Mindfulness Meditation – How to Mine Your Past for Creative Gold

In our headlong rush to create a new, supposedly better reality for ourselves, there is a great danger of reinforcing a pervasive belief that what we have now isn't good enough. Such an attitude is counter-productive and a sure recipe for unhappiness. But this constant focus on the future also causes us to ignore a potential source of creative gold: memories of happy experiences from our past. And those memories should not be overlooked, for their vividness in our minds gives them an extra creative potential that wishful thoughts about an imaginary future often lack.

The Past is Not Dead, But it Could be Killing Your Future

Once we have accepted the unconventional proposition that we create our reality with our thoughts, then the six-million dollar question inevitably becomes, "What are we setting ourselves up for by thinking what we're thinking?" Through the cultivation of mindfulness, we must constantly observe our thoughts and emotions, and stand ready to police negativity that will cause problems if left unchecked.

What that mindfulness often reveals is that we spend a great deal of our time rehashing events from our past - usually bad ones. If just one little thing goes wrong with an otherwise decent day, you can bet your bottom dollar that you'll be dwelling on that isolated incident, blowing it up out of all proportion and granting it a significance it almost certainly doesn't deserve. Not only does this make you unhappy without good reason; it also sets in motion creative forces that will cause this poor quality of experience to expand. Think of it as a snowball effect or as a vicious circle, but you are going to get more of what you concentrate upon.

Sadly, we often end up using our creative power not to make the better future we want by concentrating on how things could be, but instead create a poorer future by focusing on the lousy things that have already been. This process is at work all the time, even for people who would laugh at the suggestion that their own thoughts and feelings affect their physical reality. Those of us who have made this breakthrough and perceived our own power ought to know better, but all too often fall into the same self-destructive traps as everyone else. It takes a tremendous degree of experienced mindfulness to learn this lesson.

Time to Turn the Tables

Most efforts to create better realities involve positive thoughts and images about a potential future. Those efforts are particularly difficult when we sabotage ourselves by allocating more time to complaints about the past and present. This tendency dooms many people to failure before they start, so it is no wonder that some say creative visualization doesn't do any good. In a generally dark mental environment, a few rays of sunshine amount to little more than damage limitation.

There are two things we can do to give our future a better chance at working out the way we want, and both involve our past. The first, following on from what we have just discussed, is to stop dwelling on all the bad things we habitually churn up from our past, whether that past occurred earlier today or twenty years ago. (Memories of ancient harms don't go away. In fact, the brain is hard-wired to hang on to them.)

The second thing we can do is to deliberately focus on all the good things that have happened in the past. And, no, it's not acceptable for you to say, "What good things?" Unless you've been a prisoner of war all your life, there will have been some good along the way. And even if your life has been unusually hard, we should not forget what Viktor Frankl told us in Man's Search for Meaning. The most resilient humans - those who survive against all odds - are somehow able to find something positive in the most hellish conditions imaginable.

Focusing on the best events from your past will encourage those better qualities of experience to reappear. No matter what else has happened since, or is happening right now, no one can ever take those memories away from you. They are always available to you, ready and willing to help you focus your attention and creative energy through a brighter prism, and to rekindle happier emotions.

Thus, instead of dredging up toxic mud from the murky depths of your past, only to dump it into the flow of your current consciousness, why not instead tap into your deep reserves of creative gold? The more you do this, the easier it will become. And if you persist long enough, you will start to detect those same happy qualities of experience occurring anew. The details will be different, but life will try to give you more of the same. Once again, the bottom line is this: What do you want more of - the worst things that have happened to you, or the best?

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