To me, there is no coincidence a compass face directs the eye to a great big “N”. You could supplant its assumed meaning with “Now”; where all moments are trying to lead us back to…our own personal “true North”.
When our compass needle is spinning about…or stuck somewhere off to the side…we know (deep down) there’s something wrong with our equipment. And all life is ever trying to do is nudge us back to that true marker, the now moment, where it all really “happens” and yet, really, nothing “happens” at all (the quantum paradox, is it a particle or a wave? It all depends how we look at it).
Almost like Now is a land beyond the changeable winds, beyond gravity, even beyond linearity; get to know it well and you will start to glean cracks of realisation that this is no ordinary place. You have landed in some fabled place, your own personal Hyperborea, where “normal” rules of physics cease to apply and where manifestation is an alchemical process conducted out of a great big crucible pot fllled with both past and present experiences, somehow mingled to become “same” (though they may seem “never the twain shall meet” when our minds wander off track into our everyday thoughts). A melting pot and quite the rarified place, yet it is always right there waiting for us whenever we want to visit; there’s the irony since we make it seem so hard.
The cosmic joke is that most of us use every means at our disposal to keep ourselves thoroughly distracted from the Now and fixated somewhere…anywhere…else; almost as though we fear the very power of the experience that awaits us, should we deign to linger there. Or, perhaps we even fear disappointment because it may not arrive with all the bells and whistles we tell ourselves our peak expierences will have hung all around them, nor the fanfare playing. Connection with the Now moment is often the most understated thing in the world and yet its effect is second-to-none.
It can take training yourself to be there, first in moments of presence, then perhaps 20 minutes at a time, to limber up this long disued muscle of “nowness” but when we do that, well, odd things, enticing things, start to reveal. They are the sort of things that have huge significance to us personally, but which don’t really share so well with others (an excuse we use to discount them as unimportant, imagined, a trick of the mind…). A mistake I made for a long time was to try, struggling to share my personal epiphanies in all their minute detail, desperate to find others that related when, really, the true power of them was intimate and unique to me; we each have our own eiphanies waiting for us in the Now. Its a mistake I am starting to remedy; breaking this addiction with seeking validation, approval or even just conversation over matters that are utterly unique to my particular tilt on “consciousness”. Its a thin line I walk as a writer who still loves to write as much as ever yet coming to know where to draw the line between what is personal and precious and what others might relate to and draw interest or even solace and encouragement from.
Paradoxically, I have found, one of the odd things about staying present is that I migth be transported to “other times”, only to realise they are more of the “now” than I could have, otherwise, realised. Split moments from long ago start to insinuate into my consciousness like they are as fresh as the morning dew and very real and impactful, suddenly. Its not as though I am remembering (an action, led by the mind…) but that I am actually “there”…and “here”…in two or more moments at any one “time”, and me the consciousness that triangulates the awareness of it all. I am the missing link only, in making it conscious, it is no longer missing and its as though the universe claps!
It touches on the posibility of being in more than one place at one time, making a very different landscape of “my story” with its inherent sense of “history”, its insistence on “cause and effect”. And of course, when I encounter people in those reveries that are long-since gone from physicality, there is no sadness, as though I am really spending time with them, perhaps more closely than I have for a very long time, which can be such a tonic or balm; a blessed release from the shackles of linearity. What I sense is that, in such moments, my consciousness plays a game of frequency matching…it will connect with any other moment in time that is of the same or similar freuqency and that match becomes the proximity determinator, not space-time.
The more time I spend in such moments, the more I realise there is a pattern to my own frequency; a trend for my higher moments and my better feelings, something in common about when I have been happiest, most content, more in my groove. Shape sorting my moments thus is helping me to know myself better, enabling me to infuse the present moment with similar moments from “across time”. Of course, it gives me the incentive to match the frequency of times when simple pleasures were plentiful and when I was a complete natural at living in the pure presence of the moment, as all children are. It helps rewind me back towards innate skills that life had stolen from me or disuaded me from thinking were important and, suddenly, its as though my days have regained some of the beautiful, meaningful, simplicity we all had as children, just as long as our basic needs were taken care of and we could pursue what brought us joy as inspiration occured to us. I feel so fortunate to have known such times; and have so much incentive (having re-experienced them lately) to know them once again!
In a way, this is where it all began as I was on a mission to consciously recall my very best memories as part of the limbic retraining course I am on. It didnt really work, for me, to approach the task like a research project jotting down lists or staring at photos…I had to go into these moments viscerally or, rather, to draw them back into my present timezone to feel real, now. I needed to feel the feelings, smell the smells, relive every nuance of the best of the best, and make it part of my daily experience in the most powerful ways I could and this became the work of my daily morning routine (ongoing), following the Gupta Program.
It wasn’t long before I noticed that a great many of my happiest reveries pivot on those long summer holidays I spent, often completely alone in my own little world of creativity, or in the richly rewarding, if quirky, activities dreamt up with my one select friend, as that largely carefree child I used to be when I could be most exactly “myself” without outside interference.
Before I started my daily practice of the limbic retraining routines, I thought I remembered a great deal about those and many other “happier” times but I came to realise that what I thought I knew before was mostly surface deep or conceptual, until now I opened up the box, not by living in the past but by infusing the present with what came to me, spontaneously, from those times in moments when I was most relaxed and present. Certain experiences dial in to me so vividly I often feel as though I have spent my day straddled both “here” and “there” by the time I go to bed and, of course, it regulalrly infuses my dreams. The sheer detail of “recollection” can be astonishing, down to hearing the subtle sounds in the house, a refrain from a nearby radio, the shaft of air through an open window and the very texture and resistance of its handle as I touch it, feeling like I have been with people long-gone in recent timeframe as though they just stepped out of the room; only, there is no trying involved, these experiences just arise, darting in and out of me, when I am sat here or walking along, being as fully present as I know how.
You could say they are a fully-integrated part of my new normal; no longer compartmentalised or boxed up in a concept of time (related thought: How much does our ingrained concept of time being strictly linear perpetuate the sense that “past” or even “future” is some remote, inaccessible thing with a volume of space keeping us apart from it? How much healing and other potential do we miss when we adhere to such thinking??)
I began this work in earnest, following the deep threads of my consciousness, using somatic cues to bring to the surface authentic feelings from the very best of times, the kind that lit me up when they came back to me (finding, consistently, that it is the far simpler, more humble, recollections that do this for me!), like diving for pearls and holding them up in the sunlight of a clear new day. These are not sepia-tinged memories of the past, but real-and-present sensations of the now, rediscovered in the present moment. Using somatic cues to remind my biological body how to get back to the feelings has been really important and effective.
Those somatic cues have included listening to certain music, exposing myself to certain fragrances, spending time in gardens (my father was a very keen gardener), rehandling old objects and, yes, photographs and diaries, even rewatching old films and programs, retracing habits from long-long ago, being gratuitously childish with my more-than-willing partner, but its been more about allowing the unsupervised reveries to unfold in moments of freeform daydreaming, embarked on when I empty my mind and just allow whatever wants to “play” in my mind, without judgement or expecation. I’ve discovered this is another kind of “being present in the now”, only it is more focused upon the internal nowness than whatever is presenting in your outside circumstances such as detailed awareness of the space you are sitting in (though it can be useful to start from there, noticing the clock ticking, paying attention to the near and faraway sounds, listening to your breath, the birdsong, sensations in the body). The key is still to allow and be fully present with whatever arises, curious and open.
One of the most powerful tactics of all has been to spontaneously follow any newly arisen whims to pick up old activities, such as the passion for doing needlepoint that went on for years in my earlier life, dropped when I became a parent (I began when I was just 8 and continued for more than two decades). I’ve discovered that the most rhythmic and tactile of activities such as stitching, handling wool, holding a canvas in a certain way, can jolt giant stones from the door of a sizeable memory store holding aspects of my earlier self fully intact because, as I sit there enacting the very same movements as ever I did, my mind can open up to transporting itself across vast distances of time without any notice or fanfare. Not unlike how painting has been one of the most useful tools of mindfulness, facilitating massive leaps of consciousness over all the years I gave myself over to it, stitching has proved all the more useful lately for the fact it takes me further back “in time”, rewinding to a format of me that existed prior to so many kinks and turning points in the winding spaghetti of my life.
The sheer positivity of all of this has demonstrated to me, in reverse, just how detrimental trauma really is to a person; preventing them from going fully back into their self-created time-capsule, perhaps even causing them to seal off whole portions of the past with a “do not enter” sign, which is tantamount to cutting yourself off at the roots. Yet, when you open it all up, perhaps after clearing certain most-obstructive traumas away, there is generally far more “in there” that is of use and relevance to who we are now than we ever dared to hope for; perhaps even a key to our own healing, which is why limbic retraining is such a powerful method for tackling stuck loops in the brain.
Yet it’s not about losing myself in the past, as old people often do, and just wanting to stay there; far from it. I’ve discovered that this “earlier” fomat of self, that is apparently more pristine and less health or circumstance addled, doesn’t reside exclusively in the past, the present or the future but is in fact everywhere and very-much alive in me today. In fact, by getting to know her in one place, I now find her wherever I go, which is to say, I no longer let go of her hand in a crowd. As in, when life gets frenetic, when a lot is going on, I don’t lose sight of her as I once did because she lives at my core, as she always has done and always will do…only, having come to recognise her far better, to know her innate traits because I find them consistently scattered across all the times of my life (which the now moments help me bring forth and recognise as who I still am right here!), I am far more aware of that now. I won’t let her down or put her second (or last!) when others or life “circumstances” make demands of me and I won’t sell her down the river.
While I do this inner work, there is a dream-like quality to it but I’m not dreaming (or losing my marbles). Its just that the edges boxing everything into strict compartments and linearity are falling away. Time distinctions have broken down, melting away and its a vast improvement, making more space and letting in more light. There’s a feeling of turning everything on its head or, really, doing cartwheels through the cut-and-driedness they told us was the reality we are stuck with; nothing is quite how we thought it was and we just need to open our minds to allow in new possibilities. When I do this, its as though I can be in several places at once, quite tangibly, fluidly, a lot of the time, with a degree of presence that I can almost sense is able to “pop out” at the other end of some time-tunnel, to be the state of consciousness that brings comfort or counsel to some other format of me (past or future), out of the blue. It’s an interactive relationship with other time zones, not like watching memory tv but feeling my own input, the mark my consciousness makes, in all “times and places” at once and also the reciprocity of it.
Like an ideal, fairly reciprocated friendship of the highest order, between like-hearted souls that have each other’s back when one or other is having a bad day, I find I can straddle multi-versions of myself at once, bringing both the wisdom of maturity and the clear-shining eyes of youth to every situation, simultaneously when I am in this space.
What I realise I am doing is creating a somatic brew of me…locating those elements of experience that, through my love of them and the joy they bring me, speak of innate qualities that remain ageless and unsullied by time or experience. It’s a brew of passions and enthusiasms, curios, colours and textures that are utterly unique to me and speak of my very essence when I paint a picture with them, so that I can quickly locate it via a far stronger sense of “what is me, what is not me” in the world from now on. Also, I can find this me-ness without such abject hesitation, as was my way in the past (from the time I first began to lose confidence in who I am and thus ceased to stand up for myself or set boundaries or even gave parts of myself away in an attempt to buy back the state of inner peace that was rapidly slipping away from me). Now, I find I never lost any of it; I simply lost the inner vision with which to see myself clearly and the wisdom to think that was important enough to defend. Now I am polishing off those eyes and the deep inner grasp that knowing ourselves is ALL we are really here to do.
None of this is possible without the now moment because that is where it all “occurs”. Its where we are dialed into our own consciousness, not into some long-running story that we assume we are written into as a character playing a role. This is us, behind the make-up, the cardboard stage set, the need for a plot. This is, quite simply, who we are and what makes us tick and getting aquainting with ourselves is the very beginning of every most powerful experience of our lives.
Now is the touchdown point for whatever is landing. It is the spark point, the ignition moment, self-realisaton achieved in split-second doses. It is where the fireworks get lit. Where the conception occurs. The unknowable gets glimpsed…and can never again be, truly, forgotten, having been made conscious. Its those moments that alter whole trajectories, on a pinhead. And its the moment when nothing measurable occurs…and yet this nothingness, itself, is the whole point of it all (and you know it!). Its “that day” it all began and its every day, once you learn to stay in the present moment, at least once an hour if you can (as a rule of thumb). Then, you start to notice when you fall unconscious again and you pull yourself up short. You snap out of it. You wake up.
All these things and more occur in a humble moment of nowness, made present through the consciousness of a surrendered and receptive human “brain” (really, both head and heart in tandem) and its so powerful it can break adictions from all sorts of other meaningless activities. Warning: it may prompt you to rethink the purpose of your life!
And its forever work in progress…of course…but my body is responding to it and that’s a great big start. My sense of selfhood now surpasses any of the long-winded stories I used to tell about my health and my life to date.
Once found, such a resilient sense of self holds you steady regardless of circumstance, since what presents as circumstance is always relative to the consciousness that perceives “what is going on” in the world. Its really true, that it all starts with self-love, self-awareness, that inner sense of unsullied wholeness and once you have the merest gimpse of that, you are already on your way home.