From history’s thought leaders to today’s meme stealers, there’s always been a common refrain that tells us how important it is to be mindfully present. What they don’t tell you us how difficult it is to do so.
Lao Tzu reminds us that depression is the result of living in the past and anxiety is living in the future. He finishes that quote with, “If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” While it is easy to read that sentence to mean that it’s peaceful in the present, the glaring omission of that and others so often drop-shadowed over a stretching woman in Lululemon pants is that being present is not always peaceful. That is an important distinction because being mindfully present is not about being peaceful, it’s about being fully aware. It’s about being able to sit in your discomfort and understand the messages your dis-ease is trying to communicate with you.
Lao Tzu did not say that the present is always peaceful, but that the present is where peace resides. We have to be willing to invest the time and energy into being mindfully present, because true peace is found in the art of letting go: letting go of the pain of the past and the uncertainty of the future. Letting go of the need to control outcomes or the opinions of others.
Peace is the result of learning to let go, and the only place that can exist is right now.
Never forget that I love you, and that excludes no one.