EXPERIENCING SELF AS AWARENESS: A MEDITATION

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Some of the posts on this blog, or parts of them, are best experienced as a meditation, rather than being quickly read through, in order to get more out of them. You can either read, stop and meditate on what you’ve read, then read the next short part, and so on. Or you can record it, read slowly, and listen to it, again allowing images, feelings, and other experiences to be noticed. This is particularly true of this one.

Other posts that are best wholly or partially experienced as a meditation include: CREATING A POWERFUL INNER RESOURCE, THE CASE FOR COMPASSION VS. JUDGEMENT, and MANAGING SMALL MIND.

First, choose any two emotions that are opposite. As an example, I will use here love and anger. Allow the experience of love to be there in your body. To invite it, you can think of memories, people, pets, places: anything that invites the feeling. Notice where all in your body you feel it and what it feels like. Now invite anger to be experienced in your body. Again, use anything you wish to invite the feeling, such as memories, things that typically anger you, and so on. Again, note where all in your body you feel it and what it feels like.

Now go back to feeling love. Once it’s there, go back to feeling anger. And back to love again.

Now invite the sensations that go along with love to be present in the right half of your body, while those that go along with anger to be in the left half of your body. Notice what your mind does with this. Does it perhaps say that that is impossible? But what does it know? Once you’re there, go ahead and switch sides, so that anger is experienced on the right, and love on the left. Once there, let’s switch back one more time.

During the last several minutes there has been a lot of change going on, with different emotions, memories, sensations, then opposite emotions simultaneously on the oppositite sides of the body, then changing places. The experiencing part of you has been experiencing a lot of change. At the same time, there has been a separate part of you just calmly observing (then calmly reporting) everything that has been going on. The invitation now, and for the rest of this meditation, to focus on this separate “observing” or “observer” part of you, and to identify with it. We are going to explore its qualities together. Does it seem to you that it could also be called “awareness” or “consciousness”?

While the experiencing part of you was undergoing all those changes, was this awareness itself also changing, or was it remaining the same, just calmly observing the changes? Take the time to notice and enjoy just how calm and peaceful this part is.

Whereas you might not have been aware of its existence, was this awareness there the whole time since we started this meditation? Will it be there in five minutes? In one hour? In four hours? Tomorrow? One week from now? One month? One year? Several years from now? Can you imagine one day a long long time from now, this awareness calmly watching your body take its last breath, knowing that the body is no longer needed, just like it has calmly watched everything else throughout the years?

And was this awareness there before you started this meditation? An hour ago? Yesterday? Last week? Last year? Many years ago? When you were born? Remember, you don’t need to be aware of its existence in order for it to be there!

Is there a time when it will no longer be there? Is there a time going backwards when it was not there? Take your time to discern for yourself based on your observations now, not based on prior thoughts or beliefs, whether this awareness seems to be eternal ie having always been there, and will always be there. In other words, does it seem to be be beyond and separate from what you normally identify yourself as defined between birth and death? This alone is huge, as it speaks to our fear of death.

Let us keep exploring the qualities of this “awareness”. If it’s always calmly observing whatever is going on, is it then free of fear? Of shame? Of anger? Of Hurt? Of jealousy? Of confusion? Is it in fact free of all negativity? Wow!

If nothing can change it, never mind hurt it, is it afraid of anything? And does it need anything? Is it complete? It seems pretty powerful then, doesn’t it?

Being free of all negativity allows it to be free to be what? Calm and peaceful, we already discovered. Continue experiencing that as you continue identifying with it. Is it loving? From this place visualize some people being happy, and notice if there is happiness for them. Is that out of love? Now visualize a frightened child, and notice if you there is compassion for him. Is that out of love? So there’s freedom from negativity, and it’s loving and compassionate. Is it also free to be creative? Playful? Kind? Is it free to be everything positive? Take your time with all of this. Wow!

Does awareness know how to judge? Or is it full of understanding of reasons, a deep knowledge that people are doing their best, even when their best is really bad, and compassion? Does this awareness fight against reality, or does it calmly accept things as they are, even if there is sadness and compassion for people suffering? Does it see incidents in isolation, or does it have a broad perspective, understanding the big scheme of things? Is it wise?

When it sees A and B hurting each other, does it, from its calm observing place, feel an urge to rush in and rescue, or does it observe with compassion, knowing that this scene is a part of each of their journeys, and that there are lessons to be learned for each?

So far we have discovered that it is eternal, afraid of nothing, needing nothing, free of all negativity, loving with all that that is, compassionate, accepting, wise, and everything positive.

Now let’s ask where this awareness is, and whether we can localize it. Some people initially say that it is in their head, or somewhere in their torso. If you look in these places, you will find it. But let’s check and see if it’s anywhere else in the body as well. Close your eyes and hold out your arm. Without seeing it, do you know where your arm is? Of course. So is it in your arm? Is it in your leg? Is it everywhere in your body?

What about the space around your body-can you imagine it there? What if you go out a bit further? And a bit further still? Can you find a line anywhere that separates where the awareness is and where it isn’t? In other words, can you find its outer margin? If not, does it fill the room? your neighborhood? your city or town? your country? the world? the earth? the universe? Is it in fact infinite as well as eternal?

Like everyone, ever since your birth, you have been deeply conditioned to perceive yourself as a separate individual. From the beginning of language development, people spoke of your name, your family, your toys, your food.

But what if this awareness were your true nature, or the essence of your being? We could then refer to that separate named individual that you thought you were as your “bodymind”, as Eckhart Tolle and many others refer to it. It would then be the bodymind that experiences life, while awareness looks on. Inherant in the separate view of self is a potential sense of threat from another, who could hurt me, judge me, or reject me. In contrast, one’s awareness is one with everyone else’s awareness, so there is a sense of unity and a lack of threat.

Some people might refer to this awareness as spirit. Others might call it consciousness, or mindfulness. The name is less important. It is the best part of you. It is the most pleasant to experience, and when operating from here, you have access to all of what is best in you: your equanimity, groundedness, proper perspective, understanding, clarity, compassion, strength, creativity, good problem solving skills, your greatest capacity to love, to accept, to endure what you need to, the courage to change what you can, the wisdom to discern the difference, the ability to have healthy boundaries, the ability to not take things personally, and so on. The wonderful thing is that this wonderful energetic state, which is calm nonjudgemental awareness, is always available-anytime and anywhere. One way to invite yourself here is to begin by picking any object such as something you are perceiving with one of your senses, or a thought or feeling. Then ask yourself: “Who is it who is aware of this?”   The answer is, of course, awareness. Then ask: “What is this awareness like?” The answer is a reminder of all the above qualities, and you find yourself enjoying the calmness, the sense of quietness and spaciousness, and so on. Alternatively, you can invite yourself into calm nonjudgemental awareness. From here, you can wonder about anything, then wait to receive what comes up.

 

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