For anybody who has actually tasted inner freedom – the ease, consistency and flow that is their real nature – the experience is extremely, very seductive and leaves most wanting more. When I had my very first awakening in 1977, it so opened and inspired me that I spent the next twenty years discovering how to live in
The awakened “state” all the time. Naturally, true awakening is not a “state.” States, after all, come and go, however awakening, enlightenment or self-realization is to understand yourself as the ground of being, that which is always here.
So how do you shift from intellectual “understanding” about awakening– from having had one or numerous tastes of it, which have now merely end up being memories – into the real, embodied, living experience of it? In my books,emo and mentor work, I encourage people to do the flexibility practice, the fastest method I understand to make the shift “permanent,” as irreversible as anything can be in this world of ours.
You do the practice whenever you get captured in an emotional response to your understanding, real or envisioned, of what’s occurring in your life – whenever you experience conflict, upset or suffering, or when someone “presses your buttons.” And the “doing,” naturally, is merely a matter of remembering to take a few deep, slow breaths and being very alert and mindful, watchful of your inner experience. There are 3 standard actions.
The freer you are, the more you unwind into the present moment, into here and now”
First, you learn to be very present whenever there’s even the tip of suffering in you – and, ultimately, you learn to invite it. This “welcoming” was key to my last awakening in the spring of 1995. Throughout the year prior to it took place, whenever I felt even an unclear feeling of conflict or suffering, I would state to myself: “Ah, I invite this circumstance, because it’s showing me where I’m not yet totally free.”
Second, you see the thought or story behind your suffering – for instance, “Why is this happening to me?” or “I’m unsure I can manage this,” or “My God, how will I pay the lease?” The story may even be an unconscious one, connecting to some childhood injury, so you may have to look deep within yourself. You might need to deal with some element of your past– some old “devil” – and acknowledge to yourself that while it was genuine then, it is not realistic now.
Third, you see the truth. And what is the reality you’re seeing? That the idea or story, just like the emotional reaction that it activated, comes and goes, shifts and modifications, however you – as the one who sees and experiences your ideas and reactions – are always here. Then you merely breathe and relax into what you are – clear, spacious awareness, consciousness or presence. This seeing the reality- that everything you are aware of reoccurs – has to occur once again, and again and again, as often times as needed, day in and day out. You need to see the connection in between your thoughts and stories and your emotional reactions, be they of enjoyment or pain, joy or disappointment, or of ease or stress and anxiety.
Each time you see it you become a little bit freer, and more developed in today moment. At some point, there is invariably the natural occurring of a fourth action. You find yourself asking: “Well, simply who is this ‘I,’ this ‘me,’ this ego-self I take myself to be?” When you look deeply within yourself to see if you can find the “me,” the story-teller, you discover something most remarkable and liberating: the story-teller is no more real than the stories it tells! As soon as you’ve seen that you are not even the “I” or “me” believed, but that you, as a mindful and conscious human being, are still quite here, then your inner work is done, completed, over.
You do not have to “do” the liberty practice anymore – besides when you experience a residue of an old ego pattern, and again find yourself being set off emotionally. You’re without emotional reactions due to the fact that you’re without this ego “I” who reacts. You still have the “I” and “me” ideas naturally, now you have actually seen that, because they too come and go, you are obviously not them. You are the seeing, that which is always here. This is the essence of the nondual technique.
The freer you are, the more you unwind into the present minute, into here and now, and the more you experience the expanded vision of clear, thought-free, present-time awareness. The more you remain in your mind, nevertheless -” believing” about what you may have simply realized – the more your understanding remains at the level of the intellect. It is just more “story,” more belief, and the experience does not become your embodied truth. Your mind, your ego, is constantly seeking “more.”
To make the shift, you need to see that you are the seeing. You must become aware that you are not your body, mind or senses due to the fact that these can be observed. Rather, you are what you are observing. What you in fact are is beautiful awareness or consciousness existing here, now, and revealing through this distinct instrument, this private body/mind/self-called “you.” You are the classic, imperishable awareness discovering and reacting to the endlessly changing drama that is life.
You are the consciousness bring to life the whole world between your ears, the world that you have constantly considered “you!” When you understand this, and when you are completely alive and present in this moment now, then your experience, a minimum of in this minute – and there is just this moment! – is embodied. Then your emotional state is basically always among ease, harmony and flow, of joy, love and a deep, profound thankfulness for the fact that you are alive. Your mind is clear, quiet, your heart opens wide, and you bring a more caring existence to every encounter.