Welcome to the WellBeing Alignment Blog! You'll find helpful support here on how to let suffering unwind naturally and to know yourself as Awareness, peace, and joy.
There are two ways you can subscribe to this blog...
Subscribe by email:
When you sign up for the ezine you'll also receive the free mp3 audio file, Living Brilliantly.
Or, subscribe by RSS feed:
If you aren't familiar with RSS and blogging, click on this symbol [?] to the left of "Subscribe To This Site," above the orange RSS button.
There are many free RSS readers available. Just do a search in your app store for RSS.
All love and blessings to you!
Here are the latest updates:
"The bad news is you're falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is, there's no ground."
~ Chögyam Trungpa
We all try to create an illusion of having control over our lives but is this actually true? Did you plan your life up to now? Is it happening according to your plans?
Or is it simply happening all by itself?
When coming to an intersection it may appear you choose to turn left or right, but where did that choice come from?
I've discovered that all choices come from previous conditioning, and conditioning itself came from the conditioning of the significant people in my life. Likewise, THEIR conditioning came from the people in their lives, and so on.
Similarly, in our nightly dreams, we suddenly appear as a character with pre-conditioned choices and issues. Then the character and dream end at some point.
This life is a dream as well. The only difference between it and the nightly ones is this one appears to last longer.
Although the experience of being a character comes and goes, WE, consciousness don't come and go. We are what dreams appear and disappear IN.
Within this dream we dream together, the struggle to keep the illusion of control creates suffering, both for ourselves and others.
Our conditioning tells us to hold onto our judgments, beliefs, and familiar patterns, in an attempt to insure we'll never be hurt again. We think holding grudges will keep a barrier between us and pain.
But what actually happens is we place an illusionary barrier between ourselves and love.
Also, our conditioning tells us to try to plan for what we want the future to look like, mostly to avoid what we didn't like in the past. All of this keeps us in our heads, where suffering is created.
Generally, these ways of holding on to our conditioning is so much a part of our experience that we don't even notice it until it builds up as some form of anxiety.
Interestingly, all of this is only happening in our thoughts: pushing against the past, present and future, which creates an illusion of a "me" who needs protecting, and a clenching tension in the body.
Then we distract ourselves by checking our phones, watching TV, grabbing a coffee or a snack, etc.
There is nothing wrong with any of these. It's just helpful to see what is driving the impulse to avoid present experience.
So how can we begin to release our conditioning and wake up in this dream? These pages can help:
What if there is nothing wrong with you?
What if there is nothing wrong with your life?
What if there is nothing wrong with the world?
What if there is nothing wrong, period?
Most of us spend our entire lives creating suffering in our heads. Our attention is focused almost exclusively on what happened, what "shouldn't" have happened and what we're afraid might happen. And then we wonder why we suffer!
We really are funny critters.
In this moment, if you don't refer to any thought of the past or the future, or even of the present, is there a problem?
I highly recommend taking some time each day to sit quietly and just notice your thoughts, but without referring to them as reality. Just see them. Then ask within, "What is it that SEES these thoughts?"
The question isn't meant to stimulate another round of thoughts. Instead it is to point our attention to what SEES the thoughts. To NOTICE what sees the thoughts. What is aware of the thoughts.
What you can discover is that you aren't a problem to be solved. Your life is not a problem to be solved.
You are the alert, alive, silent, vast, all-embracing, loving attention which notices thoughts, emotions, sensations, experiences.
But in order to KNOW ourselves as this, we must be sincerely willing to do what it takes to first discover it, and then to live from here.
In my experience the sincere willingness to do what it takes to investigate the truth of being and then to make the ongoing daily choice to live from here, only came about through suffering.
This is how suffering serves a purpose in our lives.
It seems most of us have to go through the process of checking out what the world has to offer and discovering there is only temporary happiness in experiences.
This dream is based on polarity. What feels good will always flip into what feels bad, and vice versa.
However, we are the consciousness which SEES both the fun and the "not fun" and isn't touched by any of it.
But it does seem we must go through many rounds of the up/down stuff before we start to catch on to what is happening and look for something REAL that never changes, something deeper within this life.
If you're still reading this article, you're either at that place or getting close. Otherwise, you wouldn't be even remotely interested in this site and would have never found your way here.
I recommend to you what I described above. Take some time to sit quietly each day and notice the quietness which is here when you don't refer to any thought. The more you bring attention to this, the more deeply you can get to know yourself as Reality.
And this is the ONLY true, never-changing peace there is.
Lately I've been feeling an inner anxiety, with varying intensity. Interestingly, this has also been coming up in the lives of many people I work with in WellBeing Alignment Sessions.
Through the teachings of Adyashanti I'm getting more insight as to what is going on with this for all of us and how to lovingly be with it.
Anxiety, extreme fear, is a part of us saying "NO." It might be "no" to something happening in your life, "no" to yourself, or "no" to letting go of control or judgment.
You might feel it in the stomach, sometimes going all the way up to the throat, as a kind of clench. Thoughts can also speed up and you may find yourself more reactive to people, situations and even yourself.
I'm discovering there is an unconscious part of us which also sometimes says "no" to awakening more fully to the truth of our Being. As we turn toward meditation or any avenue pointed into discovering and living from Reality, it is very common for anxiety to arise.
A part of us believes our thoughts and story about ourselves IS us. Then as we begin to discover we are Pure Awareness, the old identification with our story starts to freak out, basically. This can feel like a kind of death. And it IS a death – the death of identification with suffering.
I find it very interesting that all suffering is actually generated by thoughts!
In this moment, ask within, "What am I holding on to in this moment?" Then, rather than getting involved in thinking about it, just notice what you are clinging to, without judging it.
Then, even if just for a few seconds, let go of your thoughts about the past, present or future.
Isn't it interesting that when we don't refer to our thoughts about anxiety, sadness, or any intense emotion, it actually isn't a problem? It may be an intense experience, yes. But check… is it actually a problem to the Awareness which is aware of it?
You can also ask yourself, "If I don't refer to my thoughts, is there actually any threat to myself in this moment?"
Unless a wild animal is chasing you right now, you will most likely discover that nothing is actually threatening you. There may be thoughts about what could happen in the future, or what you believe shouldn't have happened in the past, or even about what you believe shouldn't be happening in your life right now.
However, when you "stand" in what is aware of all that, even if your body was dying in this moment, you'll notice that Awareness isn't hurt or changed by any of it.
Below are some practices to help you when you feel an intensity of anger, fear, sadness, or any sensation. (See Part Two below to continue…)
First, take some time to sit quietly, just watching your breathing for a few minutes. Then bring attention to the inside of your body and notice where it feels tight or uncomfortable. Next:
1. Don't try to make any sensation go away. Let go of pushing against it or judging it. Let it be as it is. Notice that as you let them be here, intense emotions / sensations don't actually hurt you.
2. Decide to FEEL what is arising. Release trying to avoid feeling it.
3. Breathe in from your belly up to your heart. Then as you breathe out, breathe from your heart to wherever you feel the sensation (of anger, fear, sadness, etc.) in your body. As you do this say (silently or aloud) "I love you" to the sensation.
Even if you don't feel love, still say the words (silently or aloud), with your attention on the words as you say them to wherever the uncomfortableness is in your body. Repeat this slowly for a few minutes.
4. If you don't feel love, don’t judge yourself. Just notice you don’t feel it. Take a few minutes and breathe the image and feeling of warm, soft sunlight into your heart. You can also think of someone you love and appreciate, and breathe that feeling of love into your heart.
Then breathe this love to the sensation of emotional intensity in your body.
Remember, the intention isn't to make the sensation go away. That just adds more tension to the situation because it creates the illusion of an inner conflict.
Eventually, the tension will let go. It could happen in 5 minutes, several weeks, years, or lifetimes.
You'll discover the more you bring love to your inner sensations and emotions, the less you'll be focused on trying to get rid of them, and they will let go.
We all have unique paths to awakening and we're all at different places on this path. I've discovered that EVERYTHING appearing in this life is in service to us waking up to the truth of being, including suffering.
In fact, suffering has been one of the biggest stimulants toward awakening in my life. It has caused me to look within to find out what never suffers, even in the midst of what the mind would label suffering.
By the way, you can use this practice on behalf of the entire world as well. Breathe in the world and all its inhabitants, exactly as it is in this moment with all it's suffering and its joys.
Then breathe out love to it all, saying "I love you."
One of the best ways I know to experience love is to give it.
I highly recommend this video by Adyashanti.
He speaks in great detail about awakening from the illusion of the “me.” As we awaken spiritually there is a profound letting go of the false self, not only from mind, but also on the level of the heart and the gut.
There are distinct, deeply felt experiences you will notice which are signposts that awakening is taking place.
This video is especially helpful for anyone who has had a glimpse of their true Being, but find themselves falling back into identification with the “me.”
True forgiveness prayer only occurs within the truth of Being, not in the mind. Lovingly allowing ourselves to feel our intense inner emotions, we open the door to healing for ourselves and others.
What do you do when you have uncomfortable feelings? Check out these meditation therapy practices to learn how to feel your feelings in a healing way and discover the truth of your Being.
Join me here Now
where there are no points of view.
Slip under good and bad
right and wrong
worthy and unworthy
sinner and saint.
Meet me here
where everything is unframed
and not understanding.
Meet me here
where silence roars
where stillness is dancing
where the eternal is living and dying.
Meet me here
where you are not you
where you are It
and It is unspeakable.
Meet me here
where all points of view
merge into a single point
that then disappears.
Meet me here
before there ever was something
before there ever was nothing.
Meet me here
where everything speaks of this
where everything has
always spoken this
where nothing is ever lost or found.
Meet me here.
~ Adyashanti, My Secret Is Silence
"Before you start to meditate, ask yourself a question: Is it true that peace and silence are not here now?
With our intention to move towards quietness, the first step we take is away from it because we assume it's not here already."
In this moment right now, notice what is already quiet within you.
There may be thoughts, emotions, and body sensations, but what is aware of them? Notice awareness itself is completely still, quiet and at peace.
For just this moment don't reach for anything. Don't try to push anything away.
Let go. Let everything empty out. Notice the natural inclination toward openness which occurs when you relax.
Let go of trying to understand or attain anything. Give up all trying. ALL trying.
You can do all that later if you wish.
But for right NOW, just this moment, notice this empty, vast shiningness that is simply here, looking through your eyes.
It has no name, history, or preferences. No story. No limits. It can't be contained or restricted.
This is what is real and eternal. This is what we've all been seeking but didn't know it. This is YOU. Reality.
This has never not been and will never go away.
This YOU is also what I am, what we all are, what everything is in its essence.
You don't have to attain this. You already ARE this and could never be anything other than this.
The "me” we think we are seems to be real because we group together our thoughts, feelings, conditioning and experience of a body into a concept.
Then we believe that concept IS us.
If you say out loud or to yourself, "I am (your name),” notice what you experience within at the same time. If you really pay attention, you can notice a feeling of tightness in the body accompanying those words, and an experience of being separate from all other bodies and life itself.
We literally create a FEELING of separateness from believing our thoughts and our concepts of separateness.
Now ask within, "What am I really?”
Don't ask your mind. Ask TRUTH itself. Look for this "I" which goes by your name. What do you find? Do you find an actual entity or thing?
You might find a body sensation, thought, or an emotion. But can you find an actual thing that is you?
What you'll find if you look carefully enough and with a heartfelt intention to know the truth, is empty space. An unlimited, unencumbered, quiet, serene, alive, shining, intelligent, loving spaciousness that is all life.
And you don't have to attain this. You don't have to try to figure out how to be this. You already ARE this. Now. Always. Forever.
All we have to do is turn attention toward this which we simply ARE.
Are you free?
It is possible to have many freedoms and still not actually be or feel free.
The only way to truly be free is to first discover and then live from the TRUE spiritual freedom we actually already ARE within.
How much time do you spend trying to find happiness? Has anything you’ve tried worked permanently?
Maybe you’ve been looking in the wrong place.
Staying engaged in trying to find happiness is predicated on the belief that it isn’t already HERE.
The very search to find happiness keeps our attention distracted away for the true essence of happiness we already are…
Awhile back I found myself in conflict with a friend. We were like two bulls facing off. I wanted one thing and felt I had a "right" to it, and he wanted the opposite thing, and felt just as entitled to what he wanted.
It was the classic conflict situation of "I'm right and you're wrong."
I began to see that holding onto the energy of being "right" and making him "wrong" completely insured the situation we faced together would NOT be harmoniously resolved.
Finally, I was willing to stop listening to my story about what should happen. I became willing to simply not know what to do, which, of course, was the truth.
I got quiet and empty within and asked, "What is Consciousness trying to show me about this experience?"
I quickly realized I was seeing the situation with my friend through the lens of my own unresolved issues and fears about being overpowered by others.
As I deeply let go, I heard the words "Let him win."
Surprisingly, my body, mind and emotions began to relax and open.
I saw that what had been MOST important about the issue we were at odds about was that I wanted to win. I had fooled myself into believing it was about the issue we disagreed on, but I saw that what was MOST important to me was to not be overpowered by my friend.
When I let go of the power struggle, I immediately felt a different power, one that has no need to overtake, prove or enforce it's "rightness." It is a power of love, of all inclusiveness.
I saw that this is actually the only true power.
The power I was trying to use wasn't power at all. It was simply a mental mock up of a false power that was actually just a tactic to try to avoid the fear of not having power. I knew that acting from that energy would not lead to anything pleasant for either of us… (See Part Two below to continue…)
Sensing the situation would be resolved in whatever way that Consciousness intended for it to unfold, I knew it would be a playing out of cause and effect relationships that encompassed much more than just the lifetimes of the Kai character and her friend. I saw that we were both characters in a drama that went far beyond what either of us could see.
Later that night a possible solution to our "problem" came to me out of the blue.
The next day my friend came over and I saw him through new eyes, from an open-hearted, open-minded place of unconditional love.
While he was here, as I told him about the possible solution that had come to me, his whole demeanor relaxed before my eyes. He immediately agreed to the solution and it was quickly implemented. Problem solved.
In each situation we face, we can ask Consciousness, this pure Presence we are, "What do you want to happen here?" Then we can stop and feel / sense into how things want to flow. This is like how water in a stream naturally flows around rocks in its path. It doesn't have to think about which way to turn. It simply follows a natural flow.
As we release control and sense into situations, listening for what the next step is that Truth is trying to show us, sometimes the answer is to take no step at all. Sometimes what the moment calls for is to just be. To let the moment be as it is, with its insecurities, fear, anger, sadness, frustration, or joy and openness.
If, for even a moment, we can decline to follow the story we tell ourselves about our experience, we can just let our feelings and sensations be as they are without judging them, ourselves, or others involved as being "bad" or "good." We simply are.
When it is time to act, we'll know. We'll feel naturally motivated in a certain direction which comes from a simple sense of clarity rather than from trying to avoid an uncomfortable feeling within.
In my experience, this makes for a much easier ride through life, when I remember and am willing to let go of my story, to let a situation, myself and everyone involved be as they are, and to listen within for what is true before taking a step forward.
If we're not consciously in touch with love, no emotional or psychological healing can occur. It simply is not possible.
So what can you do if you're not feeling love?
Go to the hurt place you feel within you and get in touch with the compassion you have for this hurt place, for yourself, your being. Find and connect with the love you have for yourself. It's there, underneath blame, fear, anger, sadness, and the story the mind tells.
You can find the love simply by turning within to what hurts. We find a vulnerable, tender place underneath the ways we try to protect ourselves and fend off more hurt. Be with this tender, vulnerable place inside of you. Get in touch with the love within you which is there for this hurt place. Notice that you do love yourself. The love is already there.
From this place of loving yourself, healing can occur. Unless we're in touch with love, healing is impossible. Until then we get caught up in blame, anger, fear, resistance and a mental story about who did what to who, all as an attempt to try to protect ourselves. However getting stuck in these surface energies only increases the pain. They can only be healed in a field of love.
This audio by spiritual teacher Adyashanti can help you with this:
Take a moment and notice the objects around your body. Now, shift your attention to the air these things are appearing IN. Observe that when your attention is fully on the objects it is impossible to have your attention simultaneously fully on the air.
This is similar to our thoughts in relationship to the peace of pure being.
Suffering results from keeping our attention on the past or the future, actually on thoughts ABOUT the past or future, which pulls our attention away from the pure, peaceful consciousness the thoughts appear IN.
You'll never find the peace of your being in the mind. It's simply not there. Even though you can have a peaceful thought, who you are is not a thought. You are the awake, aware, alert presence your thoughts, images, memories, feelings, and perceptions arise IN, regardless of whether they are painful or enjoyable.
For just this moment let go of the past and the future. Pretend they don't exist. Don't worry, you can get involved in them later if you want to. But for right now, completely let go of all that happened in the past or could happen in the future. Pretend you've never heard of a thing called "time."
Notice that when you let go of time, YOU are still here.
Ask within, "What is this that I am, this which is here when I let go of past and future?"
Observe that in the first few seconds (before your attention goes back to thoughts), there is space, emptiness, where there is literally nothing. No "thing."
Notice this which is "no thing" is alive, aware and totally unencumbered. Free.
This is YOU. This is here all along, even when thoughts appear IN this.
We have the ability to narrow our attention down to a thought or perception, like a camera lens can narrow down to an ant. When we relax that mechanism, even for just a moment, we begin to experience a calm spaciousness.
This is the truth of your being.
We often believe that awakening to the truth of being is a grand event and the "me" I thought I was will somehow change into a new and better "me" and something will be added to us.
However, the "me" you thought you were, or imagine you will be when you awaken is just a thought!
Awakening is to notice what is here, whether a thought of an awake "me" or a suffering "me" appears in it.
When we let go of concepts about what awakening is and are simply here, noticing the spaciousness that all our experience appears and disappears in, we realize this exotic thing called "awakening" is actually the most natural state we have been experiencing all along.
We simply hadn't noticed it!
Your self-concept is what you believe you ARE. Made up of core self-beliefs that limit your experience of yourself, it causes suffering because it’s not actually YOU.
Just as the operating system on your computer runs in the background and controls your experience of your computer, likewise your self-concept dictates how you experience your entire life.
Because this collection of beliefs (and the thoughts related to them) recycles pretty much continually in most peoples’ lives, it creates the illusion that we ARE this collection of thoughts and beliefs.
In this 4-part series you’ll be guided through a step-by-step process to help you uncover and free yourself from the limiting influence of your self-concept, allowing it to unwind on it’s own. This is how you can begin to experience the peace you actually already are.
This unlimited aliveness that is YOU has been here all along, even though your attention may have been on the narrator of your life, rather than the beingness of your life.
This series will help you uncover and experience the truth of your Being that you already are right now in this moment.
Help is here for you if you are in emotional pain and suffering. Learn what is at the root of your emotional trauma, how to fully accept and feel it as it is with loving compassion for yourself, and let it release naturally on its own. This page will guide you through this step by step. You’ll also learn about the traps we can fall into as we open to emotional healing, and how to move through them.
(This page replaces the old page entitled: “Emotional Pain — To Heal It We Need To Acknowledge It”)
Within all the 7 billion people on the planet, no two of us share the same exact perspective. It is as if we are all viewing ourselves, everyone else, and the planet through a unique lens, based on our conditioning.
If I'm looking through a blue lens and the person next to me is looking through a yellow lens, can I honestly say the other person's perspective is wrong, just because it doesn't match with my blue lens perspective?
How can any of us say with absolute certainty that something is true on this relative plane of existence? Actually NOTHING here is true, from the perspective of the Absolute (Consciousness, Spirit), other than the Absolute itself.
This entire life experience is a multi-layered dream, no different from the dreams we have at night when the body sleeps. Everything in this dream is temporary. Everything here has a birth and a death.
If it has a death, it can't be Absolute.
What we are IS the Absolute. We are what the dream arises IN.
Think of something you believe about yourself and distill it down to one statement. For example: "I'm not good enough."
Now ask, is this absolutely true?
You don't even need to answer the question. Simply QUESTION that belief, even if just for a moment.
Now, in your mind, add another statement, laying it beside the previous one. "I'm good."
Don't try to replace the first statement with the second one. Let them both co-exist within you, even if just for a moment. Notice, depending on what perspective you're looking through, both of them can seem true. Likewise both of them can seem false.
Ultimately neither of them are true, because YOU are not a concept. You are Awareness, the space that both of those concepts arise in.
Now ask yourself:
"What am I without a concept about who I am?"
"If I give up all concepts about myself in this moment, what is left?"
"What am I, really?"
"What is the Absolute truth of who I am?"
Don't try to answer any of these questions with your mind. Simply ask and be here, alert and noticing. Notice this that is you, which is not your thoughts or experiences. Notice the alive, present Awareness which is here, noticing.
So, if we can't be held to a concept, we can't hold others to our concepts of who we think THEY are either, or even who they think they are. :-)
Actually, all we know for sure is this which is here in this moment – this alert, alive presence which you are, within which there is the experience of reading these words, here, and now. This Aliveness you can KNOW with certainty. Everything else is the dream and will end at some point.
You, the Absolute, are eternal.
Think of something you want. Now, look at why you want it. You believe that if you have it, it will bring you happiness, right? Otherwise, why would you want it?
However, have you noticed that even when you get what you want, the joy of having it only lasts briefly? We start to notice flaws in our new treasure, and then fixate on the next thing we want.
It seems that in order to finally be willing to look for happiness in the only "place" it actually is, first we have to explore all the things we THINK will make us happy first. This includes experiences and anything that comes and goes, which is everything in this dream.
Eventually, we notice that permanent happiness isn't in the getting of what we want. This seems to only occur after many lifetimes of looking in every possible arena of life for lasting happiness — experiences, relationships, money, career, accomplishments, etc.
If you've read this far and you're still reading, you are most likely at this stage of spiritual maturity.
Spiritual practices can point you toward the truth of Being, but even they fall away once they've served their purpose: to NOTICE this that is here, alert, and at peace ALREADY… right in this moment.
When you think of something you want, instead of focusing on the thing, turn toward the "I" who wants it. Ask within, "who wants this thing?" Look for this "I."
You might notice body sensations, emotions, thoughts and concepts you've learned about being a body, memories, and etc. All of this comes and goes. But If it comes and goes, it can't be you because you are what is always here, before an experience, thought, emotion and etc. appear, during it's appearance, and still here after it leaves.
Turn your attention to this that is always here.
As you breathe in and before you breathe back out, notice there is a space where there is no breath. Prolong that space for a few seconds. Notice the alive, alert energy that is you that is still here in that space. Then when you breathe back out, keep your attention on this same space.
Notice that this energy doesn't require a body or thoughts for it's existence. The sensations of the body, emotions and thought arise IN it. They appear and disappear, and you, Awareness remain.
This is permanent peace. Always here, but we don't notice it when our attention is elsewhere.
Even when you think "I am suffering," you, Awareness are aware OF that thought and the emotions and body sensations produced by that thought.
Get more interested in "Who / what is this I?" and you will find peace if you continue to turn your attention toward it. Notice it. Be This.
In this video Adyashanti clearly describes the traps we all fall into as we awaken to the truth of Being. He cuts right through the illusions and brings our attention directly and clearly to this pure Presence we already are, have always been, and will always be. Simply beautiful. I highly recommend it!
Everyone is in the process of awakening to the truth of pure Beingness. Why? Because we already ARE pure Beingness.
Sometimes, as we begin to awaken from this dream, we feel, "I have a concept of Beingness, of the Self, but I don't experience it. I'm still unhappy."
There is an expectation that we should somehow achieve a new state of joy and that the old state of unhappiness has to go in order for us to have the state we desire.
However, if something can come which wasn't here before, including a state of happiness, it will also go.
This doesn't mean you can't know happiness. You already ARE happiness. You just need to turn your attention to Beingness itself, which is inherently happy and isn't a state which comes and goes.
"IT is. Simple BEING."
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
Your attention may come and go away from Beingness, but Beingness itself doesn't ever come and go. It is always here, ever present. Has always been here. Will always be here. Right now, you already are this this ever present Beingness.
You are not a state. You are what states come and go in, the Aliveness which you are right now, as you read this.
Within, say the word "I." Rest in this "I." Let the word gently repeat over and over. Even if just for a few seconds, let thoughts, feelings, sensations, and images go. Let go of everything but this "I." Get really interested in this "I."
Don't you really want to know what you actually are? Don't you want to know yourself as happiness? Pour your real sincerity into this practice.
Find out what is the "you" which is here, before a state of unhappiness comes, still here while unhappiness arises, and still here after unhappiness goes.
Let go of any preconceived ideas about what you think you are supposed to experience and what "awakening" or "enlightenment" are.
Simply shift your attention to what is already awake and alive… (See Part Two below to continue…)
Turn your attention toward the alive, present, aware energy which is you – always simply HERE. You are this unchanging presence, the Beingness which all experience comes and goes IN.
When you experience unhappiness, ask within, "Who is experiencing this?" Rather than doing this as a mental exercise, instead, with your attention, dive inward, LOOKING for the experiencer – the aliveness which is you, simply here.
Then do the same thing when you experience joy. Perhaps something new happens in your life that you like and with it comes a feeling of joy, which seems like it wasn't here before. Ask within, "Who is experiencing this feeling?"
Joy is our natural state. The thing, person or experience we think is giving us joy is only a trigger to unveil what we already are.
If there is a longing for something and then that thing comes, the pain of longing, whether it was conscious or unconscious, relaxes, at least for awhile. Then we think this person, substance or experience is the cause of the joy.
However, the joy of Being – what we already are – is simply momentarily uncovered.
Happiness based on something in the dream will flip into unhappiness at some point, because it is object based rather than Reality based. Soon after we get something we want, we're onto the next thing we want, and again the longing comes.
Ask within, "Who or what wants this?" "Who is lacking something?" "Who am I?"
Again, this is not a mental exercise. It is a turning of attention and looking for the "I" which is always here. Whether something fun or something you don't like shows up, this "I" is always here, always the same, always at peace.
Be this "I" which you already are.
To know yourself as permanent peace, shift your attention to "Who is experiencing this?" no matter what you are experiencing. You can do this again and again, throughout your day.
The more you do this and truly look for the "I," the more you'll begin to know and experience this "I" as your reality.
Try this little experiment:
Right now, purposely stop breathing. You don't even have to take a deep breath in first. Just consciously stop breathing for a few seconds. Don't worry, it won't hurt the body and you can breathe again whenever you want.
During the time breath is withheld, bring all your attention to the alert aliveness which is here in this present moment. Then go back to regular breathing when you're ready. Go back and forth a few times. Each time breath is withheld, bring your attention even more fully to the life force which is simply here.
Now, do it again, and as you begin breathing again, keep your attention in the same "place" that it was in when you withheld breath. Notice you can deepen your experience of this pure aliveness just by keeping your attention on it.
Breath and thoughts arise together, out of this alert, alive presence which is you. When we withhold breath, thoughts stop as well, at least temporarily, allowing us to consciously experience the alive present, shimmering Awareness (Us!) which is revealed underneath the thoughts.
In the physical / mental / emotional energy field, if life seems to be threatened, all attention automatically focuses on one thing: the saving of life. So when our breath stops, the mind can't afford to waste attention on external objects. It brings a laser focus to the present moment, the life center, to what animates the body in the first place – pure consciousness, aware and alert.
Momentarily stopping the breath is a way to quickly part the veil (even if just for a few seconds) which seems to hide our Self. Notice during those precious few seconds when attention is on Self, there is no suffering, no thoughts, no concept of a "me" which has to defend against anything or grasp for anything. There is infinite peace in Awareness itself.
Even when thoughts come back in, such as "I need to start breathing again," for a time there is still an awareness of awareness at the same time. Thoughts and awareness seem to overlap.
By choosing to keep your attention on the aliveness itself – Awareness – even as thoughts appear again, your experience of Self deepens.
Self will continue to call your attention back to It because this is what you actually are. You can still think, function, enjoy, and live your life, but you live it from alive Awareness rather than the belief of being packaged inside a body / mind, which we have had a habit of believing is who we are for eons.
This exercise of withholding breath is one way to get to know your Self as permanent, uninterrupted Peace.
Awakening to the Light of your Self isn't a mystical, unusual experience reserved for a special few.
Right now in this moment, you already are the Self.
Release imaginings about what enlightenment is. Ask yourself, "Do I exist?" Your answer of course will be "Yes." But instead of going to your mind for the answer, check your experience. Are you here? Of course you are. There is SOMETHING which is you which is here.
Bring your attention to this aliveness. Ignore sense organ perceptions, images, thoughts or emotions. Instead, get interested in the you which is aware of passing phenomena.
Say the word "I," repeating it every few seconds when your attention goes back to thought.
Notice this "I" which is always here, as you.
What is the common denominator of all your past experiences? You. You were here while experiences came and went. All those "you's" are exactly the same "you" which is here right now.
Experiences move through you, like a movie moves through a computer screen. Before the movie started, after it ended, and during all the ups and downs of the movie events, the screen is still exactly the same.
Ask "Who am I?" Again, don't ask your mind. Stay with your experience. Pretend you are a newborn baby and you've never learned concepts of bodies and minds. All you know is that you are here. Notice the aliveness which is you, here, now.
As you repeat "I….…I……..I," with your attention go deeply into this "I." Investigate it with your attention. You will find SOMETHING is here. It isn't your thoughts, emotions or sensations; they come and go. But YOU are here before they come, while they are here, and after they leave.
Be this which exists. You are ALREADY being this anyway. We are just bringing your attention to this "I am" which is already you, existence, light.
As you do this, notice tightness lets go. There is freedom. Notice this "I" isn't in a specific location or limited to a particular spot, such as the body.
It is dimensionless. It is an alive, alert, present, light. Simply here, at peace.
If you practice this daily you will know yourself AS this peace more and more deeply.
This most precious experience, ourselves as this peaceful "I" who is always here, is what is most overlooked. Why? Because "I" IS always here. Attention gets pulled away from what is always here to what keeps changing.
We are conditioned to focus on anything and everything BESIDES this quiet, alive Presence we already are which is perfectly happy.
As thoughts, emotions and experiences arise, ask "What are they arising IN? Who is experiencing this? Who is angry? Who is happy?"
Remember: don't ask your mind. Keep it simple. Ask the question, then investigate your experience. If you're interested in going for a swim, there is a huge difference between googling and reading about swimming versus diving into a lake. :-)
You CAN be free of suffering. How?
By wanting to know the Truth of your Being more than you want anything else, then devoting yourself to it.
Not sure how to make Truth your highest priority?
Ask The Divine for help, in whatever form or formlessness you know It by — God, Brahman, Spirit, Lord, Love, a fully realized being you feel drawn to, a holy picture, nature, the sun…
Ask to be shown how to experience your Self. Ask daily, sincerely and regularly.
We already are Pure Peace. But to fully realize and experience this involves wanting it more than anything else, asking for it, giving your devotion to it, then constantly CHOOSING it.
For most of my life I didn't realize I COULD ask The Divine for peace. I didn't know I had the "right" to. I just figured I had to work hard and do all the spiritual practices I was drawn to and if I was "good" enough I'd know the Peace of Being.
Then a friend told me about prostrating himself in front of his Divine Teacher and ASKING for his blessings.
When I pictured him doing that, a door in my heart opened in a flood of love and grace.
I began a daily practice of lying on the floor, stretched out, face down in front of a picture of my Beloved Teacher, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi. I asked him for his blessing to help me to continually live in the Truth of Being. As I did this, I surrendered on both an inner and a body level, and on every level I was aware of.
Day after day, as I continued this practice, I felt encouraged to be bolder. I went from timidly asking to boldly demanding:
"Dear Ramana, guide me into the deepest truth of my being. Direct my attention there, then MAKE me hold onto it."
I've discovered that in order to be free of suffering, there needs to be an intense eagerness to know the Truth of our Being. In my experience I would even go so far as to say a fierce devotion is required.
As my Teacher says:
"You give up this and that of 'my' possessions.
If you give up 'I' and 'mine' instead, all are give up at a stroke.
The very seed of possession is lost.
Thus the evil is nipped in the bud or crushed in the germ itself.
Dispassion must be very strong to do this.
Eagerness to do it must be equal to that of a man kept under water trying to rise up to the surface for his life."
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
Biblical images of the lion and the lamb express what is needed – a combination of deep surrender, intense devotion, and adamantly demanding to know and live the Truth of Being. It is the devotion to True Being which opens the floodgates of love and grace.
We must surrender everything except the sacred desire to know our Self. You are free to not only ask for this, but to demand to LIVE in the Truth of Being. Don't settle for anything less.
This is different from demanding a new car or yet another egoic fulfillment. Instead, we demand to know and live as what we actually ALREADY are!
The sacred desire to be free of suffering is itself already infused with the power of the truth of who we actually are — pure consciousness.
As I continue to practice this, the heart continues to open in a warm melting sensation of grace and love. This produces even stronger surrender and devotion to the Truth of Being, which then opens the heart even further. Thus, the cycle continues…
To get to this intense devotion, we first have to have suffered enough to be willing to do whatever it takes to be free of anguish. After looking for permanent happiness in all aspects of this dream — relationships, career, experiences, sensations, the body and etc. — and not finding permanent peace there, we begin to "get it" that it isn't "out there." At this point we are ready to turn toward the only place we haven't yet investigated: within.
However, because the habit of looking to the aspects of the dream for happiness is so strong, it takes a fierceness in aligning ourselves with the Truth of Being, an intense devotion to wanting to KNOW and LIVE this Truth.
When we are truly ready to be free of suffering, a realized master will appear in some form to guide us. This may be in the form of a person, a sacred place or teaching, or some other form.
Then not only do we learn the "how to" instructions, but as we choose to align with a fully realized master, we are infused with the strength, purity, grace, love and clarity of the Self, which we recognize in the master and begin to experience as our own Self.
We have to ask for liberation, to be shown the Truth of our Being. Then, with deep and sincere gratitude we must choose to devote ourselves to it. And we can ask for help for that as well.
If you want liberation more than you want anything else, you will experience it. You will know your Self, which is the One Self which is All, ever at peace.
Do whatever it takes to nurture your devotion to Truth.
I also recommend writing a prayer asking the Divine to show you the Truth of your Being. Write it from your heart, from your true sincerity. Then read it from your heart, from your genuine truthfulness, several times daily.
Are you serious about wanting to be free of suffering?
If so, I highly recommend this series of 7 talks by Nochur Venkataraman. If you listen to what he shares, take it to heart, and practice it, you will be free.
Nochur is a fellow devotee of my beloved Teacher, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, and has generously translated Ramana's song of love and devotion to Shiva (God) from the original Tamil into English for us.
These talks are a beautiful offering of Grace to all of us.
Here is Talk 1 of 7. It begins with devotional chanting for the first 12 minutes or so, and then Nochur recites in the native language, before speaking in English. I invite you to listen to all of it, even if you don't understand the words. The vibration of the words are a powerful offering of grace, whether you understand the words or not…
When an emotion that you judge as negative arises, do you feel like you are doing something wrong? This is inherent in the conditioning of society, and sometimes intertwined in religions.
Emotions themselves aren't "bad." The only way so-called "negative" feelings create suffering for ourselves and others is if we don't allow them to be as they are and we act them out.
Instead, we can rest in the Notice-er which notices emotional energies but is not changed by them. We don't have to latch onto emotions or create a "me" identity about them.
When we take a stand as the Notice-er (Awareness), all emotional energies arise and release on their own.
Usually, in an effort to be "good" we think we have to somehow abolish anger, fear, and sadness. Then, because we can't make them go away, we also feel shame, believing that experiencing a negative emotion makes us bad.
No emotion is shameful. All emotions come from believing a thought and forming an identity around them.
Instead, notice where in your body you experience the emotional energy. All emotions have a mental and physical component. In the physical body they will manifest as a tight, constricted feeling.
Remove attention from thoughts about the emotion or the scenario that triggered it. Keep bringing your attention back to the body and notice areas of tightness.
Even though you might recognize the feeling as anger, fear, shame or sadness, let go of those labels. Instead, just see the sensation, the vibration itself.
Be the See-er that sees it. When you don't give the emotion a description, it is actually just energy, vibration, a nameless sensation. Don't DO anything with it. Don't try to make it go away, fix, or heal it. Give it permission to be as it is. Let it fill the whole room if it wants to.
Choose to be the See-er of the energy. If your gets attention gets pulled back into thoughts, give yourself the thought "I am this that is aware of the sensation" to focus on.
Now there is just you, the See-er, and this energy you see and allow.
Don't try to do this exercise to make the energy release. If you do that, you are no longer experiencing yourself as the peaceful Seer — Awareness — that sees the sensation. If you try to make it go away, you act from "I am this body; these emotions are bad and must go away," which keeps you locked into a belief of being a bad and suffering "me."
Fighting with the energy by wanting it to go away actually feeds it more energy.
If the thought "I want to get rid of this," arises, then again, be the See-er that is aware of the thought. This keeps you from getting pulled in and identified with it.
True, permanent happiness only comes from awakening to the truth of who we are.
I've discovered that there are at least two distinct stages to awakening. There may be several more, but I can only report on my experience so far. In working with others who are also in the awakening process, it seems we all go through the same shifts in perspective, but in unique ways.
At first, in everyday consciousness, we believe we are a body/mind, stuck within its limitations.
Then, as awakening begins, we are drawn to practices such as meditation, that shift attention to attention itself. We begin to notice a peace within. We still consciously or unconsciously perceive we are a body/mind, but we now sometimes also experience an inner peace to rest in.
Gradually, we begin to experience we are actually the Conscious Awareness which is aware OF our body, thoughts, emotions, experiences as well as other bodies and objects.
"I am Consciousness."At first this feels like there is still a difference between us, Awareness, and what we are aware OF.
"I'm not this body, thoughts, emotions, other objects or
bodies in the world, or the circumstances I experience.
Instead, I am the Conscious Awareness
which is aware of these perceptions."
The next organic step in Awakening, still includes:
"I am Consciousness."And it is also:
"Everything is this Consciousness. I am everything."Everything is energy… ONE energy creating an infinite number of forms — bodies, thoughts, emotions, sensations, objects, the world, and all experiences.
There IS no separation. Even though there appear to be distinctions and limits, it is all one continuous, unbroken field of energy.
Try this out. Say slowly and silently within:
"I am Conscious Awareness. All is Awareness.
I am ALL. There is nothing else."
You can add:
"I am Awareness AND I am all that I'm aware OF. I am the body. I'm thought. I'm fear, anger, sadness, and guilt. I'm the air around and in the body, the furniture in this room and the walls. I'm that person I see or think of. I am everything in the world, in the Universe. I'm all that is. There is nothing but this that is, and I am this."
We ARE space. However, we appear to be 7 billion separate bodies. But when you bring your attention to this present moment, the space between thoughts, between breaths, to the aliveness you feel in your body, to the awareness which is aware of aliveness, we occupy the same space at the same time. Actually, we ARE the same space.
Even though I am typing this Now and in mind time you will be reading it "later," this Now that is here as I type and the Now that is here as you read this, are the very same Now – the space within which everything arises.
We are this dimensionless space of Now. Even when the concept of time arises, it arises here in the Now – unlimited spaciousness.
99.99% of your body is space. The rest is atoms. Also, if you could look inside one atom, you'd discover it is also 99.99% space. Even on a purely physical level, we are space.
Notice there is stillness (space) all around your body right now. Observe the you which is aware OF stillness and spaciousness is ALSO still and spacious itself.
Be this that is aware of space. Notice the space around your body also INCLUDES your body.
We usually identify with what appears to be solid — bodies and objects. However, remember that everything that appears to be solid is 99.99% air, including your body.
So, just for a moment, instead of identifying with the 0.01% which appears to be solid, identify with the 99.99% that is air. Don't just think about it, actually experience it. It is, literally, easier than you think!
At first it might help to get past the mind by simply pretending you are air, and notice how that feels. Ignore the thoughts that say "this body is me and everything else is outside me."
You, spaciousness aren't housed inside the body. Instead, the body appears in YOU, space. Without the thought "I am inside a body" you'd only know yourself as spaciousness.
Observe this space is limitless. Chairs, walls, buildings, bodies and literally everything is made up of this vibrating, alive spaciousness. Space is true unconditional love. It embraces everything as itself, because everything IS itself.
Rather than thinking about it or visualizing it, BE it.
Remember that everything in the room you're in, including the walls and everything else you see is 99.99% space — the same 99.99% space that YOU are. Everything you're aware of IS this dimensionless space.
It may help focus your attention by saying silently, "I am space. I am everything in this room, city, country, world, and universe. I am everything that is."
Be still and observe what you experience, especially in the first few seconds after you think the words. Let the words softly repeat.
Here, we are One. Always have been, always will be. I meet you here, in this love, ALWAYS.
Sometimes it might not seem like we are One, especially with recent world events. As individuals, we don't look or think alike and we don't always share the same religion, ideology and perspective.
However, within we are not only alike, we are exactly the same BEing. When your attention is HERE in Awareness and my attention is HERE in Awareness, we are the very same "substance," the ONLY place of true, continuous peace.
Individually and as a Collective, our karma and attachment to self-concepts will continue to play itself out in this dream of experience, like a fan of suffering that goes around and around as long as it is plugged into electricity. The only way we can stop the fan of suffering is to unplug it from its power source. Suffering gradually unwinds on its own when we stop feeding it.
How can we do that?
We "stand" as Awareness OF suffering, without identifying WITH suffering.
The best thing you can do for yourself and the world is to allow your own emotions of shock, fear, sadness, anger, guilt (whether they are about world events and/or your own daily life) to come up. Choose to BE the Awareness which sees them, without building a "me" story around them.
As much as possible, decline to get caught up in the story of "right" and "wrong" and who did what to whom, which feeds energy to suffering. Our attention fuels whatever we focus it on.
When we stand in Awareness we are love. Consequently, we cut suffering off from its power source, not just for ourselves, but for this Collective One we are.
We don't have to do anything to BECOME Awareness / Love. We already ARE this. We just have to choose to stand in this we already are.
When we shift attention to THIS which is aware of emotions and events without getting involved in the story, the fan of suffering is unplugged. It still has a momentum and will continue to spin for awhile, but since it isn't getting new energy, it revolves slower and slower and eventually stops.
In any situation, whether it is in reaction to world events or to your own life events, let your own emotions come up. Don't make them bad, good, right or wrong.
To help you stay out of the story and identification with the characters in the story (including the character you think is you), shift attention to your body. Notice places of tightness or constriction. Be more interested in that than the story about what is going on. The energy constriction in the body has within it the thoughts and emotions which created it.
Silently, tell this energy in the body "I see you as you are. You can take up as much space as you want / need to."
... Continue reading Part Two below ...
Let it fill the room if it wants to. Experience it, but don't get involved IN it, don't act on it, and stay out of the story which spawned the energy. Don't try to fix or change it. Don't even try to "heal" it. Be the observer of it.
In doing this, you experience both your individual emotions as well as the Collective's. We are all ONE Being.
Then silently ask within, "What is it that is aware of this energy in the body?" Notice what you experience within the first few seconds after you ask. Rest in the space which is uncovered before thoughts come back in.
Return to this "space" again and again, by letting "Who am I?" repeat within, paying particular attention to the first few seconds after the question. Notice and BE the space which is uncovered in those precious seconds before thoughts start up again.
This is YOU, Awareness, Peace.
Let's stand HERE together in peace. Let THIS vibrate in the world, all through the Collective One we are.
Commit yourself to peace. You already ARE this peace. Now we are just shifting attention to what is always HERE, what has perhaps been in the background of your attention instead of the foreground. You can do this all day long, over and over again. BE this consciously.
If visualizations of permeating the world with light, peace and love come easily to you, then do that as well.
However, the most powerful way to create peace in the world is to BE it rather than visualizing it. To be it is to find it in you. To EXPERIENCE it. Not to think about ways you "should" be it. Find the space between thoughts which already is this Peace. Even if your attention only stays here for a few seconds, each time you do it, peace reverberates in the world.
Focus on what you have to give. Even just a smile to a stranger uplifts the world. Pour your love into what you love, such as your children, partner, art, work, dance or music. Focus your time and energy on letting your love flow.
Do what you feel called to do in the world, but do it from peace.
More help here:
"We limit ourselves first,
then seek to become the unlimited that we always are.
All effort is only for giving up the notion that we are limited."
~ Ramana Maharshi
Often, we conceptualize "awakening" or "self-realization" as a rare experience for only a special few – a "state" we think is somehow added to us if we meditate enough, repeat the right mantra, or do some other technique.
However, "awakening" is the simple noticing of the every-day aliveness which already is YOU, right now in this moment, although it might be in the background of your attention, rather than the foreground.
"Self realization" is literally what it says: to REALIZE the alert, alive energy which is you, simply by NOTICING it, shifting your attention to what is already always here.
Ask yourself, "Do I exist?" Don't ask your mind. Instead, simply check your experience. "Something" in you will answer "yes." BE this that just answered "yes." Don't try to figure it out what it is. Just BE this that is here.
It is your every-day, ordinary experience that you exist. Simply shift your attention to this aliveness you call "me" that exists.
Congratulations! In those few seconds (or longer) when your attention was on this that is here rather than your thoughts about this that is here, you were "awake!" You were / are having "self realization."
"Awakening" is really just a shifting of your attention from the foreground to the background. Until we do this, we are like eyes searching outside ourselves for eyes, not noticing we ARE the eyes which are looking for eyes! And we have been "eyes" (the Self we've been looking for) all along!
YOU are what is always in the background of every experience. When you say "me" or "I," this simple aliveness which animates the body and mind is what you are actually referring to.
I recommend taking time each day to sit quietly and ask, "Do I exist?" Notice what is uncovered, especially in the first few seconds after you ask the question, before thoughts arise again. If you keep coming back to this question your experience of yourSelf will continually deepen.
Then, during the day, even while you are busy, you can also silently ask, "Do I exist?" repeatedly. Each time you ask the question, be attentive to those first few seconds before thoughts start again.
What you notice might seem like just empty space at first. But the more you rest here, you'll discover true, permanent, unlimited peace, joy and love. BE this "space."
"If you see two strangers quarreling in the distance you do not give much attention to them because you know that the dispute is none of your business. Treat the contents of your mind in the same way.
Instead of filling your mind with thoughts and then organizing fights between them, pay no attention to the mind at all.
Rest quietly in the feeling of 'I am,' which is consciousness, and cultivate the attitude that all thoughts, all perceptions are 'not me.'
When you have learned to regard your mind as a distant stranger, you will not pay any attention to all the obstacles it keeps inventing for you.
Mental problems feed on the attention that you give them. The more you worry about them, the stronger they become. If you ignore them, they lose their power and finally vanish."
~ Annamalai Swami, Living By the Words Of Bhagavan,
Edited by David Godman
Any time you notice you are suffering, check and you'll find you've been listening to your thoughts and creating a "me" around them. Even when physical pain occurs, the actual suffering always comes from THOUGHTS about the pain, which are much more debilitating than pain itself.
When you notice your attention is on thoughts, ask within "To whom are these thoughts appearing?" The mind will, of course, answer "me." Then ask, "What is me?" This time, don't ask your mind. Don't be interested in what the mind says. Instead, just BE here, present, and alert. Be this that is simply HERE. Be more interested in this than anything else.
Within, you can silently repeat "Who am I?" not only as a meditation, but all through your day. If you stay with this practice persistently, your attention will be increasingly drawn into Itself, pure Awareness, the only source of permanent peace. As you continue with this practice you'll notice more and more the YOU that has always been here, underneath thoughts and emotions.
Often when we desire to awaken to the truth of Being we assume "awakening" means something new, rare and exotic is added to us. However, if something can come which wasn't here before, this means that it will also go at some point. And if it is coming and going, it can't be you because you are still here during all the coming and going.
You are what is AWARE of what comes and goes.
To know your Self, don't look for a new experience. Instead, right now, in this moment, turn your attention toward what it is to simply be. Not your thoughts about being, but simply BE-ing. Instead of focusing on "I am happy" or "I am sad," give attention to "I am" or simply "I."
This "I" that you are is Aliveness, and is always peacefully, totally content, full and complete within Itself, no matter what thoughts or experiences arise within you.
The sun doesn't have to learn to shine and neither do you. Just uncover the You that ALREADY shines!
Have you been to the Free Downloads page lately?
I just added a free, 43-page book in pdf format, which you can download instantly. I think you'll find How To Let Your Light Shine helpful. It emphasizes the point that we don't have to learn to DO something to be happy and at peace. In fact, all the doing distracts us from happiness.
The sun doesn't have to go through arduous work to shine. It already is shining! It never stops shining. However, if the sun were to get lost in thoughts like….
… then it's attention would be on the thoughts rather than on its shining-ness. Its focus would be caught up in the "me" it thinks it is rather than the shining Sun it already is.
This book answers many of the questions that come my way in WellBeing Alignment Sessions, such as:
Sometimes when we hear the word "surrender," we think it implies we have to sacrifice something we want. However, in true surrender what we let go of is our investment in suffering, which seems to veil happiness, which we actually already are.
As an experiment, for just the next 10 seconds, let go of all your likes, dislikes, individuality, and opinions. Release what you want and don't want, what you think you know, what you've done you're proud of or not proud of. Turn loose of your name, "me" and "mine." Let go of trying to solve any problems.
Just be here, in this moment.
Now, notice what is here when you let go of all that. Do this sincerely and entirely, just for 10 seconds.
During the 10 seconds, be still and let everything empty out and off. Then notice the alive energy which is "you" and is still here. Start with just 10 seconds. Later you'll be able to gradually extend it.
I find it helpful to include the body in this letting go, by going into the Child's Pose yoga position, as shown in the picture. Let everything drain out of your hands, forehead, head, body and mind. Give it to the ground.
If you have a spiritual teacher or a feeling connection with a spiritual being such as an angel, Buddha or Christ, connect with them and visually, mentally, or energetically, lay everything at their feet. You can even think of a mountain or a tree you feel a resonance with and do the same.
You and all beings are already pure, joyful Consciousness, but we don't realize it because our attention is identified with the passing river of thought. Therefore, it helps to give the mind something or someone to focus on, which serves as a bridge in focusing and aligning our attention with ourSelf – Presence, Consciousness, God, Source (whatever name you know it by).
At some point these bodies we've identified with will die. We will let go of everything then anyway. I encourage you to practice doing it daily now, rather than waiting until the body dies. You'll find all you are giving up is suffering. Meanwhile, as your life unfolds you still get to enjoy your life. In fact, you'll find you enjoy it much more!
Here is a helpful image, inspired by my teacher Ramana Maharshi: You've boarded a train, bringing your suitcase with you. Inside the train, you still stand, holding on to your suitcase. All the while, the train is happily transporting you and your suitcase to your destination, whether you strain to hold onto your luggage or not. So, put your luggage down, sit down and relax. God has you.
Everyone has experienced suffering. Even if someone appears to have an easy life, at some time they've known physical, mental, or emotional pain.
All suffering comes from believing we are a body / mind / self-concept. Until we discover we are actually the Awareness which is aware OF a body, thoughts, emotions and experiences, we suffer.
Innately we know we are more than just a separate body / mind / self-concept, but until we REALIZE this it feels like something is terribly missing.
Everything on this plane is based on polarity — up / down, feels good / feels bad. Even if you try to hold a positive self-concept, at some point it will flip into a negative one. What goes up comes down. Self concepts come and go, but you, Awareness, which is aware OF self-concepts, is always here, at peace.
What is the purpose of suffering?
Suffering is an alarm that tells us we are identifying ourselves as a body / mind / self-concept rather than what we truly are: Pure Awareness. Suffering gets our attention, eventually motivating us to look within for what we really are: Awareness, Peace.
We are like a character in a dream/movie looking everywhere in the movie for happiness, trying to add to ourselves, while pushing away anything that seems to threaten our happiness.
Eventually, after looking in every facet of the dream/movie — relationships, money, career, status, objects — for happiness and not finding a permanent source of it, we begin to suspect what we are really looking for isn't IN the movie.
We notice there is a screen which the movie, as well as the character in the movie who we think is us, is appearing IN. We notice we ARE this screen (Awareness) which animates the movie and the character called "me."
We now experience a happiness which is always here, whether a horror movie plays on the screen, a love story, or a story of awakening. The Presence / Awareness which the movie is arising IN isn't changed by what happens in the movie.
Now, even though we've experienced true, permanent happiness in Being, the old thought habit of believing we are a character arises, we listen to those thoughts and we suffer. Now, once again, suffering motivates us to practice shifting our attention back to Awareness (the "screen"), the ONLY place of true, permanent peace.
Even when physical, emotional or mental pain arises, we don't have to suffer over it by building a "me" around our thoughts. Instead, we can ask: "Who is experiencing this pain?" If the mind says "me," then ask, "Who is me?" Don't ask your mind. Just ask the question, and don't assume you know the answer. Be empty, alert, and here. Then notice where your attention naturally goes. Be This that is here, alert, and present.
Here is a direct method for knowing yourself as peace:
"When thoughts arise, one should not pursue them, but should inquire: 'To whom did they arise?'
It does not matter how many thoughts arise. As each thought arises, one should inquire with diligence, 'To whom has this thought arisen?'
The answer that would emerge would be 'To me.'
Thereupon, if one inquires, 'Who am I?' the mind will go back to its source, and the thought that arose will become quiescent. With repeated practice in this manner, the mind will develop the skill to stay in its source."
~ Ramana Maharshi,
The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi, pg 5
The identification of being a bad, hurt "me" was persistent.
Fortunately, I opened a book from my beloved Teacher, Ramana Maharshi. After reading the quote above, I did exactly what he said.
I determined to watch my thoughts, knowing they are ALWAYS the cause of suffering. Each time I got hooked into the old "poor me" story, I asked within "To whom did that thought arise?"
I wasn't interested in mind's answer to the question. It knows nothing of the True Self. Instead, I kept attention on my direct experience. After the question I noticed and felt myself as the spaciousness within which the thoughts passed through.
Then I asked "Who am I?"
Without looking to my mind for the answer, I stayed empty, alert and present to my direct experience. I became aware of limitless, spacious Peace which everything arises in. YES! HOME again. :-)
Painful thoughts still sometimes creep back, but my determination now is bigger than ever before. I repeat the inquiry above, committed to not creating a suffering "me," which is only a series of thoughts!
I've heard that in order to deeply know our True Self, we must want it as much as a drowning person wants air. My recent trip through hell showed me there is nothing I want more than PEACE. Nothing is more precious.
This experience also taught me that to know ourselves as PEACE, we need to be determined to let go of identifying with the current train of thought passing through. When peace is our highest priority and we use inquiry, like the process above, we no longer feed the belief of being a separate, flawed self (which is actually only a thought!).
As we decline to invest attention and energy into a "self" that doesn't actually exist, then we no longer create the painful EXPERIENCE of being a separate "me."
As a result, the Shining Light (which we already ARE) is revealed!
When we think we are a separate entity, located in a mind /body, we feel limited, separate, insecure.
Because innately we KNOW we are unlimited peace.
So why don't we FEEL peace all the time?
Because we identify with the mind. We talk to ourselves in our head all day long and think that conversation IS us. We build an identity around the mental chatter.
Mind is occupied with two desires: reaching for something to try to make the self-concept "more" in some way, or pushing away anything it thinks threatens our concept of who we think we are.
Consequently, identifying with the body / mind as our "reality" creates enormous suffering. We create a mind-made self that is based on lack. And that entire self is actually only a mental concept!
Thoughts come and go. Since they can disappear, they can't possibly be who you are. You are still here, even as a thought evaporates.
Even when your thoughts are about "good" things about yourself — "I did really well at work today…" — the mental commentary ALWAYS eventually flips into the opposite. "… but I really messed up in my relationship…"
So how can you stop your mind from doing that?
You can't. The mind is limited. It can ONLY think in polarities, opposites.
However, you CAN learn to let go of identifying with the mind and the mind-made concept of "you."
You can find out what ELSE is here besides the mental chatter. Find out what DOESN'T have an opposite. Notice the "you" that isn't separate.
It is always here, always at peace. Even when your attention is on sadness or anger arising within, you, the Awareness that is aware of these emotions, is itself at peace.
WHERE is this peace that you are? It is ONLY here, now. This present moment.
It's not in the past or the future, which is where the mind focuses. The past or future "you" your mind conceives isn't what you really are.
You are the aliveness that is here right now, even as you read these words. This aliveness doesn't depend on the mind or the body for its existence. Further, you, Aware Presence, are not at all changed by what arises within, including thoughts, emotions or experiences.
You, Awareness don't move through time. The mind-made concept of time, moves through YOU. You are the dimensionless, always present Now, even when your attention is elsewhere.
Everyone wants happiness and peace. When we rely on the mind to find it for us, it can only look to the past or future. Consequently when we leave the present moment with our attention, we actually abandon the one and only place where happiness is — only right here right now… (See Part Two below to continue…)
The past and future only exist as thoughts in your mind. You've only ever been right here, in the dimensionless Now. Experience moves through you, ever changing. But you, Awareness, don't change. You are already whole and complete. You are what all experience arises in.
Bring your attention to what you are aware of in this moment — perhaps how the chair feels against your body if you are sitting down. Or air flowing into and through your body. Or the aliveness in your hands, feet, heart, face or head.
Simply be here, now, allowing everything to be as it is, including resistance to allowing everything to be as it is, if that is arising also.
You may notice a straining to "do" something — make a phone call, write that email, etc. Notice the energy of agitation, the vibration itself.
Unhook from thinking. It is only thinking that tries to make the present moment into a means to an end. Stay here (if only for a few minutes or seconds) and let whatever arises be here, without acting on any of it. It is really only a thought that tells you to "do" something.
Only by bringing attention to this moment can you truly know yourself as Peace, Pure Presence.
It may be easier at first to practice this with your eyes closed. Then, when you feel your Aliveness, try it with eyes open while you are sitting.
Later, you can also try this in the midst of your day. Perhaps when you are at a red light in your car and you don't have anything else to "do" anyway, take a moment and notice the Aliveness of your body. Notice the Presence looking through your eyes.
The more you bring attention to yourself as Presence, the more peace you'll notice in your life.
At first, it's usually easier to notice yourself as Aliveness while sitting still. However, this doesn't mean that in order to know yourself as Peace you have to sit still all day.
Once you've experienced yourself as Presence while sitting in your home, then at moments during your day, in between doing other things, you will get to the point where you can feel yourself as Alive Presence, even while "doing."
At that point, your "doing" will flow from the Peace you know yourself to be. Consequently, Presence is transmitted through whatever it is you are doing, flowing out and uplifting the world, even if what you are doing is a seemingly mundane part of your life as a business person. Your actions will still be infused with the love and peace of Presence.
Since there is only One Life, One Being here, we are all uplifted by your attention on Presence. You become a tuning fork, "singing" the vibration of love in this Oneness we all are together, calling all our attention to Presence.
Whatever is appearing in your life right now gets to be here because it IS here.
Whether it is uncomfortable or comfortable sensations, feelings, thoughts, or events, none of it is isolated. Everything is part of a continuum of cause and effect. Everything on this plane is a product of what has gone before, including our personalities and reactions. All of it is infinite consciousness manifesting itself in a multiplicity of forms in this dream we call our lives.
When we label anything as "bad" and try to deny or push it away, we suffer. We also suffer when we listen to, believe in, and form an identity around the ongoing voices in our heads, believing that dialogue is who we are.
Try this out: Tell yourself, "For the next 5 seconds I'm not going to talk to myself." Give up any expectations about what will happen, what you should experience, or what you've heard someone else has experienced.
Then notice what is simply here when you decline to talk to yourself. Notice what is looking through your eyes – not what you think about it, but the actual EXPERIENCE of alive, intelligent life force that is here now, looking through your eyes.
Don't expect a grand event. This is a gentle noticing of what is ALWAYS here, quietly in the background every moment of your life, not something magically added to you. This alive presence is generally overlooked by most humans, which is why there is so much suffering on our planet.
For these 5 seconds, let go of trying to control, fix or change anything. Just be here. Notice urges to control, but don't act on them. Just be here without moving in any direction.
If you notice anger, fear, sadness, guilt, etc., let it be here as it is. Decline to label it "anger" and etc., or categorize it as "good" or "bad." Notice no emotion can change this life force looking through your eyes. You, life force, can't be hurt or changed. Nothing need be added to you or removed from you. You are complete.
Notice this that is aware OF anger, fear, sadness, etc. has already allowed it to be here. It isn't trying to push it away, just as air isn't trying to push furniture out of a room.
You, awareness don't have to "do" anything to allow these emotions to be here. Awareness has ALREADY accepted what is arising, or it wouldn't be arising.
Don't try to use the mind to accept what is arising. Mind only operates in the realm of opposites / polarities. It isn't capable of neutrality, which is where acceptance lives.
A few weeks ago my dear, deeply loved friend (and former husband), Mark, left the body suddenly. When I received the news, I heard myself saying "No, No, No…" in a contraction of shock, fear, sadness and resistance. It just didn't seem like it could be.
In the days that followed his passing, wave upon wave of sadness and resistance arose, and still continue to arise within me.
Memories of the past and thoughts about missing him in the future come up and I feel resistance and grief. Sometimes I get caught up in the intensity. Then at some point I realize I've been listening to my thoughts and forming a painful, artificial "reality" with them.
When I notice this, I bring my attention back to this Present Moment. I decline to talk to myself in my mind. I let the tight sensations in the body, as well as the uncomfortable emotions which are intertwined with them, be as they are. I welcome and make room for everything I'm experiencing to be here as it is.
As I do that, Mark is no longer missing. I feel his loving presence here as the same tender heart I've always known him as. It is not so much the form of him, but the essence of him – an ongoing loving communication without words, occupying the same space that I occupy.
Mark was perhaps the deepest, most tenderhearted, gentle, loving, kindest person I've ever known. He was also endlessly creative, sharing the gifts of his wood sculptures, photographs, poetry and jewelry with so many of us. Through the deep Silence of his Being, he awakened me to the aliveness of Nature and our Oneness with the Earth and all Life.
Even in his passing out of form, he has given me a priceless gift. He is showing me more deeply than ever before, how ALL pain comes from identifying with thoughts and creating a "reality" that isn't really real.
When I don't hook into the thoughts about Mark being missing, then he ISN'T missing. I'm the one that had gone missing, by listening to thoughts rather than resting in the deep, silent spaciousness that is our ever-present reality. There is no separation. There is only love.
Dear Mark, I meet you HERE in the Heart of Love, always and forever. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Dear Brother, for all the love you shared with me and continue to share with me, and for helping me to awaken into the reality of ever-present love.
As a young child, I often got scared at night. I'd go into my parents room and ask my mother if I could sleep with her. She always said "yes." However, she didn't make room for me. I would lay there awake all night close to the edge of the bed, afraid that if I fell asleep I'd fall to the floor.
As an adult, I realized that what I had wanted from my mother — to value and make room for me — I, as an adult wasn't giving to myself. So I learned to open and make room for the fear, anger or sadness that arose within me.
However, I still didn't fully accept and inhabit my body.
As my awakening unfolds and I share what I discover with others, I've noticed that there are three distinct stages to it, at least in my experience so far.
At first, we believe we are a body with a mind located in it. We look out of its eyes, believing who we are is just what is located in this body/mind, with its "me" story.
In the second stage of awakening, we discover we ARE Awareness, which isn't dependent on the body for its existence.
In this moment right now, you're aware. You're never not aware. Even if Awareness isn't focused on itself, you (Awareness) are always aware of something. Try to not be aware. How'd you do? You are the Knowingness that knows whatever it is you are aware of.
During this stage it can seem like Awareness and the body are separate.
However, in the third stage we realize they are not separate at all.
Bring your attention to the vibrating sensation that thought would label "hands." Now shift attention to your head and face. Not your thoughts, but your attention. Notice the tingling vibration that is head / face. Do this with your whole body until you sense the alive field of the entire body.
BE this alive, vibrating field. Even though thought might make up a concept called "skin" or "a boundary," when you shift attention to the alive field that is the body and BE it, the aliveness has no limits.
Your body, its sensations, and your full range of emotions don't have to go away in order to know yourself as Alive Presence. Everything is made out of the SAME Aliveness as the Awareness that is aware of it. All your experiences appear IN you, Aware Knowingness.
I invite you to fully inhabit your body. Move around in it with your attention. Own it. Explore it. Occupy it. See that the you (Awareness) that knows the vibration of your body occupies the very same "space" the tingling vibration of your body itself occupies. You're all of it! Nothing needs to be added to you or gotten rid of. It is all YOU — Alive Presence.
Wherever you go, you're always right HERE, right NOW. Always, NOW.
And now WellBeing Alignment is always right here with you!
We speak mobile now. :-) You can now access this site from all of your favorite devices. And if you discover something with your particular device that isn't functioning properly on this site, please let me know here.
I meet you HERE, NOW … always in the Heart of Love, Presence, Awareness. We occupy the same space at the same time with all that lives, all that IS, always …
This is a simple, clear way to exit the usual, every-day identification with being a self-concept, the "me" story. If you practice this, it will gradually dissolve the identification with being separate. Suffering unwinds...
Everything in this dream has an upside and a downside. Have you noticed?
You dream of a perfect job. Lo and behold, you GET a great job. However, you're at odds with a co-worker and begin to feel incompetent.
After planning an amazing vacation, you arrive, and it's lovely! …until you're devoured by mosquitoes.
This entire dream is based on polarity – light / dark, yes / no, feels good / feels bad, etc. Consequently there is always something unresolved – a sink full of dirty dishes, relationship issues, or a project you've been focusing on for months.
Everything in your life is an amazing gift. The co-worker who seems to be spoiling your dream job is gifting you with bringing your incompetency feelings to the surface so you can see, welcome and love this hurt aspect of yourself.
The dirty dishes gift you by bringing into your conscious awareness anxiety about not being on top of things, or whatever your particular beliefs about yourself are.
Everything "out there" is a reflection of how we feel "in here" about ourselves. Until we can SEE and bring love to these painful beliefs and feelings, there is an ongoing feeling of un-ease.
For just this moment, let go of trying to resolve relationship, health, money, job or any other issues. Let go of control. You can resume trying to control it all later if you wish.
Allow all feelings about what is unresolved to simply be here without following the impulse to "fix."
Allow thoughts to be here too.
With your attention travel inside the body. Look for tightness in the head, throat, heart, stomach, pelvis or extremities. Tell each sensation, "I see you. I welcome you and I love you, just as you are." Even if you don't fully feel this, still tell it to the sensation.
You may notice an emotion intertwined with the sensation – anger, fear, sadness, or guilt, or it may be hard to name. Either way, let go of the mental classification regarding what it is.
These tight emotions / sensations are reflections of tight beliefs and thoughts you have about yourself.
Just as your hand is made out of the same components of the rest of your body,this sensation is made of the very energy that is what YOU are. It isn't foreign material. If you're trying to get rid of it, notice it has no place to go, just as your hand has nowhere else to live besides your body.
Now, as attention, lift off from the sensation. Broaden your attention out to include the tingling sensation of your whole body. Next, extend yourself (as attention) out to the space surrounding your body. Notice you ARE this attention / space. You, attention, are aware. Be this aware attention. Notice this aware attention is at peace, not at all bothered by any sensation arising.
As you awaken to the truth of your being, you may feel caught between two worlds, or stuck in one painful one.
Even if you've experienced the light of your being, for most of us, at some point the old belief we are a separate body / mind gets activated again. "I'm bad. I'm not good enough. I lack."
Ourselves, Infinite Presence, gets overlooked and made into a thought: "What can I do to be the Light again? How did I lose it?" We believe these thoughts, thus feeling even more separate from the peace, joy, and sacred stillness of our being.
We may even compare ourselves to other people and their experiences of awakening. We think it is supposed to be an event that happens once and for all, rendering us always happy on all levels of our being.
However, that is not my experience.
Within the mind there are usually many layers of beliefs about being a separate body / mind / self concept. All beliefs about being a separate character in this dream (rather than the infinite field of energy that the character, and every experience appears IN), get played out in this workshop we call our lives.
Everything we believe to be true about ourselves creates our experience of this dream, thus making these unconscious beliefs conscious, so that we can see them and let them go.
The following will help to loosen your identification with being a separate, inadequate being, and shift your attention back to yourSelf, Pure Awareness. I learned it from a beloved Teacher, Adyashanti…
Just for this moment, let go of all the spiritual or psychological facts stored in your mind about what you are.
With eyes open, ask yourself "What is looking through these eyes?" Don't answer the question. Instead, NOTICE what IS looking through your eyes. BE this, without trying to define it.
With openness and child-like exploration, stay with your direct experience. Notice, explore and BE this that is simply looking through your eyes. Release thoughts about the past or future. Get more interested in this that is looking through your eyes than your thoughts about what you're doing or what you expect to find.
THIS is awakening! It is the simple recognition that what you truly are is this Presence that is simply here. THIS is the common denominator of all your experiences. THIS may have been in the background of your experience, but you (THIS) were still here. Experience constantly moves through you but never changes the essential you that it moves through.
Even in the case of physical blindness, there is still the same Presence that is here, experiencing this dream. When your attention is on THIS that is here and mine is on THIS that is here, it is the very same THIS.
In celebration of their 30-year anniversary, Sounds True is treating us to a new event series called "Waking Up," an in-depth exploration of the question: "What IS awakening?" The founder of Sounds True, Tami Simon, meets with over 30 spiritual authors and teachers. They share their experiences and understanding of spiritual awakening and answer many questions. I highly recommend it, especially the sessions with Adyashanti and Eckhart Tolle. You can sign up here.