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Which island are you on?

Which island are you on? image

Reading about Mindfulness a few weeks ago, I came across a really useful analogy about different 'islands' (mental places) our mind can go, when we are meant to be focused on the present during mindfulness meditation. I started thinking that it's not just in meditation where the mind wanders, but actually, pretty much most of the time! 

So thinking about where our mind tends to go, there are four main 'islands' it can go, if it's not on the present island. The first is the island of past memories. This island is scattered with people, places and events of the past, which are so plentiful that we can't see through or around them to the sea or other islands, beyond. When we are there, we also tend to relate to yourself as who we were then, forgetting who we have become. 

There is another island just next door, called the island of
 fantasy past. This one is a photoshopped version of the past memories island. On this one, we have huge blinkers on, only recall the parts we liked, and we add all sorts of attributes to those times- "when I was there, everything was perfect".. "that friend/partner/colleague was the most wonderful person I ever met, and was good to me all the time." Imagine such a place! It can only exist in fantasy, but when we land on that island we believe it to be true. And it's really painful when we realise it's just a photoshopped fantasy. 

On the other side of the present island, we have two more. The island of
 future plans and prediction has become such a popular destination, we even have sites and books and talk shows devoted to psychics, astrologers, economists and sport commentators who are all trying to predict what will happen, let alone all the coaches out there telling us how and what to plan! We dream of winning the lottery, or our next holiday, or the next purchase, even the next meal. While we are doing this, we could easily be so distracted that if there were an obstacle in front of us, we wouldn't see it to avoid it. Or even sadder, with our head in the clouds and eyes dazzled by the plans and predictions of the future, we so often miss the good things going on all around us, right now!   

Sometimes we overshoot that island and end up on the island of
 future catastrophe. This can happen when we don't find what we are looking for on the plans and predictions island, or start to worry about when this will all happen- till we spot the next island, and off we go. Others jump from past memories island to future catastrophe, only remembering what went wrong and then what could go wrong again. After years of focusing on this kind of thing, it becomes automatic to assume the worst, and to see the worst. These are blinkers as well, which don't feel as good as those on the fantasy past island but are also limiting and destructive to wear. 

Just watch what your mind does when it wanders, and it soon becomes very clear which islands you tend to visit! When you read about life on each of those islands, how does it make you feel? How does this contrast with the way your body and mind feel when you are rooted simply in the present, feeling your feet on the ground just where you are, and the peaceful feeling of not needing to be anywhere else but right in this moment. Remember-
 there's no time like the present, and no present better than time!

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