Mindfulness: How I Stopped Living In The Past And Became Happier

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The moment my first love rejected me for another woman, I was plunged into the darkest and deepest depression of my life.

It was traumatizing and I barely held it together. Nights were spent numbing myself with drinking and partying and days were spent crying. It took four years for me to grieve that loss, and in that four years I lived solely in the past, unable to accept what had happened.

It was only until I was introduced to the concept of presence and mindfulness three years ago that my grieving process changed. The whole idea was transformative: focusing your awareness on the present moment, not the past or the future, and accepting every feeling and thought that comes your way. Being mindful means being 100% where you are right now. If you’re sweeping, you’re focusing on the sounds, the sensations, the act of every movement. You’re present.

This therapeutic practice was immensely healing for a person who was constantly reliving a nightmare in the past everyday. It was as if I was willingly watching the painful scenes on a TV over and over again. In his highly influential and life-changing book, ‘The Power of Now,’ Eckhart Tolle said something that stood out to me above everything else: If you don’t like a situation, either change it or accept it. All else is madness. I realized that, as painful as it was, I needed to accept the fact that this man was never going to come back to me. I needed to accept that he and his girl were together and nothing was going to change that. I needed to accept that his part in my story was over.

Through mindfulness, meditation, therapy and a tonne of self-care, I was able to forgive him and her, and I was able to forgive myself. Even after the long years of grieving, I would say only 80% of myself has moved on – the rest of me is still lingering in the past, inconsolable and unable to move forward without some kind of closure. I am still, however, determined. I must honor my journey and my healing process. 1000 times I will think about him, and 1000 times I will tell myself, ‘Come back to the present.’ It is in the here and now that I find my greatest source of contentment. It is in the here and now that happiness lives.

I want to encourage those who are still living in the pain of the past. No one but you will truly know the depth and layers of the disappointment and hurt you feel. You lost something dear to you in the past, and like a ghost looking for its closure, you linger there in mourning of it. To grieve is important, but when you are ready to move forward, the key is to acknowledge and accept. Realize that you cannot change what was and what is, pour your acceptance on the situation and close the door. Decide that you will no longer live with half of you in the past but to live fully, entirely and 100% in the present. Believe that you have everything you need right at this moment to be happy. And trust – trust that what lies ahead is better than anything you will leave behind.

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