We usually find ourselves asking this question when planning some portion of the day ahead. We need to reach our destination by a certain time or finish an assignment prior to its deadline. Perhaps we ask ourselves this question rhetorically after spending hours doing “nothing,” only to begin hurriedly arranging the time we have left in the hope of shortening our to-do lists. Undoubtedly, we have all devoted innumerable hours to reminiscing about past experiences (both comforting and regrettable); and likewise, we both wonder and worry how the future ahead of us will unfold. So many times each day do we check the time: Two o’clock? Half past five? Quarter ’til? We find these among myriad other responses to our question, and yet all of them are quite misleading!
Certainly scheduling our time according to days, hours, minutes, etc. enables us be productive, efficient, and make sense of the sequence of events we expect to happen in the coming moments. However, viewing time through this lens obscures the most fundamental answer to our question: What time is it? The time is… Now. If you imagine a watch without hands or marks and in their place the word “now,” that watch will always be correct—regardless of time zone, hemisphere, or position of the sun. It is always now. Now is here, and it has been now every moment of your life.
Beyond calling into question the appeal of upscale timepieces, the reality of now offers a renewed perspective on the reminiscing and worrying we do. Dwelling on misfortunes of days past and fearing future catastrophe often leave us feeling helpless and afraid, as they prevent us from being truly present and taking action in the only moment that matters—now. Likewise, many of us avoid such emotions, albeit temporarily, through obsessing, day dreaming, procrastinating, and a host of other strategies. Eventually, this vicious cycle can lead to feeling overwhelmed, depressed, and powerless to handle tasks that once seemed easy—prompting many to seek professional help. What remedy can we offer our clients? Better yet, what can we
do for ourselves?
It is my view that Mindful living and regular meditation offer a wonderful method of remaining in the now, confronting uncomfortable feelings, and tackling life’s challenges effectively. Simply put, mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment, on purpose, and without judgment.
It emphasizes an awareness and acceptance of this moment, of now, whether it brings discomfort, gratification, pain, joy, or anything in between. This may seem counterintuitive, and yet those who practice mindful living describe a renewed sense of presence and a willingness to engage with the ups and downs of life. One might say living in the now fosters resilience, a sense of wellbeing, and openness to life. So the next time you find yourself glancing at your watch, check in with yourself; remember that you are, and always will be, right here right now.
– Kenneth S. Skale, M.A.