Synopsis: Ines points out that, although we often think of mindfulness as being in the present moment, we should also pay attention to how we think about the future. In our minds, anticipation is one of the emotions that arises when we think about something we long for, care about, and take pleasure in. Taken to an extreme, this excitement can lead to anxiety, and we can get lost in the process. For huge life events, such as weddings, we may cause ourselves a great deal of suffering along the way, and our anticipation can crowd out the feelings of joy that such occasions have the possibility to bring to our lives.
If we channel our anticipation in healthy ways, it can make us happy, it can uplift us. When we start college, our anticipation can motivate us to graduate. When we anticipate the pleasures of a job well done, this can help us to defer gratification, and spur us to fully show up every day for work and do our best. When we anticipate major life events, this also allows us to be prepare and be ready when the time comes. The most detrimental outcome of excessive anticipation is that we can become fixed on a certain idea of how an event “must be” in order to be “perfect,” instead of being open to the multitude of possibilities offered us in each moment. If we find ourselves clinging to the future, we can counter this by grounding ourselves in the present moment, in our breaths and in our bodies.
I like: I had never thought much about being “mindful” in how I think about the future, instead pushing away those thoughts away to focus on the present.
I wish: I think Ines could have said more about the importance of the “boring” things that happen to us everyday. If we motivate ourselves with the idea of graduating from college, might that take us out of the beauty of the process of every class?
More about the Speaker: Ines first became interested in meditation through her yoga practice in 1970. She has been practicing Buddhist meditation since 1985, with Gil Fronsdal being her primary teacher. She is a member of the IMC Chaplaincy Council and is past Managing Director of IMC. She directs and teaches IMC’s Online Meditation Courses. She has experience with long meditation retreats including extended self-retreats, and has a special interest in working with meditation practices for those with chronic pain. You may listen to Ines’s talks on Audio Dharma.