Our lives takes place within our minds. There’s nothing limiting about that because our mind is as large as the universe. There are no borders on ideas. There are no limits to what thoughts we can have. So why do we keep having the same ones over and over and over?
That’s how we avoid living in the Now. We’re busy thinking about times other than Now.
It’s not difficult to gain control over this. We just have to keep trying, just like we did when we learned to walk, talk, add, subtract, jump, and throw and every other thing we’ve learned. The more we do anything the better you get at it. But we have to do it.
We can’t just do yoga and post quotes on social media and get healthy. We’ve got to get conscious. We’ve got to be spiritually awake. We have to stop searching for peace and start enacting it. We can achieve this by being present —by experiencing our life much like we might get into a dramatic film or TV series by a writer we like. By thinking another character’s thoughts we can lose our ego-self.
In that special place, it is possible for us to profoundly realize that our enjoyment of a viewing experience includes feelings of fear, anger, betrayal, a sense of loss, etc, etc. In other words, we feel all kinds of feelings when we watch a movie or show and not all of those feelings could be called pleasant. But it’s not like every time we hit one of those feelings we change the channel. We stay, because some part of it likes all that emotional turmoil.
We don’t take sad moments in sad movies as there being something wrong with the movie. We accept those feelings as appropriate to their context. They are inevitably caused by us simply going where we’re going with the story, and we’re so invested in that, that we don’t care about the emotional prices. We need to get that way about our own lives –our own stories. Taken well, the emotions a life generates are largely what makes our lives feel full.
So if these feelings make life rich, why are so many of us hiding from experiencing them in our own lives? It’s because while we’re watching the show we’re feeling the emotions by thinking about the character’s thoughts not our own. That tricks us into the necessary state of detachment.
Our identities are just as ephemeral as the ones in movies but, when it comes to our personal lives, we as humans have trouble getting the same distance between our sense of self and our emotions. The pain in our ‘real life’ feels worse than the pain we feel for a character because our ego intervenes and attaches itself to the pain. In the personal case there’s a strong sense of us, whereas in the character’s case there is the sense of another.
In a film we want to see the character succeed or fail at their specific challenge, but we don’t leave a movie theatre with the idea that the characters have a life after the movie. What anyone thinks of the reactions of the characters is irrelevant, after the film the actor gets to go back to being their other Self.
We have to get that way about our own lives. More detached. Our egos are only characters we play anyway, and they were largely written by others. We need not take them so seriously. An ego can be totally destroyed and we are still fine as the place in which the drama of that identity played out.
Other than them feeling unpleasant, there is nothing wrong with thinking thoughts that lead us to feel sad or angry or frustrated or alone. But the world is so good about lying about life’s challenges so we think we shouldn’t have those feelings if we’re living in the “right” way. We end up accidentally believing that normal life challenges represent some sort of failure, rather than a normal progression of growth. At a movie we pay for the privilege to experience the same emotions.
Instead of the truth, modern people in the developed world tend to think that a good life is an uninterrupted one of wealth, beauty and youth, and that those things will automatically lead to a good life that is happy, balanced and rewarding. In reality life is actually just life. They all really suck sometimes, no matter where or who or when you are.
Even in the best of cases, life will naturally include all sorts of disasters that people will try to edit out of their social media. But they’ll be there. Every time.
Like we do, most of our friends unwittingly and subconsciously assemble and cultivate the image of a life. As fragile egos, we all want others to think thoughts about us that have them imagining us as being as successful, impressive, attractive, or in some way as compelling as the people’s lives that we watch. We want to feel we are respected by our tribe.
Where that helpful idea gets screwed up is when our ego wants to get its value by having others envy our lives, rather than respect them. Often even worse, if we have no chance of looking impressive, we‘ll often try to get the tribe’s commitment of support by having them feel so superior that their apparent obligation is to generally offer sympathy.
Both of these ego manipulation strategies can wear out but, either way, what’s important is that they indicate that everyone is just trying to get the tribe to confirm their inclusion as a member. Our open approval or affection, or alternately our sympathy or assistance, ends up acting like some sort of social glue.
Unfortunately, we’ve all been convinced by things like advertising and peer pressure to believe an untrue idea —that we’re not worthy. We all think people wouldn’t choose us if we were just ourselves. But this is not true.
No one needs to be anything specific other than who they naturally are. The rest is all just a mimicking monkey climbing around on a scaffold of ego.
We need to stop thinking we have to be something or someone else. We have to stop thinking health is outside of us. We have to stop thinking it’s something we have to go and get. We must trust that we’re fine and just Be.
We are better to avoid attacking our experiences with our thoughts. We must let the feelings of our life pass through us the same way the TV show does; moment by moment. Experience by experience. No matter which emotion it involves, we go through it rather than invest our egos in efforts to try to avoid it.
We should have the experience of one scene and then move on to the next one. It’s a mystery where each scene might go —that’s the beauty of it. That is what it is to live with presence.
Enjoying the series of scenes each week is the only path to what could be called a ‘good life,’ because on every channel, every show has pain as a part of it. So we can’t avoid pain, all we can do is get conscious. This removes our panic about needing to find the ‘right’ channel. Instead, we can just choose our channel and then relax and enjoy the journey, ups and downs included.
We can get rid of a great deal of the suffering our chattering mind creates but we will never dispel the world of pain. That would be, in other words, to dispel it of comfort too. And we ultimately want both things in our world for they exist in duality.
Let’s all stop over-thinking about times other than the moment we’re in. Let’s Get Now. Feel what’s there to feel and move on to the next moment. That’s what health is.
Let’s all enjoy our days like it’s a TV show we’ve chosen to watch, because in a really profound way, that’s closer to the truth than many might think.
peace and a big hug, s
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own over-thinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.