“If I could go back in time and tell my younger-self something, I would say…”
How many times have you found yourself saying something similar? Wishing you could go back and give your past self an answer to help yourself through a hard moment or a difficult situation.
I know I’ve oftentimes found myself looking back at younger versions of me wishing I could tell that young woman something. Tell her that it would sort itself out. That it would get easier. That I would smile and laugh at it all one day.
The yoga practice encourages us not to dwell on past versions of ourselves. Instead, the practice encourages us to be present in the moment. We practice focusing on our breath and our body in order to focus the mind on what is. By doing this, we remember that many of our anxieties live in the past or the future, but they are not actively with us in the moment.
However, many mindfulness teachers have learned that when you reflect on the past and the present in a purposeful way, it can be an effective and even healing tool within a meditative practice.
This meditation is called a ‘future self’ meditation and it has been used by mindfulness teachers like Tara Brach and countless others. If you would like to integrate a future self meditation into your yoga practice – whether it’s asana-based, or a seated pranayama practice, here is a script that you can follow. As a yoga teacher, this script could be read aloud to your students, or followed as an individual practitioner.
Guided Future Self Meditation:
Take a moment to find a comfortable place to be in for a few moments. Feel yourself grounded in some way – whether by feeling your feet planted on the earth, your seat supported by a chair, couch or yoga mat, or with your palms resting on your thighs.
Take a cleansing breath to begin: inhaling deeply through your nose, and exhaling completely out the mouth. Take one more just like that, relaxing into your body, quieting the mind.
Seal your lips and begin to tune into the natural rhythm of your breathing. Simply noticing your inhales and exhales. As you breathe, release any thoughts that pop into your mind and return to the breath. Notice your mind becoming calm and quiet.
Once you’ve found this calm, centered place, begin to imagine yourself a few years in the future. Not so long that you will have changed immensely, but imagine small changes in your appearance. Changes for the better. You notice that you are smiling. There may be new soft creases in your skin. You look wiser, more joyful.
Imagine that this future self is smiling at you. Drawing you into a warm, safe energy. Now, imagine your future self speaking to you.
What would that future self say? Perhaps your future self is reminding you to let the small things go. Perhaps your future self is assuring you that even in the hard moments, it will all be okay. Especially if you’re working through a challenging issue at the moment, imagine what that future version of yourself might tell you now, since they’ve already come out the other side.
As you spend time with your future self, imagine care pouring forth through the conversation – in both directions. In this imagining, your future self is giving you comfort.
Breathe here for as long as you want.
When you are ready, begin to let your image of your future self go, but keep the messages that came to you. Draw your mind back to the body and the breath. Simply noticing the present moment once again.
Sit in silence for a few more moments. Noticing what messages or lessons from your future self that you’d like to keep.
As you’re ready, close out your mindful meditation with a final cleansing breath.
When we look back on our past selves, we often notice the growth that has occurred. Through our own journeys of lived experience we become wiser, more resilient, more reflective. If we choose to, we can use this future wisdom as a guide. A reminder that there is more growth yet, and any struggles of the present will ease with time.
We hope that this meditation reminds you of the infinite wisdom that already exists deep within you. You never need to look too far.
Do you have any other guided meditations you enjoy? Tell us your favorites in the comments!
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