There are often mixed feelings and messages that accompany reflecting on the past. For instance: It’s joked sometimes that therapy is all about looking back at your childhood; It’s true that being present is important and much of what causes anxiety lives in the past or in the future; It’s important to learn from our past and the stories that shape who you are. It can be detrimental to stay there.
We receive all these messages about our past and yet even these can be a simplification of what is often a complicated relationship – our past selves with our present selves.
Today in this mindfulness exercise we will practice taking a “look back.” We will attempt to create a safe place to do this where we can glean what is helpful and leave behind what is not. This may not be right and good for everyone or in all seasons of life. So, as you do this practice, notice any and all sensations that emerge.
However, there is wisdom to be found in our past. It can be comforting to remind ourselves that no matter what we have faced – we came through it. We grew and learned and loved through it. And, no matter what we are facing now, we can do it again.
Begin by taking a comfortable position. Eyes closed or to the floor, whatever feels more comfortable.
Reflect on the journey that has brought you to this day. Where did today start? What decisions and struggles and gifts and victories brought you to this place today?
Feel deep pride for what you have overcome, for what has made you who you are. Feel a kind sadness for hurdles and struggles along the way. Feel gratitude for gifts, mercies, and relationships that have brought you to where you are.
Consider the parts of your journey that felt off track. Notice how they have added to the story in ways unexpected. Notice how perhaps they don’t quite feel so off track as they once did.
Notice how when you felt lost, you found your way back to center. Notice the great courage it took to keep going some days and let yourself feel confident in your ability to do and face hard things. Acknowledge your strength. Acknowledge that light comes when it doesn’t feel like it will. Notice the truths that you have because of what you have been through and because of who you are.
Notice that there are many things you would not have chosen for yourself. Notice how you grew despite these things. Surrender and let it all go. Come back to the present. Release and relish in not having to hold, fight, or attempt to change anything – just be. Release all pain and frustration related to the past and be fully present.
You are here. You are now. You matter.
Happy Mindfulness Monday, brave warrior!