Saturday, 18 December 2010

Look Both Ways

"Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us." Hal Borland.

A rabbit’s vision is something quite amazing. Apparently the size and position of its eyes mean that it has a field of vision which spans almost 360 degrees. That makes it one of the few creatures that can look forward and back at the same time.

In general I tend to write a lot about living in the present so just for a change I thought I’d write something about looking forward and back, or looking both ways.

It’s traditional in December to start thinking about the old year that’s passed and the new one that’s soon to arrive. 

For some it can be a time of celebration and for others a time of dejection. Like most people I’ve experienced both but with the benefit of hindsight, I do think that wherever we are right now, we can use this time in a positive way. 

So I’d like to share a very simple exercise we can use for looking back at the old year and forward to the new one.

I learned this exercise from a very talented guy called Michael Carroll. I’m not sure how similar this version is to the original but this is the how I like to use it.

How to look both ways:

1) First come into the present. Find somewhere comfortable to sit, if possible with a straight and relaxed posture and notice your breath without trying to control it.

2) Deepen your focus by paying attention to your peripheral vision. You can do this by just relaxing your eyes and expanding your vision to notice objects just at the edge of your field of view. This is a very quick and easy way to enter a relaxed state.

3) After 5 or 10 minutes, begin to run through you year, starting at January 2010, right through to the present.

4) Allow yourself to notice some of the key moments, good and bad. It’s important to just notice your response and then move on. Don’t get caught up in particular memories, remember the past is just a metaphor.

5) Feel gratitude for the journey you’ve made and the things you have learned in the past 12 months. There is a great Buddhist saying, “Let’s be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick at least we didn’t die; so let’s all be thankful.”

6) Now as you think about the coming year, allow yourself to dream about a perfect New Year. Remember dreams aren’t meant to be rational so give yourself free reign. Conjure up all your wildest fantasies and enjoy the feeling.

7) As you enjoy your dream you may notice things you want to change in the coming year. Sometimes we notice things straight away and sometimes we notice them later on, just pay attention when they arrive.

8) In the coming year remember your dream, keep it at the forefront of your mind. When you see an opportunity to move in the direction of your dream, take it with both hands. Remember Luck is like the Tour de France, it soon passes, you have to grab it while you can.

So there it is. The past and the future are just like metaphors or stories and it’s only our imagination that breathes life into them. When you do the exercise it becomes obvious. 

The past and the future can be interesting to look at, and if we use them wisely they can help us to gain perspective and to learn. In the end though, the power is in the present. That’s why Number 8 is the most important.

Have an amazing 2011!

Image courtesy of Sheila Blige



  2. Very nice Big Z. I think this exercise is good for everyone who feels like they have a hard time unwinding before they go to bed. Plus, we get so caught up in the minutiae of our everyday lives, it's hard to see the bigger picture; an exercise like this will help us to zoom out a little bit.

    I agree that #8 is the most important - be aware in the present: see the signs, know yourself and understand that the universe wants you to fulfill your dreams. Karma: you deserve everything that is given to you, so don't hesitate.

  3. @patty Que bom Patty e parabens pela formatura!

  4. Perfect yes.
    As you know my problem is exactly in points 3, 4 and 5. Not only I am caught by memories, but I feel so sad for those memories that I cannot remember them without crying nor I can avoid them without crying.
    Past is a metaphor, but once it was present and that is what troubles me.
    I shall try no.8 anyway...thanks for this!

  5. obrigada pelos parabéns...dedico essa felicidade a voce que sempre me incentivou nos momentos em que eu me sentia triste e sem coragem para prosseguir...obrigada pelo seu carinho por mim...bjs

  6. Such a wonderful article it is! I don't know your name but well, I'm so grateful to read this article. I'd like to feature it in my next week's issues of 'Speak Up Boy Weekly' Keep writing the good stuff :)

  7. @Anna Sergi Sometimes it's useful to ask what the intention of those persistent memories is. It can be that there is something we need to learn from them. Once we have listened to the message, then it’s important to "not chase after the sheep" :)

  8. @Jaky Astik Thanks for the kind words Jaky, and thanks for the feature!