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Hope? Abandon it in Favor of Presence.

"Abandon hope... stay present instead."

I've been tempted to make a line of t-shirts to carry this message. 'Abandon hope' is Pema's. I have to find which book she writes it in, but she teaches how hope keeps us out of the present moment. Hope positions the mind to be in the future and while that is sometimes a useful coping mechanism, the shadow side is that it is a trap.

When our minds and thoughts are constantly in the future (and past), we are sitting in our frontal lobe. That part of our brain is the newest part of the human brain and it is the part of the brain that deals in linearity, helps with decision-making, goal setting, and likes lists and tasks. Unfortunately, we've been living in an era that has overly rewarded front brain work (teaching to the test, eliminating art, music, and physical education, denying learning styles and underappreciating the vast diversity of how each of our individual minds work and are wired.) As well, 'feeling' and the front brain have a funny relationship. Too much linearity and reason, distilling down to 'function' (think apps for all things and the mere state of development which is future focused) can pretty easily disassociate us from our pain/pleasure points of reference and the 'now'.

Alternatively, when we are sitting in the 'present', we are in our limbic system/amygdalas. They are our pain/pleasure center, where we experience and reconcile emotions, feel trust, develop community and bond with others. It is an older part of the brain and an area we need more practice firing up. And, we want more practice firing it from a good feeling place rather than simply from an adrenal rush, fight/flight place. The reason we sit and meditate and the reason it is so effective is that it teaches our body/mind that a calm resting place exists within us from which we can operate. That resting place is presence. It is also a place where we are fully connected to our emotional spectrum and helps us to embrace the fullness of that spectrum. When we practice being here, we trust ourselves and the world around us more. We find a strength that is deep within. We also are 100% more productive and that in turn helps the front brain functions!

On the contrary, when we sit in 'hope,' the hazard is that we are not sitting in the truth, reality, what is. We are also more than likely disconnecting frequently from our emotions, trying not to feel them and that in turn fires up the adrenals saying "warning, tough emotion on the horizon." As I said, that can be a good coping mechanism at times if you are aware you are doing it, but it is not a good way of life. In fact, the adrenals being on overdrive is just terrible for your health.

Hope can be too inactive, too wishful, and too victim-y. Yes, for the ones feeling frustrated by this line of thinking, it can also be inspiring and happy providing momentary feel-good. But, all too often the shadow side of hope takes over and that is despair, disappointment, and despondency. When we operate from presence, we don't create this cycle because we are acknowledging and accepting what is true. We are being with the truth rather than getting into the loops of false promise, untruths, and storylines. And from that place, we maintain vision, purpose, and promise.

The front brain is grossly overused these days. Other parts of your brain - far more interesting and intelligent parts of your brain - need training.

So, abandon hope. Work on staying present instead.

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