Thursday, June 21, 2018

Practicing Non-Reactivity & Denial Of The Moment!


For some time now, I've been observing how our reactions to events and situations are often over-reactive, exaggerated or out of our control. When it comes to how we deal with life experiences, most of us are almost totally conditioned by our previous experiences and/or expectations of events, so that the way we act whilst under stressful, painful or simply unusual events often comes from a place of fear, anxiety or panic. The result of this is that we tend to interpret events with prejudice by simply reacting on impulse to circumstance.

When we react on autopilot, we aren't really responding with awareness at all. Somebody cuts you off on the road, a discussion becomes an argument, a small concern becomes a huge problem, all because of our reactions to events, no matter how big or small. The problem with this pathology is that small insignificant events can metamorphisize into cataclysmic crescendos of horror. Otherwise potentially beautiful experiences are kept concealed, because of the way we interpret, handle or judge the moment.

Of course, our reactions mostly come from what we have learnt, or copied from role-models and influential people throughout our lives. The way we think and feel about different scenarios or events are shaped by whether or not we were any good at them in the past. Then, without consideration, we react to an event in the present almost exactly how we did in the past, never learning, and forever condemned to repeating the problems and behaviour patterns of our personal and collective history.

As this blog is about breaking free of constructs and taking control of your reality on all levels, what I am interested in here is the way our default reactions affect the preservation of our conditioned ego story, and what we can do in our fight to take back control!

With addictive and compulsive behaviours, we're always in a state of high-reactivity. Often we're on a rollercoaster ride of chemical fluxuation, pulling us towards our next hit.  We tend to be at war with the moment, fighting with ourselves, in conflict with what is! Any event or experience that isn't satisfying our fix (whatever that may be) is usually ignored, condemned or fought against. The resulting thought process down the spiral of this pathology is one intrinsically linked with addiction and suffering, which is:

"Things would be better if [...insert whatever here!]"

When we think like this, we are in resistance of the moment. We deny all that is around us, because we are terrified about the overwhelming amount of things that we cannot change. We scream like  a child because things aren't going our way, and we sulk and complain because we've never really learnt to surrender to what is.

If we are interested in breaking the shackles of personal and social enslavement, then we have to begin practising non-reactivity. By non-reactivity, I mean immersing yourself in an experience, and holding off judgement for as long as necessary, to allow the detail and actuality of the experience to transcend your pre-conceived ideas of the event. 

Those who have tried will know, learning to calm the mind is super challenging, especially to begin with and in difficult circumstances. However, you cannot sepatate life from struggle. There are always going to be situations when things are (or seem) difficult; this is un-escapable. So it makes sense to find ways of coping with, or even enjoying, all events that come into your path.

I've recently begun practicing this, in various areas of my life, and I'm finding it's helping to learn new things about myself, challenging social and personal preconceptions and expanding the parameters of possibility within how I relate to happiness. It's helping me to be more optimistic about new situations, more welcoming of change, and less controlling of the world around me.

Here are some examples of practicing non-reactivity to try yourself:

Exert yourself! Push yourself to do something intense, for longer than you usually would. This could be exercize, hard physical work or simple persistant focus. You will notice this nagging voice in your head persistently telling you to stop. It's surprising how you can overcome this lazy manipulative demon with a little determination, and will power. Over time, this will increase your stamina in all situations. It will also release loads of natural chemicals (dopamine, serotonin  endorphins etc), making you feel in self-empowered and responsible for your state of being. This a great test to see if you've become more dependent on external forces for your happiness than on yourself. Sure, it's tiring, yes it's hard, but exerting yourself is a great way to calm the voices of fear, doubt, and disbelief. In the words of Morpheus, "You gotta let it all go....Free your mind!"

Deprive yourself! Abstain from something you do everyday and really like. This could be your drug of choice, checking the internet, or even eating food. Cutting out something you do out of routine is a great way of recognising your addictions, but more importantly, it's about learning baby steps down the path of self-control and personal liberation. You'll notice during this experiment that you will think many many things about the thing you have stopped. "Why am I doing this?", "This sucks", "This is awesome!" etc. But paying attention to your reactions and thoughts is a good way to start the spiral of self-reclaimation. It's probably gonna be an emotional rollercoaster. But hang tight, and appreciate the flow of reactions. Positive, or negative.

Take a cold shower! Not luke warm, but actually cold. The first thing you'll probably notice is you will avoid even the idea of it. But if you can get over that, you're already on the right track. Next, turn on the shower. You'll probably dance around like a baby for a minute or two, moaning and complaining to yourself. But take the leap. It will be a shock at first, and your initial reaction will be to get straight back out, but hang in there. Just wait. Tell yourself it's warm if it helps. Just observe how it feels and how you react. It takes a bit of willpower, and practice, but eventually, you can learn to enjoy or even prefer, a cold shower.

When we embrace the viscerallity of the moment, we shatter prejudice. We move beyond our little woe-is-me ego shell, towards the carnal, raw, exiting reality of what actually is. Yeah, it's usually challenging, confronting and damn right scary, but like Bill Hicks once said "It's just a ride!"....and that's all it is. So next time you find yourself reacting to a twist in the road, just remember, maybe it's better to check your speed, pay attention, hold on tight and  enjoy the bend. Who knows, it could be all straight roads after that. Make the most of it!

-Ryan-

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