Stories from the past and worries about the imaginary future often leave us exhausted and disenchanted with life. Learn how to transcend the constant chattering in your mind and live a life of freedom and tranquility.
Most of us interpret life based on events we have experienced in the past. It may not be apparent to you, but at the back of your mind, you are constantly comparing, judging and evaluating everything that comes through your senses with something that has happened years or even seconds ago.
Consider how many times in a day do you utter sentences or brew thoughts that go along these lines:
“Coffee shouldn’t taste this way.”
“She treats me differently from other guests.”
“Why can’t you behave more like your brother?”
“Marriages don’t work.”
“I got to butter up my superior in order to move up the ladder.”
The Bane of Memories
While memories help us to maintain a sense of continuity in life, it can also hold us captive. Because we often used memories to build walls around ourselves, imprisoning our mind and seeing life only through a small tinted window.… we perceive reality through memories from the past and worries about the future, creating our unique version of reality.
The result is, we no longer experience reality as it is. Instead, we perceive reality through memories from the past and worries about the future, creating our unique version of reality. Since everyone’s life experience is different, the reality perceived by each individual is also not the same. That’s why two persons who went through the same event can have vastly different interpretations and responses.
That’s great, isn’t it? Doesn’t that make the world more exciting and colorful? Yes to a certain extent, but unfortunately, that’s also the source of our miseries.
If everyone knows that his (or her) reality is just a subset of the real thing, then it wouldn’t be so bad. But most of the time, we don’t.
We believe that our reality is the only right one, and we even force other people, who see life through a different set of tinted glass, to accept it. Suddenly, life is about proving who’s right and who’s wrong.
From the choice of home curtains to the way you feel you should be treated, arguments and conflicts play out everyday due to differences in perspectives. And these unhappiness can only erect thicker, impenetrable walls around us and trap us further in our own prison.
We end up living in a cell that determines how we will feel and how we will react to any given event. If something fits within our walls, we feel satisfy or happy, and want more of it. If it doesn’t, we become angry, depress, anxious, or despondent.
Breakout from Your Own Prison
How then can we pull down our prison walls and set ourselves free? How can we use memories and thoughts intelligently without being trapped by them?
The answer is surprisingly simple. Be present in this moment. Not a half-hearted presence like you would do when you’re channel surfing, but a full mind, body and spirit presence.… now is where reality really is. The present moment is the only thing you’ve got.
But why the emphasis on this moment? Because now is where reality really is. The present moment is the only thing you’ve got. The past is gone and can never come back. The future is illusive and is beyond anyone’s grasp. Whatever you can do now happens in this moment.
All your self-defeating stories about the past, or worries for the future are taking place in this moment. But why live in the past or future when you can live now and enjoy the spontaneity and surprise that each moment offers?
When you surrender completely to now and put all your attention on every moment, your full awareness connects you to the flow of life. And living becomes effortless and natural. You will respond to each moment instinctively with no worries or anxieties, because in this moment there aren’t 101 things you need to do — there is only one thing to do at a time.
Meditation as an Anchor to Now
One good way to learn how to live in this moment is to practice daily breathing meditation.Our breaths born and die with every moment and can only happen in the now. When your breathing stops, now will also cease to exist.
In breathing meditation, you sit comfortably and focus your attention on every in and out-breath. Our breaths born and die with every moment and can only happen in the now. When your breathing stops, now will also cease to exist. If your mind drifts away from your breaths, gently bring it back and return your focus to where it should be. Do this simple meditation everyday fervently.
As you become accustomed to abiding in your breaths, it will become easier for you to stay in this moment. Your mind will be less distracted with thoughts and memories that surface haphazardly. By being able to focus on each moment, you bring greater awareness to your everyday life.
When there is full awareness, your internal walls will crumble and the world will appear clearer and sharper. Instead of being limited by your conditioned way of thinking, you will live life spontaneously and act according to the needs of each moment.
Actions inspired by full awareness are no longer driven by fears, angers, anxieties or sadness. Even in the face of great difficulties, instead of dwelling in a state of bitterness, self-pity or cynicism, full awareness gives you the ability to focus on choices that bring happiness to you as well as others. That’s the taste of true freedom.
What are the stories that often replay in your mind? Are they deep-seated beliefs that keep you from living life fully?