I am an addict. And I didn't know.

8 July 2016

I am an addict. And I didn't know.

A few weeks ago I posted a post about control and at the end of the article I introduced my very first experiment, and I bet that you can't wait to find out how it went.

The experiment was simple – interrupt my thought stream, whenever I notice I'm lost in it, by saying 'I don't know'.

The uncertainty of not knowing is excruciating. My mind wants to have it all figured out and have all the answers even if it means creating false stories to get rid of the unknown.

It's a great practice to challenge the habitual ways of thinking that don't serve me well.

Memories, judgments, planning, worrying, assumptions are all just stories and most of the time they're false. After all, they are built out of my biases and conditioning. And lately, in the frame of depression, these biases are mostly negative.

To my surprise, the experiment was more helpful than I thought. I discovered a lot of things which I overthink and exaggerate.

But most of all because I had to pay attention to my thoughts more carefully I found out that I'm addicted to thinking.

Ohh my mind is a creative torturous genius. All the juicy stories! It's hard not to follow them and get lost in them and not to crave more!

I caught myself when I walked my dogs.

They were well behaved walking on the leash beside me when a delicious story took me away, and just like the dog I run after its smell refusing to come back. At that point, the dogs themselves smelled something delicious which they had to sniff pulling me in all directions.

I got very upset, angry even. How dare they to wake me up from my daydreams! And as they pulled me to attend to the present moment, I gave into my disturbed emotions and pulled them too. The resistance. I resisted, they resisted, and suffering was born.

Thinking is the worst form of addiction. It's perfectly disguised and wildly available.

Even as I write this, I take a break to look out of the window. There is a beautiful tree with thousands of vibrant green leafs. The light hits some and leaves some in the dark shades. It is just exquisite and yet, for the most part, I pay no attention to what I actually see and feel instead I drift into a place that doesn't exist in this moment - into a story that will forever stay in my imagination.

As with any addiction, there is a lot of pleasure involved in getting lost in thinking. It is an irresistible way of escaping the reality, avoiding emotional pain or the uncertainty of the next moment. But ultimately, as with any addiction, we lose our own will and with it precious time and tranquillity where anxiety, depression and reactivity get the opportunity to thrive.

Have you ever noticed how time gets progressively faster as we age?

When I was a kid, my mom used to moan that another summer was gone and soon will be Christmas and spring. In her mind, she was probably calculating everything that needed to be done, planning and worrying about what will be and how she's going to manage.

As a kid time went slow especially slow on school days but generally it didn't slip through my fingers as it does now.

Until later on in my life, I didn't understand what my mom meant.

Yesterday I sat to meditate. Timing 40 minutes. Usually, meditation is demanding. Paying attention to the breath and coming back unwillingly seems to slow the time quite profoundly.

But yesterday I let my mind take me away. And at the end of the 40 minutes which past so fast I couldn't believe it, I was leading my own free meditation class and the amount of people that were turning up was growing and growing...

What a wonderful mind I have. So creative.

So I didn't actually meditate. But being aware of that I also didn't judge myself for losing myself in that story which I find to be a great success in itself.

Wait a second the time went fast when I was lost in a juicy story!?

What happened to the time?

It's not a rocket science. We just enjoy paying more attention to the stories that our mind creates which are hanging somewhere in the indefinite time continuum. The past and the future or even different dimension.

As a kid I was simply more present not lost in daydreaming, worrying about the future or thinking about the past mistakes just paying attention to what was right there in front of me. And I had all the time in the world. I had the present moment.

But as I grew older more and more I enjoyed the stories and all the daydreaming that my mind came up with.

For the most part, we enjoy getting lost in thoughts hence the "hookability" and consequently addiction.

But the more time we spend in our mind's trap, the more we miss on life and the beauty that we could see even in the mundane.

Time is just an illusion of our minds because it doesn't really exist in the present moment. Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now explores this concept wonderfully.

For many of us though it seems more like a science fiction.

Is it possible to stop completely identifying with the past that according to the mind created the you that sits here in this moment?

The obstacles of my 'I don't know' practice

Some of the major obstacles I had to face was my own willingness to practice.

The stronger the intention and determination the better. There really must be a strong intrinsic motivation because thinking is addictive, and it takes a lot of power to recognize that I'm lost in thought and come back

The first week was easy. I was pumped and excited but as the weeks went on I kept forgetting until I realized that I stopped coming back to the practice altogether.

The reason? I like to be lost in thought!

It's like craving a chocolate or coffee (or filling the blank) and having the strengths to stop yourself. The catch 22 is that the very mind which is addicted need to do the work, and essentially it is working against itself.

The only way to keep coming back is self-compassion. Not judging myself and finding love and empathy for myself when the practice gets difficult.

The next biggest obstacle is my level of alertness and energy.

It is a lot easier to stay present when well rested and energized.

Will my dog get ill after she ran through a tick nest and had so many on her that my stomach turned?... I don't know.

What's gonna happen to me in an hour, a week, a month, a year? I don't know.

This article I've just read was a waste of time. I don't know.

The people behind me must be laughing at me. I don't know.

Is the person sitting next to me in yoga class showing off, surely she seems so confident?! I don't know.

I'm sure the lady at the pharmacy is judging me. I don't know.

My partner would do better if he did it this way. I don't know.

I can't do it. I don't feel like it. I don't know!

I don't like that guy. I don't know.

Who am I? I don't know.

I don't know and it's okay.

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