Twitter, I kept away from you for a long time. Swore I wouldn’t go back, til someone sent along a search results page I couldn’t look at without an account. Gone are the days when you could search or look at hashtags without being logged in.
So I logged in off a burner gmail, took a look around and went back and deactivated it again.
Up until recently, I felt like I couldn’t shake this constant feeling as a human that like… everything I do is wrong, and everything everyone else does is wrong. And that constantly thinking about it was driving me nuts, and there was no way out of it.
How does one confront one’s own anger, one’s own anxieties, one’s own depression – let alone have to deal with everyone else’s? The levers are not always so obvious or accessible when you’re in the depths of it all, as to how to change any of it. Often too, in a weird way, you can become addicted to the pattern, suffering over the constant punch it still can give you.
I’m not an expert in getting out of this by any means. Like you, I’m just another person on the internet. But my experience lately has been, and I don’t know if it’s just life stage or what, but I feel like meditation has been the only thing that’s given me a ladder out of the chaos and the pits people seem to be able to go into and send each other into in the special hells that are social media.
I know, it sounds stupid, trite, naive, simplistic, in short like bullshit. I’d always thought that too, I guess, and didn’t see how it could possibly be a means for me to better be able to manage my own life and whatever it is that I am as a being in this world.
But after re-watching all of the original Twin Peaks and the Return again, I started remembering how David Lynch is ultra into Transcendental Meditation (TM), and started listening to him talk about it, and its deep links to his own creative process. And what he was talking about in it, particularly about the artistic experience, it just resonated so much that I had to try it for myself. I wanted to be able to go back there again, to when I’d seen those heights in my own life, and been able to live there if only for a time…
TM for him seems to consist of twice daily 20 minute mantra meditations. I understand TM assigns something like special mantras based maybe on age and gender (?), that are supposed to be spiritually tuned to whatever. That’s fine & I’m sure there is great value in the social bonds paying to be part of TM affords you, but I’m not living in traditional Indian society, and don’t practice any of the rest of the things that go along with those traditions.
My more developed argument after listening to him speak on it, and my own experiences, is that the ground of being (represented in Quatrian lore as Acho), if the joyous experiences he describes so vividly in meditation really are the heritage of humanity, then it seems unlikely that a single school, in this case TM, has got the market cornered as to technique. It must be universal, and structural in the mind, matter, and being of people (and possibly all entities, if you take it to its logical conclusion — if only as a sci-fi concept.)
There’s an interesting section in this blog post linked here about exploring the Stoic tradition relative to meditation, and it talks about a researcher in the 1970s, comparing TM with other meditation and relaxation techniques:
Benson found that it made no real difference what phrase was repeated: you could pick more or less any word or short phrase and get the same result. So that removed any mystical or philosophical ingredients from the technique, at least in terms of its ability to evoke a beneficial physiological effect.
I would also possibly go so far as to argue that perhaps even your technique matters far less than merely your discipline and regularity of practice, and that simply sitting quietly twice a day for 20 minutes has a beneficial psychological re-balancing effect, no matter what you “do” internally during those 20 minutes.
But to me, since I started again, it doesn’t feel like “discipline” to spend this much time meditating regularly. It feels always like I want to go back there, again and again. It’s a refuge. It’s a place where I’m not connected to anything but the deepest thing. I’m not receiving notifications. I’m not being yelled at by strangers because they think I’m single-handedly destroying publishing by taking the obvious next step of integrating AI into story-telling.
It’s a place where I’m completely free to be just me, to listen. To listen to myself, to listen to the other voices that are crawling around in there rent free, and to let them have their say, to express themselves, and to listen without judgement, and then let it go when it’s time to let it go, Marie Kondo style.
In doing this, I’m able to hear myself again – free from the voices, and fears and hangups of others. I know with clarity and a feeling of cleanness, what is myself, and what is other, and can more clearly delineate the relative importance of it all.
What I see when I pop back on Twitter is everyone who is caught in some subvariant of the same underlying social media virus, that terrible twin feeling of “Everything I do is wrong, and everything everyone else does is wrong.”
But for me, that feeling has been receding progressively, and using now my telescope to look at the issue now, it all feels like its coming from another planet. Might be an interesting place to visit once in a while, but I wouldn’t want to live there.
I’m not here to preach an answer, or say do it my way. I just wanted at least to leave this as a record, a testament, of a prisoner who has managed to break free. Freedom from all of this might be fleeting, hard to catch and keep, but it is real, for however long we can have the courage to maintain it.