Awhile back my friend Brooke and I were talking and she was musing about something that could occur in the future. She stopped herself mid-sentence and said, "I'm living in the future," and directed her attention back to the moment. At the time none of this made an impact on me. It wasn't until about a week ago, when I found my whole consciousness in a fantasized, future moment, that I began to utilize Brooke's concise statement to check myself when I slip out of my breath, out of my body, out of the present. I've been in a cycle of growth that began with my move and is now coming to a close. My final gift of learning from this time will be to come into Totality- giving every step through life my total presence and energy. Now that I've brought my attention to my tendency to frolic in the future and I am attempting to correct this, it's becoming clear how much I have my work cut out for me.
The yogic bible, for lack of a better term, is The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. This strand of beads of wisdom is the foundation of yogic philosophy and the Raj Yoga school. Raj Yoga is the "royal yoga" and concerns controlling the mind- or as Patanjali put it, "the restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga." I am an avid student of yoga, and have long known how important the role of the mind is, but it wasn't until now that I understood how hard it can be to reign in. I honestly don't think I've even tried until now. I have this wild, creative imagination that loves to rocket ship into an uncertain future and fill in the blanks. I used to indulge in what I call "disaster fantasy" scenarios, in which I would guard myself against pain, fear or disappointment by imagining the worst possible outcome. I caught on to that nasty habit a long time ago, but simply replaced it by imagining the "best" possible outcome, or the way things would work out if my most self-indulgent self had her way. Then I would project for that imagined future, so sure that it was really in my best interests...and no doubt sometimes it is.
What I've been finding lately, though, is that I don't really know what I want, and by and large, the future that I imagine is never as excellent as the one that God lays out for me. There have been several occasions in the past year when I've been forced to admit that what happened in reality was way more awesome and natural than anything that I could've imagined or manipulated. We get so stuck on this "perfect" vision of the future and don't even consider the other hundred alternatives, each possibly better than the last. We want to be so sure of what will happen, so we decide what that thing should be and work at making it occur, even if it isn't really that great. I think about the people who marry totally incompatible partners because the future without that perceived security is too much to bear. Certainty holds a siren call allure that is hard to resist. Faith is not often the easy road.
It is faith, though, and a large measure of self-control and discipline that allow us to live in Totality. If I could ever manage to stop engaging with my ego, which wants to control everything, I might be able to understand that I am not the doer. Yogi Bhajan talked about the gift of the Raj Yogi in this way...
"The Raj Yogi's presence performs his miracle. Others have to act and perform and do all kinds of things. But this is the path of the King. It is not the path of the slave. Just feel your presence is acting: therefore you have not to act. Never try to interfere with the power of God. Never try to control other people. Serve, excel and be."
This does not mean that we do nothing, though. In order to make this work, to harness the power of the Raj Yogi, we have to commit to controlling our minds, to drop the ego and allow God to take the reins. We also have to develop a quality of receptivity that allows us to recognize the beauty and abundance in and around us. If you are not receptive to opportunity, if you do not faithfully reach out an open hand, God cannot deliver you to your true destiny. We do not do nothing. We respond when prompted by the still, small voice that tells us to bring an umbrella, to take the early flight home, to call that person on our minds. We follow God's lead in all things. Controlling the mind allows us to discern between the still, small voice and the bossy ego, so busy busy spinning stories about the future.
This daydream fantasizing serves a purpose for me that I can't ignore, though. If I'm unhappy with the current moment, I can project out of it and onto a warm beach someplace or whatnot. My powerful imagination can see all the difficult nasties resolved and smoothed. It's almost like the mental equivalent of a night of heavy drinking. I get to check out of my reality for a time, only to return to it exhausted in the morning with an outbox of embarrassing text messages and even more problems than before (not that I know anything about that...). The thing is to engage with our realities rather than our egos, to pay attention to what needs mending in our lives and just simply do it. Sometimes it ends up being simple, sometimes we have to summon quite a lot of courage, but the reward is the ability to live comfortably in our reality, in our Totality, without feeling like we have something to run from.
Life is worth totally showing up for. Being present to each moment brings a fresh vitality to everything you do. It is a gift to you and the people you love who share their lives with you. Show up for them. Show up for each other. Show up for yourself and to your life. We're alive! Right now! Let's live for now, be in love now, be perfect now, be total now. Everything is happening now. Welcome.