Learning how to rest (treadmill)
note: this post doesn’t meet my quality standards, see meta comment
Unlike Gary, I’ve never been capable of laziness. This may sound like a virtue, but what it really means is that I don’t know how to rest.
Even when I’m lying in my bed doing nothing, my mind churns away at the apparently endless list of tasks and projects.
Recently a few of them fell away.
There are things I believe I need to do, be or have in order to be happy/peaceful/enlightened. Even if I know intellectually1 that I don’t need anything there are still things I feel like I need.
As I go along (forgiving2 I discover things that I don’t need anymore. But it’s like walking backwards - I can only see things that I nolonger feel I need. Almost everything else is hard to even identify.
For example, I know already that I don’t need to get married or have children in order to be happy.
I don’t need people anymore
Further following the line of thinking that I am not wanted (that has been the theme of the last few posts), my path to heaven/enlightenment looks much shorter:
What surprises me is that I could be okay with that. I see a clear path that leads to peace, that does not require any of those things.
I can imagine, for the rest of my life, nobody finding me attractive. I can imagine never really having an opportunity to explore sexuality, and it being okay. Maybe playing Relationships is part of my happy dream, but maybe not! Maybe I would be just as happy without that distraction, for the rest of my illusiory ‘life’. After hearing Ken explain why sex has so much guilt and specialness for us, I feel like that guilt and specialness can be undone without acting it out. So the need for a partner is gone.5
If I made no more friends, and lost many or all of my current ones, I could still be okay. I don’t actually need people to like me in order to get home. What matters is how I feel about them. I’ve rambled incoherently about this before.
I don’t need to have a teaching practise. Instead of working to help others understand, I could focus exclusively on applying it myself and never tell anyone what I know. How much faster would I learn if I weren’t thinking about how to package what I learn to please egos so they will like me?
work to do
There are some things I do feel I need to do. Relationships I need to complete. Some of them are old friends I haven’t talked to in a long time because I didn’t know how to talk to them. What happens after I’ve said what I need to say does not matter.
Also I have work to do with my family. I’m currently training my dad in how to speak while conforming to my boundaries so that I can have an equal conversation with him about stuff that happened when I was a child and stuff that happened later when I lived with him. I want to tell him my resentments but it seems unfair to do so before he has learned how to speak back to me without disrespect. I do not know whether either of us will wish to speak to each other after I’ve told him my resentments.
Then there’s my brother who I haven’t spoken to in years for related reasons. I don’t know if he will want to be trained - if he will want a relationship with me on my terms instead of his. If not then that will be a very short path to completion for me.
Then there’s mum, but she currently doesn’t want to know how I feel, so there’s not really anything for me to do right now.
Beyond that, I need do nothing6; there’s almost nothing on the level of the world I absolutely need to achieve (having said this statement, many things will probably come to mind).
Yet my mind is still on a treadmill: churning through an eternal list of possible tasks and projects, and in some way striving to do them. This mental activity of thinking of other things to do that I’m not doing happens even when I’m intentionally lying on my bed doing nothing in order to rest. It’s happening now, while I’m writing this post.
The answer is almost always “no” and I see that it is so. I get a clearer and clearer sense of what the treadmill feels like and how it contrasts with rest. Rather than seeing the specific activities of the treadmill, it is reduced to an attitude and a feeling, that when exposed, is seen to be of no value.
A more disciplined approach
Rule: don’t do anything productive while in the treadmill. Wait for the restful state. Otherwise how can I know which things matter and which do not. The treadmill mindset always proposes things to do, without end, which means even when there is nothing to do, it will find something and propose it.
The rule makes the uselessness of the treadmill attitude absolute.
Instruction that works for me:
restful activities only8
However, the Treadmill is tricksy. It will try to turn everything into an achievement, including “overcoming the treadmill”.
There have been a few times in which I was indeed resting. And the pattern is most interesting. I am resting when I watch TV. That explains why I watch so much TV. It seems like up till very recently I’ve been incapable of resting except while sufficiently engaged in stress-free entertainment.
I think being on a train may also allow me to rest, as it prevents me from doing anything. There are no tasks that can be done. I would like to be able to rest at home, without ingesting a continuous stream of stimulous.
I noticed one moment today, for maybe 5 minutes, in which I was resting without TV. I used it to complete a task.
Another time I rest is when I’m about to go to bed, I can’t do anything when I’m about to go to bed. But as soon as I’m in the restful state a weight is lifted from me and I can do things more easily, but it’s time for bed. Why can’t I have that weight gone during the day? Silly isn’t it.
this is also probably why I end up going to bed late. I can’t relax until bedtime so I stretch bedtime out for as long as possible.
another time I’m able to rest is when I’m really ill.
When I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, I notice the treadmill is going full speed.
There seems to be little correlation between whether my mind is at rest or on the treadmill, and whether what I’m doing looks like work or rest.
When TV is not enough to induce rest, sometimes pornography is. Which explains my continued use of porn9. Masturbation time is private, and therefore cut off from the treadmill.
I don’t smoke, but I imagine cigarette breaks offer a similar moment of actual rest. The cigarette is an excuse to justify giving oneself a break.
misc additional thoughts
The list of things to do is now completable within one lifetime instead of potentially needing many lifetimes.
Trying to maintain friendships that want to die is work that never ends.
The need to keep working at every opportunity is of course driven by guilt. We as a society cannot allow anyone, including ourselves, to ‘waste’ time and energy unproductively. When we rest it must be justified in terms of productiveness. “I’m taking a break so that when I get back to work I’ll work better”, “I’m resting because I can’t work anymore”. For a mind like mine it is hard to even conceive of rest without some kind of rationale in terms of work.
Think how we treat people who aren’t ‘doing anything with their lives’ and don’t have what seems to us a good reason. What thoughts come up about such people?
I think of rest as something to do only when I cannot work, instead of thinking of work as something to do only when I cannot rest.
the point of the rule: it uses the determination to work to undo the determination to work.
Saving the world on the level of the world is another magic thought I don’t have. And that has now been extended to include ‘teaching’. I don’t need to ‘teach’ I only need to complete my forgiveness lessons.
Ken does such a great job of teaching, so I don’t need to
if i don’t need people to like me then I don’t need to maintain the story that I’m always working.
I did not know what rest was
I wonder if the treadmill is a component of the procrastination self-deception.
It’s all Kant’s fault.
Treadmill (or perhaps more hamster wheel) is the perfect analogy because the more you give it, the faster it spins, requiring you to give more.
A part of learning to rest is learning to take a break after an achievement, to recognise and appreciate work done, before moving into the next thing.
The treadmill or perhaps, productivity, is an addiction.
Sayings of the Treadmill
The treadmill’s Narrative
(this is the treadmill in maintenance mode, arguing to keep working)
…and if you run out of things to do, just start working on world hunger
you have the privilege of being able to rest, you should be using it to help those without that privilege.
(This is a form of being in other people’s business)
once I don’t have this treadmill running, I’ll have more time and energy, think of all the things I’ll be able to do.
I’m going to be the most restful person and everyone will know it. They’ll say “wow Freyr can you teach me how to give up the treadmill”
The treadmill’s revenge
(Reactions that come up, whether from others or from my own inner critic, if anyone ever questions the validity of the treadmill)
if you have time to be happy, energy to play with, you can use it to help someone else.
you selfish, lazy bastard.
how dare you10
Is there really a difference though, between the initial argument and the reaction?
Writing this has been a challenge. I can imagine I might be killed for saying these things, whether directly or indirectly. (note to self: add reasons)
I wrote the later parts of this after midnight so it may suck. I also wrote this meta comment after midnight.
I have not read though. I have not edited.
Also, feels like I slipped back into writing for others/the ego.
things to do
sort addendums vaguely
- put misc additional thoughts in their place if they have a place
- read through
- Also needs an excerpt.
- Relate to procrastination/perfectionism.
Add tags: procrastination/perfectionism, for others/recommended, article?
- consider turning the bit about not needing friends/people into a separate post, linked to from here.
- Talk about capitalism and inflation/debt/growth based economies.
- Go through and check for non-first person singular pronouns and consider changing them.
- talk about the mind of scarcity?
i.e. allowing my perception to be corrected by Sanity ↩
“friendship” used ironically means “strategic alliance between egos” ↩
“teaching” used ironically means what normal people mean by teaching, rather than the Course’s “To teach is to demonstrate.” ↩
that’s not to say I don’t have urges/cravings ↩
A Course In Miracles T18-VII ↩
This form of self-questioning started out with Idris prefacing a yes/no question with “You can answer only truthfully…” which my brain, being quite suggestible, accepts as an instruction. Then for a while I would elicit truthful answers from myself by prefacing yes/no questions with “I can answer only truthfully…”. More recently I find asking Jesus works as well or better - I think it gives me the most helpful answer rather than what’s ‘true for me’. ↩
ceasing any activity that has become unrestful ↩
I refrained from porn, masturbation or orgasm for a month or so and it was an interesting experience but, under guidance, I found myself returning to it. I guess now I know why - until I’ve broken the treadmill, it would be unkind to give up my restful excuses ↩
credit: Arthur’s treadmill ↩