No need to announce the future.
This now is it. This.
Your deepest need and desire is satisfied by the moment's energy here in your hand.
Throughout teacher training "live in the present," "there is only now," "just be" and other versions of the same rallying cry were fed to me without pause in my lectures, course books and daily yoga classes. And I joyfully aligned myself with the yogic concept that presence unlocks fulfillment.
Then I finish my 200 hours and revert immediately to my old ways, to "What's the plan? Where do I need to be that isn't here? How do I get to the next level?" mode. To updating my living list of what to ditch and what to acquire. To scheming up new ways of producing a more gratifying, more perfect life for myself. And that's okay. (Coming back to the real world was a bit of a shift, after all.) What isn't okay is how long I've let myself marinate in this "lacking" mindset before taking a step out of my ego to instead become the observer of my ego. (Months.)
Why did it take so long? You see, at this this point I have to admit something. Though it was a foundational component of our program, along with all the assigned reading and asana practice hours, I did not do the required meditation work. I didn't put in my stillness time, didn't quite deliver in the sitting department. And, truth be told, I believe that is the main reason I still have so much work to do.
I recently finished the best book on writing I've ever read, Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones. In it, Goldberg claims her writing improved as a direct result of regularly sitting in stillness, focusing only on the breath and the present moment. As Allen Ginsberg once taught her, "When the mind is shapely, your writing will be shapely." At the time she wrote the book, Goldberg had over ten years of zen meditation under her belt. She used it to reveal her true self to herself by patiently cutting away all the jabberings of the ego. Meditation made her writing more raw and true, she said. Reading her words gave me the motivation to get on my own ass and sit. I could use more rawness and truth in my writing!
It's also becoming clear to me that lucid dreaming - my other passion - can be improved through a regular meditation practice. I've been reading about lucid dreaming every night and every morning for the past month or so, and the more I read the more I realize I need to meditate if I want to thoroughly explore the subconscious and unconscious via lucid dreaming. After all, it's hard to remember within a dream that it's a dream and it's hard to maintain awareness once lucid. But awareness is a muscle that can be developed. The stronger the awareness muscle, the greater the capacity for profound lucid dreaming experiences. Meditation cultivates awareness like nothing else can. Thus I sit for dreamsake as well.
In a way, then, ironically it is my tendency towards aspiration that is making me get serious about meditation. I'm looking forward to applying its benefits to my writing and to my lucid dreaming practice. But on a deeper level, I'm looking forward to the simple bliss of present living that meditation helps create. I know it's fruitless to spend time wallowing in the past or anticipating the future (trust me - I'd rather not anticipate the root canal I have to get tomorrow morning). But it's one thing to know this and quite another to live it. Meditation will make it easier to reside in the now. So I'm starting now (with 23 minutes a day).
Because this, now, is it.