The new age, self help world, and most schools of yoga are big fans of the present moment. They are so into “being present” that they often glorify it at the expense of the other aspects of time, the past and the future.
You’ve heard the mantras:
“The present moment is all you will ever have”
“Let go of your past”.
“Don’t dwell on the past. Don’t dream about the future. Be in the present moment.”
“You have to let go of your past so you can have a future.”
Here is a radical idea. What if the richness of the present moment was rich precisely because of the past and future?
The past is real. It is full of life lessons you can learn from, information you can use to avoid making the same mistake twice, and rich with wisdom from those who have come before who can help you not have to learn things the hard way.
In this world of rapid technology advances, it can be easy to get enamored with what's shiny and new, while losing touch with what your past can teach you.
We live in a culture obsessed with software updates (It’s the reason you don’t want the iPhone 4, you want the iPhone 7!) - we all want the latest version, so why would we look back?
However the past is something to try and remember as much of as possible! Sure you don’t need to let it rule your life by clinging to your history - but if the past is not real to you than you can not create a meaningful future.
What you are now is as much as you have been. Work through your past, because it will help you shape your actions in the present so that you can create a powerful future.
The future is what is possible. The future too is real and is what we are creating for our selves and our children.
And this is a trip: The future is from the past.
I’ll say that again.
The future is from the past. Here are some examples of how this is true:
1. You are sitting in the sun experiencing the light of the sun presently in this moment, but that light is the past for the sun (it already produced it!) and therefore that light comes from the future. Why? Because the sun shined that light 3 minutes ago before it got to you.
2. Giving a present to someone is past for you (because you know what it is) but it’s future for the recipient (who has yet to be surprised).
3. The sanskrit word, “praja” means“the goodness you have left behind.” It’s any way in which you’ve contributed to the future. For example:
a. The ant you didn't step on that create more ants.
b. The book you wrote that will be read for generations to come.
c. The saying, “The forefathers did the farming so that the next generation could win the war, so that the next generation could learn music and art.”
d. The lasagna recipe your grandmother shared with you when you were a child that you make all the time, and will also share with others.
So in reality, we are living in the present, through the past, to experience the future!
The present is not the be-all, end-all moment in time.
In order to have a future, you have to live fully through your past. Therefore the future is behind you! The present is what lies in between.
What does being fully in the moment mean? It means to live in the fullness of time. In Sanskrit this is called “kalapurnata.”
Honor your past, celebrate your present, and be responsible for your future!
Bio: Amy Ippoliti is known for bringing yoga to modern-day life in a genuine way through her intelligent sequencing, clear instruction, and engaging sense of humor. She shares her passion for yoga, health, and earth conservation with her writings for Yoga Journal, Yoga International, Mantra Magazine, Mind Body Green, prAna Stories, and Elephant Journal. She has appeared on the covers of Yoga Journal and Fit Yoga Magazine and has been featured in Self Magazine, New York Magazine, Allure (Korea), and Newsweek and on the front page of Yahoo. A teacher on YogaGlo, she is a pioneer of advanced yoga education, co-founding, 90 Monkeys, an online and in-person school that has enhanced the skills of yoga teachers and studios in 65 countries. She is the co-author of the new book,The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga.
A while back, I was in an amazing yoga class. It was one of those “great instructor, 90-minute, the right level of hot, slept great the night before so I’m hitting all my poses” classes. In the middle of the class, during a long-holding pose, our instructor told us: “ How you show up on your yoga mat is how [...]