The Taste of Now

Tom GibbonsPresence, Social ConstructionLeave a Comment

Some years ago I was working with Dr. Ed Freedberg  whose concepts of Self Management I have worked with and lived with for years now.  At one point he was a practicing clinical psychologist and then moved into the world of organizational consulting and coaching.  I asked Ed if he ever had hypnotized people since I have always found that topic and practice quite interesting.  He said that yes he had so I asked him if he would hypnotize me so I could have that experience.  He said sure.

So the day comes and we’ve been working away for the morning then go out for lunch to a local pub and I ask about the hypnotizing thing.  I happened to be eating chicken wings and Ed says just really concentrate on eating those chicken wings…. what do they really taste like in your mouth…. what are the sensations you feel…….. really concentrate.  So I did for a few minutes and of course noticed things I would otherwise have not.  Then Ed said; “So that’s pretty much it, that’s what hypnosis is, a different kind of concentration”.  I looked at him and said; “Well that was kind of a non event!”  He explained a bit more, including that early in his work he found it much more effective to not put people ‘out’ with hypnosis since they couldn’t really remember what happened.  Then the experience was subject to his interpretation which might or might not be accurate and more importantly it would not have been arrived at through the conscious interaction between him and his client.

I’ve never forgotten that, but it is only these many years later that I am beginning to understand how important that interaction was.

Dr. Freedberg was having me really focus on the ‘feeling’ aspects of what I was doing in the moment; the sensual, body centered feelings of the now.  In this case, the taste of now.  By doing this I was making a real effort to put my body first in the experience and my head second.  A lot of things have been written about this, about how you can be more present to the moment by really focusing on the sensual aspects of the moment.

This can be very powerful but it is also very difficult to maintain for any length of time.  Our heads demand very quickly to be involved.  So what is it about our heads, our way of perceiving the world intellectually that drags us out of the present?

The dominant western worldview is that the future is created by individuals making choices, perhaps groups of individuals, and then acting on those choices to create a better future which is primarily predictable.  This then means that this predictable future is better than the now we are in.  While this alone is pretty much enough to not want to stay in the present it is not the bigger challenge.  The bigger challenge I think, is that we believe the future is predictable and based on individually driven choice.  This is a very enticing, even intoxicating worldview. 

Through our own, individual choice we can create the future we want. 

And this mostly invisible worldview is completely an intellectual, or head, exercise.  No sensual experience is necessary and thus we find it very, very hard to stay in the present.

Is it possible to see our world emerging in a different way?  How might this sound?  Together, with others, we act on our individual choices and through that interaction the future emerges, primarily unpredictable and both constrained and enabled by the choices we make.

If you see a world emerging in this way, you must stay in the present to see what is going to happen next.  You would need all your senses and intellect to make meaning out of what was emerging in the now.  You would be in the present, not just using the present to get somewhere else.  And perhaps the most impactful thing of seeing the world this way, is that being present would be perfectly natural.  It would not require the tremendous effort it now seems to require.

In 2010 we will be writing more on this topic and what it can mean to organizations.  We hope you will add your thoughts.  For now however, especially with many people celebrating this time of year, perhaps you can consider this:

At some point over the next couple of weeks, when you are with people, simply remind yourself that you are creating this moment together and ask yourself; “I wonder what will happen next”?  I imagine you may be surprised, perhaps not, probably interested, no doubt very aware; and most likely, wonderfully present.

Author – Tom

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