If you have been following me, you know how important living in the now is to my recovery. It is one of the 5 pillars of my recovery, that I have talked about so often. There are three timelines for every one of us: the past, the present, and the future. One is over and done with. One you are experiencing at this very moment. One has yet to be realized. So how do I go about dealing with these three aspects of life?
There are many events from my past that, if I allowed them to, would constantly creep into my life and affect me in various ways. I mean, it is impossible to not think of the past. Unwanted memories creep into our lives on a daily basis. At least for me.
However, I do not allow them to sully my present condition. I do recognize intrusive thoughts when they happen. And unlike before when I would wallow in their mire, today I acknowledge them and simply bring myself back into the present. Oftentimes, when the past creeps into my existence, I use mindfulness to bring myself back to front and center.
Mindfulness is one of the 5 pillars of my recovery that I mentioned in the beginning of this post. The Oxford Dictionary supplies a perfect definition of mindfulness as:
“a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
I am no longer a slave to my past failings and regrets have no place in my life. For me, what’s done is done and I don’t get a do-over, so what’s the point in spending time in a place that no longer exists? Like Eckhart Tolle suggests: the past is a great place to visit now and again, but don’t bother living there.
Although the future is no guarantee, it would be foolish not to have an eye towards the future. I save money so that I have some in the future. I make plans with my wife for vacations and our daughter for the future. However, I do not fret about the future and what may or may not happen.
I spend little time thinking about the future. Sometimes it creeps in when I think about the fact that more than half my life is gone. Less than half remains. Crap like that creeps in when I realize that I’ll be 75 when my daughter is a mere 20 years old. My mortality stares me in the face and sometimes it can get depressing.
When my thoughts go the way of the future to the degree that they have a negative effect, it’s time for some serious mindfulness and concentration on living my life in the moment. These kinds of thoughts usually dissipate quickly. The future barely has an effect on what I do today, except for things like setting goals and making plans to do (or accomplish something) in the future. Ultimately, what I do today ensures me the future I want, but I don’t get fixated on the future to the degree that it would take me off my living in the now game.
When I live in contentment it is usually because I am living in the moment. I’m not caught up in two worlds that do not exist. I only have now. My life now creates both my past and my future at the same time. Think about that: it is rather remarkable that living in the now–maximizing life moment by moment–shapes both my past and my future. That’s powerful!
It is only when I get caught up in boredom or dissociate myself from the present, that I start to waste my energies on the past or the future. Staying in the present is sometimes quite difficult! I try to keep myself busy and keep myself doing things that are both rewarding and fulfilling. Boredom is the enemy to my sobriety and to my ability to maximize my life in the now.
One of the most powerful ways I stay in the present is through meditation. Meditation allows me to tap into the source of my being by putting myself in a state of hyper awareness of my consciousness. Meditation strips away the trappings of my mind and eases me into a milieu of a deeper existence.
By meditating I am allowing myself to ease the burdens of my mind–even from the present–and descend to a place of quiet peace and tranquility. It is incredibly fulfilling and refreshing for me. And, the more I do it, the more I am able to strip away the “mind-junk” and just fully be.
And that’s how I do it.