People experience moments of stillness and acceptance, with less stress, in which we gain perspective. How to better guide our steps around the world?
Faced with the tribulations of existence, it is advisable to cultivate two important attitudes: serenity and contentment. With the first, we can remain calm even in the most difficult situations. Through the second, we learn to enjoy what life presents us, and we are satisfied with what we have Both qualities are not easy to improvise and require learning. Or rather it could be said that this is precisely one of the main lessons that should be learned from the experience of living?
In any case, it is a psychological attitude that is not alien to us, since we all possess to a greater or lesser degree that serenity and contentment that allow us to continue with our activities every day.
But it’s okay to be more aware of it if possible. Training yourself from time to time in the art of distancing is good practice to achieve this.
DISTANCING: A FAMILIAR PHENOMENON
The distancing is something that occurs on many levels of existence.
Thus, when in the morning when we get up, we quickly go to the bathroom to wash ourselves and then we get dressed, do we not show with those acts a distance from the purely material or animal?
Well, when we wash, we get rid of certain dirt derived from biological processes that we accept but in which we do not want to be too involved. And with the act of putting clothes on our skin we emphasize that we are not mere animals.
In fact, it could be argued that human culture, in its various artistic and technological manifestations, is a way of distancing oneself from the purely natural.
Although it is also clear that there cannot be a total separation, but a necessary balance between nature and culture.
Even when we eat, we distance ourselves from food by using cutlery and it is pleasant to do so on a clean table.
Why doesn’t anyone like to be called “pig”? Because the name of that innocent animal evokes too direct contact with materiality. Its mouth and snout always at ground level, its ability to eat almost any type of food and even in the middle of the dirt, as well as its grunts, are attributes with which we do not like to identify ourselves.
During childhood we learn little by little to distance ourselves from the immediacy of the objects that surround us as well as the sensations and emotions that they provoke in us.
It is difficult for a child to understand the norms that parents and educators want to instill in him. Only when he reaches the so-called “use of reason”, at approximately seven years of age, does he begin to understand better, since he is capable of reflection, which is precisely the psychological capacity to distance himself to a certain extent from experiences in order to be able to understand them.
At the end of existence, when understanding has been gained, we must nevertheless distance ourselves from many things that were previously main, such as work, fame or certain pleasures.
But if the aforementioned qualities of serenity and contentment have been increasing, old age can be as happy a time as any other.
DISTANCE YOURSELF: WHEN LESS IS MORE
It is not easy to distance yourself from events at any given time. This is so because since we are born, we are used to constantly reacting to stimuli that come to us from outside, as well as to taking into account the social conventions in which we are educated.
It is normal for this to happen, but in turn, if we only attend to the immediate, the possibility of having other types of experiences that are as or more important is limited.
We are always living day-to-day in what is called a waking state, often stressful and relieved with the arrival of nighttime sleep.
Let’s not forget that sleeping and dreaming is another natural form of distancing. Ordinary consciousness retreats to its original organic base to rest and regenerate itself, while the mind gives way to dream experiences.
It is also not easy to control the constant flow of thoughts and emotions that run through the mind. We have already seen that calm reflection is a necessary form of detachment so that concepts become ideas or passing emotions into deeper feelings.
And not only that: the most recent research in neuropsychology surprises us by stating that what our brain spends more energy on is not in processing the information that comes to us through the senses, but in filtering it so that consciousness is not saturated of unnecessary data.
That is, although we have the ability to store a tremendously high number of information (such as remembering, for example, each of the license plates of the cars that we see distractedly every day), the brain prevents us from being aware of it.
There is thus a convenient distancing from the accumulation of sensations and perceptions. Here, too, the thing that less is more is fulfilled.
7 WAYS TO MEET AGAIN THROUGH DISTANCE
It is not difficult to have occasions to distance oneself from oneself and return enriched through experiences that increase our capacity to understand and love. Let’s see a few examples available to everyone.
- Approaching natural spaces – be it the sea, the mountains or a small garden – is a return to the roots that sustain life. There we forget the worries and burdens of our urban existence, often contrived. There is room to breathe and contemplate.
- Moving away from the home where we normally live and visiting a “different” place broadens the perspective of life. New faces and landscapes, other languages and foods … The world is large and diverse; our smallness is less when we recognize and appreciate it.
- In any of its forms (music, literature, painting, architecture…), if art manages to transmit truth and beauty, it helps us free ourselves from the heaviness of matter; it is like flying for a few moments at a time near and far from ourselves.
- Giving others something of our own – time, money or any object – is a way of expanding our little self a little, recognizing the “we”. Sometimes it is enough to be happy about the good things that happen to others.
- It is not good to always be immersed in problems. You have to stick your head out from time to time and breathe. Or even swim further, until you reach land where you can rest easy. Better not to dwell on negative experiences.
- Laughing sometimes at yourself, or at so many absurd situations in life, is healthy and convenient. Taking things with humor is a way of de-dramatizing them and helps to relativize the penalties (“There is no harm that does not come for good”).
- Understanding that we do not possess anything forever, not even the body, and that we are merely beneficial owners for a time, should give us a feeling of lightness and offer an occasion to appreciate what is really important in life.
FIND A NEW PERSPECTIVE
It should be clear that the distancing discussed here should not be understood as something negative, a fall into indifference, skepticism or nihilism.
On the contrary, it is about distancing oneself from what is happening at times in order to experience it from a broader and clearer perspective. Without fogging the glass with the mist that comes out of the mouth, as children do when they approach a shop window to look at toys. We can thus gain equanimity.
We are all subjective by nature, but we can increase the degree of objectivity and be able at a given moment to put ourselves in the place of the other. To understand the reasons and needs of another person, which is always convenient both in personal relationships and between nations.
Also, considering things with greater perspective helps to free yourself from certain thoughts or emotions that can become obsessed at a given moment.
Take, for example, the terror that some people feel about traveling by plane. It is clear that to anyone, faced with the attitude of flying, the possibility that there may be an accident crosses their mind. Only that most forget or distance themselves from such a thought, while certain people cannot get it out of their mind and then they are in a panic.
There are, in fact, people who at a given moment “decide” (it is difficult to distinguish whether voluntarily or involuntarily) that they are going to continue to suffer, either because they believe they deserve it or because they will be unable to overcome it. This strange “attachment” to suffering is more frequent than you might think. Time, as they say, puts things in their place. What at a given moment can be experienced as a tragedy – for example, the end of a first adolescent love – is discussed over the years as if it were a funny comedy.
But it doesn’t take long for the pain of bad experiences to fade, just take a positive attitude.
WHAT DO WE GAIN BY DISTANCING OURSELVES?
It is advisable to take life with some calm and this is achieved with moments of healthy distancing. We see then that many disputes are unnecessary and that what unites people is more important than what apparently separates them.
From the distance of a spaceship, the Earth is seen as a beautiful blue jewel that floats in the dark and in which we all live; the borders vanish as we rise from the ground.
It may even be advisable not to always be aware of thoughts and emotions, distancing ourselves, as it were, from the most external and agitated part of our own mind.
You can have moments of contemplation, such as prayer if you are a believer or calm and silent meditation in any case. Consciousness then detaches itself from the little ego and moves towards a transpersonal dimension where it finds peace. It is therefore a paradoxical distance to meet.
In the words of Sogyal Rinpoche: “To meditate is to completely break with our ‘normal’ way of operating, since it is a state free of all worry and restlessness in which there is no competition, there is no desire to possess anything, there is no struggle internal, neither anguish nor longing for achievements ; it is a state in which there is no acceptance or rejection, neither hope nor fear; a state in which, little by little, we begin to release all those emotions and concepts that hold us prisoner, to enter the space of natural simplicity “.