Originally Written: 09-Mar-2020
Word Count: 1307
Read Time: 4.5 minutes
Whether you’re stuck listening to someone drone on for days about something you don’t care about or are missing the company of someone who plucks your heartstrings, what you’re craving is the context of a moment you currently do not have the freedom to occupy. You want to feel feelings you don’t have the ability to feel.
You can attempt to abate the sensation of being present through dissociation or other mitigating actions, but nothing will remove you from the present other than the slow passage of time. You can complain to someone and have your thoughts validated, though all it does is validate your experience of life. It doesn’t affect your ability to work with those thoughts and allow them to pass. It just builds a buffer between you and enjoying life as it is.
When such moments arise, it can be hard to feel happy with the present and it can even feel painful to experience. What is hard for the ego to accept during times like these is that our pain is temporary, yet what it does instead is double down on the feeling to create suffering. A passing thought, or judgment, about our experience suddenly becomes an object of focus for us to cling to in order to satisfy the tirade we are conducting in our heads.
When we are busy beyond belief, we crave the emptiness of an open calendar. When we are bored beyond description, we fiend for something to do. While our minds yearn for a spacetime we cannot travel to, our physical bodies remain stuck in the present to suffer the anguish we are inflicting on ourselves by choosing to cognitively avoid the current moment.
But when you spend your time making choices to avoid the moment, what you’re doing is building a habit of dissociation and resistance to the present. You actually make yourself more likely to dissociate and complain because it temporarily rewarded you in the past. We operate based on what systems have rewarded us in the past and will continue to repeat learned habits the more we apply them.
Our minds carry a mental tool belt to deal with life. The tools we use most often are the ones we will reach for first in situations we encounter, especially if they are novel for us.
A hammer is only effective at hitting things. If you approach every challenge you encounter in life with an abrasive mindset, then your outcomes will be the consequences experienced from an abrasive perspective. Life yields itself to be a reaction to your experience of it, not the other way around.
This is why the whispers of the ego are not keen advice to heed but are actually the impending manifestations of our self sabotage.
Taking issue with someone talking continuously will yield an issue with our response. Your ego exposes you as a person wanting another person to shut up. Being dependent on the attention of a person who is not there yields behaviors of an individual dependent on the way someone else feels about them in order to feel happy.
Okay, so the problem is defined. What then must one do?
Bring awareness to yourself as frankly being needy in the moment. This is a mindful practice that is learned slowly, just as one learns to respond to problems through complaining. The first step is always awareness.
When you’re aware of a problem then you can do something about it. What we fail to do, however, is recognize the right problems. Humans don’t like problems, there is always a problem we are working on. What enables us to succeed in overcoming the obstacles we encounter is by properly identifying what is in front of us, which is more often than not ourselves.
We stand in our way when we choose to focus on the shade of a moment over the light being casted onto it. Where there is light, there is shade but, where there is shade, there is light. If a person won’t stop talking to you, there is something to appreciate in that person as someone who is open to sharing their experiences of life. If you are missing a person who you care about, there is something to take stock in when it comes to having someone to care about the way you do.
Neither of these reactions change your experience, but it does change your perception of your experience.
Happiness is not a destination, it is a state we occupy like an electron that is excited. The same applies for the intensity felt by other feelings we find ourselves gravitating toward at times. An excited electron eventually needs to descend into a grounded state, but it only does so upon release of energy in the form of a photon of light. When our egos are excited by the things we crave most, what we must do to become grounded in our experience is release the energy we are building up in a way that is healthy. We excel best and think most clearly about our problems when in a grounded state. The way we do it is simple.
Take a deep breath.
Now think of your problem.
Picture the experience of having of your problem.
Now imagine what kind of person you would have to be in order to overcome that problem.
Now think of one action you can demonstrate that exemplifies a step toward being that person.
Now do it. And breathe through it.
In goes a new context for you to work with, new thoughts for you to have. Out goes the wasted energy spent dwelling on your experience. Out goes the thoughts your ego clung to that disabled your ability to effectively work with the present. Out goes the focus on what draws in more suffering.
Breathing through a moment is perhaps the greatest tool we have to work with our experience of life and is what we often use least. Our brains are wired for quick responses to the problems we encounter. In the early days of humanity, our lead time to responding to a problem could determine the fate of our lives. Today, responding to problems quickly is desirable, but it may just mean avoiding social disaster over anything else. It doesn’t help us in situations that frankly aren’t dire and are trivial matters at best but are treated with the same urgency as a lion jumping out of a bush at us.
Happiness is not a function of a formula that needs to have the right inputs flowing in at all times, it is our lead time to stepping back into the light of a moment from the shade we see being cast from it. It is our perception of our realities, not the state of them.
One can still have joy in their mind while listening to a tour guide share trivial details about dolphins that you will never apply to your life. One can still have contentment in their hearts while desiring the affection of someone who is far from reach.
You may not have a choice in what your current experience of reality is, but you will always have a choice in how you respond to your experience.
Next time you encounter a situation where you feel stuck between a metaphorical rock, choose mindfulness as your tool and breathe through the moment. Witness yourself as alive and find what you need to enable yourself to be present with your experience so you can actually overcome it and get back to what we all want to do most: living with contentment.
Manage those cravings honey, it’s all gonna be alright. Just be patient and stay present or figure out how to get back to it.