30th November 2023

In Waking as in All Things

I find that, when trying to go to sleep, the greatest obstacle to it is the very fact that I am trying. While this is a rather common experience, it is interesting to find how often similar situations arise. When performing some activity that takes physical skill, you often need to get out of your head – stop trying and do. One of the best ways to remember something you've forgotten is to simply stop trying and do something else. To me, this reflects that the conscious mind constitutes a vanishingly small proportion of our overall cognition. For all its use, it is often a hindrance to the subconscious, which is more technically adept in most regards. It has been an especially strange insight that my mind does things I'm not fully aware of in such a predictable way. I can delegate it some task (e.g. remembering), leave it to its own devices, and find that task later completed. I often conceptualise myself a mind, then the body I inhabit is incidental – external to the self. You can see then, how it would be disturbing to discover that parts of my mind too are external to my self. Where, if not there, does the boundary lie between self and body?