When I first started getting spiritual, I watched a lot of Youtube-monk videos. They said things like 'be the silent witness', 'you are not the doer', 'thou art that', etc etc etc. Intellectually, I got it, but nothing really changed. And, there were questions. If your life sucks are you just supposed to sit back and watch??? Because you aren't the doer? How are you going to change your situation if you just watch things happen to you??? Does the suck just hurt less or what?
Also, for a long time, I mistook dissassociation for 'witnessing myself'. I'd just dissassociate from problems rather than witnessing them, and think that this 'silent witness' stuff was not very cool or blissful-- just empty of all feeling, good or bad. It's only years after watching those videos, that I would finally feel what witnessing really is and how it helps.
At my yoga teacher training in 2020, we did a bunch of third eye gazing. One day, I had a particularly good session. So good, that when I walked out of the shala, I felt a new process spawn in my brain.
I had my normal brain process, with it's mostly useless overanalytical thoughts. But also this new process. A chill process. Running in parallel.
I queued into the long line for dinner, behind a girl in the same program. I didn't really know her, had barely talked to her, and I started thinking about whether to strike up conversation, or just stand silently. I didn't know whether to say hi or or not because I never really know whether to talk to people or not right after meditation because sometimes I prefer to just be with myself for an hour or so afterwards to try and maintain the state so what if they do too and I also don't know her that well and her back is turned and on and on and on the normal brain process started spinning.
And then the meta thoughts: What would Obama do? I feel like he just naturally intuits the smoothest option. Where do I get that?
After a solid twenty seconds of spinning, I hear a chuckling in my head. It's quiet at first. It's coming from the chill process. The default brain ignores it. Just keeps spinning and spinning.
Why do social situations even present me with so many decisions to be made? That isn't normal. Isn't hanging out an innate human ability? Am I missing that gene? Part of the pressure is trying to be socially 'perfect', I guess, like an actor.
The chuckling turns into laughter. The default brain gets a bit curious, but continues to spin.
There's a balance that must be made. If you don't think about it at all, you could end up dancing naked through the streets. Maybe that's actually the move? No. Or??? Nah. But if you overthink social norms you'll still end up weird. It's a horseshoe...
And then I feel my head stooped over so default brain starts thinking about proper posture-- do I need to pull my shoulders back? where does my head go? am i too stiff or not stiff enough? what do i do with my arms? and through all the neuroticism the chill process is laughing harder and harder and it's starts to get contagious, spreading to the rest of me, and then I start smiling even though I'm still not in on the chill process joke.
I feel the chill brain process whisper something to the default brain process, who then starts to laugh himself. Why is he laughing? Is the answer obvious? YO DO I SAY HI OR NOT????? WHERE DO MY ARMS GO????
Chill process offers no solution. But he makes it up with something better. Perspective.
Please check out this hilarious sketch of a long distance greeting fiasco. It's obviously exaggerated, but even so, you look at the comments and see that so many people relate.
When they were in that situation themselves, they felt awkward. But through a different lens, from the perspective of someone outside the drama looking in, it's so obvious how ridiculous and funny their behavior is.
The chill brain process is constant perspective, kicking back and laughing at the hilarious livestream of my thoughts.
It doesn't care about solutions. Why is that so awkard? What is the actual problem here? Should he have jogged with a smile? Maintained eye contact while walking slowly? God that's like a fourty second walk. What would Obama do???
It only says: "BRO you're thinking about this way too much. Just relax." The same shit your friend would tell you after you blow up something that doesn't matter. Or that you'd even tell yourself in retrospect, even ten seconds later. Except post meditation, the perspective was supplied in REAL TIME, which is infinitely more helpful.
I don't need to know why I overthink everything. I just need to keep recognizing that I do. And naturally, over time, the joyful perspective will eclipse the insanity, and the insanity will dry up on it's own. I'll trust myself to make decisions spontaneously, and I'll trust that those decisions are "normal".
Unfortunately, the original lucidity only lasted about thirty minutes. But I get it back occasionally. One day it'll finally stick.
For more self-consciousness, check out: The Time I Crawled Around A Strangers Apartment Meowing