“Be Here, Now”. They all say it. Echardt Tolle. Ram Dass. Buddha. Mindfulness gurus. Thousands of people, saying the same thing, in thousands of ways. It’s become a litany, a catch phrase, a truism that’s lost its meaning through over use.

Here, right now, is a slow breathing, clock ticking, truck passing, white duvet experience. It tastes of toothpaste and smells of April early morning, which in southern Africa is autumn, not Spring. But most of all, it is soft and spacious hearted. Can every morning be soft and spacious hearted? Can icy winter, late for work with the geyser broken yet again be soft and open hearted? Or, beyond personal experience, can tsunamis, earthquakes, uprisings against dictatorships, and the violent quelling of them, be met with soft and spacious hearts? As our world trundles into deeper chaos, more violent wars, children headed households, and environmental degradation can we find peace and inner stillness? If we can’t find it, we’re doomed.

The drama and hectic pace that is blowing our world apart is not only global, it is also intensely personal. How many people do you know who are not exhausted and dealing with some kind of emotional tsunami? We are in a vortex of chaos, and unless we can drop into the middle of it, with the surrender of a soft and gentle heart that can embrace it all, the vicious spiral will only increase. However from its centre, held without closing our hearts to any part of it, and responding from there with appropriate clarity and wisdom, we will have discovered the point of this grand all-fall-down experiment.

The size of the crisis is irrelevant; a broken coffee machine, a broken kid’s shoe when we’re late for school, a broken marriage, a broken nation or culture all offer the opportunity to take a deep breath and drop into the very midst of what is happening. Right now. With a heart that can smile and embrace this too. There is nothing we can afford to turn away from any longer. We can no longer avert our global crisis through fighting it, but we can transform it by being here fully and responding appropriately to each and every moment. In the midst of the darkest places, is the seed of purest light. It is each and every individual’s quest to find this seed of light. We find it through the soft hearted, present moment opening towards our full-on lives, and it is the seed that can save the world.

Sometimes that is hard to do. There is a fundamental issue that arises as soon as we start investigating open heartedness. Whether we are required to open to a child who’s being bullied at school, an irascible boss, a beggar selling “Funny Money” pamphlets or for another massive corporation destroying our fragile environment, we cannot open our hearts to those around us, until we open them first to ourselves. Until I open my heart to myself. To Me. Can I love ‘me’ first? All of me? Peevish, prickly, fractious, disheveled, blotchy me? Since I can’t find my open heart in someone else’s body, I have to start the journey with finding it within myself first, and embracing all the pain and longing for who I wish I were, but quite clearly am not. The Buddha stated that of all beings in the entire Universe, the one most deserving of our love, is ourselves.

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Being here, now is the phrase of being as fully open as possible to whatever arises in each moment. We learn first to develop a ‘witness consciousness’ that can hold all our experiences with tenderness and equanimity. This witness is like the ‘One who listens to the sounds of the world at ease.’ The witness understands the difficulties of life from the perspective of every individual even those who have been wounded enough to lash out as persecutors of others.

The witness speaks up when necessary against injustice, but it always does so kindly.

Being here now, is the process of learning to be honest and kind enough to ourselves in each and every moment,  that ultimately we can be can be kind and honest with others.