Last night I achieved a wonderful state of peace during meditation. Then I went to sleep. In the interim between wakefulness in sleep, my mind kicked up its activity.
During the day, of course, I was not always calm or self aware. Probably not dissimilar from most people. Many thoughts, many projects, many details, not always as focused. Paying more attention, you realize the thoughts that lurk just beneath the surface. In this case, these thoughts came out to play as I drifted off towards sleep.
Recently we had one night without our two kids. Our first in two years. My parents watched them. My wife and I went to a local tourist town and had a nice evening of relaxing, walking, music, and dinner. When the kids came back, it was like holy shit! It was just chaos! (They are 4 and 2.) Everything took more energy.
It was an adjustment and a reminder of how much energy the kids take. You know what I’m talking about? A lot of lessons of this time of my life are about being more calm, more understanding, and less self-centered. Good lessons, tough lessons, and a lot of work right now.
How calmness relates to capacity
I’ve written before about capacity and compared then and now in terms of amount of work done. Chris Caracci, my favorite Navy Seal, always says “who can say what limits lie with the mind.” Well, I’ve needed to downgrade mental processing for a variety of different tasks and put them more on autopilot to make room for other, new tasks that needed to be done. That’s a definite power of the mind, reframe stuff and free up energy.
It’s hard to take on new tasks if the self-dialogue (thoughts that you repeatedly think) are all about how busy and overwhelmed you are. Most of my jumps in activity and processing of information have occurred because of an acceptance of a new normal. Often, this has been reactive.
Drugs, alcohol, and smartphone stimulation
Recently I’ve seen articles about the increase in binge drinking in America, my home country. There is also what’s been “dubbed” by our ever-positive news media, the “opioid crisis.” Finally, we have people addicted to smartphones.
I mention these things because in my experience, all these things are forms of stimulation. We can add TV to this mix – whether it is YouTube video watching (my favorite form of stimulation) or just your standard old TV show on the legacy channels.
We do these things as a form of escapism and they all are indicators that we are not calm and nowhere near poised.
And this brings me to my last topic. Discipline. We are all addicts to our devices. We’ve just let technology change us without pausing to think. The real problem I see is that we don’t leave space for more meaningful pursuits.
This one really concerns me. Where is the time for silent contemplation? No wonder so many people are sick. We’re distracted looking at our devices and not paying attention to our world—what we’re eating, what we’re thinking, and what we’re doing with our time.
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A recent post I wrote about the nervous system has gotten 6 minutes of time on site. People are engaging with it. We’re becoming more aware. But we need these reminders. We need to control our energy and consciousness and not let them be controlled or shut off by endless stimulation.
I always like to end with something you can do and I’ve mentioned this before, but like I said, we need repetition. Spend 15 minutes doing nothing. Don’t think, just sit there. Create more space. Ditch applications that endlessly scroll with algorithm-based content designed to get you hooked. Get more comfortable with the silence and stop just vegging out.