That had been my hope for many years, to get away from it all… away from all the the misery created by my mind. To get away from it’s constant stream of thought… it’s incessant need to tell the same story of what I did, what I should or shouldn’t do, what will happen, etc., etc., etc. I searched to be free of the nagging feeling that something was always lacking from my life, to be free from the feeling of always wanting and needing. Free from the voice telling me that I will “one day” be happy, when this or that happens. I wanted… NO I NEEDED… to be free from my mind.
All this insanity was caused by following the voice in my head and the stories it weaved. I had the same affliction that plagues most of humanity. I would tell myself, “OK, so you are insane but it is the normal condition of the human race so just deal with it”. Still, it gave me no comfort knowing that almost all people on our planet share this same torment with me. I wanted a better way, I wanted freedom.
I had studied consciousness for years and knew this had to be the key to unlocking my mind. All the great philosophers, gurus, and teachers have pointed to consciousness as being the way to inner peace. But how? How did they access this truth and live it all day, every day? And how could I do the same without abandoning my city life and going to live in a nunnery or alone in a forest?
Our world is so fast paced, always doing and no time for being. I would tell myself that even if I could get to this state of always being present, life (or I) would then be boring. Or I would wonder how I could ever be productive in a state such as this. Still, after years of study, I knew this had to be the answer.
Besides, I had no other choice, I was fed up with living my life on this emotional roller coaster of good and bad thoughts. I had had enough of life on this tilt a whirl of non stop spinning of stories coming from the voice in my head. I knew I had to find a way to enter into this world of consciousness and remain living from that state. I needed peace and if the cost would be a boring or non productive life, then so be it.
Many times I have tried and many times I have failed to incorporate ‘living in the now’ (consciousness, awareness, present moment, being …or whatever name one chooses to give this state) into an every moment way of life. Sometimes I would have brief periods of consciousness, usually when things were “good” in my life.
But even in the best of times, I could only visit with effort (usually through meditation) which requires taking time. But who has extra time? So how could I possibly live my waking life in a conscious state? And how could this possibly be maintained during sad and difficult times?
For me, it has been those sad and difficult times which have finally unlocked the door and led me to freedom. The pain, for me, opened that door. I know this is not the case for all who access this portal to inner peace, but for me pain has been the greatest teacher. So I will attempt to put into words how I finally came to this place of inner stillness.
There is no need for me to explain the whys and hows or go into detail about this particular sadness which at that time was the cause of my pain. Suffice it to say that, at this time in my life, my mind perceived it as very real and very, very deep. I once again was in the grip of emotional pain, and once again my mind became over active with it’s stories. And as was always the case with these stories, my mind, (once again) was leading me to even greater and greater fear and sadness.
My life was at that moment filled with loneliness, and it was nowhere near where my mind had always told me (and continued to tell me) it should be. But finally, I had had enough of the fear and pain… I had had enough of listening to the voice. I knew the voice was not real, it’s opinions and judgements and commentaries about everything were not my conscious thoughts.
… but where is this door? That is the question I continually asked of myself. I would wonder why it continued to be so difficult for me to access this place of inner stillness, of consciousness. Perhaps (as Eckhart Tolle states) it is easiest for those who are truly fed up with their lives and with suffering to enter.
I was now, at this point in my life, truly fed up. My heart felt broken and I could not bear the thought of living the rest of my life listening to the voice rant as it held me prisoner… No I was not, nor have I ever been, suicidal. But I am not afraid of death either and so I would often think that death would be a welcome relief.
However with suicide not an option for escape, and knowing the Grim Reaper most probably would not visit me any time soon since I am still relatively young, I knew of only one other choice, trying once again… and I dreaded that choice.
I had spent so many minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years… so much time had been spent searching for answers, for truth. Almost always a large part of every day had been dedicated to this search, so why could I not find the key to unlocking the door to inner peace? Surely the answer was locked away in some genius’s writing, but who’s?… And so I continued the search.
I continued even though at that moment I was so tired of my studies, tired of all the countless books I had read, tired of all the articles I had researched, tired of all the videos I had watched… I was tired of trying, of almost getting there and then finding out I had not yet made it thru that door.
But more than anything, more than all the studying and trying, I was so tired of the voice in my head! …And so I continued to search for the missing piece. Through my most recent sadness and when my moments were free from tears, I continued. I went thru these days and weeks continually putting into practice all that I had studied. I made one conscious effort after another to be alert of my thoughts. When I would catch myself following a story, I would put my attention elsewhere, such as onto my breathing or admiring the beauty of a flower. Also I strived to continually be aware and conscious of (or deliberate about) my movements. I constantly reminded myself to move more slowly, to stay present and focused on only what I was doing at that moment.
My “normal” (or conditioned state) of doing has always been to multitask. I would do many things at once with no attention to anything and often without thought as to what I was doing... Sadly, in our society multi tasking is encouraged and even taught to our children. Anyway, I too had perfected this system of doing, I too had almost always done most things unconsciously… which then would leave the voice in the mind free to wander from one topic to the next, one story after another.
But with this new practice, I suppose one could say I was reconditioning my mind. I was reprogramming the years of conditioning which my mind had been subjected to since birth. Knowing that the only way I could truly live in the present moment would be to have my thoughts there as well, I was attempting to train my mind (to develop a new habit) of remaining conscious of each task, each thought, to stay focused in the present moment. Of course with years and years of letting my mind have free rein, this proved to be a difficult endeavor.
And yet I continued through my days practicing awareness, but still sometimes slipping away from it and following the stories. One such story…
My mind, “OK…so you have been searching, researching and studying for so long, but really what has been the point? This place is not filled with the joy you seek, your life still contains sadness and loneliness . The voice would continue, “and what if living life in a conscious state offers only a bland existence, void of the dreams you dream?” On and on, my mind arguing to just accept life as it presently was.
This negative dialog was again just another story from the voice telling me that happiness would not be mine with consciousness alone, the voice continued to interject that I still needed this or that first to happen in my life (as usual, it was trying to direct me to a future thing or occurrence before happiness could be mine). Of course, this whole dialog was once again another attack from my ego (the voice). And I was aware that if I allowed myself to follow it’s stories I would continue to remain it’s prisoner. All that is necessary for the ego to continue to exist is the following of it’s stories unconsciously. I needed to wake up.
Then one day I was talking with my 28 year old son about the absence of continual joy in living life consciously. I can’t remember his exact words but something he said brought me closer to my own truth. After hanging up the phone, I continued to contemplate our discussion. I remember thinking, “of course consciousness can never give me a continual feeling of joy… but it does hold the promise of giving me inner stillness and peace. Something the voice in my head can never offer.” … The voice was quiet, there was no opposing argument. How could there be? The voice knew it could never offer me anything positive, it would forever offer a feeling that something is always missing. And of course as long as it ran the show, there would never be inner stillness and inner peace.
And so with renewed hope, I continued my search. I was determined to fight for my freedom, I was at war. My enemy, the voice, had an arsenal of destructive weapons… weapons in the form of negative and fearful thoughts, of complaints, judgements, sadness, fear, depression, and countless others. It launched it’s weapons, one after the other. I knew what it wanted, it’s ultimate goal was to keep me it’s prisoner for life. I continued my efforts to be watchful as it’s arrows came at me, knowing that if I let my guard down and followed it’s stories I would not have peace.
Then one afternoon something extraordinary happened to me. Within minutes of this experience, I began scribbling my thoughts in order to try to explain what I felt. So the remainder of what is written here may have been written more for me than anything else, I never wanted to forget this peace, this grace, that I had been given. Regardless, I have decided to include it here...
OK, so here goes... as I (for about the millionth time) reminded myself to breathe, my life changed… The voice, once again, had attacked and had been retelling the tragedy of my latest story. And I, once again, had been following along unconsciously. I was completely engrossed (as usual) with it’s latest version when I remembered it was all a lie. I then reminded myself to breathe, to take two conscious breaths in order to again free my mind from this repetitive story of sadness.
Usually what would happen when I would remind myself to breathe is that the voice would stop, it is impossible to concentrate on the breath and continue to think of other things. This is true for all of us. I would then notice what appeared to be space… just empty space that would open up in that place where the voice had been.
But this time as I took those breaths, and as I noticed that the voice had stopped, and as I began to notice the space between the thoughts… this time I realized that the space was huge and not empty at all. This space was a vast place of perfection, a place of total beauty…of peace. I could feel this space in my whole being and not just where the voice had been. I had an unmistakable knowing that I had transcended to a place inside of me which contains unlimited consciousness. I knew at once… in that, serene, tranquil, beautiful space that there existed in me much more than just my mind.
For some minutes I sat in awe… I just sat observing… I realized that there were no words or thoughts coming from my mind and yet I knew more without them than I had ever known when using them. This newly discovered dimension in me housed the peace I had searched, I had entered into what seemed to be pure consciousness without form. Thinking and words no longer existed, they were not necessary. I then had a complete awareness of being connected to a greater source… God, source energy, the universe, … or whatever name one chooses to give this incredible consciousness, this beautiful peace.
From my now conscious mind, I continued to observe the beauty and the stillness. And then, off in the distance, it was as if I could see my story. I watched with amazement and interest as my latest tragedy unfolded. I had a complete knowing of all that I was observing... all without the use of thinking and without words! I had entered a place in me that was beyond thinking. I had an awareness in me that knew words were not necessary to describe what was known… words would have been useless. I could see the whole story with all of it’s sadness, I could see the pain… but I did not feel the sadness nor the pain. For the first time, there was no commentary about the story from the voice. I could see all of it, but felt only an incredible peace and a sense of joy.
I saw, knew, and felt all this peace, beauty and tranquility… and all without the use of words. I no longer needed the voice in my head to narrate the particulars of this or any story. Without interference from the voice, I could see and accept my pain for what it truly was… just another wave in the ocean of my life. This complete acceptance of ‘what is at this present moment’ was the very thing that had been missing.
That very pain which had just moments before been associated with me and “my story” was now absent. This awareness to the absence of pain awakened me to the true absurdity of my mind… and it was as if at that moment I stopped using it. Or at least that part of it which before had always had an opinion about everything.
I then felt a shift occur inside of me, I could almost feel this state of consciousness that I was experiencing as it merged with my mind. I realized that words are not necessary to describe who I am. There was an inner peace, which I had never previously known, that flowed thru me as the realization came to me that I do not have to live as a prisoner of my mind. I at once realized that I had a choice… and I at once consciously chose to live in consciousness.
I chose to be free… maybe it really is as simple as that. Maybe all that is needed is a strong desire to find a way out of the insanity of the mind, and then making the choice to live consciously.
This shift in my consciousness has quieted my mind. Before this grace was given to me, there was always a sense of unhappiness in the background of my life, a feeling of unease, of something missing…. Even if I were not thinking about lack or fear, I could always feel the unease in the background.
Now I feel the true being of me… of all of me. And I feel tremendous peace, peace in knowing that consciousness is always with me. Sometimes it is in the foreground, but when it is not… I can always sense it in the background of my life.
However, I know that although I won this war, there will be other battles to fight. I know that this one decision has changed my reality… but I will need to make it again and again until it becomes natural to live in such a way.
“Remember the book The Road Less Traveled. The first sentence of that book is ‘Life is difficult.’ I think it’s the best beginning of any book I’ve read,” says Eckhart Tolle. He goes on to say, “once you accept the fact that life is difficult, it’s not really difficult anymore. It’s only when you think it shouldn’t be, that it makes it very hard. We’re here, we’re meant to be challenged by life, and that is part of the how consciousness evolves.”
Ps… What I feel, what I think…
the Great I Am is the consciousness in each of us. It is where we access God (the universe, universal intelligence, source energy…) and where we are truly one with all. It is who we are… consciousness and love. It is to this part of ourselves which we transcend in order that we become the light of the world.
I hope you always shine...