April 21, 2016

The Jumping Imagination: How Expectation Steals Joy from the Present Moment.


We met at one of my favorite tea houses, a little place I would liken to heaven.

The conversations of the day seem to spring from us like geysers, full of force and beauty.

Out of the blue, I am presented with a phenomenon I call extreme extrapolation. Suddenly my mind is not focused on this moment, but has begun to imagine a future where you and I are 40 years into marriage, our children grown, and we sit staring into each other’s eyes, reminiscing on the past.

A burst of excitement builds when we connect, and from that genuine feeling, my mind expands to encompass the ways in which our connection could appear in the future.

This is excitement which can easily pull you from your present moment.

In this article I want to explore how this excitement brings unnecessary trouble, how we can approach situations when we begin to imagine, and where to go from there.

This jumping imagination can manifest in a few ways, so it may not always come on so warm and exciting as in this scenario. Often, paranoia of future planning takes the same shape, the same structure, but with unique sounds and sensations. It’s a great mindfulness skill to be able to identify the system of thought you are looking at, what its innate qualities are, and how to allow that system to dissolve back into consciousness. In my case, romance is where I most commonly face this jumping imagination.

The problem is not the imagination itself, as that is a natural process of our mind. What seems to be detrimental is the ransacking of excitement from our future selves. Whenever I see one of these images pop into my head, I actually begin to feel how excited I would be if that event was happening to me. And here is where we trip. That amount of energy that floods us is larger than the situation we are currently in, so we act larger than the situation. Our feelings of love pour out onto a stranger we’ve just met, our want for commitment builds to astronomical heights, we feel so much that we can’t help but express all of the energy within us. While it is somewhat euphoric, it can cause fear and paranoia in others, and sometimes ourselves.

Whenever this happens, I refer to these quick points to come back to a leveled emotional state, one that fits the situation I am currently in.

#1 Bring your attention to what is present.

Begin to notice the excitement. Sense the quality of the excitement, and bring the light of conscious awareness to it. As our focus is honed in, the excitement will transmute itself from a feeling into consciousness itself, expanding your presence in the moment.

Consciousness works in this way. When things are hidden from our awareness, they actually block consciousness. This is a personal idea I am expressing, compiled from many spiritual teachings, but I believe it’s valid. Let’s take repression for example. Repression is conscious avoidance of an experience (thought, feeling, memory, or emotion). Any time I am repressing anything, my awareness shrinks simply because I am using energy to repress! So when we focus on what we are repressing, it actually frees up the energy that was currently trapped and allows it to flow smoothly back into the river of our lives. That frees up more space for our awareness as well, since repression takes effort, even if it seems effortless sometimes!

#2 Stop.

After your awareness is lighting up the moment, the excitement will be weakened and lose its grip on you. This is the key instant when we must stop feeding the imagination itself. That thought or idea is a powerful force because it contains wants and desires that are satisfied. But it is not real. It is not what is present as this moment.

#3 Breathe in.

One big, beautiful, blossoming belly breath! Let your whole body soak up the wonderful oxygenated fuel that is around us at all times! Feel the energy rise up your spine and through your entire being!

#4 Exhale.

And relax. Release and rest. Let all of the muscles simultaneously loosen, helping us find more comfort in our body and more stability in where we are. And finally,

#5 Come back.

Don’t just keep breathing! Now, you are seated back in the throne of novelty as this universe begins creating particles right before your eyes. Talk to your lover! Continue the dance of all eternity and allow the pure waters of your soul to flow down the path of least resistance. Ah connection, ah joy, ah inner peace.

Excitement is not bad in and of itself. In fact it’s a wonderful motivator and can be the push we need to move us where we want to go. However, like any great tool, too much improper usage can turn its grace into grittiness, and begin to muck up our minds. This is precisely what happens when the excitement begins to rush toward the future. It’s important for us to be aware of this, and consciously bring ourselves back to this present moment, for that is the place we can hold our excitement, instead of letting it roam loose in our minds.

I hope these simple tips bring you as much help as they often bring me .


Author: Nicholas Goodman

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Poco Poco Records/Wikimedia Commons

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