A few months ago I had to take my car to a different mechanic than I usually got to for an inspection. Someone had recommended him because of his price and convenient location. Stepping into his waiting room, I was struck by the untidiness, loud TV playing and the "rough" clientele who were coming and going; it was located in a "lower class" neighborhood. As I was waiting for the car to be inspected I noticed a book on a table about mindfulness. I thought it unusual that such a title should be found in such a "non-mindful" location. I assumed someone had left it there, but when the proprietor came back in - also a man a bit disheveled and "rough and ready" - I asked him about it. He proceeded to tell me that the book actually belonged to him because he practices mindfulness and meditation. He then produced from behind the counter several more books like that and went on to tell me about how he devotes his life to self development and spirituality!
Wow, what a lesson unto itself that was. Never judge a book by its cover !
But it was the following idea that he shared with me that had the biggest impact. He said that from his learning and experience, he has found that those who dwell and ruminate on the past tend toward depression, those who preoccupy themselves with tomorrow toward anxiety but those who are present with today are the happiest and calmest. Such a simple but true insight. How many lost opportunities we lose in the present moment because we're not even there!
That's what an unsuspecting car mechanic taught me. Be present, enjoy and savor every present experience.
The question is, however, is there any place for thinking about the past or future? After all how can we learn or be inspired from what has taken place and how can we prepare for the future?
The answer is to create emotional space for such thinking. By emotional space, I mean, to decide when I can think productively about the past or future in a manner that stimulates positive motivation and not sadness or anxiety. It means choosing deliberately and mindfully to reflect upon the past to gain inspiration and to appreciate or to project forward into the future to plan and to dream.
So don't be deceived by every person you meet who seems to have mastered the art of staying in the present moment, for sometimes it's actually a survival tactic. It's the safest place to be without having to confront ones guilt over the past and feeling of no accomplishment or it's fear and lack of confidence in the future that nothing good will happen.
So, actually mindfulness has its role in the present, past and future. Each time zone needs to be filled with appreciation, hope and ambition.
The name of Hashem is an anagram of "He was - He is - He will be. “It is our responsibility to emulate His middos (attributes) , we also must mindfully and deliberately be present in the past present and future to become enriched and grow from each zone we choose to be in.