Much of the world is living in a permanent state of mass hypnosis. Myself included. We look for things to amuse our senses to a point of overdrive. It’s either watching TV, listening to music, playing video games, and my personal favorite reading books. There are countless things in our environment that capture our attention- art pieces, advertisement, grafitti, songs, etc…We hardly get a moment where our senses are not being overly stimulated. I will not even talk about porn, but it is the extreme of these same patterns. How are we to ever get to know our own true selves in the middle of all this noise? At the same time, I think it is because we are lacking this knowledge of the inner self that we seek all these things that hypnotize us. We actually LIKE to get lost in a good book or film. We seek the mental state of focus, and there are stimuli around that provide it externally of ourselves, up to a point for a brief period of time. Somehow, it is never enough, there is a drive for the next good book, the next great film, the sweeter pie, the even cheesier pizza. Just constantly looking for the next big thing that will overdrive our senses, and every time we need more.
We crave the state of mental ‘flow’, so we seek stimuli that hypnotize us. And in giving in to all these stimuli we become desensitized. We cannot appreciate the simple taste of a vegetable by itself, or the subtle smell of a natural flower, anything that has not been enhanced and magnified we find boring. The food we consume is a clear example, everything is double and triple cheese, extra sweet, vitamin enhanced. Or the opposite, the ‘diet’ foods, we want the flavor of fat and sweet without the nutrition of fat and sweet, the stimulation without the content.We end up eating chemicals, and empty food, that does not nourish, and does not really satisfy. We crave more and more and are never satisfied.
This is also the hypnosis of video games, they require intense focus and attention, leading to ever more impressive graphics and saturated color, complete with sound effects and action sequences. Real life pales in comparison, it seems boring, bland, too slow. We fail to appreciate quiet things and long hours of nothing. When we have waiting time in a train, a long queue, or a bus we must occupy our mind with our mobile phone, android games, a book….Talking to the people around us seems almost impossible, they are all busy seeking their own distractions and ignoring their surroundings, what’s more looking at our own thoughts doesn’t even seem to be a possibility. We live in a time of mass hypnosis.
My drugs of choice have been books and daydreams. I’ve lived trapped in a world of fantasy for many years, wishing that the world were more like the books I read. Wishing to go on fantastic quests and develop magical powers. The world as is seems like endless hours of nothing. Even as I write I feel pain and resistance, I don’t want to stop reading, I love books, I hold on to the illusion.
At the same time, being trapped in all this sensory overdrive, it is impossible to know myself. My senses are turned outward, to be able to focus on the one thing, I need to learn to NOT pay attention to many others (even now I have more than seven windows open on my laptop and the TV is on just for some background noise). So, in this era of overstimuli we learn to ignore, and our attention wanders from one thing to the next every minute. We learn to ignore, we have attention problems, everyone talks about ADD, and ADHD, we drive away from awareness. We ignore the inner life, the achy muscles, the sore belly, the whisperings of the silence.
Personally, these past few days have been about noticing all that I do to ignore the perceptions of my inner senses. I’ve lived afraid of the silence, afraid of spending time with myself, afraid of relaxing and listening to the inner voices and the world of spirit. Perceptions trickle out inevitably, in dreams, in daily life, and I tense up even more to block them out. Overstimulation of the outward senses is one of those things. Even now I am afraid to turn off the TV, and if I did, I would immediately turn on some music or radio.
So there is a seeming contradiction: the natural and the quiet are boring, and at the same time, I am afraid of the thundering silence. If I weren’t always over stimulated, and overly busy, what would I have to face?
Now, I’m not saying that technology is bad or that books are bad. I am saying we need to learn to use them as tools for learning and communicating, and not let them use us to nail marketing messages into our minds so we buy and consume more and more every time. I want to learn to stop fearing silence, appreciate a moment of darkness, look into the chaos of my mind, taste the flavors of natural food, be mesmerized by the routine of a normal day.