The topic of time has always fascinated me, both inside and outside the context of psychotherapy. In modern physics, for example, relativity theory and quantum mechanics have revealed mind-blowing perspectives on time, that have radically changed mankind's world view.
In psychotherapy, time in general, and the present moment in particular, have always played an important role both theoretically and in practice- no matter which school you consider. The Freudians were convinced of the significance of a person's past, as it shows in the presence of a transference relationship. The classical behaviourists considered the power of contigency to be the most influential principle in psychology. And traditional Gestalt therapists agreed with Perls's statement that
Nothing exists except the here and now. The now is the present, is the phenomenon, is what you are aware of, is the moment in whcih you carry around your so-called memories and your so-called anticipations with you. Whether you remember or anticipate , you do it now. The past is no more. The future is not yet.
-Frank-M. Staemmler in The British Gestalt Journal , 2011, Vol 20, No2
Staemmler goes on to say that he would like to include another definition of the 'here and now' in contemporary Gestalt theory, namely the 'hermeneutic now'. I find most fascinating the quotes he uses to define the 'hermeneutic now':
A person who is trying to understand a text is always projecting. He projects the meaning for the text as a whole as soon as some initial meaning emerges in the text. Again, the initial meaning emerges only because he is reading the text with particular expectations in regard to a certain meaning. Working out this fore-projection, which is constantly revised in terms of what emerges as he penetrates into the meaning, is understanding what is there. (Gadamer, 1989, p. 267)
What I find interesting in reading that quote is being aware of which lense I read that quote through. There are many lenses. But predominantly I use a Theravadin Buddhist lense which means that I compare what Gadamer wrote to how I understand Theravadin Buddhism explains 'making meaning' of something. From a Theravadin Buddhist perspective, I agree that 'this' emerges because of 'that' , that phenomena emerges in the 'here and now' but only in the context of what has emerged before. Therefore phenomena cannot emerge independently, but is dependent upon previously emerged phenomena. It is the insight into this process that frees us. Frees us to see independently, not through tainted lenses. This paradoxically require us not to pay attention to the meaning we have made, not to get lost in commentary, not to get lost in the story we make up about this moment right here and now, not to believe in the thinking associated with this pain, this desire, this impulse, but just to see these experiences as they really are: a pain, a desire, an impulse. What is added is extra. What is real is what emerges right here and now without the additives, flavours & colours. An additive free experience.