I wrote about this not long ago as a part of a series from chapter elements for an upcoming book. Since then, many very recent new readers are noting they are having trouble with their mornings and their evenings, and they feel there is value in revisiting the subject.
Fortunately, if we can address our mornings, often the evening sorts itself out. So, let’s start by changing our view of days as being ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Let’s spend a week where think of them as either ‘clear,’ or ‘busy.’
Clear is that feeling that naturally comes early in the morning, after any good sleep. I’ve noted it before. Think of it as when our soul, (or our consciousness), is perfectly lined up and coordinated within our body.
If our sleep or our circumstances mean that waking up means instantly facing certain physical realities like intense cold, pain, extreme hunger, or after a series of nightmares, the mornings are still our most opportune time to shape our day.
If we do wake up struggling, we need to take a conscious, patient moment to let the thoughts of each of our pained realities slip away to be replaced by no ego-based realities at all.
To do this we need only center our focus on our breathing, or on the feeling of our feet on the floor, or of any other focus other than on creating more thoughts to listen to. Creating that clear space is how medical operations can be done using only hypnosis.
In these sorts of states of mind we’re unattached by any courses of thought. And if it’s morning, and we got the sleep, then our brains are rested. And even if we have challenges, our taxed brains are still very much like a rested brain in that we can empty ourselves to become lighter, nimbler, and more electrified.
That is the feeling of Being without an identity. We have no focus, because that feeling is born in unconditionality. Thoughts are placing no conditions on our Being.
We are so free that we can not only get away with being anyone we choose, but on a healthy clear-headed morning, life will even let us get away with not Being anyone at all. This is that healthy state of self-love everyone keeps hearing about.
That feeling of enlightenment always feels special when we move through it because, otherwise, we do tend to always tend to choose the same thoughts and identities every day, so we get a very similar life.
When we break that pattern in a bold way we notice it. We view those as life’s ‘big events,’ like new relationships, new jobs, relationship breakups, terminations, or death.
If major things happen to one of the many people we are to others in this life, we can find ourselves accessing an everyday skill that we too-often leave dormant. As we have proven to ourselves in the past, we can suddenly find ourselves applying a rare form of determination.
Simply through strongly not wanting to be who we were, we are freed to become who we will grow into being. In these times, we simply become a different kind of person quite instantly.
Since leaving a relationship is likely the most common example, it’s worth looking at our lives to see where and how our minds have made what I call the Leap of Identity. There’s that specific moment where we go from someone who wants to save the relationship; to a moment later when we surrender, or relax, or realize our way into being someone who no longer does.
The moment that happens doesn’t feel like a Eureka! Moment. It’s more like familiarity, as though we’ve seen a face we know we know, but it suddenly dawns on us who it is. It’s more like oh yeah, than oh wow. And the person we recognize is ourselves.
As pedestrian as it is, it still feels extremely weighty when it happens. Using the relationship as the example, that’s the moment we slide past the intense internal tension created by the fork in our road. We feel that tension because we are contemplating being two different people with two vastly different futures.
Of course neither is right or wrong. Both paths include both joy and pain. And in reality, the entire road is made of forks. But the way we go is our way. It’s both our path to find, and yet it is also chosen/created by us. It represents both freedom and fate at the same time, as paradoxical as that may seem before we can see things in this way.
There is no way to explain that part. We have to experience it, which is why my students often have such a hard time describing what it’s like to learn from me. It’s not linear, it’s experiential. People a-ha their way through it, all in their own unique order, using their own unique examples. Because they are them.
As they learn, we will not be unconscious selves until we actively become conscious through action. Otherwise we can spend our lifetimes repeating some very painful life patterns. Yet, our personal history demonstrates that we can change.
Our challenge is that we’re just like most human beings because that’s who trained us to be human. So we misguidedly think we need a lot of external pressure before we can exercise this skill in relationship to the freedom of our minds. Not so.
There is no external pressure; that’s our thinking creating that sensation. That’s why ceasing it is called ‘letting go.’ By stopping the courses of thought that lead us to be a certain person and act in certain ways, we are unbound by expectation and we are free to be anyone.
Since we are not flavouring our tea, but are instead replacing our cup, these types of changes are not superficial. They take place at our core. They tend to change everyone we are in each milieu of our life, not just the identity that had the motivating experience.
Anyone who’s left a meaningful relationship for healthy reasons knows this feeling. Once we’re through it we’re not only different to ourselves, we’re often different to everyone we know.
It impacts our relationships with our families, friends, bosses, with other genders, and everyone we meet. And it not only impacts how we see other people, but different thinking can even change how we see places and things. This is why we say that reality is an illusion. Our thinking has everything to do with how reality appears.
Rather than try to make the illusions go away and have a dull life of only empty meditation, we can instead just do like Pi in The Life of Pi, and we can choose a better illusion. Even if we’re enlightened, it’s no life if we don’t great one by doing something.
Our ability to make these sorts of changes is always there to be used. When I ‘teach,’ the student and I are really just doing exercises on how to make those switches. Because my accident means I see these switches so clearly, I can often be very helpful to people in finding patterns within themselves and finding ways they can change them.
Once people are are good at recognizing the ephemeral nature of those patterns, then they are free. After that, they don’t need me to get them to choose things they find more rewarding. That happens automatically for the same reason that people don’t go into restaurants and then order the only food on the menu they don’t like.
Once we have clarity, we make better (but never perfect) choices for our lives. We realize that our identities require our cooperation and effort. And in the mornings we wake up with a lot of freedom. That’s our first chance to choose which identities we give our efforts to.
We are born anew every morning. That unattached mass of flowing energy only exists due to its lack of focus; we have not yet brought our identities to life. When we do, it’s an opportunity to choose who we will start our day as.
Stay conscious. Once our thoughts begin and we activate whichever identities are required to execute our life, then our ego’s various divergent thoughts act to split our singular mass of energy into numerous courses of thought.
If life demands too many splits –especially if a lot of them intersect– we can be frazzled quickly. So we must stay vigilant and check in during the day to see if we are still being who we intend to be.
And we don’t need to waste time on guilt. We’re not to blame for the over-splitting. We’re still evolving as human beings. This mistake is not some big failing. We only fall for it because it’s an accidental trick that brain science and language played on us all. It’s very tricky to see past it, but tricky is not hard or difficult.
Seeing this truth requires us to look at things and ourselves in a certain, honest way. If someone teaches us that –and I suspect most parents in the future will– then the otherwise seemingly magic passage to better mental health, a heartier spirit and a better life will suddenly appear before us.
If we want a different life, then let us employ our opportunities in our own favour. We can use any clarity we have when we wake, to remind ourselves of flexibility, and of our capability to dream meaningful dreams, and then to work to enact them.
By doing this every day, we help to maintain our consciousness about actively being the person we feel our life meant us to be. Then we can build on each day, rather than feel like we’re spinning in place.
For these reasons, and for our own health and enjoyment, it is no bad thing to make our mornings into a ritual like this that we practice. It’s a tiny price to pay for the enormous benefit we get in return.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.