Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Apathy or Spiritual Enlightenment?

I'm having trouble coming up with some big pressing issue to write about here today. I normally have some little drama, some problem that I expound upon or allude to here and try to break it down until I can make sense of it or find a way to work on it.

Nothing's really striking me as pressing today. I still have some irritations (another dog diarrhea incident this morning, but fortunately it was contained on linoleum), some family issues that are fluttering around like some pesty flies, but nothing has me fired up.

The IE continues to go well. At supper time I was feeling a little nauseated again (I'm slowly moving my medication time from morning to evening to try to counteract these side effects), so I ate a very light supper. Before, in diet mode, because it was meal time I 'd stuff myself with as many vegetables as I could because it was "guilt-free" food and a permissible time to eat. Later I made Mabel a little ice cream cone and decided to make one for myself, too. It tasted great, and although it was much smaller than anything I'd get at an ice cream stand, it was just as satisfying. It all felt incredibly normal.

My first reaction is that it has to be the medicine. I told my SIL this morning on our walk about something that came up yesterday. I said if it had happened the week before I'd be seething, but today I'm just shrugging my shoulders and thinking, "Oh well, there's no point worrying about it now; I'll address it when it actually happens."

I keep thinking about Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now" and his idea of people incorrectly identifying themselves with their problems. I caught myself almost feeling disappointed that my anxiety and urges to binge are vanishing so quickly with this medicine, because there was a part of my mind that was identifying with these problems and wanted to cling to them for a while longer, whether it be for sympathy or to be treated with kid gloves by my family for a while.

He writes about it very well here:

"To suddenly see that you are or have been attached to your pain can be a quite shocking realization. The moment you realize this, you have broken the attachment. The pain-body is an energy field, almost like an entity, that has become temporarily lodged in your inner space. It is life energy that has become trapped, energy that is no longer flowing. Of course, the pain-body is there because of certain things that happened in the past. It is the living past in you, and if you identify with it, you identify with the past. A victim identity is the belief that the past is more powerful than the present, which is the opposite of the truth. It is the belief that other people and what they did to you are responsible for who you are now, for your emotional pain or your inability to be your true self. The truth is that the only power there is, is contained within this moment: It is the power of your presence. Once you know that, you also realize that you are responsible for your inner space now -- nobody else is -- and that the past cannot prevail against the power of the Now."

This is pretty shocking for me. It's like my brain is going, "Uh oh. If I can't identify myself with Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Binge Eating Disorder, I have to be my true self. And what is that?"

On my walk yesterday I was by myself and listening to my Sirius satellite radio. I was flipping through the channels and came across Janis Joplin singing "Me and Bobby McGee." In this song (written by Kris Kristofferson) she sings "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose," and that's how I'm feeling right now. I'm being freed from the compulsive thoughts that lead me to anxiety and bingeing, and I'm feeling at loose ends.

When I have these aggravating moments now and I don't (over) react, I actually worry that I'm being lulled into a drugged apathy, a zombified state. But read this excerpt from "The Power of Now:"

"Do you resent what you are doing? It may be your job, or may have agreed to do something and are doing it, but part of you resents and resists it. Are you carrying unspoken resentment toward a person close to you? Do you realize that the energy you thus emanate is so harmful in its effects that you are in fact contaminating yourself as well as those around you?...

"Maybe you are being taken advantage of, maybe the activity you are engaged in is tedious, maybe someone close to you is dishonest, irritating, or unconscious, but all this is irrelevant. Whether your thoughts and emotions about this situation are justified or not makes no difference. The fact is that you are resisting what is. You are making the present moment into an enemy. You are creating unhappiness...

"Either stop doing what you are doing, speak to the person concerned and express fully what you feel, or drop the negativity that your mind has created around the situation and that serves no purpose whatsoever except to strengthen a false sense of self."

He then explains in simple terms how to drop the negativity:

"How do you drop a piece of hot coal that you are holding in your hand? How do you drop some heavy and useless baggage that you are carrying? By recognizing that you don't want to suffer the pain or carry the burden anymore and then letting go of it."

Later in the book Tolle elaborates on people creating drama in their lives and what happens when you let go of it:

"When you feel sorry for yourself, that's drama. When you feel guilty or anxious, that's drama. When you let the past or future obscure the present, you are creating time, psychological time -- the stuff out of which drama is made. Whenever you are not honoring the present moment by allowing it to be, you are creating drama.

"Most people are in love with their particular life drama. Their story is their identity. The ego runs their life. They have their whole sense of self invested in it. Even their -- usually unsuccessful -- search for an answer, a solution, or for healing becomes part of it. What they fear and resist most is the end of their drama. As long as they are their mind, what they fear and resist most is their own awakening.

"When you live in complete acceptance of what is, that is the end of all drama in your life. Nobody can even have an argument with you, no matter how hard he or she tries. You cannot have an argument with a fully conscious person. An argument implies identification with your mind and a mental position, as well as resistance and reaction to the other person's position. The result is that the polar opposites become mutually energized. These are the mechanics of unconsciousness. You can still make your point clearly and firmly, but there will be no reactive force behind it, no defense or attack. So it won't turn into drama. When you are fully conscious, you cease to be in conflict. 'No one who is at one with himself can even conceive of conflict,' states A Course in Miracles. This refers not only to conflict with other people but more fundamentally to conflict within you, which ceases when there is no longer any clash between the demands and expectations of your mind and what is."

It wasn't too long ago that I was wishing to achieve a state like this. Now that I'm beginning to get it, I'm questioning it. Am I in a drugged stupor, or is the medicine a tool that's helping me to stop resisting what is and stop creating unnecessary unhappiness for myself? Am I apathetic or enlightened?

I need to quit doubting or second-guessing this gift I'm receiving, whether it's drug-induced or not. I'm becoming more conscious, I'm becoming less resistant to what is and creating less drama in my life. These are all good things. Whether I'm ready for it or not, my life drama is coming to an end. I need to learn to accept it and be at peace with it.


Ty said...

I have yet to dig into The Power of Now but I plan on taking it on vacation.

It is so hard letting go of something that has been a part of you or a part of your life, even when it's not healthy or good for you. I know I find myself wondering who I'll be without it.

Beula said...

I think what you are experiencing is not drugged stupor, but normal thinking. This seems to be how Mark thinks. He doesn't sweat the small stuff, and believes most of life is the small stuff. Not me. If I am not agonizing/worrying about something I do not feel "normal." I feel like something is missing. I worry when I am not worried. I am ordering that book today. I wonder how life would be without all my dramas? Boring? Oh ho, much work to do here I can see. Interesting stuff.

Tree Lover said...

I'm not on any medication, and I find myself wondering if my nonreactions are apathy or spiritual enlightenment from time to time, too. In the past, such nonreactions on my part would have meant that I was apathetic, but that's not what is happening now. My nonreactions are coming from a place of consciousness, and that is definitely not apathy. I can relate to how this change is a little hard for you to accept. Tolle is right that we get invested in our own particlar life dramas. It is challenging to give them up.

Shauna said...

I've been thinking about this myself since starting my AD medicine. I just don't get all wound up about things that would have sent me spinning before. Also, I find the medicine has made it easier to pay attention to my thoughts as they arise and pull my attention back to the present moment. For me, the medication and the meditation/mindfulness practice are working together really well. sometimes I wonder who I am without my emotional distress, but overall this is much easier!