Seems like I spend a lot of my time either looking forward to stuff or dreading it in a mess of anxiety. Meanwhile, I overlook whatever ‘boring’ thing is happening right now because I’m too busy distracting myself on the internet or making up stories about the far more interesting future.
Every once in a while though, usually after I’ve just meditated or worked out, I have the clarity of mind to stop and appreciate nothing special.
Most of the time my mind is so much happier to be distracted from that nothing special. At least, it thinks it’s happier. But really, with the anxiety it’s tight, constricted, limited and with the daydreaming it’s half asleep in a distant Fantasy-land. When my mind wanders to either of those places (which is far more often than I’d like) it is as if I’ve decided that whatever is happening right now isn’t all that interesting or worth noticing. Let alone worth living!
I don’t really feel like I decided that though.
The more I’ve practiced mindfulness, the more I realize that my mind has a mind of its own. It will just flit off to la-la land without asking permission, or dive bomb into a pit of endless fear after the hint of a threat. All of this creates hours of entertainment. Oh the drama! The comedy! But I wouldn’t say that this 'entertainment' makes me happy.
Hours and hours of sitting on my meditation cushion noticing thought after thought, as they come and go, as they contract my stomach muscles and limit my perspective, or as they open my heart and loosen my shoulders, all of this noticing and paying attention to what circus my mind is putting on for itself is punctuated by the fact that someone else, someone apart from my thoughts and emotions, some distinct I, is watching it all.
And I have a choice about what channel watch.
What happens if I turned the station to the present moment?
Instead of taking up the whole screen in my mind, those seemingly incessant thoughts of pushing or pulling about the future now only run along the bottom like a headline news ticker. And the main program, the channel that I chose, is far more interesting.
Ohh! There is a banana slug scooching on the back porch. And I think I can see the fern unfolding its leaves in front of me! Oh, wow, this orange is really juicy!
Sometimes, when I get wrapped up in the present (or rather, unwrap the present), even the news ticker fades away. Instead of defining who I am—a worrier, a dreamer—those are just thoughts I have sometimes. What I glossed over earlier because it wasn’t sensational enough for my media-saturated attention is now so engrossing that it’s quieted the chatterbox who lives in my head.
It’s weird how when I start to notice nothing special, it somehow becomes something special after all. Sweet.
Try it yourself!
Technology is often one of my main escapes from the present. But let’s take a second to let our technology (as in, this blog post) guide us into the present. I challenge you to stop what you are doing on the Internet for just two minutes. Minimize your tabs, turn off your monitor, put your phone on silent (after you finish reading these questions!). And now notice how you’re feeling. What’s going on around you? What’s going on inside of you? What channel is playing in your brain? What does it feel like to disconnect, if only for two minutes?