How strange a thing that people so often distract themselves from their own brain. Think of all the distractions we have readily available: Internet, TV, cell phones, music, Netflix, etc. The list goes on and on. People can’t even sit through a single meal without feeling the need to distract themselves with their cellphone, made uneasy by mere minutes of lack of entertainment or distraction. How often does a person take the time to sit and think? To just be alone with their thoughts and brain, trying to connect and better understand themselves? Hardly ever.
I think people are becoming increasingly disassociated with their actual selves. Let me explain what I mean by actual self. I believe the actual self is what is behind your thoughts. Your “soul”, so to speak. People always associate themselves with their thoughts because, of course, why not? I think, therefore I am. However, thoughts are as automatic as a beating heart! It’s part of what makes us human – that we are thinking, conscious beings. Thoughts come to the surface like bubbles in a boiling pot. Left, right, constant. But thoughts aren’t our actual selves. Indeed, the fact that we are even AWARE that we are thinking means that there is a higher level of consciousness. That is what our actual self is. The part that allows us to either dismiss or identify with thoughts as we see fit.
This is why I believe meditation is so great. You sit down and make a commitment to shut out all distractions for a moment, and to just be present. Refuse to grab hold or identify with any thoughts, instead letting them drift away like a cloud in the sky, or a lily pad on the water. To call back the boiling pot metaphor, meditation is lifting that pot from the burner, allowing the water to settle and providing a clear view to the bottom of the pot – your higher consciousness. While the practice of tuning out your automatic self and tuning in to your actual self is quite difficult, with time, effort, and practice, you are able to slip into this fully realized state with greater ease.
That is where I would like to spend more time. My actual self is creative, engaging, curious positive, vibrant, and fun. The moments or day after a good meditation session, I feel at peace with the world and my place in it.
However, my automatic self is negative, petty, scared, anxious, self destructive, and bothersome. This is the mindset that I, unfortunately, default to unless I am taking care of myself, be it through exercise, meditation, creation, etc. Most of my waking life is spent either battling or kneeling to this awful mindset. Much like meditating often leads to easier connections with your actual self, the more I give in to this negative mindset, the easier it is to stay locked/trapped inside it.
Life is a daily grind. Each and every day we are given the freedom of choice – to accomplish as much or as little as we like. While obstacles may block our path, the world often rewards (or gets out of the way of) those who strive to accomplish with great conviction. No matter how big or small, each day we must make a decision to be a better self than the day before. Meditation helps me in this aspect, because it allows me to cut through the nonsense – to be more in tune with who I actually am and what I actually care about, helping make this daily decision much easier. I am much less distracted by the annoying and unhelpful thoughts of my automatic self.
This brings me to what I would like to talk about. Passion. How often do we find ourselves saying we are passionate about something? To me, being passionate about something means that we throw ourselves into whatever it may be with great conviction and purpose. We devote ourselves, spending as much available free time as possible to work on our great passion(s) in life.
If we were honest with ourselves, can we really say we’re passionate? In my life, I like to think I’m passionate about writing, reading, meditation, and running. Those are the four things I would ideally do on as close to a daily basis as possible. Yet I find myself watching Netflix or playing video games or browsing the internet. This is what I do in my free time. So I have to ask myself, am I really passionate? Or am I lying to myself.
Passion is a fiery lover. You get as much or as little as you put in, and nothing else. These simple distractions I do on a daily basis (television, internet, phone, etc) must be my actual passions, right? For I spend the most time with these outlets, and not with what I think I am actually passionate about.
This is where distracting yourself from your brain, meditation, and the daily grind come in. By distracting yourself from your brain, you lose touch on what your passion in life is. You lose touch with your actual self, the part that decided upon these passions. The brain is a puppy that is full of energy, bouncing from one play thing to the next. Unless it is properly reigned in, it can become quite destructive.
Meditation allows you to reconnect with your actual self, strengthening your convictions and rekindling the passion that you may have let wither out. You see through to the bottom of the boiling pot, and are given a clear picture of what it is you actually desire.
The daily grind is something that we have to be aware of, for we can’t ever be content with a single day’s work. There seems to be a reset button that is pressed each time you go to sleep, and the work ethic or momentum you may have kickstarted before is now slowed. That is why you must make the decision each and every day to keep moving forward. If you are stranded in the water and are fighting to make the shore, you won’t swim for a minute and expect your momentum to carry you the rest of the way. No. Instead, you must stop treading water and invest yourself in the action, striving with each stroke to make the shore.
We like to say we are passionate about certain things in our lives. Make the decision each and every day to make sure you aren’t lying to yourself. Do what you love, and love what you do. With enough effort, you will find yourself touching the shore. You may be exhausted, but the relief will be great.