Here and now.After repeated attempts to anchor myself with my breath, I attained enough calm to realize I could also incorporate this technique into dealing with the bubbling thoughts in my mind: watch them, follow them, and let them flow; and all this without getting attached.
At first, the sticky tentacles of fear attached themselves to my attention, attempting to pull me down into their dark domain. I riveted my focus on my breath. With patience, I eventually noticed that the smaller fear-thoughts were losing their hold. But the darker, anxiety-ridden thoughts still had the power to keep me from gaining a foothold on peace, causing me to fall again, like Icarus, from the light. My saving grace was to keep pulling myself back into the present moment. Even a second was enough to elevate my despairing soul enough to glimpse, once more the light within. Soon, I was able to glimpse a space of silence between those perilous thoughts and, with great forbearance, the silent spaces became more profound. In the presence of silent peace, the chit chat of the mind grew fainter, and within minutes, I felt again the sporadic echos of serenity.
Though I regained fleeting moments of sanity those first days, I soon realized I would need something more concrete to keep my attention focused on the space of silence and knowing. The breath, as powerful a tool as it was, was too porous, allowing too many of the treasonous thoughts to seep through its walls, causing my inner observer to pixelate and fade.
I needed a mantra. Words were more tangible than feelings at this point, better suited to block out the ravage of negative thoughts for more extended periods.
With that realization, the simple phrase, ‘Here and Now’ surfaced. (The wisdom of the saints in two simple words.)
Inhaling slowly, I chanted the word ‘here.’ Exhaling, equally as controlled and focused, I whispered the word ‘now.’ With each repetition, I forced myself to feel was happening in the present moment: the feeling in my feet, the sensation in my hands, the tightness between my shoulders, the temperature outside and inside my body, the breath, the thoughts, etc.
‘Here and now.’ How often I’d heard or read about the magic of the present moment; how often I summoned it up on the sunny days of my journey back to my true self. Yet, how easily I forgot the principle when my ego was screaming its truths in my ear, ‘You’re an aged, old man, nothing but a relique of your young self. No one can see your inner beauty, they only see your increasing frailty. Friends and family are gone from your life. Your body is destined to suffer loneliness, frailty, rejection, abandonment. And then, you die!’
The words were so loud that first week, so constant and real, they left no room to notice the real truth about my Self: my eternal, expanding consciousness, a Thought in the Mind of Almighty Being. My ego had gained too much strength, bombarding my mind with arguments to the contrary. (The physical illness I’d also contracted at this time, the bacterial infection in my throat, sapped what little will I had to affirm what I knew was true.)
But I persevered. One breath at a time; ‘Here,’ ‘Now.’
The mantra returned my mind to spaces of bliss-filled silence that increased with dedicated practice. ‘Here and now’ was my lifeguard, leading me ever nearest to moments of sanity where I could build upon that which I knew to be the Truth: that I was the observer, not the observed. Though the Truth still remained elusive, as fleeting as a snow-flake on the gust of chilled winter-wind, I persevered. I was walking a razor’s edge with the Eternal Truth on one side, and the dismal truth of the ego on the other.
I prayed for the day when my humor would return and I would be able to look back and laugh at everything I had been imagining. But that still as far away as a full head of hair. ;-)