Welcome to Minding Your Mind, a weekly show for those looking for new thinking about old knowledge in the areas of Time, Living, Success, Health, Love, and Happiness.
In episode 1, I talked about overcoming or controlling the fear of the inevitable and, embracing life. Hopefully, you already were at the time. If not, I hope you have been ever since.
Today, I want to talk about needs, wants and choices on one hand, and about addiction, distraction and speed, on the other. The combination of these makes living in a modern world complicated, to say the least. I will also introduce you to the Beast. But, in the end, it will all boil down to one simple thing.
First though…, we must slow down.
Hello, William Garcia here, Philosopher and author of the book titled Now O’ Clock…Being Mindful, it Always is.
Time for some Mind food.
We are living during fast and crazy times as we unwittingly drift along the swift, strong, and turbulent currents of a modern world. If you do not already, you will start to notice how we have…, and are still being conditioned.
But it does not have to continue to be this way. To take control and set our own pace, we must take on what is a difficult challenge; a challenge that starts by answering two especially important questions…, I did.
But let me tell you…, the challenge also requires a long-term commitment. But being in control and being able to set your own pace…, is worth it… It really is.
I mentioned the word Notice, and it is key. It is the difference between seeing and looking. To me looking is like browsing and seeing is like examining what you are looking at. This is something we can learn and practice. It is the key to opening the door to a new life. It is the navigational tool you will need to set upon your journey toward taking control and setting your own pace.
It’s crazy out there…, right? But you already know this. For example, I saw an Ad about some electronic service that said, “If you’re not 50% faster, it’s because you’re 50% slower.” Where does it stop…, at 1000%?
Well…, since the first time I saw that ad, I saw another one that gave me the answer. It says, “Your tomorrow starts today” …, really? This is Life lived faster than the speed of Now…, don’t you think?
Alright, alright. I know and realize that it is impossible to live that fast, and that the Ad is not meant to be taken literally.
Still, these are market tested words designed to capture the imagination and, in an insidious way, they work…, they really do. They are designed to change behavior.
Unfortunately, there appears to be no slowing down any time soon, if ever. Still, I hope so.
Modernity can be an unrelenting force. It is so much so, that we are fast approaching Mindlessness at a time when we most need to be more mindful of our own Presence, of our own Being…, in the Now.
Today…, we’re constantly distracted and moving so fast we keep missing the Present… We need to slow down. We really do. Furthermore, when we do, all else I talk about in this episode, becomes simpler and more controllable.
Check this out. The other day I ran into a friend of mine and hailed, “Hey, what’s up…, how are you doing”? He answered with the single default word we hear and use so often. You know the word: Fine!
What’s sad is that it’s not an unusual greeting. There seem to be no time for an old-fashioned chat in person…, or even over the phone, since now…, more than ever, the phone is used more for texting than talking.
Are we so distracted and in a hurry, or is it that we’re always running late? Either way, it appears as though we are living past each other. Now, why is that? I believe it is about being conditioned by Modernity or as I call it, The Beast; the “What” I said I would introduce you to.
We had been distracted with chasing the tail of this beast, as it moved into the future with speeds that have since left the Joneses eating Silicon dust.
We are now in the race to keep up with the latest advances in technology, moving so much faster and, too often…, for no good reason. We must challenge the Beast.
First, we must be armed with answers to these two questions. Ask yourself…, “Just how fast do I, want to go? Just how fast do I, need to go …, to live the life I want to live”?
I case you haven’t noticed, the velocity of everything that is already fast continues to increase, and this could be a real sign that the Beast may never slow down. So…, it is up to you to start.
Trying to keep up with the Beast is an increasingly fast-moving proposition. It’s like trying to catch a greased pig.
Just when you thought you caught it, it slips away…, and the chase continues. There is a new version of the latest tech device and I bet you still have not learned all there is to know about the one you have.
Moreover, it is not only about the speed of technology. The Beast, in other ways, has us addicted and distracted.
I am sure you have noticed that, over the years, businesses have been advertising the coming of major holidays earlier and earlier every year. Christmas, for example, comes to mind.
Now sadly…, this is the norm, and it is simply another frightening reminder of just how in control and insatiable the Beast is.
I dare say that we’re addicted to the trappings of Modernity, and the addiction is so powerful that enrollment into consumer credit counseling “rehabs” is big business.
Yes…, as a nation, we need to rehabilitate ourselves because being conditioned as we are, we consume so much of everything there is, and this can’t be good.
Make no mistake,Modernity does not suggest Moderation. Instead, its powerful influences suggest hyper-consumption and behavior modification.
For example, nourishing ourselves is now more of a social event or a thing to do, than a means of survival. Too often we eat just to eat and not because we’re hungry, but because it is “time” to eat.
You don’t believe me? See if this is familiar. After a night sound asleep, we break fast when we awake in the morning. By the way, breaking an overnight fast is something we “do”…, not something we “eat.”
Anyway, then there is the snack before lunch, then lunch Time, then the late-afternoon snack, the appetizer before dinner, then dinner Time, and then there is dessert.
Let’s be honest for a moment. Can you really be hungry the following day if what you are doing is eating just to eat, and not because, perhaps, you are following a dietary guideline? Obesity anyone?
It is just as bad when we buy even when we do not have a need for a “Thing.” Then, when we buy the “Thing,” we get a receipt, I call it a lure, that offers a huge discount if we buy another “Thing” by a date certain and, after which the discount expires.
Imagine a fish being teased with bait and then hooked. We have become as insatiable as the Beast suggests we be. We have become “Thing-addicts” … Junkies anyone?
Still…, talking about being hooked and addicted…, the Beast already has legions of addicts, and like me, you’re probably one of them.
However, I believe the greatest number is among children and young people. They are easily hooked by what I call Fixes; video games that are as virtual as you can get, and social media, like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, just to name a few.
The Beast keeps presenting new and more insidious lures and fixes that only disguises the effect of the addiction. It is the constant “bait-and-shift” that keeps us addicted so much so, that disconnecting is virtually impossible. Of course, this only keeps us constantly distracted from “being” human.
A quote titled, Things.
“Life should be a continuous sharing of human emotions. It is OK to like Things. Don’t ever love them. It is OK to love one another; Always do “unquote.
Here is something else that I am almost sure you can relate to, and that I should feel guilty about…, and don’t. It is one of many other addictions to Modernity. If there is a rehab program for this kind of addiction, maybe I should enroll.
It is upwards of ninety degrees outside. I set the thermostat to seventy degrees, and I get into bed and under a Comforter. Now…, a Comforter is a quilt used as bed covering, but I use it to cover my body to be warm.
Mind you…, I do this knowing that I have absolute control of the temperature in my house, and that I could otherwise set the thermostat to 75 degrees and cover myself with a sheet. I would be just as warm and save energy and money, all at the same time. Spoiled brat anyone? Yes…, me.
It all goes to show just how powerful the Beast can be, and why reconsidering our relationships with modern creature comforts and conveniences, I believe, is a healthy idea.
If it sounds like I am treading on Modernity, I am not. As you can see, I too enjoy creature comforts. However, what concerns me, is the relationship we have with those comforts and how we become conditioned by powerful and insidious suggestions that trap us in those relationships.
I hear you…, yes, breaking up is hard to do even when we know it is for the best. But how do we break up with Modernity? We don’t. We don’t have to. It is more about control than it is about elimination. Besides, breaking up would take a lot of energy and time, energy and time better used to develop a present sense of “being” and being in control.
It also helps to be able to slow down and hear ourselves breathe, to reflect on our own “being”, and to STOP, for a moment, from Time to Time to be Mindful of our own presence in the Now…, the only time we are alive.
Still, Modernity can be a hungry and relentless beast. It chews us up and spits us out all the time…, and we let it. But why? We are stressed out in ways it seems we cannot escape, because we are so addicted, distracted, too busy going nowhere in a hurry, trying to keep up, and at the end of the day, it feels like our bodies just “log off” instead of “shutting down”. It’s a small wonder we complain we’re so exhausted.
Yet…, I like to think we still have the option to choose not to chase the next greased pig, or are we helplessly addicted to Modernity? Which is it?
As I see it…, we came from Modernity as being a problem-solving proposition to one of need and convenience. Then…, as Modernity advanced, as the Beast grew bigger, faster, and hungrier, we went from Convenience and Choice, to Speed and Choice.
Speed and choice, mixed with insidiously persuasive suggestions called Ads, has made the waters between needs and wants to become Brackish.
The Beast is at home in these waters. “Come on in. The water is just fine” …, says the Beast. Unfortunately, because of the strong and turbulent currents of speed, addiction, and distraction, we drift away from a calmer and more natural Life…, a life that is ours to choose.
Instead, we live captive by the speed and control of Modernity and Connectivity. Seemingly, and, all of a sudden…, we are all wirelessly connected and constantly in touch with someone or something even when we don’t want to be.
But when we lose connection…, panic sets in. Ever had your phone or computer broken, stolen, or lost? Then, you know what I am talking about.
We need to slow down, and I believe it would help if we would only disconnect more often and for longer periods of Time.
However, simply disconnecting your devices is not helpful without turning off your “thinking” about them while they’re off…Otherwise…, what’s the point?
Here is a challenge with benefits only you can experience and describe for yourself. There is no “one size fits all”. However, it all fits in one Mind…, an open Mind.
Start by disconnecting for three minutes a day during the workweek. Find where you can be alone, and in a quiet place if it is available to you. Of course, you can do this with someone else. I recommend you do. Keep in mind though, that those three minutes must be intentionally set aside. They can’t be just a happenstance of free Time that somehow became available. The challenge is to be purposeful about the selection of the three minutes to do two specific things. The first, of course, is to be intent on disconnecting and the second is to be mindfully aware of that intention…, being as you are, and as everything is without judgment, for the duration…, just you, your breath, and your thoughts.
Use this Time to notice your breathing and anything you may be feeling and sensing. This is the basis of Mindfulness Meditation, and unlike other teachings about meditation, 30 minutes is not written in stone. However, if you find that you are not able to set aside three minutes a day at the office, then set aside 15 minutes during the weekend.
The idea here is to defy the Beast and take back control…, if only for three minutes a day, fifteen minutes on the weekends, or one day out of the year. Think of it as “escaping” from a reality manufactured by the Beast or weaning yourself from its milk…, its influence.
Just in case you’re thinking about it, sleeping does not count as disconnecting. It must be a mindful and intentional disconnect.
Over time and with regular practice, you will notice a calmer and less stressed “You.” You will notice it is easier to breathe. You will notice that it is easier to slow down and simply “be”.
Meanwhile, and from time to time…, go for a stroll, preferably with someone else. Have an old-fashioned chat about how you’re doing. Read a book, write, paint some art, or play a board game. Whatever you choose to do …, just find your pace…, your own pace.
By the way, there is already a national disconnect-day: it’s called, National Day of Unplugging. Join in!
How about this? I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Hurry up and wait”. Now it is “Hurry up and…, what are you waiting for?” A better question is…, where are you going in such a hurry? You can’t outrun Time. You just can’t.
Here are a few other questions you may not have had to answer before. When was the last time you were not running late or in a hurry? Were you going to class, work, or were you going home after? Were you going to drop off the kids at school or daycare or pick them up? When last were you able to enjoy your lunch without care about what time it was?
Whatever your answers are, however, here is the ultimate question. It is the question I strongly urge you to think about before you answer.
Is “being” in a hurry or running late, something beyond your control? Barring events like traffic, inclement weather, or an emergency, just to name the usual suspects, a sincere and introspective answer should be…, No!
Listen…, we do have control. It’s just that we allow ourselves to be conditioned by, and drift in the brackish waters of Modernity.
Keep in mind that when we try to keep up, only because the Beast suggests we do, we sacrifice the present living moment …, forever. Unfortunately…, too often we fall for it.
I hope by now we can agree that it is time to slow down; that we should go slowly into that Midday.
Even so, I don’t see this happening faster than the Beast would allow, having us under its influence. It keeps grabbing our attention with Ads calling us back again and again for the latest fix.
Who is in control here? If you agree that life is mostly about the choices we make, then we should choose to be in control. You decide how fast you, want to go or how fast you, need to go … to live the life you want to live. It all boils down to making the choice to take control.
You don’t have to let the Beast choreograph your life any longer. You don’t have to continue to allow yourself to be conditioned. You don’t have to live a life manufactured for you by the beast itself. You need only to choose to be in control so that you may live the life you want to live. Start by slowing down.
You know because I told you. I enjoy modern creature comforts like anyone else, and I realize that slowing down may be easier said than done. But difficult is not necessarily impossible. You can slow down. The question is: Do you really want to?
Now…, slowing down will also require a shift in awareness with respect to how your life is changed chasing the tail of the Beast. Reflect on this, from time to time.
As I said before, it is not about eliminating the Beast. That is not going to happen, nor is it necessary. I am talking about being mindful and in control as we choose how we want to live in the belly of the Beast.
Also…, realize that whether we’re trying to keep up or not, we will not be able to do all we want or need to do…, even if we lived a thousand years. There will alwaysbe things left undone.
Still …, tomorrow is not going to get here any sooner than it will. But this is not to say that we should not leave for tomorrow what we can do today. This sound like something the Beast would say. This kind of thinking is what has people saying there are not enough hours in a day to do all they need or want to do.
Come on…, let’s be real here. If you can’t get it all done today, how are you going to get it all done tomorrow with the same number of hours?
Again, there are going to be things left undone regardless of how much you do, or how long you live. Things like unread emails left in your inbox, for example. I’m sure you can think of many others.
In the end, however, the reality is that we do not run out of Time …, we simply run out of Life.
Nike says, “Just do it”. I’m telling you…, “Just do it now … LiveNow”.
Unfortunately, there seems to be little effort to slow down and pay attention long enough to actually experience our own “being” in the Now. Consequently…, we keep missing the Present.
A quote titled, The Only Time
“Now” is that constant Instant between the past and the future. It is the only Time we live, and the only Time we can do something about almost anything “unquote.
Now …, is always a good time to start thinking about slowing down, taking control, and setting your own pace.
These are times when we most need to be mindful of our own “being” in the present, as we are,and as everything is…, without judgment. It’s kind of like constantly being in touch with your Self.
Besides, we need to come back to “being” present within ourselves and with each other in all the ways, and for all the reasons that make us Human.
We need to be less preoccupied with Modernity and more mindful about “being” in the Present. Otherwise…, we will continue to miss it.
Fortunately for me, I had heard about Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and his work on the practice of Mindfulness Meditation; the navigational tool I needed to challenge the Beast. His timeless classic Full Catastrophe Living, inspired me.
I started practicing regularly with a group led by Dr. Gus Castellanos, retired Neurologist, and master mindfulness trainer and teacher. Contact him at innerinmate.com.
Anyway…, I am here to tell you… I’m now less distracted, more mindful about “being” in the present, more in control, and able to pace myself better. What would this be like for you? Think about it.
It’s the result of taking time out to be in a quiet place, to be still and alone…, just you, your breath, and your thoughts. Of course, I encourage you to join a group as well. It’s extra beneficial. Remember the three-minute challenge I posed earlier… It’s a start.
Now … there is a fresh conversation in my head about my life and yours too. After all, we’re in this together. It is about always being mindful of our own presence in the Now—at least to the extent we are able to control speed, addictions, and distractions. But, of course, this will come with regular Mindfulness practice.
Still … being mindful, slowing down, talking control, and setting my own pace remains a challenge…, because the distractions are many, the speeds continue to increase, and the influences are strong. Still…, taking on the challenge is well worth it.
The Beast is no joke. It has a very tight grip on us. However, my hope is that, by the time I am done talking, you will have already started thinking about loosening that grip.
Once loosened, you will be able to breathe better, slow down, take control and…, set your own pace. When you do, choreographing your own life, even while in the belly of the beast, becomes simpler and easier.
Choose the life you want to live, not one manufactured for you by the Beast.
Listen, in the continuum, you are either in control or controlled.
Furthermore, keep in mind that life is about people being here for one another and that Love, Compassion, Forgiveness, Happiness and Gratitude, are not devices of Modernity. These are attributes of our own natural Humanness.
Furthermore, we must continue to be mindful to slow down to a pace where we can hear ourselves breathing calmly while being as we are, and as everything is…, to slow down and pay attention to what “Is” about ourselves, those we love, and the world, and not what we would like or wish them to be.
So, here is what I encourage you to do:…Start a new day tomorrow, a new life, a Mindful life with a fresh perspective…, and don’t just to wake up and smell the coffee. Slow down and taste life, one sip at a time. Cheers!
Time to slow down and be in control.
In episode 3, I will be talking about what it takes to achieve your goals using a different approach and a different definition of success; a definition that will change your perspective and inspire you in a way you have never been. I will also tell a very unlikely story. You won’t believe it.
Take a moment to stop by my website, nowoclock.live. There you will find more original, positive, inspirational and thought-provoking content you can mind your mind with. Share what you find there and spread any idea you agree is worth spreading. There is something there as there was here, for almost everyone. I hope there was for you.