The Time Machine Exercise: Part 2
Last week I shared with you the first part of The Time Machine Exercise where we travelled forwards in time, envisioned our futures and mapped out a plan of action for setting goals and daily activities to begin working towards making that dream a reality.
This week I will share with you the next part of that exercise which I have developed using methods, techniques and tools that I have picked up throughout my career attending workshops, reading books and working with coaches as well as through my own meditation practice and thought work.
I recommend listening to the official Global Acting Studio Spotify Playlist while reading through and working on this particular exercise. It is also good to have a pen and paper handy to write down any thoughts and ideas that may come up during the work process.
Disclaimer: I am not a certified therapist and do not suggest anyone with a history of deep trauma, addiction or mental health issues to perform this exercise alone. If you do work through the following meditation and feel any discomfort or experience any panic or anxiety, please contact a doctor or psychiatrist.
The Time Machine Exercise – Part 2
Start by slightly opening your mouth and relaxing your shoulders. Breathe in through the nose as deeply as you feel comfortable, releasing your breathe through your open mouth, engaging your core and connecting your body with your emotions. You may already at this stage begin to feel the emotions welling up inside of you, you may even begin to cry after a few of these breathes. That is fine, just let whatever happens happen and keep your steady rhythm of breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth.
If you are working together in a group or with a partner you can read out the guided meditation or you can record the steps and listen to them, as the following parts require you to begin to visualise using your inner eye and you can close your eyes if you wish to do so. You may also want to lie down.
Begin to deepen your breathe and place one hand on your heart, the other on your stomach. Allow any thoughts you have to enter your mind and pass without focusing too much on them.
Now begin to see your Time Machine in front of you. It is your personal Time Machine and I want you to see it clearly in your minds-eye in as much detail as possible.
Using the dials of your Time Machine, set the date to this day of the year you were 5 years old. We are heading back in time to visit your past and the home you grew up in at that time.
As you arrive take a moment to check on your breathing, making sure that you are comfortable and breathing deeply, in through the nose and out through your slightly open and relaxed mouth. Take in your surroundings and see where you are. This is the city, town, village where you grew up. Take an extra deep breathe here and feel the familiar air flowing through your nose filling your nostrils with the scent of your hometown.
Take a stroll through the area and take notice of the time of day, is it morning, mid-day or evening? What is the weather like? Look up to the sky and the environment around you, the buildings and the sign posts and the nature surrounding you. Walk past your old school and stand here for a moment, look out at the school yard where you played and ran and had moments of pure childish joy…moments perhaps of sadness, when you felt afraid and lonely, longing for companionship and wishing your mum or dad would come and pick you up early to take you on an adventure of your own. This is a place where you learned about life, from your books and teachers, but also through experience, action and from the other children around you. This was a place that formed much of who you are, a place that holds the key to much of the path you have taken in life.
Take a moment and when you are ready continue walking in the direction of the street where you live, taking in the sounds and smells as you walk. Take notice of the details on your way, the store fronts, a bench, the people and faces from your childhood going about their day, living their own life.
You arrive at the foot of your street, the street where you walked many times as a child, where you played, perhaps this is where you learned to ride your bike and maybe you have scraped your knee here a few times, maybe you have friends who have homes on the same street, pass them as you walk towards your house.
As you reach the building, take a moment and observe your childhood home. Is it a tall apartment building in a central location, or perhaps a house in a small neighbourhood? Take in as much detail as you can and if it is a multi-home building or a long pathway to the front door, continue on until you are outside the entrance to your home.
As you stand face to face with your front door, place your hand into your pocket. In your pocket you feel a set of keys, take them and feel them in your hand. Feel the weight and the shapes. There are a few keys on your key ring, but you know which one opens this door. Take that key and slowly, with purpose, place it into the keyhole.
Place your hand on the handle and as you open the door, step inside slowly. You are met with the smell of home, the feeling of well-being and safety that comes with being home. This is your home.
Standing in the entrance of the home where you grew up take a moment and allow yourself time to feel any emotions that may come up inside of you. Remember your breathing, feel your heart under one hand and the expansion of your breath under the other which is on your stomach. Keep a steady rhythm, deeply inhaling through your nose and out through your slightly open and relaxed mouth.
Take notice of the decor, exactly as you remember it. Walk through your home, entering the kitchen, dining room, living room and looking at anything that catches your attention and stopping for a moment to allow any memories to play in your minds-eye. See those memories in vivid detail as if you were there, allowing any emotions to flow through you that may occur. If there are items you can hold, pick them up and hold it in your hands. Feel the weight and feel the details and texture on your fingertips. Look closely at your item, perhaps smell it or listen if it is a melody box for example and again just let the memories and emotions that it brings up to play through your minds-eye, focusing on your breath and allowing the time you need for it to pass, returning your focus to your surroundings of where you are in your childhood home again.
Now walk towards your bedroom or the place where you slept. Take a moment inhaling deeply before entering this space and then take in the details in your own time. Look at your sleeping area, your bed. See your pillow and blanket where you rested your head and dreamed of what your future would be like, where you would lay and think of all you had learned and processed that new knowledge. This is where you philosophised about all the big questions you had as a child and thought about your parents and the wisdom you wished to gain from them, perhaps you got that chance or perhaps not – perhaps you prayed to whatever higher power you believe in about a different life, for change or perhaps in gratitude thanking the heavens for the life you were born into.
In the middle of your bed is a toy, your favourite toy that you loved to play with. Perhaps it is a toy you thought was lost forever or one you still have in your possession somewhere. See it now in front of you, reach out and take it in your hands. Feel the shape and contours of it in your hands, what is it made of? Feel its size and weight as you begin to play with it. Allow yourself time to play, to be free and creative and childish. Make noises if you wish. Allow yourself to be silly and playful. Feel joy fill your body and soul in this moment, a moment just for you.
When you are ready you can begin to leave your bedroom, looking back one last time before moving on.
Head towards the social eating area where your parents would perhaps sit and talk with guests that came over, maybe you sat at the top of the stairs listening to their conversations longing to be big enough to join in. This may be the kitchen table, the dining room or perhaps the seating area of a living room or reception room.
As you enter this space you see your parents sitting there, next to each other. It does not matter if your parents were around when you were growing up, if they were divorced, living apart, alive or not. Or perhaps you have a different situation; you were perhaps raised by your grandparents, an aunt and uncle, 2 mothers or 2 fathers, or maybe you had both a mother and father that were present your whole life. Whatever your situation, whoever you consider to be your parents, see them sitting in front of you, waiting for you, welcoming you to join them.
You sit down opposite them and see how they look at you and take in who you have become since you were a child. You see in their eyes how proud they are of you and you know they love you.
Take the time now to ask them anything you have ever felt you wanted to ask them. Tell them all the things that you have wanted to tell them but never dared to or never had the chance to.
“Mama, Pappa – Why were you not there when I needed you most? Why did you shout at me or ignore me when what I needed most was your guidance and understanding?”
Allow them to speak to you now and listen to the words you wished you had heard then.
“Dear child – We did what we did with the knowledge we had then. It may not have been the right way or the way you needed and what you wanted, but it was what we could give at the time. We may not have always known what was right, or even had the opportunity to be there for you at all. We are sorry, please accept our apology, forgive any shortcomings and know that we love you with all of our hearts, then, now and forever & always. We are proud of you and wish you the best life that you can live.”
Know in your heart that your parents and guardians only want the best for you deep down. Forgive them now, not for them, but for yourself. Say it to them now
“I forgive you. I love you and I forgive you”
Now think of how you were as a child and growing up. Think of anything that you did or said that you wish you could fix.
“I am sorry for how I acted and behaved. For the harsh words I said and the attitude I had towards you. I know you only wanted me to learn and grow and to become an adult that can take care of myself in this world. Please forgive me and any shortcomings of my own.”
See the people in front of you as they listen to your words and see it in their eyes how they respect you.
“We forgive you”
Know that to be true and feel a great weight lift from your chest and shoulders. Breathe in deeply, all of the love, releasing all of the guilt and pain through your mouth as you exhale. Repeat this three more times as you step towards your loved ones and embrace them. Hold them closely and feel as they hug you back, as tight and lovingly as you could have ever imagined.
You hear a noise that brings your attention back to your surroundings and when you are ready you leave the embrace so as to go and find the source. Before leaving the room you look back at your parents who look at you with pride and encouragement. It is time for you to break free with an open heart and an open mind.
You follow the noise back to your bedroom, it is the sound of a child playing. You take a peek to see who it is that is playing with your favourite toy and see that it is 5 year old you, sitting in the middle of the floor fully engaged in play. Just stay here and observe yourself for a while. See yourself in your youth, childish and free, creative and unknowing of the future to come.
Knock and enter the space making your presence known to little you. Ask if you may come in and sit with them. Say hello and introduce yourself as future you. Explain that you have come back to explore and get to know yourself better, to understand your history and to fix things that may need mending and to provide tools that were unavailable to you at the time.
Tell little you all about the life you live now, the things you have, the friends you spend time with and about your family, your work, your hobbies, skills and the places you have been and the things you have seen.
Talk about what little you can come to expect in their future as they grow up and say that everything will turn out just fine.
“We go through a lot of things little one. We will experience love and heartache, pain and confusion, new experiences, tastes, feelings and sensations of joy, passion lust, fear, excitement, anxiety and longing. We will be faced with challenges and obstacles that may seem impossible at the time, but know that with enough time and effort that we can get through anything. I am here to give you the tools and guidance you need to succeed and get through all that is to come.”
Crouch down right in front of little you and look in to the eyes of yourself as a child. See yourself, vulnerable and open to the world. See the trust and if you allow yourself to embrace yourself, then lean closely and give yourself a hug. Hold yourself and know that no matter where you are in life you will always have the love and support that you need to get through. You are your own guiding light and your own loving energy. Speak softly in to the ear of your inner child…
“I will always love you. I will always be here for you when you need me. I will always guide you and teach you and help you to make the tough decisions that you are faced with in life. I will never leave you, betray you or let you down. Trust me, trust yourself and love yourself. I am proud of you and I will always love you, no matter what.”
When you are ready leave the embrace, hold the hands of your little one in yours and look in to their eyes. Know your words to be true. Feel the memory of this moment from when you were 5 and feel the presence of this experience fill you with warmth from within. Recall the words that were spoken to you all those years ago. Think back to all the times where you needed guidance and remember that voice inside giving you comfort and courage and know that you were there the whole time, guiding you, loving you, supporting you through it all and giving you the tools you needed to succeed and to become the person you are destined to be.
See the love and hope in your little eyes and say your good byes. Allow any emotions and thoughts to flow through you, focusing on your breath – in through the nose and out again through your relaxed, open mouth.
Leave your home and shut the door behind you, knowing that it will still be here as you remember it whenever you wish to return.
Make your way back to your Time Machine and set the controls to any period of your life that you wished you had some guidance. Go and visit yourself at that time and provide the love and support that you need, give the tools required to get through it and remind yourself of the promise you made to little you.
Keep moving through time and repeating this process until you find yourself back at this present moment here and now.
Leaving your Time Machine, just take a moment to bring your focus back into your body. Relax your arms and hands down to the side of your body and let your breathing return to your own natural rhythm. Gently open your eyes and bring your awareness back into the room, to the here and now.
Take a moment, wiggle your fingers and toes and stretch your body. Take a deep breath and release it with a big sigh out of your mouth.
Allow any feelings and emotions to flow through you and take the time you need.
When you are ready take a pen and paper and write down any thoughts and feelings that you discovered during the exercise by hand. You can write on a keypad or mobile device if this is what is available to you; however writing by hand connects the body and the brain in a different way that will fully access your emotions and thoughts.
This meditation can be repeated as often as you like and you can always go back and visit any point in time as you gain new insights should you wish to give yourself other tools that you wish you had had at the time.
Going back and altering the past will change the present and the future for yourself giving you the peace of mind that you desire.
You can choose to view this journey as an exercise, a meditation, cognitive therapy or you may believe that you truly are travelling through time and appearing as an invisible friend sent to guide yourself through life.
I personally believe in the latter. I believe that I am able to travel backwards and forwards through time as I please and am able to alter the course of my life through the power of my mind. I believe that the imaginary friends of my childhood are visions of myself that I have sent back to provide the wisdom that I have gained through experiencing my life over and over again, making adjustments and alterations until I get it just right.
Whatever your belief, I have found this to be a powerful tool and use it in all of the workshops I teach and with all of my coaching clients.
I find that visualising and writing down my thoughts allow me to focus and channel my energy towards understanding myself better and putting my wants into tangible and specifically worded goals and actions that I can get to working on.