What’s So Great About Now?

We are two weeks into the spring semester, and I have a brand new group of students, 105 of them, to be exact. I told them this class wasn’t going to be like their other classes, before inviting them to inwardly survey their posture.

After the inevitable adjustments and repositioning, we took a deep breath and together we sighed away our collective morning hassles. The traffic, the parking, the rush, and any trace of resistance that may have surfaced along the way. After talking about the shift that naturally follows that first round of conscious breathing, some students offered to share their experiences. One said that it brought him into a heightened state of awareness.

Exactly! Because the mind follows the breath.

Another student asked, without one ounce of sarcasm, what is so great about being here, now, when most everything sucks. A wonderful question.

I’m not sure why, but I thought of Christopher Reeve. I asked my students why it was that some people, who have problems much bigger than our own, are able to live in peace. In Reeve’s case, the tragedy he endured trumps the minor inconveniences most of us face on a daily basis, the trivialities that send us into fits of rage. Yet, he lived the rest of his life working on behalf of others with spinal cord injuries. Although he faced his shortened life as a quadriplegic, he lived it with a renewed spirit of gratitude and purpose.

Why is it that the rest of us are so easily upset and indignant over the most minor inconveniences? I pressed.

Some people see things differently, one insightful student offered.


Because everything is perception. And so, despite our universal hardships, some will suffer more than others, not because of the actual events, but because of our interpretations of these events.

It’s what the yogis and the mystics and all sages and masters have been saying for ages–look around and see into your own mind.

2 responses to “What’s So Great About Now?

  1. Simon the Englishman

    Hi Donna,
    Just back from my yoga class and thought I’d resurface. “My sweet lord” has gone quiet on your web page and lots of hits on the blog, (like the new name. Is the background a bit different too?). Speaking of interpretations of events I haven’t been able to talk with my Canadian connection for almost a couple of weeks. This always makes my mind go bananas and my heart pine. It always turns out that she is snowed under with work and needs what little time is left for her son and partner. So its usually me projecting and mis-perceiving that causes my angst. My little “philosophical” rant about the imbalance in male female guru/mystic/philosophers derived partly from this. Since its mostly (my perception) male enlightened types that wag their fingers disapprovingly of romantic love (its “desire”, ergo to be avoided). Does this mean that we all have to be platonic or aloof or tantrically transmute it or deal with it but know it isn’t really “the way”? Old Alan never seemed to have a problem with it.
    Looking forward to some pics with future posts (hint). Saw your cat on a windmill post. He’s pretty cute too.

  2. (Edited Version of Response)

    Hi Simon,
    So glad to hear from you. Yes, I decided to eliminate the audio track, thinking that for some people, it might be bothersome, especially if they have their own music playing. And yes, I’ve been learning WordPress and making many little changes – and my brother has been helping quite a bit, especially with the main website, which required working with Dreamweaver. So, I’m learning many things!

    So often we project, which is why the masters – the Zen Masters, the Yogis, and all the mystics, constantly remind us that what we are looking at, when we look into the world, is our own minds.

    In Yogic terms, our energy is obstructed at the lower chakras, and we simply can’t see. It is like having blinders on. We are overly preoccupied with survival, fears, etc., and project that paranoia on all our scenarios, fancying others are thinking about us in a certain way, when perhaps they weren’t thinking about us at all!

    With regard asceticism, that’s actually one of the big differences between Hindu Kundalini Yoga (i.e., Sivananda – who I happen to love), and Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, who happened to be a Sikh. Yogi Bhajan emphasized family life. And it’s not just an arbitrary difference – in the latter view, nature as a whole is seen as the sacred ground of the divine. The physical body is no different-it is a temple and a sacred creation, and of primary importance, has the ability to elevate us, as humans. Through practices, like breathing and chanting, we affect the glandular system, the nervous system, and thus elevate our consciousness. To neglect this sacred vessel would be strange, confusing and negligent. It would mean wasting our potential and purpose as humans!

    This view also means that as householders, as long as we don’t engage in degrading and abusive activities, there’s no reason we can’t enjoy the things that the body is meant to enjoy. We learn to live a balanced lifestyle.

    Alan Watts never alligned himself exclusively with one system of practice. For that, he was criticised by some. But you might also consider that it allowed him to supersede any limitations of exclusivity.

    And that was our black cat, Jacques you saw. He’s in love with a pillow!

    Thanks for popping by!

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