Here is a guest post from my wife, Gina Lake's blog where she posts frequent messages about living in the now. It is an excerpt from her book Embracing the Now: Finding Peace and Happiness in What Is, which is available on Amazon.com.You can read much more on her website at www.radicalhappiness.com.
What heals the past? The old adage claims that time heals. If that’s so, why does it heal, and is it really time that heals? Over time, our memories weaken and our ability and desire to bring the past into the present through thought weaken. Life starts getting in the way, as whatever was lost gets replaced by new life. That new life begins to get our attention more than what happened in the past. Time heals because life moves on to something new. Life brings us new experiences, opportunities, challenges, and relationships. Since we can only give our attention to one thought at a time, after some time has passed, our memories are naturally given less attention, they fade, and other thoughts take their place.
If this is how time heals, that is very good news, because that means we can speed the process of healing sorrows from the past and release ourselves from suffering over the past just by moving our attention away from thoughts about the past onto the present moment. Being in the Now is actually what heals old emotional wounds, not time. Shifting our attention to the present moment is not denying or repressing the past, but simply not creating unnecessary pain for ourselves. It is a very wise choice. We can continue to recreate, or reanimate, the pain of the past, or we can choose to leave the past in the past once we see that bringing memories into the present moment doesn’t serve us, but only extends the pain and keeps us at a distance from life.
Putting our attention on anything other than our painful memories heals the past. Whatever we give our attention to becomes our experience. If we put our attention on the past, we will re-live the pain of the past and probably create more by telling ourselves upsetting stories, such as: “This shouldn’t have happened.” “If only I’d done something differently.” “Why does this always happen to me?” By doing that, we create more pain for ourselves on top of whatever loss we had. That suffering isn’t necessary. Dredging up memories and telling negative stories about the past isn’t a healthy way to grieve, but a way we unknowingly increase our suffering and remove ourselves from the Now, where peace and happiness are available.
The past is a diluted memory, and the future is a figment of the ego’s imagination. The past and future only exist as thoughts. The ego creates a sense of time through thoughts about the past and the future, and we can become entranced by the ego’s world when we believe such thoughts are the past and future. What we imagine can seem very real, especially when those imaginations create feelings, which make our thoughts seem even more real. The painful feelings related to a loss often come more from what we tell ourselves about the loss than from the loss itself, especially the farther away in time we get from the loss.
There’s a difference between grief and suffering unnecessarily over the past. Grief is a natural release of emotion over a loss, which takes time to adjust to. But many people grieve far beyond the time required to adjust to a loss because they continue to reinforce their pain by going over the past in their minds and telling themselves painful stories. Doing this isn’t helpful and only prolongs the healing process.
Stopping this re-stimulation of pain by not giving our attention to memories or stories about the past heals the past and helps us move on to what life intends for us now. With every loss, come new possibilities. When we are present to anything other than our thoughts and feelings, we are likely to pick up on what life’s intentions are for us and where life is leading us. Moreover, by being present to life as it is right now, we can discover the acceptance, joy, and excitement Essence has over being alive, even when life is challenging.
Life is always good, and we are always having the experience we need. If life doesn’t seem that way, you are listening to the mind’s sad or negative story about life. This kind of suffering is so unnecessary. When we drop out of our egoic mind and into this simple moment, we discover the truth about life. Life can be lived very well from this place of Presence, or being in the Now, because Presence is what’s real, and the ego and its thoughts are not real. The good news is we have never needed the ego’s thoughts to live our life, and therefore freedom from suffering is possible.
Gina Lake, Nirmala's wife, is a spiritual teacher who is devoted to helping others wake up through counseling, intensives, and her books. She has a masters degree in counseling psychology and over twenty years experience supporting people in their spiritual growth as an astrologer and a channel. She is the author of eight books, including Radical Happiness, Loving in the Moment, Living in the Now, Return to Essence, What About Now? Anatomy of Desire, What About Now? Embracing the Now, and Getting Free. Her website offers information about her books and consultations and free e-books, book excerpts, a monthly newsletter, a blog, and audio and video recordings: http://www.radicalhappiness.com.