"Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present."
I love the urgency with which Aurelius writes. So different from the more common, soft and cautious platitudes we tend to exchange these days, worried we might offend or overstep. And as a creative and perpetual over thinker, I seem to do well this kind of advice; the kind that grabs me by the shoulders, looks me straight in the eyes and demands my attention. I hope his directness grips you in a similarly helpful fashion.
Isn't it remarkable, how much time we spend mentally preoccupied in the 'what ifs' of the future?
I've been forced to really dig deep with this advice lately, as I've helped my oldest daughter deal with some fearful thoughts, especially at night. Her mind wants to run wild at night, making relatively innocent things she's seen in the day become big, scary things she fears in the night. I remember feeling this way as a child and continuing to struggle with worry and fear well into adulthood; often feeling like my mind was a runaway train, never realizing that I had the power to get off or switch tracks.
We have had some really peaceful and tangible success in overcoming those fears by following Aurelius' advice.
Our conversations go like this:
Me: "Ok, you feel scared of _______. What do you think is going to happen?"
Her: "Well....I don't know actually....I can't think of anything."
Me: "Ok. Where are we right now?"
Her: "In our safe and cozy home"
Me: "That's right. And who is with you right now?"
Me: "That's right. I love you so much and I'm always watching over you, so you can relax. What do you need right now."
Her: "Sleep. I'm tired."
Me: "Me too. Lets both get some rest so we can have a wonderful day tomorrow."
We may have to repeat the conversation several times as she brings up new worries, but eventually she is calm enough to sleep peacefully. Eventually she remembers she is in the present. Our conversations help her understand the following truths. Truths we should all remember, when worry tempts us to leave the present:
The worrisome stories we tell ourselves about the future are usually fiction, not fact.
At this moment, the same weapons of reason that guard us against the present will be with us when we meet the future.
Our power, is always, in the NOW.
The very best place we can ever be, is present in this moment, grateful for its goodness and aware of any unhelpful stories we are telling ourselves that distort reality.
My friend, it is essential we remember to stay present. Like Eckhart Tolle wrote so beautifully years ago, our power is in the now. And if coming back to the now means literally taking stock of the room you are in, the sounds you hear, the air you are breathing and the exact action you are taking right now, do it!
Ground yourself in this present moment, recognize its goodness and witness the grip of a likely fictional future slip away. You have what you need now and you'll have what you need then. So be here, right now, fully.♥︎