The other day I had an opportunity to notice once again how easy it is to get hijacked by one’s own mind, how the process of identifying with the mental noise inside one’s head can be unfolding and what it costs.
A dear friend had given me a “friends in real life” award that was added to my profile on that particular site. I was touched by what the person wrote even though I already knew we shared this wonderful connection I call intimacy, where one can completely relax with another human being. I experienced this exchange (giving and receiving of the award) as if both of us were givers and receivers at the same time.
At one point during the day I felt somewhat low spirited and when the memory of the reward got caught on the radar of my ego, the ego immediately started feeding on it, looking for meaning and where it could not easily find it, constructing it, based on my emotional needs in the moment. At first the thoughts evolved around me being special to this person. But the ego wanted MORE.
“Surely X gave away awards to other people as well!” the voice in my head was now saying and an uneasy feeling started spreading somewhere in the area of the stomach.
“Probably just as nice or even nicer awards!” (Ohhhh…)
“So it doesn’t make me this special, does it?”
Within a couple of minutes I went from hight to low, from feeling sad but at peace with the world and connected, not needing any awards to experience this to feeling isolated and closed down. I could see then how those thoughts were creating a sense of separation between myself and others when I started using labels implying judgement (special, unique, better, more) and how I got trapped in conceptual thinking, constructing first one story (of being special), then another (of not being so special after all). Neither one of those stories had anything to do with reality itself. The feelings surely felt very real though! As someone said: “The feeling is real, the why is a lie”.
Once back in the observer seat, able to watch thoughts come and go rather than merge with them, I remembered that my relationship with my friend was unique and special just as his relationship with other people was, that my friend’s generosity is one of the sides I admire in him, that those thoughts were coming from the perspective of not having enough, the hungry ghost inside which was fuelled by a feeling of loneliness I experiences in a particular moment. When I realised how far those thoughts were from what I truly believe and how subtly they were shaping the way I was emotionally connecting to others, I got somewhat of a shock. The more wonderful it was to wake up to the reality of life, even if just for a moment. With time, those moments become more and more frequent and the moments of collapsing into conceptual thinking easier to recognise and briefer.
Did you have a chance to observe how your mind hijacks you and takes you away from the reality of life? How do you recognise when this happens? Did you notice how it makes you feel separate from the rest of the world? What do you do to bring yourself back from virtual reality?
*All photoes are courtesy of the beautiful and bright human being, colleague and friend Johan Bencker