I spent a lot of my life thinking that I had bipolar disorder...
I’d swing between highs and lows like a kid on a swing during school recess. I’m serious… no exaggeration. One moment I’d feel elated, connected, full of inspiration. Without notice, I’d be hit with a wave of depression and hopelessness.
“What’s the point of life?”
“Is life even worth living?”
“Are these feelings ever going to go away forever?”
These are just a few of many thoughts that would come in during low points. I was prescribed antidepressant drugs as a young boy, and stayed on them for a few years. While that sort of pharmaceutical treatment was and still is the primary approach, I don’t remember experiencing any relief. It was as if I was stuck at the bottom of the ocean, with a cinderblock chained to my ankles. And on that ocean floor there were creepy crawly, scary creatures that tormented and haunted me. These creatures were my thoughts. And the cinderblock pinning me to the ocean floor made it seemingly impossible to escape them. I was, in that moment, held hostage. I was the victim of my reality.
It sounds depressing, I know. It absolutely was! But don’t you worry… contrasted with the abyss of dark thoughts, there were magnificent highs! I felt great. Strong, confident, light, and free. Sometimes euphoric, like I was living in heaven, barely tethered to reality. These highs seemed to be more fleeting and hard to come by, more often triggered by a wonderful life experience, being immersed in nature, or experiencing closeness with a loved one. As wonderful as these moments sound, I felt disempowered knowing that they would soon be gone, carried away by another crashing wave that took me to the bottom of the ocean floor.
“Man… this guy really is bipolar…” I can hear your thoughts. In this instance, they are the same as mine! I really did think I was bipolar.
But then, something happened...
I slowly gained insight. I began to see the true nature of Mind. I’m not talking about the jumbled thinking that happened between my ears, but “divine Mind". That which was and is beyond me, yet very much alive and present inside of me, always. The constant, unifying force in all life forms. The energy that moves a flower to open up in the presence of the sun. The intelligence programmed into acorn that enables its brilliant growth into a strong oak tree. That very same stuff animates my physical body and inspires my soul.
I wasn’t bipolar, I was tripolar...
Attempting to access that state of mind at will seemed absolutely impossible.The more I tried to chase that peace and neutrality, the more quickly it seemed to drift further and further beyond me.
I should point out that before the crystallization of this insight I most certainly did slip into this authentic space amidst the craziness of the bipolar experience. Complete stillness and peace of mind was almost like a hallucination that happened in the blink of an eye. Little did I know elusivity is the nature of inner peace in this human experience…
The Power of Insight
Have you ever been shown a specific species of tree and then start to notice that tree everywhere? Whether walking in the woods, strolling around the neighborhood, or driving down the highway that characteristic tree seemed to be just everywhere. In reality, that elm tree is indeed growing everywhere, but it just became apparent to you. This is what happens with regard to inner peace. It is indeed everywhere, always. And once we point it out, acknowledge it, feel it, taste it, and appreciate it, we are able see it more easily as we continue down our path.
Spotting elm trees on your drive home is really quite easy. All you have to do is be present, awake, and aware. Once you know what an elm tree looks like, there is no special technique for spotting one in nature. The same is true for peace. Once you feel peace, there is no technique for getting more peace in your life.
However, unlike spotting elm trees, experiencing peace comes with a profound feeling, a feeling that most want to feel more of the time. When we are not connected with our peace, we want to do anything that we can to reconnect. This is where habits and patterns could slide into our behavior. Eating, drinking, smoking, Facebooking… whatever it might be, it could be an attempt to sooth a disturbed or restless mind and bring a feeling of peace.
Conceptually we know how silly and unproductive these behaviors can be. We know they are by no means a real or sustainable way to access true peace of mind. Yet on some level, so many are still disillusioned as to where peace truly always is.
You’ve been told this already, and I’m telling you again…
You are peace. You are love. It is the essence of you you truly are. As such, there is absolutely nothing that must be done to connect with that third polarity, the constant truth of your authentic nature.
When I felt pinned to the ocean floor by the cinderblock, victim of the dark and scary creatures that were my chaotic thinking, I didn’t know what the cinderblock represented. I felt helpless and disempowered, suffering as I waited for whatever might cut me loose so that I could swim to the surface. The cinderblock that we all carry from time to time is expectation, attachment, or judgement, thoughts around what should be.
When we find ourselves tied to the murky ocean floor struggling for a breath of air, it is a normal human desire to get the heck up to the surface. What we often forget, however, is that the peaceful essence of who we truly are is buoyant. We always know how to float back towards equilibrium. When we drop expectations and judgements to accept the fullness of the present moment, we drop that cinderblock. Our journey back to the surface where we can see and think more clearly naturally follows.
I am tripolar. I feel highs. I feel lows. And most importantly, I feel the supportive force of the universe, the peaceful presence that is my true nature.