In the first half of this book, we’ve learned how to use meditation and how to start introducing it gently into our lives. Now you have the ability to focus at will, to stop feeling stressed and to actually control how you feel and what you want to think about. This is an incredibly power because it means that you can choose to actually live in the moment and you can choose what’s important to you and how you want to feel.
But what if I told you that this isn’t just about ‘happiness’? What if I told you that this is also about getting the very most out of yourself. What if I told you that the things you’ve just learned could help you to tap into your full potential and to become almost superhuman?
Do I have your attention?
Welcome to ‘flow states’.
Remember what I just said about the importance of focussing on what’s going on around you? And on being awake, alive and in the moment?
This is how we’re supposed to function all the time. This is how animals and babies are all the time. Somewhere along the lines, we lose that connection with our environment.
The question you might now be wanting to ask is: why is it so hard then, to do the thing that we were designed to do? Why is it so hard to obtain the same focus and connection with the world that comes naturally to infants?
There are lots of answers to that question but one of the most pertinent is that we are too set into our routines and we aren’t stimulated enough.
Try that exercise again where you listen to your surroundings. What can you hear? Can you hear a ticking clock somewhere?
There’s a good chance that the answer is yes if you’re indoors but you might not have noticed it until I asked you to listen to it. And why not? Because you’ve become desensitized to it.
What’s happened is that your brain has heard that ticking before. It’s the exact same every second and it’s something you’re completely used to. As such, your brain says ‘this isn’t important’ and it pushes it into the background.
Meanwhile, the worries that are flooding through your mind constantly seem very important.
The same thing happens if you cut ping pong balls in half and place them on your eyes. When you do this, you’ll at first see the insides of those ping pong balls, as you would expect. But after a few minutes, things will go fuzzy.
Why? Because nothing is changing. The nerve endings in your eyes have become tired of the exact same stimulation and so they’re turning off. Nothing is moving, nothing is changing – it’s inefficient for them to keep firing.
This is called the ‘Ganzfield’ experiment and it’s quite interesting if you ever want to induce hallucinations naturally.
Now think about what you do in your daily life:
Guys… this is killing us. Our brain has a complete lack of stimulation and excitement from this kind of activity. We evolved to be constantly moving, constantly in danger, tracking our prey through the wild… and when that happened everything around us seemed important, dangerous and salient.
But now, we’re sleepwalking through life. Everything is safe and everything is the same…
If you want to be more present and more in-the-moment, then you need to submit yourself to environments and situations that are exciting, novel, different and interesting.
If you do this, then you’ll automatically forget all those things that are making you stressed. You’ll automatically become more engaged with the world and less worried about your own petty concerns.
So take different routes home from work.
Learn new skills and hobbies.
Have conversations with strangers.
Try new foods.
When you do, your brain will light up and come alive and you’ll get a reprieve from your money and relationship problems. Better yet, you’ll form new neural connections which will once again help you to become sharper, smarter, faster, more creative and more alive.