Your mind is a puppet master, creating angst and high drama, set to the backdrop of a high-octane script.
Thoughts attempt to draw you from the present moment repeatedly, through intricate fantasies played out in a fictional future or reliving a distorted, illusory past.
Emotions are perhaps even more adept at luring you into self-made fantasy. An anxious thought leads to an unhappy feeling, which magnifies your mental time travel.
Such mind wandering is akin to a fast-flowing river, with scenes played out incessantly in small eddies and currents.
Much like a mirage, these stories are so realistic as to become intoxicating, until you wander trance-like into the water, only to be swept away by your imagination.
No sooner are you immersed in the fiction, living all too realistically the ego-driven narrative of mind, that you lose yourself in the tumult.
Intermittently you claw your way back to to the river bank, gaze skyward and cough story water from heaving lungs.
But after resting temporarily in presence, you leap transfixed into your story once more, to live out your endless Sisyphean saga.
The cure? Training to observe and appreciate the flow of your mind river without becoming mesmerised by its content.
Living in the Present
Mindful awareness points towards a simple way of appreciating the present moment. Of standing securely on the river bank of the mind.
It allows us to see the river for what it is; a great, beautiful creation of evolution permitting us to come together in groups, weave enabling stories into imagined realities and cooperate on problems our early ancestors couldn’t begin to fathom.
But here’s the key. Mindfulness permits us to place a consciousness brake on an imagination that frequently runs wild.
And while imagination and expectation have proven useful tools in our dominance of this little planet, our dopamine-like drive to live in a fictitious world has ushered in a technological gold rush…
One that allows psychological escape from the content of the present.
Mindless Consumption to Mindful Living
With the advent of high definition, ultra-realistic gaming and now virtual reality, it seems we’re ever more determined to live outside ourselves and perhaps more worryingly, embody storylines dictated by self-serving media organisations.
This mindless consumption isn’t just unproductive, but downright dangerous. You’re stuck, breathless in a self-made hyperbaric echo chamber, programmed by algorithms.
As we strive to outrun reality, perhaps it’s only a matter of time before our discontent drives us past the point of no return.
Mindful awareness shows us a path back. Back to simplicity, and back to ourselves.
Let’s use it.