I’ve become addicted to Rightmove. It has all the same qualities of addiction to FaceBook. Or checking my emails more frequently that I need to. Or checking my blog stats. So far I am not closing down this behaviour but just observing. Sometimes the observing of it naturally checks the impulse. Sampajana kicks in asking “is this necessary?” And I know it’s not as I only checked about 10 minutes ago! It’s quickly become a habit.
It has a purpose – we want to buy a house so I’m doing research. And it does lead to necessary action as we go and look at some of these houses and we’re working out what sort of house we want to buy. So there is an objective ‘need’ to check out Rightmove. And even an objective need to look on a daily basis as properties can come on the market and sell within a couple of days.
When I’m out I’m starting to notice thoughts and images in my mind that are a fleeting thought/image/feeling complex of ‘whenIgethome-checkRightmove-newhousetolookat-pleasure-excitement’. Craving is keeping its new project alive. Fed by all the flickerings of interested searching each time I see I ‘For Sale’ sign or pass an Estate Agents or pass through a particularly beautiful part of town bringing on what my partner and I call ‘house lust’.
It’s the mind that goes with it that I’m more interested in. I said I’ve become ‘addicted’ to the house hunt. What does that mean in experience? It’s a sort of ‘cravy’ restless searching that’s tinged with dullness. There is a compulsiveness to it. I’m making it sound a bit gross and obvious but it is quite subtle. There is mild dissatisfaction which clouds and agitates the mind. These days I know what the mind can be, and not just on retreat or after meditation and dipping into some dharma reading. Simply being aware has an effect on the mind.
I don’t think this craving, dissatisfied feeling is inevitably the quality of ‘property search mind’. It’s more that I stop watching the mind and focus more on the ‘objects’ of mind, in this case; the web searches, the houses, the locations. I focus on all the complexity of the ‘hunt’ that the mind finds stimulating and initially enjoyable. I’m drawn into believing the reality of these external features rather than knowing them as the play of appearances, predominantly sense objects of sight and ideas.
I also miss or don’t have the awareness to notice how I’m relating to these objects (frequent web checking, desirable features of houses, prices, meetings with vendors). Staying closer to the mind rather than drawn into objects I notice the arising of mind moments of greed or aversion and see how they ‘colour’ the mind and how they condition the arising of more of those type of mind moments. Before I know it the mood is a bit grubby or I find myself reacting impatiently or sharply to my partner.
The alternative is awareness gets a bit of momentum through noticing what’s happening without being pulled into it and conditions more moments of awareness and its ‘friends’. Mental factors like faith, energy, equanimity and clear seeing arise and have a very different feel to the previously agitated and restless mind. They condition further open and clear ‘knowing,’ and often, joy.
‘House hunting mind’ is, of course, just one manifestation of craving and aversion at work. Craving and aversion will work with any object, using it to increase their own strength. They are not fussy and will work with the most unlikely material to ‘grow’ an infatuation with something or a dislike. Fortunately, the same principle of conditionality is universal and operates for any positive mental factors too. There are different starting points for a positive and progressive spiral; faith and ethics are both traditional formulae. Perhaps, for me, the simplest and most profound is Awareness.