|As a lawyer and mediator, and student, teacher, and director at the School of Metaphysics, I have observed how people react to situations from the perspective of their memories. Most family disputes over inheritance and much of the fighting that occurs in divorce cases are results of people reacting in the present to feelings and experiences from the past.
Have you ever experienced a memory-based reaction that got in the way of your making a decision that should have been based on what was actually occurring at that time in your life? I am talking about reactions that were irrational and out of proportion to the current event. This type of reacting gets in the way of reasoning, but most people are not aware that they are reacting to a memory.
One of your most precious gifts is free will, which is the freedom to use your will to choose what is best for you. However, there is no free will if what you choose is only to react to someone or something in your past.
Learning to quiet my mind and concentrate while I’m feeling strong emotion has taught me how to receive what is actually happening around me and within me. One tool I used to learn how to concentrate and be more aware is from a simple exercise given on page 17 of Concentration, by Dr. Laurel Clark.
My regular practice of concentration as part of my meditation preparation is paying off by giving me the freedom to be the person I desire to be, instead of one who just unconsciously reacts to situations. I invite you to experiment with this concentration exercise. You, too, can learn to be calm, to concentrate, to reason, and to be intuitive in the face of strong emotions.
Here I share an example of how I used this concentration tool:
After the recitation and reading were over, I spent a moment wondering why I felt so hurt and angry. After a simple prayer in which I asked for help to understand my emotions, I sat still and without thought. As I sat there, the memory of being late and running to meet my friends to go to a basketball game came into my mind. I was thirteen or fourteen years old at the time, and as I was running to meet my friends, another friend driving a truck pulled over to them. I watched my friends get into the truck and leave without me. I was devastated. The anger I was feeling now was an echo of how I was feeling then.
After receiving this memory, I was able to separate what happened when I was a child from what was happening now. I could acknowledge that I was no longer thirteen years old. Now I am an adult woman who made a choice this morning that resulted in my being late. Now freed from my memory-based, confusing feelings, I could interact with friends and associates.
When I calmed my mind, I was able to open my heart to receive the memory of being hurt at age thirteen. As I accepted responsibility for my choices now, I could relax. I no longer felt hurt or angry and lost any desire to blame someone else for my experience. I experienced the exhilaration of freedom. I was no longer a slave to my emotions.
You can learn to be fully aware of what is happening and to open your heart, and I here use the word "heart" to mean your inner voice, the soul, the place where wisdom is stored and available for guidance.
* Quote from Concentration by Laurel Clark (published by SOM Publishing, 1995) is used with permission.