Tip For Getting Out Of The Then

A friend asked me this morning for a practice for staying out of thoughts about the past, and spinning out on hyper-analytical dissection of previous events.  In other words, “getting out of the then.”  I thought others might dig it and find it useful, so here it is:

Steps for getting back to here and now:

  1. Take a breath. A nice deep long one like all the books on relaxation tell you to.  Inhale slowly, pause for a heart beat and the exhale gentle and long and deep.
  2. Scan the body. From mindfulness-style meditation do a scan, top to bottom, or bottom to top of the sensations in your body, not your mind.
  3. Ask yourself, “What is actually happening right now?” Then answer the question with the first impression that makes itself known.  This morning when I did that the answer was, “Soft light coming in through the window.”

That’s it.  The real secret is to make this a habit.  When we have a habit of past-sifting or future-tripping, the solution (like for all habits) is to employ a counter-habit.  Use a practice regularly enough that it becomes something we do naturally.  Eventually, in this way, the new habit will overtake the old one.

We are creatures of habit, and we can use that to our advantage!

Find a habit you don’t like and give it the one-two combination of a conscious and planned counter-habit repeated many times.


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