It’s been a while. Almost two years even, which seems crazy in hindsight. I wonder if there’s some scientific explanation as to why the older you get time passes more quickly.
I’ve used the sabbatical to continue living life in pretty much the same way as before, living in Prague, working a little in Uk. Reading. Learning. Traveling to unknown (and known) places.
A few buddies and me returned to Thailand again last winter to do it all again. Culminating in us spending to long in one place and getting cabin fever (as well as dengue fever) from staying on the same tiny island for a month.
Anyway, Xmas, plus another New Year is upon us, and I’ve been considering which direction to take this blog. Sure I still want to have new experiences, plus visit new places. These things DO bring immense happiness through peak moments, but there’s a reason they feel so pleasurable and that reason is mainly the feeling of presence.
When we’re completely present, immersed in the moment, is when we feel our best. That’s why sex, adrenaline sports, and good food feels so great. We finally get distracted enough from our thoughts (in this case by sensory stimulation) that we aren’t focusing on the bullshit in our heads anymore.
Jumping out of an airplane or dining at a michelin star restaurant isn’t necessary to be focused on the moment though. It’s something that can be cultivated any time we give it our attention.
I sat there recently contemplating this stuff, figuring out what course of action was needed, but deep down I already knew what was necessary.
You get side tracked with your phone, the TV, anything that can stimulate you enough that it distracts from the inner voice. I knew this on a cognitive level. Hence why I knew it was time to make a change.
I considered getting a lock box for my phone, a small virtually indestructible box with a timer so you can put it away without the option to look at it, but I knew I had more will power than that. All it was really going take was focus, and so I simply switched everything off. Listened to the low hum of the fridge in the next room, the passing of cars outside, the sporadic tweet of a robin outside. Slowly but surely the awareness expanded until nothing was left but still silence in my mind. Finally. Finally peace.
Of course, it didn’t last, those pointless thoughts kept coming back and disrupting things, but for the briefest of moments the clouds kept parting and blue skies would reign in my head. Nothing but tranquility. It was exactly what I needed and I knew right then what had been missing. The general feeling of ease that comes from meditating each day, but not just twenty minutes sat without distraction. All those other moments too, of just reminding myself and YOURself to notice the way the water feels in the shower, the vibrations of the vehicle you arrive to work in, the subtle instruments in the music you listen too. All these access points to presence. So with the holidays on the horizon it seemed more necessary than ever.
Christmas has always been a difficult time, an annual depression because of missing out on it in childhood for religious reasons. Chocolate would give me temporary relief. I’d hoard a variety of different types to munch through the holidays. How I didn’t become a fat kid beggars belief, but present awareness living is a much more viable and healthy solution. I just hope it becomes a habit I don’t break. Bit like still eating eating chocolate every day come to think of it.