Endless Twitter and Facebook scrolling, meetings and courses on Zoom, work on the computer, hours spent binge watching, and lots of highly enjoyable educational material and inspiring videos. Quite a bit of rubbish I don’t enjoy or need. Probably only about 10 or 15% is the best use of my time if I behaved as if that time was limited. Which it is of course. If were to be given 6 months to live….
I do thankfully run out of steam for it eventually and I’m left here with me and the real world once again but often not before squeezing the life out of the screen world for a last drop of something.
And non screen life. I’ve always found directly experiencing nearly everything pretty intense. Too emotionally intense to handle directly often or so I believed, whether it’s painful or pleasurable. There’s been many methods of filtering and diluting that intensity. The go-to is living in and through my head, and experiencing everything through the lense of my thoughts and running a moment to moment inner commentary on it. Or talking, if in company, mostly about the future or past or if I’m with a suitable person, about my favourite subject-ideas.
I’d try and find some way of separating myself from direct experience, keeping a ‘safe’ distance. Even out in my beloved woods I used to often name species of trees or look for a photo opportunity instead of just being there fully in the intensity of the moment and just being. Substances have played their part too, a lot of wine and dope smoking for long stretches of my life. Now I just want more nakedness.
Perhaps I’m less afraid of the raw directness of being present to moment to moment experiencing. Or the addiction to screen life has driven me back to seeking life in my senses. Even the smallest and seemingly insignificant experiences have become more attractive and enjoyable.
My current behaviour experiment is to be with these experiences no matter how small and treasure the minutia of every day life. I’ve been becoming more aware of what I am doing from one second to the next second. I’m actually really enjoying making the sink gleam, or scraping the burned toast and I am no longer rushing to get one activity ‘over with’ so I can get to the next ‘better’ one.
The feeling of the squeaky clean glass in my hand as I lift it from the dishwasher. Noticing the weight of my body as it transfers from one foot to the next as I walk up the hall, the cool loo seat on my skin. Noticing how breathing feels, in and out, in and out. Noticing the texture and taste of the soup.
A deep dive into the sensed world just as it is in this present moment. The sensation of radiator warmed socks going onto slightly cold feet. The feeling of the dog’s fur, the smell of her. And the sound the of the bubbling kettle boiling, and the trickling of the milk as it is poured into the cup, the texture of the ribbed lid as it is screwed back on the milk carton.
There are fewer thoughts when I’m being fully with everything I do. Just a sense of peace. It is mindfulness in action. The odd thought passes by, I notice them when I’m being this present and see how random they are. Some are imagined lines in a possible future conversation, or wondering how someone I know is feeling, or whether to post this. The thoughts come and they go. I forget and get caught up in whole inner stories and then I notice, and come back to the sensed experience.
I notice the sensation of the hot tea on my fingers bringing me back to what is going on right here. I feel the weight of my body on the seat. I notice the temperature is cool and put another layer of clothing on. I notice I’ve lost an earring. Then a thought comes, ‘I wonder where it is’.
The irony of me typing this on my iPad screen. The low hum of rush hour traffic whooshing past and of the central heating. How am I feeling? Quite peaceful. Here in the here. Nothing to do, nowhere to go. Till I find myself doing something or going somewhere else.