The past doesn’t exist, but it seems to leave behind spikes and thorns that feel very real as we are living our lives in the present moment. A lot of our behavior is about avoiding those sharp points—even if we aren’t consciously aware of them. When we get quiet in meditation, we can begin to see the effect of those thorns, and when we see them we can begin to do the gradual work of changing our relationship to them. We can even begin to see that although those thorns seem very real, they really only exist if we think they do. So even though we can do nothing to change the past, we can work to change our relationship to those points in the past. And through that we can begin to free ourselves in the present.