When it comes to habits and ‘holding patterns’, each of us has a unique set of ‘justifications’ for being the way we are. Our emotions are the main determinants of our current way of being. In my last blog The Pull of the Past, I touched on how we look through the lens of the past to assess the now. In this blog, I will delve deeper into why we do this and why the pull of the past feels so strong.
It is said that our emotions are a record of the past or the residue from an experience. Consider for a moment any vivid memory from your past. The reason this memory is so vivid is because it has an ‘emotional charge’. The things we tend to forget about are those which have little affect on our emotional state.
Author and researcher, Joe Dispenza states thoughts are the language of the mind and feelings are the language of the body. When we think a certain kind of thought, we release a certain kind of chemical. Once we have entered the feeling or chemical state that matches our mental state, we will then begin to generate more thoughts to match this chemical or feeling state. This is why when we begin to think negative, judgemental, anxious, or worrisome thoughts, we start to feel depressed, depleted and negative.
So, consider that vivid memory of your past once more – whether negative or positive, if you allow your attention to linger here, you will soon find yourself in the feeling-state of that past experience. Once we have allowed thoughts of the past to take us into familiar feelings of the past, we have entered a loop in which new potentials cannot materialize. As Dispenza puts it: “if you stay living in those emotions every day, you can’t believe in a new future (or even see one) because you are looking at your future through the lens of the past”. He continues on to say that the nervous system, or energy body as it’s referred to in the yogic tradition - functions like a magnet that draws to us everything we experience. When our nervous systems are simply reliving past experiences, we cannot attract anything other than experiences which are equal to our current state.
Our work in meditation is to repeatedly remove the attention from familiar thoughts rooted in past experience. When we can do this effectively, we begin to break the emotional bonds that hold us back. With a clean slate we can sketch a new future in which we choose how we want to feel by skillfully selecting thoughts that elevate us rather than allowing ourselves to be the victims of our circumstances.
The longer you can hold your attention off of those things that keep you connected to your past suffering, the less power they have over you. You can think of this as an emotional detox. The goal is to eliminate those things that make you feel negative from your thoughts, words, and behaviours as a way of purifying your emotional body.
I know, easier said than done. And you are right. So, we practice.
In today’s meditation, we will begin by ‘attending to the space’ (starless night sky behind the eyes) as a way of quieting the mind, and then move on to a guided visualization that answers the question: What does the happiest, healthiest version of me look like in all facets of my life?
I recommend taking 5 minutes to write out your answer to the above question and creating a short daily practice in which you sit for 1-3 minutes and ‘attend to the space’, followed by 1-3 minutes visualizing your happiest self. The more the better, Enjoy!