At some point on our journeys of deepening awareness, most of us hit what feels like a few ‘plateaus’ along the way. A tricky one is where we recognize that we are not our identities, but feel stuck in them nonetheless. This can be a frustrating place to be, because the voice of ‘you know better, so why are you still so attached to your story?’ can and does arise. Of course, this voice (from the spiritualized superego) isn’t very helpful and just adds another layer to the ‘story’. Trying to just detach from our mental bodies – our thoughts, beliefs, ideas, convictions, memories, is a form of denial that never works for long.
I think the most helpful thing I can offer here is to say that it comes back again and again to telling the truth about what’s here. Not telling about what is here and why it should or shouldn’t be here, or what’s here and how you are going to go about fixing/changing that, but just simply being truthful (and curious) about what’s here. I have experienced that when we are willing to tell the truth without any judgement, deeper truths are spontaneously revealed that add a richness, depth and clarity (and release and joy!) to our experience of any moment.
How do we go about noticing the truth? I’ve found it really helpful to start with the ‘external’ world – what or who is around you? Take a moment to notice things that have always been in that particular space but that you haven’t really looked at before. Notice the quality of light, temperature, sounds and movements around you… then shift your attention to your physical body – scan it and notice whatever sensations are present (from pain and tension to strength and openness). Now scan your emotions – what feeling is present? Is there one? Has there been one going on in the background today? Where is it in your body – what narrative is around it? Your role here is to be a ‘listening presence’ that just leans in to check out what is going on…. Now move your attention into your mental body – is your mind racing or calm? Are you stewing, stressing, planning, fantasizing? What kind of thoughts are running through your head, what tone of voice do they carry? Just notice. Now see if you can just notice a relaxed alertness that is somehow in the background, taking this all in… the witnessing consciousness. What happens to your mind when your attention is on this conscious space?
Now see if you can hold all of this in your awareness at once – what happens to your state of being?
This practice is potent. I notice right now such a difference between the energy of ‘the me that wants to get things done’ versus the energy of the vast presence of awareness that holds the ‘me’ and everything else. I can remember when the ‘me’ used to seem so much louder and so much more ‘in command’ than the silent alertness… but that has shifted, and I am certain this constant ‘practice’ – simply of shifting my attention to the silent awareness that is always present, and letting go of ‘looking for anything’ in ‘there’, is the ‘how’.
The presence of that awareness grows. And sweetens. And eventually, it becomes home, and the mind is where I go to, instead of the other way around.
It is no small thing.
Sending love and support always, L.
PS- I will be speaking at the women’s wellness weekend in Revelstoke BC on June 18-19 – Click here to find out more details.