How much of my life is mine to enjoy today and how much belongs to yesterday? I have asked this question of myself many times, and it has taken years to realize that the solution was ever present. And so I ask you…
Are you present in this moment, or are you reliving past emotional troubles, through this moment?
Life is short. When you’re young you feel your life will never end, but as you grow older, the end is palpable; you smell it in the distance.
It doesn’t matter how young or old you are though — your life will end someday — and so you have a limited time to achieve and be satisfied. How will you ever create your tomorrow if you are locked in the past? Your future is 100% dependent on how present you are in your mind and body in this right now moment?
The emotional power of the past
Living as a human being is an incredibly complex undertaking. Most of it occurs below the threshold of your awareness, and that, in part, is why your past emotions can exert such present-day power over you. Your conscious mind employs a limited recall of your past to facilitate present actions that will in turn build your future. Beyond your awareness though, your mind-body complex is accumulating the potential for disaster.
Your psyche stores absolutely everything you have seen, done, and felt, in your entire life. Every emotion that has surged through you; every fear that has paralyzed your will, is branded into your subconscious. You’ve heard the expression “the squeaky wheel gets the grease?” Well, in the case of your subconscious, your loudest emotion gets the grease of your attention.
If your past holds powerful emotions, your subconscious weaves the most traumatic and painful of these into your day, stopping you from fully engaging the present moment.
The past is like a squatter: it takes over if no one is home, and it wants to stay put.
The essence of life is survival. We might think of life as a moving time-line because we move from one day to the next, but we freeze some of our emotions in time, and they intend to hold us there to keep them alive.
All of your fear, all of your past hurt has created its own identity. It has had a long time to establish its desire and its perceived right to continue its existence. It is only concerned with the replication and reapplication of its sadness, loneliness, pain, and fear.
It is up to you to change that. You are the only one that can create emotional healing. But how will you save yourself from the tyranny of your emotions?
You can choose to go back in time to try to understand and unravel the tangles that your past has weaved into the present. It is a valid psychological therapy to do so, but it is a lengthy and tricky process. The dark part of your mind is an expert deceiver. Enter its murky depths with caution and skilled guidance — and a large amount of cash if you plan to seek the help of a psychologist.
So what are the alternatives, or what can compliment traditional therapy, for the average person seeking emotional freedom from their past?
Release the past by engaging the present
The power of the past is in its ability to remove you from the present. Instead of perceiving current events for what they are, your past causes you to see them as just another replay in a locked-in-time self image.
The answer then is to engage the present moment more fully. When you immerse yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically, in the present, the past has no power over you. This instant, right now, is the only moment that holds positive power.
The easiest and best way to engage the present is to merge your mind with your body in an activity. When your mind and body are one and immersed in action, there is no room for the past. Instead, there is a release and a healing of the past’s influence.
There is a difference though between fully engaging the present moment, and burying yourself in activity to forget the past. When you run from the past, you are not present in your body. You are still a victim. The past in that case is causing you to try to forget. The secret to releasing the past and becoming present is integrating your mind and body. When they are one, you are whole again.
You could argue that nothing is that simple, and you would be right if you weren’t willing to put in the effort. But if you are willing, it can really be that simple to release the emotional hold of your past troubles.
Your success in this is dependent on your willingness to immerse yourself into the solution. Have you anything to lose by trying?
Here are some suggestions to harmonize your mind and body, and bring you fully into the present.
Simple ways to become joyfully present in your body
Join a fitness center: there is nothing like a good exercise routine to become physically present.
Take up Tai Chi or Yoga: training in either one of these will powerfully teach you to be present. The essence of these arts is present-moment self-awareness and control.
Find a good body-worker or massage therapist: a good practitioner will teach you to be present in your body, and they will be able to gently bring you back when you drift.
Begin running or cycling: running is especially suited to bringing you fully into the moment, and its legendary powers to dispel depression are true. The runner’s high exists.
Become a hobby Artisan: working with your hands is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the moment. Indulge your desire to create. Set aside a workspace and build something.
Plant a garden: take your inner child outside and play in the dirt.
Start a stretching program: slow gentle stretches feel delicious. Twenty minutes of daily stretching can bring you back to the “now” and remind you to remain there.
Learn Meditation: there are simple ways to learn to meditate, as in the Little Buddha Walking method. If you prefer the energy of a group, find one. There are many meditation groups out there, and for good reason — meditation can change your life.
Take dancing lessons: for those of you with rhythm in your bones, this is a fine way to practice being physical and present.
Join a martial arts class: there are martial arts to suit any temperament and body type. It is almost impossible to avoid being present and in your body when practicing martial arts.
We could go on indefinitely with a list like this. There are countless ways to practice immersing yourself in the power of now. It is important though to practice. We are not good animals by default. We have forgotten how to be in our bodies, how to play, and how to work with absolute purpose and involvement.
It is no wonder that our past emotional troubles have such sway on us — we let it happen by not engaging each moment with all of our being.
The next time the past drags you out of the present, get back into your body and do something about it. Learn to claim your power in the only possible moment — now.
Share your thoughts. Have you felt the magic that happens when you drop into your body to play?
Over to you now…