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August 2nd, 2018
In the practice of mindfulness it’s occasionally recommended to try looking at daily life as though it were a dream. This is recommended in order to help the mind ‘let go’ a little bit, and take things a little bit less seriously. This is not because important things aren’t serious, but because the shift in perspective can be very beneficial.
The exercise can also unearth some interesting aspects of our relation to reality. Such as how similar dreams are to our experience of the past. Both are remembered, only.
We cannot go find the past, hold it, touch it, or experience it again. Much like a dream. We cannot go find a dream we have had, we cannot touch it, hold it, or experience it in any way other than memory.
Considering this, the past might be more accurately described as a communal dream than anything that has a basis in reality.
Reality is defined as “the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.” And everyone always disagrees on what happened, even in the very recent past, which betrays the fact that we are converting our experience of reality into a remembered perspective, one that is limited and flawed.
The definition of reality excludes the past from being a part of it.
This is a point worth pausing on for a moment. The definition of reality does not include the past. The past simply does not exist. Reality might be the conglomerated ramifications of that communal dream we remember, but all of those events no longer exist. The past exists only as a communal dream that we all somewhat remember being a part of.
This can be a scary notion. But it can also help us focus more on the present moment and appreciate the moments we have with others and the opportunity to take advantage of the time we have to do something we feel is worthwhile.
There is also something very liberating about seeing the past as merely a dream. We become less tethered to what has happened. There is less of a reason to hold grudges or continue to be sad about something that we remember happening, or something lost that once was. While some things in the past are healthy to honor, most of our preoccupation with the past is an unhealthy one that keeps us from exploring more productive avenues in the present. Realizing that the past is not actually a part of reality can help us severe those tethers and take healthier risks that might improve our reality and the reality of those around us.
Though, this all may be so we can all just remember a better dream.
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