Delusion involves being unaware of reality or acting bonkers amidst circumstance. For example, performing a stop, drop, and roll despite not being on fire would be delusional. I think of being enlightened as being aware of reality and choosing a way of being despite circumstance. It’s a form of conscious delusion.
Lately, I’ve been paying closer attention to the question, “How was your day?” I have noticed in my interactions that most people answer the question based on external events. A day has gone well if good things have occurred. A day has gone poorly if bad things have occurred. This causes our emotional state to be determined by external events in our environment.
My goal is to have my internal state be dictated by conscious choice, rather than external events. Meditation can help, though I’ve meditated for years without fully embracing this idea. Some say that an epiphany is a visceral reaction to something we already know. I think of it as the difference between knowing and embracing, with knowing being purely heady, and embracing representing a synchronization of our head and our heart. The HeartMath Institute calls this coherence.
This state is termed psychophysiological coherence, because it is characterized by increased order and harmony in both our psychological (mental and emotional) and physiological (bodily) processes. Psychophysiological coherence is state of optimal function. https://www.heartmath.com/science/
Once this is realized, the game becomes about getting into coherence as much as possible. I’ve practiced a number of ways to do this. First, I try to be proactive about priming myself to have a good day. Despite our best efforts at being “enlightened,” environmental triggers do exist and often pop up in ways we have no control over. Practices allow us to manipulate our responses to these triggers, and choose a better default response, in addition to a better default mode of stasis.
I have a daily set of rituals to start off the day with a full tank of gas. As the day’s events progress, my tank may dwindle. Other rituals and activities can help replenish the tank throughout the day. For me, these rituals include: waking up fully rested with a good night of sleep. Getting into my body with some sort of movement and/or exercise — ideally with play involved and also in nature. Doing things for their own sake — the ends are the means. Spending time with people I care about, getting sunlight, eating foods I enjoy that are also nourishing. Many people have a solid general understanding of these sorts of nourishing behaviors.
Aside from these rituals, I often schedule interruptions to check in with myself. For example, one week I had an alarm go off every 30 minutes and jotted down how I spent that time. Your health tracker may do similar things, reminding you not to be sedentary. Scheduling these check-ins at a regular cadence can help you get in touch with your emotional state.
Often when I have these check-ins I will make a point to breathe, slowly and deliberately. Breathing is conducted by our autonomic nervous system. It is an activity that functions on autopilot, but we can manually take over when we want to. It is precisely this ability that makes breathing magical. When we consciously control our breathing, it allows us to reset and center ourselves.
Once you’ve done these check-ins for a number of times and/or days, you may notice your states automatically. this will also help you notice when you may become knocked off-kilter. Over time, the number of things that are able to disrupt your state may shrink, and the tools you have for dealing with undesirable situations will grow.
In the past, if I had an event scheduled and someone was late, in the past it might’ve wrecked my entire day. The frustration would consume me. I’d get into a narrative that the late person didn’t care about me or may be disorganized or other sorts of delusional thoughts. Whether or not that narrative is true, confirming its truthfulness isn’t possible.
After some time I began to notice when I became upset in these situations. I was no longer totally consumed by them. I didn’t just have my frustration. I had frustration plus a sliver of awareness. With continued practice, I increased awareness, decreasing frustration.
Now, I am at a place where I still may get frustrated at times. I notice the frustration and greet it. Then I choose a path forward. What once consumed an entire day may now bug me for 30 seconds. Victory!