So many of us go through life seeking a spiritual answer to our dissatisfactions with ourselves and our perception of the world beyond us that at some stage we will come across the concept of being present in the ‘Now’.

The problem we invariably encounter is, that ‘we’ are in our heads,with short attention spans (encouraged by our collective lifestyles), lost in words filled with mystical aspirations, and if truth be told probably searching for a miracle that will transform us into a being filled with mystical powers and if we were to delve a little deeper into our hidden motivations – into a ‘person’ others will look up to.

The ‘now’ – this eternal moment,  never goes away, is forever present, immediately accessible to our bodies though forever out of reach of our minds.

The personality – ego

The journey for any would-be aspirant requires a level of dedication and egotism, certainly in the early stages.

Due to the circumstances of the cultures we are born into, we will absorb by osmosis many rules on behavior, that we will unquestioningly accept. We will mold ourselves to be liked, and accepted,  occasionally we will encounter cruelty from other damaged beings’ personalities, and little by little we too will grow an increasingly complex mask (personality) to deal with the world.

Others will see us as a ’person’ rather than a human being.  If we are really unfortunate a person (mask) will be all we identify with, to be a lost sheep in a throng of mindless sheep, pulled hither and dither by a few wolves, and led by the piped pipers or Judas goats that infest our world.

The human being behind the mask, so buffeted,  that the inner impulses to wake up and experience reality directly are all but drowned in a sea of internal words.

All must row in unison

The egotism is necessary due to the fact that the more complex the personality the more fractured and dissociated its experiences become.  We need to bring the piecemeal parts of our personality together with a coach at the helm, for like a rowing boat all must row in unison to reach their destination.

The ‘coach’ will be the one part of our psyche that is dissatisfied with who we are in general and is motivated by the question ‘There must be more to life’ and wants to change us. It doesn’t matter that we cannot truly change ourselves by force of will. What matters is the quest to experience reality without filters.

What holds us back individually and has split our psyche is the fear of pain (intensity of experience). It is totally understandable. Our minds do their best to maintain the integrity of the organism. When we physically hurt ourselves as children we shout and holler to distract ourselves from the pain. Grown-ups also will collude with separating us from the experience via distractions. We do something similar with our emotions.

Once we are removed from reality ie. our center of awareness is in our heads, our minds will remember previous painful experiences be they physical or emotional. When exposed to the emotion or potential physical pain our minds bring forth memories of the potential pain.

This process is very fast and all we are aware of is the fear or panic and any potential pain will be magnified (in our heads). I used to experience this with some of my clients many years back with acupuncture needling after an unfortunate first painful insertion.

The same applies to emotional intensity ie. Shame, fear,  anger, grief, loneliness, etc.,  Our minds protect us through control of the diaphragm / abdominal muscles and occasionally by muscular contraction of our throats.  It takes a while and many such experiences, but inexorably our diaphragms and occasionally stomach muscles seize up and now we breathe sorely from our upper chest. The end result (emotionally), is that when we get anxious we can’t get enough air into our lungs and we panic.

When we are present and connected the emotion or physical pain flows through us without filtering by the mind, the experience is always ‘now’. it may or not be unpleasant in its intensity but fear is not activated unless there is an external threat to our integrity. In such an instance we are much more likely to harness our fear and respond with real anger.

Let’s not dismiss the mind when it comes to discomfort and reality. The mind utilizes fear to motivate the organism. it also uses fear to avoid self-observation and questioning of one’s beliefs -ie. not rooted in experience. This becomes apparent when talking about religion, politics, food, climate change, etc.,

The Physical

Step 1  regain your capacity for deep breathing with determination by gradually releasing the chronic spasm in your diaphragm. See here: connect-with-emotions-diaphragmatic-breath.

Step 2  regain connection with your body,  via regular physical exercises: yoga, pilates, taichi, CrossFit, dancing, etc.  Whenever you walk anywhere focus on your toes and soles of your feet as you step forward and connect with your breath. Be aware of posture when walking or sitting, talking with others, etc.,

The body has two major ways of knowing what is going on internally, one is via the nervous system, and the other is via the fascia network. Spatial body awareness is related to the facia system. if you want to be in the now you need to be in your body and you need effective communication via the fascia. The best way to do this is via physical exercises as enumerated above.

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We hold so much chronic tension that we have many out-of-awareness areas in our bodies, the slightest new stress will become another source of physical distress.  To truly be in our bodies we need to release the tensions, as well as the somatised emotions.   Think of your out-of-awareness tensions like a large barrel of rainwater, it is always going to rain! – learn to empty the barrel.

This meditation, learned and applied assiduously will help tremendously.

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For a while now, the concept of emotional intelligence has been widely acknowledged, but don’t be fooled, everyone can connect/ relate to some emotions.

It is the emotions that we chronically suppress and struggle with that control us, and when one of those emotions is triggered by our environment our minds in a desperate effort to suppress it divert the hormonal release into a reactive and familiar emotional response. For example, instead of anger, we might express reactive rage, or, panic may set in as we are compelled to pacify another’s emotional expression so that we may experience safety.

Emotions are intrinsically our body’s call to arms. Suppressed emotions are somatised in the various muscles throughout our bodies which in turn contribute to our disassociation and lack of awareness of our organism. 

Not long ago a college who is very sporty ran in a small marathon, as she approached the finish line, one of her leg muscles suddenly gave way and subsequently incapacitated her for a week or so. She is young fit and a seasoned athlete there was no physical reason for the muscle to suddenly fail her. I asked if she had been under duress the proceeding few days and she acknowledged that she had just moved house! She was fine after a week.

The Mind

Whilst emotions are part of the body it is the mind, that in its quest to protect us from the intensity interferes with the emotional expression. But why does it do that?

The mind on its own does not exist in the now, its two modes are the past and the future. Past painful, damaging, uncomfortable or emotionally intense experiences that were suppressed at the time become a template for what to avoid or react to in the present.

The programmed mind

The mind is also invariably programmed by others when young, and these programs have power via fear. This fear may be related to violence, love/friendship/ acceptance concerning our status within the group. Those programs will become part of our personality and so close to our sense of self that we will be blind to their existence.

The biggest stumbling block to ‘being’ in the present is our minds having sabotaged emotional expression and somatized emotions in the involuntary muscles of the body. Our center of awareness having retreated to our minds now identifies with the never-ending stream of words, which act as a buffer and interpreter between awareness of our physical bodies and the world around us.

Here is a little simple exercise: focus your awareness in your mind, look around the room notice what is there, as soon as the words begin to describe your internal or external observations say to yourself ” I am talking to myself” Realize you are not the words. If you continue observing you will note that there is an intent within you as you engage with the world, the words will echo your intent. This by itself is pretty harmless. if you stop being self-aware the words will continue to stream out except what little self-awareness remains will identify with the words.

The Timeless now

The present moment is eternal and static, it is the realm of the soul. Our biological egos exist in a 3rd Dimension that is forever in a state of movement, transformation, change, and dissolution. The hardest concept to take on board is, that the present eternal moment, is a reflection of the Maker of All. – our egos are convoluted, finite, and until death forever changing.

in the Hindu culture, there have been many instances of those who sought the peace of the now by systematically separating themselves from their senses to the point of catatonic trance. others would see them as holy, I would say “what a waste of a life”, for ‘being’ is about the experience of the soul in this dimension.

I began with the statement that the journey to ourselves begins with being egocentric as a prerequisite. Here in the UK, the idea of egocentrism is much frowned upon, and others will take us down a peg or two if we speak or display such traits. Selflessness is meant to be a Christian virtue though in reality people will mostly hide their egocentric needs/tendencies.

We are useless to others unless we take care of ourselves first. Our three centers of awareness mind, emotions, and physical must be blended into one, this takes time and effort but there are many rewards along the way. Gradually, as we reconnect with a sense of ‘self’ our connection with our hearts expands once more.

It takes a united ‘ego’ to sincerely say “Let thy will be done”, and to accept our roles as servants to a higher power (our souls).

You might well ask why is it such a problem for the ego to let go? Because we are biologically driven (via fear) to survive and reproduce. We struggle with the idea of death. We (ego) want to live forever, so much so, that we have invented fairy stories about heaven, the spirit world, our ancestors, Valhalla, etc.,

In the Epics of Gilgamesh one of the oldest stories to have survived across time to the present our hero goes through numerous adventures in his quest for immortality. In the end, the gods take pity and tell him to “accept your humanity live and enjoy life for one day you will die”.

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Life is not about the ego!

Indeed, life is about our souls being in charge of the mechanistic ego. Peace- mental/ emotional comes when we release control to our hearts. Being in the now (which has many shades) also requires transferring our identification from our ego components to our hearts.

So what is the difference in my ego from when I began my journey to finding out who I was and now, 50 years later? I have to laugh!! very little!!!! Apart from my heart is my constant companion and I am very comfortable in my own skin. My thoughts will still work in the background, my body still has an occasional tendency to tighten up, and occasionally I still get anxious.

What separates me from my youth is that I am here, present, in my body, aware of tensions as they arise and consciously relaxing them, open to my emotions, aware of thoughts or images that may arise – without censoring, and, by and large, my center of awareness is in my heart.

So what has changed for me in those 50 years? for one my emotions flow freely, and my capacity for intense emotions without blowing a fuse has increased tremendously. My capacity for intense feelings is also magnified exponentially. I can now project my awareness into the world around me without losing my sense of self which is very palpable to me.

When I am fully in my heart emotions from me or my client may be overwhelming as I empathetically connect with others (this is more likely to happen when a client and I work on a past life). When my focus is in my heart my emotional states and body sensations are part of the landscape, and my mind is pretty quiet. My awareness is flexible enough to focus internally within me or externally on any aspect of my environment

The trick to being in the now is not to identify with the various ego processes, let them do their thing. Our egos were damaged in our youth and we will carry a lot of that damage to our deaths, hence the importance of cultivating self-love and acceptance. We can clear the emotional backlog, get rid of limiting belief systems, and firmly entrench our awareness back in our bodies but that is pretty much it.

It is a mistake to remove oneself from society, life is meant to be lived and experienced. – trees grow strong because the wind will at times buffet them from all directions.

Ultimately the true quest for spirituality comes down to releasing all the suppressed emotions we acquired growing up and reinforced in adulthood, accepting that we are damaged beings, and loving ourselves regardless. In the process, we need to regain the lost lands of our physical body and appreciate that our bodies have physical needs for love, and intimacy as well as real food and nutrients.

What stands in our way? the million-dollar question. Our mentally generated fears that if we stop being sheep we will lose the comfort and safety of the flock.


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