Fruits of mindfulness, meditation and fearlessness.

Our greatest fear is ourselves.

This is why laws and morality have taken such a hold on humanity.

What would we do if we weren’t told what to do? What would we do if we didn’t know what was good?

We don’t trust ourselves and so we don’t trust others; we are terrified on every level.

I’ve found that I don’t need to think about what to say or do before doing it. I just open my gob and let whatever comes out come out.

Sometimes I stutter and say something silly and that’s funny. Often the most beautiful utterances come out.

For example the other day at work I was wearing odd socks and someone pointed it out. Normally being socially anxious this would make me nervous.

But since I’ve been practicing mindfulness and meditation (which is basically the practice of ignoring the voice of fear in your head) I’ve found such things have ceased to embarrass me.

They were my mum’s socks I was wearing and the girl (A PRETTY GIRL MIND YOU!!!) said “I bet you wear your mum’s underwear too.”

And before I even knew what I was doing my face took on an expression of mock shock and the utterance “How do you know so much about me?” came (perfectly timed) out of my gob and she was in hysterics!!!

It was beautiful!

Fear is the mechanism of deception. The world is waiting for you to grow a pair and blossom!

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Mental Illness and the internal narrative

Most mental illness can be traced to narcissism.

Previously I said that mental illness is when the self society demands of an individual is something the individual cannot attain to. The conflict between the real self of the individual and the self society glorifies being mental illness.

Now this still holds but it doesn’t go deep enough.

Most people spend their whole lifes as if they are on stage; as if they are playing a role in a drama. Of course this role is the central role.

Just listen to the internal dialogue you have when you are feeling depressed, anxious or whatever.

“Poor me, why are they looking at me, what did I do to deserve this, why is this happening to me, they aren’t showing me enough appreciation…”

The problem with perceiving yourself in this way is that in any drama (or even comedy) there has to be suffering, conflict, and unattained desires.

Happy people have a different dialogue.

“My life is so good, everyone loves me, I’m so happy…”

Very happy and content people have no dialogue.

In a sense we construct a narrative about ourselves and then we project ourselves into that narrative. The problem here is that society doesn’t applaud positive narratives about the self.

Try telling people you think you are a genius and try telling people you think you are shit. Compare the results. I bet that you will be called names and put down if you declare a positive narrative concerning yourself but people will rally around you if you declare a negative narrative. Just look at Russell Brand and Kanye West.

What this essentially does is positively reinforce a negative opinion of yourself that few people are able to overcome or even realize as the cause of their suffering. Few people have access to a realm of knowledge that transcends the opinions of others.

No matter how much they may affirm that all because everyone says something is so doesn’t mean it is so they still cannot let go of popular opinion. They cannot let go of that crutch and learn to walk on their own.

There is a way out though but it is slow and gradual. There are no on and off switches, you are not a computer; you are a plant and plants grow slowly.

The way out is to recondition your mind to shut-up. Don’t try to replace the negative narrative with a positive narrative. Just practice shutting that voice in your nut up. This is the power of mindfulness and meditation.

What’s the best compliment?

I think that the best compliment anyone can give someone is “You’re weird!”

Sometimes weirdness can be symptomatic of pathology; sometimes people could be weird through effort because they want to maintain an identity or because they think that weird is cool.

Those kinds of weird aren’t the kind of weird I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the kind of weird that everyone really is. Weird is just a derogatory way of saying someone is unique, individual and their own person.

Everyone is weird; some are just better at hiding it than others.

The reason why I consider weirdness as a positive description is because it is often symptomatic of someone not pretending; someone not lying. It’s the taking off of the mask that causes the phenomena of weirdness in the authentically weird people.

The people who don’t have an agenda when they talk to people.

The people who aren’t trying to fit a cube into a small triangle hole.

The weirdness that’s caused from being genuine and the cessation of lying.

Throughout most people’s’ lives they are always trying to be what they think will be acceptable. They spend so much time and expend so much of their mental activity on trying to fit in that they are constantly distracted from themselves; they are constantly not doing what they want and doing what they don’t want purely because they fear the ridicule of others.

To be called weird is to be told that you’re behaviour doesn’t conform to what is arbitrarily acceptable; to be called weird is like the they-self pinning a medal on your chest for escaping the trap of conformity.

Of course the they-self – being stupid – thinks it’s insulting you but if you’re weird because you’ve realized the lack of ground that the They-self’s protean “acceptable” has you’ll see the irony.

To be called weird is to be told you figured out the puzzle…. at least some people’s weirdness is caused by such things.

We have better things to learn from children than they from us!

Today at work, whilst I was cleaning the windows; there were a group of mothers with their children. The children were all toddlers.

They were running around trees in ecstasies of delight.

The children that is; not the adults. They were just stood with their prams and their touch-screen phones sedately discussing the weather (which was glorious).

As I listened I heard the mothers say things like “Yes! That’s a tree, dear!” as if by giving a word for the thing that the child was frolicking around was something marvellous.

The child already knew what a tree was! He didn’t care about its name; he was already using it; he was already enjoying it.

I realized we have a lot more important and valuable things to learn from children than children have to learn from us.

The one thing children have that we don’t need is the need for approval.

We’re all born “approval junkies” as the brilliant film “revolver” states.

The function of the desire for approval is to motivate the child to learn to function in the world. To give it the umph necessary to enter new realms of play.

But once this function is fulfilled the need for approval becomes a bane. It become The (with a capital T) curse that stops us playing, frolicking and using life for what life’s for: fun.

What we need to learn from the child is to be care-free; to play; to run around trees giggling in delight.

What we need to learn from children is that fun is free; play is the purpose of life; to laugh hysterically at apparently inconsequential things and to laugh at the stares!

And parents need to stop inculcating shame (a consequence of the need for approval) into their children. But I know, I know! You’re so caught up so much in the anxiety caused by your child acting out of the ordinary that you can’t help it.

Oh please like and subscribe. I’m still an approval junkie; a dog that wags its tail when you pat its head and tell it it’s been a good boy!

How I’m Handling Anxiety currently

This post is going to be a bit personal.

As anyone who knows me (or has read my posts on anxiety) will know I suffer from social anxiety.

For a long time I used mindfulness to combat it. Mindfulness worked great. But as anyone who has read my “back again” (https://christopherjack101.wordpress.com/back-again/) page will know it became harder and harder for me to maintain.

One of the problems with mindfulness is that it is basically a method to cause thoughts to cease. This is not brilliant for creativity.

I gave up mindfulness because I am lazy. The practice of mindfulness I did was 2 x 20 minute sessions of meditation, running everyday and playing the mindfulness game (https://christopherjack101.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/mindfulness/) the rest of the time.

This practice did work. Let it not be said that mindfulness doesn’t work; it does and it does so brilliantly.

Another problem with mindfulness is that it is about letting go. I just couldn’t let go of the desire for companionship, intimacy and sex. So whenever I went on a date the old problems were there; I’d become a stuttering mess who could barely string a simple sentence together.

So having stopped mindfulness for a while now I have turned to another – admittedly inferior – means of dealing with my anxiety. I have been taking anti-anxiety meds.

They have worked really well. Not only have they got rid of the anxiety but they have dis-inhibited me. Now I can talk to anyone in any situation and experience no embarrassment or awkwardness (two names given to anxiety in the context of talking to people).

Not only that but they have turned off the internal police-man (you know that voice or feeling in your head that intimates strongly that whatever you have to say is shit and whatever you have to write is not good enough). Thus the reintroduction of the daily habit (or almost daily) of writing in my blog.

On the Emotions

The trick with emotions is to acknowledge them but not to always express them. By this I mean that if you are experiencing anger don’t hide away from the fact or be ashamed about it. It’s there and you can’t make it go away by disavowing it. In fact by doing so you give it power.

 

Also often – well all the time in my opinion – if you express anger that just causes it to flare up, to become more entrenched and “angry” than if you just let it be.

 

I think a lot of emotions are like children’s tantrums. Have you seen those kids who have a fit at the shop because their parent won’t let them have something. Some parents shout at them under there breath. It looks quite absurd to see an adult losing his temper with a toddler all the more so for how ineffective it so often is. There are also the parents who give in to the toddler. The second the water-works are turned on there they are giving in, giving the child whatever it wants or if they cannot give it what it wants they enter into hysterics themselves. This is really quite sad; to see an adult in the thrall of a child.

 

Emotions are no different. They come in demanding attention… or at least they seem to be demanding attention but what they really want is an action. They are – or at least they behave – as independent entities that vie for control over your body. They have their place and that is as an information source. They tell you whether or not you like something. Whether or not you are happy. But they are useless as a decision maker.

 

Just as the child’s tantrum tells you that the child wants ice-cream doesn’t mean you have to give it ice-cream. It may have had enough ice-cream already and any more would give it diarrhea so you simply say “No” and let it tantrum away. Watch it tantrum! there is nothing so amusing as a child’s tantrum in my opinion. Emotions are exactly the same!

 

Sometimes situations that you do not want are inevitable. If you are in the thrall of your emotions you’re going to go mad when they happen. It’s much like you’re a donkey and the farmer’s trying to get you to move a house which is impossible but nevertheless he whips and whips you.

 

The trick with emotions is to watch them, meditate on them, be mindful of them. Let them settle down before you decide what course of action to take. They are nothing but another voice – albeit a non-verbal one – that gives you advice! Advice is not compulsory.

Growing with Mindfulness and Meditation

I’ve noticed that the development I’ve been undergoing under the tutelage of meditation and mindfulness has been cyclical. Rather it has been spiralcal but I don’t think that’s a word…

 

I’ll use anxiety as an example. When I began my practice anxiety was a big thing for me. I wanted it gone because I thought it was inhibiting me from living. Well to be more precise I thought that it was inhibiting me from attracting a life partner because whenever I was faced with a member of the opposite sex I would turn into a stuttering wreck. You know someone you’d have thought was in the special class at school. I’d get it when interacting with members of the same sex too – especially authority figures – but that never bothered me as much.

 

 

 

 

I found that within a short while of practicing meditation and mindfulness I had a week where there was no anxiety! It just vanished! Everything I said seemed to come from this place of peace. I loved it.

 

 

 

But then that stopped and the anxiety came back. So I’d spend all my time out and about trying to be mindful of anything but the anxiety or the thoughts I thought were causing it. I’d watch my breath, the feeling of my feet slapping the floor and so on. Until one day the idea came into my mind to watch the anxiety! Crazy I know but I’d been trying everything to distract myself and that didn’t work because the second I had to have a social encounter boom! There it would be.

 

 

 

So I watched it and it blossomed. It turned into a kind of euphoria that was comparable to sensations I’ve experienced on narcotics and then it just calmed down. Since then I’ve had times of anxiety and times of no anxiety but the anxiety doesn’t bother me anymore it’s just something that arises and then vanishes.

 

 

 

I think a key thing to bear in mind with mindfulness and meditation is that it’s like gardening. It’s not like playing a computer game where everything is done immediately. You’ve got to plant it, water it, and feed it (do the practice) and then leave it alone and let it do its thing. 

Mindfulness, Meditation and Life Enhancement

Since I’ve been practicing mindfulness and meditation I have noticed a definite change in behavior and general life. There are certain things I am doing now that I wouldn’t of dreamed I would be doing last year. Sure to a lot of people they would seem insignificant but to me they are anything but.

 

 

One of those things is keeping up a writing practice. I’d always meant to in the past but when it came to putting pen to paper – or finger to keyboard – I’d just hit that blank wall and give up. Or I’d write a bit and think “I’ll finish that!” And never finish it because I didn’t have a clue what a finish would look like.

 

 

 

Also there was the whole perfection thing… Now that was a right bugger! It’s because of that – and pretty much just because of that… well that and social anxiety – that I never finished college. I would get so hecked up about doing the course-work just right that I’d never do it! I was a right silly billy. The funny thing is I was quite good at exams. I would have been better if I’d revised. That was another thing – I never tried revising because I wasn’t quite sure what it was… I mean remember stuff… OK so I had this herculean task of rote memorization in my head – that was the ideal I thought was worthwhile – and because of that I didn’t do it! Stupid I know.

 

 

 

But mindfulness and meditation has changed that. Now I’m OK with imperfection. I’m going to be posting this on my blog! In the past I would have maybe posted a few things that I thought were decent, tried to write some more decent things (whatever decent is :S), failed, got frustrated and given up. Now I’m cool with it.

 

 

 

My mind – the tricksy beast – yammers on at me saying things like “Start writing a novel, essays, start fasting, quit this, start that! Go on you’ll be an ubermensch”. It’s a little sod because it knows that if I start trying to do all those different things at once I’ll fail and become frustrated and miserable… which is what it wants because then it can come in and be like “See I’m always here for you! Here have this pleasurable fantasy about being able to go back in time! Isn’t that nice!”

 

 

 

The cool thing about mindfulness and meditation is that they’ve enabled me to give these things a go. Now I’ve got this core practice of 2 sessions of meditation a day when I fail or give in to that urge to be lazy I find that the meditation allows me to be lazy for a bit but then it picks me up again. Instead of giving into laziness for a bit, becoming despondent and depressed, and as a result becoming more lazy now I find that I’ll give into laziness for a bit, get fed up then start doing stuff again. That’s not to say I’m a “super-human” for maintaining meditation… I’m just lucky that I enjoy it.

On Embarrasment: Embarrasment = Anxiety (social)

Embarrassment is a funny thing. The kind of anxiety I suffer intermittently is really fear of embarrassment. In fact it is the feeling of embarrassment.

From a physiological perspective anxiety and embarrassment are indistinguishable. They both have the sensation that is called “butterflies in the belly”. They both cause hot flushes. They both cause speech slips, stutters and awkward silences.

It’s strange that they are so similar because it means that the fear of embarrassment puts you in an embarrassed state before the situation about which you have the fear arises. The annoying thing is that the way you feel before entering into a social situation is the way you fear you will feel because of embarrassment. It’s like you have already been punished.

Like your parents say “If you eat this sweet then we will smack you” then smack you repeatedly whether or not you eat the sweet. The annoying thing is that you’d have thought that in such a situation it would be easy to reach out and take the sweet but no! Even though you know you will feel the same whether or not you eat the sweet (or say something to a girl you are attracted to) you still experience fear at the thought of reaching out and trying to get the sweet. It’s STUPID!!!

And the things we get embarrassed about! The most common example being asking a girl out. It’s a totally natural and normal thing for a man to find a woman attractive and everyone knows this but there is the feeling that you can’t just go up to a woman and say “Hey you’re beautiful! If you think I’m passable then we could go out and see if we like each other’s personalities”. Instead – or so it seems to me – there has to be this whole act of mis-direction and subterfuge where you can’t state the bleeding obvious.

Experimenting with Meditation

Different meditation techniques – or rather different anchors – work better in different emotional environments.

I meditate three times a day. I used to do 2 20 minute sessions and before that I did 2 5 minute sessions. I enjoy the practice so much that I haven’t found it hard to do it more often. In fact I find the opposite to be true.

The technique I began with was this: I would pay attention to the feeling of my hands in my lap. Whenever I was distracted I would bring my attention back to my hands. Simple.

I found that this technique didn’t work so well in the morning. My mind was springing all over the place. This could be something to do with the neuro-chemistry involved with waking you up. For a while I fought this. I would stick it out and just build up a feeling of annoyance. This annoyance was no doubt caused by me wanting to get to that state of peace that comes during and after a good meditation.

One morning I thought I’d try a different approach. Instead of keeping my attention on the feeling of my hands in my lap I’d let my attention wander. The only restriction I gave was that when I realized I was lost in thoughts I’d bring my attention back to the hands and then immediately let it wander again. I also tried to keep it focused on sounds and feelings rather than thoughts. This worked a treat.

I didn’t get the same depth – or rather the same type of depth. When I meditate on the feeling of my hands and I’m able to keep my attention fixed there I find that my body goes to sleep but I stay awake. My breathing becomes very deep and regular, everything becomes louder but quieter (if that makes any sense). I think it’s called a trance. Anyway it’s very pleasant. When I let my attention wander I find that a peace arises but it’s a more lively peace.

I’ve also found that when I’m feeling anxious – especially on or before a date with a woman – that meditating on the feeling of anxiety is incredibly powerful. This is because the feeling of anxiety prior to such an event is often so intense that it’s easy to maintain focus on. I’ve found that through maintaining focus on the feeling the feeling goes away. Then there’s a period of calm – a hiatus – before the inevitable thought “I’m going to meet a very attractive girl who I want to like me” pops in and causes a fresh wave of anxiety to focus on. This whole process has become a pleasure rather than a torment because of this.