Algorithms, particularly social media algorithms, have been on a lot of our minds lately. But what even are they? Well one definition I found says that algorithms are: a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer. So basically they are like an ever evolving blueprint guiding the computer’s actions. This isn’t much different from the way that our brains work, at least from my limited understanding of both.

I was thinking over how strange and ironic it is that we as a society have been struggling so much with technology and social apps. Even though we don’t want to argue, fight, compare, etc. These apps feed us the type of content that will get us to react in that way. This morning the parallel between that struggle, often leading to mental illness, and the struggle to cope with mental illness itself really became apparent to me.

Sometimes it’s almost as if the universe presents us with clever metaphors to force us to confront the things we try to avoid. Humanity has been running from itself, especially in the last few decades. We’ve submerged ourselves in these digital landscapes as a distraction from our thoughts and worries and fears. The internet, in a way, is the ultimate form of disassociation. Yet, there is still so much we can learn about ourselves through this unlikely medium.

It’s ironic that the very place we’ve gone to escape ourselves has become a mirror of the worst within us. These algorithms online tailor what we see, they filter the world through a lens of violence, outrage, and disgust. As I explained before it’s because we are naturally inclined to react to these things more forcefully than things that inspire joy, happiness, comfort, or love. Even while pointing that out in my post about personal responsibility, it didn’t occur to me just how much these algorithms are actually amplifying the algorithms within our own brains.

This public discussion about social media and Facebook are actually a fascinating parallel to the discussion of neuroplasticity. Unfortunately, no one has the power to change the algorithm in our heads except us, so in this instance, while not our fault, it is up to us to make a change. While that autopilot algorithm does do a lot of the work behind the scenes of our consciousness, we are able to take back the wheel and steer ourselves in a new direction.

Let’s get back to what I mean when I say this is a metaphor though. Think about the internet, for the most part, we all understand that what comes up in our feed every day isn’t all that exists on the web. Yet, somehow the things we take notice of in our everyday lives, start to seem like all there is to notice. We become cynical, or at least I did.

I can still remember arguing with someone when I was in high school. I was insisting that life was mostly negative or neutral events with light sprinkles of happy ones in between. How sad it is to look back at my young self who truly believed such a terrible thing. At the time, that was true though, at least for me. Because that’s what I was looking for, so of course, that’s all I found.

We are always subconsciously looking for evidence to support our beliefs, even when those beliefs aren’t something we are happy about. It starts with a belief, just like our apps start with an interest. Our “feeds” in life then fall into place around that central idea. That isn’t all there is to see, but it is all that we’ll see.

That inner world of ours, our perceptions of life and those around us, seem so real. It’s hard to conceptualize that there may be so much more that we are not aware of, that our view is skewed by the limited scope of what we are taking in. The world around us is continuously colored and altered by our mood, our knowledge base, our preconceptions, our biases, our past experiences, and so much more. These are the “filters” that we use on the universe. But the small amount that we are able to take in, that is not an accurate reflection of existence. Just as our Facebook or Instagram feed is not an accurate representation of the content available online.

So don’t get too trapped in your own perceptions of this life. While we may not be able to make a new account or scrub our hard drive so we can start again from scratch, we can make an effort right now to challenge our preconceived notions. We can practice compiling new evidence to support beliefs that we choose to hold. We can make our mantra each day that the world is good, that there is beauty and happiness all around us. I promise you, no matter how dark the world may seem to you now, practice believing that there is light and you will find it.

AI Algorithm Enhances Brain Stimulation Devices Used for Treatment


Alex Grey 2 - Hads Trippy - Image via Thingstolookathigh com

Yesterday I watched a Ted Talk discussing the effects of psychedelic substances on the brain. I clicked on this video absentmindedly, not really expecting it to tell me anything I hadn’t already heard before. To my surprise I was given new insight into why my psychedelic experiences have been the way they are. It also gave me even more reason to believe that psychedelics really do allow us to connect to some deeper consciousness, a divine connectedness. It is a glimpse beneath the veil of our earthly illusions, and the things we think and perceive in these altered states are perhaps more real than the reality our sober minds produce.

I knew that taking psychedelics altered the way our brains perceive the world. I knew that they break down our biases and inner walls so to speak. They remove the shackles of our well worn neuronal connections and allow us the freedom to explore the vast possibilities of our consciousness and perception. What I didn’t know is that this brain state is very similar to one we’ve all experienced before: childhood. Apparently a child’s brain works in a very similar way to a brain on psychedelics. Isn’t that fascinating? I had often described my experiences with LSD as being a child again in a new world. Nothing is taken for granted. Everything is fascinating and new. There is so much joy and curiosity and discovery to be had.

As children none of us were too enmeshed in certain ways of doing things or seeing the world. There were many more possibilities open to us. As we age, our brains naturally start to sink into patterns, strengthening certain neural networks while allowing other, less used pathways to shrivel and shrink with disuse. Eventually we begin to feel trapped in our ways of thinking and seeing the world. It feels impossible to change or view the world from a fresh perspective. And in reality, while it is still quite possible for us to change, it will be much harder than it might have been when we were younger.

Imagine a cart being pulled over the soft earth. Once you’ve made tracks in the dirt, it is easier to follow those tracks again. The more you follow those particular tracks though, the deeper they become. Eventually it will be quite difficult to make new tracks or break out of the ones we have been taking. A child’s mind is an image of virgin land, no tracks, no footprints even, just a great expanse of possibility and wonder. This is one of the reasons, I believe, that adults tend to enjoy children so much. While our own minds may feel incapable of breaking free of our patterns on their own, spending time with a child is sure to be full of surprises and new experiences. Children have the ability to pull us in new directions we would have never considered on our own. Kids are funny. Kids are weird. Kids are surprising, unpredictable even. That is the magic of a newly developing brain. That is the magic we may all experience again for ourselves with the help of psychedelics.

This comparison to a child’s mind helps explain a lot of the experiences I’ve had with LSD. The idea that psychedelics are able to break down our preconceived ways of seeing the world only strengthens my conviction that the feelings and truths I’ve experienced in that altered state of mind are real. LSD isn’t making me hallucinate or become delusional. LSD helps me to break through the illusions that I live inside of. It helps me see the world for what it is again, through fresh eyes, with the innocence and imagination of a child. I don’t for a second believe it’s a coincidence that one of the reoccurring perceptions people come away from a psychedelic experience with is that we are all connected. There is a powerful feeling of connectedness, contentment, joy, peace, trust. It is reconnecting with the wisdom of the universe, a deep sense of reassurance that everything is as it should be. There is also the ever present image that everything in life is a cycle, and that it’s okay to have faith in and surrender to that cycle. Now more than ever, I feel confident in that belief.

Alex Grey's “Gaia” | Pinkocrat


Everything’s a cycle. You’ve gotta let it come to you. And when it does, you will know what to do.

– Bright Eyes

Happy spring, everyone! I am so pleased to welcome this most lovely of seasons back again. While I adore the summer months, spring is probably my true favorite. There is nothing quite like the fresh, bright, vibrant energy of this time of year. There is so much beauty in contrast. I’ve always found it funny the way 55-60 degree weather in the fall seems dreadfully cold to me, yet the very same temperature is a godsend in the spring. At the end of the year I’d consider this weather too chilly for a walk, but now I am itching to be outdoors in the sunshine again. I used to dream about moving somewhere south so that I wouldn’t have to experience the snow and bitter cold of winter every year, but as I’ve grown older I’ve developed an attachment to this area of the country. Sometimes we need to face discomfort or adversity in order to fully appreciate and savor the rest of life. There is a lot that the cycling of seasons has to teach us if we are willing to witness their endless unfolding.

There is a strange comfort that repetition brings us. This constant ebb and flow that exists everywhere in this life is truly something beautiful to behold. This constant churning keeps life from becoming stagnant. It really is true that it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Without the colorless cold, the bitter wind, the once lush trees reduced to creaking black skeletons, we would not be able to fully appreciate watching the landscape come alive again. We wouldn’t be able to experience this bustling, rustling, vibrating energy as the earth comes alive once more. The sensation of new life, of awakening, of hope that spring stirs within us is unparalleled. It never gets old no matter how many years we have had here.

Spring reminds us that we need not fear the winter. It also insinuates that we need not fear even death. Imagine how frightened the first conscious creatures were that lived through winter. Surely with no guarantee, I would have assumed all was ending forever. Just as many of us feel facing death without faith in a god or an afterlife. There are no guarantees. No scientific evidence that we can analyze to suggest that anything exists beyond our final breaths. Still I find my own kind of faith in all of the cycles I see around me every day. Some cycles are as short as the ever-present rhythm of the breath, some are too long for us to comprehend or observe in a single lifetime. But I trust in the cyclical systems that surround us, that are within us, that we are inextricably involved in. While I may not be able to say what the cycle of life and death fully looks like, or even what it means for me, I am confident it is still a cycle all the same. I may not be there to witness the spring that blooms on the other side of my existence on this earth, in this body, in this mind, but I am confident that that spring exists. But for now, while I am still here, I am going to keep trying to learn from these cycles, to be mindful of them, to be grateful for them, to be patient with them, and to honor and accept where I am within them.

Photo by Simon Berger on

Coming Back Home

This life is so beautiful. It’s amazing how easily I am able to forget that. I always get caught up in the little things. For me it’s always been easier to worry endlessly than to pause and enjoy the present moment. But of all the suffering I’ve experienced in my life, I’ve been the source of the vast majority of it. It is hard to accept that and not condemn myself for it. It’s actually a great gift to realize that strange fact. Because it means that I can also be the end of all of this suffering. I just have to keep reminding myself, especially when it’s hard.

I just have to remember that this life is so much bigger than all of my petty little problems. What an insane, incredible, amazing thing it is that I exist at all! That there is so much right in front of me to enjoy, to be grateful for. This miraculous body that I inhabit, this home that shelters me, safe and warm with my loved ones, the ability to breathe the air, to feel soft pleasant textures against my skin. I am happy. I am free. I am alive. Right here, right now. Life is good.

Under all of my anxiety lies the fear that one day I won’t be able to take it anymore. I’m afraid that all of these tiny worries will pile up around me until I can no longer bear it, that I will somehow be consumed. But I don’t give myself enough credit. I am far more powerful than I realize most days. Sometimes I am tempted to allow my worst fears to become reality, just so that I can show myself that I will still be okay. When the darkest moments come, it is the smallest things that save me. Everything that I truly need is within me, it is me.

This breath, this deep, intangible, limitless love that I hold inside, nothing can take that away from me. It is forever mine. These things are always here for me. There is an immense power that emanates from my soul. A power that I can connect with whenever I need to. A power that I don’t use often enough. But nevertheless it doesn’t leave me, even when it remains dormant.

On days like today, when I stop and really contemplate existence, I want to laugh hysterically at the beautiful absurdity of it all. I want to cry from sheer, inexpressible joy. I want to shout thank you, thank you to whatever it is that has allowed this all to be possible. I want to take my anxious mind into my arms and coo to it softly, “don’t be so silly, there is no need to be afraid, I love you, I am here for you, everything is alright, it has always been alright, it will always be alright, trust me, dear one, shush now, I’ve got you.”

What more could I possibly want? What else could I even have asked for? This life, this world, it is all so beautiful. It is absolutely perfect. Even the messy parts, even the scary parts, they are all gorgeous and necessary to create the fullness that is this existence. I am so lucky. I am so grateful that I get to be a part of this. My heart feels so full. It is overflowing. I want to fill every empty space with warmth and love and light. I want to give and give until there is nothing left of me but pure glistening bliss.

When I begin to feel like I am fraying at the edges, like I won’t be able to hold myself together, I want to read this and remember that I never have to fear coming apart, because I am already a part of all that there is. I am forever whole and complete and at one with everything. I don’t need to cut out the bits of me that feel afraid or anxious or upset, those parts of me are fine just the way they are. There is nothing wrong with them. There is nothing to fix. When they start to feel too heavy, all I need to do is put them down for a while. All I need to do is image whatever it is I’d like to be feeling instead. “Not anxious” isn’t something that my heart can understand clearly enough to provide for me. Rather I should ask it for joy or love or comfort or peace. These are things that the heart remembers well. I am always capable of returning to these emotions. Because they are my natural state.

It is no wonder that I get tired, that I feel exhausted with living sometimes. It takes a lot of energy to keep myself so far away from my very essence, to deny myself so often. It’s as if I am using all my strength to hold a door closed inside of me. Behind that door lies this unending love and happiness that is my true nature. That beautiful, bubbling light that we are made of. An energy that is beyond logic, beyond reason, beyond definition, beyond even consciousness. I don’t need to understand it. I don’t need to search for it. I am it. It is me. I am the answer. I am the joy and the love and the safety that I seek. And it’s okay if in an hour I’ve forgotten once again. Because this is where I will always inevitably return. I can come back again and again, as many times as I need to. This light within me will always be here waiting.

Photo by Pixabay on

Practicing Gratitude

It’s hard to believe just how much my anxiety has consumed my thoughts for the last few years. I am ever vigilant of it, making sure I’m feeling okay, anxious about becoming anxious. It is almost laughable if it weren’t so disturbing. I am constantly reminding myself that I’m okay. That nothing is wrong. I have so much to be happy about, to be grateful for. Why is it so hard to focus on the abundance all around me?

I feel as though I am continuously seeking something outside of myself to make me feel okay. There is an animalistic panic inside my chest as I desperately search. I don’t even know what I’m looking for. I’m always afraid of things not going the way I hope they will. I’m afraid I won’t be liked or that I’ll make a fool out of myself. But why do I even care? I have a hard time accepting that life doesn’t have to be so grim and serious all of the time. None of us even know why we are here or what any of this is about. But we get to choose how we spend our time here. We can choose to be distressed, fearful, even hateful, resisting what is laid out before us. Or we can choose to be open to whatever comes our way, to use this time to be joyful, to experience and share as much love as we possibly can, to stand in wonder at all that is before us, to be grateful that we are anything at all.

I don’t know how this sense of entitlement tends to develop inside of us. At what point did we decide that we were owed this life? That we are owed these experiences? That we won’t be okay if everything doesn’t go our way? I’m trying so hard to always remind myself that it is a true blessing just to breathe. I have been given this incredible gift of existing, yet all I seem to do is complain about the small issues I am able to find with it.

Even as I sit at my desk right now, there are hundreds of things that I could focus on and feel grateful for. My body feels good. I am warm and cozy with my heater on behind me and a soft sweater wrapped around me. I am using this amazing gift of sight to see beautiful forms and colors all around me. I have a magical ability to hear sweet sounds from this technology before me. I even have an endless selection of music to choose from. I am using strange squiggles on a virtual surface to express my thoughts and feelings to others. It is all just too miraculous to fathom! How am I so easily able to ignore these things most of the time? I have become so accustomed to having these comforts and small pleasures, that I forget just how incredible they all are. None of this was owed to me. It is all a gift. I could have been born blind or deaf. I could have never been taught how to read and write. I could have been born at any other time in history where many of these things I now take for granted didn’t even exist.

I want to be able to remember these truths in each moment. To keep them close to my heart. To allow all of this gratitude to flow freely from me always. What a different life that would be. How amazing it is that just a small change of perspective within me could alter my world entirely. The best part is, I know that this other life is possible. I have the power to make it a reality. I’ve just got to keep trying, keep reminding myself every day, keep practicing this gratitude, this deep undulating love that is the essence of my being.

It is not my fault that my brain becomes so easily fixated on perceived problems. It has simply been wired to do so by millions of years of evolution and by decades of my personal, unconscious reinforcement of that pattern of thinking. It is nothing to despair about, to feel ashamed of, or to become frustrated or angered by. It simply is. Once again, rather than focus on how upset and helpless I feel, I can focus on the fact that I have recognized this, that I am able to change it. I am able to craft myself into anything I want to be. Just because it won’t be easy doesn’t mean it won’t be possible, that it won’t be worth it.

I have been letting myself get discouraged because the results of this work aren’t rapid or readily visible. I’m sure I have already come a long way on this journey without realizing it. This type of change is incremental. It’s something that you have to keep working at every day. I may not feel any different an hour from now or even a week or a month from now, but that doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. I may not feel different, but by following this intention and practicing it again and again, I will be different. Even if it’s hard to notice at first. And after all, what else have I got to do with all this time? I’m going to be here either way. What could be a better use of that time than trying to be mindful, trying to enjoy it? I don’t have to keep searching outside of myself to find ways to feel okay. I am already okay. I always am. I am complete. I have everything I need within myself. I just have to open my heart and let it carry me.

Photo by Jess Bailey Designs on

Learning to Live with Anxiety

One of the most ironic aspects of having anxiety is that the more you try to avoid it, the worse it gets. Sometimes even when I’m not feeling anxious at all and having a good time, the fear that I may become anxious actual sends me into that state of mind. It is quite frustrating. Yet almost humorous sometimes as well, when you’re in the mood to see it that way at least.

There are all kinds of drugs and therapies designed to help people suffering from anxiety. It is one of the most common mental health problems. However, none of these things will cure your anxiety. That has been hard for me to accept. I so desperately want to never have to think about my anxiety again. I want to live a “normal” life.

When you have an anxiety disorder, though, all you can really do is make friends with that part of yourself. It will always be with you. Why not try to get along? Yoga has taught me that one of the main reasons we suffer so much in this life is because we try so desperately to avoid suffering. This serves only to prolong our pain and unease.

When I was young and sad I used to imagine myself as two separate beings. One was my emotional body, a scared child. The other was my intellectual, rational body, the loving parent. I would comfort myself in this way quite often. I think the same may be helpful now that I struggle more with anxiety rather than sadness. Perhaps I’ll try to imagine my anxiety as a small frightened animal. Backed into a corner, ready to fight or flee. My rational mind is the gentle caretaker. Showing the animal that it is okay. Waiting for it to trust me. To relax when it feels ready.

Thinking about my mental problems in this way helps me to feel compassion for these parts of myself rather than anger and frustration. It is hard to ignore your body when it is telling you that you are in some type of danger. Anxiety is the body’s signal that you need to be alert and ready for a life-threatening situation. We were not designed to ignore such an important cue, even if it is unwarranted. And we can never hope to eliminate it completely. It is important and necessary in the right circumstances. We all need to be able to feel stress.

Rather than condemn that feeling and try to run from it, I want to try to accept it. I know that if I really allow myself to feel my anxiety, it will dissipate. I also know that when my mind is anxious, my body is tense. I’ll often notice that I’m holding my breath or breathing very shallowly. My neck and shoulders start to tense up. If I allow myself to sit with my anxiety and be present, I can work to release this tension. I can consciously relax and breathe deeply again. Telling my brain that it’s okay. We’re safe.

While my anxiety may not be a sign that I’m in mortal peril like it was in our evolutionary history, I can still take it as a signal that the small frightened animal within me is needing some reassurance. I can take it as a cue to take a moment to be with myself, be kind to myself, to ask myself what I need to feel safe right now.

I know I’ll be in an entirely different mindset when my anxiety inevitably sets in later, but hopefully I’ll be able to remember my intention. I’ll try not to run. I’ll try to listen instead. I’ll sit with my anxiety, my frightened little inner friend, until it is calm once more. I will be grateful for it’s desire to warn and protect me, even though it may be a bit misguided at times. I am hopeful that with practice we will both be able to live together peacefully one day.

Photo by Petar Staru010deviu0107 on

What Could Mean More Than This?

There is no right way or wrong way. You just have to live. So I do what I do and at least I exist. What could mean more than this?

Hit the Switch – Bright Eyes

This resistance, this avoidance, is poisonous. There is nothing else. There is no where to go. Nothing to do. Nothing to fix or change. Just this. And what more could we ask for? What could mean more than this? At least we exist.

It is so important that we keep bringing ourselves back to this simple fact. How wonderful to be alive. To be able to experience the improbability of it all. There is no need to struggle or run. Here we are. This is it. Just allow yourself to be here, in this moment. Just melt. Experience. Enjoy.

You don’t have to try to be anything in particular. Just whatever you already are. Just observing the constant metamorphosis of everything as one moment bleeds into the next. There is no “right” way to exist. There is no pressure. You get to live. And that alone is something to always be grateful for. The rest is up to you. Use this life in anyway you choose. Don’t let anyone spoil this miracle for you, especially yourself.

Allow yourself to enjoy this. And that doesn’t mean every moment must be overflowing with pleasures. You don’t have to become a hedonist. But we can all choose to keep that spark of gratitude with us always. And enjoy whatever else may arise. Enjoy your personal mystery of consciousness. Stay curious. Be the observer. Allow there to be space between all the pain and the pleasure alike. Just watch. Just marvel at it all equally.

What a strange world this is! What a wonderfully strange life we have been gifted! No matter what else may come, revel in the insane beauty of it all at least once every day. Never forget that none of this was owed to you, yet here you stand. Nothing is “right” or “wrong.” It just is. And what a gift. Don’t forget to say thank you with your whole being. Don’t forget to give your love generously. You will never run out. Give as generously as the universe has given to you.

There is no need to fear. There is no need to worry. Here we are. What could mean more than this?

Photo by Anna Shvets on

This Gift

Photo by Simon Migaj on

When I was only a few years old, I can remember one particular instance on Christmas day very clearly. My older sister and I were gleefully opening piles of presents from my parents under the tree. It was early in the morning. My parents were in their bathrobes, gazing at us sleepily, but happily, from over their steaming cups of coffee.

As my sister begins unwrapping one gift, her face falls. In her hands she holds the board game Operation. I hear her shout angrily, “I didn’t want this!” To be fair, neither did I. We were both fairly timid and anxious children. The idea of a loud buzzer going off if you make a mistake in a game seemed quite upsetting. However, I can still feel how absolutely mortified I was by her reaction.

I think I must have been too young to really articulate my feelings at the time. I genuinely may have not been able to talk. (I have memories from far earlier on in life than most people I’ve learned.) But even being so young, I knew how terribly rude and ungrateful my sister was being. How could someone complain about a gift! Even if it is something you hate. It is still a gift. And gifts should be met with gratitude.

I think back on this memory a lot. Today it came to mind because I have been struggling with my anger once again. I have a tendency to get angry at the smallest inconveniences and keep that anger with me all day. Some days are worse than others in this regard. In order to quell that anger this morning, I meditated on the fact that this life, this entire existence, is a gift. Every moment of it.

How silly it is to let such small moments make me ungrateful for this gift. This unimaginably wonderful gift! I got to wake up this morning. I got to see the sun rise. I got to listen to music. I got to feel soft sensations against my skin. I got to snuggle and kiss my sweet fur children. I got to sip amazing coffee with pumpkin spice almond milk creamer!

It can be so easy to let our minds ruminate on the things that displease us. It can be so easy to forget to be thankful. The next time I find myself pouting about something, or getting upset, I am going to silently whisper thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you, universe, sweet mother earth, for giving me this existence, this consciousness! How could I ever be so selfish to ask for anything more? It is perfect in every way. Because I wasn’t owed any of it. Yet all of this was given to me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I am so grateful.

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on

Contemplating Solipsism and Death

Yesterday I was exposed to the idea of solipsism. This is a philosophy that says only our own mind and subjective experience can be known. Everything outside of ourselves and our own consciousness cannot ever really be confirmed or verified as true and existing. Because of this concept, solipsism is unfalsifiable. It cannot be proven or disproven.

I have considered this perspective before but never knew it had a name. I can still remember my sister and I discussing this idea as young children. Teasing my mother, saying we couldn’t be sure she was real. She and I agreed that we believed in one another, but that everyone else’s existence was suspect. I never realized until now how intelligent we were at even such a young age.

I still find this idea quite fascinating and think about it often. I’ve heard some use this as an excuse to do whatever they please whether or not that causes harm to others. I never looked at it that way though. I think it falls in line with yogic philosophy in a way. We are all that exists, but everything that exists is us. We are one with the universe and all that is in it.

For some reason this topic makes me contemplate death as well. If we are all that exists, we can’t be sure that we will truly ever die. The world around us is made up of never-ending cycles in a lot of ways. Perhaps we are just the manifestation of yet another cycle. Perhaps life, existence will also continue on in a new cycle after death brings an ending to the current one. I find myself hoping that is the case quite often. I’m not really sure what difference it makes though. Both ceasing to exist and existing forever are frightening concepts.

Death wouldn’t seem much less terrifying to me even if reincarnation is correct. As far as I know, I wouldn’t retain any of my current memories in my next life. So in a sense it wouldn’t be me anymore. I suppose that’s the part I can never wrap my head around though. I guess the me I identify as isn’t my true essence ultimately. There is a me behind the me I know. The stillness behind my eyes that watches my thoughts as they come and go.

If that continues on forever and simply my ego dies with my physical body, I’m not sure if that is comforting or not. In the end I guess I’m just trying to find a way to overcome my fear of death. I’ve been thinking about death and dying a lot lately for some reason. I’d like to find a way to make peace with it. With my own death and the death of my loved ones. Both of which encroach further and further each day. Perhaps I’m just foolishly searching for a way to justify continuing to live in denial for a bit longer.

You Are Not Your Thoughts

Since I was in high school or maybe even younger, I developed a somewhat strange way of thinking that was comforting. A duality seemed to exist in me at will, and I would imagine my physical body as a cute helpless animal that my mind had to care for. It allowed me to feel compassion for myself. I had the tendency to be quite critical and cruel to myself, but thinking in this way helped me to be kinder and more loving when I was feeling devastated or overwhelmed.

More recently, however, a third part of me has begun to emerge in this strange mental play as well. The seed of this idea was planted by something I read once. I have no idea where, but I’m certain I did not come up with it. As you may have already guessed by the title of this post, the idea was you are not your thoughts. Even while we are thinking, there is somehow also a separate awareness of those thoughts. We aren’t those thoughts, we are the observers of our thoughts. I like to image this is what in yoga is often referred to as the higher self.

This realization has completely transformed the way I see myself. I see my consciousness as something almost apart from and deeper than both my mind and body. This view gives me space from my experiences. It’s as if my consciousness exists outside of my physical body. This physical body also affects the way my conscious is able to manifest mentally. The chemicals that control the way my brain is able to function are affected by so many different factors from my genetics to the things I do and experience each day. But I am not my anxiety. I am not my anger or my doubt or my shame. I am able to observe my body and mind’s experience of these things now from a distance with curiosity and compassion. This space keeps me from getting caught in a torrent of negative thoughts and overwhelming emotions. I just observe in stillness and let it settle. And it will always settle if you don’t keep stirring it up.

Maybe this idea is new to some of you. If so, I hope that you play with it in your own lives. I am still learning to utilize this mindfulness every day, but it has helped me more than I could have imagined. My wish is that by sharing what I’ve learned in a new way, it may also help others.

Observe in stillness.