Fluid Flight

I’ve been playing with small remote-controlled flying-things lately. These are indoor-caliber devices with mini propellers that are relatively safe to crash. It’s a fun hobby. So fun in fact, that I’m even watching videos about larger drones and actual helicopters and regular full-sized airplanes. I guess I’m a bit obsessed by flight right now. But so what, what’s my point?

What’s the difference between the first day you fly a tiny helicopter and the seventh day? It flys a lot smoother, it’s more nimble. Why? Because you’re lighter on the controls. Instead of hard jerks to the limits of the lever, it’s a slight and delicate movement to the left. Gentle and easy-does-it becomes easier to do. You’re no longer over-correcting and sending the aircraft in every direction.

Essentially, you stop being overly cautious and just fly. Fear is what makes you grip the controls too tightly, not allowing for nuance. THIS WAY! NO! THAT WAY! AHH! IT’S GONNA CRASH!! But after you practice a bit and crash a few times, you start to loosen up. So on day-one you’re too tense and on day-seven you’re more relaxed — that’s the significant difference that improves your overall piloting performance.

On day-one, you’re over-thinking, trying to mentally move the controls this way and that. But thought-out movement is too slow and clumsy. Whereas on day-seven, your hands know what to do, they effortlessly move the craft away from the walls with automatic reactions. Or at least until you realize how well you’re doing, and start analyzing the action. Once you begin over-thinking again, your reactions slowdown. CRASH!!

Doing something well, is the act of getting out of your own way. What that means is: allowing the body to do its thing while not allowing the consciousness to “help”. It’s a dance — you can’t mentally move in a graceful way, your body has to be unencumbered by conscious interference. What you, the consciousness, needs to repeatedly remind yourself is this: “Shhh! The body is performing, please be respectful and remain quiet. Simply watch and enjoy the show.”

A Conscious You

Dear Rich, what would a more conscious me look like?

Why dear reader, that’s a very good question indeed. Why bother trying to attain a state of constant presence if there isn’t any benefit? Well in fact, there IS a plus side to being-in-the-now.

For starters, do you know all that negative rumination that tends to ruin your day? Gone. You’ll have a clear head and a clean conscience. Instead of arguing with yourself and everyone else, instead of feeling guilty and shameful, instead of forecasting the most dire consequences possible — you’ll be free. You’ll no longer be a prisoner within your own mind.

Do you know all those worries you have? Gone. What’s going to happen in the future? Who cares — not you, that’s who! You’ll be too busy engaging in the present to give any energy to false prophesies. What’ll happen five years from now? One year from now? Even five MINUTES from now? WHO CARES!

Oh boy, and did I mention the pure bliss?! Why, when you’re livin’ in the right-now you’ll be feelin’ the full joy of this moment every second of the day! It’ll be euphoric even! Just picture it, there you are, fully engaged in the activities comprising existence, and your consciousness is experiencing everything with full focused attention!

Makes ya wonder why you’re not doing it already. Well sir, no time like the present — ha! And lucky for you, the-now is literally happening right-now. Simply shut that thinking-stuff down and begin. If you believe it’s gonna take some time to put that baby to bed, you best start the work immediately — because the sooner you begin a thought-free life, the happier you’ll be.

And I hear ya, you’re thinkin: “Rich, that sure sounds good an’ all, but I’m havin a hard time swallowin what you’re sellin”. Well friend, all that skepticism is just your thoughts talkin — the precise part we’re tryin to get rid of! ‘Course it’s gonna fight back! But that’s no pal of yours, heck, your thoughts have been outright torturing you your entire life! Makin up all that scary stuff that never happened, humiliating you, frustrating you — doin whatever it could for no reason in particular.

But now it’s time for your consciousness to get its due — a thought-free turn at life. An uninterrupted experience, living without the constant commentary. Why it’ll be the life you always knew you should be livin ‘cept there was somethin holdin you back. And you’ve finally found the culprit! Those dirty good for nothin thoughts. Well say goodbye baby, ’cause you’re consciousness-realized now!

Now – Chapter 6

This is my interpretation of the book The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle.

Chapter 6

You’re under the delusion that you’re an isolated body within a physical world. This delusion leads to anxiousness and suffering. You would know your true self if it wasn’t for the mind constantly distracting you. So constant are its mental musings, that you identify yourself as the thoughts emanating from your mind.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to establish consciousness as your primary mode of being (thus diminishing the thinking-mechanism of the mind). Consciousness, instead of rumination, should become your default. One method for making this change, is by transfering focus away from the mind and into the body.

Here’s some practice: Focus on your fingers and notice the sensation, a slight pressure or tingling or just the feeling that they’re there. Then move up the arms and into the chest and head and around the body all the way down to your feet. Feel the sensation individually and then as a whole, pervading the entire body — focus on this sensation.

Although you aren’t a solitary creature crawling around a giant rock in constant struggle for survival, you aren’t beyond the body either. You have a body after-all, so you can work with it rather than fight it. And by maintaining attention within the body, you’ll have a reference point keeping you from getting lost in thought or life.

For the time being, while going about your normal activities, maintain some awareness of the energy/aliveness-feeling pervading the entire body. Focus on the task at hand but widen your scope to include the sensation within the body as well. And when not doing anything in particular, instead of getting lost in thought, focus on that energy/aliveness-feeling within.

And whenever you start losing yourself to an alleged problem, go into the body. By focusing on an inner sensation, your focus leaves the thinking-mechanism of the mind. From that steadier base, your reaction will be more grounded. If strong emotion overwhelms your ability to focus, simply observe the emotion without judgement and accept its presence.

Typically, emotions should quickly come and go. If they linger, you’re likely lacking forgiveness. Instead of grasping tightly to a hot ember, release it. Forgive people, yourself, and even life. Trust in life and stop fighting against it. Let go and let your narrative continue on a steady course.

Essentially, you are consciousness, the experiencer of existence. Yet typically, you spend much of your time unconscious, lost in a dream. But you want to become present and aware within the dream. The dream won’t end, you’ll simply become lucid. You want to switch this from a turbulent nightmare to a delightful fantasyland. And this process requires you to realize that the foundation of your dream-self as well as everything else, is a dreamer — the source of all consciousness.

And when you move focus into the body and become aware of the inner sensation, it can serve as a reminder for all this — a way to maintain a deeper state. From this depth, the external gets easier. The body feels better, lighter, no longer like a poorly aging contraption rife with decay and subject to the ills of others.

Some more practice: Focusing on a single part of the body, feel it, notice the sensation, it’s there and you’re aware of it. Do this for every part of your body. Once you’ve gone through them one by one, start at the bottom and move up the body like a scanner, from toes to head and back down again. Then, concentrate on the sensation of the entire inner body at once — focus and feel it.

If focusing within the body is tough, start with breathing. Observe the breath: in… out… in… out… follow and feel the breath. Also, whenever creativity is required, presence is the best way to encourage it. And of course when listening to others, presence makes that process a whole lot easier. And a method for becoming present, is focusing on the sensation of the inner body.

Kindness for Consciousness

What have you done for your consciousness lately? You haven’t been smothering it with the worst thoughts possible, right? The poor unsuspecting consciousness came here to experience life-on-Earth and you’ve been presenting it with a slide-show consisting of complaints… haven’t you! What kind of host are you?

“Welcome consciousness, so you’re here to see what embodied existence is like? How exciting! Now, instead of all that, can I just get you to take a seat over here while I show you a decades-long presentation about how existence actually sucks and you shouldn’t waste your time trying to participate because it’s pretty horrible? Great! Let’s begin!”

Yikes. In case you’re not aware, that’s actually the WRONG approach to take. Your job is to take the consciousness on a ride through life — showing it a FUN time. It doesn’t want to hear about all your criticisms and critiques — it’s simply here to experience existence — the commentary is intrusive and distracting and frankly it’s rude.

Okay, now let’s do this the right way. The consciousness cares only about what’s happening right now. Anything from the past is an arbitrary selection of old remembrances drudged up by your thoughts — please don’t clutter the consciousness’s experience with that stuff. And any future-predicting is mere conjecture conjured up by your thoughts — again, don’t include it.

Whatever you’re physically doing doesn’t really matter, just let the consciousness take it all in, unimpeded by thought. Remember, the consciousness gets its fun through the act of unhindered observation — it’s not fussy. If you’re tying a shoe, that’s fine as long as your thoughts aren’t blathering away. Eating a carrot? Great, just shut up about it and let the consciousness soak it in.

If you think YOU’RE bored, imagine the poor consciousness that had to listen to you complain for all those years. It could have been experiencing life BUT nooo, you had to run your yapper nonstop. Besides, once you see the consciousness having a good time, your boredom will fade — don’t worry about it, you’ll get rewarded by being kind to your consciousness.

Deciding Mind

An excerpt from the Parts of the Mind series.

What is it that the deciding-mind actually decides?

First, the deciding-mind is NOT to be used for directing the course of your life. That’s the role of the path-finding-mind. When the deciding-mind is used to steer your life, things go to shit. The deciding-mind can’t predict the future — how the heck is it supposed to know what to do next? Any decision would be a shot-in-the-dark. And what’s worse, is when the deciding-mind is weak, and the thinking-mind bosses him around — then some really stupid-shit is bound to happen.

The path-finding-mind is already well-equipped to steer you on your path, it doesn’t need any help. It’s got all those preferences and goals built-in, like a map, ya simply follow it all the way to the end. That is, as long as the thinking-mind doesn’t get in the way — diverting or stopping you in your tracks. This takes us back to the original question: what does the deciding-mind decide?

The deciding-mind is the manager. But to be a good manager, he has to stay out of everyone’s way, his role is to ensure a pleasant work-environment for all parts of the mind. A lot of his job deals with keeping the thinking-mind quiet so that the path-finding-mind and the inspirational-mind can do what they need to do. He can do this because he has the power-of-will — he can direct focus or even shut things down if necessary.

For example, say the thinking-mind is going nuts and is chattering all over the place. The deciding-mind can say “ENOUGH!” and shut that shit right down. As long as he keeps it up, the thinking-mind won’t have any choice but to zip it. If your mind is not a productive place, then it’s likely that you have an ineffectual manager in charge. The deciding-mind gains confidence by doing his job — every time he silences the thinking-mind, he gets a feel for his power and it grows.

Meditation is a great practice for demonstrating to the thinking-mind who’s in charge. The deciding-mind decides to set aside some time to sit still, perpetually monitoring the thinking-mind. Just watching. Not say anything, just staring right at the thinking-mind. Observing. The thinking-mind feels the gaze and gets the message. After twenty minutes, you’re good. But it can’t stop there, the practice must be applied to everyday life — and it’s the deciding-mind’s responsibility to do it.

Summary. The deciding-mind decides if you’re going to have a good day. He does this by rooting out dysfunction in the office. The path-finding-mind and the inspirational-mind are self-starters who don’t need micro-managing, but they do need quiet. The thinking-mind is the trouble-maker that must be kept in line. And the conscious-mind is the customer that continually consumes the product.

Parts of the Mind

There’s consciousness, which is just pure non-judgmental awareness. This is the watcher. This is the part that without, your life would be lived unobserved. If a tree falls in the woods i.e. when something happens in your life — the consciousness is what witnesses the sound and the action of it all. This is the part that sits quietly in the audience taking it all in. And as an open-minded audience member, the consciousness is there to enjoy the show and doesn’t criticize the scenes unfolding before it.

Speaking of which, the thinking-mind, the part that’s responsible for the incessant and unrepentant internal-dialog, WILL criticize — as well as disparage, denigrate, and condemn. This part of the mind is the source of negativity that oftentimes spoils the experience of existence. The goal of meditation for instance, is usually to quiet the thinking-mind. By focusing on something in particular, the mind becomes engaged, and no longer allows thoughts to flow in freely (this improves with practice).

Then there’s the part of the mind that’s the source of creativity, the inspirational-mind. This is the quiet-kid that sits in the back, ignored because of the chatter-box class-clown stealing all the attention i.e. the thinking-mind. But when the class finally calms, this is the part that pipes-up and says something so profound that everyone turns around and says “whoa”. This is another reason why we want to dedicate ourselves to the practice of quieting the thinking-mind: to encourage the inspirational-mind to speak.

The thinking-mind isn’t such a bad kid by-the-way, it just lacks discipline and an appropriate outlet. It’s amusing when properly contained — but when running rampant, it causes chaos by clinging to anything that captures its attention. It should not be allowed to takeover and become the forefront of the mind. And this of course is the role of the deciding-mind, the one with the power-of-will to direct focus. This is the part that instills discipline through concentration and choice.

An unbalanced mind is one in which the thinking-mind influences the deciding-mind — it’s letting the class-clown run the show. But the better approach is to let the path-finding-mind lead the way. This is the part that is imprinted with preferences and knows just where to go. This part is temperamental, so the deciding-mind has to stay out of the way and let the path-finder do its thing — otherwise there will be pain.

The worst possible scenario is allowing the inspirational-mind to be drowned-out by the thinking-mind who proceeds to advise the deciding-mind who then ignores the path-finding-mind. If that happens, you’re rekt while the poor conscious-mind sits helplessly watching the shit-show unfold. Whereas the best possible scenario is the one in which the deciding-mind focuses up, disciplining the thinking-mind, allowing the inspirational-mind to contribute, letting the path-finding-mind steer the ship — all while the conscious-mind enjoys an interesting tale of fun and adventure.

To summarize:
Conscious-mind: the awareness that watches.
Thinking-mind: the boisterous bigmouth that must be contained.
Inspirational-mind: the creative artist that thrives with silence.
Deciding-mind: the keeper of the calm.
Path-finding-mind: the scout that knows the way.

Stuck on Start

It’s odd that self-exploration is a thing. We literally explore every aspect of ourselves. What’s it like to be human? How does this feel? Why does it feel that way? How do I control this crazy contraption? Why am I thinking these thoughts? How do I better align with my circumstances?

We’re not immersed in the game of life, we’re still stuck staring at the piece we’re playing as. Why is it this color? Why this shape? What moves can I make? What effect do other players’ pieces have? Is it my turn? Can I go yet? It’s strange to feel like you’re still on start, waiting for the opportunity to begin.

But we don’t want to mess up, do we? We have to find our groove though. Just move forward and let the chips fall where they may. Yet we’ve no idea what to do with ourself, no direction in which to head. Although, a game is a simple affair, just rolling dice and proceeding on a preset path. Just take your turn, move forward one space at a time.

I suppose that’s all we can do, move ahead one step at a time. But it’s not enough to mechanically move, we must lose ourself in the game’s narrative, pretending we’ve got a vested interest in our progress. It’s just a lighthearted investment though, like any game of pretend, we simply perform as our character.

P.S. Yet who’s to say humanness isn’t a path in and of itself? Traveling the far reaches of the globe or traveling the far reaches of the mind, it’s all exploration, an activity to occupy our attention. All this time you’ve imagined yourself stuck on start, but you’ve been playing all along, the inner mystery is just part of the fun.

Cultivating Consciousness

We spend so much time thinking about being a human-being rather than focusing on the tasks before us. Some might say to ignore this chatter, dismiss the navel-gazing and maintain focus on the physical aspects of life. Yet what’s more human than getting lost in consciousness? We’re fascinated by our own reflection.

And really, how interesting is the process of mechanically masticating our meals? The physical things we do everyday are basic and repetitive, it’s the accompanying narratives and the interactions with our companions that makes all the difference. Activities are mere filler until our observing-mind assigns the meaning.

But, a ceaseless stream of unfiltered data also flows through our mind — and the observing part of our mind must deliberately evaluate this data. For instance, when we sense an undesirable mood forming, we must mark the offending thought as unwelcome and minimize it within our mind. With practice the process gets easier and automatic.

So no, I don’t believe we need to stop staring at ourselves. Consciousness is not the problem, it’s our careless handling of the incoming data that gets us into trouble. For example, if we tried to begin a garden and let every weed grow unchecked, our garden would be in shambles. Likewise, we need to prune the mind of pestilent thoughts.

The way we know something happened is because we witness it — in other words, consciousness is the witness of our life. Consciousness therefore, is not a burden that gets in the way of living, but the very process that proves we exist. Our difficulty with life does not stem from our self-awareness, but from our mismanagement of this awareness.

Decay is an effortless force in life. Leave something alone and the landscape will consume it. Memories for instance, are maintained by repeated recall — to stop a memory, refuse its rumination. Structure, on the other hand, does require effort. If we want a satisfied mind we must endeavor to cultivate such a state.

Life Is

What is life? Life is challenge. Life is stress. Life is emotion. Life is pain. Life is labor. Life is beauty. Life is flavor. Life is laughter. Life is love. Life is creation. Do you see? Life is activity. Life is the focus of all our attention.

Interest requires impermanence. Life is what it is because that’s what holds our attention. You’ve noticed your consciousness of course, the part of you that observes your life. What an exciting show you’re privy to. Anything less than this attention-grabbing spectacle would bore you to tears.

Your consciousness can get confused though, believing itself the originator of action instead of the observer. This confusion can create disappointment — but don’t worry, you can get back on track. There’s nothing that needs to be done externally, it’s just some simple steps on the inside.

What it takes, is repeatedly reminding yourself, your consciousness, that you’re not in control here. Think of life as a story that’s already been written, you’re just following along. And from there, embrace and appreciate the story.

Whatever happens is just part of the story, and you the consciousness get to decide how to interpret life’s plot. You get to assign the labels, calling things funny or sad, good or bad. With this power, you decide the nature of your story, whether gloomy, comical, uplifting, or whatever.

Keep in mind that this is only a virtual realm comprised of temporary illusions. The images formed in our thoughts are interpretations not facts. Everything that enters existence is destined to exit. With this outlook we keep ourselves from clinging to what’s not really there.

Enjoy the story as you would any story. Simply maintain your awareness during intense times to ease anxiety. Let life tell its story, wait and see how it ends — life controls the body and its outcome — as the observer, watch patiently and politely.

Uneven Layers

In reference to the 4 layers of life, it seems as though most of my time is spent on the layer of consciousness. I don’t really appreciate the other layers, and tend to complain when directly engaged with them.

My vehicle is a small economical model that’s not much to look at. It runs okay but won’t win any races. I’m not big on upkeep, so it’s a little messy and has its dings. I don’t like taking it out because it just gets overrun by the more aggressive vehicles and frankly I just don’t like driving.

As a citizen, I barely register, figuratively and literally. I study how societal systems operate and maintain an awareness of current events, but I lack interest in direct participation. I see flaws and malfunctioning everywhere on this layer and find it difficult to grasp from a purely logical perspective.

As a human-being, I tend to lack interest in empathy and compassion — it’s a difficult layer due to my pessimistic nature, because if I look around I tend to see and imagine all the suffering of others, so it’s a bit much to reconcile. In some ways though, I’ve grown more fond of this layer over time.

As an observer, I sit and contemplate life. This is where I’m comfortable. But if the other layers didn’t exist, I’d have nothing to think about, nothing I could relate to. Because I have all the experiences and faculties of humanness, I have plenty of fodder for thought.