As you go into your day, take with you intention to notice the moments when your attention departs from the present to become lost thoughts of the past or future.
Some of those thoughts may be fleeting -- random memories or brief psychological visits to forthcoming events or connections. Those thoughts arise and pass quickly and you find it simple to return to the moment you are in.
At other times you may find that the thoughts of past and future seem more weighted and you find yourself drawn into them. You may find yourself replaying a conversation or event that has ended in time but continued through thought.
You might find yourself drawn into thoughts about an engagement or event that has yet to arrive, rehearsing how you will engage, reflecting on what results you want to see happen, or mentally preparing your responses.
In the thoughts about the past, notice how repetitive they may be, the same story being replayed over and over.
In the thoughts about the future again notice how few new thoughts appear in your rehearsals.
If possible, sense the emotional charge that lies beneath the thinking patterns. There may be anger, regret, or sadness permeating the thoughts of the past. There may be anxiety, fear, or expectation underlying the thoughts of the future.
In the moments when it is possible for you to sense this movement into past and future, bring your attention to your body. See if it possible for you to find the emotional charge of the thoughts registering there. They may be impacting upon your breathing or your posture, or bringing contraction and tension into your abdomen, shoulders, or face.
Sense whether it is possible to take your attention from its immersion in the thought processes and bring it into your body.
Consciously soften any part of your body that is registering tightness or contraction.
Take a few moments to sense the touch of your feet on the ground, the air on your face, to be aware of your whole body.
In the moments when your attention is entangled in charged thought patterns about past and future, sense what happens to your relationship to the present moment. Notice how the sights, sounds, smells and feelings that are equally part of your moment have faded from awareness, becoming only a backdrop to the agitation of the thoughts.
Sense whether it is possible to reconnect with all of those sights, sounds and feelings, bringing to them a conscious attention and sensitivity.
As you feel yourself more connected to and grounded in this moment, experiment with consciously inviting into your awareness the thoughts of past and future that previously felt overwhelming.
Be aware if it is possible to hold those thoughts in your attention without the emotional charge of anxiety, sadness, regret, or expectation.
Sense the difference between being an unconscious captive of thoughts of past and future and being consciously engaged, able to think and reflect clearly.
Notice how the thoughts of past and future, when released from anxiety, arise and pass like all other thoughts, sounds, sensations, and sights.
Sense your capacity to be fully present, not denying past or future but equally not being lost in them.
Be aware of the calmness and balance born of being fully present one moment at a time.— Christina Feldman in Heart of Wisdom, Mind of Calm