Mental Health Mondays: The Most Powerful Tool For Mental Well-Being I Learned From Psych

Be not that which shall arise.

Does the tree resist the falling of its leaves? Does the river resist its inevitable flow? Does the sage resist the coming of a feeling?

They don’t, for resistance is pointless. Reaction is wisdom’s nemesis.

Have you ever fired off a snarky email and instantly regretted it? Have you ever responded to a partner on impulse, only to wish you could take it back?

These are examples of reactivity in action. Something happens, and in response, a feeling arises. That feeling, if observed, is merely a pattern of energy. But if not observed and rather identified with, it becomes a source of tension. That tension is relieved only when funneled into a reaction — a reaction that can hurt yourself and others. And all this can happen in the space of a moment.

But reactivity so often leads to regret. Countless times I’ve found myself apologizing for something done on impulse or said ‘without thinking’. It leads to damage. I’ve found that people can judge your character on your first reaction to a situation, rather than your later reflection. Whatever’s of merit, the former bears less fruit for you than the latter.

So reactivity isn’t great for social and professional outcomes. Beyond that, it can be unhealthy for mental well-being. There’s no time when this is more clear than when you’re in the grips of a so-called ‘bad trip’.

I was at a get-together some time ago, where some THC-infused edibles were passed around. It’s debatable whether these bring on psychedelic responses, but that’s not important right now. What matters is that THC, when eaten, can bring on psychically distorting effects that can destabilize. And that’s exactly what happened to Jack [fake name] at this get-together.

After eating an imprudent share, Jack came onto the high. More accurately, the high came down on Jack. It twisted and tumbled his psyche, bringing on changes for which he was unready. And in response, he fought.

He sat, in the middle of the occasion, head in hands. Within, he tried to hold on. He clung tightly to certainty, to the known, in the fear of losing himself to this psychic storm. Unfortunately, this only made things worse. Eventually, he had to be guided to a couch to sleep it off.

Now, I’ve been in situations like that which Jack faced. I’ve felt the fear of losing all that I am to a force that seemed overwhelming as it bore down on my fragile self. But that’s the point. The self borne down upon is fragile — for it’s an illusion.

When, in such moments, I’ve put up resistance or clung on to what I’ve known, the storm does not abate. It continues to rage, while I merely hope for its end.

But there’s something else — the opposite, in fact — you can do when faced with this storm. And it changes everything:

You surrender.

When you surrender, give up reacting, and let go of your grip of an identity, the character of the experience changes. In the very moment of surrender, the storm sweeps away your identity. But in that same moment, you realize that you are the storm. You were that overwhelming force the whole time; the self you sought to protect from it was just an illusion — an illusion called the ego.

When you experience this, two wonderful things happen. Firstly, the ego dissolves. Secondly, the notion of ‘you’ — of what you are — rapidly expands, limited only by the extent of your sensory capacity. You become all as all becomes you. You realize that any difference was set up by a self-concerned, egoic mind.

The storm is gone, the endless, warm space of awareness remains.

That’s what awaits behind non-reactivity, at least in the psychedelic context. In other contexts, the notion of surrender is as important. In all branches of meditation of which I’m aware, non-reactivity is paramount.

To meditate is to simply be, without trying to do anything. It’s to accept everything that arises without reaction or rejection. Through this practice, you journey to the same place teleported to with psychedelics: unity with that oneness that is everything, expansive awareness, and an absence of ego. And here, peace awaits.

Important to consider for this essay, however, is this element of surrender itself. To ‘surrender’, or ‘let go’, is an actual event that occurs. It’s a mental function, something the brain does (or ‘not does’). See, it’s like most of the events that occur in a psychedelic or meditative context: words (i.e. concepts) fail to define them, and we can but use metaphor to describe that which can only be experienced.

To surrender is to turn off action. It’s to remove the mind’s tendency to do something in response to a trigger. It’s to become, as they say, the conscious witness to that which seems to happen ‘to’ you. Once you’ve turned off action, you see that which happened to you as merely another part of ‘you’. At that stage, non-reactivity becomes not something new, but something natural.

To surrender to that which arises is to deprive it of power over you. To sharpen this mental tool is to gain the ability to decide how you respond, to anything. Anger after a coworker’s sarcasm? Surrender. Turn off action, and allow yourself to feel the anger as it washes over you and abates. Realize that that feeling is merely another aspect of you, like everything you experience.

When you do, you’ll find that ever-sought after capacity. That capacity you thought you’d have to find but which was within all along. That capacity which buoys you along a happy, not a heavy, existence:


Photo: Comfreak from Pixabay

#bpd, #Anxiety, #Borderline, #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder, #HelpfulHints, #Inspirational, #Mentalhealth, #Positivity, #Relationships, #BPDIsNoLongerMe, #Awareness

Published by VintageDava

Follow me on Twitter at #Davagirl

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