Life as a Succession of Moments

I woke up this morning in a reflective mood — a good mood. As I was journaling this morning a theme emerged.

Like most everyone, I think, I have my share of regrets and disappointments: Things in life I wish hadn’t happened. Things I wish had happened. Things I did or said. Things I didn’t do or say. People who hurt me. People who I’ve hurt.

In his book, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle calls this the ‘pain-body.’

[E]very emotional pain that you experience leaves behind a residue of pain that lives on in you. It merges with the pain from the past, which was already there, and becomes lodged in your mind and body. This, of course, includes the pain you suffered as a child, caused by the unconsciousness of the world into which you were born.

This accumulated pain is a negative energy field that occupies your body and mind. 

When we get angry or upset about something, or are depressed, it generally isn’t about what we think it is. It may be in part, but often we’re tapping into old stuff that runs deep and goes way back. My parents would argue over things like who turned off the tea kettle.

The secret to happiness is to let all this stuff go. In the book and film about the Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Socrates kept telling Dan Millman, pointing to Dan’s forehead, “Take out the trash. The trash is anything that’s keeping you from the only thing that matters, this moment. Here. Now.”

I know all this, of course, but I keep forgetting and have to re-learn. One core thought came to mind while journaling that I felt inspired to send out to the world in a tweet:

Life can literally be a succession of moments, each fresh and unburdened.

Although my cancer journey has been remarkably easy thus far, this is an important insight for me — and for everyone, I think. There’s no question this is true, but getting to this unburdened place can be a challenge. Eckhart explains how the pain-body exerts a tenacious grip on us. We have trouble giving it up because we mistake this pain as being who we are. Giving up our pain can seem like giving up our very identity. After all, the pain comes from the experiences we’ve lived through so giving it up seems like we’re denying our lives.

In fact, the mirror opposite is true. It’s the embracement of this pain that’s a denial of our life. It holds us prisoner to our past, frozen in time, unable to grow and unable to fully experience new things. Life is NOW, and we can’t live life as it unfolds today if we’re locked in the past or worried about the future.

If any of this resonates with you, this video suggests a few ways to become more present in the moment.

Title image is by Ben White on Unsplash

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