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Increasing Mindfulness By Dealing With Past Experiences

*This is a guest post from Brian Mark of Kingpin Lifestyle.*

Quavado’s doors opened and greeted two familiar faces. Brian and John walked in to the sheesha shop and selected their table based on comfort, convenience and vibe. They positioned themselves at a rectangular table surrounded by four brown leather chairs. The black table was carved with an intricate cultural design and had just enough room for both of their laptops.

“Alright man! Bust out that manifesto,” Brian suggested.

John opened his laptop and found the manifesto he wrote months before. The piece of writing detailed all of the major lessons learned from the most painful heartbreak of his life. It had been 6 months since Sarah left him. This would be the first time he had reflected on his manifesto.

Brian’s ears opened and his heart listened. At each paragraph’s conclusion the two men openly discussed the lessons learned. John felt exuberant to read the manifesto in front of his life coach. This meant more than the typical client-student experience to Brian. He had built a real friendship with John over the weekend. Brian knew what it felt like to feel so much pain.

***

The present moment is full of so much beauty, vitality and health. A person living present inevitably feels a rejuvenating appreciation. Amazing feats happen each day in every present moment. Flowers bloom, grass grows and the earth is rotates at an exact speed that gives us a 24 hour time clock.

In this world the present moment is the only moment that exists, has ever existed and will ever exist. The past is merely a memory of present moments that have happened. The future is an idea of what eventual present moments will look like. The present is, and will always be, happening right now. Living in recollection of what has happened or in daydream of what will happen takes you away from what is happening.

What Keeps You From Living Present? 

In a perfect world everyone would be happy, healthy and abundant. Flying cars would eliminate the rush-hour phenomena, coffee shop lines would move faster and relationships would be rewarding, prosperous and fulfilling. Heartbreak, jealousy, envy, and regret would be things of the past and the longevity of relationships would mean more to each person than life itself.

Unfortunately, this world isn’t perfect.

The present moment is truly incredible. So why can’t we all just live present and be happy?

Because there are glimpses in time, moments that have passed, that impact the quality of our present moment right now. Painful memories tie themselves to emotion and keep our minds living in the past. Fear of events that haven’t taken place yet keep our emotional states in constant over-drive. The clarity of the beauty happening around us in the present is often blurred by the past issues that take hold of our present mental state.

The mind is such a powerful tool. Our ability to create images in our imagination allows us to dream bigger than what is “possible”. The gift of memory allows us to take mental pictures of moments where we feel our best emotion.  The mind is a powerful tool – if used properly.

No-one ever teaches us how to use our imagination to become whatever we want to be. There’s not a school class that teaches you how to “deal with a painful memory”. As a society we’re so caught up in our thoughts of what has happen, what could happen and what will happen that we forget to look around us and appreciate what is happening.

Your Past Effects Your Present Right Now

John started dating Sarah a year and six months ago. At the beginning of the relationship everything was perfect. Both parties were happy to be a part of each other’s lives. Honeymoon stage seemed to last forever for the happy couple.

John has always been very logical. He got it from his father. The things that make the most sense and seem the most plausible based on concrete facts are deciding factors in all of John’s choices. His logic serves him well in many areas of his life. John’s work life has always been steady and climbing. An engineer for an Oil and Gas firm, John never goes a month without a paycheck.

Sarah was more of the dreamer. She saw herself bigger than reality and had aspirations as big as the sky. Sarah dreamed for things that were far outside of logical reach. Sarah was reaching so high for the sky that she forgot to look at the real facts happening around her. Achieving her dreams was impossible without handling the issues in her life right now; she wasn’t even getting a paycheck.

Sarah left John, resenting him for not allowing her to pursue her dreams. Sarah never looked back on the relationship and repressed the memory of John. John wasn’t as lucky as Sarah. He couldn’t remove her from his mind. Thoughts of Sarah plagued John’s present moment for months. He couldn’t be bothered to sit at home alone. He crammed his schedule with activities so he never had to be alone to feel his pain. Sarah’s memories would infect his mind and regret would permeate his spirit.

“It Was Just Me, Lying to Myself…”

I met John two months ago now. I taught his bootcamp and it was an emotional experience for me. I’ve gone through a similar experience. I’ve had the beauty of my present moment taken away by painful memories of someone I loved. I was so caught up in my own story of what happened that I never saw the real truth.

The truth that I was liberated to learn is that there is a reason for everything. Each experience up to this point in my life has been instrumental to my development. Had one experience happened differently I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Each experience that sticks out in memory, good and bad, has a lesson to be learned. There are small lessons (forget my wallet, get more organized so that I don’t forget my wallet) and the emotional experiences are much bigger lessons (girlfriend breaks up with me, get less stubborn and become more understanding).

John had a painful experience to overcome but he came out stronger and wiser than ever before. It was the depth of the experience that made it so powerful for John. The more painful the experience, the larger the lesson. John can now live in his present moment with vitality, health and abundance because he is no longer plagued with thoughts that take away from the beauty of the present moment. He also understands that with the future relationships he has, he must be supportive of his significant other. This knowledge will make all of his future relationships healthier.

Each moment we live in has a meaningful lesson waiting for the careful observer. It takes a sad man to reflect and dwell on his problems. It takes a man of ambition to reflect on his problems and learn the lesson. John wanted to move forward and become a better man but before he could live up to his manifesto he first had to fix what was wrong in the first place. Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. Learning the lesson of the break-up with Sarah was the most liberating opportunity for John and his state of mind. My awareness was blessed with witnessing the phenomena first hand.

John has been extremely happy over the past two months. We talk on a regular basis and he tells me how much he’s enjoying life, and more importantly self-reflection time.

“Each present moment is a blessing for me. I used to never be alone. I couldn’t appreciate the beauty of life like my friends used to when I went travelling with them. I used to watch them sit alone on the beach for hours and reflect. I was so envious. Every time I sat alone I thought of Sarah. It’s different now. I enjoy my reflection time. I love the present moment more than ever. It feels so good to move forward. It feels so good to let go.”

Let’s bring it back to you. How beautiful is your present moment? How much do you enjoy being alive? Think of one past experience that plagues your mind and takes away from the amazing feats of your present moment. Allow yourself to reflect on it. What is the lesson behind your experience? Get another perspective. There could be something you’re not seeing in the experience because your story is attached to it.

Are you already living in your present moment? No experiences limiting you? That’s great! I encourage you to create your own manifesto, just like John. Write down what you stand for, what you want to become.

John’s happier than he’s ever been in his life because he’s working towards the person that he’s always wanted to become. Take a few minutes to think. Are you living in the present moment, moving towards the ideal version of yourself?

This was a guest post from Brian Mark of Kingpin Lifestyle  He’s a student of social influence, a writer, a sober socialite. 

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Posted on : 11, Apr 2012

10 Comments

  • Great article! I think many of us live too much in our past memories wanting to go back and fix the bad ones, or enjoy the ones where we were happy and without a care about life problems. Also we’re living in a hope that better time will come, and that is not bad, but it is when we, because of it, don’t realize the beauty of present moment. Even when we have nothing to complain about, even when we do feel good, we’re still waiting for even better times. Don’t realize that present is the most beautiful moment when you give your awareness to it.

    Love this part: “Each experience up to this point in my life has been instrumental to my development. Had one experience happened differently I wouldn’t be the person I am today. ”
    We shouldn’t complain on or regret the past events. The bad ones have made us much stronger and more clever. And the good ones are here to put a smile on our face at any time, and to show us we lived our life with a meaning.

    Great topic Brian and well written ;)
    Cheers

  • Ivor!

    I appreciate that you took the time to write out a comment. It means alot!

    “Even when we have nothing to complain about, we’re still waiting for even better times.” Completely agree. The present moment is THE most beautiful thing when you surrender to it.

    Thanks again Ivor =)

  • Hey Phil,
    Thanks so much for this article! I too just got out of a relationship not too long ago, and I find myself constantly falling victim to circulatory thinking. I try to catch myself but sometimes it’s pretty hard.
    Reading this article though helped me out a lot and I will come back and again to read it whenever I need the extra help.

    Thanks so much for all the work and time you put into this blog! It really makes a difference.

    Keep up the job and I hope all’s going well in Cali!

    Cheers!

    • Hey Thalia, thanks so much for your kind words and I’m happy this came at the right time. Those periods after a relationship ends are tough but they’re also wonderful opportunities for growth.. they force us to become a wiser, more mature version of ourself.

      It’ll all work the way it’s meant to..

      Keep smiling :)

      Phil

  • Awesome article. We all do it sometimes; live in the past. Some more than others. But you’re only truly living when you can learn to appreciate the present moment, time and time again :)

    • Absolutely! “Be HERE & NOW” is such a powerful concept and one that needs to be embraced by more people!

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