Healing what has already been hurt in us is much easier once we stop hurting ourselves. There are two major ways we continue to hurt ourselves: by making judgments, and trafficking in the future. Thinking about, worrying about or being anxious over what may or may not happen in the future can make us feel bad, and take energy away from where we actually are the present moment. It's only here in the present that the healing work can be done, it won't happen in the future.
The practice of driving backwards can make it much easier to be fully present in the moment by 'turning around' and bringing ourselves back from the future. Over the centuries extensive conditioning has trained us to focus on the future. The culture has taught us to 'look forward' and 'plan ahead.' There's been tremendous importance placed on trying to guess what the future will hold, and emphasis on doing things to help make the future safer and more abundant.
All of this preoccupation with the future assumes that we are not already inherently safe and fortunate. Fear of harm and fear of lack have been driving our culturally conditioned obsession with the future forward.
Driving backwards means we're still moving forward toward the future, but turned backwards, not looking to the future. There are two great advantages in doing this practice. First, when turning away from the future we very quickly return to the present moment. Becoming fully present in the one, eternal 'now' is the aim of most spiritual practices, and a great advantage in doing process work. This is especially true when dealing with material at the deeper levels of personal and transpersonal process.
The other advantage in moving forward with our backs toward the future is that now we're able to see the past more clearly. The past is a vast memory bank of valuable information about what's worked and hasn't worked in given situations. Looking toward the past gives us the advantage of not only our own learning experiences, but also what we know of how others have managed in similar circumstances.
Here's how it goes for me. I know that my destination or goal in life is my complete wholeness. But I don't know the specific steps it will take to get me there. My conscious mind is only a part of me, and not capable of figuring out the step-by-step process of healing to wholeness. I realize that for this journey to be as quick, easy and painless as possible I need to relinquish conscious control, and allow deeper, unconscious resources to guide me.
So in my mind's eye, I'm driving backwards through life on my journey to wholeness. The view is like being in a train seat that faces backward, or the backward facing seat in an old station wagon. As I watch the scenery of where I've just been go passing by, it's as if I have an imaginary plate on my lap.
Every so often something comes onto my plate that at first I don't know how to deal with. However, by driving backwards and looking toward the past it's easy to see what I've done before in similar circumstances. I can review my successes and failures and learn from the past. When not focused on the future, it's a lot easier to draw on past experience for guidance about what to do in the present moment here and now.
The present moment is the only time there is. The future is a mental fabrication that each of us fashions for ourselves. It's made up, with the illusion of existence, but in reality the future is only what our minds imagine it might be.
Nothing will ever happen in the future. The present moment is the only time anything can happen. Being more present, we have more resources that we can use in the healing work as we evoke the loving, resourceful, parental healer part ourselves. Being in the present is much more resourceful than being split between a mind that is in the future and a body and emotions that are in the present.
This is not to say the future doesn't have value. It's very helpful for setting events and planning to do things. There is a practical use of the future, and that's not at issue. The issue arises when we dwell in the future, being fixated there as if our thinking and worrying about it will somehow improve it.
Because the ancient 'look to the future' imprint is so strongly held in our conditioning, it may take a little practice to get good at this new way being. The essence of the practice is to simply catch yourself whenever you find yourself thinking about the future and then 'turn around' and drive backward. Each time you catch yourself in the future, just do this practice, and of course release any judgments that may come up about not already having done it, or not doing it 'right' or 'every time.'
Here are some signs that can alert you to being in the future:
1. A feeling of anxiety or worry. Anxiety and worry are only possible when the future is invoked in consciousness. These are fears about what may or may not happen sometime hence, but not right now. If I look around where I am and I find that I am safe now, I know that my fear is being generated by thinking about what may or may not happen in the future. Here's where I say to myself, "Aha! I'm in the future." And then I turn around.
2. Any feeling of uneasiness. If we are fully present, we find either our comfort in the moment, or the pain or the joy. An uneasy feeling will almost always lead to the realization that you're in the future again.
3. There is a lot of thinking. Attending to the future requires thought, and this takes us away from feelings and intuition. An overabundance of thought is a sign to see if futurizing is happening too. If so, no problem, just turn around and release judgments, if needed.
Driving Backwards Under Guidance
Driving backwards flies in the face of any need to 'control' what will happen. In driving backwards we're trusting ourselves and the universe, and that following along with the natural flow of things is the path of least resistance; its the easiest, quickest and least painful way to wholeness. Even so, a reliable source of inner guidance can make driving backwards even easier. Not only are lessons from the past more readily available in the present moment, but we're also more attuned to our intuition.
Inner dialogue with 'the Folks' or a similar source of deep wisdom and understanding is an excellent way to develop a clear and deep intuition for moment-to-moment decision making. Asking for advice and then acting on what has been suggested is the quickest way to develop this faculty as a guidance system for backwards driving.
Trusting in the basic goodness of the universe and our own intuition is all we need to turn away from expectation and disappointment, become free of the future, and stop hurting ourselves with unnecessary anxiety, worry or fear. Whenever there's a question of what to do, inner guidance is far better than 'the future' when looking for an answer.