Joyously Living Now: Understanding the Past is Key

Joyously living now depends, in part, on our ability to recognize our triggers, accept them, and let them go so that we can be more fully present in our now. Now is our point of power but often, in order to experience this reality, we must understand the past and the way it has cut into and diminished our experience of now.

When I lived in a rehabilitation community, one of its leaders used to say that it didn’t matter whether your father dumped you head first into a closet when you were two years old. All that is past and now is now. But for me, I knew that it did matter. I wanted to understand my fears, doubts, and anxieties. When we understand what triggers these internal states, our experience of life expands.

I experienced trauma as an infant, so many of my fears stem from an early time. Napping is very hard for me, for example. My first nap took place on March 17, 2012. I remember because I blogged about it. (Click on the date to read the post, if you like.) In-between then and now, I’ve napped, at most, two times. A few days ago, I gained more insight into this napping business. In the late afternoon of July 5, 2014, I lay down on my bed and said to myself, Now you can sleep. From deep within, I heard these words: You will not die. 

These barely conscious feelings may harken back to a time even before my infant surgery at one month old when I was dying from pyloric stenosis. I was losing weight due to a stomach blockage, and as I lay in my crib–down 2 and 1/2 pounds from my birth weight 6 pounds, 7 ounces–perhaps I was trying to stay alive by staying awake. Maybe drifting off was terrifying back then because starvation and dehydration were threatening to take me out. Is my resistance to napping a remnant of a survival mechanism?

Whereas the thought of a nap has always been anxiety-producing, it now fills me with curiosity about how I will handle the next time I am ready for one. Certainly, my anxiety will be lessened, for I’ll be able to soothe myself ahead of time, trusting that the nap will invigorate and not harm me.

The ability to self-soothe is key to living in harmony. Understanding what upset us in the past helps us learn how to talk to ourselves in the present. In this way, we can defuse our triggers. Greater self-knowledge makes possible a richer and more joyous now.



5 Responses to Joyously Living Now: Understanding the Past is Key

  1. Thank you for your beautiful growing process Wendy. Living in the now can feel miraculous at times. I just wrote this little bit of journal entry, and I want to share it with you. All my love to you sweetheart. Natasha (past student from COA)
    So I’m sitting here thinking: “What matters most in life?” And if I think with my head, I don’t even know where to begin. My head sends me too many different signals that all turn into a blurr and I have no idea what matters most- not even a clue.
    Then I try to think with my heart… I touch it with my hands, I press into my chest a little so I feel the rhythm of my heartbeat, I close my eyes, – it’s strong and steady. Boom boom, boom boom, boom boom — Suddenly some mysterious veil is lifted and it is as if I am waking up from a dream: opening my eyes for the first time, feeling the air on my face, seeing the green of plants and trees in my garden. Breathing from the heart, I am back to the center of my being, I finally feel alive and connected to all living things again. The earth feels extra solid, extra sturdy underneath me, and the birds are nowhere to be found. I want to put my feet up, stretch out my legs and breathe in this quiet moment. What I have right now, is good. Is very good in fact. I have peace and tranquility. I have breath and heart joy even though I am alone. And that is good for me to feel, good for me to practice.

    • I can’t believe that I missed this marvelous message. (Lately, many of my ReStory comments are ending up getting spammed by my computer.) Dear, dear Natasha. You sound fabulous. What a beautiful moment you shared with me. Yes, the heart is so key. Thinking or being or breathing with the heart. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me. I used to have a Sufi teacher–a wonderful man–who said that the reason believers bow in Islam is to put the head beneath the heart. The heart if the most important part of us, not the brain. We must act from the heart, not our brain. Just today in my meditation, I sat down early and felt lost–a typical morning feeling for me. Then I allowed myself to feel my breath in my chest. I allowed breath naturally to flow in more of my body and to let go of fear. I become bigger. I felt my butt on my bed and realized I am grounded to the earth. I am not lost. I am whole and part of beingness on earth. I think we (you and me) are spirit sisters, wouldn’t you say? Thank you for reminding me about the heart connection. I shall incorporate that in my early meditation. Lots of love to you. Hope to see you again one day soon. xo

  2. like about the sifu sufi teacher and the head below the heart

    realizing being grounded to the earth

    the head the heart

    am reading a novel by James frey about bei not a novel, a memoir about being in a rehab place for addiction. very powerful many tears while reading it.
    hi wendy

    • Thanks, Ellen! It’s like–keep your head to the earth, isn’t it! What’s the title of the Frey book? Sounds like I must read it. xo

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