|Can you spot the hidden tiger in the picture above? Pay close attention.|
Once upon a time, a man was taking a stroll in the market. He came across a jewelry shop and saw a gold ornament on display. He picked up a rock lying nearby and broke the glass with a powerful blow. Before anyone could realize, he was scurrying away with the jewel. But, the security guards nabbed him in no time and he was presented before the magistrate.
"I'm surprised," the judge said. "You attempted burglary in broad daylight, in the middle of a busy bazaar. What were you thinking?"
"It was the gold, Your Honor," the thief said. "I couldn't resist it. I got so blinded that I couldn't see anything else. I didn't see the guards or the owner, I didn't see other people around either. All I saw was the gold."
All I saw was the gold. It's all about attention, more specifically, it's about the art of attention. Before you feel anything, your mind thinks about it. It takes you back to the old memory, the person, the incident and a chain reaction kicks in. The mind is then bombarded with more memories of the same nature and before you know it, those thoughts have added up and they have brought about a complete change in the mood. You were fine a few moments ago but now your day is ruined because the thoughts have turned into feelings and the feelings have completely overpowered you. It happens in a fraction of a second but it's enough to throw anyone off balance. For, the power of a thought is as great as its speed.
It's impossible to feel anything, good or bad, without thinking about it first. Feeling hurt is an emotion, it's a feeling. If you are willing to let go off the analysis of why it happened to you, or why did they do it to you, or how could they do it to you, you can get over the hurt. We can't get over a thought by thinking about it. We can't get over the past by analyzing it. Sometimes, a better person comes along and they heal you. They heal you with their love, they heal you by making you a part of their existence. But, that's not the whole reason. You feel healed because they draw you into the present moment. Your attention is directed from your past to your present.
Ultimately, it boils down to attention. If you pay attention to your present, thoughts from the past can't disturb you. Our mind incessantly builds up on the thoughts we focus on. It continues to recall information that is relevant to the current train of thoughts. To quote Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced MEE-hy CHEEK-sent-mə-HY-ee), a brilliant researcher, from his book Flow P.S. :
I've said this earlier and I say it again: when thoughts of the past come uninvited, simply and gently shift your attention elsewhere, at something joyous, at your dream, on your present. This is the fundamental yogic method of getting over the hurt. Don't pursue negative thoughts, don't react to your memories of the past. Understand that they are thoughts and they have no intrinsic value. Remember the story of the three legged elephant?
When you are living in the present, when your present is good and worthy, when your today is more beautiful than your yesterday was, you experience a sense of fulfillment automatically. You don't dwell on or dwell in your past then. And, if you are not thinking about it, memories of the past don't spring up and bother you. We can't choose a thought. It can come and hit us from any direction. But, with practice, we can choose if we want to pay attention to the thought that emerges. There is absolutely no way of changing our yesterday. It is how it is. We can, however, change our present. It won't erase our past but it can make it tenuous and inconsequential.
If you ask me what's a worthwhile thing to do, I'd say making your present beautiful, making it meaningful is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your future. It's the most soothing balm you can apply on your past. Present is a present as they say. It's a gift.
The present is fast transforming into past. By the moment. Every passing moment is a building block; your house of dreams, your future is made of it. Fortunately, it's within our reach. Don't let it slip away. Pay attention to what matters. So, could you find the hidden tiger in the picture above?
(Image credit: Rusty Rust)Peace.