HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 2, 2017 – 12:00am
Life can get difficult. The money chase can put so much pressure on a person, it may seem like his whole life’s purpose is about earning money.
You need money to pay the rent or amortization, to feed the family, to send kids to school, to live a good life. And so you work and work because that is how you can pay the bills and have some surplus money for the future.
Modern life can pull you every which way. There is the pressure to earn, to conform, to constantly compete, to succeed, to be politically correct. There is also traffic, pollution, and the stream of life on hyper speed. Everything but the traffic seems to be moving too fast. There is no rest anywhere.
There are ways to deal with things when they become unbearable. Some may be good but some may also be harmful. Let’s start with what is harmful.
There are things you can take into your body that can deaden the pain you may be feeling. There’s alcohol, different types of drugs, and food that will make you feel good even for a while. But to keep on relying on these to help you cope is unsustainable and unrealistic.
There are other distractions like gambling, sex, and the constant pursuit of activities that excite you enough to keep altering your mood. John Bradshaw, a psychologist who writes about addictions, says that anything we do regularly that is mood altering can be addictive. Too much of anything can be bad for you. Below, he talks about, and this will surprise you, religious addiction. Yes, there is such a thing.
“The feeling of righteousness is the core mood alteration among religious addicts. Religious addiction is a massive problem in our society. It may be the most pernicious of all addictions because it’s so hard for a person to break his delusion and denial. How can anything be wrong with loving God and giving your life for good works and service to mankind?”
I don’t intend to start a discussion on religion here. Bradshaw’s point is, anything in great excess can be addictive.
There are positive ways we can reset ourselves and make us feel refreshed and ready to go back to the battlefield of daily living. All the practices that can help us cope with life in ways that won’t hurt us have something to do with going inside ourselves. But to do so, we must be able to empty ourselves so that new energy can come in.
Below are some “reset buttons” you can use to get your energy back:
1. Exercise. At any age, exercise is beneficial to your health and well-being. Physical activity makes you come alive and aware of your own body. It’s great to release the endorphins that exercise brings. Your body, with its emotions, feelings and drives, is your way of experiencing life and the world. Include yoga, tai chi, and other physical-mental disciplines.
2. Meditation. Meditation in and of itself is a good thing. You don’t need a reason to do it but it will help you. All there is to meditation is to be aware of everything that is happening as you sit quietly. It does not demand that you be analytical, defensive, or anything. All it asks is that you allow yourself to be free and observe everything that is coming and going without attachment or self-interest. Let your thoughts, opinions, and biases come and go. Somewhere, sometime during constant meditative practice, your authentic self will appear. Life will still be the same with all the good and bad in it, but you will have changed and found your power to let go.
3. Stop social media from taking over your life. Sure, our friends are there and that’s where we catch up with them. But virtual life is not real life. In real life, you talk to people and interact with them more completely. You can’t mute or block them instantly. You come present as you are. You show up to real life.
Every once in a while, it is beneficial to disengage from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. and live the way humanity did from the beginning of time up to around 10 years ago when the smart phone took over our lives. If you give more of your time and energy to virtual life, your real life may suffer immensely. Talk, shake hands, hug, laugh, tell stories, express opinions spontaneously while facing a real person.
4. Keep a journal. Writing can help you get in touch with who you are and give you a sense of being centered. Getting to know and becoming clear to yourself can help you find your life’s purpose. The world is a confusing place but you can know yourself well enough not to get lost.