There are many people reading this ‘together,’ in many places in the world, using different devices, at different times of day. Some are laying down reading in bed, others are sitting in airplanes, while others might be reading from a waterproof tablet while they’re immersed in a swimming pool.
Everyone will be in different positions, in different geographic locations –some inside, some outside– some in cities, some in the middle of nowhere. Some might be eating breakfast while they read, another might be at a bar, and still others may be at lying down at home or on a coffee break at work. No matter where everyone is, most people are reading this without a lot of awareness that we each are in unique sensory environments.
It’s a fascinating idea to realize that each of our separate consciousnesses are gathered together on these words, at our shared center of vision, yet we each have unique peripheral experiences. Coffee on an airplane does not taste, smell, or sound like pizza at your house.
Some are hearing wind, others birds, while still others might be listening to the sound of a bus, or your parents arguing in the front seat of their car. Some might smell bread baking, or the ocean, while others might be experiencing the smell of sweat on a treadmill line.
Certainly the heat of the African sun does not feel like a cool breeze in the Arctic, just as laying on our back on a bed does not have our body feeling pressure points or weight distribution anything like standing in a lineup, or being jammed into a plane seat. We are all having unique sensory experiences with these words being one thing we share in common. We have a shared vision.
Note, as I went through each definition, you likely moved your mind’s attention to whichever sense I was referring to at that time. Maybe some of you even anticipated what I was doing and you listed through your own senses really quickly before you even got to me guiding you to them. The point is, we all cycled our awareness onto different parts of reality. This helps blur some lines created by language that don’t really exist in nature.
Many tribal cultures that are still living close to the way they did 1,000 years ago don’t comprehend separate senses. They don’t know what people mean by the words see or hear or taste as separate ideas, to them that’s simply all awareness.
Especially for cultures with no written languages, they primarily only need words to relate to the present moment. For them, they are focusing on a sense fully, whereas we only partially focus.
We regularly bounce into our egos in order to use complex words to engage with the shared thought-based idea that we can name areas of sensing, and then segment reality in our after-now, ego-reality.
Compared to someone living that other way, it’s like we’re always taking mental word-based notes rather than being fully present. It’s much the same way people will have their attention on filming a concert rather than on experiencing it completely. There is a major difference between the two.
This means that all babies need to be taught to take their one sense and split it into five definitions that each have a keyword like seeing, or smelling. No one teaches the babies in these tribes that, so they just stay with one sense and their ability to focus it. If we ignore our word-based division of reality into five senses, then we are like the folks in the jungle. We are simply focused on this or that.
So how does this help us? Since we know our senses are one thing, and we know the opposite of now is ego-based thoughts, then to get out of our ego we simply need to ask ourselves where our attention is at any given moment.
Is it on how hard our seat is? How hot the room is? How noisy? Or are we thinking about the taste of our breakfast, or loving the smell of coffee? Whatever we’re aware of as a feeling means we have not translated the feeling into an ego-based word-thought. In that way we all have the power to alter our reality.
Each of those check-ins are like returning to the Now. The more we do that, the better we get at just being passively more aware. And in that state, we see more, and that often leads to wiser choices. So as we move through our day, let’s all do our best to check in regularly with where our consciousness actually is.
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.