In every life, it seems, there are three places, three possible spots in which we can invest attention, or not, and the difference between staying stuck in the frustration of thought based existence and moving into a life of awareness comes down to where you invest.
The Land of Story
The first place is the land of story, the place inside where thoughts run wild, telling you about the past, what it means, the future and what all that you see and experience says about you. The story of ‘me’ is the base of all this activity, the narrative that arises out of all you remember of your experiences in this world, your life story as you know it.
The land of story is not actually real, it is just the way your brain makes sense of your experience. It doesn’t have objective reality, it’s just a bunch of words and pictures in our head that hopefully create a coherent story.
The Present Moment
The second place, the transitionary space, is your present moment experience, what you see, hear, feel and smell this very instant. Not one second ago, not yesterday, right now. This is generally the basis of mindfulness practice, listen, look, feel, taste, smell, and let thoughts come and go as they do.
And the third place is the space from which you are looking, the space of awareness. This is where attention sinks as mindfulness deepens and you realise that you are the watcher of all that comes and goes, not the thinker who judges, analyses and plans. All of that happens in the space of awareness, and that space is you, how simple!
So we have our three spaces, and usually they interact something like this: awareness watches your present moment experience, which thought then analyses and incorporates in the story of me. Awareness gets lost in this story and believes itself to be the main character, which leads to the highs and lows of the wins and losses that are a part of everyone’s life experience. This is called ‘normal life’.
But there is another option, which is this life of awareness that you seek. In this life, awareness watches all, the present moment, the thought machine and the story of me, knowing that none of it is ‘me’. Awareness stays grounded in its own open peace, letting all things come and go and enjoying the show for as long as it lasts.
This is the way of living that we are moving towards, a life in which the knowledge of who you are is ever present, and you no longer lose this knowledge as you explore the world. All it takes to step into this state is a simple shift, from wasting your attention and energy on the thought stream to moving it into awareness itself.
Start by paying attention to what is here now, and as you do so, notice the awareness that watches. Let your attention sink into that awareness and allow yourself to rest there. And whenever you find yourself lost in a thought, come back to the present moment and start again.