I write a lot about the mind.
For a good reason, I believe.
Since it’s the creator of every single element within our personal experience, where suffering begins but also can end, I find it endlessly fascinating.
And because of its captivating nature and magical talent to paint worlds in real-time, there’s no end to exploring it and learning how to be with it in a more peaceful, healthy way.
Getting to know it intimately hasn’t given me the power to create every thought I want, but spending time looking into the human experience, into the depths of our psychology, has taught me to relax around it, and that changed my life.
It’s simple and straightforward, but it’s also very much not.
It’s fairly easy to point out that we don’t have to believe what we think, at least not everything, but even if we know that, we do it anyway.
This is because thoughts have so many different ways to appear in our lives, from extremely overt to deeply obscured.
We can sometimes clearly see the stuff that we are thinking, but most of the time we are simply lost in it, being used by it, living the life it creates within us.
Being a prisoner of its ultimate disguise:
Most of us live with the idea of being a specific person with a distinct history and a gazillion traits and preferences, but without thinking all of that disappears.
Our mind is the gatekeeper of our persona, and it protects that by keeping you captivated and worried and anxious.
The mind pretends to be who we are and easily gets away with it because we haven’t learned that’s what’s going on.
We just assume that, since we’re the sole receiver of the specific thoughts and feelings and emotions we experience on a daily basis, they belong to us.
They come from us.
They define us.
They ARE us.
But every little thing you think you are, that seems to be uniquely you and deeply personal, was not there when you were born.
You picked it up along the way and believed it into existence.
It was taught to you, presented to you, sold to you, and you took it all aboard.
And all these layers and layers of ideas became your story.
The story of Me.
But you’re not a story, not a label, not a concept, not a personality.
Let me tell you how I found out.
One day, years ago, after I had been depressed for weeks and was in my bedroom looking up at the ceiling in utter despair, this insight suddenly hit me:
“If the depression varies during the day, if it’s sometimes much worse than just moments before, if it even disappears for a minute or two because I’m somehow distracted, how can I BE that?”
How can I BE something that is sometimes there, maybe even often, but not always?
Wouldn’t BEING something mean permanent, always, non-fading, ever-present?
Although I felt like shit at the moment, I also remembered happy times, simple times, unburdened times, so I simply couldn’t BE a depressed person.
Instead, I realized that I somehow was ‘only’ having the experience of depression.
Just like I’d had the experience of freedom, of being in love, of being hungry, lonely, happy, and sad.
All very real, but also very temporary.
Still, the experiencing itself never stopped.
How did I know?
Who was that I?
And I saw for the first time ever, very very clearly, that I simply couldn’t BE my mind and its compelling content.
I couldn’t BE my story, my inhibitions, my limits, or my preferences, because I was born without all of that, I was born an amazing blank page, unlimited and unrestricted and untainted.
All my life until that moment, I had just been experiencing the artfully crafted idea of being a highly detailed person.
I had been living the suggestions of the mind, the fabrications of the mind, the sensations of the mind.
But life was and is not my thoughts.
I am not my thinking.
Because the only thing I CAN be is the unchanging.
Just like you.
(Photo by @marcospradobr, for Unsplash)