Are you present?
How much time do you actually spend inside your body?
More specifically, how far ‘out of time’ are you?
Four years, four days, four minutes or four seconds?
Most people, from my observation, spend more time with their attention outside their own body than they do being present. They time travel and marinate in the horrors or the honours or the humours of their distant past, or they jump forward in time; weeks, months even years into a future that they are either dreading due to uncontrolled fears, or excitedly anticipating because of wild and fantastical projections. Very few are spending any actual time in the here and the now of present reality. So, effectively, our all-powerful but unschooled attention is roaming the countless corridors of time eschewing the only present reality it has.
My friend John B Will, one of the most revered and respected Brazilian Jiu Jitsu players in the world talks a lot in his teaching about the 4 second rule that keeps people from realising great Jujitsu. He says (and I concur) that most people fight on the mat as they live in their lives; always outside of the moment. They are either 4 seconds in the past, angry at an opportunity they just missed, or they are 4 seconds in the future planning their next hold, their next escape or their next submission. But being 4 seconds out of time, whether in the past or in the future, stops them from seeing and taking advantage of the only real chance they have, which is here and now in the present moment.
Opportunities that are 4 seconds gone cannot be retrieved (unless you have a time machine) and moves ahead can never really be anticipated consistently because what you think might exist in 4 seconds time will likely have disappeared or changed shape or moved location by the time you get there. So, the key to very good fighting is the same as the key for very good living, present spontaneity.
John estimates that a good fighter can trim their 4 second lapse in time down to 3 seconds with two years of diligent practice, and by investing another two years of good mat work into every surplus second, they could potentially, within six years, be fighting completely in the now.
No longer carrying the heavy past on our shoulders or holding the burdensome future in our minds eye we will be able to fight and flow in the present moment.
Similarly, when we train our attention on present living we can also trim years, months, weeks and seconds off our lapse until we are no longer shackled by the manacles of past or future. Then we will be of value to ourselves and others, and we will be able to keep our attention in the holy grail of the here and now.