Time is getting weird lately, have you noticed? The length of time something takes can seem unbelievably short—and at the same time, extremely long. It’s difficult to remember something that took place just a short while ago; and yet what happened long ago can seem so clear and bright, it feels like it happened yesterday.
This is more than just getting old. Elderly people have always said something like this—long term memory stays intact, while short term memory seems to slip away. But this is different. What is happening now to a lot of us is more of a sense that time itself is slipping away. The old experience of past-present-future is becoming slippery–as if all three are present together in this moment, with no sense of consecutive order.
And yet, at the same time, it’s becoming clear that any notion of time at all is an illusion. All we can be sure of is the experience of NOW. Now is happening. Continuously, always present.
What Exactly is the “Now”?
Well, we’ve heard of the Now for awhile now. The Now is often spoken of as a state of consciousness we should strive to experience. But it’s a confusing notion for many. What exactly is the Now?
Vocabulary is difficult when it comes to states of consciousness that are beyond the mind. But we do continue to try to clarify and describe them in words, anyway, in hopes that others will somehow intuitively grok the meaning of what we’re experiencing.
This is my attempt.
Two Different Nows
I’ve always experienced that there are two different Nows: I call them the Present Now and the Eternal Now. The Present Now is what exists in time. It’s part of the continuum we know of as past-present-future. It’s what’s happening around you and inside of you in the moment. This is what most people understand the Now to be.
Staying in this Present Now can certainly be a more rewarding experience than living in the past. The past is only real as a concept in the mind—there’s nothing substantial or real about it. Sometimes memories in the past are pleasant, and that’s why people dwell on them; but eventually, their lack of substantial realness becomes evident and life seems a thin, anemic experience if we attempt to constantly live in these memories.
Often memories aren’t all that pleasant anyway. Yet the mind will go over and over a painful experience we’ve had in the past, somehow fruitlessly attempting to change or fix it. If we continue to relive the pain and unresolved experiences we’ve had like this, we simply continue to reactivate the suffering those experiences created for us. So living in the past is highly unrewarding, at best.
Living in the future is much the same. It’s all a concept in our mind—there’s nothing real about the future, except what exists in our imagination. And often, what we’re doing when we dwell in the future is worrying. Not only an unpleasant experience, worrying is also extremely unproductive. It accomplishes nothing except probably creating the negative experience we’re worrying about.
The Present Now
So living in the past or the future is obviously not a great way to live life. That leaves us with the present—or the Present Now. If you think about it, if you bring yourself totally present to what is happening in the here and now, everything is usually pretty much okay. For the most part, although you may be experiencing some unpleasant sensations in your body or your emotions, essentially, you’re usually fine. You have a roof over your head, you have enough to eat, no one’s dying at the moment. Worries about what could happen in the future are just thoughts in your mind.
And if you really bring your full attention into what is happening right in front of you in the moment, you can usually feel your whole body relaxing and experience an opening of awareness that is very pleasant and even joyful. It’s rewarding to remember to do this over and over again, as you go about your everyday life. Come present, come present.
However—this isn’t always the case, is it? Sometimes the Present Now is really awful. What if someone you love has just been in a serious accident? Or you’ve just lost your job? There can be a lot of pain in the Present Now.
There can also be profound boredom in the Present Now. How often is there really just nothing happening in your life at a given time—or what is happening around you is downright boring? Living in the Present Now at these times when pain or boredom are present can be pretty unattractive.
So what is all the fuss about living in the Now all about then? Why do we keep reading spiritual teachings about it?
The Eternal Now
In my experience, the Present Now as I’ve described it above is not what the teachings are about. Language is confusing. As I’ve said, I differentiate between two different Nows. The Now that we are being encouraged to discover is what I call the Eternal Now.
When you drop into the Eternal Now, you become aware of a profound sense of stillness and peace that pervades everything. A silence. You realize, Oh this is Reality! There’s something very familiar about the dimension you’ve dropped into—like something you’ve always known, but have forgotten about. There’s a pure sense of Being that is present within and around you. It’s very real, almost electric in its intense presence.
This is the Now we’re encouraged to discover. But how to get there? I think we’ve all had at least glimpses of it in life, moments of discovering it. But it’s hard to know how to get there—and once there, how to stay there.
A Key to Entering the Eternal Now
Ironically, one of the best keys to entering the Eternal Now is by coming into the Present Now: coming fully present to what is happening right here, right now around you and inside of you. But you need to realize that becoming present in the Present Now is not the goal—it’s a doorway into where you want to go.
So, here’s what you can do to experience it. Sit down comfortably somewhere, take a deep breath, and relax your body. I find it easier to at least start with eyes open—open, but focusing softly. Start with looking around you at objects that are present in your environment. Look closely at them; really see them as they are. Bring all your awareness to this. Don’t think about what you’re seeing—just see.
Then put your hand in front of you and really take a look at your hand—every part of it: the color, shape, texture of it. Don’t move into any thoughts about your hand—just observe it closely. Put all your awareness there.
Now clap your hands. Hear the sudden sound. Feel the tingling in both hands. Be fully aware of these sensations.
Become aware of the smells in the environment around you. Hear any sounds, near and far, that are happening. Be present with all your senses and what they are experiencing in the moment.
Now be aware of all your body sensations. Go through your body and become aware of any stiffness, discomfort, tingling, sense of relaxation you may be experiencing. Feel the air on your skin. Become aware of your breathing and how this feels in your body.
Notice that when you’re putting your awareness on what is happening here and now like this in the present moment, rather than on thoughts—there is already a stillness, a clarity that happens. There’s a sense of simple beingness. There’s no time—just awareness. Very relaxing, very peaceful.
Feeling Your Way into a Deeper Dimension
Now see if you can just drop down deeper inside yourself. You may wish to close your eyes at this point—or not—whatever feels comfortable. But feel around inside your awareness for a portal, a doorway that is open, that you can just drop through. It’s there—just feel for it. When you find it, let go and allow yourself to fall back through it. You will know when you move through it; you will feel a sense of shift, a knowing that you’ve entered another space of awareness, another dimension…
When you’ve entered this new dimension, you recognize that it’s a space that has always been there within you. You’ve generally not been aware of it, because you’ve been focusing your attention on what is in your mind–and this space is something that exists outside of your mind, so you’ve missed it.
There’s the awareness of eternity here. Time has stopped—you realize it actually never has been real. There is just this reality of continuous newness—ever unfolding.
The sensation of being here is totally familiar, yet not at all dull. It continuously feels fresh and exciting—even scintillating. All of life lives here. Presence. Joy. Love. Profound relaxation and peace. Pure Being. When the Eternal Now emerges within you, all of you melts into it. Naturally, with a sigh of relief. This is your Home.
Time is Leaving, along with Third Dimensional Reality
Moving into this Eternal Now is what’s happening to us now. Our life is not stopping–it will continue on. But we are gradually moving away from the experience of time passing and into the Eternal Now, whether we’re ready for it or not. That is why the experience of time is getting so strange. Third dimensional reality is rolling up; and with it, the illusory experience of time. Time has been part of the “game” here in third dimensional reality. As we move more and more into the Fourth Dimension and eventually into the Fifth Dimension, time will likely become more and more a weird experience—until it disappears altogether.
How exciting! And yet how disconcerting and confusing if we are not ready for this. What will happen to our life when time disappears? What about planning for events in the future? What about remembering what happened in the past, so we know what we’re supposed to do now and in the future?
If we’re familiar with what living in the Eternal Now is like, these concerns won’t arise for us. We know that everything just takes care of itself. Life simply unfolds, one eternal moment at a time. Everything is happening all at once—but this is not confusing. All we need to do is be present and watch how life lives itself. Perfectly. Wondrously.
Ready or not, it looks like this is the experience that awaits us.