This is Part 1. Part 2 can be found here.
Watch, or read below.
Tonight we are talking about three ways to shift your mind midstream for instant freedom and happiness.
There are three techniques we are going to talk about today. Hopefully they will be easy enough to use that you will be able to remember them in a time of crisis or in a time in a time of difficulty and apply them in order, in a matter of moments. The techniques are: 1) Switch the channel, 2) Open your heart, and 3) Come into the now.
Switch the Channel
The nature of mind
I want to back up and talk a little bit about the nature of mind. When we are in drama, when we are in anxiety, when we are in fear, even if we are in a loving state, we are usually very caught up in a story that we have internalized. When we ar ein story, we are in the mind, in the ego.
When you get silent or deep into a meditation practice (and sometimes even by accident, just lying in your bed at night at night or driving on the highway), you might begin to notice that there is part of you that is kind of looking down at the ego in the mind racing around and going oh you know, “little Christine or poor Tony or small Shiva… look they are struggling with today.”
This calm witness consciousness is always there, it is always present watching your thoughts, even when we’re not tuned into it. So the mind and the witness consciousness are co-existing continuously. The witness consciousness is always with us. It is calm, it is wise, it is sitting back there in the background with this abiding bigness and compassion. That is the part of your being that is tapped into the universal flow of everything that is tapped into the connection and the ether between people and then this thought driven mind, the ego mind is the place of drama and anxiety where the mind is racing and all of that stuff. So I think of those things as two channels you can flip between at will.
Before I got this clarity, my model was that enlightenment or becoming a really spiritual person was a progressive, linear pathway. If I started here and I worked really really hard, then at some point in the future it would all click and I would get it. Even my chores will be in built with some sort of holiness and I would just have a beatific smile all the time. That state would be the result of a lifetime of work. However, what this model says is that there are two channels that are always co-existing and that you can choose at any moment to just switch the channel.
Does it sound too easy?
Try it, just try for one minute.
Pretend you have a conflict or it is the middle of the night or you are on some sort of internal rant…let us practice for a minute switching the channel. For me, I feel a softening of the muscles around the eyes, I let them sink back into the head. I try to bring my entire awareness into the back of the mind. I am zooming way out away from any drama that my mind is engaged in and I am letting the witness consciousness register it’s presence. Switch that channel and go ah, interesting.
Behind this exercise, this whole engagement, is a deep belief that your wisdom self (when you can access it and get out of the drama) always knows what is right for you, always knows what is right in a situation, always knows what the reality of a thing is and that that witness gets occluded by programming that wants you to get dragged into the ego story. So flip the switch.
Now I have been meditating for a while and I have to say it is instant in the moment once you have practiced it, like once you have begun practicing ‘the switch’ over time then you can do it even in the middle of some incredible conflict. So what I would say is practice it all day. Whenever you get a moment, ask what would it feel like to flip from ego mind into your deeper witness consciousness, and try it. Try it in traffic, when the kids are bugging you, even working on budgets. I was on the phone this morning with the California Franchise Tax Board for an hour and you know what it even worked there I just flipped the switch! It was a very pleasant interaction. So you can practice it all day in the context of your regular life. Of course I am going to advocate meditating, because you will begin to have more direct prolonged experiences of the witness consciousness always being there and how crazy your mind is. You get to understand the difference and become more masterful at switching the channel.
Open Your Heart
The second thing if a practice of opening your heart. The idea here is that we are in choice in how we are reacting to all situations. I choose not to be closed and tight. When I feel my jaw gets tight or I get clenched about a subject, I say no, I am not going to react that way. I don’t want to live in that negative energy, in that tight energy, I don’t want to be that person in the world. So I am going to choose not to. When I feel my self-clenching or tightening I am going to do an expansion of my body and choose opening my heart.
Coming into Now
The incredible teachings of Ram Dass in the classic book Be Here Now, tell us that there is no other moment but now. Eckhart Tolle writes about it in the Power of Now. For me, coming into in the moment of conflict, doing it when something is really up in your body or up between you and another person was often inaccessible. The way that it has been working for me is to use my body and use my breath in order to come into the now. I drop in and pay attention to the sensations I’m actually having, what I am actually feeling. It could be as simple as how does the shirt feel on my skin or how is my knee hitting this table and how is the breath moving in my body? Dancing does a great job of this, exercising does a great job of this. If you are present with your senses, it will help you come into the now very quickly. It helps you to discern what is real right now and what is a mind driven story, so come in to the now.
So in practice, we link these things together in quick succession:switch the channel, open your heart, come into the now.
Switch the channel, open you heart, come into the now.
Switch the channel, open your heart come into the now.
Switch the channel, open your heart come into the now.
It can be done in an instant, it can be done in a board meeting, it can be done in traffic, it can be done on a phone call, it can be done in grocery store, switch the channel, open your heart come into the now.
Put it on post-its and have it in the car, on your mirror in the morning: switch the channel, open your heart come into the now.
Please hold onto this mantra as we go into the next round of topic – because we are going to need them in the conversation around social rejection.