The power of today

Keeping your mind focused on the present moment helps it forget the unpleasant memories of the past.

Ever find yourself daydreaming about the past, or reliving a hard emotion that triggers more discomfort? I asked these questions to a group of friends and after a lengthy discussion, we confessed that we have more thoughts and visions of the past reoccurring in our heads than we want. The book “The Act Resilient Method from Trauma to Transformation” by Genie Joseph, Ph.D., provides methods that help people live in the present moment. Her 27 methods discussed in this book have helped several military service men and women who have post-traumatic stress syndrome. 

One of her methods is entitled “The Power of the Present to Heal the Past.” Joseph states that the present moment has tremendous power to heal the past. One way to get present she suggests is to fall in love with right now. Being happy and playful is a powerful healing tool because it engages you in the present. She believes that you are not at the mercy of your history, meaning that your past does not direct your present. Her theory is that it is how you store your memory that determines whether an event is positive or negative in your current life.

If stored in what she calls an “inactive” mind file, it is stored like a movie you might have seen some years ago. You can remember it, and even feel a low-intensity emotion as you recall it. It doesn’t intrude uninvited into your daily life. Memories that are stored in what she calls the “active file” can be triggered by almost anything; a loud noise, a smell, the movement of someone or something, or any related or non-related stressor. These active memories act as if they have a mind of their own, jumping into your mind when you least expect them. These active memories are aggressive and rude, sometimes appearing at night as nightmares or during the day, stealing your current life experiences and dragging you backward. Whether you are conscious of your emotions or not, they have a big effect on your life. As Bradley Nelson, author of “The Emotion Code,” said, “In the same way the effects of the wind are felt rather than seen, trapped emotions are invisible, yet exert a powerful influence upon us.” 

Joseph’s theory is that trauma is caused by “faulty wiring” that causes certain memories to replay on their own, like an endless feedback loop. Once you find the “reset” button in your brain, you start to regain control over the mental soundtrack of your life. An awesome example she provides is to think of emotions as musical notes on the scale of life.  She believes that all emotions are just frequencies of energy, like different notes on a musical scale. They have a different tone or rate of vibration. All notes are potentially useful in a musical composition. It is all about how they are placed together, and whether or not they sustain, or are brief, and so on. 

Act Resilient Method involves learning how to change our energetic frequency of emotional states. One of the methods mentioned is mindfulness also called “The Muscle of the Moment,” which means having the ability to stay engaged in the moment.  Michigan State University Extension provides a five-week series called Stress Less with Mindfulness to help build this ability to focus on the present moment non-judgmentally. To find a series near you contact your local MSU Extension office.

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