This is one of my favourite teachings. It comes from Pema Chödrön’s compilation book, Comfortable with Uncertainty. It is a teaching that I like to read at the beginning of a class, prior to teaching ujayyi and beginning asana. I am posting it here that all may benefit.

There was once a lady who was arrogant and proud. Determined to gain enlightenment, she asked all the authorities how to go about it. She was told, “Well, if you climb to the top of this very high mountain, you’ll find a cave there. Sitting inside that cave is a wise old woman. She’ll tell you.”


Having endured great hardships, the lady finally found this cave. Sure enough, sitting there was a gentle, spiritual-looking old woman in white clothing who smiled beatifically. Overcome with awe and respect, the lady prostrated at the feet of this woman and said, “I want to attain enlightenment. Show me how!”

The wise woman looked at her, and asked sweetly, “Are you sure you want to attain enlightenment?”

And the woman said, “Of course I’m sure.”

Whereupon the smiling woman turned into a demon, stood up brandishing a great big stick, and started chasing her, saying, Now! Now! Now!

For the rest of her life, that lady could never get away from the demon who was always saying, “Now!


Now – that’s the key. Mindfulness trains us to be awake and alive, fully curious, about now. The out-breath is now, the in-breath is now, waking up from our fantasies is now, and even the fantasies are now. The more you are completely now, the more you realize you’re standing in the middle of a sacred circle. It’s no small affair, whether you’re brushing your teeth or cooling your food or wiping your bottom.

Whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it now.


4 thoughts on “Now

  1. Nice story, and sooo relevant to where I’m at right now, too. My Guru says the fruit of your practice shows up in your conduct. Instead of going immediately into fear, as I have in the past when change comes a-knocking… I saw the opening as a good thing. Ah, space, so under-rated…

  2. love this!

    I was listening to a jazz song this morning on my local jazz station — on the way to teaching yoga — and one of the lines was “we’re fighting the future and we’re mad at the past.”

    that sums up BEING IN THE NOW quite nicely, doesn’t it? 😉

  3. lindasama, love that line…do you remember the song title?

    I don’t remember this particular story of Pema’s so thank you for sharing it here. It contains all of the teachings in such a short story. One word. Three little letters!

    I also appreciated that you shared when you presented it to your students….I will follow your example. Such a wonderful way to lead into centering. NOW.

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