I love to read, to experience, to analyse and to evaluate. I am passionate about seeking the truth about anything and everything. I am a pain in the ass. When it comes to matters of the mind and techniques people use to control it, I find it best to try things out for myself before sprouting forth about them. (Especially when they cost me money and involve feedback gadgets, auditing and sitting cross-legged.)
Somehow I just don't get it - this not thinking about thinking.
This time round I tried to be the opposite of a self-improving wannabe and became an enlightened couch potato instead. A tatty philosopher who enjoys talking to herself and having some inspired conversations. This discovery of mine can help you get back to an old inner space that is pleasantly familiar. It costs you nothing.
The Couch Potato Epiphany
We are often told that the ultimate thing to do is meditate every day. So what is meditation? It is described as a process of emptying all our thoughts. In other words, becoming mindless. This is said to transform the inner You and manifest as peace and harmony. Oh really? Then we are told to become mindful of everything we do so that life takes on its true meaning. So between a mindless state of being and being mindful, where does that leave a logical, rational and obsessive perfectionist like Elize? Frustrated.
I had to investigate this mind stuff for myself. I had to put aside all the nagging chores and obligations to which I devoted my precious time and find the mind. Then I had to control it, because that is what a control freak like me does. But instead, I was transformed into a couch potato. I rode my couch potato all the way back to the real me. I became a slob. I found bliss and it had nothing to do with transcendental meditation or being mindful.
It happened by accident - what I call the turning of a couch potato
This short story embraces the couch potato technique. This is something completely different and you probably have not heard about riding couch potatoes before. Once you get the hang of it you will discover how it changes everything about the way you try to live your life. You simply stop trying!
A couch potato, like all things (including flies) has a purpose. No matter how much you curse and blame what you think are lazy people they will always be with you. So will flies and both are worth understanding so they do not bother or frustrate you. First get to grips with letting flies be flies and letting couch potatoes be lazy slobs. There is no need to get angry with them, shout at them or force them to come and help you do the housework. That is not their designated role. It may be yours, but this does not make you in any way superior to a common house fly or a couch potato. I am not sure about couchsurfing either, but people do it.
A fly swatter sorts out flies. If they bug me I send them to hell. But in my quest to deal efficiently with couch potatoes I decided to become one myself. In being able to identify with them it has helped me not to judge or resist them. I began to study their habits and attempt some practical exercises. I admired the couch potato expression, for instance. It took me a while to achieve the blank stare, the half closed eyes and the partially upturned eyeballs. I then had to slacken my jawbone and attempt a contented smirk.
After a few rehearsals I finally looked the part. I stared at the mirror for the last time and then resorted to my grim and busy expression. This is the one I use to try to make all couch potatoes feel guilty.
The next time I had a moment to spare I worked on the body poses. It seemed best to sprawl all over the couch, making sure there was no room for anybody else to sit near you. The head is snuggled into the armrest. Good. A cushion helps to support the sagging head. The body has to look and feel limp and heavy. I was not sure of what to do with my hands. My fingers were twitching, telling me that this was enough practice. Next time I was going to try the full couch potato pose, with the right expression.
I chose a quiet afternoon and headed for the lounge. I was home alone so nobody would see me being the very thing I had hated, resisted, judged and condemned to mashed potatoes. All those lazy people who do not make the effort to improve their lives, exercise, clean up, take dirty cups to the kitchen and so on. Why was I the only one who had a clean house, a trim figure, perfect cholesterol and no carbon footprints? Obviously because I never laze around all day. But now was my chance! I dived onto the couch, posed my body into a slump and told my fingers to dangle from the wrists like limp sausages.
I put on my carefully rehearsed couch potato face and then something amazing happened. Nothing! It felt really good, almost too good! At first I was overcome by a feeling of guilt but I told myself not to judge myself, to let me be me. I shut down my sense of guilt - after all, this was merely an experiment; a peek into the world of a couch potato. I discovered that you can actually exist without having to make any effort! You can close your eyes and take a nap. So I did. I woke up to the sound of laughter. I opened my eyes and stared up at my partner. He was offering me a cup of tea.
I was caught red-handed on "his" couch!
It was already time for my man to turn on the telly and watch his evening show. I shot off the couch and felt as if I had been caught red-handed. My beloved smiled and hugged me. "That wasn't so bad, was it?" I had to admit that it felt really good to chill out on the couch. I had entered the realm of "let go" without even intending to. After all these years of frantically having to be a certain way, to meditate according to an imposed protocol I felt a burden was beginning to lift. I did not have to be mindful every minute of the day. Neither did I have to do the not thinking mindless routine that used to torment me while I was trying to meditate. It just happened, just like that! Just because I let it.
Why I have a problem with prayer and meditation
At best I feel it is a waste of time to sit and be blank when you have an opportunity for high level spiritual conversation to take place. I prefer to call it a dialogue, not a "moanologue." Holy "whole I" communication in other words. Long ago I discovered how to do this, after kicking the habit of trying to "do" meditation. At about 3:30 am one is often awake and feeling very hot because this is the time that the body clock cycle processes waste products from the liver and gallbladder zone. You feel hot and wake up, thinking it to be the menopause. But when the person next to you is equally hot you realize it is quite natural to heat up. About an hour later it gets very chilly because then all the blood rushes to the intestines. So now I do not panic about going to sleep immediately. I stay awake and remain in a receptive mode. I recall dreams. I also began to talk to myself. To my surprise I received some very useful insights! "I" was listening!
I found this to be better than hauling my body out of bed to do the dreaded meditation contortion. Sitting cross-legged gave me pins and needles. It raised my cortisol levels! Anyway, cortisol is naturally low during the wee hours of the morning. Talking to "myself" was so much easier than having to fight off all the dialogue that was around - all the unresolved issues that would pop up into my ever-active mind. It was also more productive than holding my hands together and praying to God, Jesus, Mary - whoever.I often find the tone of prayer to be very demanding: "Dear Lord, please make us truly thankful. Be present at the table, bless the food (GM and all). Give us a happy family, help Grandma to find her false teeth" and so on.
When we are told to pray constantly it gets a bit like nagging. Now nagging is another story. People who lie on couches - the ones we call couch potatoes do not like to be nagged at. But then if they were supposed to first do something then the nagging will not stop. It is a no win situation. If you stop nagging the job is not done. If you keep reminding (nagging) the person who is trying to chill out on the couch (the couch potato) they get annoyed. That is why I finished all my chores and then rode the couch potato. That is why it worked because my mind was already still and I was in a cool space. I did not have to nag at myself or be made to feel guilty.
If the Kingdom of Heaven is within you then nothing will happen until you ring the right number or knock on the right door to get back inside. In the Bible Christ advises us to first resolve our issues before approaching the altar to pray. How true this is, and it is the main reason that meditation bugs me so much. Unresolved issues can't be glossed over. Humans are hard-wired to solve problems not ignore them.
I rode my couch potato after doing the housework.
I went back to a place I had left a long time ago.
Something was happening to me. I was becoming what I now call a spiritual couch potato. I was learning to let go, to let myself be. I had become a slob, so now I could let everybody else be and not judge them. I could let my guard down and relax, stop judging and comparing and even start appreciating the mundane, the useless and the lazy aspects of life. They are the other side of the coin and I had never thought of being both sides of the coin - all things to all men!
Now I can just smile. Not because of being told to smile for whatever reason, but just because it happens; it is a manifestation of the thrill of being one with God. At peace with couch potatoes and potato crisps. We all have a reason to be. Now I can let everybody (myself included) be! I can learn more about mindfulness from a different perspective - with an open mind. Fresh like a daisy, on my couch potato.
This is where I need to start!
Start them young - but you too can be as a little child.
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