Oct 252012
 

Author: Anna Palmer

A view of Lake Alexandrina

A view of Lake Alexandrina

As I’ve slowly begun to get back into my meditation practice, I have noticed some resistance.  This resistance comes from the ever-racing mind that rarely ceases to quiet and sink into the background for even one moment of peace and calmness.  My mind is simply not used to the quiet of sitting in stillness and has been fighting to maintain its grip, by flooding me with thought after thought, worry after worry.  As I sat in my meditation this morning, the same anxiety, the same pattern of racing thoughts resurfaced until I was unable to even enjoy the brief moments of silence. Getting back into my meditation practice has been nothing short of a struggle and I am regretful of not keeping up with my practice while I have been abroad.

Sitting in my brief meditation today, a simple thought floated to the surface.  How would it feel to live a life with absolutely no regrets? How would it feel to simply leave the past behind, accept what you did and did not do, and move freely, uninhibited into the present moment? I feel like I’m consistently struggling to maintain a grip on the now, without feeling drawn into the past, for what it was and was not.  To live a life of no regrets would mean to accept the past for what it was and was not, accept the situation for what it was and was not, and simply learn from these past experiences in order to enhance growth and fulfillment in the now.  But, the mind ever struggles to allow this simple, effortless process of letting go to take place and instead fights even harder to maintain its grip on things.

Instead of regretting the past and wasting time dwelling on what went wrong why can’t we simply acknowledge these shortcomings or mistakes in our past and learn from them?  It sounds so easy and yet it is all too common to repeat the same cycle, never learning, never growing.  Maybe it is easier to dwell on the past rather than actually taking the initiative and changing these maladaptive patterns.  For these patterns are what we know, what we are used to and to sway from them would be a journey into the unknown, the unfamiliar.  But to keep repeating them would be an even bigger disservice to ourselves and to others.

Sheep being herded on the drive to Mt. Cook

Sheep being herded on the drive to Mt. Cook

Looking back on my time in New Zealand, I would like to say that I have no regrets and, for the most part, I do not.  But a part of me, the part that continues to pick at the past, obsessing and analyzing and fretting over what was and what could have been persists.  My regrets revolve around me getting in the way of myself.  This struggle of mine has persisted here in New Zealand.  My anxieties, my insecurities, my fears have continued to block my path at times, preventing me from being fully present and able to enjoy the moment right in front of me.  However, the times that I have managed to keep this presence have been some of the best that I have had in New Zealand and in my entire life at that.  When I have been able to let go of my racing thoughts and get out of my head, I have been able to thoroughly take in my surroundings and soak up the experience and people around me.

Though my meditation practice has been somewhat non-existent since coming to New Zealand, I’ve found myself slowly acquiring the ability to draw myself back into the present as I go about my day.  This growing sense of awareness of what I am experiencing in the now has dramatically enhanced my experiences lately.  This past weekend, I traveled to Lake Tekapo and Mt. Cook with a group of friends and I can honestly say it was one of the best weekends to date.  The reason for this exists in the fact that for the majority of the weekend I was able to maintain presence with each experience and resist the urge to be pulled into the ramblings and worries of the mind.  I was able to continually bring myself back to the present and because of this I fully experienced all the beauty and wonder that surrounded me.  I was even able to enjoy the seemingly unenjoyable, from camping in the snow and raging wind to taking a dip in the freezing, but beautifully blue lake water of Lake Tekapo.  And I can honestly say that I came out of this weekend with no regrets and only a desire to return to this state of awareness.

I think I’m finally beginning to understand that all I truly have at any given time is what lay directly in front of me.  I can’t waste my time or energy or sacrifice my happiness dwelling on what could have been.  All I can do is move forward with awareness and presence in each moment and simply breathe in all that is around me.  Living a life of no regrets means accepting the past for what it is, simply allowing the thoughts and worries about what could have been pass on by, learning from past mistakes and moving forward into the present moment, breathing in all that life has to offer.

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