Chapter 5, part 12, Slow the F#$k Down!

The last blog I wrote was about how senseless it is to rush all day just so that you can get home to relax for a 1 hour yoga session. Presence belongs in the now otherwise you are spending 23 hours a day of your life waiting for that yoga class on the odd chance that you’re not too tired. Planned presence is not presence. It’s the opposite of presence.

There was a story I heard a long time ago about rushing. It had to do with a bunch of college students that finished one class and had to run across a garden to get from one building to the other. This was so they could get to the next class on time. One day there was an experiment being played on these students. It involved an actor who pretended to be homeless and have a heart attack in the garden whilst the students were going between classes. They watched to see who stopped and who didn’t.

The results from the above experiment came back pretty clear. Those that stopped weren’t necessarily the most empathetic or best trained to handle the situation. No, most of those that stopped were the ones that weren’t rushing between buildings.

I am sure there have been moments in your life where you wish you would have aided someone, although you decided not to help because you were too busy or you were running too late. This is selective focus and we all do it. It is therefore reasonable to say that when we are rushing we are less likely to be kind, have patience for others and be tolerable. It also means that we are more prone to be frustrated and to make mistakes whilst not being in the mind-frame to be mindful, present or relaxed.

So slow the F#$k down! Your heart, your body and your blood pressure will thank you for it. Furthermore you may actually enjoy life rather than seeing it pass you by. It’s that worth slowing down for?

Slow Down Jamie Lee Woodman a.k.a The Lonely Spaceman

Chapter 5, part 11, Rushing home to be present doesn’t make sense

In life we are always running from A to B. Our mind thinks that if we work really hard in the present moment eventually there will be a time when we can relax and enjoy ourselves. Of course, most times we are so exhausted from rushing around that we end up simply watching Netflix. And yes, this is enjoyable and relaxing yet it is not the type of rest our mind requires, nor is it as productive as many of us wish to be.

Not that long ago I remember trying to rush through my day to get home. Rush to work, rush at work, talk to people on Facebook during the lunch break, pay bills whilst waiting for the kettle to boil in the afternoon, rush through traffic to get back home before finally getting through my front door where I could finally relax and be present by doing yoga for 10 minutes.

I am sure you have done something similar. You thought (if only subconsciously) let’s get through this week to get to the party this weekend, or, let’s work double as hard so we can finish early, and possibly, let’s just put our head down and work until our holiday in six months. We all do it and many of us end the day by cracking open a beer, opening a wine, and as stated above, watching TV.  And when you think about it, are you really going to ignore the next 6 months to get to your holiday?

The problem with the above is that we have it all back to front (in my opinion). As per the example about my life, I was focused on getting home all day (not being present) which inclusive of driving to and from work meant that I spent 10 hours of rushing, stressing and being frustrated to try to have 10 minutes of peace and quiet. WTF? Furthermore, many of those days I couldn’t even find that 10 minutes as someone would drop by, I had projects to work on or someone gave me a call. So how does this make any sense? Well, it doesn’t! Yet it is what society has taught us to do. No wonder we are all grumpy…

The only true presence is in the now. We can’t plan presence, we just do it. We don’t need to be at a retreat nor do we have to meditate or do yoga, we just focus on what is in front of us and attempt to move flowing thoughts away when they come up. Being present means that there is no need to be frustrated as we don’t need to be anywhere else but in the now. There is no rush therefore there is no stress. We don’t need to worry about achieving things because being content in the now is not reliant on having things completed or being somewhere else later. Where we are is where we are meant to be and we know this for a fact because we are already there.

If we always wait for the future we never live the present. That’s my basic point here. We all (I do this as well even though I know better) say we can’t wait for the weekend or thank heavens it’s 5pm yet this is the trap.

My recommendation is to bring yourself into the present. For most of us our present is not taxing. Even work which appears stressful is only stressful because of the deadlines that others place on us or the deadlines/importance we place on ourselves. Remember, stress, although an important feeling to recognise, does not help us achieve our goal any faster. Although it is important to acknowledge stress (and any emotion/feelings we have) we can then take its message and let it go. We will then be more productive in our workload because our emotions and feelings aren’t creating barriers for us to work through. And if you believe that stressing helps you get through the day more efficiently and faster then please enjoy the heart attack, high blood pressure, frustration and anger that comes along with it. Sorry, but it’s true.

So once again, please don’t fall into the trap. A yoga or meditation retreat is a great chance to focus the mind yet if you can’t bring that dedication back to the 9 to 5 world I believe you should have spent your time on a beach drinking pina-coladas instead, mainly because it’s more fun. Practicing being present during work and throughout each day brings peace to the now. There are no emotions that exist at work except the ones that you have created through your own narrative. That’s why there is an array of different attitudes in most work places as each person sees the world differently. Being present aids you in seeing it for what it really is.

P.S Some workplaces are really s#$t. At times, yes, taking action to remove yourself can just be as important as changing your psychology around your workplace.

Don't Rush Jamie Lee Woodman a.k.a The Lonely Spaceman

Chapter 5, part 10, Why does one become present?

I have to stress how life changing and instrumental the topic of presence actually is. I know it appears like I have answered this though I haven’t even come close. Today I will show you how presence is just the beginning of a greater journey for those seeking answers about themselves.

As discussed, being present is not about avoiding your thoughts. Instead, you are calming your mind so that when your thoughts come back you are in a better emotional place to handle/deal or work through them. This is the power of being present (as I see it) and I write this because I wish someone explained it to me this way when I was looking for an outlet during my deepest depression, which remained consistent for over 20 years of my life.

Anyone who suffers from depression, anxiety, suppression, feels lost, sad and/or has a tormented past knows that we can’t turn these issues/emotions off like a light switch. This being said, I believe that with the right information and guidance we can work our way through our problems.

I am splitting chapters (due to the level of importance I believe each topic holds) into key areas such as ‘the ego and the observer’, ‘self-love’ and ‘acceptance’. For this reason I can’t go in-depth into them now, but, I will go through how they link directly to presence. So here we go…

Although external factors beyond our own body and mind (such as daily life) may affect us emotionally, it is how we process these experiences that create the story we have written about our lives. It’s a story that we have designed through the collection of our experiences and our egotistical need to try to learn and collate this information. We then narrate our lives with whatever narrative we have created for ourselves. What’s interesting is that out of a whole life of experiences it is usually only certain key points (a couple of moments) that we have created this narrative with. From there, we have then sought after justification to support this narrative because we want to feel justified that the story we have created for ourselves is correct, otherwise, we will lose one of the most important things we have, our identity.

I have never really been one to look into architypes. I know that there is some satisfaction with reading definitions about your identity, but, I fear that a person might then accept the good and bad about being that architype and no longer try to better themselves. This speaks a lot about society. What I am personally trying to say here is that the identity that we created for ourselves is not one that we have to hold onto. We can change it simply by changing how we perceive our life.

So why do we start any process of healing with presence? Let’s break the process down.

1. We bring ourselves back to presence as much as possible (as per the prior chapter) so that we can calm the brain. By calming our brain we not only think clearer though we also become less controlled by our emotions. When less controlled by our emotions we begin to stop reacting to things around us and look at life from a clearer point of view.

2. The above ‘clearer point of view’ is what is called ‘the third person perspective’. This perspective is about looking at life without being manipulated by our emotions that could influence our viewpoint. Without the presence of an overactive ego (which may be tied with self-loathing, pity, anger or fear) we can now make informative decisions in our life without being controlled by our more primal instincts.

3. Continuing with the above, imagine how not being driven by our emotions can affect daily life. With a clear head the mind ends up questioning why emotions have risen rather than those emotions taking control of our actions. The question of ‘why is this hear or what am I doing?’ is then a rabbit hole which takes people into their past to where they believe the emotion first latched onto certain experiences. This happens naturally.

4. Following from the above again, once we find out what drives us and where our beliefs begun (what event from our past started this belief system or emotional reaction) we can then choose to release this emotion from the situation. We are then not only releasing ourselves from emotional connections we are also beginning to define and change our own character.

5. Whist working through the above ‘acceptance’ is something that commonly comes up. Acceptance of oneself comes by seeing that there is no point in being irritated about being who we are. As we are already this person there is no benefit of any extra form of discomfort. We got the message and now we can move on. Although we may want to change ourselves in the future we no longer need to be driven by pain. We can change by simply making the decision to do so. This type of higher acceptance then coincides with self-love.

6. Self-love is walking that fine line between who you are, who you believe you are, who you were and who you want to be. Choices in your life are made without interference from past or future fears, worries or doubts. In many ways self-love is not only about connecting with yourself though also being at peace with the world around you, and this includes being at peace with death.

The above is part of what I will be explaining in the future. I thought it was important to show the trajectory of these blogs so that you can understand why ‘presence’ is much more than just being ‘at one with yourself’. Presence is not a moment of peace, it can also lead to a different way of looking at the world entirely.

I’ll leave you with this. A while back I had an awakening. It was not an escape from depression like I had wished but rather a chance to walk beside it. Over years of ripping away the surface of this depression I was able to work through it, piece by piece. I now say that I am not depressed yet I acknowledge that it is still a part of me. This part of me is something that I accept and use to remind myself how lucky I am to be alive. The above process is how I personally managed to get to where I am today, and since, I have read many books of people that have undergone similar processes. For this reason, for those who want to make a change in their life, I believe that this is ‘one of’ the great paths.

 

Prenence caught Jamie Lee Woodman a.k.a The Lonely Spaceman

Chapter 5, part 9. Let’s stop stuffing around. How does one become present?

The moment that you catch yourself not focusing on the present is the moment that you are present. But, the moment you realise you are present you are suddenly not because you thought about it.

I kind of want to leave that first sentence and not add anything else but I guess I should explain the purpose of it. I have been waffling on for some time now about presence yet I haven’t really nailed it for you. I hope to do it during this blog. If you are reading this then get ready for what often eludes writers such as myself. The point! This (and the following blogs) will be the more important ones within this chapter if you really want to understand why presence is, what people say, key for those who are unhappy or lost in life.

Okay, so let’s backtrack for a second. I discussed earlier that if you meditate it calms down the mind yet it does much more than that. It also lowers your heart beat, slows the blood that is moving around your body, plus, it eases tension within your muscles. The side-affect from such a dramatic change to the body is that it also calms intensive emotions and therefore makes you think clearly and rationally. It’s as simple as that. This is why people meditate and this is why it helps you be present, yet what if you are not a meditator?

The other option I gave was to stop and do 3 large breaths. The simple process consists of letting the air out slowly, allowing your shoulders to drop and then clearing your mind all within these breaths. If done properly, this can also ease the mind. It won’t do it to the full extent of meditation (mainly because it only lasts 30 seconds) though at least it’s better than nothing.

Meditation and slowing your breaths help achieve presence via limiting your access to thoughts about the past and/or future. When these thoughts stop for long enough the emotions that are tied to them should also fade, leaving you no longer at the whim of your fears and traumas.

This is where you might say SHUT UP ABOUT MEDITATION! You promised to just talk about presence!

Okay, okay, easy cowboy.

The unfortunate conflict with being present is that you can’t try to be present, it either is or isn’t. As Yoda said ‘do or do not, there is no try’. Being present is simply a state of being. So how does one achieve this state if we are not allowed to try to be in this state? That’s a good question.

We see things before us all the time yet never really look at them deeply and appreciate them. Many people talk about trees as being a great way of appreciating something simple, yet it can also be done with food, a chair, art or a dry wall. It doesn’t matter what it is that you stare at as it works best on something that you personally appreciate. When you do find something you appreciate it’s not about the object itself but instead seeing beyond it by respecting the significance of the fact that it exists. You may have heard of this being done with a candle and flame. The idea is that you stare at the flame and eventually you see beyond it and admire the significance of the fact that it exists. This is because you also realise that the flame is something you can’t physically hold. We went over this with the question ‘if a tree falls in the woods would it make a sound?’ The point is not to just see the world but to realise the amazing fact that it exists in the first place.  Yet seeing it might be a confusing way of explaining this sensation… Let’s try something else.

Your five senses can help you appreciate a single moment. It can be the feeling of water over your body, the touch of velvet, the smell of lavender, the taste of chocolate or a coffee, the sound of a symphony or even a car engine. It doesn’t have to be ‘beautiful’ it just has to be what you appreciate, as well as something that takes you away from memories or feelings of past and future. Your appreciation doesn’t have to last long either as one second is enough to bring you to the present moment.

Once you find out your main anchors (like the ones listed above) that bring you to the present moment it is then important to acknowledge them when they occur, and to try to bring that presence into your life as often as possible. You become aware that this is going well when you start appreciating these moments of presence naturally and it makes you smile. This is because the moment you start appreciating presence this means that other thoughts and emotions have left you for the time being. Eventually, when you do this enough, your mind gets addicted to this sensation and eventually your subconscious brings you to this state without effort. At least that’s the theory.

If presence is a new thing for you and you do want to explore this path I recommend finding out multiple anchors and sitting within them for a few extra seconds each day. So yea, stare at a tree for a while, sit by a stream, stare out the window, focus on the sensation of eating and don’t just throw that coffee down your throat each morning, instead, stop and appreciate each sip you take, or at least the first one! I know your rushing but you can at least do this for 2 seconds can’t you?

Just focusing on one sip of your coffee each day can bring that sensation of presence to you repetitively over time. The texture, the warmth and that sensation that may come over you when you first have it is something that brings you to centre.  And if you repeat this focus day after day, over and over again, eventually your mind, as stated above, will bring you there repetitively.

Of course, like most things, the above is just one step to presence. There is a lot more to it than this which I will continue to try to tackle through the following blogs.

Do or do not Jamie Lee Woodman a.k.a The Lonely Spaceman

Chapter 5, part 8, A cause set in motion

This is a bit of a continuation from the last blog. Rather than re-reading it I am going to give a different example to explain what I am on about.

Has someone ever told you that you repeat a certain saying or a word time and time again? I personally have had many different friends over the years bring this up with me. And although this can lead to a little frustration I have been thankful in the end for others making me aware of it.

To stop repeating the same word over and over again takes focus and time, you can’t just stop it. You have to catch yourself out within the act each time. Being stressed or frustrated about the fact that you repeat a certain word doesn’t help. Frustration is not needed to make this change. Simply being aware of the problem (if you choose to believe it is a problem) makes you properly motivated to change. And from here, all you need to do is be aware (or present) when this word comes up. It then occurs that when the word does come up, slowly and over time you can laugh at yourself and come up with different words to replace it. Eventually, after catching yourself out about 10 times your mind will automatically shift without using conscious thought.

Now it’s time to take this example to a larger place. The mind likes patterns, paths and justifications. There is nothing worse in this world than someone telling us that our reality is incorrect or that we are wrong. Take politics, religion, or any heated debate you have seen or been a part of recently. Reality is hard to dismiss, we just forget that just because we see reality through our perspective it doesn’t mean that others see it in the same way.

Over the last couple of blogs I have been saying the following. Once you realise something within yourself that you might not like you can set an intention to change it and then forget about it and let it change naturally. This of course only happens when the intention is wanted, needed and or desired. A question like ‘do I want a coke or a Pepsi’ is not something your mind will give two shits about. It has to be purposeful otherwise it’s just surface (frontal cortex or conscious mind) stuff that you really don’t care about and eventually will forget about. BUT, if you have the desire and passion to change something in your life then setting an intention and letting it go is an effective technique to use. If it’s important enough your mind will seek answers well beyond that moment without you ever realising it.

A disclaimer on the above… For this to work you want to be in a good place with limited frustrations or distractions. The above works because your mind is seeking verification from its surroundings in your daily life. If you are panicking about some other area of your life you won’t be looking for verification because there are other more important pressing matters. The brain needs to be free to search for possible connections to justify its path with limited interference.

As much as I respect religious beliefs, when a devout follower finds a burn in their toast in the shape of Jesus I do have to wonder why God or Jesus would have done such a thing. Maybe he is telling the person they are earning too much dough 🙂 Yet to the religious excited person on the 6pm news it has been the answer to the prayers they were waiting for. It’s a message! It’s a sign! Then the person allocates what that sign is and makes it their life’s purpose. And as stupid as this might sound to some readers you might want to re-think your judgement as you yourself do the same thing, just in a different way.

What I am trying to say here is that the mind will find answers where ever they may be. Sometimes you have to dig into your past, sometimes you have to look at your present, and sometimes a bleeding obvious fish smacks you across the face and gives you a reality check. The old saying is ‘you seek and you shell find’ which is really true given the level of ‘importance’ you apply to what you are seeking. And no, it may not work with picking a hot blond to have sex with (mainly because you are also trying to influence others), but it may help you find a deeper purpose and make a desired change to your thinking. And maybe you will read the signs incorrectly and it will lead you down the wrong path, yet if you are committed, in the end, you will say that this was part of the journey to get to your final destination. Please read ‘The Alchemist’ if you would like further reinforcement on this.

I have a mate who has just followed his heart to Bali where he stayed for 5 months, just to follow his heart once again to China for a further 6 months. It hasn’t been an easy ride for him although he did it anyway because he followed the signs. He was willing to take the risk to live in another country which he had no idea about, yet at the same time he was smart enough to avoid the edge of a cliff. This is me saying ‘don’t be stupid’ which is the disclaimer for this blog.

The Point: The mind is always active and it is searching for patterns and meaning. Hence if you seek something the mind will find an answer whether it is true or not. And this is the weird bit. If the mind thinks that it is right then it is until it decides that it is not. Hence, if you believe that your emotional baggage came from seeing a bug being squished when you were 12 years old the you are right, at least until the mind say’s it is not.

As discussed in the Perception and Focus chapters, if you focus on hate you will walk out into the world and find hate in every corner, not because it’s all that is around you but because it’s what your subconscious is looking for. The same goes for love. So, what I am saying here is that if you believe that a cause is important enough and you set that intention in your mind, you no longer have to freak out about it. If done correctly (and I am not saying this is easy) the process will implant in your subconsciousness. It is then that when your consciousness finds evidence to back up or follow this new belief system that it will do so naturally without you having to push it. You will suddenly go ‘WOW’ this must be a sign!

There are books out there that take this belief to new levels. ‘The Secret’ is one and ‘E Squared’ is another. These books are hard to read as they are Oprah recommendations (which can be seen as commercial) and of course, they are often linked to spirituality with no proof. Furthermore this doesn’t work unless you follow the writer’s beliefs blindly and commit to believing everything these books say which is always a dangerous premise. Yet as I have discussed above the spirituality belief can be explained from a psychological standing point. At least, this is what I have attempted to do during this blog.

Toast Jamie Lee Woodman a.k.a The Lonely Spaceman

 

Chapter 5, part 7, Being present isn’t about blocking out emotions.

Later I will be writing a full chapter on emotions because… well… it’s bloody important, and it is our emotions which dictate how we perceive our reality.

Being present is not just about being calm and relaxed, and although in Yoga and Meditation classes you may be told to accept incoming thoughts (and emotions) before letting them go, this isn’t necessarily what you do outside of these environments. Well… It is and it isn’t…

Being present to the world is only one element, you also need to be present to your emotions as well. This means paying attention to when they arrive and acknowledging them when they do. At times the emotions that are brought up are from small incidences that happened throughout the day, yet why have they come up again? Why did they have a lasting impact? And why has such a strong emotion attached itself to this one event? These are all important questions.

There is no point in stressing about these emotions or why they are lingering. Acknowledgement and acceptance are the key factors here. You can accept them and let them go, but, be open to the message they may be conveying and don’t fear (if you’re in a safe mind space to do so) what the mind might want to bring up. Essentially, giving your mind permission to bring up your baggage (if it wants to and you feel safe to do so) is key. You don’t need to search for it, it’s there and it’s waiting for you to be ready, and when you are, look out! You’re up for a wild ride.

I say the above because this is exactly how my journey worked. Seeking to resolve my past and being mentally ready to do so are two different things. The mind will stop us from going too far if we are not ready, which is why people might suggest further meditation. Stressing about finding an answer does not aid that answer to come faster either, you should have already learnt this lesson from your school exams. Yet, being open to an answer coming, doing a little thinking, possibly research (depending on the situation you are relating this to) and then letting it go will release a cause set in motion. This actually works spiritually and psychologically. I will describe how this works in the next chapter.

 

Presence Jamie Lee Woodman a.k.a The Lonely Spaceman

Chapter 5, Part 6. If a tree fell in the woods and no one was around to hear it would it make a sound?

Okay, so there is no need to explain this question in much detail. The principle is simple. If no one is around the tree to hear it crash then does this mean that the sound ever existed?

Now in today’s age you will have to forget about sound waves from the sound which ripple onward through the world and beyond crashing into other soundwaves. And let’s also forget about the obvious bugs and microbes that would also be able to hear/feel the impact of the fall. Or… Do we forget?

This within itself is a wonderful insight to the fact that this world is more than just humans. It also contains living things so small that they can not be seen with the naked eye. In fact, in Quantum Mechanics life is particles, and therefore everything is life. We never truly die as we ourselves are made of particles and these particles don’t die just because our body breaks down. Particles go on and on. They are not fixed in time and they do not work to our laws of physics. The very thing that we are made of and that everything is made of is beyond our comprehension. Therefore, bringing it back to the tree, we must acknowledge that we are never truly alone when life is active 24/7, even if it is so small that we can’t even comprehend it. So, does that blow your mind? No! Okay, I’ll try harder.

The real point of this tree question is to get you to a point of true wonder, that moment of inspiration where pure insight smacks you across the face like a cold fish. I am sure you have had multiple of these moments across your life. You probably have received it by thinking about how small you are in the universe or possibly how you don’t have all the answers to life. Or maybe it’s not so bold, it’s possibly just a realisation of who you are or how you perceive a part of your reality. Maybe it’s a reflection of how short life is or how fast time fly’s by, but regardless,  it’s a moment when you have true insight and presence which makes you forget about everything else. It’s like the world just opened up to you for a split second which was enough time for you to get interested yet not enough time to hold onto. It’s an amazing experience.

Looking beyond our basic everyday perception is something that can be challenging to our psychology. This is why we hang out in similar groups and with others that agree with our belief systems. We are more comfortable having others reinforce that we are correct. Yet if we are willing to go beyond this, think a little bit harder and challenge the fundamentals of our core beliefs, well, then that is when true insight comes.

Knowing everything is knowing nothing. Whilst finding ourselves or following a spiritual path (or whatever it is that people decide to do) it is important to remain open minded. Our path is defined by our perception and our beliefs, therefore, the more walls you break down the more doors that open up. Spirituality leads this line of thought yet as already discussed above, science also follows the understanding that many things (at this stage in human evolution) are far beyond our comprehension.

So the point of this blog is this. If you are willing to do so it is great to play with your perception. Seeking unanswerable questions and then pondering on them is not a waste of time yet a learning lesson in life. The more eureka moments you have the more open you become and the more you expand past your own limitations. It’s basic growth of the mind. Putting up walls (Donald Trump might want to be aware of this) is nothing more than fearing truths that are beyond your own understanding. It takes true courage to embrace differences of opinion and perception rather than just preparing for your next argument about how you are right. There is no right or wrong in the end, there is just being open to the world or shutting it down.

Tree in the woods Jamie Lee Woodman a.k.a The Lonely Spaceman.jpg