Ready to do some Time travel?
Couple of weeks ago I wrote about neuroplasticity and how much we can do to train our minds to develop a new perspective of the events that make up our lives.
Now lets apply the same type of thinking to addressing our PAST beliefs, thoughts, actions, words, habits and behavioural patterns that all come together to converge on what we call the present moment.
I haven't yet invented that time machine, so we are going to approach this using the time machines we all have: Our minds.
First of all, I'd like you to stop and consider how awesome it is that we can use our memories and imagination to leap to the past, to the future or into completely alternate dimensions.
Our minds are POWERFUL (and this is one of the reasons I am so curious about altered states of consciousness accessed through deep meditation, dream states, flow and pyscho-tropic's.)
I have a couple of perspectives that I choose to see live through:
1. It is HOW I use the power of my minds that determines the quality of life I live.
2. There is no fixed reality. This thing we experience as "reality" is subjective.
OK if a bird poops on my head, the bird really pooped on my head. On that level, there is an objective reality.
But the stories, memories, beliefs and everything that ripples onward from this point is fluid, changeable and subjective. This is our PERSPECTIVE.
I, the subject, can decide if the poop on my head is a sign of imminent doom or the best thing ever.
I too, can decide if I shake my fist with anger at the universe, or tilt my head back and laugh like a madman at the hilarity of a universe in which a little winged creature can zero in on me, and make a choice to poo on my head....
... which when you consider all the trillion possible types of world we could live in, one where such wanton, inter-species cheekiness is evident, is simply awesome.
OK, lets move on from bird-poo... in a minute.
For anyone who has dived into the crazy world of quantum mechanics - this book is a beauty - will understand that physicists have a pretty robust set of laws to describe the mechanics of things like bird's pooping on our heads- this is classical physics.
But there is a whole other realm, which confused the hell out of Einstein, and defied the laws of classical physics, and this is quantum mechanics. This is perhaps the realm ofhow I react to a bird pooping on my head.
In a nutshell, when looking at the tiniest, most granular level of what makes up the universe, stuff behaves... weirdly & randomly.
I'm not going to go deeper than that, as this is a rabbit hole of unparalleled depth, and one in which I would love to journey with you, in person one day.
So much is unproven, there is a lot of bunk out there, and lots of people like to leap to conclusions to confirm their spiritual hunches, which has resulted in a lot of people claiming science as confirming their beliefs- when actually science says "we still don't know what the F is going on".
For me, I'm happy to exist in a state of content "unknowingness", I'll let the physicists do their thing, and I'll do my exploration of my own experience.
Through my life experiments, what I have found ties together the 2 perspectives I shared earlier:
1. It is HOW I use the power of my minds that determines the quality of life I live.
2. There is no fixed, finite reality, (when you get down to the non-physical level)
I use these 2 beliefs to shape my past, present and future and it seems to work pretty good.
Just to test this out, I'd like you to do a 3 things, and please take a few minutes to dive into each one.
See this is a little quiet time, to, you know.... to travel through space and time. So strap in Cosmonaut. This will only be worthwhile if you actually do the exercises, rather than just reading them.
1.[PURE IMAGINATION- read this and then close your eyes]
Imagine living in different time and place. 100 years ago, 1000 years ago, 40,000 years ago. Just allow yourself to take this wherever you feel drawn to.
What can you see, what do you do? What do you have in your hands, under your feet?
Can you go to a deeper level of imagination, and be aware of what you feel in this imagined reality?
Can you go further and CHOOSE the feelings to feel?
Can you choose joy, or excitement of raw discovery, the wonder of seeing a comet blaze across the sky, the fear of the unknown, or the feeling of being in tune with nature.
Can you allow the feelings to grow.
Ok, you can play more of that game later. Lets move on.
Imagine your future. 10 years from now.
Who do you see? Everyone is a bit older, perhaps wiser.
What physical space are you in?
What do you have around you?
What are you doing?
What do you feel?
What do you CHOOSE to feel.
Can you allow these feelings to grow?
3. [THE PAST- ok now we are getting in there]
Take yourself back to your earliest school memories.
Feel free to close your eyes, and allow yourself to be there.
Re-call the corridors, class-rooms, playground. What did the world look, smell like, sound like?
Can you recall the games you played, and who you played them with.
Can you tune into a feeling you had all those years ago? Can you take yourself through different feelings. Anxiety, excitement, fear, joy... perhaps a mix.
Now, can you CHOOSE a feeling to dwell on?
OK, back to NOW. Practices like this are a good way to train your mind to create your reality.
I love going back to the past to re-frame it.
I do this a lot with less pleasant memories, traumatic stuff.
Lets use a random example of Jonny the sandwich stealer:
Imagine if you have a childhood memory of a kid who would always steal your sandwiches when you were 8 years old at school.
This was upsetting. You felt victimised, and because you had seen avoidance of confrontation at home, you didn't know how else to react you let this happen and didn't tell anyone.
So it kept happening, and you kept going hungry.
Obviously this would leave an imprint.
Years later, when you are 16 you tell your Dad about little Jonny sandwich stealer, and your Dad says something the effect of: "Why didn't you stand up for yourself?"
You feel judged, as though Dad is calling you weak.
Years and years later, you are in a restaurant with friends, and a colleague leans over to grab a french fry from your plate. You nearly stab his hand with a fork.
"Please don't take my food from my plate" you say, to awkward looks.
That weekend you go see Dad. You talk about the football but wish you could communicate on a deeper level. You realise you feel judged by him.
In this present moment, you are fearful about stuff being taken from you and fearful of being judged by people.
All this because of a events that happened in childhood.
Now, is the past really "water under the bridge"? Is it really over, or can we see that the past, is actually reflected in the present?
Your 8 year old self had a certain perspective, based on a limited level of awareness. Your current self, can choose a new perspective based on a higher level of awareness.
Now, you can go back to the past and re-frame what happened, so that the present moment changes.
Now you can choose to use the powers of empathy and compassion, which are ninja tools of the emotionally intelligent person.
We can see that Jonny was acting out his pain. He was possibly exposed to patterns of behaviour where force was the standard.
We will never know exactly what drove Jonny to steal your sandwiches, but we can be damn sure that there was cause and effect at play.
You can now think about your Dad's reaction to you in the same way. Was he judging your or was he judging himself?
What does going back to this past encounter with Dad, through the lens of compassion reveal?
All pain is caused by suffering, which is caused by pain... repeat forever..
Our mindset of victim, came about to protect our 8 year old self.
Our mindset of "Dad thinks I'm a weakling", was the fruit of a certain level of awareness that we had at the time of feeling judged.
Now we are wiser, we can give love to both our inner child and to Jonny and our Dad.
We we apply our powers of forgiveness and acceptance.
We can CHANGE our past, through this wider perspective, and we can CHANGE our present reality, by allowing this light of awareness to burn off the fog of previous beliefs- ie. "I am a victim".
I've been practicing this for years. I think there is a similar practice in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, where you examine how your current thoughts and behaviours are affecting you now.
It's just obvious isn't in? Events in your past have shaped the way that you currently think and behave.
In particular, thought patterns and behaviours learned in childhood.
This is not about dwelling on the past, but about applying higher levels of wisdom, awareness and compassion to find ways to change your current thoughts and behaviours so that you can function better now and in the future.
I hope you can use this to time-travel in the most helpful way, and replace old patterns with new ones that serve you.