Summertime in the Higgs Field

Finally, the Summer fog is in. I didn’t mind the hot weather too much the last few weeks, but these dampened gray mornings suit me better. In the afternoon yesterday, the pug and I headed to the big park and when we laid flat on the grass we could feel the warmth of the sun and avoid the cool wind pushing the clouds back across the city from the sea.

Summer has always been my least favorite season. For me, it is the gloomy season. I have never gotten to the bottom of this pattern of thought. I think it has something to do with missing being in school as a child. Being bored, missing the social interaction of the classroom and the stimulation of learning. When I put myself back there long ago, I lie in my still room feeling the incessant breath of the air conditioner, listening to the mosquito buzz of a lawn mower or a plane chopping through the sky. Everyone elsewhere, everyone gone. It is a weight on my soul, the certain knowledge that humanity splashes gloriously in the warm sunshine as I sit in a prison of tedium.

We all have such stories, and they become what we believe we are. All of these experiences develop patterns of thought and emotion and we think, this is who I am, because of this. I say, I am gloomy when it gets hot out. I say, I tend toward depression in the Summer. I attach myself to that concept, that thing I am, I tell the story, and I get depressed. I attach myself to all the stories of my childhood, the feelings of frustration, the loneliness, the disconnection. Summer is my least favorite season, I say. In Summer, I get depressed.

This is our pattern of living, the pattern of life. First, I feel an emotion. I tell myself the story of the emotion. I berate myself for feeling the emotion. Then, I judge it, see myself as weak for feeling that way. Then I push the emotion away, and find a bunch of ways to distract myself from that feeling. Then, I fall further down again when I fail to avoid the emotion and I lose the battle. Then, it begins all over, the dismay, the judgment, the avoidance, the fall. All of this just keeps the pattern in place, just reinforces it. It is how I am, I say.

For instance: I get depressed in Summer. I tell myself I feel this way because of experiences in my childhood. I tell this story. I judge the emotion. I feel ridiculous for disliking everyone’s favorite season, and I tell myself I am weak for associating Summer with feeling lonely. There must be something wrong with me for being lonely in Summer. If I get up every morning and go out for a bike ride, eat mostly fruit and make myself very busy, then maybe I will avoid feeling depressed. This works for a while, until an afternoon comes when the emotion is unavoidable, the depression falls again, and there it is, that feeling, except now I feel even worse because I tried to avoid it, but failed.

I have been learning the secret to letting this pattern of living go.

The secret is neutrality. When I fall into that still place underneath the ego, underneath Clementine, into what I call the true self, then I see the emotions, the thoughts, the concepts, those building blocks of ego, and I no longer react to them. A feeling of loneliness passes through and I say, ah, loneliness. Let me observe it. I notice that when I feel lonely, there is heat behind my eyes. There is a tightness in my chest I associate with sadness. There is sadness, an aching feeling in my torso. Let me invite this in. Let me feel this fully. When it fills me up, this deep empty pain, I just sit and feel it. I am neutral to it. I can feel it, yet I don’t attach to it. Sometimes I think, maybe I will die if I allow this emotion in fully. It has never come to that. I can always take it, no matter how strong the feeling.

After a while of doing this, keeping myself neutral, just observing emotions, detached from the stories I would normally tell, I start to notice that there is a part of myself where sadness doesn’t exist. I try to call it up, and I can’t find it anymore. It has dispersed. Often, once I allow the emotion in completely, face it and feel it fully, detach from it, then I am amazed to see how quickly it disperses. What is there instead? Sometimes, there is the opposite emotion underneath: lightness, joy.

To these emotions, I am neutral as well. Let me just observe. Let me just sit in this still, peaceful place and let that joy fill me up. I let the tingly sensation of bliss pass through me. Again, I don’t attach. This too will change. This too will not stay. Let me just fall into the infinite consciousness upon which the ego sits, and let me rest in this peace while that joy passes through.

This work is not a breaking of patterns. This is a letting go, a dispersing feeling as intangible and dissolving as the Summer fog at 1PM as it burns off in the heat of the sun.

How freeing it is to just let go. Clementine has all of these struggles, and yet as I let go of Clementine I let go of battle and technique and effort. I fall into the infinite place of no story, no past, present, future. Right here.

I was listening to an interview with Physicist Brian Greene on my favorite podcast On Being. He was speaking about the Higgs Boson, and how reality is created from pressure, from interaction:

the universe may be filled with an invisible substance called the Higgs Field, and as particles try to burrow through this environment, they feel a kind of resistance, which is where their heft, or their mass comes from. But we have to accept this strange idea that there is this invisible substance that is all around us.

… So, mass comes from an interaction. Exactly right. It’s not something that is just sort of imbued from the get-go, or from the outside. Now, a parable that gives us some sense of how you can take that very strange story and make it seem less strange is to just think of fish in the ocean, or fish in a fish tank. Right there, swimming around, and they’re really not aware that there is a part of the universe that’s not filled with this watery substance. In fact, this water is so familiar to them that that is emptiness, that is their universe.

So there you have some beings that are living within an environment that is suffused with essentially an invisible something, water, and yet, because they’re in it all the time, they don’t know it. We are in the Higgs field all the time, we experience our interaction with it all the time, and that’s why we don’t even know it.

I was thinking about this a lot lately, about how reality is created from force, positive against negative. I was thinking about those concepts. If the positive exists only because of the pressure the negative is applying, then what is negative, really? Doesn’t that make it positive, if its opposition to positive is what allows positive to exist?

I was rolling these things around in my head, and then two days ago, I had a dream. In my dream, I was thinking about this pressure, this force holding everything together and bringing reality into existence. Then, I started to be able to see right into the place where everything meets, the exact line where the force is applied. I was looking at people and things and could see a physical line dividing it all down the middle, where the positive and negative forces meet. I kept looking closer and closer, and suddenly realized that right there, in that place where reality was created, where energy becomes form, in that narrow space of pure pressure, there was no force and no pressure. It was completely free, an open and infinite consciousness that I could feel in my whole being. It was a release, a nothing and an everything. It was as if at the center of all pressure and at the bottom of all reality was total freedom, total peace, devoid of any of this perceived force or battle or however I would describe reality.

In my dream, I opened my eyes and was overwhelmed with the beauty and vividness of the landscape around me. I was laughing, thinking that this had been all around me, this vibrant color, this gorgeous reality, and that I had never really seen it. I was zooming around and brilliant emerald mountains with flowers all over them were flying by and I had never seen such color. I had never felt so free. I woke up joyful.

What is this reality, really? This force of the past pressing in on the present and future, bringing into existence this ego with emotion and thought and creating this edifice I call Clementine, which is continually created and holds itself together with the pressure of concept. Who is telling the story? What happens when I let go of all stories?

My ego tells me, if you let go of these things, this Clementine, the story of Clementine, you will die. When I fall into that infinite spaciousness, that expansive freedom, I ask myself, who is it who dies? When I am in this true self, this light that continues and does not change, then death is yet another concept that blows away with the fog. I choose freedom. At 2PM, the Summer sky is a jewel of blue, a gift for whoever cares to see.

***

You can hear me read this here: https://soundcloud.com/clemthegreat/summertime-in-the-higgs-field or on my iTunes podcast HERE.

7 thoughts on “Summertime in the Higgs Field”

  1. I like the way you describe just observing emotions without judging. You talk about it in very practical and personal terms, in a very honest and human-sized manner. Like, that doesn’t sound like any esoteric meditation practice accessible only for the devotees, but more like a little change in perspective which anyone can take (or easily learn to take).

    In my own life I’ve also noticed as certain emotional patterns seem to emerge from prolonged childhood traumas, they aren’t dissolved in one go. It has been like a spiral movement; round after round returning to same old stuff, but each round feels a bit different as I’ve learned something new.

    Hmm… I’ve been trying to figure this out; as it often happens if I talk about the painful things of my past, or how I see them affecting my current emotional patterns, other people often think that I refuse to let go of those stories, that I identify with my pains, that I see myself as a victim passively waiting for some sort of compensation. Huh. All of those seem to be rather common emotional patterns for a lot of folks, but I’ve experienced only a fleeting moments of that kind of emotions. Since early teenage years for me it has been clear that I just observe and accept. Which also means observing these stories, observing my memories, becoming aware of hidden pain or fear – and then it is just an effortless natural by-product to see those stories changing, the memories will stay but no longer are they associated with pain, fear nor anxiety. (The thing just is, that working with prolonged childhood traumas has taken some time – and we are living in a western culture with ‘push-a-button-for-instant-effect’-mentality. Another of the things which I’m personally a little alien with. I’m okay with things taking time. And what is time, anyway =) We have the present moment, and then we have memories which change over time.)

    Oh well =) But the Higgs field – it never dies. Waves of pressure change, formations dance, shapes emerge and fade back into the field. The field never dies.

    1. Thank you Erkka! You’re right, it’s rare this stuff is dissolved all at once. It’s interesting to see how it morphs and changes though. Sometimes I experience depression as sadness, sometimes as fear, etc. I just keep letting it rise, and meet what is there. You totally understand it. I find that telling the story seems to reinforce it, and also, as time goes on, I get so detached from those stories that I have a hard time identifying with them anymore. Which is an interesting conundrum for a writer. Although, I feel my ability to write honestly about this stuff has strengthened as I get more and more distance, so maybe having that attachment in the way just clouded up my prose in the past. I was taught to write about what you feel passionately about, but in this case, the distance from the passion of the emotion only helps.

      I like the story that Robert Thurman told about coming home from work angry about something, and trying to relate it to his wife. She would just stop him. “Why do you want to spread that anger around?” By keeping it to himself and dissolving the emotion himself rather than sharing with her stopped it from spreading. It sounds harsh, but more and more I think she’s on to something! When I start to blather on about that old stuff, I hear myself doing it and think, what am I spreading all this stuff around for?

      All the best, hope you’re enjoying the Finnish countryside!

      1. Today I enjoyed my morning coffee in the hammock under the oak, listening to all the little birds singing =) I also enjoy the feeling that July is my holiday season; only minimal work and a lot of free days in row to allow me to rest properly. Funnily, that also seems to make me more talkative, so sorry for flooding the comment section of your blog =)

        First, this reminds me of a story from my University years. It was a lecture in psychology, and the lecturer made it very clear that he dislikes Freudian psychoanalysis and sees it as an inefficient method of therapy. “Making patients to recall and to talk about their past troubles only reinforces their anxiety!” he said, and he was in favor of science-backed solution-oriented cognitive methods. Later on he told an example of those effective methods he liked; for example, asking patients to write a story of their past troubles helps them to see it clearly and they start to feel better. Me and my fellow student looked at each other, rolling eyes – for it pretty much sounded like the lecturer insisted that the exact same method (telling a story of past troubles) is either bad or good, depending if it used by a freudian or by a cognitive therapist… (do we see a little my-side bias here?)

        But then, there might also be a seed of wisdom in what the lecturer said. I mean, it probably is not the method alone which determines the outcome. But what matters is the setting, the mood, the way the story is approached. For myself, one aspect is that as a child I pretty much was left without the emotional comfort, warmth and safety. So now I can dive back to those traumatic memories, allowing them to resurface, living them again – and all the time enveloping them with the peace and tranquil of Oneness. In a way, comforting that inner child of my memories. Hehe, but this is just one method, and sure there are a lot of other ways to approach ones inner stories, and we all need to find the ways which work for oneself.

        Another strange aspect is the theme of sharing / feeling isolated. The story in your blog post made me feel that in those moments of “I feel ridiculous for disliking everyone’s favorite season” you live again the pattern of being disconnected from others. ‘There are those other people enjoying the summer, and here is me feeling sad, and so I can’t join nor take part in the bubbly summery joy of fellow humans.’ (Hmm, so, I think that the feeling of separation is one of the central aspects giving rise to depressive moods.) Instead of trying to make yourself merry, you took the path of neutral observation, which then takes you to a deeper feeling of infinite spaciousness, the freedom of Oneness, where there is pure connectedness. So, in a way, again this method of embracing the sad feelings of isolation, and gently carrying them back to the infinite sea of Oneness; a method which allows and accepts all the negative emotions the way they are, yet takes them to place where they are remedied by something greater.

        But the aspect of strange lies in that usually we feel deeply connected to others when we can share a collective emotion; like the crowd cheering at a baseball match, or the people dancing at a party. And this seems to be about passion – it comes with a unsaid assumption that if one is neutral, objective and dispassionate then one is also detached, isolated, lonely, strange, powerless and weak in the sense of lacking motivation to do things. Well, there certainly is that breed of disconnected isolated neutrality, yes. But I think and feel that there are other ways too. Like, resting one’s deep core in peace and tranquil of infinite Oneness, and then surfing the waves of joy, delight, sorrow, hunger, pain, merriness, and all the emotions to share with fellow sentient beings.

        Oh well, yes – these are the thoughts which have been simmering in my mind for decades, as I seldom find people to share this line of thinking with – to the point that I almost forgot how to freely talk =) Your blog has brought me a great deal of sense of ‘home-coming’, and has made it a lot easier for me to share and to talk and to laugh and to dance with the fellow sentient beings of my life.

        1. Hi Erkka! I love the idea that to let go of all story is the key. Those stories of hurt and of happiness, those stories good and bad that we attach to and build the ego from. I have always been open to all ways of wisdom. I think that all methods are good to explore, and maybe only once you’ve done this can you see that it’s only in letting the stories go that we become free. This is true for concepts too, and I guess this is the beauty of mindfulness, to be able to see our ideas about reality and question it all. Question our attachments, question our big concepts and the things we take for truth.

          The thing about neutrality is that truly being neutral, to both positive and negative, is the result of losing the attachments. Rather that this being a dead or disconnected experience, it is a true opening, as if only when all attachments are let go can the heart truly open, can one experience the true love, the open, non-relational love that animates all existence.

          My friend was getting very far in meditation, and she was having many moments of Oneness, and loving everything equally. She became afraid, and wrote to a monk at a Buddhist center where she had sat for a week. She asked, “if I love every thing equally, if I reach that enlightenment I seek, then what will happen to my family, and my husband, and my dogs? I love them now and prefer them over everything, but what will happen if they no longer have preference in my heart?”

          The monk said, “Enlightenment is good for everyone. There is no downside to Enlightenment.”

          We both laughed. Of course! When you are bathed in unconditional love for all, true awakening, then the love for those near and far is an infinite, unyielding love that radiates out and connects eternally. There is no limit to love, and to love completely can only bathe her family in its warmth. How can that be bad? It is the ego that is afraid. The preferential stories the ego clings to. When the ego dies, what is left is love, the energy. Not the emotion.

          Your comments mean everything to me. I am so touched to have found someone across the world who resonates with these things and who is on such a similar path. Also, your writing is gorgeous. Lots of love to you!

          1. Indeed!

            I think I’ll try to return to these themes in my own blog, later on this summer.

            It probably is so that the whole idea of ‘unconditional love’ can’t be fully translated into words – especially as our words and verbal thoughts are often so deeply rooted in our old habits of preferential stories, judging things good and bad, so that ‘unconditional’ starts to look like ‘disinterested and alienated’ or something.

            In my own path, I remember finding short moments of first-hand experience of unconditional love and Oneness, and then slowly working to wrap my mind around this new way of meeting the world with non-judgemental compassion. But then had to dive deeper into emotional scars of childhood traumas. In a way, that combined into not seeing those scars as ‘bad’ or ‘good’, but more like a practical thing you’d fix anyway. (A lot like a leaking roof isn’t ‘good’ nor ‘bad’ in itself, yet even the enlightened monk would probably go and fix the leaking roof.)

            But, yeah, all in all – I deeply agree with the idea of ‘letting go’. It is the key, and it comes with a trick that we can’t force ourselves to let go. That’s probably why we need methods, journeys and detours, and then at some moments we just realize how it feels to let go, we witness it happen. Or something like that =)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *