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Appreciating the Past

Posted Jul 05 2013 9:31pm

Okay all of you iPhone fans (curiously enough, I am an Android user, although practically every other piece of electronic equipment I own is Apple), there's this interesting little app out there called ThrowBack . According to the marketing copy, the app "provides a unique opportunity to forget your memories so they can be remembered again." Hmmm...interesting concept. Basically, you take a picture with the app and then send it to yourself at some point in the future -- anywhere from 1 month to 5 years -- so you can remember where you were, I suppose. 

The year was 2007. I participated in a low-tech version of this app thanks to an assignment given to me on the final day of a therapeutic yoga training: I wrote a letter to my future self. The goal was to share the wisdom I had gained during this time period with my future self. And I had gained quite a bit, for I had just spent 8 days in bliss. There had been plenty of nature walking, meditating, yoga, self-discovery, and pushing of edges (a lot of edge pushing). Earlier that same year I had run to the bookstore in search of one of those find-yourself-while-traveling-to-foreign-places-and-practicing-yoga/meditation memoirs that I had become fascinated with after reading a review in some magazine. It would be an understatement to say that I was looking for...something.

When I snuggled on the couch with the memoir/travel adventure, I was looking for understanding, empathy...I was looking for someone who felt the same things as I did. When I had read a book review of this very book the day before, I felt a kinship with the author. Yes, I, too, found myself in a life that didn't quite fit and I was feeling the pinch (and I wouldn't have minded running off to parts unknown either). As I read (or, more appropriate, inhaled) the book, I found myself nodding my head in agreement while reading certain parts and cheering "YES, me too!" in others. It felt validating. I wasn't the only one. And at that time in my life, that was exactly what I needed.

I just picked up that book again and am in the process of re-reading it. And, for giggles and grins, I broke out the letter that I sent myself that very same year. What a difference 6 years makes. I relate to the content in an entirely different way now. Despite my desire to run off, I didn't travel to foreign lands. I did, however, shed the too-tight life and made a lot of changes, much like the author of that book. Now I find myself nodding my head in agreement during certain passages but in a whole different way than the first time. And reading that letter made me smile -- yes, not only do I know those things that I wrote to myself but I am actually living them. This was something that seemed like an impossibility back when I wrote the letter.

I was accused once of not being nostalgic (perhaps this was due, in part, to the fact that I left a 13 year relationship without taking any momentos save 1 or 2 pictures). I felt my face flame in shame and embarassment and I hotly denied the accusation (I have plenty of momentos and get quite nostalgic when I listen to music, thank you very much) while I oh-so-self-righteously proclaimed in my head: "I'm a yoga chick, which means that I live in the present, you dumb ass." Hmmmm...perhaps the accusation has some legs -- I'm not a huge fan of living in the past. I, on occasion, have spent too much time living in it thereby mucking up my present. Does this mean I don't like to wallow in a memory now and again? No. But I'm more of a believer that the past should be a teacher, not a constant companion. Yeah, blame it on the yoga and meditation and call me Ms. In the Present Pants.

I spent a good long time studying the emotional effects of particular yoga postures. I became fascinated by the idea that certain parts of the body hold emotion and I used myself as a research subject to test out the theories I was reading about. My body tells quite a story (hmmmm...if only I could get it to write a memoir of it's own, much like the author of the book I mentioned above). For me, this is another way of looking at the past, at how I've gotten to where I am now and glimpsing where I want to go in the future. Just as I appreciate the past experiences, people, and circumstances that have gotten me to where I am today, I appreciate my body's nostalgia in the form of tension, gripping, congestion. 

This past year I've noticed changes in my body. It's shed weight; it's released some tension; it's opened in ways I didn't realize that it could. I appreciate where it is now, where I am now in my life. Yet I still remember how it used to be and where I used to be in my life and I appreciate that as well. If nostalgia means that I want to go back, then, no, I'm not nostalgic. Of course I wouldn't change anything either. It was all perfect, for it got me here, to this moment. 

If you're endlessly fascinated, as I am, by the concept of emotions being stored in the body, here are some resources for you:

Namaste! Widgets

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