TADS Insights

Be Here Now

1 February 2015


Some time ago I was invited to talk to 400 workers at an oil refinery about a simple topic: the moment of now.  As I faced the packed auditorium that day, I thought about the importance of being in the now and the consequences of letting our minds drift while doing certain types of work.  For these people in the refinery, there would be no second chances.  With millions of litres of highly flammable fuel on site, one critical error would have disastrous consequences.

While not all of us find ourselves in such high-risk environments, we can all – myself included – become better at being in the here and now.

The willingness and ability to live fully in the now eludes many people.  While eating your starter, don’t be concerned with dessert.  While reading a book, notice where your thoughts are.  While on holiday, be there instead of thinking about what should have been done and what has to be done when you return home.

When you think about it, the only time we ever have is now.  The past is made up of ‘nows’ that have been, while the future is no more than ‘nows’ yet to be experienced.  Don’t let thoughts of the past and future crowd out the present as it is actually happening.

While few people would deny the value of such advice, the reality is that most of us drift in and out of the present moment despite our best efforts.  So, if you find this happens to you, what can you do about it?

Ironically the best time to do something is now!  Instead of scolding yourself for your lack of attention, return to the present moment as soon as possible.  To help you do this, I have created a simple three-step method represented by the letters of the word NOW.

N – Notice It.  If you are doing something and you find yourself drifting, the very first step is to acknowledge that your focus is not where it should be.  Simply by noticing this, you effectively put yourself back in the driver’s seat.  The alternative – drifting somewhat unconsciously among thoughts of past and future – may be enjoyable at times but it’s not moving you forward in any meaningful way.

O – Own It.  The second step is to fess-up and accept that you are the only one responsible for your thoughts.  The circumstances of your life don’t dictate your thinking; you and only you choose what to think about.  To acknowledge this is to take control of drift in your life and begin to do something positive about it.

W – Work It.  This final step is about taking action to get your thoughts from where they are to where they should be.  The best way of doing this is to make contact with one of your five senses: touch, seeing, hearing, smell and taste.  Tuning into your breathing is also an excellent way of returning to the present moment.  Making direct contact with your senses and your breath allows immediate escape from incessant mental chatter into the now.

If you would like to study more about this simple but profound subject, I highly recommend the books The Power of Now and A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.  These books, combined with what you learn from your own practical experience, will enable you to be more fully present in your life.

In The Power of Now, Tolle writes:

The present moment is the field on which the game of life happens.  It cannot happen anywhere else.  Once you have made peace with the present moment, see what happens, what you can do or choose to do, or rather what life does through you.  There are three words that convey the secret of the art of living, the secret of all success and happiness: One With Life.  Being one with life is being one with Now.  You then realise that you don’t live your life, but life lives you.  Life is the dancer and you are the dance.

Be here NOW.

-- David Keane