Undoing the thinking of our forbearers!
Being in the Now seems to be easier and more natural within some cultures rather than others, and culture is influenced by nature. How can we cultivate the state of mind that anchors us in being, in the Now, in the flow of life when it contradicts the strong influence of our forbearers?
Our sense of the world unfolds moment by moment, ever changing. Each discreet moment has its roots in the previous moment and is a seed for the subsequent moment.
We inherit interpretations of moments from our forbearers. Their interpretations become interwoven with ours, with our moments, our beliefs, our lives.
Enjoying the beautiful displays of flowers everywhere in Bali, exquisitely placed flower heads and petals on the ground by groups of young men, not concerned with whether the flowers would be seen and enjoyed by others, not concerned with the fact that a gust of wind or a clumsy guest easily could destroy the delicate display. If I had created these displays I would call for people to admire them and ask them to mind their step as to not disturb the patterns, wanting the display to last as long as possible.
Being brought up in Denmark means walking hand in hand with the future at all times. Upon meeting someone or doing something, it is immediately placed in a future context. Events are experienced in terms of telling someone about it later or looking forward to doing certain things with that person or considering how this new skill or relationship will play out in the future.
My Swedish uncle was once working in Sri Lanka, which when you fly over the island looks like paradise on earth. It is lush, and fertile and food is easy to grow. He was working on an infrastructure project which naturally required the local employees to be reliable. In order to motivate employees to turn up for work every day the company implemented a reward system that meant that if employees turned up for work every day till the end of the contract (except where there was a doctor’s certificate) then they would be rewarded very generously, in fact the reward was equivalent to a whole years salary.
In spite of this some did not turn up on the second last or last day! The Swedes were puzzled! In countries with cold winters people have had to work hard during the warm months to put food enough away for winter, otherwise they wouldn’t survive. This has had an impact on our thinking, it brings with it a future focus along with a focus on doing, and being industrious. The thinking arose out of the need to survive, but it had huge impact on our experience of the world, on our relationships and our quality of life. I believe this is generally the thinking of the Western world.
Being in the Now seems to be easier and more natural for some cultures than others. And culture is influenced by nature. How can we cultivate the state of mind that anchors us in the being, in the Now, in the flow of life when it contradicts the strong influence of our forbearers?
The requirement is that we stop and reflect on how we want to live, what gives us meaning, what gives us delight, what leads to wisdom and meaning? Choosing our interpretation of the moment requires some undoing, the undoing of the thinking and beliefs of those who came before us, not easy but possible.
We need constant reminding though and from personal experience it is so much easier when we are physically and emotionally on top. This means that we have to stay as sound as we can in order to have the surplus to choose our state of mind. We all have the ability to be mindful, and practice is rewarded by increased experience of ourselves as mindful (and we know the benefits of living mindfully, not only does it reduce stress and improve health but it also adds meaning to life.)
Personally the more I access being in the moment, the more moments of delight I experience – and who doesn’t want more of those!