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Monthly Musing: How to Live in the Present

Do you remember the famous line by John Lennon in one of my favorite songs “Beautiful Boy,” when he sings, “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”? We are all guilty of this to some extent.
Today, on Valentine’s Day, remember that love can only be spread by being present and not while preoccupied with your busy to-do list. In fact, joy, happiness, forgiveness, empathy, compassion, love, peace, blissfulness, and other positive attributes we seek to experience exist in the present. I recognize that most of us have busy lives and responsibilities, so the challenge we all face is how to truly live in the present.
Having worked on being present for years—reading all the right books like Eckart Tolle’s Power of Now (an excellent resource) –I still found myself being distracted often. In 2004, while meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama for the first time, I learned a new wisdom that has helped me be present and mindful more often. How do you limit distractions and remain present? Read below to find out what I learned from His Holiness (HH).
When you meet people that are enlightened you witness that they are in a present state 24/7. While I am not there quite there all the time myself yet – I am spending more time being fully present. Being present means finding a balance between passionate desire and dispassionate detachment. This balance is a crucial tool for genuinely living in the present moment. I learned this lesson from his holiness (HH) the Dalai Lama.
If you want to authentically act from the wisdom of your own spirit, which by default is always present, you must learn to embrace one of life’s most profound paradoxes; you must figure out how to combine passionate desire with a dispassionate detachment to the outcome. This dance of desire and detachment requires grace and practice but will reward you with a tremendous boost in your ability to spend more time in the present moment.
We are often rigidly attached to things turning out exactly as we want them to. A more evolved view is to understand that we must learn to simultaneously harness the power of our desires and practice detachment from the outcome if we hope to find happiness in the present. Though it takes daily practice, spiritually evolved people combine the creative power of their desires and the profound power of detachment to live in the present.
Desire is a force powerful enough to affect your destiny. Not realizing the power of your own desire is like trying to drive a car without understanding what a steering wheel is for. Someone who really knows his way around a steering wheel is Indy 500 legend, Bobby Unser. He believes “Desire … is the one secret of every man’s career. Not education. Not being born with hidden talents. Desire.”
Make no mistake about it, your desire – as channeled through your imagination, thoughts, intentions, and words—flows into the universe and attracts things, people, and circumstances. In the words of William James, “If you care enough for a result, you will most certainly attain it.” Contrarily, as we learned from Shakespeare’s tragedy, Macbeth, if our wants become an obsession–it can be fatal. The challenge is in connecting to one’s desires as a goal-setting visualization or manifestation, without the attachment that science has taught us can be counterproductive. The danger is when your desire becomes an obsession.
Spiritually evolved people understand that being present is a powerful prerequisite to living a fulfilling life in love, forgiveness, and compassion. We know innately that the very act of asking for our desires sends a powerful signal inward to our own spirit as well as outward to a loving and abundant universe. We know that the “act of asking” is a kind of deep humility and wisdom when a genuine detachment from the outcome accompanies it.
This is the key to being in the present. If you can know your deepest desires and ask the universe to help you achieve them without being attached to the outcome of your request, you are on to something powerful!
How do you develop a genuine attitude of detachment when you really, really, really want something to happen or work out a certain way? Especially early in the year when many of us have a practice of making fresh resolutions around what we want to achieve, I invite you to add the desire to be present. You will increase your time in the present if you practice holding your desires lightly – try to cherish and nurture them without clinging to them or forcing them.
When you force something, you always get the wrong results. As Belva Plain wisely said, “How helpless we are, like netted birds, when we are caught by desire.”
In meditation, many years before I met HH, I downloaded this wisdom: “Don’t try to work on being present, work on not being in your past or future. If you are neither in your past nor in your future by default, you are present!” I remember I was so excited about this realization because if you are in your past, you are sweating something that already happened and if you are in your future, you are anxious about the outcome. For a month after getting this download, I increased my journaling to every day and reviewed the journal at the end of the month. I was amazed to notice that I was never in the past. I get along with my parents, siblings, my ex, and even the family of my son’s killer. I don’t have an axe to grind with anybody. I achieved this through forgiveness.
My realization after more regular reflection in my journaling practice was that I was always in the future. So, I asked HH how to not be in the future. He acknowledged that forgiveness was a good way to heal one’s past. He said, “to not be in the future, while it is healthy to have a passionate desire, it is equally important to have a dispassionate detachment to the outcome.” He elaborated, “when you ask the universe to manifest your desire, add the words, ‘in the event you do NOT get the outcome you desire, you want an outcome that is in the highest good for you, the other person, and the Universe.’ You must build your faith to the level that if you do get a different outcome than the one you desired, then that was the right outcome because the Universe does not make mistakes.”
That was very freeing for me. There you have the secret to balancing passionate desire with a dispassionate detachment to the outcome –resulting in a powerful way to live in the present!
After the last 3 tough years of the pandemic, as you contemplate and update your 2023 resolutions, make a special effort to spend more time in the present. Truly, it is a blissful place where you can indeed manifest your heart’s desires. That is my hope and prayer for each of you!
I am here to help you and invite you to join me in March for my virtual masterclass — see below and use code “limitlesslove” to get 1/2 off for the next week.
Peace and many blessings!
Azim Khamisa
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