What "Being Present" Really Means
So recently my husband was getting super philosophical with me. And he had this one burning question:
"Does being present really mean that you have to accept the present moment as it is?"
My answer was yes. And he immediately made a frowny face. But I did my best to explain why.
To be honest, when I first heard Tara Brach talking about Radical Acceptance I was at once relieved and also confused. I felt resistance.
I asked myself this question...
"How can you accept the present moment if it's not good?" Especially if you are being abused or hurt in some way.
It's a good question!
Being present isn't that you are always in a zen state. It isn't that you don't feel anger or sadness or jealousy. It's observing and sticking with what's happening and what you are feeling instead of avoiding it.
Now obviously it does not mean that you don't take any action either. If you are being attacked by a bear you don't just stand there and be present with what you are feeling. Seems obvious but it's a point that people like to make.
It's this "acceptance" word that trips us up. It's hard to understand in this context.
My best way of explaining it is that accepting doesn't mean you aren't acting. It just means you are actually accepting what is happening as your current reality in a more objective way. When we don't like the present moment many of us choose a new reality whether it's by having a beer, checking our facebook feed, or making up a convoluted story that, if we actually get real with ourselves, we know is not proven and/or true.
Or maybe we spend the whole time in the same situation we don't like but we just resist it completely. We complain. We whine. We moan. But we don't actually take action. Why? Because we haven't accepted the moment for what it is yet.
It's kind of like when you accidentally pour coffee on yourself while getting into your car. Then you get super pissed and start moving erratically as you curse your way into the seat. As you do this you end up spilling out all the contents of your purse to add insult to injury. Then you start driving like a lunatic down the highway and have a really bad time basically. (Not to mention possibly endangering yourself and others with your road rage)
BUT if you had slowed down just enough. Just enough so that when that rage starts to boil up you say, "Nope, I'm gonna pause here". If you slowed down enough to be present and accept the moment of spilling your coffee you might have instead said to yourself: "Oh no, I spilled coffee and that sucks but actually in the grand scheme of things it just doesn't matter. It's actually kind of funny". Then your day would have gone much better. Why?
Because you'd be more connected to the reality of things and as a result able to make more loving and wiser decisions. And actually in some cases able to change your entire mood.
THIS is how you start creating new neural pathways in your brain!
THIS is how you change your life.
THIS is how you buy your freedom from the crazy thoughts and behaviors you don't actually like. Because that's not actually you. That's your ego driving the car.
What do you find when you accept the present moment? You find your true self. And you find what you really want and need.
Please share your examples of this kind of practice in the comment section. I know we have a bunch of amazing souls reading this newsletter and the more you share the more you inspire each other <3