I developed a few new thoughts about mindfulness during the June retreats which I thought I’d share.
1st position – I identify as the part of my mind that grew out of adapting to the world around me, my family, my peers, and the prevailing culture OR, my reaction to them. I am immersed in my “character”, my inner dialogue, my habits, my likes and dislikes, my emotions and reactions. My beliefs about myself, others and the world constitute who I recognise myself to be. I identify with – and as – the roles I have been assigned or taken on as well as characteristics that I have been given or have otherwise acquired along the way. When I interact with myself, others and the world around me, I do so as the personality I believe myself to be and nothing more. “This is just who I am”. My mind never seems to be quiet.
2nd position – I sometimes observe my self, my personality, my thoughts and reactions from another perspective but I quickly slip back into “being me” again. The observer/perceiver can speak but seems to come from a place beyond words. It can be disconcerting for myself and others to behave “out of character” in this way but it feels like it might be more real. I am questioning who I am.
3rd position – I identify myself more and more as the observer/perceiver and body and actor instead of the mind and the character life has made of me. I am able to spend longer periods in this part of myself and I’ve come to recognise it as a place of peace, quiet and strength. I am no longer trying to be someone. I am now more concerned with unbecoming everything I am not. I am able evaluate and reflect on my own thoughts, emotions and behaviour with more objectivity and am less defensive.
4th position – I sometimes sense that this observer/perceiver me is held within something beyond myself. I feel moments of bliss and freedom when the boundaries between myself and “not my self” dissolve. In these moments I sometimes perceive another dimension revealed in the topography and movement of the natural world.
These thoughts are entirely provisional and I am in no way presenting them as facts. Nor am I presenting them as a kind of ladder to enlightenment. I think it is entirely possible to move through all the positions in the course of one day. Any linear way of describing consciousness must ultimately fall short but I hope you find them useful.