Here is another guest post from my wife, Gina Lake's, blog. Gina's blog is located on the home page of her website at www.radicalhappiness.com, which is dedicated to spiritual awakening and living in the Now. It provides tools for moving out of the ego and into the Now, where true happiness--radical happiness--lies. This is an excerpt from her book Embracing the Now: Finding Peace and Happiness in What Is, available on Amazon.com.
The only thing that exists is the present moment, the Now, but we, as human beings, have a particular relationship with our thoughts that takes us out of the experience of the moment. Thoughts create an alternate reality, a subplot to the Now. We get lost in that pretend subplot and don’t notice other things about the moment. When we bring that alternate reality into the moment, our experience of the Now changes. It colors the Now. We are no longer experiencing the moment purely, but through the lens of the ego, which generates our thoughts and feelings.
Our thoughts and feelings come and go in the Now. But unlike sights, sounds, and the other things that come and go in the Now, thoughts and feelings change our experience of the Now when we identify with them. Nothing else that comes and goes in the Now has the same effect on our experience of the moment. The Now is just what it is, but our experience of it changes if we are identified with thoughts or feelings. If we aren’t identified with a thought or a feeling, we will feel the peace of the Now. If we are identified with a thought or a feeling, we will feel anxious, restless, discontent, and possibly some other negative feelings.
When we think about the past, we bring a memory of it into the Now and then experience our memory’s version of the past instead of experiencing the Now. We do this most often with disturbing events from the past, and that reanimates the unpleasant experience and obscures the peace and contentment of the moment. Even a happy memory can take us out of the peace and contentment of the present moment and cause us to suffer because thinking about a happy moment from the past often makes us long for the actual experience that that memory isn’t able to produce.
Whenever we identify with our thoughts—any thought—we lose touch with the peace and contentment of the Now. We often think that whatever is happening is making us unhappy, but what we’re bringing into the peaceful moment through thought is what is making us unhappy. Once you realize the result of bringing thoughts into the Now, you can choose to not give your attention to your thoughts. Notice how you immediately relax when you give your attention to what is present right here and now instead of to your thoughts and feelings.
We think we need our thoughts and feelings to function. We think they make us who we are. But we don’t need thoughts and feelings to function, and they aren’t who we are. They belong to the false self that we think of ourselves as, but they aren’t what is alive in us, living life and experiencing the present moment. What is experiencing the present moment, including what is aware of contraction caused by identification with thought, is who we are.
What is experiencing the present moment is very silent, unlike the egoic mind that chatters constantly. Who we really are is the silent Experiencer who is alive and having the experience that the false self is creating. We can wake up from the false self and begin creating more consciously from Essence, from the Experiencer. We don’t need the false self to experience life. It has never been what has been experiencing life, but what has kept us from experiencing life joyfully.