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Curative Consciousness for Heartbreak, Obsession, and Process Addiction

CONTENTS

Title Page

Foreword

Introduction

Chapter One – Crave New World

Chapter Two – Inner Space

Chapter Three – Conceptualizing Consciousness

Chapter Four – A Theory of the Mind

Chapter Five – Framing the Problem

Chapter Six – Stressful’s Not Restful

Chapter Seven – How Daydreams Ruin Your Day

Chapter Eight – Planning or Fretting?

Chapter Nine – You Think Too Much

Chapter Ten – Why We Seek, and Why We Shouldn’t

Chapter Eleven – The Role of Emotional Energy

Chapter Twelve – An Emotional Powerhouse

Chapter Thirteen – You Can’t Wrestle a Grizzly

Chapter Fourteen – The Mind’s Mischief

Chapter Fifteen – Techniques for Quieting the Mind

Chapter Sixteen – Temporal Harmonizing

Chapter Seventeen – The Realm of Consciousness

Chapter Eighteen – Going Forward

Chapter Nineteen – In Summary

|\2. p. |

Curative Consciousness

for

Heartbreak, Obsession, and Process Addiction 

by

Michael Paradis

|\2. p. |

© 2016 by Michael Paradis. All rights reserved.  No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photo-copying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission from the publisher.

Foreword

This book is an attempt to convey a framework for conceptualizing the inner-self and how an optimal balance of its elements can produce life-changing benefits.  It does not ask the reader to adopt any supernatural beliefs, but it does attempt to speak to a truth that must be felt internally, as opposed to being felt via the five senses.  I will convey the mindset and techniques and describe the benefits that have accrued to me as a result of them.  I will also provide my theories for their efficacy.  As this book was written for people from broad walks of life, I will relay the same concept more than once but draw on knowledge from different backgrounds.  I believe when you grasp how something works, you will pursue it with more confidence and feel better about the process, which will yield better results.  I am not formally trained in medicine or any spiritual practice.  I’m just a person who has recovered from a lifetime of obsessions and process addictions, and I want to share what my experience has taught me.  

This book speaks less to the granular details and physical dimensions of addiction and obsession and more to their shared underlying catalyst.  There is the outer, objective world of brain and body chemistry, and then there is the inner, subjective world of thoughts and emotions.  They exert influence on each other, and so the problem between them can be attacked from either side.  My belief in the effectiveness of these mechanisms stems from having personally worked through the problem on the thought-side.  This book describes what worked for me, and I hope it can work for you as well.

Introduction

There are greater calamities in life, but anyone who has had a full-blown obsession knows how torturous it can be.  You find yourself thinking of the same person or event, over and over, possibly for years.  You find too many things that remind you of the object of your obsession, e.g., a certain song, place, or season, etc.  It can ruin your life when you see absolutely no end to it.  It can reach a point where the only way to not think of the obsession is to find a way to not think of anything at all. 

I am a process addict.  I have jumped from one obsession to the next, getting immersed to the point of letting it interfere with my life.  I would pat myself on the back for having bested one addiction, as I dove headlong into another.  I’ve been addicted to or obsessed with: online video games, online poker, sex, porn, current affairs, internet message boards, and social media.  I’ve also been painfully obsessed with a few failed relationships.  It took twenty years and two failed marriages to comprehend that there was a larger problem afoot in generating these addictions and obsessions.  I was not seeing it, like a highly-compensated but broke person who doesn’t understand that getting more money doesn’t address their inability to spend less than they earn.  I was blind to the fact that I was mismanaging my inner space, and that it was causing me to seek out addictions. 

This inability to control my wants was coming between me and my happiness, relationships, potential, self-esteem, and any thought of spirituality.  In my religious life, I had belief but no spiritual practice other than trying to communicate with God through prayer.  I grew up thinking that if you believed the right things, took them on faith and made an earnest effort to be a good person, you would go to heaven through God’s grace.  However, there was a disconnect between what I believed and the compulsions that ran me, bringing about a perpetual cycle of guilt.  Guilt is a negative emotion that will separate you from good.

I was constantly feeling want.  Even when I went to church and prayed for deliverance, the outside things I desired would constantly run through my head.  It appeared to me that others had an easier time leading a pious life.  It’s like I was magnetically drawn to things that would captivate me at the expense of all else.  I always had to have something, and it had to be fairly immersive to keep me happy.  It seemed I had a “drive” for obsession.  I would pray and believe, but it was like putting on a superhero’s outfit and expecting to suddenly have super powers of self-control.  The problem stemmed from how I was allowing my mind to operate.  I needed to change my thinking!

The intellect can grasp that there are happy people who have none of the trappings of life that others less-happy deem necessary, but to make the leap into earnestly reaching for that potential, most people must experience a pain that eclipses their fear and aversion to change.  If you gave everybody the same life circumstances, would they all be equally happy?  Of course not!  There is something inside of each person that determines their level of happiness relative to their life circumstances.  Happiness is a function of something inside you.

My attempt to lead a consciousness-centered life has brought about the following changes in me:

  • Improved impulse control
  • Less neediness 
  • Zero process-addictions and obsessions
  • Decreased physical appetites, but with no loss of enjoyment
  • Cessation of unwanted thoughts, e.g., negative, self-hating, regrets, obsessive, desiring, worries, anxieties.  
  • Cure of psychosomatic illness
  • Reduced stress 
  • Better sleep and more vivid dreaming
  • Improved short-term memory
  • Increased energy 
  • Increased patience 
  • Less judging/blaming of others 
  • Increased empathy
  • Happier with social life
  • Happier with work
  • Positive outlook

Take any one of the above benefits and fit it into the question, “what if I could ______?”   Achieving even one of them in an appreciable way could be life-changing.  

CHAPTER ONE

Crave New World

[
**]

The opportunities to become addicted to and obsessed with things have never been greater.  Technology has facilitated so many forms of entertainment, communication, and access to information that we can constantly engage outside content.  But the real source of obsession and process-addiction is in us, not the technology that exacerbates it.  Our susceptibility to obsession is due to an internal imbalance.  Something inside us has become ravenous, and we’re desperately trying to placate it with whatever eases the pangs.  However, it’s hard to see the stealthy connection between the outside things and the hunger.  We typically only have a chance to glimpse our dependence when the pacifier becomes a problem.  Then we either address the underlying issue of the hunger or ignore it and move on to using something less disruptive, staying dependent on the new thing until it too[_ _]becomes problematic.  Outside things take many forms:  objects, relationships, activities and substances.  These four categories contain innumerable sub-categories.  At the heart of it is a single theme, “seeking.”  We are nearly all in some way seeking.  An addiction or obsession is merely a dead-end in the “maze of seeking.”  My goal is to help you escape the maze. 

The problem of “want” is analogous to alcohol or drug abuse in that it’s trying to use something from the outside to replace something that’s lacking on the inside.  With drug abuse, the drug is a neurotransmitter that mimics one the body produces naturally.  Eventually, the body stops producing its own neurotransmitter, and you’re stuck having to outsource it through the drug, which creates health problems and interferes with life.  In process addiction, there is a release of endogenous dopamine that accompanies the addictive action.  Since the dopamine is produced naturally within us, it’s not a part of the equation we immediately consider, but it is the hidden constant.  We’re using an outside stimulus to generate an endogenous drug.  We’re the addict.  The dopamine is the drug, and the addictive activity is the dispenser.  Process addiction is obvious to the partners of those who are immersed in it, but until it interferes with life multiple times, it’s often masked to the sufferer.  This is because the activity itself might not be inherently bad, when done in moderation.  The hidden problem is the brain’s habituation to this type of stimulation.  A specific addictive behavior is just one drug dealer, and so it’s not enough to break a specific addictive activity.  There’s another behavior waiting around the corner.  You have to break the internal pattern of need to stop the cycle of addiction.  This is an inside job.

CHAPTER TWO

Inner Space

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**]

In order to sort out the inner space, we should identify the elements of the individual.  There is you, which is consciousness, then the body, through which we sense and interact with the outside world, and then there is the mind, as in the prefrontal-cortex, or human brain.  I say “human brain,” because that part of our brain is so much more developed than that of animals that we should acknowledge its distinctiveness.  There are three mediums at play among the three elements, thoughts of the mind, emotions, which are triggered by the mind but felt in the body, and the joy of pure consciousness.  They are interconnected in a number of ways.  The mind directs emotional energy in the body and also does problem solving.  

Consciousness, the downstream observer of all thought and experience, receives two kinds of signals from the mind, one is a composite of images, memories, wishes, fears, and abstract thoughts, and the other is direct outside stimuli, which pass straight through the brain from the senses and into your consciousness.  This latter is what we call real-world experience.  We, as consciousness, don’t have a connection to the outside world without the brain.  The brain, as an organ, is like a window for the consciousness, through which the light of the universe can pass when it’s not clouded with negativity.  The eyes are the “eyes” of the brain, and the brain is the eye of the consciousness.  

The human brain is like an internal media player, translator, and editor.  Its medium is thought.  It receives input from the senses and translates it into thought, which it then plays back for its internal audience, you, the consciousness.  Thoughts are not original to the mind.  They are comprised of bits of information that your mind has recorded through the senses.   Abstract thoughts are derived from other thoughts.  The thoughts are like movies and audio tracks.  You can view or listen to them or you can spend time using your mind to edit them.  This is thinking, and you spend a great deal of time doing it.  

Your mind is programmed by its experiences.  Thinking causes it to form neural pathways that correlate to certain skills or patterns of behavior.  The brain is conditioned by thought and experience, and that conditioning solidifies with age, but the brain is malleable.  You can change the way you think, and if you persist in the change for long enough, it will alter the brain’s neural pathways, making the new way easier for you.  This is the essence of learning and unlearning.  This is relevant to obsession and process-addiction in that they are both thought-based.  Thought is a critical link in the addictive pattern.  Altering the thought path can break the chain of addiction.

The distinction between you and your mind is a key concept.  There was a time when your prefrontal-cortex was not fully-developed, and yet, you were conscious.  The consciousness observes, and thus, it is you.  It was there before the voice in your head came into being, before the thought maker arose[_.  _]The inner-space is a zero-sum game between thought and consciousness.  A preponderance of thought, particularly negative thought, which takes up more space, will hamper the expansion of consciousness within you.  Less consciousness means less joy.  When you were a child, before you started thinking so much, there was more room for pure consciousness.  This is why a child can get joy from playing with something as mundane as a stick.  By paring back the thoughts, it is possible to restore consciousness to its rightful place in your being.  It’s possible to regain the wonder of childhood.

CHAPTER THREE

Conceptualizing Consciousness

[
**]

Consciousness is what fills you when all of your cares are pushed aside.  People confuse the thing that pushes their cares away with the joy that flows in behind it.  That joy is consciousness flowing into the inner-space.  Outside things that give us a temporary boost in consciousness are merely “levers” that push aside our worries for a time.  If you had no worries, and I mean not a care in the world, you would be really happy, would you not?  I know I would.  I was that way when I was a kid, and it was absolutely because I had zero responsibilities.  But there’s something else.  There’s something that’s missing from childhood that appears in the adult, and that is the volume of negative thoughts.  Children are so much more positive than adults.  Negative thoughts weigh heavily on the mind and darkly cloud consciousness.  Another factor is the concept of time.  The child has no past from which to draw painful memories, and the future is always bright for children.  The future is like the sun, brighter when there’s more of it on the horizon.  The adult has a lot more angst stored up in the mental past, and less bright a future than was typically imagined as a child.  This means that the adult mind has a whole timeline from which to piece together a “menu” of negativity, along with a side of anxiety, compliments of the future.  All this negative thought clouds out consciousness.  

The whole thesis of this book is that consciousness is the silent space inside you that creates joy when thought is absent and emotion is appropriate to the moment.  Or you could look at it the other way, some kinds of thoughts are bad, and you should have less of them.  You’re basically happy by default, but then the mind, with its thoughts, comes in, and they play up all of your anxieties and hurts.  On top of that, the mind’s prescription for all that ails is something “out there,” a perfect relationship or that nice house and car.  That’s what your mind wants you to focus on.  It does not want to give up any space to consciousness.  The mind wants to stay active inside you.  It doesn’t really care about your happiness.  It just wants to help you find faux happiness in outside things.  Why does the mind create need in us?  Like all things in our body, the mind is an evolutionary adaptation.  

CHAPTER FOUR

A Theory of the Mind

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**]

Our minds are hard-wired to ever-advance our adaptive capabilities through outside things.  At first, we advanced very slowly, but then at an accelerating rate, and we see it through recorded history.  We are on a trajectory.  On a Cartesian plane, with time on the horizontal axis and adaptive capability on the vertical axis, animals would be a straight horizontal line.  Their ability to adapt does not change at all.  It’s based on intergenerational selection, which is constant.  Humans would have started this way, and then, with the advent of tools, an unprecedented thing occurred, a positive slope on the measure of adaptive capability, and from there, the slope has sharpened.  This function has a positive second derivative, an accelerating adaptive capability.  We are two-levels removed from animals in that we advance at an advancing rate.  Animals are static, and we are not.  The beginning of our journey necessitated the creation of a mind.  The mind is what we use to get outside things.  That’s the precise purpose for which it is evolved.  Animals don’t have a prefrontal cortex, and therefore, they don’t seek anything but that which provides for their immediate needs, even if that need is storing up food as a response to the changing of seasons.  The act is hard-wired into the animal.  There is no discretion in it.  The human being needed a mind to get and use outside things, but it came at the expense of his consciousness.  Consciousness is the joy that accompanies the true absence of cares, but the mind is evolved to tell you that you do not have enough.  The two are mutually exclusive.  How did we get here?

In the beginning, there was consciousness, and we were as satisfied as any living thing.  Then came the mind.  Humans are different because of our minds.  Our prefrontal cortex gives us the ability to see the dimension of time.  To animals, there is no time, only changing stimuli to which they react.  Animals are perfectly balanced between mind, body, and consciousness.  They have no need to elevate consciousness through outside things.  They have virtually no “things,” and yet they are content.  They fit into their niches and function until the niche changes, and then they adapt, die off, or give way to a better-adapted species.  Human beings do not have a balance between mind and consciousness, as the latter had to give way to the former.  We sacrificed the contentment of consciousness for the restlessness of the mind.  The human mind is so powerful that its imagined scenarios are interpreted by the body as real.  Since there is no limit to what the mind can imagine, it subjects the body to unnecessary stress from a variety of imagined things.  How did man get so unique a thing as this blessing and curse that is the mind?  I believe that somehow the primacy of the human mind stems from a single, original thought, which was essentially, “I can make this better.”  The pre-human was in his niche, but then he found a way to get more of what he needed by doing something different.  The first human left his ecological niche during his own lifetime.  Intra-lifespan adaptation is unique to man.  Animal species can move from one niche to another, but it takes many generations of selection to make that jump.  The human learned how to use an outside thing to get more of what he wanted.  And what happened as a result?  We needed more outside things.  Our ability to use tools brought us into new environments that called for even further adaptation, which meant even more outside things.  Eventually, the environments we inhabited were so far removed from the original human niche, that to not have outside things meant certain death.  This is exacerbated by the fact that with each outside thing we mastered, it replaced a capability we acquired through selection, e.g., fur, nails, and agility, leaving us dependent on the outside thing, the definition of addiction.  We have a mind that is adapted to create want.  Your mind believes that if it doesn’t keep you wanting more outside things, it will die.  In order to be content, you must shut down the part of your mind that holds this belief.  It is possible to stimulate a remapping of neural pathways to do exactly this.

CHAPTER FIVE

Framing the Problem

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**]

Heartache, obsession, and process-addiction have a common element among them, thought.  Thought is a product of the mind, which controls the body, both directly, through willful movement, and indirectly through emotions, which trigger physiological responses.  The mind influences all that is you.  Your inability to stop doing or thinking something is a function of several complex internal processes, including thoughts and the release of hormones and neurotransmitters, but thought is a limiting factor that lies upstream of them all.  In the case of heartache, you just can’t stop thinking of your lost love, and that thought triggers an emotional response, releasing stress hormones.  The emotion and chemicals released in your body make you feel sad.

When you’re caught in process-addiction, your mind constantly wanders back to the addictive action.  Merely thinking of it will elevate your mood, and then carrying it out gives you an even greater boost.  Underlying both thought and action are the need to elevate consciousness.  The thought is the trigger, but it also plays a larger and less-acknowledged role as the “agent of lack” relative to consciousness.  Thought crowds out consciousness. 

The need to elevate consciousness through outside means is due to something lacking inside.  Engaging in addictive behavior gives you a feeling of full awareness.  The temporary boost in consciousness is characterized by a “pushing out” of negative thoughts and feelings.  When you’re doing “your thing,” it dissolves your stresses and cares, replacing them with pure consciousness that flows into your being.  Pure consciousness is the joy that fills you when you have not a care in the world.  Its presence is automatic in the absence of troubles, both real and imagined.  Decreasing the volume of unnecessary thoughts at play reduces the number of potential “triggers” for the addictive action, and it also reduces the amount of care and worry in your mind, which makes room for consciousness.  

The process addict has a lack of internal space for consciousness stemming from an overabundance of thought, which precipitates negative emotions and stress.  He/she has to use the addictive behavior as a lever to temporarily “push back” the internal clutter, so that consciousness may enter and bring joy.  Unfortunately, the mind gets used to the “lever” over time, and a greater volume and/or intensity of the behavior is needed to provide the same relief.  

A typical person has a balance of consciousness, thought and emotion that is a function of the outside balance of his/her life.  They may have not fully-engaged consciousness, but they have achieved a balance of external pacifiers that allows them to be stable and functional.  However, if you throw off one or two of those pacifiers or have an event that plunges the person into the depths of despair, they will either seek an outside thing for consolation or become a seeker of the inner-solution.  Then they have the chance to become healthy by learning the role of consciousness.  They can learn to source consciousness passively by making room for it in their inner-being, regardless of the outside circumstances.  You almost have to find this solution by accident.

CHAPTER SIX

Stressful’s Not Restful

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**]

Humans have a realm of imagination not present in animals.  As three-dimensional beings, both humans and animals can experience only one moment at a time, as it arises.  There is no fast forward or reverse.  However, the human brain has a concept of the future and past, and animal brains do not.   The mind is evolved to protect you from all dangers, immediate and anticipated, but your immediate surroundings rarely contain a true threat, and therefore, the mind sets to work on identifying all the potential dangers that can be extrapolated from your life-circumstances.  Once a potential problem is identified, the mind springs forth to attack it.  It creates a simulation of the problem and a projection of the protagonist (you) doing battle with it, running through every scenario to find the path to victory.  The problem with this exercise is that your body reads all this mind-generated stimulation as if it were real, and so the nervous system generates numerous physiological responses through fear, anxiety, anger, and any number of other negative emotions.  This behavior on the part of the mind damages the body through the production of stress hormones and radiates harm outward in the form of emotional transference.  The buildup of negative emotional energy seeks release, and thus, small annoyances can trigger outsized responses.  Like an attack dog, if you let it get away from you, the mind will find something to fight.  The more room you give it to run into its concept of the future, the bigger the imaginary opponents it will find.  So for example, if you just let it run to tomorrow, it will probably think of something you have to do at work, no big deal.  However, if you let it run out a couple of years, it could be thinking about an illness, the death of a loved one, losing your job, a major war or economic collapse.  The possible foes are limitless, and the problem with letting your mind get out that far into the future is that the larger the opponent, the harder it is to call it back into reality.  Keep your mind in the present if you want to have a happy life.  

If your brain were more primitive, you would have no option with respect to where your mind could be in time.  It would have to be in the here and now.  The problem with the human brain’s ability to put itself into a concept of the past and future manifests in terms of its effects on the rest of the person.  The mind is the director of the body, and so its imaginary scenarios create physical responses.  Think about something stressful or unpleasant, and your body will respond to it in any number of ways, e.g., sweating, increased heart rate, shaking, crying, etc.  When an animal’s biological needs are met, it can rest and be content.  Its rest is more rejuvenating than that of most humans, because for an animal, when there is no external stimuli, there is little-to-no internal stimuli.  Human rest is only partial-rest in that even when the body is not dealing with the stresses of external stimuli, it could be bombarded with imaginary scenarios from the brain, causing physical stress.  This is a non-trivial difference that uniquely impacts our species’ ability to feel contentment.  However, it is possible to train your mind to avoid this kind of stress.

CHAPTER SEVEN

How Daydreams Ruin Your Day

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The human being, unique among animals by virtue of his brain, is subject to stimulation that goes beyond that which arises from external stimuli in the present.  The consequences go beyond just the amount of stress that’s put on the body.  There is also a diminishing of the perceived vibrance of life.  Think of a real, present-moment experience as being a meal.  If it’s a good meal, you derive a certain satisfaction and enjoyment from it.  However, if you haven’t eaten very much that day, you will enjoy it even more.  But isn’t the opposite also true?  What if it’s a good meal, but you’ve been eating junk food all day?  The meal wouldn’t be as good.  You might not even finish it.  Crowding the consciousness with constant thought is like ruining your appetite with junk food.  Our mundane lives don’t compare with the quick fix offered by daydreams.  Have you ever bought a lottery ticket and fantasized about winning?  Fantasies are somewhat like junk food in that they are easy to devour.  They give us a quick mental high, but then reality sets in, and we have bit of a “come-down,” the minor disappointment you feel when your lottery ticket doesn’t win.  Going back to your normal life makes it feel less gratifying when you’ve been dreaming of easy money.

If idle thought is junk food, reality is a wholesome meal.  The mental junk food you take in, even while at rest, is going to diminish the satisfaction you get from the real-world experience.  Thoughts and reality satisfy the same appetite because the consciousness takes in both reality and thoughts.  You are the one who observes reality, and you are the one who observes thoughts.  The thought and reality “data-feeds” have the same destinations, your consciousness and your body.  Stop thinking so much and your real-world experience will be more enjoyable.

CHAPTER EIGHT

Planning or Fretting?

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**]

Compare the case of a blind date to that of meeting someone spontaneously.  We conjure up images of our date based on the outcome we want.  When the person doesn’t live up to our expectations, it seems natural to feel some disappointment.  However, what if we met that same person spontaneously and with no pretext for potential dating?  All things being equal, do we feel any disappointment when we unexpectedly make an acquaintance and they happen to not be “our-type,” romantically?  No, and it’s because we dealt with the situation as it arose, there was no time for the mind to ruin it with anxiety and expectations.

Another example would be going to the doctor or dentist.  I personally don’t care to visit either, and I used to dread the days leading up to an appointment.  My human mind was looking into the future and dropping stress on me in the present.  Aside from death and grievous injury, stress is the worst thing we get from an unwanted bodily experience.  Physical pain is just a symptom of something else.  It’s an alarm.  The pain itself doesn’t cause the damage.  Stress is different.  Stress has a pain element to it, but it also inflicts damage on the body in the release of stress hormones.  So when my mind jumps ahead to a trouble that could potentially happen in the future, I’m suffering stress to no good end.  It increases the cumulative pain of an event, and with no benefit.  The irony is that the event might never occur, and there’s no limit to the number of phantom events that your mind can create and stress over.  Assuming we’re not talking about serious bodily harm, the physical pain of an event is far less consequential than the stress leading up to it.  The same holds true for memories, the other side of the timeline.  Lamenting the past is like making mortgage payments on a house you can’t live in.

A mind that is allowed to wander into the future will invariably find problems that generate stress and anxiety.  I would liken such stress to paying interest.  In personal finance, if you had the ability to pay for all non-appreciating assets in cash, it would save you the cost of interest, and you would thus, be more wealthy.  So by the same token, if you deal with every anticipated problem just when it occurs, without a care for it in advance, it would spare you a great deal of stress, which would improve your life in unexpected ways.  There’s nothing wrong with identifying problems and preparing to deal with them, [_when they arise.  _]If you can do that while at the same time keeping your mind from “pre-visiting” them, you will be as stress-free as the dog, who doesn’t know he’s going to the vet until he’s in the parking lot.  You may even best the dog in not having any stress until the moment you feel the pinch of the needle.  You kept your mind quiet and so the topic of the doctor’s appointment never came up inside it.  This is how it is for a person whose mind has been trained to not constantly babble.  

CHAPTER NINE

You Think Too Much

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**]

Now consider that there is something inside of you that calls for stimulation and novelty.  We all have this need.  It’s why solitary confinement can lead to madness.  We receive stimulation from a blend of internal thoughts and external reality, and our level of happiness can vary with the proportions of each that we receive in the blended signal.  A person in solitary confinement feels that they are blocked off from the external signal, and so the internal signal predominates, which can lead to madness.  

The amount of stimulation we need to combat boredom is a function of the level of excitement to which we’ve become accustomed.  Kind of like the letdown you feel when returning to normal life after an exciting and adventurous vacation, a hangover of sorts.  The historical level of input sets the baseline for what’s required to get additional gratification.  Given that your brain exposes you to extra stimulation via thoughts, your threshold for excitement is significantly higher than that of an animal or a small child, whose stimulation is limited to dealing with only what it can immediately sense.  “Simple minds are easily amused,” but jaded minds need to up the ante. 

The world of worries and dreams is rarely about average things.  It’s more often the best or worst.  Thoughts are not bound by limits, and so they can be spectacular or horrific.  Reality is more stable.  [_You can calm your inner being by decreasing the number of  thoughts flowing into consciousness. _] The expanded bandwidth that gets devoted to reality smooths the extreme swings.  Imagine thought as a sine wave.  It has extreme highs and lows.  You can average the signal down by adding more reality, which is smoother. Try to get by with as little unnecessary thinking as possible and see what happens.

William Wordsworth composed the poem, “The World is too Much With Us.”  

“The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,

The winds that will be howling at all hours,

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,

For this, for everything, we are out of tune;

It moves us not. --Great God! I'd rather be

A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.”

This poem was written in the early 1800’s, and I can personally attest to the fact that the world has become considerably more distracting and engrossing than it was thirty years ago.  If you doubt that, consider how many passwords you must manage today, understanding that in the 1980’s, passwords were more frequently encountered in spy novels than in the real world.  The increased complexity of life has added stress, and technology has provided so much instant gratification that the lack of waiting has atrophied our patience.  There has also been an intensification of the content that the media provides.  If you were born in the 1970’s or before, you likely witnessed the progression of sex and violence that’s portrayed on television.  The circus no longer entertains us, and so we’ve made circuses of our lives.  The world is crowding out our consciousness, even as it promises to bestow the same on machines. 

Worldly stressors increase the volume of input from both the outside world and the inner-world created by the mind.  We do not control the outside world, and so that is a constant in the equation, but we can [_theoretically _]control our minds.  It would logically follow then, that if you could decrease the excess stimulation created by your mind, you could increase your level of happiness.  That is to say, that decreasing your overall intake of stimulation by “quieting the mind,” will make you less jaded, less stressed, and thus, more energetic and much more satisfied with the conditions of your life.  This is how the benefit of quieting the mind accrues to those who meditate. 

People who think too much “zone out” and live in their own imaginary world.  They don’t even realize that they are in a dream world because their dream world mimics the real world.  It’s an image of the real world as they [would like it to be.  _]If your happiness relative to life-circumstance decreases with the amount of ruminating and worrying you do, then the those who spend the most time in their heads should exhibit lower happiness and a greater tendency toward addiction.[  _]Their minds exaggerate troubles and inflate expectations.  Studies such as the National Child Development Study have shown that more intelligent children are more likely to use psychoactive drugs than less intelligent children.  And then there’s this:

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.”

Earnest Hemingway, The quote is from Chapter 11 of The Garden of Eden [1986].

This all assumes that the amount of time you spend in your head is a positive function of your intelligence.  

CHAPTER TEN

Why We Seek, and Why We Shouldn’t

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A spiritual friend once asked me what differentiates man from beast, and I fumbled for an answer, talking about science and art, but now it occurs to me that wild animals do not have an inner void to fill.  They experience reality in a way that is significantly different from that of humans because they lack a highly developed prefrontal-cortex.  

Animals simply don’t have a human mind.  The hardware’s missing.  This means they take direction exclusively from here and now.  Their lack of a higher brain gives them the luxury of having to deal with the present-only.  The human being is subject to a different internal order in that the human mind knows how to confront us with multiple issues from various points along the timeline.  Most of our problems are in our minds, and as such, there is no limiting factor on how many of them can be conjured up.  The mind is ever-creating problems which constantly need fixing, which is in turn, the reason why many of us constantly need something from outside of ourselves with which to fix it[_.  _]Our finite world might not survive our species’ attempt to satiate its infinite needs.  We have to find a way to satisfy ourselves that does not entail stripping the planet bare in the attempt.

There is an insatiable hunger in man that is a function of his inability to recognize what satiates it.  Consider what a lion does when its biological needs have been met.  It’s generally content to do nothing.  It lays there and observes or sleeps.  It needs nothing more.  It doesn’t worry about getting a freezer to store up more meat.  It doesn’t worry about some problem that has yet to manifest.  It doesn’t need to get things to address problems because it has no problems.  For man or beast, contentment is the natural state in the absence of problems, real or imagined.  The difference between the human and lion is that the lion’s perception of problems is aligned with reality and the human’s is not.  When the lion looks through the window of his inner being, he sees right now.  There is nothing out there to threaten him.  If something arises, he will deal with it at that moment.  The human can look at the same reality, but it will be through the prism of his mind, and even if there’s no problem in the present, the mind will create one and project it to him. Phantom problems can motivate real-world action, but if we, at the individual level, are drawing on finite resources to address imaginary and thus, infinite problems, it’s clear that we collectively are in a terminal game of whack-a-mole.  We’re trying to fill a hole with something that won’t fill it.

CHAPTER ELEVEN

The Role of Emotional Energy

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The realm of emotions is associated with the body.  Emotion is a utility that’s adapted to direct energy within the body for the survival of the individual and species.  Emotions cause physical reactions.  When you’re angry or frightened, your heart rate jumps and you feel the blood surge from your extremities into your core. This is to enhance your survival chances in the event of a grievous injury.  When you are sad, you weep and your body produces tears.  Emotions create powerful waves of feeling that have bodily consequences.  You can die from fright.  Emotions arise due to two forms of stimuli,  thought, and input from the senses.  Most emotion comes from thoughts of an imagined reality, e.g., the past, and not true reality, as in right now.  If you could limit the emotions to that which arose from the immediate, without a thought for the past, you would have a lot less negativity and stress, which would make you feel less compelled to elevate your consciousness through outside means.

The emotional reaction to stimuli will draw energy from the body to bring about the physiological changes most conducive to survival in a particular range of situations, but given that our modern world is relatively new to us in evolutionary terms, our bodies are adapted to more treacherous times than today.  The human body is evolved to give the amount of energy required to overcome a situation, as there is no “tie” or compromise in nature.  It’s win or go extinct.  Our bodies react as if everything is “win or die.”  It’s true that the reaction is proportional to the magnitude of the event, but most emotional reactions today will be over-reactions, because we come from a line of progenitors who won the survival game every single time in a more brutal world.   Only those who put forth at least enough energy to survive passed on their genes.  If they overreacted to situations, they could be imperiled as well, due to stress.  Our emotional response is right-sized for the paleolithic but outsized for the modern world.  As a species having only recently attained the ability to create an environment that minimizes our exposure to mortal danger, we have a “fast idle,” more energy directed towards primitive ends than is needed.  Our nervous system is behind the times.

Life in the paleolithic was rough and short.  The number and average magnitude of physically-dangerous situations we encounter has declined since then.  However, the number of [_threatening _]situations has increased dramatically.  To our stone-aged body, all threats are mortal danger, as this was the case for the majority of our evolutionary incubation.  To have a dispute with your neighbors in the stone-age could have resulted in exile or death.  Unfortunately, we’re not yet evolved to properly handle a large number of threatening, but not-necessarily-deadly situations.  For example, going for a drive can produce a huge number of emotional micro-events.  The same goes for the modern workplace.  

Every time we have a stressor, our body produces an emotional charge, which is partially expended by the event, but depending on its magnitude relative to the reaction, there could be a significant residual of unspent emotional energy, stress.  Newton’s law of there being for every action, an equal and opposite reaction, applies to emotions as well as motion.  When excess emotional energy goes stale and turns into stress, it’s a residual that needs to be eliminated.  Stress is like an emotional fat cell that gets stored away.  When you don’t dissipate your emotional energy, it accumulates, and that eventually gives rise to negative thoughts, which can themselves stir up more emotion and stress.  The mind is energized by emotion, which precipitates thought, which crowds out consciousness, which precludes joy.  Thoughts are given the power to inflict pain through negative emotional energy.   The goal of what follows is to instruct in the managing of emotional energy for the purpose of eliminating unwanted thoughts.  

[_The source of the excess emotional energy is the overhang that occurs when our stone-aged body overreacts to our frequent, but not life-threatening modern problems.  Just as the modern world has us eating more calories than we can burn, it also has us generating more emotional energy than we can spend through the body alone.  This excess emotional energy contributes to the overstimulation of the mind, which converts the raw emotional energy into negative, emotionally-charged thoughts.  _]

The purpose of managing your emotional energy is to prevent its accumulation, which awakens and fuels negative thoughts.  Emotional energy is something that you can physically feel.  An extreme case would be when you have a fright or observe something that causes you to “well up” with tears.  You can identify emotional energy as a feeling you get in the area of your solar plexus.  An extremely positive example of this would be the “butterflies” you feel at the thought of someone with whom you’re infatuated.  A negative example of this would be the way you feel when you’ve driven half-a-block before you realize that you’ve left your phone in a public place.  You immediately feel that in the core of your body.  If you focus on this area, you can sometimes “feel” emotional energy that has built up.  I want you to try to cultivate an ongoing awareness of the emotional energy inside you.  There is a correlation between its buildup and the eventual need to spend it.  In the case of compulsive and emotionally-charged thoughts or obsessions, the mind will link the energy up with the thought, which can cause a great deal of pain.  

CHAPTER TWELVE

An Emotional Powerhouse

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Imagine that your whole being is a dwelling.  The window on that dwelling is your body, through which you sense the world.  You are the consciousness, the one who observes it all, the house’s first occupant, ahead of the mind.  Beyond the window is the world of the present.  As you grew, the mind came into your house.  The mind is analogous to a computer in that it helps you process information and store it for later.  

When you were young, the computer was accumulating mostly practical programs, like speech and the names of colors, how to put on clothes and properly use the bathroom.  You were taking in useful information and recalling it for productive use.  The computer was too new to have accumulated a lot of autobiographical programs, such as the analysis of emotionally-charged memories.  It also didn’t have a concept of the future or death.  If there were thoughts of the future, they were pleasant ones because you had no responsibilities.  This means that your inner-space was not clouded with emotionally-charged and stressful thoughts.  This allowed your consciousness to take in the wonder of life without the input being polluted by the upstream negativity of grown-up cares.  The problem with the computer in our metaphorical house is that it eventually competes for attention with the reality of the outside world.  The problems it conjures up seem increasingly important as we grow and take on responsibilities.  Simultaneous immersion in both the mind and reality is not possible.  Teachers know this in dealing with kids who daydream.  You cannot fully bask in the light of reality if you’re giving attention to the programs of the mind.  

The computer of the mind also requires emotional energy to run certain programs.  Emotional energy could be likened to the electricity in the house.  Thoughts are the programs, and they have different functions, features, and “system requirements.”  Practical, task-oriented thoughts, like a recipe, take up almost no emotional energy and don’t distract you when you’re not using them.  They can also be easily turned on and off.  The thought of how peel a banana is not likely going get stuck looping in your mind.  Other thoughts, obsessions, are more like malware; they self-actuate, hijack your attention and immerse it completely in the mind.   These thoughts can also hack into the emotional power grid and steal power.  They are the worst memories and fears that you can conjure up.  They sap so much emotional energy that they leave you physically drained.  They transmute emotional energy into negative emotions, which in turn can feed other thoughts.  They release emotions like anger, guilt, grief, fear, regret, longing, self-righteous pride, etc. 

Negative thoughts cause pain by stirring up the emotions.  Emotional reactions are not consistent, even in the same person.  A lot of how we react to something has to do with what’s happening on the inside at the time.  If we have pent up emotion, it is going to find a way to express itself.  Negative, emotionally-charged thoughts will arise, and the more emotional energy you’ve stored up, the more painful the thoughts will be.  Negative thoughts seem to arise from the cistern of residual emotional energy.  A concrete example of this would be transference.  You have a frustrating day at work and come home full of negative thoughts and pent-up emotional energy.  Then someone has an accident or bad news, and you explode on them, unleashing the whole day’s accumulation of negative emotion on a relative bystander.  They accidentally tapped into what you neglected to manage.  In order to prevent this, you must practice emotional power management.  Negative thoughts arise from residual emotional energy like mosquitos from stagnant water.  As with mosquitos, you can decrease the problem by taking away the breeding ground.  This technique is the first step in stopping the cycle of unwanted wants, the first step in yanking the starter out of the obsession/addiction engine.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

You Can’t Wrestle a Grizzly

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When negative emotional energy suddenly arises from a thought or event or it accumulates to the point where you can feel it in your solar plexus, it needs to be addressed.  Every so often, when in a safe and comfortable place, you need to close your eyes, relax your muscles from head-to-toe and focus your attention on the area of your solar plexus.  Breath and feel your breathing.  Emotional energy is more-easily felt on the bottom of the exhale.  Exhale slowly, and when you reach the bottom, focus on the area between the breast and belly button.  Emotional energy is felt like a tingle here.  When you can actually feel that energy, you can dissipate it by feeling it, focusing on it, and then embracing it and letting it make you feel however it makes you feel.  Do not resist how it makes you feel, and do not react to it.  You are not identifying or engaging any thoughts here.  You are embracing raw emotions and feeling them fully so that they may dissipate.  Even if the mind has already converted the energy into a thought, it’s still possible to gain immediate relief through this technique.  Whatever the negative thought is, it has an underlying negative emotion, e.g., sorrow, fear, anger, guilt, grief, self-righteous pride, vindication in being the victim, etc., and you can surrender to the emotion without even focusing on the thought it fed.  You are relaxed on the inside for this whole time, as if the emotion is trying to carry you away, and yet you go dead limp on it, making it carry your full weight until it runs out of energy and lets you go.

It is essential that every time you feel negative emotional energy rising in you, you immediately turn your attention to it, and carry out the steps mentioned above.  Think of negative emotional energy as a Grizzly Bear.  Every time he comes around, you have a choice; you can fight him or play dead.   Nobody beats the Grizzly.  He just eats you and gets stronger.  You can only win by going limp to it, as if to say, “you can eat me if you want, but I’m betting you’ll go away if I just lay here.”  Doing this with dedication will stop the negative thoughts in you.  It will make you feel like you’ve unloaded a heavy burden.  Do this every day, every time you feel negative emotional energy or have a negative thought, and you will feel a huge difference.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

The Mind’s Mischief

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The second step to expanding your consciousness is quieting the mind.  The mind, as in the prefrontal-cortex, is the creator of the realm of thought, appearing after emotions and consciousness.  Before your mind could form thoughts and play with words, the consciousness was observing, and the emotions were actively interfacing with your parents to signal for the provision of your body.  The mind is a decisioning tool that sorts through thoughts and ranks them based on its own priorities.  The mind’s priorities are survival of the individual and domination of its inner-space.  

Eventually your mind came into its own and made you a thinking being.  As a baby, you were out of balance internally, plenty of consciousness and emotion, but no mind; however, your parents propped up the “mind” leg of the stool for you, which kept you alive until you developed a mind of your own.  When you were a baby, your emotions took orders from only one master, sensory input.  Because there is no mind to play thoughts that occupy inner space, the baby’s internal state is one of pure consciousness, punctuated by bouts of emotion that arise and therefore dissipate, on an “as-needed basis.”  When all is comfortable for the infant, it is content.  This is the state of the child until it begins thinking.  

The baby is an interesting case because it is an example of a human with an extreme imbalance in the triad of consciousness, emotion, and thought.  However, because the deficient leg of the stool is thought, which is normally trying to be the master of the other two, we can see emotion and consciousness in isolation, which is instructive.  When the needs are met, there is no need for emotion, which is summoned to address a need of any kind.  There is only contentment and discomfort.  Back and forth it goes between the two, and the parents serve as the “mind” for the infant.  So let’s take what we learned here and apply it to an adult.  As you grew from a child to an adult, you went from having only two legs of the stool, emotion and consciousness, to again having only two legs of the stool, emotion and mind.  Consciousness receded as the mind grew.  So we know from the baby that when there is a deficiency in one of the legs of the stool, the emotions become active to motivate the person to do something about it.  With the baby, there is crying and the parents come help.  With the adult, there is acting out on a larger scale, and instead of summoning the parents, they’re summoning an elevation of consciousness through outside things.  So in the absence of any leg of the stool, the being seeks outside things to supplement.  However, we all have the opportunity to have three fully functioning legs of the stool at once.  All we must do is teach ourselves stop all thought that has nothing to do with what’s going on right now.  We must grow a volume knob for our minds.  

The mind, when properly managed, will think when needed, but will otherwise be quiet.  In a functional individual, the mind fulfills its job as a survival tool, which it knows is a prerequisite for all else.  However, in addition to survival, it wants to be first among equals within the body.  The mind crowds out consciousness by flooding the inner space with incessantly chattering thoughts.  All this mental activity takes energy, and for that, the mind turns to the triggering of emotions via certain thoughts and memories.  

Thoughts are mental debris that we pick up from the world around us.  I would put thoughts into two categories practical (or utility) and discretionary.  Practical thoughts could be broadly defined as survival skills.  The things you need to know to live.  Discretionary thoughts are your personal thoughts.  They are your opinions and preferences, the internal narratives about you and the people in your life.  They are memories, fantasies, hopes, dreams and fears.  They are built from the outside world, and they are not always positive.  In fact, some are quite negative and damaging, and almost all discretionary thoughts have some negative aspect to them.  Even if you’re thinking of a good memory, it could create longing.  Looking forward to something can cause restlessness, which keeps you from enjoying the moment you’re in.  You could also have fear that your hopes will not be realized.  Unless you’re using your mind to create an actual plan or to intellectually analyze something from the past, it’s healthier to keep your mind quiet.  You should have your mind on a curfew.  It can only go out and play in “right now,” not tomorrow or yesterday.

Our pure consciousness is innocent, like a baby who will put inedible things in his mouth, it will pick up whatever thoughts it finds lying around.  Some thoughts are rational, objects of utility, i.e., useful pieces of information that help us get around in the world.  They tell us how things are done and what things are called.  They are functional and typically neutral from an emotional standpoint.  They seem to have no will of their own in that they lay dormant until recalled for use.  It’s not likely that the thought of how to change the oil in your car is going to spring to life and give you insomnia, assuming it’s not correlated with another thought that gives it an emotional charge.  

A neglected inner-space will be occupied by a chattering mind, overgrown with wild and ever-mutating thoughts.  The untended mind will send its host on perpetual and ultimately fruitless treasure hunts for fulfillment.  However, when the mind has been put in its proper place, consciousness is given space to fill.  The state of consciousness is a connection to the permanent source of joy.  It’s like going from battery-power to a fixed power source.  Battery-power necessitates the acquisition outside things from which to draw energy, but being able to “plug into” a permanent power source eliminates that need.  Consciousness is the permanent source of fulfillment and all outside things are temporary like batteries.  Quieting your mind gives consciousness room to expand and fill you with joy.  Being full of consciousness stops the drive to find happiness in outside things.  This is what has taken me out of heartbreak, obsession, and the cycle of process addictions.  I just don’t need anything extra to be happy anymore.  When you’re intrinsically happy, the consciousness that fills you shines out into the world.  You put forth your best self, and it attracts good things.  When the opposite is true, you project need, which attracts more need.

Another way to think of our inner-being is like a plant.  You can grow a plant from real sunlight or artificial light; however, in using artificial light, you have to pay attention to the type of bulb you use.  Whereas the sun gives the perfect spectrum for plant growth, some lightbulbs are not ideal for plants.  I would liken real-world stimuli to sunlight and mind stimuli to light from a bulb that doesn’t provide as much photosynthetically active radiation, i.e., light that’s useful to plants.  A plant that doesn’t get enough useful light will stretch itself thin, going upward in search of light.  Like us, it hungers for something, but it’s chasing the wrong kind of light.  In our case, the wrong kind of light crowds out the nourishing light of reality.  We need to think less.

The voice in your head isn’t you.  If it is us then most of us are internally out of control.  Who can control the content of their thoughts or even when they will arise?  Who can perpetually control the mental voice?  There are moments when one can “grab the microphone” and control it, but then there are other times when what’s heard in the mind seemingly cannot be controlled or halted.  This is because there are voluntary thoughts and involuntary thoughts.  Your focus should be learning how to mute the involuntary thoughts.  They are rogue thoughts, like songs you’ve heard that keep playing in your head, but they are not you.  If all you heard in life were songs, and so all that ever ran through your mind were songs, would it make sense for you to say that you, a living being, are merely a bunch of songs?  These thoughts that identify themselves as you, they are not native to you.  Consciousness, the native life force in you, predates thought.  

When a person is absorbed in their own mind, what passes itself off as the self is just a mass of thoughts that has taken up the inner space.  Thoughts are building blocks of the false-self, some thoughts convey upon us unique status, such as victim, villain or hero.  The false-self is a pile of thoughts we wear like garments to project an image to the world or the mirror.  If you ask a person who they are, their explanation will often be a function of their accumulated experiences, which are from the past, and therefore, exist in the mind-only.  They identify as something that is derived from that which is dead, the past.  Your essence is something deeper than experience.  An identity built from experiences can be changed by experience, but the consciousness that bore witness to the experience does not change.  Experience can only be recounted as thought.  Your thoughts believe that they are you, but consciousness was there first, and therefore, you are not thought.  To find the higher-self, you must suspend thought.  If we look at a computer, and you ask me what it is, I will say it’s a computer, not the software that’s been loaded onto it.  We could erase that software, and you would still have a computer.  We can load new software, and it is not a new computer. This is why people are so inconsistent, because they identify as the contents of their mind, which continuously change with experience.  Find the experiencer, and you’ll find yourself.  

The mind is a deceitful thing.  It tells you that happiness is “out there,” some other place, some other time, in some outside thing, and with its help, you’re going to find that happiness.  The ironic truth is this, the very voice that’s directing your search for happiness is the one that would die if you were to ever truly find it.  No, the mind does not want to give ground to consciousness.  It would rather sustain itself by supplanting what should be your source of joy, stunting the expansion of consciousness.  Cultivating an appetite for externally-sourced happiness is a wicked device of the mind.  

Negative thoughts gain an emotional charge by representing a threat or regret.  Threats are of the future and regrets are of the past.  They stir up emotional energy in us and feed on it, which causes them to grow and occupy space in our mind.  When it comes to thoughts, the mind is like an arms dealer who sells to both sides.  It profits no matter who wins.  The mind loves an internal thought battle to keep itself as the center of attention.  It generates thoughts that trigger an emotional response, and then it will create other thoughts to oppose or resolve the emotionally-charged thoughts it just summoned.  There are any number of thoughts the mind can play to conjure up emotions.  You don’t know how to stop it because the only actors in the mind are thoughts themselves, and so you’re fighting thoughts with other thoughts, and this swarm of thoughts just blocks out any connection to the real you, as you succumb to their incessant chatter.  The thought swarm taps your energy and keeps you in a negative, noisy place, alienated from the consciousness that predates all of these interloping thoughts.  Each negative thought eats up emotional energy and then excretes negative feelings, creating little fires of anger, fear, pride and regret, etc.  This very likely describes the typical “inner-dialogue” of many people.

Obsession arises when an emotionally powerful thought is granted staying-power by virtue of its associations with many other thoughts.  It’s like a hurtful experience that’s relived every time we hear that song or smell that perfume.  The mobility of the negative thought is a function of the number of emotionally-neutral thoughts with which it’s associated.  These are “trigger thoughts,” and appear as valuable or at least innocent-looking mental objects until we pick them up an find that they’re wired to an emotional landmine.  For example, you think of your first car, which seems a pleasant memory, but then the thought turns to how your first girlfriend dumped you for a guy who had a better car.  When your mind walks the past, it’s crossing a minefield of interconnected thoughts, some of which appear safe, but are wired to other more hurtful thoughts.

A thought isn’t quite a living thing, but it has many similar characteristics.  It’s like a parasite in that you become a part of its life cycle.  It entered you, lives in and gets expressed through you, and that expression gives it the opportunity to reproduce and take up residence in someone else.  Thoughts go through a Darwinian process that favors the ones with staying power and transmissibility.  Thoughts that revolve around survival issues stay with us from generation-to-generation.  Many thoughts form around a composite of issues, such as security, finding a mate, and providing for a family.  The useful thoughts in this vein are concerned with directing the will to the benefit of the organism and its progeny.  They involve planning productive activities and reacting to situations as they arise.  These thoughts are not problematic when they are applied to issues that they are capable of resolving.  But such a thought that has been given enough energy can go rogue.  Prudence can give way to paranoia if one focuses too much energy on what could go wrong.  

You should be getting the idea that thoughts are travelers that take up residence in the mind.  Some of them are useful and serve a function.  Some are merely benign, such as trivial thoughts, and others are malignant and deeply negative.  They serve no purpose but to steal energy and self perpetuate.  Thoughts do spread from person-to-person, teacher to student, parent to child, etc.  In this way a thought lives for many generations, “crowdsurfing” through minds.  Social media has created a whole new channel through which thoughts can connect with host minds.

The mind’s fundamental strategy is not dependent on your constant misery.  In fact, the mind is probably most secure in those for whom things are going well.  My effort to subordinate the mind to the consciousness stemmed from a disappointment that I could not accept.  My mind became like a “frenemy” who was constantly reminding me how I’d never have what I really wanted.  It had done this before, and each time I’d adjust my life to silence it.  But this time, there was no way to get around the obstacle.  I was not going to get what I wanted.  I could not tolerate the [thought _]of[ ]being deprived of what I _thought I needed to be whole, and so I sought a way to silence the thinking.  The pain must be severe and persistent enough to motivate your escape.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Techniques for Quieting the Mind

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A child finds joy more easily than an adult because they are less “filled” with thoughts and more filled with consciousness.  As the mind takes up more space, it crowds out pure consciousness.  The mind is threatened by consciousness because both require a certain resource, “space.”  Being occupied by pure consciousness precludes domination by the mind and vice versa.  Consciousness is our natural path to joy, and it is not dependent on any outside circumstance.  It is essentially what occupies you when you have absolutely no cares in the world.  Like the moment your ticket shows the winning lottery numbers.  Consciousness enters from some place other than the outside world or it comes from within, if you like.  It is completely free to those who learn to access it, and accessing it requires that you merely make room for it.  You make room for consciousness by emptying your head of thoughts.  When thoughts are absent, the mind can get no traction on the emotions.  The state of pure consciousness is joy of the permanent kind.  It’s always there, you just need to connect to it like a terminal.  Pure consciousness is the joy that cures the crave for which the mind is prescribing more outside things.  When you’ve discovered how to quiet your mind and have it reacting to concrete-stimuli-only, you will again find the place of pure consciousness, but now with the powerful tool of a well-governed mind at your command.

When the mind is quiet, the person engages sometimes less, but never more than what is immediately accessible to the senses.  The owner of a quiet mind accepts the pace at which life comes and deals with issues as they present themselves and [_only _]when they present themselves.  Planning that’s done beforehand is addressed in its own time.  This doesn’t preclude being generally prepared for what may come unexpectedly, but the constant running through of scenarios in your mind will rob you of happiness.  Don’t think about tomorrow or yesterday.  Rich is the man who in simple surroundings, can think “I want to hang on to right now.”  That’s how good it should feel just going about your business.  All the sweeter when happy things come.

Be cautious about where and when you take your mind.  Recall the emotional minefield of interconnected thoughts, and ask yourself where such minefields exist.  They live in your conception of the past.  Your mind thinks the past is a safe place because it knows what happened there, but it is just the devil you know.  The past is a sad place, full of nostalgia and longing, as well as regrets.  Everything could just explode into emotions if you want to dance with those ghosts.  Keep your head out of the past.  It is a prison.  

Your conception of the future has some pleasant thoughts, but also many anxieties.  Daydreams are the junk food of your consciousness and will spoil your appetite for reality, leading one to seek elevation  through addictive substitutes.  I’ve come to believe that daydreaming is the siren song of addiction.  When reality never lives up to the daydreams, we search for worldly ways to sate the appetite that has been whetted.  Don’t daydream too much or worry either.  The universe isn’t malformed.  We are like the universe in that we create, but we are in fact, a part of the universe itself.  We are instruments of the universe, part of its creative faculties.  We are the bristles of the artist’s brush, and you are shaping the finer details of the piece.  Do not worry about the nature of the stroke that you make on the canvas.  Have faith in the artist.

Whereas the past and future live only in your mind, the present is real.  Everything is much closer to what it seems in the present.  You don’t have to worry about paying emotional interest, anxiety for the future and regret for the past.  You will be happier if you deal with emotions in the present, as they arise.  You don’t struggle with or resist them.  You just let them happen inside you without trying to force anything.  You  just play dead for that Grizzly Bear, and let it slip away.  It is important enough to reiterate that you need to deal with your emotions as they arise, but don’t act out on them, unless needed.  Feel them, and don’t resist how they make you feel.  This will keep the amount of emotional energy that is “on tap” at a minimum.  Less pent up emotion means that negative thoughts are less likely to awaken.  This is very important.  A body full of pent up emotion will not have a quiet mind.

One key to reigning-in unwanted thoughts is to gradually shorten the span of time from which you draw them.  Reducing the real-estate available to thoughts will also reduce their population.  Pick a time in the recent past and future and set them as boundaries for a “time blinder” beyond which you don’t let your mind wander.  You could wake up one morning and decide that work-planning aside, you’re going to think only of things that are going on right now.  Just as blinders on a horse narrow its field of vision, installing time blinders on your mind will narrow the scope of time from which you draw thoughts.  The narrower the timeframe you can achieve, the fewer thoughts you will have and the less likely they will be to have an emotional charge.  

Another way to conceptualize the mind that may help you quiet it is to consider its complexity relative to that of an animal.  The animal brain can’t entertain thoughts of the past and future; it has to live in the present.  If brains were engines, the animal brain would be a three-cylinder, and yours would be a V8.  It’s not possible to make your V8 as fuel-efficient as the smaller engine, but there is a feature which helps bring the V8 into more efficient territory.  It’s called “variable displacement,” and allows the engine to shut off half of the cylinders when the power isn’t needed.  You’ll never make your brain as consistently quiet as that of an animal, but you can shut down some cylinders when not called for.  In particular, you want to shut down the memory cylinder and the daydreaming cylinder.  

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

Temporal Harmonizing

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Since all things being equal, a pleasant reality is preferred to a fantasy of it, the mind needs to create content that eclipses the day-to-day life of the individual.  For example, if you had a choice between eating your favorite food and just thinking about it, you would have the real version.  In order to distract you from your real life, the mind has to create fantastical visions of wonderful things to which a normal reality cannot compare.  It may also create fears to which you must pay attention.  While it’s very hard to think of nothing, it is relatively easy to intentionally think of something specific.  This fact can be used to help quiet the mind by pulling your consciousness out front.  

When you try to create internal-silence, your mind might be chattering away about any number of things.  It is very difficult to stop the chattering mind and keep it still.  It wants to keep changing the channel.  Some people have trouble keeping their mouth shut, but quieting the mind is even harder. To execute this meditative technique, pick an object in your field of view, preferably something small with defined borders that fall entirely within your field of vision.  A doorknob or candle works for me.  Close your eyes, letting that object be the last thing you see, and mentally visualize it.  Now open your eyes and stare at it again while trying to keep the mental image of it in mind.  Repeat the process several times, looking at it, closing your eyes, visualizing it, and then opening them.  Each time the mental image fades, you may feel a “focusing” of the real image.  This should start to pull your mind away from wherever it was and bring it into reality.   Do the same thing with the soundscape, but for this, you’ll want some kind of constant sound.  Focus your ears on what you hear, maybe a droning fan, then cover your ears and imagine the sound of it, focusing intently on the sound you’ve replicated in your mind.  Now uncover your ears and hear the real sound, repeat this until the droning sound “crowds out” any internal voices you may have going. 

Intentionally imagining something will pull your mind away from wherever it was and into what you’re trying to picture, which happens to be an object in your immediate field of vision.  And by depriving the sense through which you’ve captured the thing you’re imagining, it allows you to more easily visualize the object.  This creates a stronger pull on the mind, bringing it into an imagined space that looks and sounds just like reality.  However, when you open your eyes and/or ears, the reality will supersede the imagined counterpart, possibly for two reasons, first is that it’s hard to picture something in your head while you’re looking right at it.  Second, the signal coming in from reality is so much stronger and more vibrant than the copycat image your mind can produce, which causes the mind to “harmonize” with reality.  When given the choice between two identical images or sounds, one from reality, the other created by the mind’s imagination, the consciousness will tune in on the real one.  

As you meditate, you’re doing it with the aim of trying to stop thoughts, leaving only the sensation of being an observer.  When thoughts interrupt, repeat the temporal harmonizing to pull you away from them. When all is quiet, you will feel space inside you.  If you focus on your body in this state, you may be able to feel waves of energy flowing through you.  It is a warm and pleasant energy.  

Another way to quiet the mind is what I call the “I” technique.  The voice that chatters in your head can be difficult to silence.  Like you’re trying to stop up a dam that keeps springing more leaks.  The mind has more than one microphone, but the one controlled by you is the loudest.  It’s possible to use that inner microphone to impose a silence on the mind.  The “I” technique involves taking over the voice in your mind and just saying “I…” with a long pause, as if you were going to say something but had a long stutter or had forgotten the words.  This creates a gap in the thinking, and you can work to keep increasing the gap of silence.  Eventually you’ll have trained yourself to sit with a fully-quieted mind.  If you control the words, you control the gaps in between.  Keep doing it, and this “filibustering” the mind with silence will make it easier to find the realm of consciousness.  Similar techniques have been used for thousands of years in the east.  

Once consciousness has cut out a beachhead of inner-space, it becomes easier to quiet the mind.  I believe the reason for this is because if the consciousness is continuously occupying more internal space, it leaves less room for the mind.  A mind that occupies less space cannot speak so loudly or persistently, especially if you’ve been keeping residual emotional energy in check.  The chattering and uncontrollable part of the mind starts to recede.  

My experience has been that the laying-dormant of the uncontrolled mind somehow short-circuits the compulsions that characterize obsession and process-addiction.  It has also made me less bored in mundane circumstances.  You lose the cravings without losing the ability to enjoy the activities you formerly craved.  I’ve also found that it stops obsessions because the part of the mind that digs them up like some overzealous dog is itself, lying dormant.  It’s like you’re engaging only the useful parts of your mind.  You’ve reshaped the neural pathways in your brain to bypass the places where all the garbage is stored.  Most people are buried under a mountain of junk thoughts.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

The Realm of Consciousness

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When something brings you intense happiness, is it not like there is nothing so sublime as to be with the object of your affection?  Everything draws down to the moment.  You are temporarily “untethered” from the weight of the past and worry of the future.  It’s the feeling we get when something is so appealing that it captures our focus and allows us to drop our accumulated cares.  This feeling is the light of pure consciousness shining in.  Pure consciousness is the raw spark that filled you when the universe formed you from itself.  The part of you that was awake before you learned to put words to things.  It is pure, having neither judgement, nor positionality.  It is the universe observing itself  through you, and it has a sense of wonder about everything, and when you were a child, it was unobstructed by thoughts.

The real “You” can no more exist in the realm of imagination than an imaginary thing can exist in reality.  Reality is not of the past or the future; it is of right now.  This is because the experiencer, consciousness, can experience something only as it happens.  All else is a recollection of the past or projection of the future.  What is it that recounts or projects?  It is the mind talking to consciousness.  You, the experiencer, cannot fully experience reality when the mind is feeding it a recollection or projection from the imagination.  All that is “not now” exists in the mind-only.  The only way for consciousness to fully emerge from the waters of imagination and into reality is for it to no longer be subject to the recollections and projections of the mind.  

When you have continually felt and surrendered to negative emotions as they’ve arisen, and quieted your mind and limited it to performing tasks that relate to immediate needs, you have entered the realm of consciousness.  The inner-voice is mute, and it’s like something that has been obstructing your view is gone.  The lack of unbridled thoughts and negative emotions inside you will have created space into which consciousness will naturally flow.  You should begin to feel much more positive and contented.  Your cravings and desires should naturally blunt themselves.  You will still be able to enjoy the good things in life, but you will not feel the insatiable desire for them.  There will be fewer cravings.  Just as you will be dealing with pain only as it arises, you will feel the [_enjoyment _]of a thing only as it arises.  Separating your higher-self from your mind gives you a different internal vantage point.  Instead of being “close” to your thoughts, you hear them coming.  You begin to feel [_apart _]from your thoughts.  Internal quiet makes a rising thought more noticeable, like a noisy person who has just walked into the library.  Escort the thought out of your mind by harmonizing with reality.  You can walk away from a thought.

Whereas there’s a great benefit to dealing with pain only as it arises, there are also benefits to feeling the enjoyment only as it arises, and this is the key to overcoming addictions centered on the bodily appetites.  When you feel enjoyment only as it arises, you are not anticipating it.  Anticipation is on the path to craving, and craving is on the road to addiction.  Having a quiet mind, well-governed emotions, and a focus on reality, has the effect of moderating the appetites.  As alluded to in earlier chapters, the level of excitement you need to become aroused is a function of your normal intake of stimulation.  Addictions to sex, games, and food are all based on a need to elevate the consciousness.  Doing these things makes the addict feel alive while they’re doing them.  However, if your baseline of stimulation is lower because you’ve trained yourself to deal with reality only as it arises, you get a greater elevation of consciousness relative to external stimulation.  You won’t need a reality that’s close to your wildest fantasies to feel fulfilled, and on top of that, the fulfillment will be longer-lasting.  

Consciousness is who you are in the absence of thought, [your spirit. _] Your mind at the infant stage was not capable of thinking in words, and there were no memories on which to draw and indeed no concept of time.  And yet, you perceived.  As you grew and developed, your mind figured out how to use words and name objects and learn their use.  But before the myriad of thoughts came in and your mind started building them into something that would identify as you, there was _you. Some people have the ability to recall memories from early childhood.  These memories help us know that there was a time when we were pure consciousness.  Pure consciousness is the contentment of the infant when all of its needs are being met.  Unlike the body, consciousness has no outside needs.  The body needs to be alive in order to be the receiver of consciousness, but consciousness does not need a particular body to arise.  

Consciousness is eternal; creating it is what the universe does. Even when life on Earth ends, there will be consciousness.  In the lifetime of the universe, the amount of time it took for our world to go from a hot rock to having humans is but the blink of an eye.  Just as the internet doesn’t disappear when your computer breaks, the potential for consciousness to emerge from the universe doesn’t cease when a particular body/species/world ends.  Your body is a construct that arose from the universe to be filled with consciousness that also arose from the universe.  You are a mechanism through which the universe observes itself. You are a manifestation of the universe’s consciousness, and when you die, that consciousness will recede back to the place from whence it came.  It’s not necessary to grasp how it really happens to appreciate the truth of it.  

All consciousness needs is to be allowed.  Consciousness is the end, whereas the mind and body are means, intended to be facilitators of life in this world.  Mind and body are the “space suit” that allows consciousness to access the material world.  They are a necessary burden.  Consciousness is the only thing of which you cannot have too much; imbalance between it and the other two elements is always a function of the latters’ proportions, as consciousness expands and contracts relative to the others.  The other realms exist as facilitators only.  The emotions are the power plant, and the mind is the bureaucracy.  The Consciousness is you.  The default state of consciousness is joy.  When its emotions are not being activated by external needs, a baby is happy and finds wonder in all things.  Consciousness requires that there be internal space in you for it to occupy.  In most people, consciousness is crowded out by thoughts.  Your level of consciousness is a function of the amount of space you’ve left for it, net of your thoughts.  Your level of consciousness is automatically optimized when your mind is governed by boundaries that limit its scope of duties to the practical, e.g., driving, working, solving problems as they arise, etc.  Allow your mind to do its job, but don’t let it occupy all of your inner space. 

A Note on Relationships and “The One”

Regret from a failed relationship is a source of pain that whispers in your ear “you could have had it all.”  It’s  telling you that “it” was the path to happiness, and that you missed it.  You blew it.  There’s no way back, and as a consequence, you’ll never be happy.  You missed the one.  That is not true.  People seem to cross our path for a reason.  A “soulmate” might not be someone you were meant to be with.  Sometimes being star-crossed causes such pain that it precipitates a spiritual awakening.  Regarding relationships in-general, if you are unhappy while unattached, there’s almost no way that you can have a successful relationship.  The reason for this is that a partner will indeed elevate your consciousness for a time, taking away all of your cares and bringing you joy…again, for a time.  However, our mind/ego, will eventually become habituated to that person, and then all the troubles we perceived prior to the relationship will seep back into our minds, and we’ll be unhappy again; only this time we may blame the other person for it.  

The best way to be successful in relationships is to first be happy with yourself.  You must find the internal way to manage your cares, one that doesn’t involve an outside lever to temporarily push them aside.  This is done by continuously living in the moment, perceiving the world as it is, without letting any thoughts color or distort it.  True and lasting happiness is not a function of anything outside of yourself, not even “the one,” for nothing endures.  Everything will eventually leave you or die, and so if you’re staking your happiness on any outside thing, you’re going to be left with dust and memories, which are bittersweet at best.  No, the true joy comes from the unobstructing of what always shines underneath, pure consciousness.  Help your loved one cultivate pure consciousness in themselves, and you will both have “the one.”

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Going Forward

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My hope is that the preceding chapters frame the inner-problem in a way that helps the reader get a toehold on whatever obsessions and/or process-addictions he/she may have.  I have found that living as if this paradigm were true and conducting my life in a way that is mindful of its system of consequences, has helped me overcome obsessions and process-addictions, as well as put me in a state where I’m not likely to fall back into them.  This way of thinking is not new.  It has been written about for over a thousand years in the teachings of Taoism and Zen Buddhism.  These techniques can also help you get over recent and past hurts.  These are tools that you can use every day and know when, how, and why to apply them.

Charity is not just in what you give, it’s in how you treat other people and live your life.  When one has subordinated the mind to consciousness, then it is impossible to be anything but charitable.  You may find that you feel more interconnected with people, even strangers.  If you have ever entertained a racist thought, it would be much harder with a mind that has quit blaming others.  You realize that the “other” arose in and from the same universe as you.  Another reason for this feeling of universality is that when you have stripped away the noise, all that is left is the observing part of you, and it has a consistency to it that one could not imagine varying from person-to-person.  People who are filled with consciousness are in alignment with each other in that there is no positionality in the absence of thought.

I highly recommend you be selective about sourcing your news.  I heard of a woman who lived to be almost 102, and she said that she never watches the news.  I know this is merely anecdotal, but I do believe that much of the mass media has a negative slant, but we’re collectively responsible.  The media makes a living at arbitraging eyeballs.  Whatever stories attract the most will be the ones that fill the headlines.  In this way, the very news that’s reported is a reflection of our appetite for either positivity or negativity; supply meets demand.  There will always be both good and bad news, but the proportion of each that’s reported in the mass media is more a function of the readers than the editors.  The editors’ motivation is economic, a constant, but the appetite of the reader is the variable, and it varies directly with the level of consciousness.   

CHAPTER NINETEEN

In Summary

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Stay aware of your negative thoughts and emotions, and manage them through surrender right when they arise.  Try to quiet your mind, and especially don’t let it go wandering into the past and the future.  Use the techniques to draw your focus into reality.  Try focusing on an object in your field of view.  Remember how it looks and close your eyes and visualize it.  Now open them and repeat the process.  Apply the same concept to sounds.  If you have an ambient droning sound, you can pull it into your head by imagining it in your mind’s ear.  This helps overwrite the internal voices.  Create gaps in-between the words in your mind and try to make them expand.  Generally try to keep your “inner mouth” closed.  Don’t let it prattle on like a drunk.  Try to do this perpetually.  When you’ve made these practices a part of your daily life, you should begin to experience a change.  You should feel less-burdened, and generally more satisfied.  You should also feel a cessation of the bodily drives, as well as an absence of thoughts that have been consuming you.  You will feel “distance” between you and your thoughts.  You will be more able to hold them at arm’s-length and know that they are phantoms, and therefore, don’t need to be granted emotional energy.  They will wither away.  You will also find that you experience more joy from the little things in life.  You will not be easily drawn into pathological or self-destructive habits.  Instead of “seeking” things, you will be satisfied to see everything come to you in its own time.

In Conclusion

It is logical to expect a reduction in stress when a decrease in thinking puts one in contact with fewer emotionally-charged thoughts and memories.  The reduction in thought also relieves obsessions in that they are thought-based.  No thoughts means no obsessions.  To the extent that thoughts play a role as mental triggers in addictive behaviors, their disappearance helps break the cycle.  These techniques can help you govern the mind, and because the brain is malleable, you will see results if you keep trying.  It will get easier to create silence as your brain creates new neural pathways.  Eventually you will feel that something akin to an “off switch” has formed in your brain.  You will catch yourself thinking idle thoughts, and be able to turn them off like a light that you almost left on when leaving a room.

Other Titles by this Author:  The Conscious Dawn, a Book of Meditations


Curative Consciousness for Heartbreak, Obsession, and Process Addiction

This book is an attempt to convey a framework for conceptualizing the inner-self and how an optimal balance of its elements can produce life-changing benefits. It does not ask the reader to adopt any supernatural beliefs, but it does attempt to speak to a truth that must be felt internally, as opposed to being felt via the five senses. I will convey the mindset and techniques and describe the benefits that have accrued to me as a result of them. I will also provide my theories for their efficacy. As this book was written for people from broad walks of life, I will relay the same concept more than once but draw on knowledge from different backgrounds. I believe when you grasp how something works, you will pursue it with more confidence and feel better about the process, which will yield better results. I am not formally trained in medicine or any spiritual practice. I'm just a person who has recovered from a lifetime of obsessions and process addictions, and I want to share what my experience has taught me. This book speaks less to the granular details and physical dimensions of addiction and obsession and more to their shared underlying catalyst. There is the outer, objective world of brain and body chemistry, and then there is the inner, subjective world of thoughts and emotions. They exert influence on each other, and so the problem between them can be attacked from either side. My belief in the effectiveness of these mechanisms stems from having personally worked through the problem on the thought-side. This book describes what worked for me, and I hope it can work for you as well.

  • Author: Michael Paradis
  • Published: 2016-04-17 04:05:10
  • Words: 15719
Curative Consciousness for Heartbreak, Obsession, and Process Addiction Curative Consciousness for Heartbreak, Obsession, and Process Addiction