- Mindfulness is the intentional, accepting and non-judgemental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment, which can be trained by meditational practices that are described in detail in the Buddhist tradition.
The power of NOW
The Buddha told us not to dwell in the past, and not to dream of the future, but to concentrate the mind on the present moment.
There is a reason why fear is the most powerful and potent emotional feeling. It is the same reason why an emotional fear is most likely to manifest into reality. This is that Fear is a product of the future in much the same way as regret is a product of the past.
Regret is a negative emotionally charged feeling. It is like an emotional hindsight in which we consider the uncorrected errors that we allowed to become mistakes in our lives. It is a present emotion which we direct to memories of events in the past. Thus regret taints our current emotions and affects our present decisions detrimentally.
Gandhi told us that it was fear and not hatred which is our enemy. Fear is a negative emotionally charged feeling. It is like an emotional foresight of a future potential or possibility. We fear something that has not happened yet. It may be a logical assumption to make, or an inevitable conclusion but because fear is a potent emotionally charged feeling it has a propensity to become a self fulfilling prophesy. As long as we live with this fear and believe in it whilst doing little or nothing to avoid it, it will manifest into reality.
Although this is easier said than done, the best way to conquer fear is to ground yourself to the present and realise the power of ‘now’. Fear is a natural gut feeling but if we don’t project it into some potential outcome then the emotional link with the future is broken. Then all we are left with is a gut feeling, and not an inappropriate emotion. A gut feeling is a physical feeling of a response to a stimulus. When we see a potential danger, our initial gut feeling is that of high alert. Adrenalin flows, the senses amplify, and the brain thinks quickly and is dedicated to that danger. This is no harm. This is a defensive gut feeling and it is not fear. The problem of fear arises when our memory or imaginations make a link between the potential danger and some previous emotionally charged similar situation. So fear is created by linking a present sensory alert to an emotionally charged memory and then projecting this into a future possibility. Thus we can root ourselves in the present particularly during tense situations. That means staying grounded to the present situation and not referring to some similar memory and fearing a bad future outcome. This way the gut feeling remains an autonomous body sensory reaction which quickly dissipates and returns the body vitals to normal.
To really conquer fear, we have to also tackle that negative emotional link to the past which we call regret. It is the hindsight emotion of regret which we use to emotionally charge memories which are negative. Those emotionally charged memories are associated with relevant emotionally tense situations in the present and then used to project fear forward so that it can be linked to a future potential outcome. The cycle continues. Regrets induce fears which induce bad decisions and mistakes which induce regrets.
We can deal with regrets in much the same way that we deal with future fears. If we can restrict our thinking and feelings to the present, to the ‘Now’, we can break the emotional ties between the past, present, and future. So we must stop relating emotional memories to present situations. That means stopping having regrets. That is easier said than done. Some regrets cut deep. They are emotional wounds that we like to revisit.
There is a psychotherapy technique called Eriksonian hypnotherapy which can actually alter the emotionally charged negative memories at source. Unlike hypnosis, a trance is not induced but the patient is still regressed to an event in the past. This hypnotherapy became the basis up on which neuro linguistic programming (NLP) was developed. A form of suggestion is used that confuses the sense of the present moment to alter past memories at their inception point. To do this, you have to work the fear process in reverse. It is easier if you have someone acting as a counsellor to talk you through the process. You have to perhaps dim the lights and cut out all stimuli that links you to the present (to the Now). Then you have to your best ability to try and relive the bad memory that afflicts you. You have to re-immerse yourself in that moment, that time. You have to remember the environment, the sounds, smells etc. You have to remember what your actions were, what you were thinking, and most importantly what you were feeling emotionally. If you can achieve this and relive all the encompassing feelings of hurt, you can actually change the past. You are not time travelling, but you are changing the facts which you remember. The best way is to bring someone back with you who you trust. That can often be the You from the present, who is more than likely better able to deal with the situation, than the You from the past. You use that imagined person to alter the events, to change what happened. Then feel the change. You feel much better about what you now tell yourself really happened. The emotionally charged regret will disappear as if it were some old mistaken memory that has been corrected. After all our past is only what we tell ourselves it was.
These re-enacted psychodramas may sound like a convoluted hocus pocus process. However, It is known to work effectively at dismantling old bad memories and is often applied in psychotherapy. This form of counselling has its detractors who don’t as a rule like many of the hypnotherapy therapies which are seen to replace true memories with false ones. In truth, the healthiest way to deal with both fears and regrets is to root yourself in the present. I wanted to explain this Ericksonian hypnotherapy because of the strong similarities it shows to a very popular modern belief in projected thinking called the Universal law of attraction.
The Universal Law of Attraction
The universal law of attraction is practically a mainstream belief amongst new age communities and those who may describe themselves as spiritualists. Through the use of vision boards, and projecting their imagination forward in time, people have been caught up in trying to manifest better realities in the future. They use intention to envision what they desire. The process is Jungian in concept. It is similar to the practise of psycho synthesis & psychodrama in psychotherapy. Instead of recreating the past and altering unpleasant past memories, this time the future is altered by projecting a different set of emotionally charged memories forward. The process works if it is conducted properly. I have no doubt about this even though it is known not to succeed in so many cases in which the person has not successfully envisioned a practical and achievable intention, or they have failed to take any practical steps towards its achievement.
Personally, i do not feel comfortable with the concept of practising the Law of attraction. This is because I question its spiritual pedigree. It has very strong elements of zohar cabbalistic based magick. Altering the past, changing the future has strong alchemical connotations. I don’t really see it as being that much different to the projected magick of voodoo and Juju which is also about projecting forward intentions. Just like the practice of magick, there is an essence of self-centred desire about the universal law of attraction. New age spiritualism is meant to be altruistic and concerned with collective evolution. My personal belief that it is just another backdoor Trojan or cuckoos egg that has been laid in the new age community for the intention of corrupting the altruistic ascension beliefs with the same magick which has been used continuously since the days of Babylon, Canaanite and Sumerian times. Of course I could be completely wrong here but my tried and tested method of sifting out the ‘wheat from the tares’ (the good from the bad) is to judge something by how selfish it appears as opposed to it having collective altruistic intentions. I still believe that living correctly in the now, applying the best balanced intentions and love for your neighbour as well as yourself will create a future that resembles and honours the values of the present. So take no baggage from the past and send no baggage into the future.