On the weekend I was talking with teacher and life coach Lauri Cloud. Once again, she nearly knocked me over with a blinding insight. “You know what trips you up Andrea?” she offered. “You keep looking back.” She went on to say that the popular advice that seems to be showing up everywhere today, telling us to release everything from past regrets to deep-seated, age-old feelings, is the very thought pattern that is keeping us (and me) from rising above them.
That made a lot of sense to me. I have worked to stay present in the moment at hand for at least as long as I can remember. And like so many lessons, I keep learning it.
Well, I have a new practice. I resolve to not compare my present circumstances to past situations. I will embrace each experience as if it is new. Now that doesn’t mean I won’t utilize the precious experience gained. It simply requires me to release the fear that inevitably accompanies the comparison.
Almost at the very moment I gained this insight, life presented an opportunity to practice my resolve, as life on earth does so often.
In the post holiday days when many are easing themselves into the routine of their lives, I’ve been very busy with a combination of work and personal commitments. It’s the kind of time I’ve come to describe as “no room for error” – everything is planned and will work out fine providing nothing interrupts the schedule.
Spirited women, you know my next line. The plan was interrupted, by circumstances that surpassed its urgency.
So what did I do? I did what I know to be the only choice for me: prioritize the heart over the head. What I did not do was flawlessly execute my goal of being present and not looking back. As a result, I experienced ample stress. But here is the gem, the gold. Not one fear that was rooted in the past or future mattered in the end. The only times I was productive, at peace and of service to others were those moments in which I was present.
Why then, I ask myself – and you… why would we choose anything other than the present moment in this grand new year?
This voice in your head takes you away completely from what is happening now. You're out in some future moment where things might go wrong or you are trapped in the past where you are continuously replaying an old movie in your mind about the time you failed a school examination or someone said something unkind. You're stuck, but you can't see it. The movie feels like an absolute reality, and it keeps you from truly acknowledging or appreciating life as it is now. But it's not reality. You can't see the present. You're too busy with where you want to be next (or where you were), which causes continual stress. The only solution is awareness, awareness that the voice in your head is really just repeating thoughts—no more, no less. Eckhart Tolle