Journal: Making a Decision to Live

Website by Jazz Andrews

My name's Jazz, I'm a human just like you. Alive for a brief flash in this incredible universe.

April 24, 2023

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

This year I’m 37 years old. I had my first experience of losing my mind when I was 18. That’s around two decades of living with a lost mind, or being lost in my mind.

Recently, in the last couple of weeks, I was laying on my yoga mat in my room doing breathing exercises to try to change the familiar anxiety I felt in my bones, and escape the obsessive thoughts racing through my head, and I made a decision.

I’m not going to do this anymore.

By “this” I mean, listen to my constant stream of worries. Test them out in complex and painful hypotheses in my mind, get lost in them, feel overwhelmed by them, battle with them, live in a constant struggle with the stream of thoughts, feelings and sticky obsessions that to a greater or lesser degree have defined my mental landscape for the majority of my precious life until this point.

The Decision

From now until New Year’s Eve on the 31st December 2023, I am going to practice the following six pillars:

  1. Daily  body and breath work. Whatever is going on in my mind is also going on in my body. Whatever experiences I have in this life happen within this body. Even without any of the other pillars, even without the mental framework of beliefs to accompany it, I could change my mental state through exercise and conscious breathing, because of its ability to improve my brain chemistry and regulate my nervous system.
  2. Bring myself back to  mindfulness of the present moment  any time I notice myself ruminating or lost in SRIN (Self Referential Internal Noise). This includes thoughts that are very compelling and make me want to follow them to disprove or prove them or engage in any way. No more trying to solve the problems in my head. I’ve spent a lifetime lost in this, it’s time for something different.
  3. Cultivate loving kindness, gratitude, appreciation, wonder and enjoyment of life.  Practice happiness. Do this through chanting, loving kindness meditation, gratitude dialogues, happiness mantras, rituals, positive affirmations etc.
  4. Practice meditation regularly, every day as much as possible. The above can be done in everyday life, but I will also make time every day for practice time on the meditation cushion. The core of this practice is mindfulness and loving-kindness/gratitude/happiness cultivation. I will be careful with meditation that is focused on exploring thoughts or feelings too much because of my predisposition to wander off into mental states. I will prioritise presence in my body, on my breath, in my pure awareness and the cultivation of loving, grateful, joyful states of mind.
  5. Throughout my life I’ve been very drawn in by activities that allow me to escape from my mind. Two that I want to redirect to new activities are: porn and video games. I don’t want to get into a thought stream about the value of porn and video games, or into judging them in any way. But for me they’re both activities that represent fantasy instead of reality. That being said, they do have seeds of goodness in them. Porn is linked with our desire for love, connection, sexuality and intimacy. And I intend to practice that in an embodied, present and loving way with my partner Lisa. Video games can be incredibly creative and imaginative, and can be a wonderful way to challenge the brain and have fun. But rather than doing that in the context of my computer, I’m going to find an outlet for that enjoyment by playing card games, board games and puzzles with friends and family. I’m going to redirect the time and energy from hobbies that make me less present and put it towards  helpful activities that develop my presence, connection and joy in the world.
  6. There are a million different philosophies, religions and frameworks in existence that people use to guide them in their actions and beliefs. I have spent a lot of time in the past lost in doubt, constantly seeking validation of whatever choices I’m considering making. No more. I am following my path and I am letting go of doubt.  If some question arises – “does this fit into my path?”, “what about this contradiction between my path and a different path?”, “how do these two beliefs you hold fit together when they contradict each other?” – I will simply note the mental activity to myself “thinking”, and bring my awareness back into the moment.

There are decisions that I’ll need to make of course – “Is this a helpful activity?” for example. But this reflection and categorising is the finger that points at the moon, and not the moon itself. I have spent far too long obsessed with that finger, questioning and analysing and doubting. No more. Life is big and messy and always going to involve uncertainty and contradiction. I have spent a lifetime trying to figure out and solve the constant doubting thoughts I have. As scary and counter-intuitive as it seems, for the next year, when I find myself asking one of these questions I’m simply going to notice my doubt, let that thought go and come back to the present moment, or to a practice of happiness cultivation. When in doubt, just let it go, be imperfect but be present and real. No more thinking, planning and doubting. It’s time to do and be. I have faith and I trust.

This isn’t a detailed manifesto with rules and philosophy about every aspect of my whole life. I haven’t mentioned ideas about work, food, or politics, or how I want to relate to friends or family. Or one of the things I care about the most – my commitment to keep developing more love and connection with my beautiful life partner Lisa every day.

I’m not attempting to write a book or to describe how I feel about every aspect of life. In fact, it’s that focus on planning, analysing, describing and thinking that I want to step back from. After I finish writing this today I will step away from the computer and bring my attention back into the actual experience of life. That is what is important; the fresh, real experience of this present moment. This article is to honour a core decision that I’ve made about how I am living with my own mind, and about how I approach my day-to-day life, how I spend my time.

I set a time limit of a year to assist me to let go of doubts and questioning about this approach. If I find myself arguing “we need to analyse this more”, I can say gently in return, “that’s okay brain, it’s only for a year!”. Once that year is up, then I can allow myself a moment to reflect and decide if this decision has been helpful. Until then, no more judging, questioning or doubting, only being, loving and appreciating.

I have this blog to record new helpful meditations, mantras or other practices that I find and incorporate into my life. If nobody ever reads this and it’s just for me, then great! I love building this little treasure trove of resources and inspiration for myself. If someone else stumbles across this and finds it helpful, then that’s wonderful too.

Namaste ❤


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