Ending The Endless Pursuit
I haven’t been open about my actual thoughts in the past few months. I have been repressing my true inner voice which feels suffocating. But, now I have decided though. I am gonna talk my heart out via my words doesn’t matter how it changes other people’s perception of me. So, stay tuned, you’re gonna see more writeups!
I have been feeling down and behind in life lately. The primary reason for that is the consequences of my decisions in the past. Sometimes I feel proud that I’m the one turning my life around and deciding everything but sometimes it just turns into guilt and regret.
I am kind of a perfectionist. To be very honest I don’t like this trait. Perfectionism holds you behind from a lot of experiences and it kinda makes you fear failure which is not useful at all.
This continuous pursuit of certain good feelings and this need for some achievement have left me even more empty and desperate. I saw this quote from one of my favorite books yesterday;
“According to Buddhism, the root of suffering is neither the feeling of pain nor of sadness nor even of meaninglessness. Rather, the real root of suffering is this never-ending and pointless pursuit of ephemeral feelings, which causes us to be in a constant state of tension, restlessness and dissatisfaction. Due to this pursuit, the mind is never satisfied. Even when experiencing pleasure, it is not content, because it fears this feeling might soon disappear, and craves that this feeling should stay and intensify. People are liberated from suffering not when they experience this or that fleeting pleasure, but rather when they understand the impermanent nature of all their feelings, and stop craving them. This is the aim of Buddhist meditation practices. In meditation, you are supposed to closely observe your mind and body, witness the ceaseless arising and passing of all your feelings, and realize how pointless it is to pursue them. When the pursuit stops, the mind becomes very relaxed, clear and satisfied. All kinds of feelings go on arising and passing — joy, anger, boredom, lust — but once you stop craving particular feelings, you can just accept them for what they are. You live in the present moment instead of fantasizing about what might have been. The resulting serenity is so profound that those who spend their lives in the frenzied pursuit of pleasant feelings can hardly imagine it. It is like a man standing for decades on the seashore, embracing certain ‘good’ waves and trying to prevent them from disintegrating, while simultaneously pushing back ‘bad’ waves to prevent them from getting near him. Day in, day out, the man stands on the beach, driving himself crazy with this fruitless exercise. Eventually, he sits down on the sand and just allows the waves to come and go as they please. How peaceful!”
― Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
It made me contemplate about the good old time when I was meditating daily and my anxiety had just disappeared all of a sudden. I was just feeling more contempt even though I had so little.
I really like the core idea of Buddhism. Sure, it has turned into a fully-fledged religion but I think it boils down to a few basic things such as meditation, detachment, and most importantly the idea of living in the present.
Meditation practice is heavily backed by neuroscience also. The pursuit of feelings, happiness, satisfaction, and status is useless because nothing persists. Take an achievement as an example. For a moment you feel uplifted after achieving something and then after a while it just fades away leaving you the same old you. This pursuit never ends and it makes you feel so empty in the end.
When you take happiness, sadness, achievement, and pain as something temporary that comes and goes, you truly start living. The realization that all these feelings are just a temporary phase, is a big one.
To live in the present is to stop clinging to your past and fantasizing about the future. The past is a mere thought in your brain which we call memory and you can never change it so don’t let it affect your present in a negative way. The future is always uncertain. It is always different from what you have expected it to be. Dwelling in the future makes you more desperate and makes you wanna be “there” rather than “here”.
Now, it doesn’t mean you should never think about the future and past. It is not possible and not even healthy.
You should plan in the short term while having your roadmap in your head but shouldn’t expect the future to be as you want it to be. Having a plan for the future is different than continuously dwelling in useless thoughts and imagination about the future.
You should also contemplate on your past but never let it affect your present in a negative way. Learning from your past is different than regretting it.
The way you practice all above is by sitting down and actually meditating be it for only one minute.
I have learned from Taoism, Buddhism and Neuroscience so don’t expect me to be a perfect teacher but I’ll surely give you a basic idea of meditation.
The most significant type of meditation is called mindfulness. All you have to do is sit straight on a chair, close your eyes and notice your breath come and go.
You don’t control your breath but just watch it. Watch the inhalation and exhalation. If you’re doing it for the first time it’ll feel a bit weird and difficult but you’ll get used to it.
You’ll find your mind continuously wandering around and thinking about useless stuff. The moment you notice that you’re thinking something you put your focus on your breathing sensation at the tip of your nose and the thought will just disappear.
Set a timer for one or five minutes in the beginning. Persistence is the key. All you have to do is just notice your breath for few minutes every day in the morning.
Also, don’t try to stop thoughts because you just can’t. Rather notice thoughts come and go.
You can also count your breath at first to better focus.
What meditation practice does is to train our minds to take feelings, emotions, and thoughts as temporary waves that come and go. It helps us get out of this endless pursuit.
I hope it helped!