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Tips for being here now

We have a wonderful tool called the intellect. It analyzes a problem or challenge using logic, current information and past experience. The intellect helps guide us in this physical world of physics, quantum physics, mechanics, technology, society and human interaction.

When we come across a problem or a threatening situation, the intellect usually checks our memory for a solution to a similar type of challenge, or it uses logic in an effort to figure the solution out. But every once in a while, we come across a challenge that we have trouble figuring out.

Scientists are famous for presenting problems that seemingly no one can solve, but then someone does. Often the answer is outside the box, and then the answer is called brilliant.

Brilliance is not rooted in the past. Thinking outside the box has nothing to do with the past. Genius is only in the now. We can gain wisdom from the past, but when old ideas and knowledge no longer serve us, we must release our past-based actions and thinking and be open to a new understanding.

If we continue to use past thinking, we are only reliving the past in the present. If that consciousness no longer serves us, we are simply living in recycled ignorance.

We gain wisdom from our experiences, and it can help guide us in our thinking and activities, but wisdom is not information or data. Information can be useful in our day-to-day decision-making and problem-solving. but too often it is actually a limitation; it forms the box.

We can use a number of techniques to set aside our past thinking and get outside of the box. Eckhart Tolle’s book “The Power of Now” is a comprehensive guide to getting into the now, and I have included a couple of my favorite techniques below:

Meditation. You don’t have to be an experienced meditator. The goal is to quiet the mind but not to stop thought. Try a simple walk in nature focusing on your footsteps, or sit upright in a comfortable chair and observe your breathing.

Observing. Simply observe what is in front of you in the room or what you see outside in a peaceful setting. Just notice what you see, nothing else.

Listening. Listen to a recorded mantra (spiritual affirmation) or say/sing the mantra yourself.

Counting. If you have Rosary beads or prayer beads, use them to focus your mind on counting the beads.

The intent is to divert your attention away from the past (where most people hang out) and away from future events, including the problem or challenge at hand. Once you have quieted your mind, take a fresh look at your challenge. Repeat this process as needed. You will notice that quieting your mind will have a peaceful, and even delightful, effect in other areas of your life.

Having knowledge and information from the past can be helpful. Just don’t live there, because true freedom and inner peace are found in moving beyond the past to an unlimited present.

Jim Hatton is the author of “A Spiritual Master’s Guide to Life.” Email 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Sally McKirgan at innerpeaceforyou@outlook.com.