Be Here Now

author : malvey
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Your Past is History but the present determines your future. From the book 'Be here now' by Dr. Richard Alpert

“Be Here Now,” is actually the title of a book by one time Harvard psychiatrist, Dr. Richard Alpert, who had a typical late 60’s early 70’s type story about success, searching for meaning, trips on acid, and then discovers a life changing approach to living while tramping about India with a holy man. This journey is summed up in his book, “Be Here Now.”


Past is history but the present determines future

Alpert’s guru gives him the name “Ram Dass” which means, “Servant of God.” The essential message of Dass’ book is that the past is gone, an illusion which can exert all kinds of negative influences on the human psyche, the future is even more illusory, in that it is so transient. It could be years long, or it could be seconds - who knows? Ram Dass says that life can only be truly experienced in the present - in the here and now - and if we are to find peace and genuine freedom, we need to learn to live in the present, moment by moment, unencumbered by the past and free from demands of the future.


'Be here now' means giving up on allowing the past or future to discourage or defeat us.

Amazingly, the book was published in 1971 and is still one of the top sellers at I am not personally a fan of the “Don’t worry, just feel good,” school of living, but the book has a message that can speak to many people today who find themselves trapped in the past or afraid of the future. I read the book almost 30 years ago and the title came back to me a couple of weeks ago while I was doing my swim in the pool. I was fretting about my swim and thinking I would surely gas out when I had to do the swim part of my sprint triathlon a month away.


“Be here now!” I recalled the suggestion. Last week’s swim is history. There is absolutely nothing that can be done about history. The 500 meters of the Sprint swim is not here yet. Who knows – a giant tsunami might come along and roll us all to the finish line in ten seconds. But this stroke, at this moment. Well now, that’s something I can get into. I can reach, pull and recover like no other stroke. I can make this the best stroke ever. And when it is history, I can do it again. I can experience the pure joy of giving my absolute best to this task at this moment. “Wow – what a wonderful feeling this stroke is!”


When we develop the ability to be fully present in the one guaranteed moment we have, everything that may ever have gone wrong in the past loses it hold on us. Every barrier or difficulty we imagine the future holds will fade in the joy of a present moment well lived.


Don’t Let Your Past Defeat You

Does this mean that we don’t set goals or give no thought to training and preparation for our events? Of course not, It means we understand that great outcomes are built on excellence in the present moment. If you compare your swim times to top performers on the “Results” pages of triathlon web sites, it can be intimidating. What you thought was a great bike ride looks like a snail pace when you look at your mad-man biker buddy’s time on a 25-mile ride. Don’t buy into that kind of thinking.


As you journey on into the wonderful, if crazy, world of becoming and growing as a triathlete, you will discover that the most powerful time in your program is the present moment. Whether you are swimming, riding, or running. Forget about the tough mile that just was, or the incredible distance you have yet to go, just do what you are doing right now to the absolute best of your ability and deal with the next step or stroke when it arrives.


John Jerome in his book, “Staying With It: On Becoming an Athlete,” writes of the “satisfying jolt of pleasure” that comes from doing something really well. Like that wonderful stroke I executed in the pool. He writes, “When it happens you are given full possession of a moment. That’s when time stops… You are given a momentary glimpse of what might be possible, of what the human animal might yet fully be… it is very addictive.” (p.223)


The joy of excellence is experienced most fully when you learn to “Be Here Now.” May you have a wonderful supply of great training moments. Enjoy every single one – one at a time!



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date: August 31, 2004


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