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The Art of Now

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Talk about living in "The Now" can be somewhat confusing. Living in a world of achieving and needing to get someplace has taken us so far away from the present moment that it requires an incredible amount of effort to find The Now. However, life offers many opportunities for connecting with The Now in the world around us -- whether it is through a deep yoga or meditation practice, a walk in nature or time spent making art.

I recently found The Now in a place that I never expected to find it: acting class. During a recent workshop, my teacher, Rachel, who specializes in what's known as the Meisner technique, broke the class into pairs for an exercise in improvisation. Each group had to come up with a sketch for a scene, including characters and plot, but the dialogue was supposed to remain open-ended. The idea was to get each of us to embody our characters and rely on instinct to guide our words and movements.

When we got on stage, I was forced to fully trust the moment and let it lead me into a conversation based on what I saw and sensed from my partner. At points, the teacher would call out for me to "drop in." What she wanted was for me to stop thinking about the right thing to say and, instead, just go with my feelings and gut.

The exercise required true surrender to The Now, which I realized is the same goal I have been pursuing for years as a yoga teacher and Shambhala student on the bodhisattva path! Like acting, the practice of yoga is about dialogue -- not with a partner, but with yourself. As my non-living teacher, Chogyam Trungpa, described in his book The Myth of Freedom, walking the bodhisattva path should teach you how to be good company for yourself. Learning to be one's own best friend is the art of the practice.

However, it is all too easy in the yoga world to get distracted from that inner dialogue by focusing on the teacher. It's similar to how we get caught up in the personal lives of famous singers, forgetting about the powerful music that truly matters. By focusing on the external rather than the internal, we lose sight of The Now. And The Now is so important because it brings freedom. You start to feel that time is not linear, that time does not really exist. In these moments, there is no teacher to meet or famous person to follow -- The Now is all that matters.

I have to thank my mentor, Nevine Michaan, for constantly reminding me to stay true to myself as a yoga instructor by teaching from what I know and have experienced. In yoga, it is possible to get trapped in the ego and illusion, just as it is in any other job or career. Michaan helped me learn how to use yoga to enhance and assist my life, not to let my life come second to yoga. I try to instill the same lesson in my own students.

This reminds me of the sanskrit word for earth, "bhumi." The connection to the earth, or the world around us, is essential to connecting with The Now and grounding us in what is in right in front of us. It is the raw moments of life that water our roots and feed our souls. So be, and be Now.

With love and light,
Osi

The Earth.
She is quiet, she is still,
she is solid, she is supportive.
She is love and balance and she is faith and steadiness.
She is freedom, she is birth and she is also rebirth.

-- Inspired by Walter De Maria's art installation "The Earth Room"

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