Without something bizarre happening, (like my accident), there are no reasons for young people to aggressively pursue the source of their thoughts. Yet, by having done that, I’m aware of the fact that one of the biggest differences that sort of intensive study creates, is in how our minds understand and manage ‘language.’
When we’re awake to reality, words get sorted less by their universal definitions, and more based on how they are interconnected to other ideas, within each individual. There are many ways to think about things. It is worth it for us to always remember that.
Without the understanding that every statement will include a cloud of potential meanings, we are forever looking at only part of life. It’s as though we are looking through the narrow tube of our own experience, rather than at our admittedly more chaotic reality, with less-certain potential outcomes.
It’s that chaos we’re scared of. But really that’s just reality. You really could be diagnosed with cancer within months. And then suddenly every day would take on a different meaning. If we keep that otherwise shocking truth in mind, it can motivate us to live in the present, and to create a rich and full life in the here and now.
What our egos do instead, is that we ignore the present, and we cling to the belief that tomorrow will be essentially like today. Then, rather than live openly and freely in the pursuit of value, we instead maintain our rituals, our groups, and our habits—only because they feel familiar. And yet whether we or life create it, change is inevitable.
Fortunately, change can be something we come to enjoy. Once we relax our thinking, we can realize that ‘the unknown’ is like diving into a cool lake on a hot day. The split second of shock is nothing compared the wonderful, weightless feeling of swimming.
Floating there, looking back at the shore, we can often recognize that our desire to keep things the same is a form of ‘attachment.’ Then we start to notice what things and ideas we have attachments to. And before long we run into words involving things like ‘holidays,’ or ‘rest and relaxation,’ or even ‘enjoyment.’
If we look at the ideas we have around those words, we can start to see that we often have guilt associated with them. If we take time off—even for legitimate things—many people feel badly. Yet, if work eats into our personal time, most people will accept that—many to quite unhealthy degrees. In our minds, ‘time off,’ or ‘resting,’ or ‘taking a break,’ or even ‘sleeping,’ are not seen as the very valuable aspects of a human life that they are. Yet skipping them is the psychological equivalent to not eating.
Resting is not simply the cessation of work. It is accomplishing something of its own. Do not feel bad about taking the breaks you truly need. We can easily feel it when really need one. And, if we avoid burdening ourselves with guilt about the breaks we really need, then, when life is better, we can more easily shift to gratitude for a fuller, easier and more productive life.
It’s true, taking breaks we don’t need creates an unhealthy and false sense of reality. But so does avoiding the breaks we do need. So rest when you need to. And do it without the burden of guilt. If we’re responsible about our breaks, we can learn to trust our feelings around when we need them.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.