Stop everything! Where are you? Are you “here”? Or are you “there” — as in “the future” or “the past”? Chances are that’s exactly where you are: everywhere but HERE and NOW. You’re either thinking about what’s coming up next or you’re ruminating about what just happened.
Don’t feel bad or anything, that’s just how our good ole egos work. It keeps us either frantically anticipating the future or miserably replaying some memory in the past. Oh, how our egos hate the HERE and NOW because when we’re truly aware of THIS moment, our ego does a kind of ‘vanishing act’, and that little ‘me’ that runs around like a chicken with its head cut off makes way for the “big me” or what is known as ‘the Self” — calm, poised, centered, aligned with our Soul, Source — however you name the One that vibrates in the center of your being. The brain coheres, meaning right and left communicate ‘in sync’. The carousel stops spinning. The train comes into the station. Monkey mind . . . well, stops monkeying around.
In the following article, author and educator Judith Johnson presents a delightful and clear picture of what’s going on when we’re not “here” but rather focused in the future or the past. She provides short, helpful exercises to pull us back into the present and how to feel the power and freedom and creativity of being “in the now moment.” And, truly, with all the news coming at us these days, let alone the fast pace of most of our lives, wouldn’t it be great to practice little moments of “be here NOW” throughout our day? String enough of these moments together . . . and we just may find ourselves living chunks of our day “in the moment.” It’s the kind of freedom that, as Judith Johnson says below, yields “great happiness.”
I could use more of that, how about you?
The Problem with the Past and the Future
by Judith Johnson: 05/12/11 09:21 AM ET
How much time do you spend dwelling on the past or worrying about the future? These mental and emotional creations are all figments of your imagination — mockups of how reality might be different. Meanwhile, reality is staring you right in the face, and your attention is not present to deal with it. When you spend too much of your time and attention creating more shoulda-woulda-couldas, your disappointments and anticipations just keep piling up while your life passes you by. Let’s take a look at why we do this and how we can get far more satisfaction out of life by staying present in the here and now.
Plain and simple: if your consciousness isn’t in the present moment, then you lose the opportunity to participate in the experiences and choices that are present right. Since you can only take action in the present moment, when you focus on the past or future, you are not available to participate in the present. Then your life happens based on whatever autopilot settings you have in place because you are not there to direct your actions and experiences.
When we focus on the past or the future, it is usually because we are not at peace with them. Instead, we are looking at them through a veil of frustration, worry, judgment, fear and illusions. Unable to accept the past or lacking confidence in our own ability to handle the future, we end up mistaking our negative mental and emotional creations for reality. Burdened by our own negativity, we often wreak havoc in our relationships. For example, when we can’t handle what is going on in our life, some of us project our accumulated fears and anxiety onto someone else, and that’s what we see when we look at that person. I had someone do this to me to the point that the “me” she called by my name was a complete figment of her imagination and there was no sense trying to set her straight, because she refused to be confused by facts. The “me” she envisioned bore no resemblance to the person I know myself to be. It caused so many problems that I had to eventually stop all contact with her. Did you ever have someone do that to you? Did you ever do this to someone else? In a way, we all do this to some extent as we interpret each other through our own perceptual filters. In the extreme, it becomes farther and farther removed from reality and is unhealthy and dangerous.
If you are spending your precious time and energy worrying about the past and/or the future, it is probably creating problems in your relationships with others as well as your relationship with yourself. Here are some ideas to get free so you can fully participate in the present without your pleasant personality taking a hiatus.
Worrying About the Past:
Without a doubt, the past is gone. Unfortunately, when we carry it with us every day, our hurt feelings, judgments and anger keep recycling within us. We try to put a stop to it through pronouncements about the future, declaring, “I will never let _____ happen again!” These efforts at controlling our life are largely wishful thinking. So, unless you feel totally at peace with yourself, make it a daily or weekly routine to ask yourself these questions:
- What unresolved pieces of my past am I carrying with me today?
- Why am I still carrying that?
- What do I need to do to let it go?
Make it a priority in your life to lighten the load you carry by letting go of what has happened in the past.
Worrying About the Future:
The more time we spend worrying about what might happen in the future, the less time, focus and energy we have to contribute to creating what we want now. Worrying is a way of investing in not getting what we want. It produces the opposite of what we wish would happen. When we hold images and thoughts in our mind of things going “wrong” (i.e., not the way we imagine would be the best outcome), we are literally feeding our energy into the undesirable outcome. When you find yourself worrying about something, here are two constructive actions to take:
- Bring to mind the image of what you would like to have happen. See it in great detail. See yourself in the picture feeling the way you would like to be feeling. If you are someone who prays, then simply pray that this or something better come forward for you and for the highest good of all concerned. Alternatively, simply let the image go once you have fully embraced what you want to create, promote and allow to come forward in your life.
- Having created a mock-up of what you would like to bring forward in your life, ask yourself, “What can I do right now to contribute to bringing this forward?’ and do that. Connect the dots of your present and future by walking the talk of what you want to bring forward in your life.
The only opportunity we have to take action in our lives is in the present moment. The more we free ourselves from our thoughts and feelings about the past and future, the more of our time and focus we will have available to invest in what we want to create, promote and allow into our lives and the healthier we will be in our relationships with others. Mental and emotional freedom yield great happiness.
Author and educator Judith Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.