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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Time of Your Life - Days of Future Past

THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE - Days of Future Past!
by Mike George

20th January, 2007
Where do you live most of your life? Where do go most frequently? The answer to both questions is the same. The past and the future. Sit down at the end of the day and review your day, and you will find around 80% (probably more) of your attention in the form of your conversations with others and with yourself went into the past or future. When you inhabit the past or future, in conversation or thought, it means you are not fully present in the moment. And when you miss the moment you miss your life because life can only be fully lived in this moment, in the now.
The past and the future are stressful places to live. Repeatedly thinking about the past means there is either something incomplete or some regret or hurt that is being replayed mentally. Replaying it is like trying to change it. "I wish it hadn't happened… it should never have been like this… I shouldn't have said that". These are thoughts that indicate you are attempting the impossible – which is to change what can never be changed. You are trying to make the unreal real…again! This is a task that not only drains your energy, but is doomed to failure. And each failure chips away at your self-esteem. But most are not aware of this mental folly.
Occasionally, you may switch your attention to the future. Then, if you are not careful, if you are not 'aware', you draw on the past and project it into the future. And then you are surprised that the future turns out just like the past! "I just can't see it working... it has always happened that way...we always argue". Are just a few past experiences that provide raw materials for the creation of the future. Past and future are stress filled dimensions. Sadness and anger always lie in the past, while fear and hopelessness lie in the future. Whenever you think of past and future you are unaware that you simply keep recreating these emotions over and over again in the 'now'. More than likely you are blaming the event or the person for what you felt then, and again for feeling what you feel now! This is why so many live lives of quiet desperation. And when the unhappiness of this self inflicted suffering reaches a certain level you may notice yourself escape into some physical stimulation - a movie, a relationship, a substance or perhaps just some food in order to relieve or distract from the suffering.
The solution is learning to fully 'let go' of yesterday, and to 'let be' what will be tomorrow, and live in the present moment. This takes practice. When you are fully in the present moment you are free of all stressful emotions. Only in the present moment can you be truly at peace with yourself and with the world. In the present moment you are still, even while you are doing whatever you are doing. In the present moment, when you are free of past and future, you have no regrets, no worries and no desires. Whenever your think regret, worry or desire it blocks and distorts your heart. You stop flowing into your life. As you learn to live fully in the present moment these blockages to your heart, your spiritual heart, are quietly dissolved. Only then can your love arise and emerge into the world. Only then can you heal the habits of
.a) the judgements (past) that kill your serenity
.b) the prejudices (past) that kill your compassion and
.c) the fear (future) that kills your integrity.
When you live in the moment it is not an avoidance of the future or a denial of the past. It is not an avoidance of responsibility. In fact it is our first responsibility to be fully present in the moment when we are with others. Only then can we fully hear them, be fully with them and completely care about them. In present moment awareness the true meaning of care is restored and the false meaning, which most if us now carry i.e. worry, is discarded. Worry is not care. Worry is an escape to an fictional future and an avoidance of now. It is a selfish concern for how we may feel if the worst should happen. It also satisfies an addiction to fearfulness! You have a life time to spend the time of your life, and while you cannot lose any of that time, every time you drift or escape into past or future in your mind it is as if the time spent there is lost time. It's also tiring, feels draining and deep down in your heart of hearts it's as if you know you are wasting your time. But it's just a habit. And all habits can be changed.
That's not to say you shouldn't value what happened in the past. You have a memory full of experiences. It's like a filing cabinet. Go there occasionally when you need to draw on the stored information. But don't live there. If you do, then it's like going to the office and spending the day in the filing cabinet! Clean out your filing cabinet regularly! Moreover it is not to say you should not make plans for the future. Aims and goals are good, some planning essential. But only enough to give coherent focus to your mental energy, and only when your aims and goals are connected to a clear sense of purpose and values. When your goals are not derived from your purpose and values they tend to turn into selfish desires. And that's when fear and absence enter again – fear of not getting what you want and absence from the moment now.

As you can see the dimension of this physical world has three dimensions built in (length, breadth and height). So too the fourth dimension, which is time, has three dimensions built in – the past, present and future. While we are all dwellers of the fourth dimension we need to be careful we don't fall asleep at the wheel and drift into the past or into dreams of imagined futures. The past is a trap, and while the future needs a map, we need to be fully in the present now to both create and take the right next step. One step at a time. Only then is nothing lost. Only then is nothing missed.


Question: What do you think about most that is in the past and why do you think that is?
Reflection: Where attention goes energy flows and where energy flows things grow and where things grow the future will show.

Action: Practice for five minutes, three times a day, sitting quietly in the present moment. Pick something outside or inside ( e.g. your breathing) to focus your attention upon. Concentrate gently not forcefully, and watch how your awareness fills the present moment. Practice makes perfect. The practice also empowers.

1 comment:

Plum's Penny Dreadful said...

I always think about patterns, the things that have happened again and again, drawing the lines from then to now. I guess as a way to reset my trajectory, to be concious of where I am going. To dissect what I have done to understand it, repeat the good, and not the bad.