My brain is a real workaholic and an annoying over-achiever, if I’m being completely sincere.
My mind doesn’t think I listen in, but I sometimes overhear it whisper, “hey! What is the absolute most any mind should ever do or think in any span of time, and then I’m going to double that just to be a turd to this guy.”
I do keep trying to tell my brain to take a vacation, but it doesn’t listen because it is a workaholic, and workaholics, well, duh… They struggle taking vacations. Not working often has a way of being a bit stressful to those who can’t fathom actual time off.
This is how my brain works:
Three seconds ago. Three minutes ago. Three weeks ago. Three years ago. Three decades ago… My brain is there. In all those places. Always.
Three seconds from now. Three minutes from now. Three weeks from now. Three years from now. Three decades from now… My brain is there. In all those places. Always.
And let’s not forget the present moment… Whatever is currently going on is always stacked into the mix pretty heavily as well.
I can take part in sixteen conversations at once, only finishing tiny fractions of each conversation at any one time, and somehow finishing the vast majority of them. I can watch fifteen different TV series, and often not get all the way through a single episode of any of them in one sitting, yet I can somehow follow along with all of them.
On the deceiving flip side, to others I can also seem like a real space cadet that isn’t even mentally there even though my thoughts are there presently. They’re just everywhere else at the same time.
Of course, with a mind as overactive as mine, it can be tricky to not just be at peace with myself, but to have a hard time turning on the “let’s just chill” vibe with people I know and care about.
To know me is to know that, against all evidence, I do not have an “introspection” button. I have an “extrospection” button. For better or worse, I tend to say whatever introspective thing I’m thinking aloud, and I rarely invoke filters. I process all the things that most people keep buried deep in their minds, and I do it by barfing those thoughts onto whomever I’m with. I promise if we are ever friends, you will absolutely love me for that quirk at the same time that you sometimes hate me for it.
Anyways, that’s my brain. I’m sure you’ve already gathered my reality on your own if you have followed me over the years.
I always knew my brain was that way, too, but I never knew the full extent of just how overworked it was until the day I achieved two full seconds of a completely clear and empty mind through meditation.
And… Those two seconds were all it took to scare the shit out of me.
“Meditate every day!” I’ve heard almost every mentally healthy person on the planet suggest. “It’s so good for you!”
After enough peer pressure, I finally decided to jump on the meditation bandwagon and try meditation for myself.
I didn’t just go sit in a quiet room, stare at a wall, and say “ohm” over and over either. I actually studied how to do it correctly and how to achieve a state of thoughtlessness. To not think of anything at all just sounded so nice and I wanted that.
I wasn’t able to achieve it the first time I tried. Not even close.
I didn’t achieve it the second time I tried, either. Closer, but still a long ways from my goal.
But on the third time? Yeah. It happened.
About fifteen minutes into the meditation, I somehow achieved an actual blank mind. I literally had a void of all thought.
It lasted for what I think was two seconds or so. Then, of course, a thought popped into my mind to promptly end it. Whoa, you did it. That was it, was the thought. That was followed with a flash flood of emotion that I never saw coming. I became overwhelmed with a strange bombardment of awareness, and I literally began bawling uncontrollably.
You see, I have always known that my mind doesn’t work quite the same way as the average human’s mind works. It just wasn’t until those two seconds where I didn’t have to think a single thought at all that I realized (for the first time) just how fucking loud and busy and overwhelming my mind is… All… The… Fucking… Time.
How do I explain the emotion that followed? Those two seconds were so profoundly disruptive to what my entire mental existence has been for four straight decades that I had no choice but to emotionally collapse with that new knowledge. In other words, I was overcome with the emotions that can only come with suddenly knowing just how burdensome a mind like mine truly is and what that has meant for my entire life, and all my relationships, and all my close friendships, and even with my work and hobbies. Two seconds was all it took.
I knew the burden existed before this experience. I knew I carried some type of burden around, but I had to actually ditch that burden completely, even if only for two seconds, to finally understand the true weight of it in my life.
I would compare it to how I used to weigh a hundred or so pounds more than I do now. I wasn’t born that way. I gained that weight slowly over a lifetime of ups and downs. I mean, I knew I was carrying an extra burden with me when it came to having all that extra weight, but I couldn’t really know just how the burden was impeding my life until I lost that weight. As soon as the weight was gone, just experiencing what kind of life I had been missing out on as a big fat guy brought powerful awareness that kept me from ever wanting to give up that new, healthier freedom.
So it was with my mind and those two seconds. That experience brought a powerful and instant awareness of what life could be without the mayhem that paves every corner of my mind.
Then, after the two seconds… Of course, there was that ridiculous and embarrassing bawl-fest I had to go through with the sudden awareness. I didn’t just cry a little, either. I fucking bawled for more than a minute, and I had absolutely no control over it.
<sigh> I haven’t yet mediated since that day because… Like I said… The experience scared the shit out of me. I didn’t like being so keenly aware of the weight my thoughts can be. All it did was give me more things to think about when it was over, not less.
I also didn’t like the fact that I truly enjoyed those two seconds of not thinking a single thought at all because it honestly made me think that eternity without thinking another thought ever again could actually be pretty nice. In other words, in a weird and unexpected way, death suddenly seemed like a possibly liberating thing, and that’s probably not a good thought to have if I have a disorder like bipolar.
Anyways, I know I haven’t said a fucking thing to sell you on this, but it was life changing, and I honestly think you all should try true meditation to try to achieve a blank mind as well, just so that you can have the perspective about your own minds that I know have about mine. This is one video that really helped me get there.
While that experience terrified me and left me feeling overwhelmed, it also filled me with a beautiful and strange hope that makes me really want to return to it again. Those two seconds changed the way I live and it has pushed me to find ways to somehow think less. The good cry I had after it happened also did wonders to help me destress immediately.
Obviously, an awareness of anything is what brings the potential for positive change, and those two seconds of an empty mind definitely brought me an awareness that I most likely needed in a time of my life that I needed it most.
Dan Pearce | Dan Pearce Was Here