In Allport’s Proprium concept, once we are familiar with it, there is an all too familiar state of being called ‘Ego-extension’. This is a term intended to describe the inadvertent slipping into, or choosing to run, the considerable risk of losing our selves in possessions, loved objects, people, causes, obsessions, loyalties, groups, clothes, nation, abstractions of all kinds, including Past and Future.
In ‘Ego-extension’ we extend this simple envelope of being, boundaried by skin & senses, so that somehow or other it enters into something else, something other than what it is to be us—to be just us, just here, in the utter stillness of the productive present.
STOP now, just for a moment, in the luxury of Here & Now before you allow yourself again to be contaminated by your stories and regrets about the past and your fearful visions of the future. In the interface between past and future there’s a great opportunity for dalliance in ‘the moment when...’, for grasping the immense potential of freezing your self in ‘the moment just before...’—a great place to gather all your resources together for the task ahead now.
To extend oneself into the past causes unnecessary tensions for ourselves and for other people. The tensions get in the way of functioning fully in the present moment. We tell ourselves so many stories about the past—they act like a drug; they drag us back into something other than the Here & Now.
“I’ve always done it like this; I can’t help the way I am...”
“I label myself as a failure [or a success...] and that’s how it will always be...”
“My belief is this and you won’t budge me from it...”
“But you said...”
“This is how we’ve always done it so don’t try to rock the boat now...”
“I remember solving this problem before—now how did I do it...?”
“I’ll always regret doing [not doing] that...”
“I wish I could go back to the Good Old Days...”
“This perfume always reminds me of...”
To extend oneself into the future causes unnecessary tensions for ourselves and for other people. The tensions get in the way of functioning fully in the present moment. We invent so many fantasies about the future—we leak energy as we drift wraith-like into the future and away from the present moment.
“My expectation is...”
“I intend to change my way of doing this...”
“I am fearful of what is going to happen when...”
“I have a vision...”
“My ambition, which I’ve had for a long time, is to [become a millionaire... etc]...
“I am overwhelmed by the amount of work I have on hand. I’ll never be able to do it all...”
“I’ll get even with him...”
“This is what we have to do...”
“I want the answer and I’ll have it on my desk by 12 o’clock tomorrow...”
But just here, in the Here & Now, we can be completely separate from the tensions brought on by identifying ourselves with the siren-stare of past and future.
“I shout STOP! at myself...”
“I turn to a new and blank page on which anything can happen...”
“I float up above myself and notice the pattern of my being...”
“I make the space between ‘past’ and ‘future’ much bigger than it used to be...”
“I revel in the freedom of absolute emptiness...”
“Just here and now I can choose my direction without encumbrances...”
“I cease labelling things with the old tickets deriving from the past or directed towards the future...”
“I can separate this from that...”
“This now is pure possibility...”
Perhaps to get into these distinctions fully one needs to associate into each statement, imagine oneself saying something similar (as we do...) and notice the internal tensions that come up in connection with past and future as contrasted with the stillness evoked by Here & Now statements. Then feel the difference.
At the very next event in your life, no matter what it might be, try on for size one or more of the Here & Now statements.
How does that feel? I'd like to know.