Who Am I? The Misconceptions and Truth of Our Mind.
Have you ever really stopped to listen fully to the chatter that goes on in your head? The mind is in constant conversation with itself.
It thinks thoughts all day long. It thinks about what it likes, what it wants, what it doesn’t want, what someone else wants or doesn’t want. It’s constantly judging ourselves and others, and thinks about what we need to do. I could go on and on about the incessant thoughts that go through our heads. In fact, it may be safe to state that mindstream of thoughts can pretty much cover nearly every topic of our life, every day. It is constant, relentless even.
Once we begin practicing Present Moment Awareness, this gives us the opportunity to really see what goes on in our thought stream, moment to moment. In the beginning, this can be frightening. At the least, it is entertaining. What I have ultimately found to be shocking is that the mind is really not our friend. Some of us have noticed how it may cut us down and not support us in a healthy way, but this is not the totality that I am speaking of here. The mind seems to have agendas and a will of its own.
Equally shocking, but also relieving, is the recognition that we aren’t our minds. Whew!
This is good news, right? Most people go through their entire lives without coming upon this recognition. The issue for most of us is that we have become self-identified with the thoughts in our heads. We come to think that this is who we are. We believe that the thoughts, beliefs, judgments, and knowledge that lives in there is who we are as individuals. This can also be called our personality.
It is true that our mind is a major part of our personality, but our personality is not the totality of who we are.
In fact, our identification with it as our ‘self’ is severely limiting. The personality is limited to its own abilities. Our abilities are the things that we have learned along the way. This is how we come to relate to our world by the workings of these thoughts, beliefs, and experiences. We will typically avoid what we do not like and will move towards what we do. As a personality, we can also have insane thoughts that will keep us from moving towards our good. For example, we may not believe that we can have the things we want so we simply will not seek for them. We may believe that we don’t deserve the things we want so we will not move towards them. The mind of our personality can cause us a great deal of suffering, and will. In fact, science has even come to conclude that “all suffering stems from the mind.”
The important thing to recognize about the mind when we are learning about present moment awareness is, first of all, the mind cannot be stopped. We do not stop the thoughts. This is the most misunderstood concept about meditation. It will not do us any good to try to stop our thoughts. Even upon living in an awakened state, we will still be aware of thoughts going on in the background. They do slow down, and they do lose our focus, but they do not stop. We simply shift our awareness from our thoughts to being fully here and present. This takes our attention off of our thoughts and begins the journey of reclaiming our True Self. The True Self of us is our Soul. It is the pure, formless essence of who and what we are.
It is open, pure raw awareness. This open pure raw awareness is what we discover when we practice being present.
This leads us to the second very important misconception about our mind. One would think that our mind would want us to live in the freedom of our Soul’s pure awareness. After all, this is truly the only way to access peace, fulfillment, and freedom. But the mind has become separated from its Source and has been living in complete non-recognition of its Source. When this happens, it begins to believe that it is its own separate entity. Its understanding is based upon separation and duality. It believes that it has to stay in control in order to survive. To some degree this is correct in that when we allow ourselves to rest in the Pure Present Awareness, that we really are, the mind begins to lose its power. It is also true that when we make contact with this true essence that we are often enough, we will come to know, without a doubt, that we are not the mind. The mind cannot simply continue the way it has in the light of the awareness of our true self. We will not continue to choose to allow it to guide and govern our lives once we recognize the limitation of it. It also has kept us living in a false sense of reality which brings great suffering.
The Soul brings constant Peace, Joy, Certainty, Wisdom, Understanding, Love and Contentment.
It never changes. It is consistent. The mind can only know temporary periods of these things and they do not even come close in comparison or measure of quality to that of the Soul. If we are able to recognize the truths about the mind from the beginning, then we are able to watch and identify as it tries to distract us and take us out of our Pure Presence as often as possible. If we are persistent and patient though, the day will come, when we find that we no longer are governed by our mind. This is a complete and total freedom as it breaks the bondage of our limitations as well as has the potential to end all suffering.
We simply stop living a false sense of self when we choose consistently to rest in the truth of our Being, our True Self.
Misconceptions: We are our mind. Our mind controls us. In meditation we stop the mind, our mind is our friend.
Truth: We are not our mind. We are the pure present awareness that watches the mind. We slow our thoughts by the act of being present. We shift our focus from the thoughts to our pure presence that then notices all that is before us, as well as within us.