Spiritual Networks

Being in the Moment is Evolutionary

Allan Schnarr, M.Div., PhD.
Submitted for publication to the Institute of Noetic Sciences 5/11

NOW HERE THIS                                            
            Being in the moment is evolutionary!
                                                                  by Allan Schnarr, M.Div.,PhD.

The surprise of the unexpected becomes the wonder of what is
becomes the opportunity to influence
 what is coming to be.
I flow … or I suffer.

The Chance to Evolve

We are all seeking something better in life.
                                                                                                The Dalai Lama

There is an energy in this moment.
There is an energy calling to awareness.
There is an energy awakening awareness to the approaching choice.
There is one energy flowing through every choice creating what is meant to be.

There is a direction to this energy’s flow, a purpose revealed, as what’s meant to be comes to be. I am in this moment to discover my place, and choose my part, in the unfolding creation of each new now. In each moment of awareness and choice, I join in the evolution of all that was as it becomes what it is meant to be. I take the chance to flow with the universal purpose. I evolve!

Can I allow simply being present to what is
to gradually fill me up with awareness of
what is on the edge of coming to be
and how I may be a part of it?

If I want to join the grand adventure of universal purpose, I need only follow these four simple steps:
1. Stay Here,
                           2. Let Go,
                                                 3. Feel This,
                                                                           4. Engage.

They are the way of continual healing and growth.

1. Stay Here.
Nothing changes until it becomes what it is.
Fritz Perls

How easy is it to be present? It seems simple enough – I’m just here, that’s all. Whatever. What it is. What else can it be? Where else can I be?

Perhaps my deepest learning in my own healing journey was how hard it is to stay present. I’m sure the most frequent encouragement from my first teacher/healer, Michele, was, “Stay with it.” I grew to understand that this meant staying with my body, with my awareness of the energy flowing through me at any given moment. As I learned to cultivate embodied awareness, I steadily discovered the meaning embedded therein. Each vitally important meaning became clear in my thoughts, and as I tuned in to them, I recurrently lost my body. What a paradox. What a challenge!

I believe that thoughts can only be about the past or the future. As soon as I identify the meaning of this moment, it has passed. As clearly as I ponder what the future might hold, the present becomes fuzzy. The present is a flowing wave; my thoughts can only stop the flow.

Freeze frame the wave. Think it through. Piece out the foaming cap that claimed the air a moment ago. Ponder the physics of how the energy was moving horizontally while the water rose and fell. Understand how the sand was sucked as the water pulled upwards. Just know that while you grasped those details, the wave passed you by. It is breaking now only in your mind.

What a wave you made to break!

When you think you’ve got it, the moment has passed. What you hold up in your fist with strained ownership is no longer there. The moment you stop to get control, you grasp only what was, telling yourself it is yours now. The illusion you have created is indeed entirely yours to claim. You grip the past as if it were the present.

Now is never what it was. Thinking cannot make it so.

As much as I need my thoughts to get the meaning of this moment, I need to hold them lightly. I need to stay anchored in my body if I want to stay present. What a challenging mystery! To feel the moment – and to mind its meaning. I believe this experiential challenge to the bodymind is the source of the development of mindfulness as a discipline in both Yoga and Buddhism, and of its lifegiving spread in the West. Mindfulness is simply the practice of staying present. It is the work of every moment of a lifetime.

Now is all. Let it be what it is.

What makes mindfulness such a challenge is not simply the reifying nature of thought. It is the recurrent overload of experience. So often too much is happening for me to process, or even be aware of. In the extreme, overwhelming experience is traumatic: something is happening that is intolerable to me. It threatens the continuity of my awareness. When I can’t process what’s happening, I shut it out. I’m not seeing what I’m seeing. Not hearing what I’m hearing. Not feeling what I’m feeling. I check out of the present moment. It’s not happening. I’m not here.

Living through intolerable experience heightens my vulnerability to getting overwhelmed. Too much is too often happening too fast. Something is surely about to go very wrong. Recurrence of the trauma may be imminent. I can’t take the risk of staying with what is happening. I have to get things under control to make sure nothing bad happens. I do this by thinking through the past and/or the future. I ignore the present.

Beginner’s mind is the key to staying present. I approach each moment with innocence: I do not know what it holds, and that is OK. I learn to cultivate safety, the quality of being that allows awareness to be open rather than closed. Mindfulness is the cultivation of safety, and as such it is the essence of every healing journey.

Now is the edge where anything is possible. What’s next? Will it be pleasure? Will it be pain? Can I allow innocence? Do I prefer ignorance?

Innocence or ignorance? My choice spells my presence – or absence.

Am I safe enough to experience the truth of myself in the moment?

Am I safe enough to stay here?


2. Let Go.
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
                                                                                                                        Lao Tzu

To stay present I need to let go. I breathe out, releasing what was. I breathe in welcoming the surprise that is on the verge. I breathe out, allowing the loss. I breathe in, allowing the change. I let the wave flow through me.

I let go or I suffer. If I cling to what was in order to prevent what might be, I suffer.
Now is never what it was: if I’m stuck in the past, I’m depressed.
The present is lacking.
Now is never what it will be: if I’m trapped in the future, I’m anxious.
The present is dangerous.
As I tense up to cling to the past and block what might soon go wrong, I suffer. The refusal to let go means now is never enough – and nor am I. And so, I suffer.

If I’m convinced I must control what happens next, I suffer. The control to which I cling is an illusion; I set myself up to fail. My habitual mindset fears the inevitable loss of control – and in my dread, I suffer. Inevitably I am out of control – and so, I suffer.

My resistance to the unexpected creates a backlog of unfinished business that keeps calling for attention. The longer I ignore it, the more likely something is about to go wrong. The attempt to escape this discomfort by seizing control simply postpones and inflates the inevitable loss of control that is already happening.

I may cling to having my way, to my next drink, being right, to having everything in its place, to my next cigarette, my latest electronic gadget, having the remote control, to getting your approval, directing your behavior, to amassing wealth, eating my comfort food, to having my expectations fulfilled, to having God on my side. I may cling to my belief that I determine what comes next. I must!
I may be adamant that I make the pleasure;
I make it stay.
I may convince myself that I ward off the pain;
I make it go away.
I may believe that I have everything under control – and I may ignore the tension that builds toward pain as I shore up the bubble that’s bound to burst.

As I cling to controlling what I fear – I feed my fear – and, as the dreaded inevitable approaches, I suffer.

The river of life is relentless. The future flows through the present into the past. Clinging is doomed. Whitewater looms. Reality requires letting go. Uncertainty is liberating.

Breathe out so as to be able to breathe in!
In the exhale, I find my capacity to let go.
As I breathe out, I release my suffering.
As I exhale, I am ready for whatever comes.
Breathe in, breathe out, start over.
Flow with the wave.
Allow the surprise.

Let go or cling?
What is it I need to accept so that I can let it go?
Am I willing to replace the illusion of control with awareness and choice?

3. Feel This.
We must feel everything;
otherwise the world loses its meaning.
                                                                                                Carlos Castaneda

To stay present I need to feel this moment. The energy moving in my body is always now. My body focuses my awareness. Now, here, this! Here I process the energetic information that locates my inner world in relation to the outer. Now I feel my place in the living network of which I am a part. This whole gestalt has a meaning, which I discover through my feelings, and to which I respond. To stay present I feel the meaning in my body.

I feel my body or I suffer. To the extent that I tense up against what I am feeling, I lose myself and my place in relationship to all that is other. To the extent that I create chronic tension in order to ward off what I might feel, I lose my ability to be present. To the extent that I am not present to myself and my relationships, I am suffering. I feel my body or I am isolated, alienated, lost.

The more determined I am to control my feelings before they happen, or to shut down some of what I might feel, the more I suffer. I feel my body or I suffer – and – suffering is the call of my body to awareness! The past remains present until I feel the truth of it, in my body. Whether accumulated through resistance or overload, the unexperienced energy is stored in my body. There it rustles, building tension, harboring distress, calling for awareness and choice. Feeling my body readies me for choice.

The willingness to let go is the wisdom of uncertainty. Both are learned through the gift of emotion. Feelings are a surprise: they show up with a life of their own. The real problem with them is that I don’t know what they will become. Like any good monster, suddenly they’re just there, threatening my ability to predict and control things. The horror in feelings is in the loss of control. They swoop in, flood my reason, and carry my choice away. So says my fearful mind as it clings to control.

I was several years into exploring my bodily experience of emotion before I discovered how unknowingly determined I was, to know what I was about to feel, and what it meant, and what I would do with it – before I would let myself feel it! Again and again I realized the illusion I was creating. The truth was that I was already having the feeling. I could fight against experiencing it – and make myself suffer – or I could let it be, and stay with it.

I have come to recognize every moment of feeling as a step into the unknown. And, I have had to learn and relearn my uncertainty is not powerlessness. I experience my power when I’m aware of what I’m feeling as an opportunity for choice. My intentionality guides the energy in my feelings and influences what is coming to be. What will I do with the energy within me right at this moment?

First, I need to allow myself to experience the feeling. I breathe with it, allowing the rhythm of my breath to connect with the emotional energy. I inhale, letting in all that is happening around me. I breathe out, finding my place in the whole. I breathe in, receiving the energy-as-information given by all that is other. I exhale, recognizing the relational context within which I say who I am. As I stay with my breath, allowing it to be the carrier wave for my feelings, I come to clarity about the embodied meaning of the moment. My body tells me about my self-in-relation. I need only stay with it.

Each recurrently unexpected feeling reveals my part in the overall flow. I have the opportunity to recognize my place in what is happening, and to participate in what is about to happen. I get to join the evolutionary movement. The universe is becoming a better place. My feelings inform my participation as what is becoming unfolds.

Pleasure unveils every spark of new life. It may be the warmth of an embrace, a promise fulfilled, a clear blue sky, the moment of discovery, the approach of an orgasm, confidence in the next step, the smell of a lilac, the sound of a sigh, the feel of water flowing over my skin, holding hands, going the distance, swimming against the current. Whatever the pleasure, it identifies a lifegiving moment. What is happening is nourishing, for me, and for whomever or whatever I love.

In moments of pleasure, there is an uplifting energy in my body. I am buoyed up by the energy in the feeling. There is a sense of easily available power, the ability to be with the feeling in such a way that it may last. Evolution has taught us how to be with pleasure so that each lifegiving moment may be sustained. Of course it will end, but for now, I’m allowing it to last.

Pain reveals what is dying or needs to die. I may have a dull ache between my shoulder blades, a howling emptiness in the pit of my stomach, burning moisture flowing through my eyes, an explosive and crushing pain in my chest, an anguished longing for a lost loved one, a “D” on an important exam, a staggering sense of betrayal, the shock of precious possessions stolen, the torment of a loved one with end-stage cancer, or a stubbed toe. Whatever the pain, it identifies a moment that needs to pass. I need the pain to come to an end.

In moments of pain, there is a heaviness in my body. Something needs to return to the earth. Pain drains energy, and, commands my attention. It challenges me to focus on its source, to identify what is threatening my well being, and to allow whatever it is to come to an end. No more of that! Closely related to pain is anger, an emotion which carries abundant energy in short bursts. Healthy anger makes energy available to bring any threat to my well being to an end.

Pain and anger are teachers. They point to a lifegiving change that is needed if a threat to my well being is to pass. The fear in pain is that it will not end. The challenge is to soften so that it can be released, and to learn about its source so that it can be let go. To the extent that I tense up fearfully against the pain, to that extent I condemn myself to being stuck with it as it grows.

My life is carried through its ups and down by the feelings that come and go. My primary challenge is to stay with my feeling as it is happening. Then, as I let go in the pain, and welcome the pleasure, my developmental progress happens: I learn how to have more pleasure and less pain in the long run. Old ways pass. New ways emerge.

Every wave of emotion carries me to the edge of growth. I live. I feel. I learn.

The emotional wisdom that I gather over time fills in my place in the whole. Each moment of embodied meaning tells me who I am in relationship to all that is other. As I feel the meaning of my life, each and every moment, I have the opportunity – and indeed the responsibility – to participate in the betterment of our world. My feelings invite me to engage in evolution!

4. Engage.

What does the cosmos value?
Those who awaken to the splendor of the universe
and ignite life in others.
                                                                                                Brian Swimme

To stay present I need to engage with what is happening. The energy that stirs in my body calls to awareness and invites choice. Information as energy flows into me from beyond myself, stirring energy within. I discover myself in the midst of an exchange. I receive information, I locate myself, and I offer information in return. This is the relational reality of every moment. I breathe in, receiving what is given. I breathe out, expressing what I have to offer.

The wave flows to me. The wave flows from me.

Between receiving what is and expressing who I am lies intentionality. My intentionality guides the energy in my feelings and influences what is coming to be. What will I do with the energy I feel at this moment? How will I participate in the evolutionary dynamic unfolding now? The power is mine.

Intentionality and choice do not mean control over outcomes. However clear my intention, however focused my choice, what happens next remains a surprise. If I am clinging to the illusion of control, I am unwilling to allow the uncertainty in every moment of choice. The only way to participate in what is happening is to accept my place on the threshold of vulnerability. I do not know what is about to happen. I do not know if there is pleasure or pain to come.

I embody my intention through my choice,
and I am ready for whatever comes.
I embrace what flows into the moment,
and I join in as it flows forward.
I stop trying to make something happen,
and simply let it happen –
and, I join in the happening!

Purpose bonds the past to the future, creative act participating in story. The unfolding meaning is an act of mystery so complex it defies left brain linear sequencing. Participation in story will not be abstracted outside the flow of time. Only intuitive emotional flow can get embodied meaning, the felt sense of place in an ongoing story of which each perspective plays only a part. My awareness of what has been happening and how I feel about it, flows into my investment in what happens next.

There is no way to do a ‘linear lock step’ and stay engaged as the story unfolds. Preconditions, expectations, and assumptions take me out of the flow, out of connection with myself and the others who are part of the story. I am only the author of my part. I am not writing the story. The awareness and choices of all participants determine what happens next.

Together, we welcome the seed that is given. It is the gift of the past to this moment. Our attention is the sunlight it needs, our intentions the rain. The new life that emerges is a surprise to us all.

“Ah, so this is who I am now!” the universe marvels, just before it sighs and lets go.
“I accept that I am not now as I was,
so as to continually discover who it is that I am;
even so I am ready to engage in the revelation
of who I am about to become.
Every part of my being participates in the emerging creation.”

We are all engaged in the grand adventure of evolution. We do so by joining in the dynamic interactive process of making meaning. What we mean together is not an idea, but an embodiment, an interactive flow of energy as information. Each of us discovers our part in the evolutionary momentum. Each of us participates in the realization of our unique and yet intertwined destinies. Destiny is the completion of life purpose. Destiny is what happens with what I do with what has happened. Destiny is what evolutionary momentum does with my participation. It is not fate, not pre-destination, but co-creation. At each moment, my choice is my contribution to what the universe is becoming.

In the flow of this moment, each of us gives ourselves as we breathe life into the goodness of what is being created. Going with the flow means engaging ‘everynow’ with what’s next in our universal story. Now is the favorable time. This is the moment of salvation. We are always only here – together – on the cusp of creation.

In Summary: Flow Like Water!

Just being present
 in the moment in love is all.
                                                                                                Allan Schnarr

Going with the flow means swimming in the stream of universal consciousness. The water is flowing inexorably toward the betterment of All That Is. The ocean of well being for all is always downstream. It calls us ever deeper as the vision of what is possible refreshes itself.

There is one flow for all – and, the flow is evolutionary! I discover myself living in the Tao when I flow like water. I embody the way of non-dual action when I simply: Stay Here, Let Go, Feel This, and Engage. I participate in universal purpose without forcing my way. I am part of the one way for all.

The flow is simply love. When I love someone, I want their pleasure to last and their pain to pass. I want all to be well for them. Love feels the way things are, and then, love makes all well. Such is the movement in every creative act that makes the world a better place. Love is the activity of the Creator God. When I flow with love, I join God in the ongoing creation. I embrace all that is, and do my part to heal the past, and to birth a better future. I live now not simply ‘I’, but with universal love flowing through me.

When I stay here, when I let go, when I feel this, and when I engage:
I am love made flesh.
I become the I that is We.
It is We who are evolving as one.


Someday, after mastering the wind, the waves,
the tides, and gravity,
we shall harness the energies of love,
and then, for a second time in the history of the world,
we will have discovered fire.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


And we, with our unveiled faces,
Reflecting like mirrors the brightness of divinity
Are turned into the image we reflect.
This is the work of the One who is Spirit.
                                                                                                2Cor. 3:18

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