Mind Trap

Once we put a label on something , we’re cursed and destined to suffer its consequences.

As soon as we put a name on something , it automatically becomes a trap. It develops into an entity we feel obligated to defend and protect. Whatever it is, either a person’s name, race, nationality, profession, or the name of an event, a place, or situation.

It automatically owns us . It can consume us. It can dictate our thoughts and behaviors. Whatever it is. It can become a reality , but only in our heads, which we will assume to be true until the end .

But do we have to? Are we truly destined to continue to believe the delusions we create in our heads? Is there an escape to this madness?

Our identities are an illusion. Our family names and traditions are also illusions. Patriotism, professionalism, morality, beauty , social classes, religion… they are all labels we put in our heads to try to make sense of this existence.

Truth. Faith . Right versus wrong. Order. Hierarchies. Freedom. Happiness. Meaning.

Everything can be questioned , as far as they are created in our heads. Everything can be changed and altered in our minds.

What is the purpose of our existence then? Purpose is yet another illusion.

What are we to do then?

The concept of “we” is also an illusion . “We” could mean a group of people , a crowd, a town, a country, human beings. Even different entities within one person. They are illusions .

If we get rid of all these illusions and start from zero, what do we have left?

Are we capable of denying ourselves at this level ?

Advertisements

The state of (my) existence

I have been living what can be considered an existential crisis for the last five years or so. I have been relinquishing a lot of old ideas and beliefs that I held in my younger life. The introduction of the practice of mindfulness , and the idea of emptying my mind has been a new way of being.

No longer do I strive for happiness , for it always brings disappointments, since it depends on the ever changing circumstances. I have come to accept and live the here and now more . Although moments of irritation triggered by everyday worries and daily demands have not been absent, I have also been encouraging myself to look at the bigger picture .

The idea of a higher being is now more mystical and obscure, since I have adopted a more liberal path in finding meaning in this existence. I’m no longer bound by the traditional concepts of today’s western religions. I have expanded my views and decided to be more inclusive regarding alternative world views and live in the present moment.

Minimalism has also been my latest inspiration. I have recognized that less is truly more. That having more leads to wanting more. It has been also my latest motto in this existence, since abundance and prosperity have proven to be unfulfilling and meaningless .

Simplicity has also been my companion in the midst of the chaos. Perceiving this existence simply has motivated me to live fully and in peace. Letting go of vanity and useless desires has truly freed me from unnecessary addictions . I have come to conclude that living a simple life is much more fulfilling than always seeking for complicated reasons for living.

I have also questioned the existence of the “self” and the real nature of time. Perhaps I am one many cells that compose one larger organism. And time may just be a fabricated idea in our minds.

This state of “my” existence has been a new adventure and a blessing at the same time. It shall continue to be my newest journey .

Thanks for reading .

Why do we even exist?

What is this existence but a breeze that comes and goes?

Sometimes I cannot help myself but question why do we even have to die at the end. No matter how much I try to justify death by saying that we can live in the moment and that this life has to end, for a reason, it still hurts sometimes.

I work with a mentally ill person who was also diagnosed with terminal cancer.  She is hardly aware of her surroundings and her current condition.   I feel so bad for her because she is almost like a child, except that now her hair is falling because of the chemotherapy that she has been receiving.   It is truly a depressing situation.

So I question myself again, what is the point of all this? Is this a learning experience? A big test ?

We suffer so much anxiety and depression in our lives, that it sometimes feels unbearable.  It encompasses us to the point of defining who we are. Should we allow our pain define us? What would we be without our memories?

I’m currently living the fall season of my existence … soon I will start living winter. I am falling slowly and stepping closer to the end of my existence . My grayish hair and growing wrinkles are a reminder of my mortality .

But I have no choice but to accept it.

Embrace it.

Simply live the moment the best way I can.

We can do better 

We humans constantly deceive ourselves with false ideas.  We trap ourselves with fabricated concepts about who we are and what we are supposed to be.  This existence we call “Life” is a great mystery that few of us consider exploring further than what our five senses allow us to .  

We complain of feeling depressed.  That’s simply our habit of focusing too much on the past that we regret. It is also our selfish way of thinking only about our perceived mysery which is masked by hopelessness.  We are basically trapped in our own living hell, refusing to look beyond ourselves. 

We miss the big picture . 

We complain of feeling anxious and nervous. That’s simply our habit of focusing  too much on an unfavorable  future which will never happen.  It is also our selfish way of thinking about our own perceived  vulnerability and limitations which is masked by helplessness and fear. It paralyzes us, so we make ourselves stagnated in our own ruminating thoughts.  We are basically trapped in our own living hell , refusing to look beyond ourselves. 

We miss the big picture. 

So we tend to create our own addictions to temporarily and superficially cope with the mysery. We become slaves of technology, slaves of substances , slaves of unhealthy relationships .  We fill our minds with more junk that come from the media, religion, and politics.  We dig a hole in the ground and stick our heads pretending we are okay when in reality we are drowning in our own created hell. 

We miss the big picture . 

But we have a choice. 

We can look beyond ourselves and start looking at the bigger picture.  We can start by accepting our mortality and be ok with it.  We can consider the fact that we are not alone in this existence and start helping each other instead . We can escape from our own selfish mysery. 

Donate . Volunteer .  Visit.  Assist.  Serve. 

Reach out to others in need and we will automatically be helping ourselves.  Like living cells that help each other to maintain the organism alive.  Our planet is the organism. 

When death comes, let’s mourn together. When hunger and disaster strike us, let’s assist each other . When blessings come, let’s celebrate together.  Let us embrace our humanness, including our  limitations along with our strengths. 

Not in our own selfish, individual mysery.  But collectively and selflessly in cooperation.  

Let us embrace our fellow human beings. 

Identifying with the Self: Part Two 

 I had a counseling session with one of my clients.  She is a cutter and was questioning whether or not she would be getting any better in her life.  She was comparing herself with others who also receive therapy and who seem to be getting better faster. My client thought she was not improving like she should and asked about the concept of PTSD and resistance to treatment.

I try to explain to her that PTSD involves living in the past after a traumatic experience… versus learning from the past without necessarily reliving the past.  When we experience PTSD , we tend get stuck in the past and not move forward.  When the pain is avoided then we continue to experience PTSD and continue to relive the past and experience an emotional cycle which is nourished by substance-abuse, self harming behavior, and depression.

On the other hand, when we learn about the past, we develop new skills and we develop new ways to cope with the upsetting memories.  One of the ways is to talk about it, process feelings, write about it, and accept the fact that the pain was done.   When we choose to develop new skills and process feelings by accepting the pain, then we begging to acknowledge that it was a difficult time in our life and be able to move forward with new skills.

And then there was the question of why she is still cutting when she’s in her 50s now, when most of the cutters are either teenagers or young adults.

Then a lightbulb turned on in my head. I asked my client who she would identify as and she could not answer the question.  She first said “I’m already in my 50s why am I asking this question now? ” Then I asked her to not think about her current age but to focus on the question itself : who am I?

The observation that most cutters are teenagers or young adults gave me the idea that, since she has always been dependent on others to tolerate her who she is and what to do with my life, that sounds almost like what teenagers and young adults do in the early lives.

Basically my client is experiencing what most teenagers and young adults experience : finding their identities in life, facing the unknown after depending on the parents.  My client said she always depended on her parents and she was taking care of and nourished as a child even during her adulthood.  This can explain why she has difficulty identifying who she is now in her 50s. I explained that most of us experience the same identity crisis in different times of our lives. Most of us identify with what we have been assigned to be, for example our names, our ethnicity, our gender, and our religion. But we ultimately face a time in life, usually during young adulthood, where we start questioning  our assigned entities and find our own identities. And maybe that’s what my client is experiencing at the present moment.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, we mostly live inside our heads. Inside our thoughts and perceptions. We rarely get out of our thoughts and face reality. We don’t usually live in the present moment.  But we rather stay living inside our heads.  Inside our minds. But we rarely step aside and start perceiving ourselves as we really are.

Have the rest of us done the same thing in our lives?  Have we taken the bold step of “peeling the onion” all the way until we find our true selves?

In my own experience , that “true self” remains a mystery.  It remains a great part of the unknown, which is why I tend to ignore it and replace it with all the entities I have been taught to identify with.

I have learned to identify with being a Hispanic middle age male, an American, a mental health professional, a  Florida resident, a parent, a husband, a son, and many other entities.  All of these I can question and deny if I choose to.  What I have not identified with as much is what can never question or deny.

My true self.

But what is the true self?  Is it simply being human? Being a person? After all, isn’t that what we all have in common? Identifying with being Human beings ? Anything else could be used to separate and segregate us.  But being humans could only keep us united.

My Bucket List… and more.

I was thinking about the things I would like to do before I die last night while half asleep.   And I thought I could share it with my blog readers.  So here are the things I would like to do before my last breath, and if I do not accomplish these for some reason, that would be fine too.

1. See my father again.  I have not seen him in more than two years and seeing him for at least a day would give me satisfaction.  I don’t know him as well as my other family members, so learning more about him and from him would be nice.

2. Travel and visit Rome and China. These two places intrigue me. I learned about Rome’s famous paintings, sculptures, and architecture in college. I would love to see it personally. China is another country that also has famous structures, like the China Wall and Buddhist temples, that I wish I can see. I would also like to learn how to read and speak Chinese.

3. Learn how to play guitar.

4. Skydiving.  Although I am petrified by the idea of jumping off a flying plane. I would need to be drugged or something. I guess I am dreaming of doing something similar to flying like a bird.

5. Ride a horse.

6. Witness the cure for cancer.  I have known too many people who died because of this disease.  It is time to know about its cure.

7. Have a tattoo of a palm tree and a coconut, representing my daughter and my son, respectively.

8. Write and publish a book. (or many books) Or a comic book (I like to draw comics).

9. Own a house by a tropical beach.

10. Experience total peace and balance in my life.

Although I have the above things I wish I can accomplish before I die, I would also like to share the things I have already accomplished in my 39 years of existence.  Here they are:

1. I have two beautiful children, a boy and a girl. And I witnessed both of their births. My daughter is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and my son is a great chess player.

2. I have been married to the most wonderful woman; it will be 15 years this summer.

3. I have owned two houses.

4. I have traveled and visited Washington D.C. and have seen most of its historical monuments.  My favorites were the Lincoln Memorial, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and Mount Vermont in Virginia.

5. I have also traveled and visited California, and saw L.A. from a distance.  I have also lived in the Caribbeans.

6. I have spent plenty of quality time with the person who loves me unconditionally: my mom.

7. I have drawn and have had several political cartoons published in the local newspaper. I have also painted more than 20 paintings.

8. One of my cars are totally paid off and the second one is almost paid off.

9. I went to Kennedy Space Center with my daughter during a field trip. I have also gone to every Disney World theme park (both in Florida and California), Universal Studios, and Lego Land.

10. I have not lost faith in family and the beauty of life.

Do you have a bucket list as well…?  What have you accomplished so far in life?

Why do we mourn?

When we mourn a  lost loved one, is it because we feel bad for the person that is gone?  Or is it because we feel bad forourselves for losing someone?  And if thisis the case, aren’t we being selfish and self centered for crying when someone has “left us” ?  How can we stop being this way?  Can we not be this way?  Maybe we can stop thinking about our own personal “misery” when someone happens to leave this world.

Is it our purpose in life to grieve those who leave us?  Or should we be happy that they have left this world of suffering and confusion, with hopes that they have transferred into a better state of existence? And if we  believe in the afterlife, why still mourn?  And if we don’t believe in the afterlife, do we mourn because there is no hope of ever seeing the loved one who left when it is time for us to depart also?  The simple answer is that we mourn and suffer because of our loss.  In other words, we feel sorry for ourselves.

We don’t like to think about death.  It petrifies most of us. It is the ultimate experience that seemingly puts an end to our current existence.  We don’t know for sure what awaits us on the other side, so we rather ignore the fact that it will happen at all.  But deep down, we know it will. And we temporarily escape this reality by living superficial lives that continuously feed our egos.  We live as if there is no death waiting for us.  We live concerned about superficial and artificial affairs.  We worry about our looks, our possessions, our relationships, our jobs, our unachieved personal goals.  We try very hard to hold on to traits and characteristics that help to fabricate a false sense of security and immortality.  We like to pretend that we are not vulnerable.  Or we try to hide  and distant ourselves from others so that we are not vulnerable.  Either way, we are avoiding and ignoring the fact that we are eventually going to cease to exist on this earth.

We tend to fill our emptiness with the presence of others in our lives.  Do we prefer others to be on our side so that they can fulfill our needs?  If this sounds cold and inconsiderate, maybe it is.  But please bare with me for a moment and think about this.  We tend to try to make ourselves complete through others’ contributions, successes, and accomplishments.  There is nothing wrong when we feel happy when our children succeed in school, sports, and other special events.  But we cross the line when we become obsessed and angry when the children that we raise don’t meet our expectations.  Almost as if they have not represented us good enough to the rest of the world. We demand them to do this and do that, wanting to create little duplicates of ourselves.  Eager to see them meet our demands so that we can use them as trophies.    How self centered can we be?

We also become depressed when our significant others decide to leave us.  We are upset when our favorite political candidate loses the election.  We become upset when our favorite sports team loses a game.  We just don’t like to lose.  We simply don’t want to experience the emptiness that we perceive after we have tried to fill it up with others’ success.  And when this happens, we tend to try to fill up the emptiness again with another sports game, or another political candidate, or another boyfriend or girlfriend.  We keep trying to keep ourselves full.  Full of artificial fulfillment.

But there is nothing wrong with emptiness.  Really.  We are scared of emptiness, because it reminds us of death.  But emptiness is actually liberation.  It is a refreshing experience.  It can hurt, but it always heals.  It heals us from the pain that we have caused ourselves by trying to fill ourselves with artificial happiness, to simply find ourselves back to the reality of our emptiness. We try to pretend we have it all together.  We like to live the fantasy of owning our lives.

But the reality is that, nothing is really ours.  Nothing belongs to us.  Not even our bodies, the children we raise, the houses we live in, or the land we grow up in.  Nothing is ours.  On the contrary, we belong to each other, we belong to this earth, we belong to the greater universe.  We belong to God.

Should we ever mourn?  Sure.  We should mourn when others who are still among us suffer.  We should mourn when the next door neighbor has nothing to eat.  When the children of this world suffer from hunger, abuse, wars, and famine. We should mourn for each other, while we all still live.