We all know it is not possible to roll back time or undo bad decisions we've made in the past. However, using a presence practice like meditation can start to change the way we feel about the decisions we made so that they will stop tormenting us here in the present. We all carry baggage from the past; things like broken hearts, hurt feelings, events that may have brought us pain, or we may torment ourselves over missed opportunities or guilt from wrong choices we've made.
We must find a way to allow ourselves to let things in the past go that we cannot change or else they can take over our present lives. This take-over shows up in ways that we typically can't see for ourselves. Our past shows up in behaviors patterns, projections of feelings, distractions and reactions. Meditation is simply focusing our mind and observing our thoughts in a way that allows them to be there without interaction. When you learn to start being present with the present, you start healing and forgiving your past. This can shift the way you look at past situations you cannot change, in a brighter light, with a new understanding on the events that have hurt you.
The following exercise is to see how a specific situation from the past is still affecting you today. You can do this exercise with any event from your past, not just an early childhood event.
- Start by finding a comfortable place to sit.
- Set a timer for 3 minutes.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Count to 4 for your inhale and 4 for your exhale.
- Any time your mind wanders, thank yourself for being aware that your mind is wandering and come back to counting your breath.
- Once the timer is up, open your eyes and reflect on the following 6 questions:
1. What is the earliest memory that you can remember from your childhood? (Try to recall a specific event or experience, not just a feeling or impression)
2. What are the impressions you have of yourself in this memory?
3. What are the impressions that you have of each of the people who are associated with your memory?
4. How has this memory changed your choices and past behaviors or actions?
5. How might this experience have impacted the way you relate to yourself today?
6. How might this experience have impacted the way you relate to other people today?
- Take another few minutes to sit in quiet reflection with your breath again, repeating to yourself a mantra such as "I am loved, I am held, I am safe," or "I find compassion and forgiveness for my past experiences and all who were involved."
As we bring awareness and compassion to our past, in the present moment, our perspectives can shift, leading us to a different choice in how we interact with our patterns, behaviors and projections. With awareness and perspective, we gain choice in how we live.