I wrote this post back in February when I was starting a new Lyme protocol. Four months later, I think the message still resonates. Many people these days speak of the benefits of "seizing the day," of "living in the moment," or of "being here now." Being fully present in life means you're not dwelling on past events, nor worrying about potential problems of the future. Living life in the moment can be significantly beneficial in numerous ways; one may appreciate and enjoy more of the little things in life, one may do things and go places they wouldn't if they were playing the "what if" game, and one may begin to take responsibility for the situations in their life (which is extremely freeing!).
Eckhart Tolle, best selling author of "The Power of Now" says, "Nothing has happened in the past; it happened in the Now. Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now."
The Buddha has been quoted as saying, "Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment."
Day to day, I work to follow the words of these wise men, and have seen huge changes in my life since I began this practice. Personally, I find myself a happier and better person overall for living my life this way.
That being said, I have to disagree with Eckhart and the Buddha, who propose that to live a truly fulfilling life, we are to live in the Now 100% of the time.
I say this because there are times in life when we need to look back at the past, to contemplate the lesson's we've learned, in order to make better choices for ourselves.
And, even more importantly in my opinion, there are times when looking to the future can bring a tremendous amount of hope to get us through our current situations.
For example, last week I started a new natural therapy to treat the Lyme bacteria that are currently floating around in the cells of my body. Three days in, I was feeling great, both physically and emotionally. I awoke at 2:30AM, the morning of day four, feeling like I had been hit by a bus.
All of my muscles and joints ached, I was having hot/cold flashes, I was nauseated... I had to kick my boyfriend out to the couch, so I could roll around the bed in misery for the next four hours. After finally getting back to sleep for another two hours, I woke up to start my day the best I could, now with a pounding migraine in addition to the other symptoms. It took me 20 minutes to gain the strength to sit up in bed, and once I did I started having tunnel vision and the sensation that whatever was left over in my stomach from dinner the night before wasn't going to stay there much longer.
My boyfriend, Dominic, was a huge help to me at this time. He made me a fresh juice to make sure I was getting the nutrients I needed and set me up on the couch with some movies before he had to head out to the office. I spent the better part of the next two days on the couch, with full body pain, brain fog, and unable to even think about eating solid food. The two times I did try to eat (at Dominic's insistence), well.. it wasn't pretty.
I should tell you, the symptoms I was experiencing are all a part of the process to reach my end goal: eliminating the Lyme bacteria and coinfections from my system. When the bacteria begin to die off, as a result of the potent herbs, they release toxins (known as endotoxins) into the blood stream which need to be removed from the body. While I am taking supplements to help the detoxification process, it still takes time for this to happen and in the mean time, I was experiencing what is called a Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction, aka "Herxing."
As I was hugging the toilet after my second attempt to keep down food, I found myself thinking, "This 'Now' really sucks!"
I was then reminded of a phrase my chosen family uses, "embrace the suck."
After two days of near constant physical pain in every cell of my body, I was unsure how exactly to embrace this level of suck. So I began looking to the future. I imagined how I would feel immeditely after the Herx was over. Then I began to see myself in six months, after my treatment is over. I was envisioning all the things I will do in the future, things I am unable to do at this point in my life due to this dis-ease.
And I found this really helped. I spent the rest of the afternoon thinking about my future, and how to share this insight I'd just had with others. That evening, I began to feel the Herx symptoms subsiding, I had a little more energy, and I found myself again able to enjoy little bits of the "Now".
I started one step at a time. Instead of pretending to appreciate everything going on in the moment, I found little things to be grateful for. First, I had my cat, Honey, cuddling with me on the couch and I was so grateful for her presence. Next, I was able to get to the kitchen without feeling like passing out; a big improvement. Finally, I was able to hold down solid food! I continued this for the next 3 days, until I was finally able to make it to the grocery store on my bike and go out on a date with my wonderful boyfriend.
So, from all of this, here the main point I'd like for you to take away:
While living in the moment is in our best interest most of the time, there are moments in our lives when living in the Now can be extremely painful, sometimes even unbearable. It's in these instances where looking to the future can give us the strength we need to survive, and to eventually thrive. If you or someone you love is having trouble Carpe Diem-ing (seizing the day), it may help to create an empowering vision for the future. By remembering that things really will get better, and having specific images of the future to bring to mind while embracing the suck, it will make the transition from the "present Now" to the "future Now" just a little bit easier.