Whenever I meditate on the things I do with my mind I always have to then find some (to me) funny way to illustrate for you, what it is that my brain is functionally doing. The reasons as to why this thought experiment will work are very interesting, but too complex to explain in this blog. Fortunately, it’s more important to be able to do it than understand it consciously, so that’s fine.
As weird as it might feel, once you read more and understand why, consider very seriously spending the day by imagining that you’re on a reality TV show for 24 hours non stop. Weirdly, that will fairly closely approximate what I’m doing with my mind.
Let’s imagine it’s a show like Ellen or something Oprah would do. Something hosted by some famous, positive woman with one name –you choose. And imagine they have a new segment called Best Friends where people’s best friends go on the show and describe what they love about us.
Maybe we’ve heard all of this before because they’ve been kind enough to tell us those things before this show. But it’s a different thing for us to know that after our friend described us to the world, that the show is now headed over to set up cameras all over our house to capture us being the person our friends described.
Suddenly, just knowing what people are watching us for makes us more aware of everything we do. It’ll feel like insecurity at first, but that’s an ego experience. Really we’re just being self-conscious in a healthy way. That feeling is presence.
Examples of how our inherent goodness will come to the fore will be all over our lives. For instance, say that as we go through doors that we don’t really notice that we always check behind us for people with packages or crutches, or for the elderly or anyone else that can benefit from the door being held for them.
It’s a nice thing to do, but the problem will be that if we do it all the time it can become subconscious and rote. Then suddenly we miss out on what’s in it for us: the connection. But if we imagine cameras following every move, we suddenly become present, which helps us slow down to deal with everything through a very conscious and rewarding connection in that individual moment.
If we’re earnest, as the day goes on we’re likely to find many more subtle forms of relationships where we have become almost automatic and entirely unaware. Many people ask how the relative in the hospital is without asking how the nurse also is.
Nice people get on the same elevators with the same people every day and never even greet each other. That’s strangely insecure behaviour for a pack animal. We’re stealing nice moments from ourselves. But to fix that we have to get conscious.
As an indication of how unfamiliar most people are with being conscious; when I trick people into doing it, it always feels weird at first. Egos hold doors to look good to others. Souls hold doors because they love unconditionally. At first it feels strange and foreign to make connections with almost everyone. Later it feels like an oasis.
So that’s our spiritual practice for today. Let’s all take a moment to think about what our best friend would really say. Maybe even ask them. And then think about all of those cameras in every room of the house, and the mic recording everything you say for the entire day. And then remember that you’re on this show because your best friend described the very best –and very real– parts of you.
Done well, this one-day thought experiment (which you are expected to waver in and out of as you practice), can really help us get a better sense of what being conscious of ourselves in the present moment really is. We can hold a door open out of habit, or we can hold it because we recognize the human being we’re caring about by doing it. One’s good for one of us. The other is good for all of us.
Oh, and when you’re done, go to bed knowing that the cameras you imagined are the real you, but if we hadn’t turned them on, you would have behaved based on the patterns in your ego. That’s why our problems repeat so often, so don’t live unconsciously when living consciously is such a reward for you and for the rest of us.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.