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Over the course of the summer I wrote a lot about being present. These writings eventually turned into a multimedia/performance art/spiritual direction piece for the Leadership Summit, which I hope to show you soon.

The piece was highly personal given that I live a mostly fractured existence alternating between regret about the past and anxiety about the future. The problem with these two stances is that each pull me out of the awareness of the present. If I’m wishing I had done better in the past and live there, I can’t be present. If I’m anxious about what the future will bring and live there, I’m also not present.

Last week I assigned an article by Margaret Wheatley to our creative team. You can and should read the whole thing here. In it she writes:

“All fear (and hope) arises from looking backward or forward. The present moment is the only place of clear seeing unclouded by hope or fear. The nineteenth century Tibetan master Patrul Rinpoche stated this perfectly: ‘Don’t prolong the past, don’t invite the future, don’t be decieved by appearance, just dwell in the present awareness.’”

This quote got me thinking of my grad school professor, Dan Allender. As the waves of the Puget Sound crashed just outside our classroom, he gave us one of the most profound explanations of how to actually live in the present I had ever heard. Instead of thinking of time as linear - Past / Present / Future - he asked us to think of as cyclical and out of order - Past / Future / Present.

Stay with me. Here’s how he would break it down…

However you see the Past is how you will imagine the Future, and however you imagine the Future is how you will live in the Present.

Think about that.

If I believe the things that hurt me in the Past will always do so in the Future, chances are good that I will live in the Present with fear. On the other hand, if I believe that the future holds something better or different than what occurred in past, I’m suddenly free to truly live in the present. I’m aware. I’m in the moment. I’m no longer afraid. My fear turns into love.

Past / Future / Present

Try it.

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