Today I am going to share with you another technique I use. I call it “The Gap”. It is another tool from my kit which I find very useful.
It is based on my practice of Buddhist meditation. When one learns this one recognises that thoughts are like clouds. The aim of meditation is to simply observe the clouds (thoughts) and not be caught up in them or enter into an internal dialogue with them. “The chattering monkey”, as the Buddhists call it. So the eventual goal is to see nothing but blue sky.
In other words the clouds, which are our personality, disappear. We are then free of all the distractions that our mind imposes on us and then we (“the I”) disappears and we observe that we are part of the Universe. Ultimately this leads to what Buddhists call “Enlightenment”.
I noticed a few months ago that there was a small space between my thoughts, especially those related to addictions and moods. Fortunately I have never experienced serious addictions but I do still smoke about 10 cigarettes a day. When I am ready I will stop. I am not ready yet. That is another story.
If you have an addiction you will feel guilty, but also (strangely) intent upon repeating it whether it be drink, cigarettes, or anything else. Without knowing about “the gap” you will just do it and then feel bad afterwards and then the cycle repeats itself.
You just go along with it, but if you can stop yourself in that split second between the painful physical appetite and taking whatever it is, you will see that there is a very tiny gap in your thought processes. This is your opportunity to question whether you really want to perpetuate the cycle. The more you think about it the more that gap lengthens and the more you are able to consider it rationally. The clouds are separating.
It is not something that can be learned quickly or easily but it is a habit that you can get into and eventually it gives you so much space to really decide whether you want to have that next cigarette or drink or snort of cocaine or whatever. This applies not just to drugs but to any destructive habit. The other benefit is, as I have discovered, that it also applies to moods. So when I am feeling that I am moving from a good mood to a bad mood I can use my “gap technique” to find out why my mind is shifting in a negative direction. I can then decide what I need to do, e.g. eat, sleep, take some exercise, etc. to prevent myself from slipping into a negative mood and possibly then into a depressive episode.
I have used this technique many times recently and it grows in strength each time. It’s a really wonderful way of controlling self-harm and unpleasant changes in mood. It takes practice and perseverance, but it works for me and that’s why I’m sharing it with you. I would love to know whether you are able to use the same technique and enjoy its benefits.