by Acharya Shunya
When I was in my late 20s, I went through what's known as a dark night of the soul. My only sibling — my eldest sister — passed away unexpectedly, and my marriage collapse around the same time. Suddenly, my nephew was without a mother, and my son was without a father. I found myself having to parent both these children, and having to parent my inner child that was deeply uneasy and distressed.
At that time — because I have a guru — I was able to notice how much my mind was living in the past and in my pain. My guru had already instructed me in observation of how my mind liked to linger in the past, find reasons to be unhappy in the present, and foray into anticipation about the future. In these states, my mind would create all these scenarios that are either distressing or alienating, but none of them are really real.
I knew, because I was deeply avoidant of the present in this dark night, that it was time to find some grounding. I knew that grounding could only be found through the yoga of being present in the presence of my true self. So I started this practice of observing my mind, and every time it frayed into the past, I would gently bring it back. I would simply speak to it, and say: "Now, let's take a deep breath, and come back here in this moment." If I found myself continuing to wander, I would sometimes touch my heart, sometimes touch my cheeks, and bring myself back.
When my mind continued to go skipping, hopping, or jumping into future formulation, I would similarly call it to come back, to enjoy our lives here. When my mind would create a dangerous scary scenario in the future, rather than feel frustrated or angry, I would pull it back into security and safety within in this present moment.
I often found it helpful to exhale deeply and maybe chant OM, the name of the Divine Universal. Gradually, surprisingly, my mind followed my instructions. I was able to meet my higher self and it started becoming obedient and stop taking these unsolicited trips into the past and into the future.
Ever since then, I have enjoyed being more present in the present moment. I have come to realize that being present is the key to solving problems, as well as to channel creativity and divine grace. In doing so, I have learned to be okay and not spook or scare myself, or become a victim of past wounds again and again. The past has expired and the future is not here. All you have is this beautiful infinite moment in the present season.
Learn more about how to cultivate presence and grounding in Acharya Shunya's bestselling book, Sovereign Self!