I overthink things.
I am sure you know the type of people who are unaware they even exists beyond their thoughts and who are out of touch with their emotions?
That is me alright.
And this is not a good thing, especially if you are prone to addiction, like I am.
One of the major hurdles for me in becoming sober has been to reach the realization that there is an essential difference between my mind and me.
What do I mean by this, you ask.
Picture a lake high up in the mountains. Your thoughts and emotions are the evanescent wrinkles on the surface of the lake. But you are the stillness at the bottom of the lake, not those ripples on the surface.
Let me use another analogy, which I also use in my book Mind on Fire, to point out the difference between your core on the one hand, and your thoughts and emotions on the other hand.
You know what wind chill factor is, right? The perceived lower temperature felt by your body due to the flow of air. Due to wind chill, the subjective temperature can be much lower than the actual thermal reading of the air.
Well, just like the wind adds iciness to the actual coldness, your thoughts and emotions add drama to reality. And that feels as real as the glacial wind on your skin. Your ego greatly exaggerates the importance of benign events. It tries to make life more exciting by adding frequently shifting storylines and intense feelings to the mix.
The ego-based world, with all its drama, is highly addictive. The ego’s agenda is to keep itself going. It needs a daily fix of theatricals and a constant denial that there is any escape from them.
But all the while, the real you lives at the bottom of that mountain lake. It is just the simplest version of you, unaffected by the mind.
Let me give you an example on how your mind can ambush you.
I once experienced a severe panic attack on a long-haul flight from India back to Europe. The panic was so sudden and heavy, it seemed like it was going to suffocate me. And yet there was no external reason whatsoever for this sudden alarm. It was just my mind playing tricks on me. That bout of panic was nothing but my repressed fears saying, “Now that you are strapped in and vulnerable at forty-thousand feet in the air, I can make you look at me because you cannot escape.”
Typical mind games.
What you should do in cases like this is take a step back and be a spectator to your thoughts and feelings. Finding yourself is all about the ‘Aha!’ moment of discovering that second perspective, that of the silent witness, the watcher of all the thinking.
This state of calm can be induced voluntarily. Once you come to see that at the level of the brain, everything is in flux, in a constant state of confusion, you can drift down to a lower stratum, where this confusion dissolves into stillness.
Once you have found that place, you will want to live there.
In fact, mindfulness is all about observing the ego mechanism at work and relaxing into that second perspective. If you can witness the thinking without getting wrapped up in it, you will find a deeper seat of awareness, one that is calm, alert, detached.
Try it. It will blow your mind!
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