Be Here Now

“Be here now” is what Thich Nhat Hanh says. I think about that sentence a lot. It grounds me in the present and keeps me here, no matter what I’m doing, No matter when and where I’m doing it. Not there, not then, but here and now. For a long time I thought of “Be Here Now” as “be HERE now.” Sometimes “be here NOW.” But last week, for the first time, I heard myself think “BE here now.” Notice: Thich Nhat Hanh said BE here now, not DO here now.

I had the privilege, two weeks ago, of spending an entire afternoon with a woman who is a Buddhist monk. Seated meditation, walking meditation, stepping meditation, outdoor meditation. She kept asking me what I was feeling, and I kept answering in possibilities. Like “space.” or “openness.” Finally she laughed out loud and says NOTHING!, it’s NOTHING! Oh, okay. I get it. Empty. Let it go. Just BE. Okay, I can try to be. Oops I almost said I can try to do that. Not do. Be.

What is the opposite of “Be here now”? Do there then. That’s when you’re in your head, but your head is thinking about tomorrow, or yesterday. What might happen, or what did. You’re not here, and it’s not now.

To be or not to be. To do or not to do. To do gives you the illusion that you’re moving in some defined direction, maybe making progress, like you’re doing something. But earlier, before doing, comes being.

Doing means thinking about what might happen later, or what you did yesterday, or what you thought about doing yesterday. Being is different. It means right now, this very moment.

When people get ready to turn over a new leaf, to start to “be healthy,” to make changes and plans, they always say they are starting a diet, or starting to get more exercise. Doing. As if doing is the key to making a difference. I suppose they are right in some ways, it will make a difference. But not ALL the difference. Doing isn’t what makes the real difference. In my humble opinion, wellness starts with being.

How would it be if we all began our health journeys with an exploration of options for mindfulness? Meditation, yoga, massage, breathing, relaxing, fishing, prayer, walking in the woods… Even mindless swimming, counting tiles, clearing your mind, taking your brain off the rails. Whatever makes time pass without awareness. Sitting on the banks of your life and watching the moments float by. Not trying to stop the flow. Not jumping in. Just watching. Observation without judgment.

Mindfulness — grounding oneself in the present. See what happens after that.

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