My first meeting with the concept of the here and now was around 28 years ago when I was involved in a 2 day retreat in Vancouver. As part of the activities, we were asked to compose a song to the here and now. We chanted repeatedly ¨here and now, here and now¨, adding personal goals and tools to keep us present in that moment. It was several years before I needed to call upon this skill.
Looking back, this wonderful experience of releasing the past and the future kept me interested in the theme. My self-perception at that time was that I was emotionally strong and life felt manageable. As I grew older and life, with its alternating sorrows and joys, confronted me with a more complex destiny, the intervals of life changes occurred faster for me. I was in fact a happy sailor for some time until, from out of the blue, life showed me my fragility.
The recent loss of a loved one has reminded me again that we can be at the mercy of the winds and that in order to ¨keep it together¨ I needed to find the calm amidst the grief and anxiety of my loneliness and pain. I found myself drifting in a sailboat out to the sea of the unexpected in my daily life. Through these difficult moments I was desperately aware of the vital necessity to stay afloat.
If our here and now is a moment of love or a very joyful one, it is easy to maintain ourselves there and we want to stay forever. When the current circumstances are horrible, our tendency is to escape and retreat to other realities. The challenge is to restore our health and sanity, so it is important to have some pre-acquired tools that work for us in these critical times. The more prepared we are for the arrival of the hurricane, the better we can maintain our centre.
As we sail through life´s channels our sailboat is sometimes favoured with winds that keep us on the right course, but sometimes the absence of the wind keeps us immobile. Alternatively, strong winds may try to sweep us away on a different journey and the storm could generate anxiety and fear. We have to believe that even during the worst weather there exists a place of calm. Maybe at the bottom of the sea there is a serenity untouched by the surface turmoil; for example, when we choose to retreat to a place of refuge. We may be tempted to seek the outcome of our choices in the future, but I contend that it is the daily chores in the boat, the activity of working here and now to maintain the sailboat on course, that can maintain that place of serenity.
How to get into the here and now is different for everyone. The more tools we learn to practise and adapt to our personal style in order to gain access to the calm space of the present moment, the easier it becomes to deal with bad weather. It also helps to remember that all things do pass and life is generally not meant to be predictable. When I have found myself in a storm of confusion or drama, I have personally obtained relief and support with the use of meditation tapes, exercise, physical labour, time in nature, dance, yoga, helping others, loving others, butoh dance, mime, magic, clowning and art. I use these techniques consciously during the hurricane to stay afloat, waiting for a better wind.
Gerardo holds a Masters Degree from the University of British Columbia. He has taught Spanish, mime, clown, magic and physical theatre techniques for many years.