Back in the day my thing was not dwelling on the past. It was living in the future. Some of this was goals and plans. But most of it was just fantasy, even fantasizing about one day being at peace. But either way it was not being here, now, the only time in which it is possible to be at peace.
The personal thought system is always about the past or future or just elsewhere. The “elsewhere” thinking can be dwelling on something that is not in front of you, like a completely made up time, place, or story; or something going on in the world or someone else’s life. This was common for me, too. So when I found I was in the future or elsewhere and I wanted to be present I’d bring myself back into the room. I’d remind myself that this is where I am now. All I have to do is deal with what is right in front of me right now. And any lessons I have to learn are right here.
To do this I’d say to myself, “Come into the room” and then I’d make a point of looking at what was in the room with me. It did not matter where I was, at home or in public. If I was outside I’d say, “Come here, now” and I’d look at those things nearest me. This would ground me in the present. I’d remind myself that this is where I am. I am not with myself when my mind is in another time or place. And if I am not with myself I am not with the Awareness of Truth (Holy Spirit) or peace.
Sometimes students tell me that they can’t stop dwelling on the plight of others in the world. So I share with them this technique. Be with what is right in front of you. This is where you are. You cannot live anyone else’s life. You cannot solve problems that are not in front of you. If you are to act in some way to help someone else, near you or a world away, you will know in the present what actions to take.
Other students are concerned with lessons they’ve read or heard of but that they have not yet learned for themselves. I tell them to forget what they do not yet know or do not yet understand. The way you get to more advanced lessons is to learn the lessons in front of you now. What are you going through in your life now? What is there to learn? Just as in school, what you learn now prepares you for what you will learn later.
What I learned from this was how much of my experience, my “life”, was a fantasy of ideas. I saw how my “world” was a world of thoughts. There is a lot that can go on in my mind. But there is very little actually going on right in front of me. How much simpler and more peaceful it is to live with only what is right in front of me!