I have been thinking a lot about the pleasures of thinking.
Of being lost in thought.
Not the endless mind chatters or banal looping nonsense, but real contemplative thinking.
Of daydreaming out loud in your own mind.
I meditate daily. 20 minutes or more if I have time.
Sometimes I am meditating on nothing.
Sometimes on my breath.
Sometimes sound, or sensation or focused on parts of my body.
Sometimes I use guided meditations. Sometimes I don’t.
When I do I often use ones that paint pictures in my mind.
That takes me places deep within and far without.
Peppered with visualisations, manifestations, body sensations, and emotional anchors.
It can be intense. Enlightening.
There is a lot to be said about mindfulness. And a lot have said it. Including me.
There is hope in there. Even if you can’t quite do it.
Being present, being still, and mindful saved my life. Along with weed.
It saved my life because before that I was on a downward spiral of drinking, drugs, meaningless hookups, and self-destructive behaviour.
I found The Power of Now. It changed everything and then everything changed.
My life improved dramatically. My connection to it and my place in it became something. Something worth doing. Something worth trying to do better.
To be a better person. A better person to be around. A better person in this life.
But it is a challenge and mindfulness alone is not enough. Not for me.
Maybe that means I am not enlightened. Maybe it means I am not doing it right. But I don’t care. Mindfulness has its place. Being present has its place. Showing up has its place.
All good places. But you can’t reside in one place alone. So stop trying.
Thinking. Really thinking. Being lost in good thought. A creative thought can be exhilarating.
Solving complex problems. Or just the pleasure of thinking them through can be a great source of entertainment. A great way to while away the hours.
Being taken away by a daydream. A created imagined world that only you can experience. Only you can step into and feel down to your very core. That can make you smile. Cry. Dance with joy.
This is what the mind can do.
We are bombarded in every waking moment with someone else’s reality. Someone else’s imagined dream that they want us to buy into. To purchase, vote for or act on.
We get absorbed into the stories on our tv screens. We become the characters. We enter their world. And so they shape our thinking.
Our phones. Our computer screens. Are all popping with ways to live our life? Ways to feel happier. Ways to feel more connected. Ways to live more deeply in fear and ways buy our way out of it.
If you turn off your tv. Put down your phone or close the lid on your laptop does your world go away? No, your world shows up. And it can be scary.
You meditate. You become mindful to gain a sense of control and to become less reactive to other people. You gain a sense of peace and calm.
You can find yourself staring at walls for hours. This is the Soto zen way. One of the ways I follow. It can bring an amazing sense of calm and stillness. It can also show you your mind and how it works in its rawest form.
Staring at a wall for an hour you can start to see things. But you also see how your mind fights for attention. Fights to be always saying something. The secret is not to fight it but to decide whether or not you wish to follow it. To follow that thought.
That is mindfulness.
But what about imagination? Contemplation? What about daydreaming?
I was staring at walls before I knew what meditation was. From childhood, I would just sit and stare at a blank wall. Lost in my own head. In worlds that I created. That took me away from where I was. Where I did not want to be. To escape to another place. And I loved it.
Recently I have become bored with social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
I still use them as I have things to say. Messages to share. Groups to monitor. But I find them boring. Tedious. The same thing over and over again.
Everyone following the same formula. Being nudged and shaped into the same puppets of conformity whilst acting like non-conformists.
Ultimately, I have just found it all very dull.
And I end up putting my phone down. I could pretend it is because I want to disconnect. To tune out. To go off-grid. To be more mindful. But it’s not that. Disconnecting from physical reality is not the only answer. Not for me.
Keeping a safe distance from it and occasionally popping my head in to say hi, helps.
But what do you do when you put down the phone. Read. Watch TV. There is only so much of these that you can take. Listen to a podcast. That kills an hour here and there. Until it too becomes boring.
I love to read. To get lost in my head with the words of a great author. A great storyteller. That takes me places.
But what about when I am too tired to read.
Then it is easy to find myself starting to get bored. I could meditate and connect to the now. And often I do. But there is another secret to relieving this boredom.
It's to think. To contemplate. To daydream.
Not to be lost in mindless thought but to think through something and really understand and process it from your own viewpoint. Not the opinion of some YouTuber or Instagramer. No podcaster treads here.
To really sit, without distractions, no phone in hand, no TV on, maybe a little music, and to really think. To contemplate life’s appeared realities. To work through a problem that needs solving or to truly figure out your own opinion on a subject. To contemplate your life’s interactions and relationships.
To dream big. Or small. Or any size at all. There is pleasure and enjoyment to be found.
To daydream is to connect to our own interactive virtual reality headset that not only paints pictures in our minds but connects to us on an emotional, kinaesthetic level. To send a thrill so intensely sent through our bodies that we can sense a connection to the other side. To something bigger than us.
Try it. Give yourself permission to tune out of what this world wants to force onto you into a world of the imagined. Of your imagined. To daydream. Allow yourself to explore the regions of your imagination and be lost in your own creative thinking. Your own problem-solving. You own theories and philosophies of life.
To do so opens you up to a new sense of reality. One that you control. You shape and you decide to engage with or not. Not on someone else’s agenda. Not with someone else’s voice in your head.
Tune out of their narratives of control and manipulation and step into your imagined reality. Your dreamed reality and connected to something deeper within you.