Using the “Not Now” Mantra
June 5, 2009 § 4 Comments
In the blog “To Experience or Not To,” I mentioned the mantra “not now,” and a thoughtful reader, who is also one of my students, pointed out: “After re-reading the new blog a few times, there’s one thing that I feel might not be entirely clear. In step 2 you mention the mantra “Not Now” – but it’s not fully explained in its application. Those of us in your class know what it means, of course. But in the context of the blog it sounds almost like an act of denial, rather than a mantra that provides one with the ability to focus on the most important task at hand. Just an observation, not sure if others are reading it this way…”
What a great comment! Let’s look at the sentence before that (“To Experience or Not To”) to see why I might have chosen the mantra “not now” for this particular practice.
It says: “Do not label any experiences you are having. Not for now!” The operative word here is “label.” You need not deny the experiences you are having, since you are here to experience this phenomenal world; instead, you deny the labeling of your experiences unnecessarily and negatively. To label in this way would defeat the purpose of being here in this world. Remember you are here to experience, enjoy, and enlighten!
Consciously saying, “not now” in this sense protects you from both obsessive labeling and from becoming absorbed in random thought processes. It stops you from falling into an abyss of negativity, and instead brings you back to right here, right now. Of course, you have to follow the rest of the steps as mentioned in the previous blog, “To Experience or Not To!” I hope that this is all clear. Also remember the third step, which gives you the choice to “label” your experiences positively. You have many options on hand: To Experience or Not To, for instance!
Additionally, we can explain the mystery around the mantra “not now.” The word “mantra,” in a traditional sense, means a sacred word or words offered by a teacher to focus and concentrate a student’s mind by constant recitation–loosely speaking, of course! Mantra also means that which protects you by constant recitation. At minimum, a mantra gives you a mental focal point that is neutral, so you are focused on one object at a time and not absorbed in negativity and random thought processes. As mentioned in the previous blog, the mantra “not now” is used in a specific way, with conscious awareness, so that it breaks the pattern of obsessive labeling of our experiences. How?
Well, let us see! For example, you are sitting in your apartment, by yourself, watching ongoing traffic. And Lo! All of a sudden from nowhere (It is actually not true; it does come from somewhere) you have a panic attack just because you remembered a bully from your school constantly calling you names, and specifically saying, “You are stupid, and you are going to flunk! You are so stupid!” You are certain that no one is in your apartment calling you names; nothing is going on around you, but you are still experiencing a panic attack as if it is happening right here, right now. But wait! How true is it? Well, you are by yourself, aren’t you? Yet, before you even begin to understand what is happening, you are already breathing short, noisy, panicked breaths. Why? That particular experience, no matter how insignificant–or how devastating–has left a deep mark in your unconscious. If you closely watch it, you will see many negative “labels” are attached to that particular experience. These labels, by the way of association where “like attracts like,” quickly gather force to attack you at this moment, and you are freshly re-experiencing the same experience as if it is happening right here, right now. How true is it? In reality, no one is around– yet, panic sets in!
Instead of going back and forth with thoughts such as, “Well, I should have taken care of him then. I could have punched him in his chest, because he had asthma and could not have come back to attack me again. I am so weak. Why couldn’t I? I am so pathetic!” You can stop for a moment, say, “not now,” and start breathing deeply, as I mentioned in step 1 in the previous blog. Then follow the rest of the steps as needed. What seems to be the better way to you? To keep on reliving the experiences that do not exist in this present reality, or to be free from them for now and forever? You choose.
You might have to repeat the process more than once to be free forever. Remember, this is an ongoing process!
Just a reminder: These are simple exercises to reeducate your self in a unique manner, at a deep level. Try not to make it complicated. Remember, being simple, and being practical are of paramount importance to a Walking Yogi.