After my last post, 5 Steps to Releasing Negativity, I received a few questions about releasing attachment to the past. Readers mentioned that many of the thoughts they were having trouble releasing were replays of negative experiences in the past and/or predictions of negative experiences in the future. I provided individual answers to those who reached out, but I thought it would be good to share a bit more on this topic with everyone.
Isn’t it “normal” to think about the past? Shouldn’t I use the past as a guide to predict the future? Shouldn’t I be “on guard” with people who have hurt me? These are some of the questions that used to run through my mind as it relates to the past. In answering these questions, it helps to start with what seems to bind us to the past in the first place. I have learned that this has so much to do with who you identify with. What do I mean by that? Well, I used to think that the thoughts that were flowing in and out of my head were me. I thought that was just “normal” to remember the past, and for it to keep playing over and over in my mind. It wasn’t until I really began to step back from the thoughts and observe them (as described in 5 Steps to Releasing Negativity) that I realized that I am not my thoughts…I am the observer of my thoughts. This is big. I was no longer a slave to my thoughts. It gave me back my power.
So, if you are indeed the observer of your thoughts, this means that you have the power of choice. This means that your natural state is peace. In each moment you can choose whether to carry the baggage of the past forward, or to release it and be present to what is available in the moment. You can choose whether to see the past mistakes of others, or see the person that’s standing in front of you today. You can choose to express love, or withhold it based on negative past experience. The quote below from A Course in Miracles hits the nail on the head:
“If you remember the past as you look upon your brother, you will be unable to perceive the reality that is now. You consider it ‘natural’ to use your past experience as a reference point from which to judge the present. Yet this is unnatural because it is delusional. When you have learned to look on everyone with no reference to the past, either his or yours as you perceived it, you will be able to learn from what you see now. For the past can cast no shadow to darken the present, unless you are afraid of light. And only if you are would you choose to bring darkness with you, and by holding it in your mind, see it as a dark cloud that shrouds your brothers and conceals reality from your sight.” (T-13.VI.1-2)
When I first read that I thought it was harsh. Am I really delusional? And then I sat for a moment, read back through it, and asked for Divine understanding of this idea. The answer came almost instantly. The Voice within said, “When you go on a trip, do you pack dirty clothes and spoiled food?” I had to laugh out loud at that. Of course I don’t. And then It said, “How do you want others to see you? As you are now, or as you were in the past?”
I paused again, and even began to tear as I remembered a time in my life when I was feeling particularly guilty. All I wanted was for the person I had wronged to see me as I was in the moment, but all they saw were my mistakes. I remembered the pain and hurt of that experience. All I wanted was for the good in me to be recognized. All I wanted was to be forgiven and loved. Isn’t that what we all want?
“The miracle enables you to see your brother without his past, and so perceive him as born again. His errors are all past, and by perceiving him without them you are releasing him. And since his past is yours, you share in this release. Let no dark cloud out of your past obscure him from you, for truth lies only in the present, and you will find it if you seek it there.” (T-13.VI.5.)
When A Course in Miracles talks about the “miracle”, it is talking about forgiveness. That is the key to releasing the past. Not the world’s way of forgiving people that says, “You’re wrong and a ‘sinner’, but I forgive you anyway…well, kind of.” The forgiveness of the Spirit that says, “I see who you really are, beyond any past mistakes you have made…I forgive myself for not seeing the Light in you.” If you choose to see beyond all appearances to the ever-present Light within everyone, the past becomes irrelevant. As all of the great spiritual teachers tell us, all that ever exists is now.
I am still a work in progress on this, but I am lightyears ahead of where I was. I am now clear that I have a choice in each moment – live in the present or live in the dream world of the past. More and more, I am choosing the present. It makes all the difference in whether I am living in fear or love…darkness or light. My intention is to solely experience the love and light that exists within myself and others, and to help others do the same. What about you? What’s your biggest struggle in releasing the past? What seems to be the biggest obstacle you face when trying to seeing the light in others? I’d love to hear from you!
“The present offers you your brothers in the light that would unite you with them, and free you from the past. Would you, then, hold the past against them? For if you do, you are choosing to remain in the darkness that is not there, and refusing to accept the light that is offered you.” (T-13.VI.7)
“Child of Light, you know not that the light is in you. Yet you will find it through its witnesses, for having given light to them they will return it. Each one you see in light brings your light closer to your awareness. Love always leads to love.” (T-13.VI.10)