Greetings Dear One,
Have you ever been having a powerful argument, explaining your side, being absolutely right… I mean you are absolutely winning this battle… But, it was a completely one-sided conversation– the person you were arguing with wasn’t even there.
Our brains developed from ancestors who were survivors: they avoided being eaten by sabertooth tigers, they survived wars, they procreated despite unspeakable odds. Whether you call it karma or genetics (aren’t they one and the same) we are the descendents of these amazing individuals.
When our ancestors prevailed over their adversaries, it was beneficial for them to be able to tell their story around the campfire. Imagine how helpful it was to explain how to increase someone’s chances of survival in a dangerous and primal world.
Our minds still like to tell a story. Whether it about a car accident we had that we have to share on social media; or, it’s rehashing past grievances–even if only in our head.
Perhaps you’ve heard of autobiographical memory. It sounds like an amazing super power. Paradoxically, several scholarly articles explain this nearly perfect recall makes it more difficult for people to let go of the past.
Often, we believe if we reflect on our past we will garner a bit of information, we will make some more sense of… it–whatever “it” is. In some cases this is true; however, for most of us rumination isn’t helpful.
As much as our mind has a habit (samskara) of time-travelling nostaligically into the past and anxiously into the future, our life is happening now. This is the essence of mindfulness.
“I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”
However, being mindful doesn’t mean always attending to the world out there. It’s a flexible attention, shifting outward and inward appropriately. This skill is garnered with meditation.
When we meditate regularly, we begin to observe our mind a bit more as if it were in front of all, the yogi’s describe this as being the witness. Then we can see our mind has a habit of retelling stories when certain triggers are switched. Next thing we know, we check out of our life and are arguing with those who have wronged us.
I am not saying we should allow ourselves to be victimized. However, many of us (myself included) can find that we’re pining for a lost love, wishing a dead perpetrator would come to justice, or hating the first boss who fired us twenty year ago.
Life is happening NOW. Now is all we have.
“You can be right or you can be happy.”
Gerald G. Jampolsky
Now, this is only one article–it’s not the answer for perpetual happiness. Living in the “now” can be an excuse to procrastinate and avoid our obligations. Mindfulness has to be in conjunction with our Values–it is a servant to a Higher purpose.
–That’ll be the next article.
Please, click on the links.
It’s been a while.