The problem of living in the present

Image: Sunset.

I started meditating some months ago because I wanted to change my mind. I want to change my fear based, paranoid, waiting for the hammer to fall, existence, into something else, a life that is not dominated by a mind full of junk.

Yesterday I realised something important, I live in fear of the present, because that is where the unexpected exists, that is the place where suffering strikes like lightening. The road traffic accident, the end of a relationship, the death of a loved one, tooth ache, a bee sting, a diagnosis of cancer, a broken limb, eviction, the fall off a mountain face. The present is also where the we experience a sunset, we meet someone lovely, we find something lost, we wade in the sea, we meet the challenge of the mountain face, we sky dive, we kiss, we make love, we discover bliss and are surprised by joy. But my life has been conditioned and dominated by the negative, and I want to change that.

Fear of the present is a thing, the anticipation and expectation that something bad will happen and the practice of avoidance. For the first time in my life since the age of 10, I am not indulging in any addictions, I no longer smoke, drink or take drugs, however, the desire for distractions from the present is still present and I still crave just about anything that will help me avoid the present. But I have at least learnt to make the choice every time the craving makes itself felt, to not give in because I have learnt over my lifetime that there is no solution in addiction. There is nothing that will truly hide the dread of the present, other than for brief moments that are always followed by horrific come downs and hang overs.

I recently gave up vaping. For some months I had stopped adding any flavour or nicotine to the glycerine base, I was vaping bugger all except glycerine and yet I was as addicted to that as much as anything else I have ever been addicted to. My vape was essentially an adult dummy. I entirely accepted the bonkersness of it because I knew I wasn’t battling with vaping, I was battling with avoiding the present when it gets too much for me and I freak out.

In my festered mind, the present is a fearful place, in which, if I finally accept it, the great vengeful God in the heavens will strike me down. My mind truly thinks that, regardless of my own feelings and efforts to live a wholesome life without the dismal paranoia and fear.

I am a war zone, there is the conscious me, creative me, guitar playing me, artist me, creator of lovely things and ideas me, and then there is my mind, a paranoid shit heap boiling away in my barely perceived pre-conscious mind and it’s constant efforts to put me down. My mind, the inner voice that tells me I deserve every misery that comes my way, and if nothing is around to cause me misery, my mind does it for me.

I was raised and educated to think I am worthless, trained and indoctrinated to be a factory slave, and to be grateful for crumbs and never amount to anything other than something in the factory hierarchy, maybe a foreman or head of department, if I conformed well enough, if I was deemed good and obedient enough. For some reason, some deeper part of me rejected the trap and demanded better. The effect of this was a profound, debilitating and excruciating depression. Why? Because I couldn’t face the truth that I was worth something, that there was a better way, that there was in me a yearning to live. Depression exists at the interface between the me who was conditioned to dismal miserable slavery, believing that was all I was worth, and the part of my being that demanded a better life, which I lacked the insight and the courage to grasp, let alone understand. Depression, though I did not know or understand it for decades, was my friend, behind it was my subconscious being which was more powerful than the conditioning I had been subjected to and it never gave up until the day I finally got it.

The battles I have fought all my life, defy description. Yet I have done incredibly well, despite the shit-fest that my mind delights to indulge in. We are not taught that the mind and our self are separate entities. Most people don’t know that. I am not sure how long I’ve known it or when I discovered it, but it was at least 30 years ago. If you have never experienced the voice of the self, separate from the voice of your mind, the voice of your self is the one that says, ‘What’s he talking about’. Your mind is the knee jerk voice that says, ‘What a load of bollocks.’ Your mind is a primitive thing, you are not. Your mind says trying something new is too difficult, but it’s you who is attracted to try something new and it is you who chooses to persevere. Your mind is a slaver which it is possible to be free of, but first you need to know and understand even a small degree of separation.

As a rough guesstimate, I would say that approximately 98% of what goes on in my mind is complete bollocks. The assumptions, the judgements, the stories and opinions about people and things, the preconceived ideas, the fear and paranoia, the sum of my conditioning and rote behaviour, so much clutter and unnecessary bollocks. 71 years of accumulated shite.

How can I learn to shut down all the chatter and live in the present and how do I learn not to be afraid of the present? The present is the big unknown, the place I have least control of. How do I approach it innocently and trust that I can deal with it? The secret of that is something I finally understood a couple of months ago, when I sit and meditate, I can actually now do it and completely surrender my entire body and being, giving up rhyme, reason, desire, hope, dialogue and chatter, and abandon myself to the journey. It’s still not easy, but I have never done anything for myself that is more worthwhile or more wonderful. Surrender (letting go) was the key.

KOG. 02 September 2022.

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