Return to be here now
The phrase “be here now” has become trite with repetition, a slogan mindlessly bandied about. Whatever the reasons for that, the good news is that the elements of being, here, and now are ever fresh and are not — and cannot be — tarnished by time.
And so, I offer the following, not for your amusement or distraction, but as a reminder that comes with no agenda, no expectation. It naturally falls into the three parts of being, here and now, and I shall also introduce the three parts of concentration, contemplation and meditation.
Concentration: Simply bring your attention to here, to being here; to now, to being now; and to being (the sense of being that is here and now). This is a natural concentration that is always available. Rest in that, and let that be sufficient, a relief from the consumer mentality of being stuffed with news, entertainment and obligation. Let simple being here now be sufficient — for here and now.
Contemplation: Reflect on the nature of being here now. Reflect that you are always being here now, even when you don’t recognize it. Reflect that the content or appearances of the “being,” the “here,” and the “now” change, but you are always only being here now. You might wonder if this is just some play of language or trick of the mind, or if it harbors a deeper mystery about life and reality that we are too inattentive to generally recognize.
Meditation: If the contemplation has opened up a space of awareness and openness that we don’t usually attend to, now we turn to the freshness and sensory immediacy of experience beyond mental interpretations. In this meditation, we move from the simplicity of the concentration into depth. To support being here, we sense deeply into the body, especially the relatively neutral territory of the arms and legs. Body sensations are already happening, so we are not constructing anything but are simply consciously entering into a stream that is already flowing. Deepen into this experience of embodiment, and of being here, using the immediacy of the sensations to take you beyond mental constructions. Setting aside the ideas of “arms and legs” and the mental image of the familiar body limits, enter deeply into the experience itself, the experience of space itself.
To support being now, we sense deeply into the breath. Take a deep breath, as a sigh, and let yourself land deeply in the belly. Let yourself slow down and find the natural rhythm of the diaphragmatic breath. Let the breath slow down and deepen according to its own nature. Let the inhales and exhales take their own time in the cycle of the breath. Recognize that you are not constructing the breath, you are simply entering the stream of the breath that is always flowing. Just as you entered into the sensing rather than witnessing it from the head, so now you are entering into the breathing rather than witnessing it from a point outside of it. As you enter the simple immediacy of the breathing, go beyond the thoughts about it and into the experience of the breath itself, into the experience of time itself. As the overlay of the mind on direct experience relaxes, enter the mystery, here and now.
Reflect: Who is being here and being now? Let yourself drop attention from the head into the heart, and feel deeply into your sense of being, being yourself, there. As you enter into that here and now, you can recognize that the familiar story and history of “me” is not intrinsic to that sense of being. As the direct experience of “arms and legs” showed no boundary to space, so the direct experience of “I” shows no boundary to being or “I-ness.”
Abide in the unity of this depth and mystery of being-here-now. When you return to your ordinary state, reflect that if something so simple, so familiar and so basic can be so unexpectedly deep, what else might you be passing over and taking for granted? That is, on what scale might it be that you are lost in a constructed dream and are spiritually asleep?
Ed Hirsch leads a small group in various practices to deepen into presence. If interested, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Email 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Sally McKirgan email@example.com.