Look Around

Moving to a new place gives a fresh view on life and a new invigoration. In the first few weeks after moving to a new location, you have to absorb the world around you. From the way you get to work to the nearby supermarkets, and from the culture of the city to finding what places you want to explore. When I first moved to Charleston, I couldn’t help but look around.

It’s easy to spot a new person or someone who is not from your city because they move their heads. They look around to see what’s going on. Instead of staring forward, they look at the size of the buildings and the restaurants as they pass by. New people do not keep their heads down, there’s too much to see!

In those first weeks, I think people are more authentic. They don’t know the area and they don’t have a reason to please others. When you talk to them, they are more present. They are more involved in their environment and easier to talk to.

As time goes on, we learn to look forward. We already know where we’re going and how we’re going to get there, so we go on autopilot. If we know where we’re going, we can just sit in our heads. We’re not going to get lost. So we can think about what we’re going to do today or how work was. We lose touch with the moment.

In today’s culture, this is even easier. We can pull out our phones and just sit on Facebook. When we’re sitting on the subway or the bus to work, we don’t look around. We think we already have experienced the subway and there’s no reason to look for anything new.

There’s something to be learned from those initial moments after you move to a new place. When you’re look around, you’re more involved with the world. By interacting, you are living life. Sitting in your head or spending all day thinking is not living. It’s just thinking. In your daily life, start to notice how much you look around. Do you spend all day looking forward or do you openly explore your environments?

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note#14. moving on

Life is about moving on and letting go. It’s about experience but only as it happens. After the moment is over, we need to move on. When we feel emotions, we really need to feel them. But after they’re gone, we need to let them go. Don’t hold onto anger, frustration, and don’t claw after happiness.

When relationships aren’t working and friendships are falling apart, let them go. If it’s meant to be, it will come back. You can’t hold everything together. You can’t stop a ship from sinking, you can only plug the holes until another one appears.

You have to be willing to sacrifice everything that you know to live in this moment. When you feel directly through your senses and before you think about what you’re seeing or what it means. You must depart from moments as they leave so you can make room for the next moment. Holding onto every second is too painful.

Now I’m working on letting go of what isn’t working. I can’t make a failing relationship bud or fix a friendship that isn’t meant to be. I must depart from it and let it go in its own way. Life is about moving on to open room to experience. I can’t grow if I always look back, I must realize what it in front of me now.

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“Dude, just enjoy”

As a writer, I’m often guilty of pouring out words and labeling my life. Instead of relaxing, taking in the moment, I’m fantasizing about some far away place. It’s easy to write about these fantasies and dreams because our minds can create such beautiful possibilities. What is truly difficult, however, is living in the moment, whether good or bad, and taking it all in.

On Facebook, a person commented on a photo of mine with “enjoy”. What they probably meant was “I enjoy this” but they didn’t finish the thought. Instead of letting it go, I responded with a question mark. The comment seemed unusual and I wanted to know what they meant.

Almost immediately another friend responded with, “Dude, just enjoy”. It’s taken about a year to realize the true meaning of this.

While I was walking down the beach earlier today, I thought about it and was lead back to the word “enjoy”. It’s a simple two syllable word that we throw around and occasionally hear when we order food or go to the movies. We think of it like, “here’s your ice cream, enjoy!”. Essentially it has lost its meaning because of how often we use it.

What does “enjoy” really mean? It’s when you appreciate the world around you and the situation that you’re in. It means that you’re living in the moment and loving what is happening to you. More than anything, it’s the acceptance of life in its rawest form: you’re letting the world in. You’re truly feeling the taste of the ice cream or the sand on your feet.

Later that day I went out with some friends who got really drunk. The police were involved and it’s a long story that I’ll write about tomorrow. When we were sitting down with the cops, after about an hour, I remembered “enjoy”. Our situation was horrible and we would be up staying late that night, but I accepted it as part of my life. I took “enjoy” and just appreciated the moment for what it was.

In retrospect, it’s the small moments in each day that form our lives. Sleeping late on Sunday may seem meaningless but after a month, maybe you’ll appreciate stretching in bed and laying around. After a year, you may look back and remember those days when you could lounge around the house. Those are the moments that create a life. We look back and see the bliss.

What value is as of that if you didn’t actively “enjoy” those moments? Think back to the last time you thought to yourself “Wow, I’m having a good time” or “I really enjoy this”. Chances are you’ll remember a few moments but they will be few and far between. We don’t appreciate life at its core, only in the ‘grand’ moments. But life isn’t built on these moments, we don’t have them often enough to call them common.

Life is built on making oatmeal everyday for breakfast, or the long commute to work. It’s built on working in the heat and coming home covered in grease. These are the moments that populate our lives and keep our days filled until we go to bed. They are the first breaths after waking and feeling of exhaustion after a long day’s work.

“Enjoy” is a reminder that we need to take a breath and enjoy the moment. If we don’t take in the world and relax, life will pass us by. We were too busy thinking about our next action, or what could be, that we lose sight what is happening around us. When you’re on the side of the road with a group of cops and a group of drunk friends – “enjoy”. When you’re craving pizza and you finally get a slice – “enjoy”. Don’t question it, if you do, you’ve missed the moment. It all boils down to; “Dude, just enjoy”.

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Why you’re thinking too much and need to stop

Have you ever been so caught up in thought that you’ve had someone say your name and you don’t respond? They repeat it a couple times, making themselves more distinct, to get your attention. They wave their hands in front of your face and finally you snap out of whatever trance you were in.

I think that almost everyone lives their life in that trance. The degree that you are spaced out varies but ultimately you are almost always in that trance. The struggle is that one person cannot wave their hands in front of you and make you wake up because you have to do it yourself.

Everyone exists in this trance, where they don’t pay attention. Their mind consumes them and they narrow their vision onto one thing. It’s as if we put binoculars on and stare at one thing – which blocks out everything else that is happening.

In our society, we highly value analytical thought. Or, simply logic. Everything in our existence can be quantified and analyzed until we can determine what it means. We do this because we think that once we understand something, we can control it. If we deduct the reason why we think something happens, we can cause it to repeat (if it’s beneficial to us).

We get so caught up in logic and idolize it that we get clouded with illusion. We start to believe that if we think about something long enough, we have the power to control it. We believe that if we could think of every possible reaction to a situation, we could make it work out in our favor. That’s why we spend so much time thinking of every different way to react to a situation.

However, this power is an illusion. In reality we have incredibly little power to control events and make them work out in our favor. Our ability to analyze has led us to worshiping thought and neglecting something called no-mind. By idealizing logic, we have done something incredibly illogical.

We have caused ourselves to live in our mind constantly attempting to solve problems and think through situations that may never happen. We all seek happiness and well being but we plan for it rather than live in it. If we do this or that, we could be happy. We must think of how to do something to have a good life. The truth is that we have well-being threaded into our existence and if we stop thinking, we can experience find that well-being.

Many of our problems stem from dealing and communicating with other people. When we encounter an emotional problem, we, often more times than not, try to apply logic and solve it. We think that if she moved her dress this way, she must hate us now. We try to apply logic to something that logic cannot solve. Not everything is done with an intent and you cannot deduct every movement from another person.

Logic is this sense is toxic. It erodes the mind because in other situations we can solve the problem simply by thinking about it. However, not everything works off of simple cause and effect – things exist spontaneously. It is an illusion to believe that the more we think, the more likely our solution will work in these situations. Or that the longer we think about something, the more likely we will be able to make it work out in our favor.

Our society equates logic with power, and we believe that we are weak without our ability to think. So when we come to situations where logic is useless, we still elect to continuously analyze it. We don’t understand that sometimes there is no reason. Because of this, we cannot use reason to define something that occurred for no reason.

To solve this problem we need to clear our minds and arrive at something called “no-mind”. This occurs when there are no more thoughts going through a person’s consciousness. That means that thoughts and emotions can pass through the mind, but the person doesn’t attach to them or think about them. It’s like the thoughts are there, but the person doesn’t actively think of them. The thoughts just flow through them and they are detached. Essentially there are thoughts without a thinker.

When have you had no thoughts? Are you able to stop thinking? Let your mind simmer down and when a thought arises, let it go. It doesn’t matter how important you think it is, just let it go. If you practice this, you’ll arrive at holes in your mind. There will be periods where there is no-mind.

Once you accomplish this, you can live life and experience it. You cannot live life in your mind and you cannot control everything. You cannot solve all the problems and apply logic to non-logical situations. By surrendering your control and detaching from your thoughts, you can learn that not everything has to work out in your favor. No amount of logic can control everything.

When you surrender, the illusion of power (or lack-there-of) vanishes. By realizing that you can’t control everything, you realize that you don’t want to control everything. Life is lived by the spontaneity of it.

So when the next time you try to interpret why another person does something, realize that logic doesn’t always apply. Even if you hate to hear it, you can think too much about something. Don’t get caught in that trance because life isn’t about thinking and controlling, it’s about living.

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Sitting with Yourself

Becoming mindful during your daily activities is a great way to increase happiness and awareness of self. By leaving thoughts behind you can open your mind to what is in front of you. Daily meditation has been teaching me this more than ever lately. It’s been a great way to become more conscious of life and those around me.

By accepting thoughts as spontaneous, we can learn that they aren’t substantial. Thoughts are merely concepts and have no physical weight. Because they are conceptual, we can realize that we don’t have to focus on them. They don’t have any power.

Thoughts are an endless loop that can go on forever. They do not have to be based on reality and they can cause happiness and unhappiness. When we let our mind wander and we focus on it, we choose to wander with it. What I mean is, when we have a stray thought, we can choose not to think about it. We can accept the thought and let it pass by.

When we cultivate no-mind, that is a mind without focus on the mind, we still have thoughts. It is impossible to have no thoughts permanently. However, we can choose to let the thoughts that we do have. Accepting each thought as a spontaneous concept, we can let go of our slavery to it.

It’s exhausting to constantly be thinking. To be focusing on every possible outcome of every situation. Watching mental movies about what you’re going to say if they person gets mad at you or if your lover decides to separate is exhausting. It’s a useless waste of energy! Imagine all of the things that you are missing while you are daydreaming.

For example, if you drive the same way to work each day, perhaps you “fade out” on your commute. Each day you miss the beauty of the day. You aren’t experiencing anything! These mental movies that you play in your head may or may not ever happen. Most of them will not happen because you think much more than you do anything else. You think more than you do.

Instead, replace those moments with focus and attention. Open your car window, stare out at the guy across the bus from you, meet someone new! Do something! We all want happiness but we spend too much time in a place where there is no happiness. Our minds want us to avoid all negative situations but they make us experience all of those negative moments in our heads. We live all the worst possible situations.

Perhaps you daydream about all the best possible situations instead? Well then you are equally disillusioned! Your life will always let you down if you experience things that are always the best possible situations. It will build an expectation of greatness that will easily be let down.

Do not confuse this with having low expectations or low self-esteem. By removing our focus on our mind we create a place of no expectation and no mind. We focus on what everyone around us is saying rather than what they could be saying in our heads. Our “enemies” are no longer foes because we do not focus on our mind. When we remove our focus from our mind, we live in the present and there is always forgiveness. Why would we hold onto something that is in our minds?

Tonight I want you to take a few breaths before you eat and make a conscious decision to actually taste the food. Take a breath in and literally think “let me taste this food”. Once you taste it, don’t label the food as good or bad, sweet or spice. Just taste it. Don’t think about everything else or how it reminds you of another situations. Just taste the food. It’s a simple task that will forever change your life. Live presently because there is no other place to live.

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2/14 “Sugar Fast”

2/7 days of daily meditation