LESSON 1. THE ONLY REALITY IS REALITY
This is a lesson many people do not learn in their lifetime. Most think that their thoughts and even anticipations are "real", yet logically they are things occurring solely in the brain. (And if we knew they were no more real than a movie, they would just be interesting, with nothing to fear or experience as being "bad".)
Yes, emotions are real (they cause "feelings" that we experience in our bodies, something with discernible physical sensations, some with just discomfort or feeling "good"). And then we make up stuff about those emotions, and then generate other emotions from those thoughts. And, so, on and on it goes governing most of us throughout our days.
But, in truth, if we check in and see reality, we will not experience the discomfort due to things we make up in our minds.
Reality is only that which is discernible in the real world, not in the imagination.
LIVING A THOUSAND DEATHS
The thought of how terrible it will be when you're really old is a thought creation that brings the feelings into the now - so you get to experience the feelings you fear feeling (how dumb is that?!).
Yes, the feelings are real (physically) and there are neural firings in the brain, but there is no miserable old age right now. (Plus it is probably exaggerated, as even when really old, one doesn't feel what we think one will feel.)
Thus way we create a "thousand deaths" by creating it a thousand times in "our experience" through our imagination, based solely on thoughts we made up!
Why couldn't I just be experiencing what is going on right this moment, instead?
If there was some value in creating such a dire image in our mind, then that would be "functional". But the truth is that there is no actual value (to make it so dire) and there is an actual detriment, not only to how we feel but ultimately to our body. (We are capable of recognizing something that we need to correct and/or do, without having to hype it up!)
When you are feeling bad about the past or the future that you create in your mind, stop and look at reality - and you'll find that, right now, right at this moment, you are ok. In fact, if you did that in each succeeding moment, you'd find that the reality is that you're ok right now...and right now...and right now.
"Right now, I am ok. I will not accept an illusion as "my reality". I am ok, right now and that is my only reality. I will not entertain myself with any negative made-ups."
BUT WHY DO WE DO THIS? AND THERE IS A CHOICE ABOUT IT
But why do we do those. It is all a form of doing what the primitive brain does: try to predict what is going to happen, so that it can match a record of what to do to survive. (This could be relatively effortless, if we didn't add a bunch of drama to it!)
Now, we can let that primitive brain run things, or we can use our higher brain to run things.
"Yes, I need to plan for [my old age] and I will focus on what I need to do on the 25th and once I'm through setting up my plan, there is no value in fretting about it, as I will simply do the best I can." (Perspective on Undesired Outcomes.)
"I will tickle it on my calendar to revisit and replan this every year, as I am sure that is adequate."
"Other than that I will not focus on anything but what will create as good a future or present as possible for me. I am always ok right now."
I will not accept any "picture" images and think that they are the real thing; they are only a picture of something in a neuronal pattern and are not the actual thing. I am not scared of ghosts and fictional characters. I am ok right now.
I choose to feel good. I choose to relish this moment. I choose to experience this gift of life. I am just playing with this life, as long as I am blessed enough to have it. I am ok right now."
Besides understanding how fruitless the "imagination suffering" strategies are, in fact, we need to identify and use the strategies that work.
What I do to "get present":
I look at something, noticing details I might not ordinarily focus on. (And I can
"touch" something, noticing the details through "feeling" them.)
I say an affirmation that I've developed. (See above and select or modify.)
I notice sensations in my body, any tensions, letting go of the tensions.
I notice that "I am ok right now. My body is ok, I am in a good shelter, the temperature is comfortable, and I am at choice at doing what I desire or need to do."
What I do to "not dwell" on thoughts that don't serve me:
I read a book or get involved in a movie or tv (but be sure to check in the latter case to see that you are not ruminating in the spaces between attention to the tv).
I instruct myself to return to now.
I instruct myself to say an affirmation, a goal,
I learn something that will enhance my life and capabilities.
I declare the opposite: "I will not allow useless negative thoughts to enter my brain." and then hum or sing if the noise keeps on coming back. Stupid humming or singing that is boring or whatever is better than stupid thoughts that are upsetting."
I accept that I can't control all outcomes, but I can adjust and create happiness...
As in the piece Fearlessness, I accept that I cannot control all outcomes as simply a reality. But I can know that the outcomes are not determinant of my life but simply an experience in life, passing into oblivion and, soon, from memory in 99% of all cases. And if I do not bemoan reality (which bemoaning is one of the great sources of suffering), I can simply go about adding more happiness to my life and some more of the permanent gains that increase my "What I Haves, For Sure."