We all have a story about who we believe we are. That defines us. What do we do with it? Do we rewrite our historic trauma to create a new “truth?” Do we fix what is wrong with us? I believe there is a potential problem in reframing our personal narrative. It is our wounded inner child that is talking to us that has felt not listened to and powerless. In reappraisal of our history this implies to our child that its belief about one’s wounding is not the truth. That there is a better way to be. That the child again is impotent. It is not credible or worthy of being listened to.
Healing occurs by the capacity to be present with what the child has to say. To just listen without resistance. With acceptance and openness. In holding of the story in this manner this lets the child know that it is safe, loved and worthy. That it is held with compassion and love. This offers the child the strength to be present with the critical stories knowing that there is a supportive presence to help. This allows for a progressive disentanglement from the held story that defines you. Perhaps what is being created is a new form of attachment with one’s parents that is kind and supportive.
In being willing to just listen without resistance to what is being said this reveals the nature of one’s wounding. It provides a wonderful insight to understand why you create your interpretation of the moment and how one is in relationship with it.
This is mindfulness. It is not about rewriting our story but creating the possibility for our child to safely tell its story in order to be heard, be with it and let it go.
Does it seem that your mind is constantly thinking? Can there ever be a break from all those thoughts? It seems like it is a continuous uninterrupted barrage. Have you ever rested in silence? We react to what is unpleasant and want to deny or push away what is present. We react to what is pleasant and quickly are caught in the desire to have more of what we like. What we don’t do is establish sustained awareness of what is present. We don’t know what we know. If one looks closely one can identify that what one is experiencing is multiple individual thoughts that seem connected but are separated by a pause. If one sustains awareness of a thought until it ends what follows is not another instant thought but a pause of silence and stillness.
Surrendering into the silence can be very valuable. In observing that all thoughts come to an end this supports the insight of impermanence. In particular as one witnesses that the sense of self extinguishes, this helps foster non-identification with the sense of self. Why identify with what is impermanent?
Resting in the pause allows for the possibility of a reflective response rather than an automatic self-referential reaction.
Silence is not nothingness. Resting in silence allows for one’s intuitive innate wisdom and compassion to arise as it is not suppressed and hidden by one’s thinking mind. When faced with a problem, take a deep breath in, deliberately pause, rest in the silence and ask: “WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE” to allow for intuitive wisdom to appear rather than the subconscious automatic reaction to our unmet psychological needs.
The silence is a taste of the unconditioned as there is no conditioned thoughts present.
Initially the easiest way to practice this is when you are meditating. Follow the object of awareness such as your breath, thought, physical sensation until it comes to an end. Then deliberately focus on the space at the end of the sensation. Eventually this can be done during the day as you follow an experience until it dissolves.
We need to cultivate sustained awareness of what is present and surrender into the silence to be open to the mystery of what is revealed.
Let it go to LET IT BE Let it go to let it be to LET IT LET GO
One often hears in dealing with our experience to “let it go.” What is being let go of and what is letting go? In every moment there is a self-referential judgment of one’s experience against the belief system of who we believe we are and should act. A sense of self is created appropriate for each moment to act on one’s behalf to compensate for the unmet psychological needs. Our sense of self then appropriates awareness of the experience. In understanding how the sense of self is created and the nature of one’s relationship with the self through taking ownership of it, one is able to step back and let go of the identification with self. The Buddha stated that we cling to sensual desires, rights and rituals, views and opinions and the sense of self. I believe that ultimately it is about letting go of the sense of self. If there was no sense of self then who or what clings? What lets go is the non-self-referential awareness of our mind.
Once we let go of our identification with our conditioned constructed sense of self one can rest in the felt experiential somatic experience of the moment. As there is no resistance to what is present there is nothing to do but just be with what is.
In letting our experience be there is also a release in an internal sense. The mindful presence without resistance is offering implicit support and compassion for our created internal wounded child. The psychological child feels a greater measure of safety, love and worthiness. It can stay to a greater degree with the present moment self-criticism and judgment allowing for a progressive desensitization, disengagement and disentanglement with one’s traumatizing story. In staying with what is present without resistance this allows for the mobilization and release of the trapped somatic energy of our historic trauma. The child is able to let go of its story.
There is a progression from letting it (self) go, to letting it be (rest without resistance) to letting it (wounded child) let go.
Normally an internal or external stimulus arises and we are immediately reacting to it with self-criticism, shame, anger, joy. We are always in resistance with what is present and either want more or less of it. We are present with desire or aversion. This is the most obvious reaction to be aware of.
As we become more mindful there is a change in our relationship with the present moment. The initial reactive anger, sadness, shame, fear are present but one is able to be present with awareness, openness, allowing and just letting it be. One is following the middle way with nothing to do or not do. One can become aware of this lack of reaction to the present moment experience.
Ultimately, we progress to the point that we don’t even create an initial reactive response and creation of a sense of self to what is present in the moment. One is just present with what is independent of what one needs it to be, wants it to be and believes it to be. This non-reaction is the most difficult to be aware of as there is no sense of self that is in conflict with what is present. There is nothing to react to and nothing that reacts to it.
One needs to deliberately look for this. I become aware of what I don’t do when I am with other people who are reacting to what is present and I don’t even see that there is a problem. It is so informative to look to see what you don’t do!
Ask yourself the question: “Is meditation important?” The answer may be yes but I believe that for many of us: “It is really NOT that important!” We may be experimenting with this idea of meditation because someone says it is helpful or one learned about it from a news article or tv program. It is the current fad thing to do.
One believes that meditation will help with one’s anxiety and stress or quiet one’s thinking mind. These aspects are true but meditation can offer a lot more and recognizing that may be motivating to practice.
It changes the function of our brain to a top down rather than a bottom up approach. The pre-frontal cortex that is responsible for attention and self-regulation becomes more dominant than the amygdala that is the centre of fear. As we put in the practice the practice does us. We become more self-regulated. There is less that triggers us, we don’t react so violently and we recover quicker. We develop greater resilience. We become spontaneously and innately joyful independent of some external object or experience to make us happy. We experience a greater capacity for awareness. In seeing the everchanging nature of the breath and its impermanence we develop a greater insight into the true nature of reality that allows one to dis-identify with the self leading to a decrease in our suffering! A unified concentrated mind slows down the baseline cognitive activity allowing one to more clearly see experience with insight. With continual focus on one object we are less likely to rest in our Default Mode Network that is important in the creation of self and rumination. Our tendencies for greed, hatred and delusion decrease. As we become less identified with our sense of self we don’t need to defend our wounded ego as much. This opens one up to seeing the interdependence and interconnectedness of existence with a resultant greater compassion and empathy.
In appreciating the multiple benefits of meditation this can be the impetus for developing a more consistent and dedicated practice.