Most of the time, we worry about events both past and future and have anxiety about them. I feel that happiness and peace of mind can come if we are anchored in the "now" instead.
"Now" is very difficult to define because by the time we get down to it, it is already in the past! Even Einstein, who was the high priest of time, found it hard to get a grip on the concept. He said we understand both future and past, but it is very difficult to grasp "now". Thus for practical purposes "now" can be defined as work in hand and living on a day-to-day basis!
It is difficult to remain anchored in the present because the brain keeps on either dwelling on past memories or making movies for the future.
Quite a number of people feel that we need to think about the future since most of us live on hope. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. However, this "hope thinking" should only occupy a small fraction of our time. It's the here and now that should occupy most of our consciousness.
Being anchored in "now" is how nature evolves. It comes in equilibrium with all the forces at a given time and then the next evolutionary step takes place. This happens since nature takes time and effort to remain anchored in that period and evaluates all the possible pathways. In case it cannot come in equilibrium with the surroundings then it branches into the path that can do so; the branch which could not come in equilibrium withers away and dies.
There is a great lesson for us in this. If we are anchored in the "now", then by coming in equilibrium with all the forces around us we resolve conflict and can live sustainable and happy lives. If we do not then our efforts and energies go in vain since too much thinking about the future leads to anxiety and frustration, as it is not in our control.
The old idiom, "We will cross the bridge when we come to it", is apt for this situation. It helps us to concentrate on the work in hand and hence allows us to be anchored in the "now".
In addition, the path to the future becomes clear when we conquer "now" since by delving deeply in the work at hand we are able to better discern and grasp the opportunities that come our way. Also, this single-minded focus enlightens us and gives better sight!
It is also a sobering thought that the evolutionary forces are so powerful that no matter how much we continue to think of the future and "will it", we are all swept away by the "band" of evolution. Our tiny efforts in the long run only help to propel this band.
The whole basis of yoga is to be anchored in the now!
The ability to anchor in the "now" also prevents us from dwelling on any negative events of the past. Thus, the cycle of bad memories and their consequences is forgotten or resolved. This is the genesis of peace of mind and happiness.
This is, of course, easier said than done. It is difficult to remain anchored in the present because the brain keeps on either dwelling on past memories or making movies for the future. The brain is a dynamic entity and its internal churning along with sensory inputs results in continuous thought production. This is what we can call "brain chatter". The only way to silence it and be anchored in the "now" is to focus on the work at hand or on a single thought for a long time. This is the basis of Sanyam of Patanjali Yoga darshan. When we get anchored in "now" through Sanyam then it allows our brain to function optimally and helps us to see the opportunities present at that time. Thus, the whole basis of yoga is to be anchored in the now!