What Happened When I Quit Coffee? (Everything Fell Apart)

I think most people are too afraid to tell you what I am about to report.

I don’t know why I am back here writing another confessional blog post. These blog posts don’t mean anything. They just fill the stomach of this gluttonous beast called The World Wide Web and make a few people a lot of money while us content generators get nothing but mediocrity and marginalization.

But really, I have nothing better to do. I am frustrated and maybe even a bit depressed and writing has always been how I process these feelings. You should see the stuff I don’t publicly share.

Two months ago, I gave up coffee. After three difficult days in bed with flu like feelings, I was free of the drug. I love coffee. My favorite time of the day was waking early, making a cup of coffee and then reading while listening to records. Coffee brought a feeling of euphoria and interest into my mornings. Most of my life I was miserable in mornings, but once I began drinking coffee, mornings became the time of day I looked forward to most.

Then I had to quit drinking coffee. In summary, here is what happened:

I was working a lot and thinking too much. I started a new business while running a full-time private psychotherapy practice. I am not a business person so all of this felt very unnatural to me. Obviously, I got run down. After three years without being sick, I came down with the flu. The flu turned into a bad case of shingles. After four weeks of having shingles, I thankfully healed without taking any medication. I rested a lot. Doctors where stunned I healed so fast without taking medication but I felt the ravages of shingles on my body. I felt weaker than I have ever felt in my life. Vulnerable. I would ride my bike or walk and feel like I could pass out. My anxiety kicked in. I started having anxiety attacks again. I was almost incapacitated. And as a result, I had to quit drinking coffee.

And because of all of this, my favorite time of day became the most miserable time of day for me. Few things are more difficult than being denied the thing you love most. In fact, all the times in the day became miserable. Life became one long unbreakable spell of monotony and banality with a bunch of never-know-when-they-will-happen-anxiety-attacks sprinkled in. I was happy to be free from the terrible wrath of shingles, but life with anxiety and without coffee was (and still is) difficult to adjust to.

This morning, once again, I woke up in a bad mood. Toward the end of the work week (Thursday), this is how I usually feel in the mornings. I am done with dealing with people. I have had enough of the whole racquet that goes into making a living. I am burned out on playing the game. I’ve had enough and don’t want to play anymore.

As I sat on my couch with a cup of hot water in my hand, this feeling of dread and hopelessness flooded my insides. I thought about the day ahead and dreaded having to go through it all again. Normally coffee would come to my rescue when I found myself in this predicament. Coffee would add a feeling (the high) of euphoria, excitement, energy and interest into the darkened penetralias of my soul. It would give me that push I needed to roll that Sisyphean boulder up the hill yet again. But now without coffee, I just didn’t want to do it. The climb felt too hard. I felt too uninterested and worn out. The hot water in my coffee cup wasn’t cutting it. Everything felt mundane and banal. Life a continual repetition of the same fucking things. Without any coffee to push me through these feelings, I fell into despair.

In that moment everything felt dull, monotonous and uninspired. My marriage. My work. My hobbies. My sex life. My intellectual life. All of it dull and monotonous. I didn’t want to do anything but sit there on the couch and not move. Watering my garden, meditating, reading a book- all of it, dull.

Is there anyone who experiences deep passion and interest in the things that make up their life moment after moment, day after day? Are there people who are almost always passionate and engaged in their lives? Does this really exist in reality or is it an unreal standard that has been created to keep us all trying to achieve it? I have a feeling it is just a myth, but still it bothers me when my life feels so monotonous, banal, passionless and without any genuine interest. Something in me feels like life should not feel like this but maybe this is how life just is. Maybe the American power structure that we all live under is what creates this kind of mundane, banal, monotonous, ordinary, law abiding life we all exist within. We are all continually trying to escape from how shitty it feels and this is the very thing that keeps the gears of power and capitalism churning.

We use booze, coffee, computers, sex, smartphones, TV, food- anything we can get our hands on to help us climb out from the reality of our existence within this system. We are continually trying to change the channel to a better station (I know I am). The coffee and booze (our most popular and most destigmatized drugs) help us to become more interested in things which would normally feel very dull and mundane. These drugs help us to feel passion again, in a life which has become passionless. We need our drugs, our drama and our smartphones to bring some stimulation into our lives or else things feel dull all the time. I mean common, the moment things feel dull or drama free, the most common thing for people to do is reach for their phones.

Familiarity breeds contempt. No matter how wonderful your life is. No matter how great of a job you have. No matter how cool your partner is. If you see it or them in the same way every single day, you will start to hate it or them. Oh, but you should be grateful for the things you have. What bullshit. This sentiment just causes people to feel worse about themselves. I should feel grateful when I am miserable is like asking someone to feel grateful when they are stuck cleaning someone else’s filthy house. Possibly, the reason you are miserable, is because of the routine, the repetition, the lack of real interest, the mundane nature of capital driven life within the system we all live in. Just going through the motions day after day. The struggle to survive. Doesn’t matter how many wonderful things you have around you- if you are around them every day you will feel contempt towards it. This is why we love our phones so much. Every time we pick them up there is something new and different waiting for us. Why do you think social media is so deeply addicting? There is always something new going on.

In a sense, coffee would provide me with a new feeling every morning. It would help interrupt the feelings of banality, monotony, dullness, lack of interest, which are all a result of the system in which I live. Everyone is trying to out run these feelings all the time. What a recipe for disaster. Coffee would provide me with a feeling of happiness, stimulation, engagement and hope. Trust me, we live in a culture where almost every business, idea, building, book, movie, album and on and on was created because of coffee. America is a culture built on coffee. You are probably needing coffee just to read this right now. Without coffee most of this shit would have never been done because things would just feel too isolated and dull.

And this brings me back to where I was this morning. Not wanting to do a fucking thing. Just mired in the misery that has become our dull, collective lives. Not wanting to play the game anymore. Sick of the routine and without coffee to push me forward into enthusiastic willingness. I was expressing all of this to my wife who was sitting the chair next to me (lucky her), drinking her morning cup of coffee. She listened and added a few thoughts of her own. Her perspective was frustrating me. She couldn’t possibly understand as she drank her morning coffee. So, I sat up and asked her if I could have some of her coffee. Enough was enough. I drank half her cup and now here I am anxious, a bit more excited, slightly interested and as a result, writing this.

 

 

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Lazy Person

You are a lazy person. Maybe you can’t help it. Maybe it is just the way you are. I don’t think this is true, but I suspect that you do.

Antithetical to your own popular thought, you are a lazy person. I know you do not think so. I know that in your mind you contrive fantasies of a very engaged and capable person who does a lot. After all, how could you live with yourself not in a continual state of despair if you didn’t fool yourself like this. It takes a very logical and advanced mind to reflect back to itself the truth of its own being. Most mortals continually lie to themselves all the time. It is a preventative strategy against the pit of despair.

Only strong minds can exist in this pit of despair and not be destroyed by it. Most prefer to avoid it. Distract themselves from it because their minds are too weak to handle it.

Your laziness controls you all the time. It grips you by the throat. It causes you to not do what you would like to do. It causes you to not be the person you would like to be. Instead you sleep and sit more than you would like. You consume things more than you can control. You say things and then do the opposite. Your ability to control yourself in the way you would like is outside of your own control. You live in the center of this paradox, which causes you to lose faith in yourself. So much energy is exhausted by continually doing the things you set out not to do. Much confidence in oneself is lost when we continually avoid existing in the ways we would like. Our laziness wins over us, and we become the person we would like not to be.

The paradox of laziness is that it costs you energy. As much as you feel like you are preserving energy by not living in the exact way you would like, by letting go of control over the person you want to be- you are depleting yourself of energy. It exhausts large amounts of life energy to continually go against your best self. To throw yourself under the proverbial bus again and again, saps a person of vitality. You do not see this but the daily failure to be the exact person you would want to be (thinner, stronger, more organized, healthier, creative, intellectually engaged, financially independent), to be fully in charge of all the decisions you make, causes you to lose faith in yourself. Few things exhaust a person like a chronic feeling of bad faith directed at themselves.

Laziness is what grows out of this chronic, self-directed feeling of bad faith. It is like being punched again and again, day after day, by a relentless opponent. Eventually you will give up and just take the punches. All your strength and self-esteem is lost and like a punching bag gone flat, you take punch after punch. Under these conditions who has the energy to do much? Who has the motivation and strength to really sail their ship in the direction they want it to go? No way. I would rather just rest and space out, you say.

Just give up and sleep more than you should, drink more than you want, make yourself sick with stress, watch more tv and porn than you want, have the body that you are not happy with, eat as much as you want, lose the will to organize your life, let things exist on the verge of chaos. Just go with the flow of your lazy life without ever doing anything about it. This is the fate that you lazy person have chosen.

I know you think your life is better than this lazy person. I know you think you do a lot more than you really do. As I said, it is necessary for you to think this way or else you would slip into the pit of despair. Your illogical (delusional) thought processes are a survival strategy. You must avoid thinking logically about certain things because if you did you would have two choices. You would either have to slip into a state of complete existential dread about the meaninglessness of all life or you would have to claim agency, develop a stronger and more disciplined mind and actually change your life (push against the currents of laziness). For the lazy person the option of existential meaninglessness (especially in today’s bleak world) seems to be a much easier option. Do enough to just get by, to just keep your head above water and then let everything else go. Accept living in a state of chaos. The lazy person loves the easier option.

You lazy person know what chaos is, right? I mean, chaos is many things. There is the external chaos of the natural world that we are subjected to all the time. We live in a chaotic universe where anything can happen at any time. We think we are the ones pulling the strings in the external world but this could not be further from truth. You really think that person meant to trip and fall and break their nose? You think they really saw that comming as they were lost in thought a moment before? What is really going on is that nature is pulling the strings all the time and we are victims of this event though are entire lives are often a futile struggle to prevent this from being so.

But we do have greater control over our internal state. In the same way that a water skier glides and jumps over the unstable water through which she surfs, we can do the same internally if we chose. Even though the sea around us is completely unstable and chaotic we do not have to give into this internally. You lazy person have given into the internal and external chaos. You have lost control over yourself. You have become weak inside because you are continually going against yourself. You think one way but you do another thing. You say one thing but you do the opposite. You want to achieve one thing but instead you give up on achieving anything once it gets too hard. “fuck it,” you think to yourself. If you had a best friend who was continually making specific plans with you and then again and again did not show up in the way they said they would- you would lose faith in them. You would resent them. You would stop showing up for them. Why should your inner self be exempt from this?

Laziness is a result of this resentment towards oneself. You have lost faith in your ability to confidently show up for yourself. So why not sleep and eat and drink and fuck and do nothing more? Trying to get a handle on things exhausts you because you are not able to ever show up for yourself (your aspirations) and thus you have given up and become lazy. Just take things as they come, you tell yourself. Keep doing what you can because it is too hard to do anything more. Just make the best of things. Live for the moment. What’s the point of anything else?

Sick Bed Poems, Part 2

All poems written while sick in bed and then posted on Facebook.

I Love Saturdays

I was preparing to

Take a nap on my bed.

While staring out the window

There was afternoon,

Blue sky and green plants

Swaying in the wind.

There was dog sounds, car

Sounds and time going by

Too fast sounds.

Then a naked lady with

Beautiful breasts and

Trimmed brown pubic hair

Walked by on the telephone wire.

This is why I love

Saturdays.

Slavery

It is 7:28am.

A time of

Doing nothing. Just

Sitting here with

My coffee, my

Fever, my body

Aches- listening to

Records and watching

The morning outside.

I don’t want

To do anything

But the day

Ahead is filled

With adult responsibilities,

Which just means

Things that must

Get done that

You do not

Want to do.

Poop and Pride

This morning while

Picking up dog poop

I stepped in dog poop.

I became angry, indignant

At something so beneath me.

“I’m no better than poop,”

I reminded myself

Because pride never works.

I became humble

And cleaned the poop

Off my shoe.

My Wife

I’m often grateful

For the absence

Of fear in

My wife.

I’m so riddled

By fear most

Of my life,

Always present.

This is why

I’m often grateful

For the lack

Of fear in

My wife.

Laconian Laundromat

I went into a

Laconian laundromat

With a bag filled with

Dirty clothes.

But nothing made any sense

So I left.

Sick Bed #2

Day four of

Whatever it is

Confining me to

This sick bed.

This sick bed

Is causing my

House to smell

Like a sick

House.

I gathered enough

Strength to walk

Out into my

Backyard and urinate

Under the avocado

And lemon trees.

I watched a

Hummingbird, remembered health

And then I

Walked like a

Sick man back

Into my sick

Bed.

God’s Drilling

When a boy

I thought the sound

Of an airplane

Moving across the sky

Was God drilling a hole

To get out.

Short Poetry

I’m not a very good poet,

Not like some poets I know.

That’s why I like to

Write short poetry.

Pencils, Erasers and Indignation

I feel indignation

Much of the time.

But then I remind myself,

We are just pencil lines

Drawn through infinite space

Soon enough to be erased.

The Plastic Clarinet

There is a plastic clarinet

On my dresser.

It is red,

With blue and yellow keys.

It stands there, erect

Waiting

For someone to play.

But I never do.

Not anymore at least.

Childhoods forever gone,

So I wonder why I still keep

The plastic clarinet.

Birds and Bicycles

Birds are bicycles

Moving across the sky.

Don’t believe what anyone else says.

When you are lonely

Get on your bicycle and go after them.

You will see what I mean.

Health Care

When sick

I try

Not to

Go to

Doctors.

Instead I

Spend hundreds

Of dollars

On natural

Supplements.

Throats sprays,

Immune herbs,

Nasal decongestants,

Colloidal silver,

Vitamin C,

Eucalyptus oil,

Reishi mushrooms,

Wellness Formula,

Zinc lozenges,

Raw honey,

And sometimes

A random

Lover.

I assault

My sickness

With every

Natural remedy

I can

Find and

Afford.

However now

That I

Am married

And older

Lovers are

No longer

Apart of

My health

Care.

Why I am Canceling Work Today

I’m a therapist.

When I am

Ill, your problems

make no sense

To me. Your

Problems, my problems-

All a luxury

Of health.

Strong Character

Most people

Judge but

That is

Only because

Their character

Is weak.

How many

Of you

Assholes write

An entire

Book of

Poetry while

Stuck in

Bed, sick

With flu?

This is

What I

Call strong

Character.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Sleeping Wife

Every morning starting at 8, I begin the long process of waking up my sleeping wife. She sleeps in the nude and at around 8am all the blankets are pulled off and her naked and supine body just rests there. Sometimes I imagine that this is how she would look if she were dead. The bedroom is completely dark even though the sun is very much new and alive outside.

I tell her it is time to wake up but she does not respond. I go back to reading my book.

At 9am I remind her that she is missing the best part of the day. Mornings are a time of renewal. Everything has a fresh start and is yet to be destroyed by the rest of the day and night. I try to entice my wife with a cup of two hour old coffee heated up on the stove, but her body refuses to move. Looking at my wife I often think how good her body looks in the nude but how much better it would look if she would just move.

Sometime at around 11am I return to the dark bedroom and remind my wife that she is sleeping her life away. By this time her body has shifted into a different position. Often she is laying on her back and I will notice if her pubic hair remains untended to. Sometimes I will receive a response from some part of her that is still alive, which says something like, I don’t want to get up. Please just let me sleep. I love you. She seems agitated but calm and indicates that she wants to be left alone. What kind of thirty-year-old woman sleeps like this? Isn’t this the time when a young person should be most engaged in life? But I keep these thoughts to myself and let her sleep.

At around 1pm I will ask my sleeping wife if she would like me to bring her some lunch and she always answers no. Sometimes she will even say that she needs to be careful with her weight so please do not entice her with food. But doesn’t she need to eat? I will think about all the things which could go wrong from a lack of nutrition but not say anything about it. Not to mention what happens to a body when it goes without any sunlight. It seems as if my sleeping wife just wants to hurry up and be old.

In mid-afternoon I confess to becoming mad. What kind of way is this to live? She is neglecting so much in her life? Why can’t she just get it together and wake up? If she would just start exercising everything would feel better. She needs to wake up and tend to her life! It is just not healthy to be in bed this long. All these thoughts and more start racing through my head at around 3 pm. What I do not seem to understand is that my sleeping wife is tired of life. She can not handle the load of responsibilities she must tend to as an adult and would rather just remain asleep. I don’t think this is a good coping mechanism.

I realize that my wife is a shy person who does not enjoy interacting with most people but this is no way to avoid the world. At around 5pm I will tell her this. I will tell her that being an adult involves doing a lot of things that you do not want to do and this is why most adults are terribly unhappy and addicted to so many things. Rather than sleeping all day I tell my wife that she needs to find healthier ways of being an adult in this messed up world but my wife just continues to sleep. At this point she is usually laying on her stomach, on top of our comforter. I notice how healthy and appealing her butt still looks. I feel my libido spike and I want to reach out and touch her butt. I always abstain because I know she would become violently angry if I invaded her space. I think about masturbating right there and then at the edge of our bedroom but never do.

At around 7pm I go back into the bedroom, this time frustrated and indignant (it is the same every day) and notice that she is not there. She has finally gotten out of bed and is either standing naked in the kitchen or she is naked on the toilet. If the human animal could be in a state of hibernation all the time I know my wife would never get up. But because she exists in a human body she must wake up. Often I will find her standing in front of the refrigerator eating various forms of vegan food. I will ask her if she wants me to make her something and she always says no. I will ask her if she heard about the most recent terrorist attack and she always says no and that she does not care.

At around 8pm, after taking a long shower, my sleeping wife is back in bed and will remain there for almost another twenty-four hours. At this point I no longer bother her even though I am completely frustrated by this on-going situation. I understand that this is how she is choosing to respond to living in the messed up adult world but I feel like there are more proactive and responsible choices that she could make. But what can a man do whose wife has decided to remain asleep? You try waking a sleeping wife up. Any attempt to intervene just pisses her off. I have learned through time and effort to let her be and instead make friends with my own loneliness and despair by reading a lot of books.

I am usually in bed around 10pm and try not to bother her.

Why The American Dream Has Killed My Writing Career.

When my wife asks me how I am and I tell her that I am depressed, she no longer asks why.

I know that all emotions and thoughts are inherently empty and impermanent so I try not to get too caught up in any of it. Sometimes, I just let myself be depressed.

I know that my entire identity is just a phantom passing in the day and night. I try not to identify with much of it.

But still I feel. Still I think. I am human.

My dream has always been to be able to make a living as a writer. A fiction writer. I did not expect this to happen until, and if, I made it to fifty.

Now at forty five I can’t really write. The American Dream has killed my writing career.

My younger self knew this would happen if I gave in. There is no one else to blame but myself.

Depression makes it hard to write. Depression is often the end result of the American Dream.

I have a house now. I must keep my house clean because I can not function adequately in a house that is a mess. Cleaning my house every day takes away from time that I can write. Being stressed out about a house that is a mess takes away from the energy I need to write.

I must work a real job in order to afford my lifestyle. A real job drains a person and does not leave them with much energy outside of work to do anything else.

I own a business, which requires much of my attention, which leaves less attention for my writing. A man can only spend so many hours working. Whether it is my real job or writing, it is all still work. I need a good amount of non-work-down-time in order to feel alright. Down time plus working a real job does not leave much space within which to write. I see now why Kafka continually decided against marriage and the domestic life.

I am married and a marriage often comes with a good amount of emotional drain. There are problems to attend to. Another person in your daily life mix. This takes up time and energy, which was once used to write.

I have a garden, a front yard and these organic entities need my daily watering attention. This takes away time to write.

I have four dogs which are continually needy. I can’t stand to see dog shit just hanging out in my yard, so I must pick this up each day since my wife refuses to. Having four, needy animals around all the time takes away from the tranquility which is often needed to write in. Dogs take up a lot of psychic space.

Then there is the daily meditation that I must do each day to deal with the anger, anxiety, stress and depression, which seems to be a daily part of American Dream life. Meditation makes me feel more at peace and when I am more at peace I have little use for writing stories. I would rather just sit in my garden and watch birds fly by.

As a business owner I have emails to check. People that want things from me. Appointments to make. People to stay in touch with. Bills to pay. Other people’s problems to think about. All of this will drain a person’s creative inner life away. All of this leaves me feeling too preoccupied with the real world to think about fictional other worlds. I am too caught up in this world and rather than write I just engage my iPhone.

Being overly connected is the death of a creative life. A creative person needs to spend a certain amount of time each day disconnected our else their creative energy will be sapped. Great artists and writers, I doubt, check their social media, text messages and emails fifty plus times a day. I do.

Then I need to do dishes, make food, buy food, be pissed about not eating the right food. This food thing takes up a lot of time that could be spent writing.

Then I need to buy things to feel better about not having the writing career I want. Does not seem to work.

Then there is everything else- bills, cleaning car, tending to cars, laundry, exercise and on and on.

This is the standard lifestyle, which is a result of achieving the American Dream. It generally leaves a person overwhelmed, addicted to zoning out on their iPhone and looking forward to that drink they can have when the day is done, so they can get some temporary relief.

This is a pathetic way to go through life. It is completely missing the point in being alive. It is a lifestyle based in comfort and security and it leaves a person feeling trapped, stuck and overly entertained. Nothing good grows out from this place. Especially not a writing career.

I know there is a lot more I could say here, but I do not have time. I must go to work now.

The End.

How To Become A Mindfulness Teacher

Recently I have received not a lot, but an unusual amount of emails and phone calls from people asking me how they can become a mindfulness teacher.

I admit, I have been surprised by this since I do not think of myself as a mindfulness teacher. A part of me feels flattered that people are seeking out this kind of guidance from me but another part of me feels perplexed. Asking me how to become a mindfulness teacher is like asking an abstract painter to explain how she or he made that strange, abstract painting. It is not an easy thing to do.

My first inclination is to respond to people by saying, “I really don’t know” or “Read a lot of books on mindfulness and then apply what you learn.” But I recognize that this knee jerk reaction is a kind of unwillingness to talk about how I think a person becomes a mindfulness teacher (although reading a lot of books is important).

I never set my life’s course in the direction of becoming a mindfulness teacher. It is not something that I ever thought possible for me. I have always approached mindfulness in an effort to help myself more skillfully deal with the intense anxiety, depression and anger that I have struggled with much of my life.

Fifteen or so years ago while I was meditating in my small apartment in Oakland, I did have a vision of myself as an older man, sitting in the lotus position with a group of other people also seated in lotus position. We were all sitting in a circle practicing meditation and it kind of seemed like I was the teacher but I was not sure. I remember thinking that it would be nice to be able to be a meditation teacher but I had no idea how that kind of thing could ever happen since at the time I was consuming high doses of paxil, beer and marijuana to get through my anxious days.

Fifteen or so years later and people are asking me how to be a mindfulness teacher. It does feel strange. I do think, “Who, me?” But let me tell you how I think this sort of thing happened.

Professional Development Mindfulness Seminars, Mindfulness Certification Programs, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Programs and other mindfulness courses that you can take are all helpful in developing your understanding of the basic principles and application of mindfulness practice. They are almost always a necessary first step to install in your brain a better functioning operating system than the damaged one you have kept running all this time. But finishing one of these mindfulness programs is really just the very beginning and far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far from the end of your mindfulness education.

How you then proceed to deal with your daily suffering is the much more important part of your education.

Are you aware of your mortality right now? Are you aware that this next breath could really be your very last? If not and you want to be a mindfulness teacher you might want to work on this. The continual awareness of your own mortality is one of the most important understandings you will need to have in order to be an effective mindfulness teacher.

Why? Because when you are really aware of the impermanence that underlies every single aspect of our lives, it allows you to place a much greater value on letting things go and living as fully as possible in this moment. This moment will mean more to you than anything else.

The reason why most of us are not present is because we have forgotten that we are going to die. We are operating under the false assumption that life goes on forever. As a result we refuse to slow down. We take ourselves very seriously.

The moment you become more aware of your own mortality, the present moment automatically takes on a much greater value. You are not as easily caught up in emotions and thoughts about the future and past. You are not as easily seduced by judgemental thoughts of yourself and others. It becomes much easier to accept things as they are, let them go, have some compassion and live more fully in this moment.

Are you noticing that you are breathing in or out right now? 

A mindfulness teacher without a deep and personal understanding of the importance of this breath, of living life from moment to moment, aware of but not attached to everything that is going on, is like a bird without wings. It just doesn’t make any sense. No certification program or class can provide you with this innate and immediate understanding of your own (and everyone else’s) unavoidable end. This is something you will have to come to on your own, through your own life experience. A mindfulness teacher ideally acquires this very real understanding and insight long before they find themselves in a hospital bed.

The present moment is not really a real thing. The moment you become aware of the present moment it is already the past. The future is continually becoming the past, so in a sense there is not really an exact present moment. I use the term present moment in the same way a religious person might use the term God. It is pointing to an experience of something that is never really right here. A mindfulness teacher knows that the present moment just means being aware of the experience you are having right now rather than being completely lost in thought.

Being aware of our present moment experience (sensations in the body, sounds, smells, tastes, breathing) rather than being caught in the web of the wandering mind, is the essence of mindfulness practice.

There are mindfulness teachers and practitioners who are very dialed in to their present moment experience almost all of the time. I have studied with teachers who could be called expert meditators and as a result are not that invested in their egos. When we talk about being caught up in the wandering mind (identified with thought after thought after thought) this just means a person is very identified with their ego. There are mindfulness teachers who have worked hard and thus are not very ego driven. As a result, they suffer much less than you and I.

But this is not the kind of mindfulness teacher I am. I suffer. I struggle. I am still identified with my ego. I kind of like my ego and don’t want to eradicate it. I am just like most of the other people I teach- trying to more successfully and skillfully manage my own physical and psychological afflictions through the practice of mindfulness.

I still deal with anxiety, anger and depression- sometimes a lot more often that I care to admit. But to be a mindfulness teacher I do think it is important to suffer and struggle with these very human things. It is important to humanize yourself by being open about your own personal struggles instead of trying to come of as a person who has all their shit together. People will see through this (hopefully).

Besides, what use is a mindfulness teacher to people who are really struggling with very human difficulties if they are not willing to honestly share how they use mindfulness to deal with their own personal struggles? This is the essence of being a mindfulness teacher. Show people how you do it and let them decide if they want to apply it or not.

I could be wrong, but a mindfulness teacher who has eradicated all anger, anxiety, depression, grief does not exist. This is why it is important not to hide behind credentials, certifications, status and degrees by pretending like you have eradicated suffering, because you will always know this is just not true. As a result you will feel like an imposter.

Be courageous. Talk about your shit. Talk about your struggles and about how you apply mindfulness to the problems in your own life.

When you are angry, depressed or freaking out take the time to apply the basic principles of mindfulness practice. Do this again and again. This will be the most important and never ending aspect of your mindfulness education. No matter how angry or sad or worried or afraid or angry or depressed you get, keep coming back to your awareness of the present moment. Notice that you are breathing in and out. Let it go. If you can do this successfully more often than not- this will be your greatest qualification as a mindfulness teacher.

If you notice that days or weeks go by where you forget to apply the basic principles of mindfulness practice becuase you are all caught up in frantic thoughts and emotions, this is normal. You are human. It is just important that at some point you remember to bring yourself back to the awareness of the present moment and let go of whatever crap you have been caught up in.

If you go away from the present moment a thousand times, what is important is that you bring yourself back into the present moment a thousand and one times.

Remember the importance of being fully alive in this moment rather than being caught up in worry, remorse or judgment. None of it is as important as you think. Let it go. Practice living your life from moment to moment rather than living in terms of tasks you need to accomplish and/or worry about. When you realize you have gotten caught up in thoughts and have been living your very precious and very mortal life from the neck up (lost in your head) bring yourself back to what is happening right now. Do this again and again and again……..

It is the degree to which you suffer and then apply the basic principles of mindfulness practice while being honest with others (and yourself) about your process, which will determine the degree to which you are effective as a mindfulness teacher.

The Sell-Out. Conversation #52.

I have been wondering around online all morning.

Why are you doing this?

I don’t know. Trying to kill time. I have a long day ahead of me. It is not even 8am yet. Caffeine is just kicking in. Nothing else I want to do. I tried reading the novel I have been slugging my way through (Jim Carroll’s The Petting Zoo) but have little interest. Reading a novel should not feel like such an uphill climb but every novel I read these days feels like that. I suppose I could write or make art or water my garden or exercise or do something more productive, but I don’t want to do anything.

So you just drift around from website to website?

Yes. And I find nothing of substance. Just more albums being released. More musicians trying to distinguish themselves as interesting. More sensationalized news stories. Everyone is trying to be someone online (including myself I suppose) but all of it lacks substance. At least I am not finding any substance in any of it.

Maybe the problem is you? Maybe the problems is your life? Maybe you lack substance?

That is an interesting thought. You are implying that the reason why it all feels empty to me is because I am substanceless?

Yes.

It could be true. I feel pretty dead inside. Empty I suppose. There is pain. I don’t like anything right now. I realize that in the mornings I am often at my most miserable so I don’t want to get too carried away in any of these negative feelings. But I do feel bleak. I do feel bad inside so it makes sense that nothing on “the outside” will feel like it has any substance.

You are looking for things on the outside to fill you up. To help you feel more meaning or a sense of purpose.

Maybe. I just feel like shit inside. Why? I don’t want to feel this way. I don’t like this. But it all feels bad.

Fuck.

Yes, Fuck. I have to go to work today. I do not want to go to work. My work is not fulfilling. It is painful. It hurts. It makes me feel sick inside.

But you make good money.

Yes. That is why I keep doing it. My work has its advantages but it does not make me feel good inside. I feel bad doing it. I feel bad thinking about it. Today I have to work for nine hours and am already thinking about coming home tonight and drinking a bottle of wine.

That is not good man. Your work should feel more fulfilling than that.

Yeah, well, that is not in the deck of cards for me right now. I have to suffer through work in order to get paid and maintain any kind of decent quality of life.

Fuck.

Yeah, fuck is right. When I am not working I feel like I have little energy to do anything else. I just want to withdraw. I don’t want to talk with anyone. I drift around online. I feel empty and lost inside.

Why don’t you just quit your job? Stop doing it man. Does not sound good for you!

What else would I do? I just don’t know what else I would do to make the kind of money I do. I really do not know what else I could do.

Be a writer?

I would like to do that but writers do not make any money. Who would I write for? How would I make a decent amount of money as a writer? The kind of writing I do is not really about making money. It is not the kind of stuff that makes money and I don’t want to be forced to sell-out as a writer. That would be horrible. So I don’t know if I could make a decent living as a writer without selling out.

It seems like everyone has to sell out these days to make a decent living.

Yes, I know. Selling out has become the American way. I don’t like it. It breeds negative emotions. Selling out causes a person to feel the way I do right now. I don’t like it.

But you don’t know what else to do.

Nope. I have no idea. Right now I just go to my job. I work hard. I get through it. I make my money and then when I am not working any more I try hard to forget about it and enjoy my life as much as possible. But my work is always there in the background. I know that I have to return to it at some point. I know that I can’t figure out some way out of it. My work is always there in one form or another. I know that I need my work for money but my work brings me so much pain. I feel doomed.

Fuck.

Yeah, fuck. I don’t know. It is a difficult situation I am in. I feel stuck. All I can really do to help myself is buy myself things that I like and just try and chill out. Read good books, listen to music, exercise, go for walks, go out to good meals. Stuff like that. This is the only solution I have found thus far. But I don’t know what to do with myself now. I have to be at work soon. I suppose I can just sit and wait. I don’t have much interest in doing anything right now. I don’t want to read. I don’t want to listen to music. I don’t want to exercise. I don’t want to talk with anyone. I think I am just going to sit here and wait until it is time to go to work.

Just sit and wait?

Maybe I will clean my house since having a clean house seems to be the only thing right now that brings me some degree of satisfaction.

Fuck.

Yeah, fuck.