|Posted by Cobaltsoul on April 21, 2012 at 6:30 AM|
It is one of the glories of humanity that we remember our past and we dream about our future. It is one of the tragedies of humanity that we dream about the future and remember our past and allow these magical abilities to cheat us of our present.
There is some pretty good research around these days which suggests that what we remember of our personal past serves not so much as a factual data collection of what actually happened but rather as one thread of the story of meaning we are making of our lives as we live it.
I'm not suggesting that our memory of our past is a fabrication, I'm pretty sure that evolution weeded out the creatures who'se record of the past was entirely inaccurate and therefore a dangerous basis on which to make survival decisions.
Our memory of our past is OUR memory of OUR past, in that moment when it was our present we took in only certain parts of the whole reality, we paid more attention to the hateful look our sister gave us and less attention to the loving affirmation in the face of our mother, for example, and forever more our memory of that moment is a memory of being judged, when in that moment we were being judged by one and loved by another. The power of that memory inside us flows from the way we weighted what we experienced AS we were recording that memory. They are not false memories but they certainly are subjective memories.
More than merely subjective, they are harnessed and weighted to support whatever the story is we tell ourselves about ourselves and our life. Of course, until we make a different choice as adults, if we ever do, the story we started out telling ourselves about ourselves was the story our parents told us about ourselves. Not the story they put into words, though what they said to us might have been consistent with how they treated us, but the story of who we were that was in the way they treated us.
If my parents neglect me then clearly I am unimportant, of no value.
If my parents worship me then clearly I am a god and deserve to be worshipped by all.
If my parents blame me for their anger and violence then clearly I am a bad child who deserves to be punished and limited/imprisoned.
Our parents give us the first story of who we are.
We interpret experiences and lay them down in our memories weighted to support the story our parents gave us.
It turns out, this is an aside from my main point, that we can return to those memories, unpack the parts not formally noticed or balanced, and re weight our own life story, find the hidden glories and truths in it that show us a wider picture of who we are than the one our parents gave us. As adults we can wash away the story our parents gave us about who we are and decide for ourselves who we are. It's not easy, but it's possible. Lots of research in this area, one area to look into "Brain Plasticity", if your'e interested.
Most of us dream about the future. Some of us make plans for the future we hope we will have. Some of us take action in the present to create the future we dream about.
Not many of us really NOTICE our present.
The power of the past and the escape of the dreamed of future both serve to distract us from experiencing the present moment.
In truth the present moment is the only living moment we have.
I don't exist in the past or the future. I only exist NOW. Now is the whole truth.
Sure we can have a faith about the future and hope for the future, but even if our faith is entirely accurate, which we can't know until it arrives, we will only experience the future in the future AS A LIVING NOW.
Now is all there is.
So it's a tragedy that we pay so little attention to our now. We notice such a tiny percentage of what any given moment contains.
I'm just going to make one point about one area of our NOW experience while there are many different elements of our now experience we could lift our attention to.
How much of what you are feeling right now do you actually notice?
Some of what we feel floats up into our awareness with a vague quality of "something", without us ever really noticing it or describing it or enjoying it or learning from it. Mostly the strident feelings might jag our attention, or the feelings we've given major roles in our self story might regularly get our attention, but the whole range of things we are experiencing in our inner world simply flow past without recognition.
We experience our present moment more like robots than like beings.
You might read this and say I'm writing as a man and that women's relationship to their now feelings is different. Well, it might be different but at fifty years of age I have to say I have seen little evidence that women are any better connected to the range of feelings they are experiencing than men are. Most women definitely have a better emotionally vocabularly than most men but that's a learned thing. Generally our western cultures tell women that their emotions are a legitimate part of their female identity while telling men that only strong emotions that serve power and domination of others are a legitimate part of our male identity.
I'm not sure I've ever come across anything that suggests women are more healthily connected their emotions than men are. I'd be very interested if such research exists.
My point being that we all tend to NOT be IN our PRESENT fully.
We miss out on a great deal of richness and insight into ourselves as a result.
If we are only alive NOW, then the more of what's happening for us and in us NOW that we touch, taste, notice, engage then the more alive we are.
Far as I can tell my present is infinite. No matter how wide and deep I open my awareness, no matter how delicate I set my feelers, there is always more of my Present Being to experience in any moment.
Just a thought.