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Chapter 2: Keep It Simple, Stupid - Guest House Visualization Example about Feeling Bothered

Feeling bothered

I found myself fixated one night on the possibility of a snake crawling into my bed. My wife had encountered the snake in the afternoon in the en suite bathroom, and decided to sleep in the other room with our son. I slept alone on the bed and felt bothered. My mind was flashing thoughts from the possibility of a snake in the bed, to other random thoughts. I could not be still and was not in peace.

I visualize the evening looking into the fire place as I stop midway into my stride. Something about the fire caught my attention. Just then I saw her, Peace was gazing at the fireplace having a conversation with Bothered. Bothered was a middle aged man who would hang out by the living area every evening until he sometimes would fall asleep on the couch. I recall that he once told me it was difficult for him to fall asleep as he would need to distract himself otherwise his mind would flick into action, conjuring thoughts about work, to random ideas and flashes of the day's activities. He found that by absorbing the activities of other guests in the living room or surfing the internet on his phone if there were no guests, allowed him to kill time and let time pass until his body became tired enough for him to close his eyes and sleep.

I found myself doing the same as I thought through what Bothered had told me. I would not describe my work as taxing. Yes there are chores to be done and work sometimes required time late into the night. However, there was always pockets of space where I could take a break. This was one moment wasted. I felt the peace of staring into the fire, watching it dance and light up the room. My breathing slowed to a relaxed rhythm and my mind turned blank. The moment I saw Peace and Bothered talking, my thoughts immediately went onto what Bothered was sharing previously. I began to feel disconnected from the serenity of the moment.

Thankfully, Peace must have sensed this because she turned to look at me, gestured and invited me to join their conversation. As I made my way across the room to the sofa seats where the coffee table was, my mind had turned on work mode, and I began thinking about what my guests' requests were. I also grew nervous because I wondered if they found it strange that I was moments earlier, staring blankly at the fire in a daze. They could be wondering if I had gone mad?

It was only when Peace gestured me to take a seat just which looked straight at the fireplace, that I somehow tuned into the state of simply experiencing the light flickering and dancing for our pleasure. Peace opened the conversation by sharing that they were having a conversation of how to be fully present to the miracle of this fire. The miracle of the fire? I got curious and listened on as I grew more and more relaxed, captivated by the light.

Bothered shared that he once was too preoccupied with doing things that as the day wound down to a close, his mind would go on and on. He managed to sleep regularly but often woke up tired and listless because he had poor sleep. One day, Peace met him as he was mindlessly staring at his blank phone and she asked what he was doing. He said it was nothing but somehow at that instance, he recognized he was simply staring at the phone because he was not doing anything else. It was a default action that he often did but paid not particular attention to. Until Peace came and changed his evening routine forever. Peace remarked that the reflection in the phone was mesmerizing, just as the dance of the fire in front of him. She continued to suggest that doing nothing was actually really enjoyable and relaxing and instructed Bothered on practical tip to enjoy the evening. Bothered was asked to continue paying attention to the phone or any object that caught his attention. He picked the fire. She next invited him to absorb the warmth and brightness of the fire and to thank it for illuminating the room and filling the void in our hearts and minds with the spectacular dance of its gentle flames.

Initially Bothered would watch for brief moments before going back to surfing the internet or pondering outstanding matters at work. With practise he grew in discipline to sit for longer periods to enjoy the flames. When he caught himself going back to the subconscious habits, he would simply let it go and come back to that space where it was relaxing and enjoyable. Beyond observing the flames, he started taking delight in the occasional crackling of the firewood. When he recruited more senses, he recognized the moment to be more pleasant.

We chatted briefly on this topic but a silence overcame us. It was not an abrupt silence which led to awkwardness. It was the silence of peace and serenity because we fell still and enjoyed the deep sense of peace. I went back to bed that night feeling calm and comfortable. The fire remained in my mind's eye and it continued to dance and sing for me into the night, until I closed my eyes and fell asleep.

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