass’s book, ‘Be Here, Now’ (1971) features a single chair covered in interconnecting lines in a circle of words, Remember- Be Here Now, in a sort of stylised yogic mandela. The chair is a dead giveaway. It defines an action (remember) or an event, i.e. sitting, (now) and a place in space i.e. the chair (here).
I use it a lot in my architecture and place making work. In fact I feel when I give a talk about place making I am actually talking about yoga. It’s all the same to me. As soon as we learn to be Here & Now, we begin to notice things. We begin to experience ourselves in motion, in flow…. it’s learning, instructing experience which helps us evolve. Huxley goes onto say in Island,
“The more a man knows about himself in relation to every kind of experience, the greater his chance of suddenly, one fine morning, realising who in fact he is…”
And that’s every experience, any experience – not just the 90 minutes we share in our yoga class. In fact its yoga practice at its most highest and fundamental level. The very art of skilful living or in other words the experience of a life lived…. Serious stuff but the essential goal of all yoga.
Yogastah kuru karmani, is the thing. It translates as, ‘established in Being perform Action’. Being of course, is you as a, conscious mindful entity. Action the stuff that you do in the flow. Both are constant of course. The universe determines action and we can never ever stop being in motion. Even when we are still, we are in action. Joining, ‘being ‘and ‘doing’ together is yoga. So here is a little exercise to do, which is from my list of, ‘The Yoga of Just about Everything’.
The Yoga of Walking.
When walking down street look up. Don’t stare down. The verb looking is important here and is different from seeing. Looking is a practice intended action. Seeing is also an action but it’s a bit more passive. So learn to look. Engage, with your surroundings, consciously and actively, so that you are here right in their moment inhabiting your body, your space, and your moment. By looking, you can set yourself towards a point of view by which will orientate you both physically and consciously.
So how do we consciously combine doing and being? One way of doing this yoga of walking is to use a simple technique called SET. It will help you remember.
S = Space
Most of us don’t pay attention to what is around us. We are far too wrapped in the ‘fake’ reality our mind is constructing for us. Look up and be aware, feel the street around you, the edges and boundary of the spaces, its colours, sounds and moments. Don’t judge just observe and take it all in. Notice the light, the colours, the sounds the whole vibrancy of what’s around your whether you are in the centre of a city, field, forest, beach etc…
E = Event
Then add to your space perception an awareness of what you are doing. Are you walking, sitting, standing, waiting, or looking or a mixture of either? Again don’t judge. Don’t think this is good, this too noisy, etc just be aware of what you are doing in that space.
T = Time
Then finally add the time. Not so much the time of day but the time of Now. Stay at absolutely present and know that the feeling and awareness of the present is a subject of experiencing without judgment the space and event
So while walking look ahead keep your view on or above up above the horizon line. Don’t stare down at the pavement. This will you will noticeably feel more open, less anxious about yourself and your surroundings. You will feel more open, more engaged with the world and what your doing in it at that moment. Then look as far further as you can as far the street you’re in allows you toll look. Lit might be a building at the end of the street, a sign, some trees or perhaps the open sky. Engage with the distant pointy for as long as you can without losing concentration as you move down the street. Just be aware of that distant point. When another distant point comes into view then focus on that…. why do we do it? Well it’s a way of positioning ourselves in space, in a place in a moment.
You can use SET as a way of Engage with space, the event the moment, which will bring right into the still point where we know happiness lives. Imagine that, being able to find happiness while walking along Deansgate?