The answer to the question as to “who, or what am I?” is a complicated one. But it is primarily complicated by a confused, though perfectly normal way of perceiving reality that is almost impossible to see for oneself . This article aims to clarify one source of this confusion.
I think it is easy enough to accept that what we are today, how we experience our self, others, and the world we live in, is very much the product of an amazing and vast number of experiences we could generally refer to as “our life so far”.
Given this inextricable bond to our past, then everything we do “now”, every thought we have, every belief we hold and action we take, is rooted in and flows from our history. This connection to where we have been before has both advantages and disadvantages.
The advantage is we don’t have to continually relearn how to live in this world. It is absolutely critical to our survival that we possess the ability to learn from and utilize past experiences and apply those lessons to daily living. Without such learning the world would appear as a chaotic buzz of confusion to which we would have no idea how to respond. Within a matter of days or at best weeks, without outside support and care, we would die.
But here is the disadvantage.
Most people seem to want to change, get rid of bad habits, improve their relationships.
For many, the search for these answer seems to point in the direction of thinking long and hard about our life, perhaps making those tough choices we could never follow through on, not allowing ourselves to act like we have before, and so on.
Yet if our intention is to become healthier and create a better life for our self then by definition we have to learn to act differently than we have up to this point. But how can we make new and different choices to move in healthy directions if we are using the same “mind” that got us into difficulty in the first place?
Think about this for a moment. If our previous way of being in the world wasn’t working for us before, how can we rely on that to guide us now?
As motivated as we may be to live our life differently, or to end or minimize our suffering, the inescapable truth seems to be that we have to find a way that offers more than our existing methods of looking at our self and our world.
If we are going to find a way that actually promotes our psychological growth and development, we have to find a fundamentally new means of understanding our self, our relationships, and our world.
To do this we have to free our self from the normal approaches we take to finding answers to our life: we have to “free ourselves from the known”.
The article entitled “What Is Mindfulness (Part I)” begins the exploration of the approach I have developed and utilized over the last 25 years utilize in my practice.