How do I Switch of?
Many people find it hard to switch off when meditating or simply in order to relax. This is largely because ‘switching off’ is at odds with what we are normally expected to do to such an extent that many people are even slightly fearful of completely letting go and shutting their mind down. This is a fear that in many ways hampers the development of the individual as it is essentially a fear of experiencing one’s self free of distractions. All too often the self at its purest is shut off by work, consumption of food, alcohol and stimulants, immersion in the business of others, entertainment, physical pleasure and so on. These distractions, whilst serving to excuse one’s self from temporarily facing up to spiritual realities, such as mortality and the vulnerability of the self can only temporarily create solace. When the distraction is over we are left wanting more and feeling empty for a lack of stimulus.
Switching off really consists of altering ingrained attitudes and letting oneself feel their vulnerability as a positive experience. It is our vulnerability - the superfluity of our physical boundaries, which are open to harm through impact or disease - which also constitutes our oneness with the world. As organic matter we flow. We are more solid than water but less solid than a tree. Yet both woodlands and rivers are surprisingly resilient without seeking the distraction of nightclubs and televisions! To switch off involves merely a realisation of our true nature and an acceptance of our transience as part of a wider world. More activity will not make us happier or stronger fundamentally; less activity will help us to foster a feeling of equanimity that is not subject to a perpetually thwarted cycle of desire.
Just Do It!There are numerous exercises throughout this website that will help you switch off. We all have some method of winding down and any of those you currently use may be valid to an extent. What have to ask is whether the current methods you use to relax are counterproductive or not?
Meditation as a means of ‘switching off’ is one of the best ways in which one can understand the value of letting oneself ‘go’ instead of desperately seeking thrills and distractions to cover basic fears and inadequacies. There is no simple answer to how one should switch off, even during meditation, other than the rather straightforward advice: ‘Just do it’. The main thing is that meditation - and relaxation - should bring one to an acceptance of who they are and of their situation in the wider world. Acceptance even extends so far as to accept of the difficulty of switching off. If you are able to do this, switching off will become much easier over time.
The best thing to remember is that switching off is not an experience to attain, but rather is the opposite of attainment - it is you being you at your base level, and it is something that you have a right to experience. Society in many ways makes this experience difficult as it is so at odds with the propagation of wealth and power. This is because the propagation of wealth and power are themselves central distractions that seek to hide persons from fundamental realities. In light of this it is worth seeking places and people that are conducive to the experience of ‘switching off’ so that you may feel your true self.