If you make the commitment to conquering the past, you will discover in the present.
For years -- over twenty-five to be exact -- I stumbled through life and the fog in my head. Something bad had happened to me when I was thirteen and it seemed that since then my head was always in varying degrees of cloudiness. I spent a lot of time looking back to the past and forward to the future while suppressing all of the memories and emotions that threatened to engulf me. The end result: I don't remember a lot from those years and didn't exactly build a life I was very happy living.
The problem with this past and future lifestyle is that it cut me off from the present moment. Constantly looking back at the past meant the present was filled with pain, loss and confusion. I disconnected from the true experience of the day because to feel all of that emotion would be overwhelming.
Always looking ahead to the next bad thing meant I was always trying to see further down the road instead of the path in front of me. Friends, family, lovers, colleagues and even strangers I might have liked to meet found it impossible to connect with me in any meaningful way.
I was too distracted to create the life, career and relationships that would bring me pleasure and a sense of achievement. Then, one day I decided to change all that. I decided to conquer the past and create the future by overcoming what held me tied to a place of pain, grief and fear.
I sought professional help to understand where my thoughts had gotten stuck and why, plus how to change them. I developed a daily meditation practice to begin learning to stay present and be mindful. I committed myself to learning how to partner dance (something I had never done before) so that I practiced connecting both my mind and body to the moment at hand -- and having fun while doing it. The process was tough and demanding. It took a while, but with the help and support of more than one practitioner, family and some new friends, I threw off the shackles of the past.
No matter how stuck we feel, we all have the ability to move forward. If you make the commitment to conquering the past you will discover in the present:
Choices you never considered. Without focusing on what you don't want about fears and anxieties driven by the past, you can consider what you really do want in the present.
Relationships that fill you with love and happiness. Releasing the distraction of what happened long ago (or even just a couple of months ago) opens you to connections that are positive, supportive, nurturing, life-affirming and exciting in the here and now.
Experiences that make you feel exhilarated. Holding on to the past weighs you down with a ball and chain. The present moment wants to lift up and fly away like your favorite childhood red balloon.
Joy that connects you to the deepest sense of who you are. Negative connection to the past is often based in fear, which is a construct of the ego voice, which is an illusion. Vanquishing that fear opens you to a happiness that deepens your experience of your true essence.
Lifestyle changes that bring you into alignment with your purpose. Without your head swiveling backward and forward you can focus on making your life and actions create a meaningful expression of your presence today.
A sense of exciting adventure. Living fully in the present moment means not looking back at what was, or forward to what might be; it means clearly seeing the brilliant shininess of what is -- and giving yourself permission to explore it.
When I was all done conquering the past, I started making choices about who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do in the present. Sure, I was forty and just finally getting started with my real life, but I didn't care about that. It felt good to be so connected to myself and others, so present in my experiences and decisions, that I felt more alive than ever before. When you take back control and connect to the present moment the whole world changes; the fog lifts and suddenly you can very clearly see.