Some years back I started to attend an A Course in Miracles (ACiM) Meetup group. We read the text together and talked about it at length. While I found immense value in the philosophy it espouses, I became particularly attracted to the language in the text regarding the difference between the Past,  Present, and  Future.

It seems the past is the domain of our ego. The ego defends the past almost religiously, as the past is the only element of time that the ego deems meaningful. This makes sense to me, as the past contains so much of what has shaped our lives today. However, dwelling on these past events keeps us from being present in the current moment.

The Course is written quite clearly on this point. It reveals that a future comprised of, or which springs forth from, the past is like a revolving door. If we are caught in this cycle of clinging to past triumphs and past failures, we aren't able to awaken to the possibilities of the present. We create our future from the very past our ego voraciously defends!

But I know from my own experience that there were wondrous moments in my past — of awe, a sense of completion, a team performance that left me exhilarated, a newborn child in my arms, the joy from closing a business deal, a successful crop, or  a love so real it could only be in the Present. These moments and these experiences come from our authentic self, our True Self, and they only truly occur in the present moment. We can honor these past moments without allowing them to keep us from creating new authentic moments in the present.

The Past Is an Illusion

The Course says,

“Unless you learn that past pain is an illusion, you are choosing a future of illusions and losing the many opportunities you could find for release in the present.”

This sounds like the “mindset” language I have heard other coaches describe. Through study and reflection, it became my language and my understanding of the future I want to create, moment by moment in the present.

Now I try to explain this simple philosophy to my coaching clients. I want them to be aware of their decisions to protect the past unceasingly and the effect this has on their future. The best business decisions, relationships, and achievements are made in the present. How do we do that? How do we bring others into the present with us? By being authentic, genuine, and real.

The Present Moment Mindset

There has been so much compelling work dedicated to this problem of freeing ourselves from past and future preoccupations to be in the moment with ourselves and with each other. From Eckhart Tolle's seminal work, The Power of Now, to the plethora of books springing from the Mindfulness movement, there are many entry points for those of us seeking to raise our present consciousness. All we have to do is search.

Aside from ACiM, my journey towards being in the moment has been greatly influenced by The Arbinger Institute and the HeartMath™ Institute, which provide the language and tools for this change of mindset or of Heart, however you prefer to look at it. Another book that has recently provided great, actionable insight into present consciousness and connection is Judith Glaser's Conversational IntelligenceGlaser explores ways of communicating that can help us make and sustain meaningful connections (which can only truly occur in the present). One exceptional insight she provides is that judgment is not a function of the present — it is rooted in either the past or the future. If we find ourselves judging, we should refocus ourselves to listening, an active present connection with another person.

Are You in the Present?

When I speak with my coaching clients, I urge them to ask deep questions about their assumptions, practices, and strategies to reveal whether they are stuck in the past. Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • Are you investing in the future?
  • If so, based on the past in a dying industry?
  • With people management methods of the past?
  • With a mindset of deceitful behavior, justified by a notion that that’s just the way business goes?

Innovation can only occur in the present. True growth can only occur in the present. Are you ready to awaken to the power of the present moment in your life and work? Join me!

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Written by Ace Wagner-Ace is a Certified Trainer of the HeartMath Resilience Advantage program and a consultant to the Arbinger Institute’s world class training programs. Business Leaders are his forte.