Optimal Future Self

Variations of this meditation are found in each of my books, and it’s one of my favorite approaches to accessing possibility. All it requires is a willingness to suspend disbelief, reach beyond what you know today, and accept change in your life. For most of us, change can be scary, even when it moves in a positive direction, so a willingness to dare to engage the unknown is key to working with optimal future self parts of you.

When you reach out to your optimal future self, you do so from your deep wisdom, rather than from any conscious, preconceived idea of what your future self will be like or how things will unfold as you move toward your goal. Because of this, it’s important to allow impressions of your future self to drop into the back of your mind – to arrive in awareness, in a sense – rather than to try to figure out anything up in the front of your mind.

Also, if you’re a person who doesn’t work well with imagery, that’s fine. The most important thing when accessing the optimal future self is to have a “felt-sense” of your experience, an impression to access the tone and quality, the essence, of what unfolds.  It’s useful to be able to experience this process in your body but, if you aren’t able to do that, then whatever quality or element of experience that is available to you allows you to connect to this powerful part of you.

There are certain qualities you can expect in your optimal future self. By definition, this part of you is wiser, more mature, more aware than you are in your present-day self. For this reason, when you connect with your optimal future self, you can expect that this part of you will tend to express more self-acceptance, self-compassion, and openness towards you than you may experience today.

Also, your optimal future self will tend to be non-judgmental, or at least less judgmental, and never, ever abusive to you. It’s not unusual for people to experience the future self as “aloof” or not as intense emotionally as the present-day self, but this is different from a part of you that is critical or abusive in any way. Sometimes, the future self lives in such a different state of mind and being that he or she may feel unfamiliar but, again, this is distinct from any abusive qualities. Whenever you discover future-self qualities that may appear to be distasteful or unfamiliar, allow yourself to experience them from inside the optimal future self to get a clearer sense of their potential. Then, let yourself know that it may take time to feel at home with qualities your future self reveals to you.

When dealing with the future self, remember always to focus on essence rather than seeking specifics and content. The experience of the optimal future self emerges from the language of the unconscious. You don’t want to limit what your deepest wisdom has to show you by getting caught up in thinking, worrying, or having to figure out what the experience means or how you’re going to get there.

Also, it’s absolutely normal to have mixed feelings when accessing your optimal future self. Most of us both seek and avoid change, and that’s true in this kind of journey, as well. So, allow yourself to notice and accept whatever mixed feelings may arise. They are simply companions along the way. There’s nothing you have to do about them. Just acknowledge, accept, and allow them. Usually, whatever mixed feelings emerge resolve themselves with time as you naturally grow into your future self. What felt strange or scary at first now feels familiar and normal to you.

Sometimes, a future self may not appear during the journey and, surprising as it may seem, that’s fine. Your deeper wisdom knows best when you’re ready to have an experience of your own potential, so even when a future self may not appear right away, you’ve planted the seed and conveyed the message that you are willing to move into the best that’s possible for you. If you’d like, ask yourself, What would my future self be like if I could be aware of this part of me? Then, see what emerges. Otherwise, allow yourself to trust that your conscious awareness of the optimal future self will emerge exactly when and where it will serve you best.

For some people, simply a felt sense of the presence of the optimal future self, or the sensation of a friendly hand on a shoulder giving support, is enough. Allow yourself to engage and experience your optimal future self in whatever way is natural and comfortable for you.

Then, whenever you access your optimal future self, take a few moments to experience yourself inside this part of you. Your optimal future self can teach your present-day self, via body sensations, thoughts, and feelings, what it’s like to be that wiser, more mature you. It’s like getting a taste of possibility, absorbing it as if you were a sponge, and then letting your deep wisdom build on it.

Once you’ve connected with your optimal future self, you can tap into its presence anytime. For example, if you’re in a situation where you’re not sure what to do, ask yourself what your future self might do and see what drops into your awareness.

Before you begin this guided meditation journey, choose an outcome you want to achieve, a goal you want to reach, a state of mind or being you want to have as yours, or whatever else you seek.  Remember that your intention becomes a rudder for your experience, allowing the flow to emerge in line with what you seek.

Meditation on Accessing Your Optimal Future Self

Take a few moments to settle in by following your next exhalation to the bottom of the breath. Notice the gap there, between the out-breath and the next in-breath. There’s nothing to do – just be there, in the gap, with the stillness.

Recall the goal you seek, the issue you want to heal, whatever it is you bring to this journey. Notice your willingness to allow your own deep wisdom to activate your potential to meet your goal.

Next, imagine that you are walking along a path somewhere in your internal landscape. Just let it emerge into your awareness as you notice the sensations in your feet as you take steps along the path. Notice whether the surface underfoot is soft or hard, smooth or textured. Pay attention to how each step moves you along the path and what that’s like for you.

Become aware of the surrounding landscape and environment, noticing whatever colors, shapes, and textures come into your awareness. Remember to allow the impressions to drop in – there’s no need to reach for anything at all.

Each step you take along the way says “yes” to your deep wisdom. Each step demonstrates and supports your willingness to activate and make real the potential and outcome you seek to achieve.

Now, notice that coming toward you from up ahead on the path is your optimal future self. Be sure to simply allow impressions to arise, without any preconceptions or demands. Just notice what kind of person your future self appears to be, what you notice first about this person.

Next, become aware of your responses to your optimal future self, as well as any mixed feelings that may arise. Pay attention to what you want to push away, as well as to what attracts you and feels good to you.

Take some time to step inside your optimal future self and become this part of you. Imagine that your body is the body of the future self, see through the eyes of the future self, listen through the ears of the future self. Pay attention to any differences you notice between how the optimal future self lives in their body and your present-day experience.

Next, from inside the optimal future self, ask to experience yourself as you will be when you have achieved your goal. Here, it’s important to get your conscious mind out of the way, stay clear of expectations and preconceptions, and just notice what drops in.

Standing in front of your optimal future self now, notice what you experience if you open your heart to this part of you, if you allow yourself to say “yes” to a relationship with the potential inherent in your optimal future self. You are saying “yes” to allowing it to become your own.

If it feels okay to you, now, allow yourself to walk with your optimal future self along the path. Know that this wiser part of you has already made the journey you seek to achieve and will guide and support you every step of the way.

Take a moment to become aware again of your breath. Travel with the next out-breath down to the bottom, to the stillness there in the gap between breaths. Stay there for a moment or two and review your experience before coming back to your everyday state of mind.

When you’re ready, come back from your journey with an awareness that your optimal future self is always with you and you can access him or her anytime. In fact, you might want to take a moment each morning to reconnect with your optimal future self to reinforce that you are willing to achieve the goals you seek.

© Nancy J. Napier, 1999

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