I would love to share with you how I personally use the work I write about, as I think it would be a direct link to offering something about my writing process and how I navigate through my day/life in general. For those of you who have read some of my work, whether it be a book or a blog entry, you see my practice, but that is different than knowing how I apply it to life.
What came to me earlier today was my current obsession with the concept of “next,” how our mental states are often circulating around our curiosity about what is going to happen next and how we are going to make it happen, both figuring out how, and finding the energy to generate the event itself. Next feels like something we make happen. It can feel stressful, burdensome and scary. I experience my discovery about next to be fascinating, mind-boggling and practical.
What is next? It is the next moment in time because all our actions occur in time. Time moves by itself because Earth rotates and revolves without our assistance. The next moment in time, 2:04 turning into 2:05, for example, is upon us automatically, without us being able to stop it. This is the crucial aspect. We cannot prevent next from coming. Here is the part I really appreciate. As the next moment (second) is upon us by itself, we see our body in its activity, i.e., its next activity, the next choice it made about what to do. We cannot stop that either! We cannot prevent what we find ourself doing next even if we want to. I recognize that for some this would not bring ease but for me it is liberating beyond imagination. It means there is nothing for me to figure out about how I am going to execute my next action, what it is going to be, or where I am going to find motivation to generate it. My next action is put upon me in the same way the next second is put upon me.
Now I am getting very academic again. Here is the more personal angle. I woke up this morning with a lot of energy buzzing in my head at the prospect of blogging in a new and more intimate way (because of yesterday’s awakening). Along with that excitement came pressure: a feeling of having to figure out what I was going to write and to make sure it happens. And then my brain reminded me that there is nothing to do. Next will always happen to me; it will be upon me beyond my control. And when it is upon me I will also see the activity/action my body is in. If this happens to be writing in a new way, as my mind woke up excited about, then that will match my ideas and relieve me of my desire. If, on the other hand, next shows me that I am in some activity other than what I expected, that too will be correct. Because next brings what it brings (involuntarily), I must accept that predicament. But, it also means that I can discount the worry in my mind about having to make it happen.
I am currently obsessed with this discovery because it relieves everything for me. It really feels like we make next happen. And yet, like the weather, which we can see occurring on its own, we can look at how the clock moves by itself, or how the sun (seemingly) moves across the sky by itself, changing time. This is a challenging awareness to hold onto, as we are very deeply wired to believe we make next happen. I will offer another sound example of how I apply this reality to my life.
I have recently had some digestive issues that require me to pay greater attention to the foods going into my body. This ramped my mind up in a serious way, constantly telling me what I should not eat, what I should eat, and when I should eat it. What should I eat next? Well. Again. I cannot stop next from happening. I try to really focus on this truth. Watch the clock. See that the next second arrives with no contribution or effort from me. Feel how involuntary that is, just like blinking or the clouds moving in the sky. Next arrives outside of me. Next is already now. So, if I want to know what I should eat next, then I can just look at my body and see what I am eating now (if I happen to be eating). If I’m not eating now, then there is nothing to think about. (Even as I write this it is almost impossible to conceive that we don’t make next or our next actions happen with some inner power. We are so used to believing that we must generate our own decisions. Besides the fact that it is our brain that makes decisions, and our brains operate without our assistance, I am right now only focusing on the awareness of next, as that is what speaks to me.)
Back to the food. I already ate breakfast today. Although it is impossible for me to stop my mind from thinking about what it will think about, which includes food, I remind myself (when it comes to me) that later today, when I will be eating again, I will not have to figure out what to eat. I will not be able to stop what I eat. Next will happen to me then, too, from the preceding moment; it will wash over me, and all I will be able to do is what I see my body doing. Next comes too fast to jump in and jump out of the way! There is no way to pause time.
Again, I know that for many this is not a positive awareness in the way it is for me. It can make us feel powerless. The fact that next comes by itself, that our body is already in its next action before we can witness it, and that our brain makes decisions without any kind of “self” directing it, is not only counterintuitive but for some disheartening. It calls for ultimate acceptance and surrender to what is. Obviously, the same goes for what I write about and what I am saying here right now. Next is upon me as I write. All I can do is see my fingers moving on the keyboard and observe the words appearing on the page. Some of you will like what I write, and others will not. So, it goes. We live and act as we do. I encourage you to try it out in the moment. Look at the clock and internalize the ease in the fact that you will never need to exert any physical or mental effort to have the clock move into the next second. Feel that freedom and then look down at your body to acknowledge that it was moved into its next action with the movement of Earth. Of course, our bodies are always moving, that is not to be denied. But the feeling that we move time forward with our effort and mental strain is illusory.