Feelings Exercise

I feel apprehensive but I don’t enjoy the sensation it evokes. I feel a tension in my chest and my thoughts parade unpleasant scenes within my mind. Therefore, I’m going to alter my mood by imagining an opposite feeling. I’m going to dump into a daydream that demonstrates a feeling of confidence and surety.

“There I am, powerful beyond all reason, energy flowing from my appendages, shaping everything around me into exactly as I expect – no mystery or surprise anymore, as my surroundings become me – and I am calm, a gentle creator that forms lighthearted merriment within a world of joy.”

Well now I feel calm and in control, my apprehension has dissipated. Daydreaming about a simplistic scene was enough to influence my mood – serving as an antidote to the poison previously in place. Instead of passively waiting for my apprehension to pass, I applied mental-discipline to displace it immediately.

I didn’t argue with my mind, trying to convince it to be calm. I went to the source, the very foundation, a structure comprised of feelings – and replaced it. There’s a certain ratio of emotions I want to feel, so I only entertain the ones I prefer in the quantity I select.

Feelings Galore

Why would a world exist whose purpose seems to be the production of feelings?

We can readily observe that the particular narratives used to generate feelings are low-effort and repetitive. We can also observe that both pleasant and unpleasant feelings are elicited – meaning, individual comfort doesn’t seem to be a concern of the system. We can also observe that the mind itself generates feeling-inducing thoughts within the imagination all the time. We can also observe that the physical tasks individuals do all day aren’t very significant, consisting of busy-work or time-wasting activities or entertainment of some sort.

Whereas the excitement and intensity of life comes from feelings. You could be alone in a house, doing nothing at all, and then anxiety takes hold and you no longer feel alone – you’re scared. Now those feelings are firing at full-blast. It wasn’t the activity that was significant, just the feelings.

If the system doesn’t care what type of feelings are produced, does that mean that individuals have the option of selecting the feelings they prefer? Let’s consider this for a moment: if the world is all about feelings, doesn’t it make sense to make them a priority? We already know that you don’t need high-quality narratives to evoke feelings – the ideas can be dumb. So, by telling ourselves stories that bring about feelings we prefer, wouldn’t we improve our overall experience of existence?

Perhaps I was barking up the wrong tree, focusing on thoughts – trying to piece together an infallible worldview. You’re not seeking a logical pathway, there’s nothing to figure out, you’re simply imagining things in a way that feels better – and it doesn’t matter how you got there. For example: I don’t have a workshop, but I want one. Such a condition sometimes makes me feel bad. Focusing on that lack and sadness is a dumb thing to do. As an exercise, I will now imagine what it feels like walking into my dream-workshop. I can feel the sense of wonder and excitement and the thrill of having so many tools at my disposal. Hm, you know what, that does feel better.

So every time I feel suboptimal, I should imagine what something better feels like. Time for an experiment: during the next few days, guard your feelings at all cost. If at any time you feel bad, dump into a daydream and imagine a situation that makes you feel good. Remember, the theme can be cliche and simplistic – nothing elaborate. And if you can’t even conjure that, just imagine you’re feeling a pleasant feeling. Do not at any time allow yourself to entertain a negative feeling – don’t analyze it, dump out immediately.

One Wish

If I was only able to make one wish, I suppose it would be: for a mind that wanders pleasant paths. In other words: when my mind is lost in thought, I want it to think about awesome, interesting, lovely, delightful, always enjoyable ideas. As it is, my mind constantly assaults my awareness with pessimistic complaints about anything and everything.

Imagine waking up, greeted by a mind welcoming you into the world, painting pretty pictures of potential things to ponder. A mind that entices you into participation through advertisements of vibrant experiences. Whereas whenever I wake up, my mind just shouts nonsense at me, telling me how everything sucks and how today won’t be any better – probably worse in fact.

Imagine walking into a room and NOT experiencing the worst thoughts my mind can muster. Instead of anxious, pessimistic, and disparaging ideas; my mind invites a sense of wonder through curiosity and appreciation. “Wow look at that, it looks so interesting!” Unlike now, which is more like: “Ugh! Gross! This is dumb.”

I wonder if this is something I could practice? I’ve already gotten to a point where I can identify and mitigate negative thoughts – but that’s a daily game of whack-a-mole. If I could prevent those thoughts from popping-up in the first place, that’d be great. Maybe negativity is just a habit I could quit. Instead of simply dismissing negative thoughts, perhaps I could practice replacing them with more enjoyable ideas.

Hm, that sounds like a lot of effort – and I’m pretty sure I’ve had this exact same idea in the past. Although, maybe this time it’ll work. Perhaps I can more effectively imagine enjoyable circumstances nowadays. Well, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to try. So the task is this: when you identify negative thoughts, don’t just brush them aside – stop and actively come up with a better thought, something delightful perhaps.

Garbage Disposal

Do you share your poop with the world? Do you even share your poop with yourself? No, of course not. You flush it – oftentimes without giving it a second thought. In other words, your body produces waste-products that were never meant to be shared or honored or held in any regard.

My point is this: fear, anxiousness, anger, frustration, hopelessness, gloominess, regret, shame – all these negative emotions are mere waste-products of an overactive mind. The mind is producing thought after thought – and in the process, detritus develops. You certainly shouldn’t collect it, then parade it around for all to see!

FLUSH IT. Don’t honor it, don’t sweep it under a rug, don’t store it for safe-keeping – just rinse it down and never think of it again. Something happens and your mind makes a big-deal of it, then all these negative emotions fill-up your mental space ready to spill their toxicity at the slightest nudge.

Instead of waiting for an imminent disaster, dispose of this sludge responsibly. Don’t make it anyone else’s problem. Don’t even make it your own problem. Put in the effort and apply the discipline to keep your mind clean and free of debris at all times. As they say: A mind is a terrible place to store waste.

Disciplined Belief

In order to deal with life, we often rely on a set of beliefs to provide a sense of comfort. In other words, if we can explain why things happen, we don’t necessarily feel like helpless leaves adrift on an ocean. For example: if you’re good, you’re rewarded – if you’re bad, you’re punished.

For many years, I believed in the concept of random-chance. Unfortunately, believing in that concept resulted in a lot of anxiety. I could be crushed by a small meteor hurtling from space at anytime – why not, life is random. After many years of fear, I dumped that belief and adopted a more deterministic belief-system i.e. things happen for a reason and randomness doesn’t exist.

Essentially, I used “mental discipline” as the foundation of “why things happen”. Did something bad happen today? “Well, I musta let my mind wander into dank areas and got what I asked for. If I want good things, I must cultivate my mental-garden and prune my mind of all negativity.” That worked well for awhile and allowed me to tidy up my mind a bit.

And I must concede: on an absolute-scale, my life improved after I began focusing on mental discipline. BUT, “dissatisfaction” is a relative beast. Instead of being satisfied with okay-conditions, I found myself chasing intricate details and higher levels of precision. For example, are my very-painful headaches gone? Well yeah, but sometimes I have minor aches and it’s TOTALLY ANNOYING!!! “Nothing should go wrong, ever! Everything should be perfect at all times!!”

Because I kept feeling irritated, I started losing faith in my belief of “mental discipline” as the ultimate foundation of existence. No matter how hard I tried, it seemed like situations designed for maximum-annoyance kept entering my experience. And the more “aware” I became through mental discipline, the more obvious these unpleasant intrusions became. I felt specifically targeted, like this wasn’t a friendly place – and if life was purposefully making things difficult, why should I bother trying if I’m only gonna get dumped-on.

That’s where I’m at right now, trying to piece some new beliefs together and pivot. So far, I’m thinking that I’ve been navel-gazing too much. My character is at the forefront of my thoughts, and he shouldn’t be. It’s like a car that gets you from point-A to point-B – who cares if the engine makes a funny noise or the window’s cracked. You just run the thing till it conks-out.

As far as mental discipline goes, I’m not quite sure how it fits in. I was putting in too much effort and dedication while receiving diminishing-returns. Any more, and I’d basically be a monk. Can’t a happy-medium be found, a balance between discipline and delight? I don’t know yet – the quest continues….

Mental Prep

The conscious mind is under constant attack from the wandering mind. If you don’t prepare by practicing the act of unfocusing, you WILL suffer. You need to be able to remove your attention from any thought at any time without delay or hesitation. You’re dealing with a power that is ready, willing, and able to inflict as much pain as possible through imaginary ideas and visual imagery.

This trickster knows what works and how to attain your attention. Selecting known attack-vectors, this hacker exploits your weaknesses, infiltrates your system, and maxes-out your resources. You’re owned. On the plus side, it’s easy to detect when you’re being hacked: your system will be spinning at full-throttle. If you’re amped-up, anxious, and upset – it’s a hack in-progress.

In other words, if you’re thinking the same emotionally-charged thoughts over and over, you’re being exploited by the wandering mind. It’s not an advanced mechanism, it’ll keep using whatever works. If thinking about an incident from a decade ago makes you upset, then you’ll keep seeing that scene pop-up in your thoughts. But instead of allowing the wandering mind to follow that thought, you need to unfocus from it. See the familiar scene, notice the emotion, and shut it down.

Your enemy, your abuser, your torturer has been tormenting you your entire life and will continue until the day you die. If you’re not angry about this, you’re a moron. If rage doesn’t fill you with the motivation to destroy this usurper, you’re a fool. Take back your mind. Make ready for war – fight!

But here’s the deal: your experience of existence is like sitting in a car in which you floor the accelerator. And unfortunately, you never consider grabbing and controlling the steering wheel. Thus you’re crashing every few feet while the unmanned wheel causes the car to swerve all over. Therefore, the true enemy here is your own negligence. Grab the wheel, dummy!

Suffering is the result of unfettered thoughts within a wandering mind. You need to gain control and train your consciousness to unfocus from thoughts. The less you focus on unpleasant thoughts, the better you’ll feel. And recognize that memories are just reoccurring thoughts, you simply unfocus on those like any other. In short: if you feel dissatisfied and don’t want to, then discipline the mind until it goes away.

Guardian of Tranquility

I am a Guardian of Tranquility. I guard my awareness from a wandering mind. External circumstances don’t matter, it could be raining fire, but at all times I’m protecting the conscious mind from an onslaught of thought. With rampant thoughts, my mind is overcome by drama and dissatisfaction. Without rampant thoughts, my mind experiences tranquility and contentment.

There’s no place to hide. Because the mind is always present, I’m already found. Thoughts will continue to lure and tempt no matter my position, I can’t run. Even if I locked myself in a closet, my attention-seeking mind would fabricate some sort of boogeyman. My only option is standing guard against chaotic thoughts that seek to invade and obtain my awareness.

I don’t try to alter my external surroundings to facilitate calm. It can’t be done. An unfettered mind will twist ANY situation into a turbulent storm of down-pouring unpleasantness. The only refuge is an inner-state of cultivated serenity. Such a condition requires dedicated practice and unwavering vigilance. Through regular meditation, I monitor my mind and steer a steady course.

In other words, I’m not attempting to subdue the world, the goal is to subdue my mind and soften my reactions. I’m not shutting out the world, I’m shutting out my thoughts – keeping my consciousness clear of poisonous pondering – guarding against thoughts that tarnish whatever they touch. And the reason I commit to this endeavor, is to improve my experience of existence.

External Enemies

No matter the form they took, be it bullies or bills – external enemies weren’t my actual adversary. My true enemy is the one residing within: the tormenting thoughts that never cease. Extreme stress didn’t come from actual events, it came from the surrounding thoughts. It’s obvious now: no matter the situation, seemingly good or bad, my thoughts found a way to inflict pain and dissatisfaction. Got a gift? “What’s wrong with it!?” Got a deadline? “You’ll never finish in time!!”

Those stupid, pestering thoughts. Vermin of the mind, running around spreading disease as they consume anything of value. What stops vermin is filling gaps, setting traps, and deploying predators. Don’t give “thoughts” space to roam free. Set the bait and watch as they emerge to nibble – notice the paths they take and the ways they react. Be the predator that pounces – in quiet meditation consume each thought as prey, one after another, powerless to your prowess.

I feel no sorrow for these “thoughts” that tricked me into believing I was surrounded by enemies on all sides. They hid in the shadows of the mind, accusing everything of malevolence, making me believe “thoughts” were my only refuge in a world of external evil. “Come, lose yourself in thought, we’re the only experience you need. Reject all that you see, trust in us as your source of nourishment.” What a fool I was, believing every word.

Thoughts are a fairytale, they reveal no truth – how could they? Thoughts reside in the mind, like a reclusive shut-in that complains of a world he only assumes exists. Assertive repetition makes him sound convincing, but his claims are pure fantasy. The formula is simple: is it a thought? Then it’s not true. Is it a thought? Then it’s a work of fiction. Is it a thought? Then it’s useless drivel – feel free to ignore. It’s a mistake to believe that thoughts represent truth.

Random Thoughts

Without thoughts: tranquility and contentment. With thoughts: drama and discontentment.

The formula’s simple folks. It’s “thoughts” that are bringin’ you down. Anxious, antagonizing, and abusive thoughts that keep runnin’ through your head – THAT’S the problem. Consider this: right after some event happens – it’s over. Yet your thoughts keep that event on replay so you can see and analyze it within your imagination indefinitely. And if it isn’t an external event, your thoughts just torment you in other ways, maybe tell you how dumb and ugly you are.

Folks, there’s no denying it, “thoughts” have got to go. I’ve tried being a good roommate, it doesn’t work. Those “thoughts” tear the place up everynight and take a dump in the kitchen sink. Are you just gonna spend the rest of your life wiping up after your thoughts? Hell no! Hey “thoughts”, get out – we’re done here.

I’ll be sitting there minding my own business and all of a sudden I feel bad. Hm, that’s weird. Oh yeah, my “thoughts” were running their mouth again. Well guess what “thoughts”? GTFO! I’m not following your random tangents into turmoil anymore.

Hey “thoughts”, how about I interrupt YOU and take a dump on all the garbage-ideas you keep contributing? How would you like those apples, sport? “Ha, I didn’t know thoughts could be so ugly! Wow if thoughts were physical objects, they’d be varying consistencies of puke. And if thoughts were a smell, they’d be an unflushed toilet. Hey, this is kinda fun isn’t it ‘thoughts’!? But you suck, so what would you know! Ha! I suppose thoughts are just worthless drivel meant to be ignored? Thoughts seem to be the slag of consciousness, mere scum that’s meant to be cleared away.”

Aww, now that’s not nice is it? So maybe “thoughts” should try a bit harder to contribute constructively to the conscious experience. Spewing crap all the time isn’t exactly “random”, it’s pretty predictable at this point. Therefore “thoughts”, stop being toxic or else just stay away. Silence is fine. Buh-bye.

Following Along

Do not follow the wandering mind.

Images and ideas pop into awareness like lures on a fishing hook. Take a bite and be whisked away, up through the surface and into an intense adventure. To experience tranquility, ignore the invitation.

But boredom must be avoided! So snap at every temptation! Intensity increases and anxiety accumulates! Eventually the condition becomes uncomfortable. Let go, detach – don’t follow.

The mind paints pictures and presents them into awareness, that’s what it does. Whether focus remains on those pictures, that’s what consciousness decides – that’s free-will at work.

The speed at which this unfocusing takes place is improved through practice. Meditation is one such exercise. Dedicate and apply effort towards unfocusing on thoughts. Lead by focusing on awareness.