There’s a lot of talk these days about “being in the moment,” “living in the now” or “going with the flow.” Much of this talk implies that life should just be a perpetual party…that the moment is just about the upside of life.
Personally, when I’m having a hard day and someone tells me to lighten up and go with the flow, I just get grumpier. I figure they have no interest in my flow—they just want me to go with their flow. They are probably not thinking about the big flow in which their flow and my flow both flow together.
I get particularly annoyed when I hear people tell others to “live in the moment” as a kind of criticism. The implication is that if you are not feeling positive all the time, you are somehow not spiritual enough.
This is a very limited view of the moment. It’s positively lopsided, because the moment includes everything that is happening now. The moment is simply what it is—not what you want it to be. If some of what is happening in the moment appears to be negative, or terribly sad…well, that is what’s happening.
If you try to hide from what is happening, then you are not in this moment…you are shrinking from it. If you try to live in a bubble of positivity or “peacefulness,” then you have to work very hard to keep the sharp pricks of pain away. You have to work hard to avoid things or people that might burst that bubble.
This avoidance is much more stressful than the alternative—simply accepting what is happening, even if you don’t like it. Avoiding what is happening doesn’t give you a very secure kind of peacefulness. Running around all the time and being afraid that other people’s problems will get you down just isn’t very peaceful.
When you are truly in the moment, you experience a peacefulness that can embrace the whole range of experience. No longer preoccupied with how you want life to be, or even who you are, you settle into an acceptance of what is. You are not pulling or pushing at this moment, and you are not trying to make it different than it is. This peacefulness can embrace problems when they appear, because they are part of this moment too.