What does it mean to ‘Be Here, Now’? MFML’s Rakhee Jasani explores how this phrase has taken on extra resonance during lockdown. Rakhee also offers her suggestions for how to ‘be here’ when everything feels uncertain.
How easy do you find it to ‘Be here now’? Honestly, truly? And what on earth does it mean? I find it pretty slippery. It sounds easy? It isn’t. There are so many times that I find myself planning and projecting into the future. I can be in the middle of something that I’m enjoying and bam, I can’t let myself enjoy it. I begin to plan for ‘the next time’. The fear of not being able to hold onto that moment or feeling, means that I waste it. These days, I try to soften into the moment. Shrug at my mind, throwing me challenges and step fully into the moment.
‘Be Here Now‘ is the title of a book by Ram Dass, published in 1971 it throws light on one man’s inner transformation. We are all being challenged by our present circumstances to transform through a challenge to meet ourselves where we are. How are we meeting the challenge? I put together the retreats and challenges for Movement for Modern Life. When we decided to offer a second home yoga retreat as a support during a uniquely challenging moment, this phrase came to my mind. I knew that learning to be here, with our circumstances would prove fruitful.
Lockdown as Teacher
I have a tendency to over plan: I plan ahead, I put things in my calendar, I love to daydream, I spend a lot of time in the future. Except, that future is never quite how I imagined it. And I definitely did not plan to spend a large part of 2020 in my flat writing, teaching, musing, but most of all being.
That’s one of my biggest lessons. As I started to write this piece, I was thinking about the more mindful, meditative aspects of ‘Be Here, Now’. But actually, I was struck with the realisation that I haven’t really planned ahead for the last five weeks. A little perhaps: I’ve thought maybe about a yoga class I want to take, or scheduled a zoom call with friends. I have to think ahead a little about when I next shop or what I might need, but this is all planning within reason. I have loosened my grip on the need to have a rammed diary. And the result? Well, I feel relieved. I am here now, more often. My plans are more fluid and I find I’m living more in the present and less in an uncertain future.
What are you finding challenging?
What is it you think of when you hear the phrase, ‘Be Here, Now’? I think about ‘living in the present moment’. But what does that mean, and how do you do it? Well, I find that challenging moments can be wonderful teachers. It is really hard to ‘be present’ with challenge. And what do I mean by that?
Well, when I begin to feel difficult emotions or am facing something challenging, my mind starts to go somewhere else. I mentally turn and run. But, being present, might be to acknowledge this tendency, and even if you can only do it for a matter of seconds, to recognise where we feel it as a bodily sensation. What’s going on? I check in with my heart beating, I feel my jaw. Is it tense? Quite often, I feel challenging emotions as a grip around my heart or a vice grip at my throat with a clenched jaw, and a rigid expression. But, as soon as I notice it, the grip can soften and I can acknowledge the niggle and maybe make a little space for it.
Being present when communication is hard
Sometimes, we find ourselves in a challenging conversation. I am not good at these. In fact, I quite frequently go out of my way, literally to avoid these. But occasionally I brave these out. I tune in to what is going on physically when I find myself in a situation that would have me turn round and run. I also ask myself what I am finding challenging and why. Finally I try and feel my feet. I know, sounds a little out there. But seriously, actually feeling my feet against the ground, just helps me to feel stronger and to perhaps shift my attention for something that isn’t shouting at me!
What’s more, I’ve found that I have been able to have one or two challenging conversations during lockdown, without ‘losing’ the plot. By keeping one eye on my reactions and how I’m feeling the conversation, I’ve been able to stay present with what has been happening.
Relinquishing expectations and relinquishing control
I think that part of my battle with being here now, are the high expectations I have of myself, of others and of situations. By relinquishing these expectations, I find I can almost taste freedom. Being here now, does not require you to be here in a certain way. Nor does it mean you should have expectations of how others behave or react. This is perhaps one of the hardest things: to allow life to unfurl exactly how it is.
Do it all with a big dose of compassion
So, to be more present, I am loosening my grip on expectations. Life is allowed to unfurl and I am planning less. I face challenging emotions and moments by sensing into my body and identifying my physical reactions. I am standing on my feet and feeling how they touch the floor. Above all, though, I am approaching each day with compassion for myself and for all of us trying to find our way through this muddling, befuddling moment. How are you navigating your way through the present circumstances?
>> Inspired? Join us for our Home Yoga Retreat, exploring the theme of Be Here Now<<
Rakhee Jasani teaches for MFML on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Rakhee’s teaching explores how to Be Here Now through breath and movement.
About Rakhee Jasani:
Rakhee Jasani is MFML’s Wordsmith Maven and is currently teaching Live classes for MFML. As a child, Rakhee always had her nose in a book, so it’s little surprise that she now tames words. As she grew up she found that it was equally fun to spend time in her body as well as her mind. Rakhee edits the MFML blogs and writes and curates the courses and challenges. Before MFML, Rakhee co-founded and ran a youth arts charity which she left after 24 years to write about and teach yoga. Rakhee completed her training (200 hrs) at Yoga on the Lane with Naomi Annand and MFML’s Adam Hocke and she has also completed Mimi Kuo-Deemer’s Qigong for Yoga Teachers immersion. Rakhee loves to move just about everywhere.