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wundayatta's avatar

Have you been so deeply embodied that you had no sense of mind?

Asked by wundayatta (58377 points ) January 9th, 2010

Yesterday I was pretty depressed. I was thinking myself into the depths. I killed off a bunch of FaceBook “friends” (I had no idea who most of them were), and I was seriously considering dumping my account here, and trying to do something else with my life. Hell, I was thinking about suicide, too. It had all come on totally suddenly—like in a day.

I usually go to a dance workshop on Friday nights. It has live music and sometimes I play music and sometimes I dance. I knew that if I danced, it might really help me. It helps because it gets me out of my head and into my body. I am no longer thinking in the way I think here. It’s more like total being without any question or analysis.

It worked. It helped me lift out. Of course, the impact does not last forever, but it made me feel connected to other people—even loved.

Do you have something like that in your life? It doesn’t have to be dance, but anything that works that trick for you? What is it? What does it feel like? What happens inside you sort of mentally but no mentally, if that makes any sense? Do you wish you could do it all the time, and never have to do anything else, or is it something you can take or leave?

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28 Answers

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I can understand why that works for you; dancing and music are both physical and interactive. It’s a sharing experience with others and takes you outside of yourself. Your ego is lulled by music and the physical act of dancing becomes expressive. You are connected with other people through the music and the movement, and have a sense community because of it, which provides a sense of belonging.

jf9434's avatar

Some days I feel like that too. I go to the gym and work it out; I am in Karate and I try to become aggressive and focus all of my energy into my work out. I feel better for a while, but afterwards I realize that I am just covering up how I really feel.

After that, I usually just pray, read my Bible, and try to think positively. Otherwise, I get stuck in my mind. Pretty scary feeling, being stuck.

janbb's avatar

A fast walk will often do it for me. Although I am ruminating as I walk, I usually come back feeling cleansed. The other thing that really takes me out of my head is sketching or painting; when doing either, I am fully in the moment.

cookieman's avatar

Absolutely. I think we all experience that to some degree. Being in our head too much is never a good thing. As with everything, we need to shoot for some balance between our thinking state and our doing state.

I will do housework and clean the hell out of the place. usually with music cranking in the background. If I’m at work, I’ll get up from my desk and go out to the farm stand and offer to help with something physical (put up fruit, stack boxes).

If I’m not feeling energetic, I’ll opt for a nap with headphones on. Just focus on your breathing.

filmfann's avatar

Nothing lifts my spirits like dancing with this from the movie Gumnaan

wonderingwhy's avatar

I’m glad you understand yourself enough to lift yourself past those times. So many people never learn how.

For myself, every now and then something will strike me in just the right way, and if I’m not too oblivious I’ll stop and take it in as wholly as I can. It can be just about anything, an emotion (love springs to mind) or a situation (sitting on the edge of a cliff), an object (a vase a very dear friend made for me), or even just a culmination of circumstance (the sun, temperature, location, background noise, etc.). When I do that, it’s a bit like separating myself from the world, standing outside myself and experiencing that particular focus as if it or I had somehow taken on new dimension, as if suddenly a dark world has become flush with color, everything becomes sharper, more in focus, more understood. What’s outside of it simply becomes a meaningless blur, there is only the focus and myself, curious consideration, a mental accounting perhaps, but not thought (in terms of thinking about it) so much as experiencing the moment as a whole. Doing it all the time… it happens so rarely, I almost wish it would be all the time but no, I think I would be overwhelmed perhaps in a good way but deep down I sense it could be in a way that might disconnect me from reality, and there is always the thought that, just maybe it’s the intermittence and unpredictability that makes it as special as it is. and in truth the memories it creates are so crystalized simply recalling one or two is often more than enough to get me through.

marinelife's avatar

I love the moments when I am so involved physically that I am not thinking. I remember tubing down the Delaware River on a summer day particularly.

cookieman's avatar

@wonderingwhy: “I’m glad you understand yourself enough to lift yourself past those times. So many people never learn how.”

This is so true. I know many people who simply cannot get out of their own head. It’s almost debilitating.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

A ten-mile run or cross-country skiing give extremely temporary relief from depression. Long-range target shooting is a zen-like meditative exercise that can be helpful. I’ve found nothing that produces an effect that lasts more than an hour or so afterward.

scotsbloke's avatar

Theres a dark time in my past, Depression, (half assed) suicide attempt, loneliness, complete isolation, and it may sound trite, or even crazy but the thing that lifted me out of it was a near death experience. I mean, how messed up is that? I wont go into the whole experience but I realised at that moment there was hope, there was a reason for me to be around. I still have dark days, still have those thoughts kicking about in the back of my mind but now there is a “buffer” for me to fall against so I dont do anything stupid. I have also learned to be more open about it – even to strangers while under a pseudonym – it still helps in some ways.

Any form of exertion will release the “happy” endorphines and make one feel better, even temporarily enough to get past that stumbling block.
Anything that get’s the heart racing will do it. A good work out is heartily recommended.

The one thing this type of media affords us is a level of anonymity and it’s good for us to talk these things through IMHO. I salute everyone who does.

wundayatta's avatar

@scotsbloke I could probably go on for days about this. But it’s more interesting (for me) to hear how other people do it. And also, if I did, I would almost certainly lose my anonymity. If that happens. So be it. Someday, surely, the shit will hit the fan. Sometimes I think it is too tiring not being who I am, having learned what it feels like here. It is very difficult being a paler shade of gray.

scotsbloke's avatar

@daloon I’m guessing your anonymity is kind of important to you here? (mine is to me – not because anyone knows me but because I can hide behind it) If that’s the case, Keep it tight to you. (if you are mega famous – or El Presidente or something too) :0)
I also get a lot from other people – seeing how they think, handle things, turn it around. A form of people watching I guess but rewarding as it keeps the mind open.

wundayatta's avatar

@scotsbloke There are just a few people who would probably hurt me if they knew what I say here, but I still want to spare myself the pain.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Developing detachment is a good trick.

It’s the realization that this entity you call “I” and this energy you call “thought” are two different things. Embracing this idea allows you to simply observe this thought energy much the same way as you would a movie in a theater. You watch a movie, then it’s over. You have nothing to do with what goes on onscreen. You simply observe thought, and eventually it dissipates. You have nothing to do with it’s activity.

You don’t talk about it, you don’t explain it, you don’t theorize over it, you don’t ask questions about it…

…you simply observe it.

Associating “I” with anything gives “I” possession of it.

Why claim possession of that which brings you distress?

Just like they say, a person is judged by who they associate with, you become emotionally associated with the thought energy you entertain. So, practicing conscious awareness (simply observing) minimizes whatever distress you feel because you gain mastery over the thought energy instead of allowing the thought energy to master you.

scotsbloke's avatar

@daloon good call matey

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@daloon @scotsbloke You’re right, preserve that anonymity. I didn’t always follow that rule and paid the price. Now it’s proxy servers, firewalls and all kinds of other crap I don’t understand.

AstroChuck's avatar

I was wondering why I didn’t see my favorite pair of painted butt cheeks at the end of my FB friends list.

Usually a thirty-minute phone conversation with my oldest daughter (that’s pretty much the minimum time. You can’t really keep a call shorter than that with Val.) does the trick. She has seven kids, all under seven. Valerie has real-life stories that will bring me out of any funk I’m in. It’s just too bad she lives on the opposite coast as I do.

Glad you are funk-free today, daloon.

faye's avatar

I like to read a book, dwell a little, read a little, dwell some more, read more and more, finally get lost in the book.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@daloon, my sanity is music. Whether it’s listening, jamming, performing, or just picking up my guitar and strumming, it all has a favorable effect on my feelings of self-worth, accomplishment, and I think endorphins in general!

arnbev959's avatar

I went for a bicycle ride with a friend a few days ago, and after the ride she said something that I have often felt but never put into words: “When you’re riding a bike. you’re not thinking about anything.”

It’s true. On long bike rides I go into a kind of auto-pilot. I’m aware of traffic enough so that I don’t get killed, but I’m not actively thinking. It’s like meditation. It’s beautiful.

fundevogel's avatar

At college I would go out walking at night and sneek on to roofs. The O Chem building in particular. It was only two stories tall but surrounded by taller buildings. I would lay down at stare at the stars past the life sciences and earth sciences buildings until I got too cold to stand it any more.

Sadly good roofs are hard to come by here.

DancingMind's avatar

Yes. And mine is dance too. : ) I feel the exact same way, when I release all my angst and let my body move me… it’s like you’re nothing, and everything, at the exact same time. And as you dance with others, it’s like you can feel the energy connecting you all for that moment, for as long as the movement lasts….
And even when I’m shaking and dripping, exhausted, I don’t want to stop. I just want to dance harder and harder.
And I leave head higher, body lighter, until it wears off….

But for me, sometimes, it’s really hard to get out of my head and into my body. Knowing what I’m missing, it’s like a sort of torture, and my head gets more and more cluttered, my body feels heavy and detached. I wish I knew how to let go of all of that as well as you.

wundayatta's avatar

@DancingMind Yes, this question was for you. I don’t know you, but I thought you might understand.

Do you meditate at the beginning? We do. It is a crucial part of the process. There is more, of course. It is a way of focusing your attention on various parts of your body until your attention diffuses into your entire body, and your body becomes as language.

It is also about relationship, in that we dance in relationship to others. I don’t know what your process is. All I know is that we have a process that works. Very reliably. A kind of spiritual technology (for isn’t what we’re talking about something that most people apply that word to?)

I’m 53 years old. Last night, dancing, I felt like I was 30. I was racing around the dance floor at the end of the dance like I had boundless energy. And I had almost not gone because I was too tired before we left. It really takes me out of myself, and some other spirit enters—a spirit who does things that I can’t do. I jump higher; I am more graceful; for God’s sake, I am a dancer (which in normal life, I am anything but).

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Activity and interaction with others is incompatible with depression and suicidal behavior. Every good clinician gives behavioral prescriptions and has their client (patient if you prefer) practice them. It has kept many trouble people alive until they are able to recover their sense of worth, competence and value.

Keep taking good care of yourself!

YARNLADY's avatar

I find a long, hot shower helps, but for longer time periods, a good novel. I completely lose myself in a good book, and sometimes I’m sorry when I come to the end, and have to ‘surface’ again.

borderline_blonde's avatar

I’ve always believed that all of life is just one big distraction. Personally, I like to read to get myself out of my own head and into another world.

DancingMind's avatar

@daloon

: )

We don’t meditate… we should! But we do do warm up/stretch to get moving and connected…
...and for the rest of what you said, exactly. I understand exactly. When you’re dancing, nothing else matters, nothing else is there, but the energy expanding inside you, pouring out of you.
I don’t know you either… But you understand it the same way I do. I know that.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I like to do my artwork.It can take me away almost like a meditation when I really get into it.I love that feelingThere are also people whose company can make me feel euphoric too:)

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