The present self is our conscious self, the self we have forged through the years of challenge of life thus far lived. The present self is an evolving self, a self that grows as it forms relationships with parts of the self that live outside of consciousness and as it integrates long forgotten or stored away parts of life experiences into consciousness. The present self also grows as it takes in knowledge and experience from the outside world that broadens its ability to navigate life.
The present self is therefore our most adult self, the most grown-up part of our self. This is also our true parent self, the self we trust to keep us safe and secure, and to make the myriad of decisions that guide our actions each day.
The present self is essential to recapitulation. When life events trigger the surfacing of traumatic material, it is the present self that must take up the challenge. Very often the triggered material is extremely emotionally charged, threatening to overtake our calm, our focus, and our ability to stay present and in control. When triggered, we might become overwhelmed by debilitating psychosomatic symptoms, like extreme pain. We might suddenly find ourselves outside our bodies, viewing life at a great distance. We might also become overwhelmed with nausea, dizziness, and the growing feeling of disintegration.
The ultimate goal in recapitulation is to fully relive an experience with the full presence and attunement of the present self. This ability to remain fully present through an experience that once overpowered and fragmented the psyche is a major step toward stripping the experience of its disruptive power and beginning a process of integration that eventually renders the experience emotionally neutral, becoming a significant but now non-disruptive fact of life lived.
During the recapitulation process, the present self becomes the parent we never had, the one that can hear and feel the complete truth without judgment, as we identify and release our myriad of feelings frozen in the memory. Our grown-up, adult self helps us sort through our confusions as we continue to unravel what really happened in the incident under experience.
The key to this healing process is not recovering lost memory. Memories will come of their own accord, either through triggers or intent. The most important factor in recapitulation is the ability and strength of the present self to stay present and receive the emotionally charged lost memory as it arrives. For this, we absolutely need our present self to be the adult, the parent we can trust to see us through the journey of recapitulation and recovery.
We strengthen the present self through mindful practice. Mindfulness asks us to gently and persistently practice centering and returning our awareness to our place of inner calm. That place is unique to each person. For some it may be in the heart center, for others in the feet, and for still others in the vibratory sounds in the ears. Some find that calm in their breathing, others in images of safe places or in mantras and prayer. Mindfulness practice asks that we train our awareness to increasingly find its way back to our calm center as we navigate through all the events of daily life, whether taking a shower, walking, driving, eating, working, sleeping, sitting alone or in company.
Constantly, but calmly and gently, we notice where our awareness has strayed. We acknowledge what it has landed on, and push nothing away, but neither do we attach or continue to freely associate. Instead, we gently return our awareness to our calm center and engage in calmness. And, in so doing, we strengthen our ability to find home base again and again.
By constantly anchoring in calmness we develop and strengthen the ability to stay present and observant, to feel but not be submerged when infinity decides its time to present us with a golden moment of recapitulation, asking us to retrieve and free another lost part of ourselves. Though dizziness, disorientation, and emotional tsunamis may ride in on its wake, our present-adult-parent self remains fully present and attuned, tracking the unfolding storm like a keen observer, seeing the fuller picture for the first time. The present self stands by the younger self, modeling the ability to bear the full intensity of the recapitulation experience, as the fears and anxieties that have held revelations in check are dismantled and the truth is revealed.
In full awareness, the present-adult-parent self, well trained for just this moment, listens and clarifies for the younger self all its confusions about what really happened and why. Clarity brings understanding, as shame and blame are replaced by acceptance of the massive challenge once encountered by the younger self. This is what happens during a recapitulation experience when the formerly frozen, split-off younger self is securely welcomed into the arms of the evolving present self, released now to enjoy a fuller, more complete life.
Mindful practice is an ongoing practice that is available to the present self at any moment of the day. We needn’t wait to set time aside to practice, though that kind of discipline is also valuable training. However, for all practical purposes, we can practice mindfully throughout the day by simply bringing our awareness to our calm center over and over again.
Each morning as we arise, we might pause and ground ourselves before we start our day. As we go about our morning ablutions, eat our breakfast, plan our agenda, go into our work day, make decisions, daydream, ruminate, obsess, we might suddenly become aware of where our awareness has strayed, gently acknowledge it, and invite it back into our calm center, even if only for a moment. This is mindful practice. Each time we do this throughout our day, we strengthen our present-adult-parent awareness. Eventually, seemingly without effort, we find it fully present and ready for its encounters with infinity, as it comes beckoning us into recapitulation and evolution, enticing us always toward greater wholeness.
From that calm center,