Welcome to An Inner Walk-About

There is an inner landscape that sounds the wild call for stillness. It is both empty and cognizant at the same time. We may fall into its desert and become lost. Here, we may disappear, dissolve, die before we die. We are searching for a life, fully lived.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Solidifying Or Dissolving "I"

Isn't it curious how our sense of "I" varies enormously from person to person and also from moment to moment? It seems to range from a very contracted sense of self all the way to an expanded "spiritualized" self. However, regardless of the point along this scale it rests to become the "I" of the moment, it assumes itself to be permanent. And it has an interesting method for creating this illusion of permanence. This "I" identifies itself with something impermanent like a thought, an emotion, a belief, a concept, and then creates a story that allows it to appear permanent.

How does the mind largely identify itself with this "I", and how is this movement responsible for so much suffering in our lives? What would it be like to have no story at all? Would our life become a living meditation?

Ordinarily, we create storylines and projections and become trapped within those. We imagine that our external conditions and others are causing our feelings and creating our situation. Now, imagine dropping all concepts about who we are. Imagine relaxing completely, letting go of our usual participation in the creation of the outer drama we call “reality”.

If we bring any experience with a life situation or person to mind, we will notice that it carries a kind of vibrational signature. If we attend to the experience very carefully, we might notice the first feeling or response resonate in our energy field. If there is a degree of resistance to that feeling, our habitual reaction is likely to be one of immediate judgment, opinion, justification, and so the projection and story has already begun. Now our attention has moved out into the external environment. There is an inability to stay curious and present with the experience. So immediately that experience becomes a totally new creation. It becomes "what it is not" and we become "who we are not".

Energetically, a locking mechanism arises. That moment creates another solidification of the "I". The flow of energy moves into a kind of limited circuit. We have become trapped by something that compelled our attention and are cut off from a full life.

If, however, we take any experience and practice simply holding still in the feeling, just before we leap into our story and projection, our judgment and justifications, we begin to use attention in a fascinating way. Attention immediately moves from the external environment back into our inner environment, and the "I' , that a moment ago seemed so solid, begins to dissolve. The story stops and the truth emerges. What a moment of freedom!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Obstacles to Presence

I have often been curious about how we all have favorite styles of undermining the present moment. One of my methods is restlessness. Here the mind spins in circles, often running over the same material endlessly. The body is full of angular, jumpy energy. Anxiety and worry fall into this pattern and the mind runs endless stories and regrets. The attention is like a jumping bean hopping from one object to the next. Concentration is scattered, and even just sitting still is a challenge.

Sometimes a slothful style emerges. It includes laziness, a lack of vitality, and a general fogginess. It ushers in an uncomfortable sense of confusion. And yet, I experience doubt as the most difficult of all the obstacles to presence.

When a doubt appears and I believe that particular doubt, I really get caught by it, and all awareness stops. I seem to become paralyzed. In this case, what is actually being revealed is the doubt about myself, my abilities, even my path. When that skeptical, doubting mind catches me, I'm trapped. If I question the doubt, awareness opens up again. What a relief!

I have noticed that aversion is the easiest obstacle to observe. It includes anger and hatred, and holds a tight burning quality which utterly closes the heart. Fear, judgment, and boredom are all forms of aversion to the present moment. When we examine them, we see that they are really based on our dislike of some aspect of our experience. They are the resistance to what is. This dislike wants to separate or to withdraw. It is unable to concentrate or to explore the present moment with any kind of investigation.

And finally there is desire. All kinds of desires stand in our way of being really present. The desire for sense pleasure, pleasant body and mental states, sights, sounds, tastes, and smells are great blessings in life; and yet, they are very tricky. They can so easily move us into a salvation mentality: If only I had the right job…the right relationship...a vibrant personality...more intelligence... better body...a mature partner...a daughter that listened to me.

Doesn't the social mind tell us that if we string enough pleasurable experiences together, our life will be happy. And happiness would look like this: We would work out in the morning...meditate...have a delicious breakfast...followed by productive work...then an enjoyable dinner, a movie and mind-blowing sex...and finally restorative sleep.

But isn't it the energy pattern of the mind, "the wanting mind", that presents the problem, not the object of desire itself?
This "wanting mind" keeps us continuously grasping for our own wholeness and interferes with our ability to deeply open to what is actually here.