Spider and web at Polly A Dean Resevoir: Photo by Noelle
In the lesson section of “A Course in Miracles” comes the lesson, “My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts”. We see only the world created by our past thoughts that we then project into our current now. Just like a projector projects a movie onto a screen, we use all that we’ve previous learned to formulate what we believe is happening right now. This has been complicated for me to grasp, yet somewhere in my brain I knew this to be true.
Recently, I attended a workshop on neuro-sculpting, the art of using meditation techniques to sculpt both the left and right side of your brain. One of the very cool and salient points relates to how the brain creates memories. We think of our brain like a big file folder. Christmas 1969 is in one folder, car accident 1991 in another and so on. When we recall something we think of it like opening up a cabinet and pulling that moment out and recalling it, as it happened.
Milk weed and grasses at Polly A Dean Reservoir: Photo by Noelle
Actually, the brain is a mega-processor that stores sensory information in a multitude of sites. When we recall a memory the brain actually has to put it together. It pulls information related to that moment in time from a variety of sources and re-constitutes it, so to speak as a memory. So in essence what we think of as a snapshot or a true to life, short film, is actually a manufactured story. To no surprise we manufacture our histories in various ways depending on why we wanted to recall it. Thus, nothing we are remembering can wholly be said to be exactly true. It is true to the point of view we currently possess and through that filter we formulate what we remember.
Tree reflection in a sewer, Johnston Lake: Photo by Noelle
How does this apply to a preoccupation with the past? Everything we perceive now we perceive only from the point of view of previous experience and knowledge. When I approach a road rotary I drive through it not as a new experience, but from all of my knowledge from past driving on how to drive through one. If my boss calls me into her office, my thoughts on my way there are tainted with every past experience I’ve ever had about going to an authority figure’s office. All those thoughts feel like they are related to what is happening now, but what I’m really experiencing as I walk to her office or enter that road rotary is every experience I’ve previous had on this subject.
Waking up is about focusing all of our energy off the film and into this now moment. Forsaking the illusions we, ourselves, have created over time and space from what we have learned, come to believe or acquired through life experience. So what does this really look like? I mean, if we aren’t who we think we are right now, with this massive machine of past-ness, then what is really happening now?
This becomes my consuming thought as I drive into work this morning. What is really happening now and how does this impact who I think I am?
Two small green bugs are clinging to my windshield. They have likely been there for some time, probably since the house, but until the sun’s rays hit the windshield I hadn’t seen them. Sunrise lights up the hairs on their legs and they appear on fire. The streetlight turns green, but it is very difficult to look away from them. One walks slowly toward the other and their antenna touch. I can’t help feeling I am witnessing the greeting of the Universe with itself. “Oh… there you are.” I open myself to feel the beauty of this. Not superficially, like someone reading a novel, but really open myself to their antenna touching. I am not thinking of previous bugs or drives to work or other sunrises. I am in my car, at the light, unfettered by other thinking, gazing upon two green bugs on my windshield. In this moment, I am wholly free of past or future. It’s just me, the bugs, the sun and the divine. I focus on breathing their fiery bodies in. The moment lasts what seems a very long time.
Tall grass at South Valley Park, Ken Caryl: Photo by Noelle
A horn blares and I start moving. I realize to hold onto the moment of fire with my friends is again to hold onto the past when something else is already in play. Each now is delivering something potent. I open the window and can smell exhaust immediately, but as I drive I can also smell the sweet scent of summer grasses, now drying, in the fields that I pass. They sway with the whoosh of passing cars. The sun now up, hits the glass of an office building and I am briefly blinded. I feel the cones in my eyes constrict like a cat against the intrusion of light. I relax and let my peripheral vision take over. A swallow, up way too early, dashes past my windshield, barely seen out of the corner of my eye. The car hums beneath my seat and I note the satisfied feeling of a belly full with breakfast.
Can anyone hold this level of exquisite detail all day? What happens when you relinquish every story you are in the habit of telling yourself all day about what you ‘think’ is happening and immerse yourself solely in the details of what is happening in just this split second? Can I be that aware, I wonder, as the smell of someone’s cigarette drifts in my car window? Do people really accomplish their jobs this way? It all seems unlikely and yet I instinctively know this must be the path.
Ridge tree, South Valley Park, Ken Caryl: Photo by Noelle
For now, work is in my future. The bed I came from already my past. What will happen to me today, if I hang in this ever rolling moment? I feel the importance of that intention swirl around my heart. As I touch the coconut oil lip balm to my dry lips and feel it’s smoothness nourish my skin I realize it is me that is now on fire?