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Access Your Aliveness: Pleasant Presence

This lesson is a part of an audio course Hack Your Brain, Access Your Aliveness by Dave Wolovsky

In the previous lesson, we considered the effect of too much visual pleasant contrast that we find in experiences like scrolling through TikTok, which can ensnare us into actually very low contrast situations, with repetitive sensory and emotional experiences.

But, because it takes very little effort, and there is always some bit of novelty to the videos, our brain can get stuck in this kind of hole of scrolling, or "scroll hole," if you will.

Over time, we can adapt to the high attention but low Aliveness conditions of the scroll hole and make a nice little nest for ourselves.

It can feel like a refuge from the confusion and challenges of existence, all the while draining our life energy, making us less clear-headed and less willing to take positive action.

The more time we spend in the scroll hole, the longer it takes to reverse its lethargizing effects.

Luckily, we can reverse it. We can increase our sensitivity to pleasant contrast, simply by seeking it out in natural ways, by directing our attention to things that are more subtly enlivening.

When you deliberately focus your full attention on something, your brain enhances its features, so it stands out more against the background of experience. It can be like you're sensing it for the first time again.

You're about to use this fact to give yourself a moment of pure and natural pleasant contrast.

Pause and take a deep breath. Scan the world around you. Look at everything you can look at. Listen to all the sounds you can hear.

Then turn inward.

Start by feeling your feet on the floor and move up your legs, sensing how they feel from the inside.

If you're sitting, notice yourself sitting. If you're standing, notice that. Notice your heartbeat within your chest, or your stomach.

Notice how your back feels. Move up to your head. Lift the top of your head slightly toward the sky. Notice all the sensations you feel right now.

Then take another deep breath. Turn your attention back to all of the things you've just looked at, listened to, or felt inside you. Find one of them that makes you feel safe and peaceful when you notice it.

Perhaps it's something you saw. For example, as you look around, maybe you notice a plant, sitting peacefully, being alive. And maybe it makes you feel peacefully alive.

Or maybe you just notice a pillow on a chair, and for some reason, looking at it makes you feel a little bit more relaxed.

It might be the feeling of your feet firmly on the floor.

Or maybe you hear birds in the background, and their chirp is inexplicably uplifting. Whichever aspect of your current reality makes you feel safe or peaceful, focus your full attention on it for a few moments.

Once you feel ready to move on, you might remember that your life is about feeling alive, that Aliveness can come from any direction, and that the most Aliveness comes from all directions.

Next lesson, we'll learn more about the brain basis for Aliveness and the major avenues for generating more of it.

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Written by

Dave Wolovsky