The man who wasn’t there

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”  Oscar Wilde

I don’t know about you, but some days I feel fully present. On other days, I feel as if I have somehow dissolved into the background.  

I can recognise the symptoms and also the feelings that come with it. When I am fully present, I feel in the moment; grounded; focused and alert to events and people around me. In effect alive.

When I feel dissolved, I feel disconnected from life around me; alone; weak and vulnerable. Existing from moment to moment. Reacting to the events around me. Feeling as if I am being battered by the winds and emotions of the people, events and life around me.

I am not sure what might trigger it, though I know of a couple of scenarios that can bring on the feeling. One is where I start to ruminate about the past and the future, rather than living in the present moment. Another is where I feel that I am loosing a friend or companion. That self-generated sense of impending loss can also trigger the feeling.

With 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day running around your head; it is no wonder that we can all get caught up in the feelings that they generate and can get trapped in a cycle of rumination, self-think, and stress. If you sit for a while and observe people, you can almost see the patterns of thought criss-cross their face. We all have the ability to take a thought and travel a journey into an imaginational thought journey. Something similar the following:-

“If I do this, then, that will happen”.

“Having done that, then so and so will be affected.”

So and so will feel angry / sad / hurt / afraid and….”

“…. and I will feel I should never have done this in the first place”

It is hard to describe explicitly, but hopefully you get the meaning.

Sometimes I do feel as if I am “The man who wasn’t there”.

What does this mean to me? Caught. Trapped in my thoughts and their associated feelings. a cycle of rumination. Thoughts going round and round, self-triggering physical feelings of fear. Yes, a physical sensation that pervades me. And don’t forget, this is just thought that is doing it. Nothing physical, like a physical shock or the sight of an accident. Just the thoughts in my head. Creating an imaginary world.

So what can I do to stop feeling as if I am “The man who wasn’t there”?

We can not escape our thoughts or stop them completely. What we can do though is we can try to dampen them. Some use drugs. Some use alcohol. Some use the adrenaline of sport or adventure.  Some try to fill themselves with the mundane of life.

There is an alternative, though. That is to try to recognise and accept them for what they really are. Imaginary thoughts. Thoughts of fantasy. Illusion. That is what Mindfulness teaches you and that is what I use.

I try to practice every day. Moment by moment. However, I have to admit it does not always work.

Last Friday, for example, was a challenge. The announcement in the morning of the UK leaving the Euro Zone [called the Brexit referrendum] and the ramifications; the prospect of a friend not being around for a long time and a series of time bound activities at work, all came together in one moment. It caught me completely unawares. I was I caught up in it for a moment. Then, having recognised it. I Held it and breathed into it. Recognising that the thoughts were just thoughts. Nothing more. It took a couple of minutes for me to turn myself around but I did.

I am not going to claim that Mindfulness is a cure all. Rather for me, it has certainly helped me over the past two years. What do you use to help you? If you want to know more about Mindfulness, do get in touch.

I leave you with the following quote:

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”  Oscar Wilde

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