Tag Archives: Mind

Awareness: the path out of suffering

Prem Baba teaching

There was a Brazilian teacher in Rishikesh in 2013 whose name was Prem Baba and he was giving free talks at a large ashram on the banks of the Ganga River. He was talking about Awareness as his main practice. He said Presence was the goal – “truly being awake right now, not lost in some fantasy of the past or the future.” The room he taught in was light and airy, with over 100 devotees from all over the world listening to him speak Portugese or listening to the translator’s English words.

He said the main obstacle to Awareness was Inner Dialogue, the mental chatter. This comes from the unconscious wishes and fears clashing with the conscious ones.

“We can say ‘yes’ as often as we like, but if our unconscious is saying ‘no’ then nothing will change.”

He said the remedy was to take responsibility for the suffering and abandon the stance of being the victim. This is not the attitude of ‘this is my fault’ (which is still victim thinking) but rather ‘this is my opportunity for freedom’. My freedom is my responsibility – because who else can free me from suffering?

ridding_ourselves_of_anger_OM_Times

Anger isolates me from being Present

“So I try to be simply Aware of what is happening, without blaming anything or anyone.  Without blame there is no sense of injustice, no taste of bitterness or resentment.”

For instance, perhaps there is anger; be with that anger without identifying with the anger. Even if only for a few moments; this is being the witness, not the victim. If the justification for being angry arise try and witness that too. Be Aware of what is going on without believing any of it. If we don’t feed these sparks of madness they don’t become flames.

“Similarly, be  with the inadequacy, the betrayal, the hunger, the despair. Accept their presence rather than look to assign guilt for their existence. Resist the habit of putting toxins in your mental environment! This is the moment by moment process of liberation.”

By witnessing – by being Aware – we see more and more what the real nature of these painful minds are. Before I avoided them by weaving a fantasy of blame: blaming myself, my family, my friends, society, God, the devil… an endless process of avoiding taking responsibility.

I am Happy

“I am happy in my soap opera! Leave me alone!”

Now by accepting and being present – being aware – the nature of my pain becomes clear. I slowly bring what is unconscious into the light. And this awareness itself naturally leads to letting go.

It’s a moment of discovery of a world I am usually oblivious to because it’s so often drowned out by my internal soap opera. I am left with the simple reality of what I am actually  experiencing, the unadorned and naked moment. The sounds i was too engrossed in ego to hear; the colour and pattern of the curtain in my room; the feel of water on my skin; the taste of a cup of tea.

Presence gives everything a feeling of sacredness.

“Take a Deep Breath…

…and connect to your body. Surrender to what you are experiencing in this moment.”

Breath____by_mechtaniyaSounds simple doesn’t it? “Get grounded, feel your body, let the breath flow through and let go of mental chatter. Surrender and witness to this.”

Why is this so challenging to remember? Why is it so easy to get lost in memories, plans, fantasies and distractions? I’m not sure. I do know I spent many earnest years trying to understand why and ended up with more mental chatter, not less. Now I’m trying to let go of the need to understand certain things like “Why is Life the way it is?”. It’s an obvious question but the process of coming to a conclusion seems to take me further away from the experience of life.

Recently someone gave me a great gift. She was talking about questions to ask in therapy and she suggested avoiding “why” questions and ask “what” questions instead.

Instead of “Why do I get so frustrated with her?” try “What is it that makes me so frustrated with her?”  ‘Why’ takes me into the head and trying to understand intellectually. ‘What’ tends more to discovering an experience and letting insights come from that, rather than theory or memory.

Both ‘what’ or ‘why’ are useful questions depending on the situation. The art is asking the right one at the right time. And then engaging with the answer with the body and the mind.

So… take a Deep Breath…