One of the most fun and common ways to get hypnotized is to go the movies. When we see a movie, we believe what we’re seeing is really happening. We get scared, feel happy, and maybe even cry. We literally become hypnotized to the point that we forget that none of it is real. We are so caught up in the content of the movie, we forget about the context, which is the fact that we’re in a building, watching light projected onto a screen. (Hold that thought for a second…)
People that come to me really want only one thing: Liberation. Like all of us, they want to be liberated from thoughts, feelings, sensations or behaviors that don’t serve them. I help them be aware that none of those things is who they really are. I help them see that the things they want to be free from exist as the content of the mind: the ongoing, always changing stuff of the mind. That’s what minds do: they produce content, and we are trained and conditioned to look for content. We’re attached to content. If we can develop the awareness that as human beings we are hypnotized by the content of our minds, then we can see the truth of what’s going on, and see that we have a choice.
What’s the content of our lives? Beliefs, thoughts, feelings, everything we think we are: the past, our future goals, and the details of our life situations. So what’s the context? Like the screen in a movie, it’s the awareness that all this content is projected onto. The content is always changing but the awareness of the content is always present, even if you are unaware that you’re aware. And most of us are unaware of our awareness.
This is where we can lose our power. Just like watching a movie, we get hypnotized by all of this content. We get involved in the drama, the story. We become attached to it. We identify with it and we say this is who I am, this is what I believe. And we can become so invested in this content, so invested in what we believe and feel, that we may be willing to die or even kill for it.
Take anger, for example. Nobody ever really makes us angry. We make ourselves angry by thinking “It/he/she/ shouldn’t be like that.” The divide between how it is and how we think it should be is what creates anger for us. But how we think it should be is not real. It doesn’t exist. But our tendency is to believe that everything we think is true. But I’ve got news for you. Most of what we think is true is simply theory, belief, opinion, generalizations and habitual patterns of thinking.
Take fear. When we say “I am afraid”, we’ve now become the fear. Then we might say “I shouldn’t be afraid. Why am I afraid? I hate being afraid. I hate that thing that makes me afraid.” This is just more content. All we’re doing now is keeping the fear alive because what you resist persists because you are putting energy into it. The truth is, “I am aware of the emotion of fear, which will soon pass or fade.” What’s even closer to the truth is “I am awareness”. This is the context out of which all this content arises.
So we can look at anger or fear or any other negative emotions from the context of awareness. We can acknowledge “I’m having the experience of fear.” As humans, we will experience fear, of course, as well as courage, hope, despair etc. But instead of saying “I should not feel afraid”, we can stop shoulding all over ourselves. We can say “OK right now, I’m feeling fear and that’s what is. It’s ok to feel fear because I’m only human. And just because I’m feeling fear doesn’t mean that it has to stop me.”
What happens when we feel fear and we keep on going? Fear changes and starts to become courage, then confidence, then competence. It’s always changing. Because content is transitory.
How can we liberate ourselves from our mind stuff and identify more powerfully with the awareness of this content? (Which in my opinion is who we really are.) We can start by being the observer of our own process. We can notice when anger, worry or any other negative emotion, feeling or thought comes up. We can say “anger coming up” or “anxiety movie starting now”. We can disengage from “I don’t want or like what is happening now” and just be with what is going on within us, without judgment or wishing it was something else. Now we are no longer reacting. Now we can be responsible which means “able to respond.” That’s freedom, the ability to choose a response instead of reacting.
Here’s something to try that is very simple. It will take 5 minutes and will give you the chance to see your content in all its glory.
Find 5 minutes where you won’t be disturbed, put a candle on a table, light it and set a timer for 5 minutes. Focus on the candle flame. Very quickly, you’ll notice your focus being taken off the flame and drawn towards your mind’s content. It might look like this: “I don’t have time for this…I’m tired…There was something I needed to do…This reminds me of…that candle smells good…that person is such a …”
Just observe what is happening. Watch the stuff just roll on by without getting attached to it. This is the essence of meditation.
Let me ask you a question: what would happen if you were to do this every day for 5 minutes? I invite you to try it and see.
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Your companion on the path to Transformation,