My name is Lynn Settle. Despite the name, I’m a man living in rural Idaho, married, and closing in on retirement. I like living in a cabin in the forest, hiking with my dog, and having no neighbors. I dislike snow and cutting six cords of firewood every year to stay warm. I kind of live in a Thomas Kinkade picture, although I’ve never seen any of his paintings include someone chopping wood or shoveling snow.
Due to our shared interests in consciousness and other topics, I connected with Patrick through his blog several months ago. We’ve since done a couple of videos. This is my first article on his blog. Actually I’m pretty sure it’s my first article period, outside of technical articles. (I’ve worked in the software industry, which for me required a lot of documentation.)
So, in preparation I took notes over the course of a few weeks, putting down various random thoughts. Mostly reactions to mainstream and alternative media. Thoughts on wars and rumors of wars. Ponderings on the ruling elite.
Maybe I’ll share some of those in a future article, but right now they simply refused to coalesce. However, the thoughts that did coalesce into an article were of a more personal nature. Thoughts on consciousness. My inner drive toward greater consciousness. My inner resistance to greater consciousness. And the confusion living with that dichotomy brings.
So I’ll jump right in. I know how to live more consciously, i.e. wake up. It’s pretty simple really. Just be awake. Or better yet, just be. I also know how to live less consciously. Just let the mind stream its dreamy thoughts. If something happens around me, don’t pay it much attention, or perhaps use it to begin a new stream of dreamy thoughts.
A long time ago my mind decided that living all the time in a dream state is not ideal. My mind felt living in a dream state runs counter to my purpose here. My mind came to that conclusion based on the various spiritual guru-authored books I read many decades ago.
However, here I am decades later and I continue to spend the vast majority of each day in my dream state. Oh sure, there are some days when I seem to amass enough motivation, energy, and focus to pay some attention. To observe, and let the thought-streams subside. My world becomes more alive. An awareness of something vaguely deeper comes into view. Odd yet strangely relevant thoughts pop in having an alien feel, as if not of my own making. I’m not talking about only while I’m meditating, but also while I’m actively going about my day.
But those days are the exception. Most days I spend entirely in streams of dreamy thoughts. Often I will pause what I’m doing to become aware of this, and yet rarely do I make the decision to pay more attention to my present, while paying less attention to the dreamy thought-streams. I feel an inner resistance. It’s always been that way. For years. For decades.
I’ve regularly asked myself why, although I find myself asking that more often as of late. Is it because I’m getting older and becoming more cognizant of my own mortality? Do I have the feeling that “the clock is ticking”? Yeah, that could be part of it.
Paying attention requires effort, and so the best answer I could come up with is laziness. After all, that’s why I don’t get around to a lot of things that require effort. Beginning that new workout routine. Cleaning and organizing my shop. Writing that novel. Hiking to the top of that small, yet formidable 4500′ mountain I see out my front window.
I’ve never come up with a better answer— until yesterday. Then it hit me. Laziness wasn’t that far off, but the better answer is an obvious metaphor.
When a person is tired, they really don’t want to wake up. I know I don’t. If something wakes me up at night while I’m dreaming, I want nothing more than to fall back asleep and re-enter my dream.
Okay fine. So I’m tired. But how long do I have to go on streaming my dreamy thoughts before I’m not tired anymore? I never wake up to an alarm, so in the morning I lie in bed until I’m done with sleeping and want to get up. I’m not tired anymore, so what’s the point in lying there? But apparently I can sleep in my dreamy thought-stream state indefinitely, and never lose that “tiredness” feeling that resists paying more attention to experiencing my now and “beingness”.
Today I’ve come to understand a critical difference. Unlike actual sleep, streaming dreamy thoughts makes me more tired and resistant to paying attention. I notice on the days when I do pay some attention, it becomes easier to pay more attention. The dream-thoughts lose some of their pull. Looking back I now realize this was especially true when I strung a few “paying attention” days together.
But wait. I’ve always known this. And yet at the same time I’m just now realizing it? Okay. So maybe yesterday was the first time I’ve listened to myself when asking that question. I’ll have to listen more often. Who knows what else I might learn? Ha ha!
So for my first article I’m sharing something I’ve learned from my own experience. Something likely many of you already know. The pursuit of greater consciousness makes it easier to pursue greater consciousness.
If anyone has a particular technique or their own trick for staying present, please share it below. For example, sometimes I wear a leather bracelet that becomes a sort of mnemonic device to remind me to pay attention to what I’m experiencing versus remaining immersed in a dreamy thought-stream.