We’ve all heard of mindfulness.
The therapeutic benefits of living in the present, rather than dwelling in the future with its worries, or in the past with its resentments and regrets.
It’s a powerful technique – and it is real. I’ve garnered its benefits.
But it isn’t easy. Our thought-streams naturally flow toward past regrets and resentments as well as future anxieties and fear.
While many of these thoughts are baseless and need only be released, there are some that will only desist once examined and dealt with.
That’s because while we certainly shouldn’t stew in the missteps or misadventures of our past, we do need to clean up the mess. If for no other reason, it will liberate our consciousness and allow us maximum present tranquility.
For the same reason we need to consider whether our present choices are on course with the future we’d feel comfortable embracing. Subconsciously, we know where our choices are taking us, and to fully enjoy the present we have to feel that we’re on a spiritually solid path.
This seems like a catch-22. If the only way fully embrace the here-and-now present is by revisiting thoughts of the then-and-there past and future, we’re stuck.
Or are we?
The answer is to compartmentalize.
We’ll be able to spend nearly our entire day in the carefree joy of present-focus, once we validate our legitimate past and future concerns by allotting them one hour a day be examined.
Knowing it will have that hour to hash out its inner turbulence, will give the mind ‘permission’ to grant us the other twenty-three worry and resentment free. They will no longer have to ‘nag’ at our serenity, as they ‘know’ we honor their existence and are ready to hear them out – in the proper time and place.
Beyond airing these thoughts, we may be called upon to rectify their root cause, as to allow them to permanently dissipate. This might entail making amends to others we have harmed; it might also mean forgiving those who have harmed us. It could mean mustering the internal resolve to desist in negative behaviors and strategizing how to avoid such pitfalls in the future.
Just for one hour a day, out of twenty-four. Not more. The rest of our day should be spent in present-focused serenity and joy.
There are spiritual systems that incorporate this ‘punctuated mindfulness’. For example the daily 10th step inventory of 12 Step Recovery, and centuries before that, the prescription of the Hassidic Masters to devote an hour to daily reflection, while stressing the importance of living in the rest of our day in present-focused joy. This will bring our feelings of inner peace to a deeper level, as they will now mirror the genuine serenity of a rectified and conscientious soul.
So an hour a day to free up our other twenty-three? I don’t think our mindfulness will mind.