The purpose of meditation, as I learned it, is to clear our minds of thought. In so doing meditation puts the breaks on, so to speak, meandering through the past or racing ahead into the future. After all, both are equally unavailable in the present. So, at 3:45AM today I had a direct experience of how living in the past or the future is detri–mental to…well…mental well-being.
I woke up like a shot from a deep sleep at 3:45 this morning. As I lay there trying to go back to sleep, I was lost in thoughts of regret about experiences in my past. But that wasn’t all. I was alternately lost in anxiety over worries about my future. That loop of thought, past to future and back again, went on for an hour. Of course, I was so lost in it all that I wasn’t conscious of the actual hour that had passed. That is, not until the loop stopped.
When it stopped, I suddenly found myself staring at my elbow because I had folded my arm under my head which was resting on the pillow. What was so shockingly apparent to me in that instant of seeing my elbow was that for whatever amount of time I had been in the loop, I had actually been very stressed, very tense and not present. Contrast that with the calm and sensory awareness that settled in and around me as I became present and saw my arm and my surroundings.That contrast was nothing short of riveting.It was as if I had instantaneously stepped out of a raging storm into the stillness of a sun drenched meadow.
So why all the fuss?
Well, I have been speaking and writing about the correct use of energy for years. It’s been my mantra, of sorts, that all negative, self-defeating and destructive behavior is simply the misuse of energy. All physical matter is energy. How we use it, or misuse it, determines its application and effect. In human behavior, it also determines the consequences of that effect.
However, never prior to 3:45AM had I experienced that proposition so immediately and so completely.
When lost in the loop, I was misusing my energy and it felt awful! Not only had it created intense stress in my physical body, it also prevented me from doing anything constructive (correct use of energy) in the present. Past and future are, equally, flights of fancy that occur only within the brain. Neither of them can be changed by wallowing (past) or projecting (future). The only state of being in which I can correctly use the energy available to me while living in my physical body is in the present. Now. This second. Then the next. Then the next as each arrives. It’s only in the present that I can relax and apply the energy that is available to me by allowing it to flow through me and be released in some expression of creativity or service.
I accomplished nothing in the loop except for stressing myself out and preventing myself from getting much needed sleep. But out of the loop, once in the present, I got up and wrote this post which helps me better understand life and, hopefully, helps you do the same.