As luck would have it, this weekend, I stumbled upon some notes I had scribbled on the back of an envelope (literally) many years ago during another talk at the yoga centre. And, it follows up beautifully on the post on Optimism. Serendipity :)
One of the essentials of being an optimist is to be able to look forward, to imagine a future and to embrace the present.
But for most part we are all trapped in the past, trapped in our minds. If you think about it, our past exists only in our minds. Without the memory of the past it does not exist.
And yet we seem to have this magnetic pull, this strange attraction to our past. Especially if it is a painful, miserable past. In fact, the more painful it is, the more we hold onto it. After all it is ‘my’ past. The story of ‘my’ life. We are so attached to our stories that to lose sight of them would be to lose sight of ourselves!
Of course we are human and we associate with people and events and they make us, in part, who we are. The problem is when we get stuck in a rut.
When we think of the past we activate old memories and old emotions. If we think of something that upset us twenty years ago we get just as upset today as we did then. And so we go on like a hamster running on his wheel.
The more we think of our past the more samskaras ( psychic impressions) we create.
According to Vedanta philosophy, we are nothing but vibrations. The universe is nothing but vibrations. When we constantly dwell on the past we create vibrations that attract more of the same in the future.
And by creating these vibrations from a past that no longer exists, we not only ruin our present but also the future. So how do we get out of this trap?
Swami Vishnudevanada used to say, We simply drop it.
Is it that simple? Yes.
Can it be done? Yes.
We simply say, I am not the past. I am not the story of my life. I am more. I am bliss, anandoham.
But we have to choose to do it. Letting go can be hard. We fear losing anything we are attached to. Even pain. Sometimes we don’t want to let go because we fear the same thing may repeat itself.
But once you let go of the past, you are free to be present in the here and now. You are free to really live and you are free to create a new future.