I recently started reading “The Power of Now” with my new book club.

Eckhart Tolle wrote the book. It’s a spiritual guide that emphasizes the importance of living in the present moment and letting go of past regrets and anxieties. After reading the first chapter, my thoughts have already been stirred.

What is” NOW”? I was thinking about this question for 40+ minutes tonight when I was swimming.

“You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.”

I was a bit lost when trying to make the connection of searching for the deepest level of my life and who I am.

“What is the deepest level of my life?” I admit I have been too busy to consider this question.

I visited this new swimming center three times a week for two years after COVID-19. It was renovated just before COVID-19. My son used to take swimming classes in the old swimming center, which is just 25 meters away.

What does this swimming center mean to me?

It’s a center for kid’s swimming classes. My son took the lessons. When he was in the classes, I just sat there with other parents, looking at my mobile phone. The parents in the new center are doing the same thing. They sit on the benches beside the pools and wait for their young kid to finish the swimming lesson.

It’s also a place for new parents to accompany their toddlers for fun; the toddlers are super excited about the water slides, the kid’s fountain, and water balls, so they can chase their siblings or their parents and splash water on each other.

It’s also a place for exercise. I visit the swimming center three times after dinner every week.

  • There are three areas: the left area is for kids’ water playground, and young kids’ lessons, and the pool depth is only 0.8 meters.
  • The middle area is for some swimming lessons and swimming exercises.
  • The right area is a deep pool with a 3-meter depth. There are also diving boards and rock climbing by the pool, and there is lots of professional swimmer training in that area. I usually go to the middle area, as the 3-meter depth in the right area is way beyond my comfort level.

After changing into my swimsuit, I went to the middle pool, stepped into the water, and started my 45-minute swimming exercise.

According to my Apple watch, after 45 minutes, I usually walk directly to the shower and drive back home afterward.

However, according to my traditional Chinese doctor’s suggestion, they suggested I go to the sauna after swimming until I feel a bit sweaty. This step will help the wet, cold water evacuate from my body. This step is super important to me, as I have a cold body constitution. Swimming is not perfect for this body type until I do this sauna step.

OK, instead of going straight to the shower, I started to go to the sauna room a few times. It’s a room about 250 square feet. It has 3 stairs and is usually full of people sitting on the stairs or standing against the walls. I was not particularly eager to go to the room as it was hot and crowded, but since it was good for my health, I started going to this room. There are 3 wooden walls in the room. The 4th wall, which faces the deep pool, has lots of glass, so there’s a big glass door and a big glass window on that wall.

Since I had to stay in the sauna room for at least 15 minutes, then I could feel I was sweating a bit. The only place I could look was out of the big glass window. I started to feel the vibe of that pool being different.

I mentioned that this pool is usually used for professional swimming training. But when such training is not available, this pool is used for people’s swimming and activities.

In this pool, one night, I saw a young coach lead a team of kids who were around 7–8 years old. Instead of instructing them in the swimming lessons, I saw the coach engaged with the kids, and the group seemed to have lots of fun. I saw the excited kids jump into the pool, swimming toward the coach. When the coach captured the kids, he “threw” them back into the water; every time the kid was thrown into the water, there was a burst of laughter.

Then, the next kid jumped into the pool. That night, I heard rounds and rounds of giggles and waves of laughter, and I saw the kid’s excitement and happiness… I watched them for 15 minutes. This group’s laughter was like a symphony of joy; it was the happiest group in the grand swimming center that night.

I was aware that I had a big smile on my face when watching this group. Enjoying this group’s joyfulness was the highlight of that night. Otherwise, I usually rush back home after swimming.

The other night, while in the sauna room, I saw two young brothers enjoying each other’s company. One boy pushed the other into the water, and the other jumped into the pool immediately. They took turns pushing each other to the pool, and every time, there was a screaming of excitement. Then, they dived into the water together. I saw the little head in and out of the water. I could tell how happy the brothers were that evening.

Tonight is the 3rd time I am in the sauna room. I saw a different picture in front of me. A boyfriend and a girlfriend were trying to lift each other with their arms up on their heads. Then, the one being lifted could slide into the water. They tried many times, but it did not work each time. After one lifted the other, due to an unbalanced body gesture, the one being lifted up immediately dropped into the water. But who cares? They tried one after another, each time. I could see the big smiles on their faces, and they kept trying, laughing after each failure, and encouraging each other. These two people were the happiest in the pool tonight. I watched them just like watching a love movie. How wonderful the two are now.

The three times in the Sauna room, I saw different “now time” in the swimming pool. Before, the swimming center was only a place to complete my exercise goal.

Recently, I saw the lovely coach lead the kids through an exciting water activity. I saw the lovely brothers, who explored some adventure together. I saw the lovely lovers who enjoyed their quality moments in the pool.

But why did I not see them over the two years? Do I know how to enjoy “now” time? Did I even have a bit of mindfulness when I was in the pool, or did I want to cross-check an exercise task on my to-do list?

I don’t know how many people can enjoy “now.” How many of us can incorporate a bit of mindfulness and consciousness into “now?”

I saw people checking their mobile phones, even at the family dinner table. My MBA classmate said he had many meetings while driving his children to after-school curriculation classes. He could not even speak with his children on the way due to that. Many people say, work hard now, and then we can enjoy the future. But when is the “future”?

I heard a story about a girl who was raised by her grandmother. She wanted to visit her grandmother in 3 years. However, she always postponed her visit as she had “VIP” client meetings she could not miss; otherwise, she would lose the opportunity to get a raise or make big deals. So, visiting her grandmother has been postponed many times as that seems not on her top priority list.

I heard my husband smile and say, “I have planned well for our future,” but I wondered, “How about now?”

It’s common to see Chinese mothers accompanying their children to another country for school purposes and dads staying in China to make money. The family could meet and stay 2–3 months during the summer break. How could the dad enjoy the kids’ Now-time and family time?

The “Now” time means “NOW,” but there are four patterns that happen a lot in our daily life, and they are way beyond “NOW.

  • There’s always a future to worry about;
  • And there’s a time for “until then, I will do this. Such as until I have time, I can’t visit grandma, but when I have time, I will visit my grandma”.
  • Or “at that time, if I had done that,”…Such as “At high school, if I had put more time into studying, I could have gone to my dream university. …”
  • Or keep missing the past; I often hear some of my friends miss the past and, in contrast, feel a bit lost in the current.

According to the author, if we worry about the future, regret the past, or prioritize other things that look important now but are not that important to our important family, we will lose the ‘NOW”.

How are you going to experience NOW?