Here’s a simple but powerful meditation exercise you may enjoy. Teaching you the basics of meditation is beyond the scope of this blog entry (maybe someone can post a comment with a link to a meditation primer for those who’ve never done it), but if you’re already familiar with it, I think you’ll find this one interesting and valuable.
I didn’t learn this particular meditation from anyone else — it’s just something I made up at one point and have been doing for around 10 years now.
First I get myself totally relaxed and into a peaceful state. Then I imagine a special room in my mind which has two chairs facing each other. I sit in one chair, and in the chair opposite me, I visualize my future self five years from now. He appears as the ideal “me” I’m striving to become. He’s physically fit, strong, brave, confident, driven, passionate, enthusiastic, etc. We have a conversation for 5-10 minutes where I ask him questions, and he willingly answers them. He usually looks at me almost with a sense of nostalgia and compassion, since he knows where I am right now as well as the challenges I’m dealing with, challenges he’s long since overcome.
Eventually my future self leaves. Then I get up and take his seat, and my past self from five years ago enters the room and takes the first seat. So now I’m the future self (Steve 2005) looking back on my past self (Steve 2000). I take a moment to remember what my life was like exactly five years ago, so I can recall what that past Steve is experiencing. Now he’s asking me questions about his future (my present), and I’m providing the answers. I’m often amazed to look back and see just how trivially easy his challenges seem to me today, even though I remember that they appeared much grander when I was in his shoes. I take the time to reassure Steve 2000 that everything turns out well for Steve 2005. I also let him know what things I haven’t yet solved that I’m still working on.
Then I do one more step and fast-forward time by five years. So now I’m Steve 2010, and I’m facing Steve 2005. I’m looking back on my present situation from the future — from a vantage point where I’ve already solved my biggest challenges. Now I see my Steve 2005 asking the same questions I was previously asking Steve 2010, and I’m able to answer them with confidence and certainty.
Then I imagine all three of us in the room together (Steve 2000, Steve 2005, Steve 2010), and I visualize all three of our bodies becoming translucent. We walk into each other and blend into one being in a flash of light. When this happens I’m often overwhelmed by a release of emotion — the feeling is somewhat different each time I experience it. We become an integrated whole, a single being who exists outside of time but has been splintered in order to experience the sensation of growth and change.
As I slowly bring myself out of this meditation, I feel very peaceful and calm. But the most important benefit is a feeling of oneness, a sense that I’m more than just a physical being moving forward through time. I feel like an integrated being who exists at all times but is merely focusing his consciousness on a particular time in order to experience it more fully. When I’m in this state of mind, I see the present moment as something contained within my being instead of the more common perception of being a person contained within the reality of the present moment. This has the effect of melting present-moment concerns and replacing them with a feeling of expansiveness and transcendence. My new perception causes my present-reality problems to shrink, which makes them far easier to resolve, sometimes almost trivially easy.
I encourage you to try this meditation at least once to see if you find it as beneficial as I do.