Video Games: Check!

World of Warcraft
Warcraft

One major coping addiction I have had while recovering from bipolar was video gaming. Though I have played many games, the biggest culprit of them all was World of Warcraft, where I accumulated well over a year’s worth of playing time alone (yes, logged in and playing the game time, or /played). My video game addiction lasted for years, and I brought out two things from that: 1. I met a few fantastic people online as friends, 2. It kept me out of more serious trouble.

However, the aftermath is hard to deal with. I’ve always liked video games since I was a kid, and the more I played them, the more I wanted to play them as well. Feed 60-80 hours a week of game time for years and that desire to play grew uncontrollable. However, I do not wish to talk about breaking the addiction. I want to talk about where I’m at now.

On occasion, such as these past few days, I get bit by the video game bug. I came home from a wonderful trip out of state to visit my sister and was a little depressed about life after reality sunk in. I found myself playing a lot of video games and started to panic, as I didn’t want to end up back at square one. I decided today I needed to journal about all of this, first of all, and meditate second. Both seem to help and we’ll see how I maintain these next few weeks in avoiding too many video games.

Long sessions alone playing video games only has one benefit: Fun/escaping. However, when I play for a long time, the game can become mind-numbing and lose its appeal… yet I still keep on playing. However, the longer I play them the more nothing is accomplished. Nothing to put down on a resume, to share with other friends outside the game, and they cause many serious problems if left unchecked.

 

I need to remind myself some things about what happens when I let the video games spiral out of control:

-Employment troubles

-Breakdown in fitness and activity, poor health

-Stuck in the house a lot

-Lose friendships, shallow and strained relationships

-Lack of pursuing interests and writing

-I start to live in my own little world

-Disrupted routine, sleeping, and eating patterns

-My inability to move on in life

 

And, what do I want in life that video games could easily kill?

-Financial independence from my parents

-Employment

-Continue pursuing my writing ambitions

-A steady routine

-The ability to travel and go places, to do and experience more

-Have good friends and relationships

-Enjoy everything that comes with health and fitness

-Self-discovery, personal development

 

I realize this is not true for some or perhaps most people who indulge in video games. It is a reality for me, however, and I must be careful. I have more self-restraint in this area than I give myself credit for. I just need to be wary and keep it under check.

photo credit: Sergey Galyonkin via photopin cc

Why I Try to Forget about God

Pretend God's not there...
Pretend God’s not there…

You may expect the typical responses – the problem of pain, organized religion, God doesn’t exist – but that’s not why I try to forget about God (or the higher power if you will).

To me, God encompasses more than any religion cares to touch on, both our universe and beyond its mysterious origins. God manifests deeper than every subatomic particle to beyond every supercluster of galaxies in our universe. The perspective God has is mind-boggling, but not beyond our capacity to always understand more of it. This God has a deeply personal nature as well, and I find at some points in my life, God’s voice is silent while during others it’s very present.

The tendency I had when I thought about God a lot is to try to interpret every little thing that happens as something divine. When I do that, I start to go crazy. Little details here and there begin to form conversations and possible predictions in my head and I start to believe them to be straight from God. Maybe some were, maybe they weren’t at the time, but it’s something I do not live my every day life in. Seeing God in everything has its place, and it’s not in the present.

My advice is to forget about God when you live your every day life. Instead, focus on you and other needs around you. Thank God and experience his voice during that time you set aside in prayer and meditation. If something truly urgent comes up, you will know. Don’t try to force God’s hand in everything like I did.

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Change in Heart

Sometimes, change needs to happen!

I went to a group this evening that surrounds the theme of “Love and Forgiveness.” It’s a very open group, and someone shared part of herself that describes many men and women and what they struggle with today. She just got out of a relationship a few weeks ago and *all* she wants is another one. She can’t stand being by herself because she wants the affection and emotional intimacy of a romantic relationship. Everyone has told her and she knows in her mind that she needs to be single for a while and get to know herself, but her heart refuses and seems out of control, in need of a relationship. What do you do about this?

The surface of this proposal is simple: don’t get in a relationship, but stay single! Easier said than done – how exactly can someone DO that? The common saying is in order to change the world (say, your behavior – stop dating for a while), you gotta change yourself first (change in heart). After all, things are how you perceive them, and most of your perceptions come from yourself through your heart and mind. However, the heart and the mind are not yourself, but extensions of yourself.

However, the first step is to change your mind (decide you want to be single) and be aware of the need to change your heart. If you haven’t decided this, then your mind will do whatever it wants to do, with the deception your broken heart to support it, and there will be no change in behavior. Also, perceptions largely determine what things are. Since you perceive things through your mind and heart, changing them can change your world and your behavior.

Practicing meditation gets me in touch with my essence that drives everything else, and helps with the process of a change in heart. While meditating, I recognize what it feels like for my heart to start to run away with something, which pulls on my mind and tries to convince me to do things I don’t truly want to do. Regular meditation leads to greater understanding of the self, mind, heart, and how they feel and relate to each other. It also brings the heart and mind closer to the self, and keeps them from going awry with time.

I’ve learned more about what drives me, what my passions are, and my place in this world after finding myself and getting to know myself. It may sound selfish, but it’s a necessary and beautiful thing to do for the sake of myself and other people.

After a change in heart, be ready to practice civil disobedience with your old ways. Civil disobedience is the idea from Thoreau in that revolutions start with very small, subtle changes. Specifically, an idea in someone’s head that goes completely against the system that needs to happen, which he or she talks about with the next, then spreads till it actually happens.

The idea of needing to remain single, say, has been planted in her mind and it needs nurturing to grow. It may grow in the easier parts of her life (though difficult in and of themselves), such as simply saying, “No,” to guys when they want to start a romantic thing. This requires a small change in heart. As time goes on and the heart becomes stronger, more independent, and healthier, the seed will sprout and grow roots in her heart from the mind. The heart begins to cooperate more with the idea in the mind.

She will start to feel less desperate to be in a relationship, and the seed will begin to grow further and produce fruit in her behavior, thoughts, deeds, and feelings. Hopefully, she will reach the point where she loves who she is, and though perhaps a little sad to be on her own, she will be able to do it on her own and live as a single for a while. This change in heart is traumatic, as is any big change. The first step is always the hardest.

I’m working on a chart purging project, and there are old charts in the downstairs cage that need to be sent to storage, along with sorting through 10+ years’ worth of old billing records. Upstairs, there are newer charts that need to go where the old charts are now downstairs, so they can add something new to the office where the new charts are currently. The cage is an absolute disaster, and change needs to happen. It’s inevitable. I had to take apart everything, and the mess was of epic proportions – there were boxes, papers, shredding bins, charts, boxes everywhere, even in the hallways! I had a hard time figuring out where to put everything when I started this project.

However, slowly but surely, things get sorted out, put away, carted away, and organized and catalogued. Now, it’s looking much more manageable, instead of an insurmountable mess. I believe change in heart is like this, too. Through meditation and exploring your heart, you can find a starting point to work from. After the starting point, a rhythm begins and it’s easier to move forward. You will know what to do from there.

A parting thought: Things will happen the way they should, not the way you want. I believe life has a way of working things out, sometimes in the harshest and most beautiful of ways. It also teaches me lessons I need to learn, when I need them most. Looking back, I am now thankful for the atrocities and their impeccable timing.

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It’s That Time of Year

I reach clarity

A quiet voice speaks to me

My mind’s eye opens

It’s that time of year again, for New Years resolutions. I have been making many changes in my life recently, but there is one that stands out to me that I really need to work on: meditation. I just started doing basic meditation recently, and it helps me focus, clears my head of negative energy, provides clarity, and helps me connect with something I don’t understand yet, and possibly never will. God? The universe? Collective consciousness? I don’t know, but it holds great wisdom.

Not that the other areas I’m seeking improvement in are unimportant, because they are very important. Meditation is my weakest area, and I see it as having the potential of being one of the most beneficial disciplines to develop, as it fosters growth in all areas of my life.