At a certain point, my mind let me go.
Every story I had ever told myself and believed fell away and, like a newborn baby, I saw the world afresh. I spent an unknowable amount of time staring, captivated at a tree blowing fiercely in the wind; I strolled around and observed the beauty of strangers with curious delight; I walked across a bridge for what seemed like a blissful eternity and laughed out loud. I couldn’t stop laughing because the thoughts that once held me hostage now danced around my edges and seemed hilarious. I laughed my way past a group of people who peered at me with sidelong glances. I was too caught up in how the wind felt flowing across my skin to care. The story of their judgement had arrived and moved on without a single ripple being made in my still ocean.
Now my persistent mind asks the question, ‘How did we get here?’
Well, I suppose that might be a story worth telling.
I’ve come to learn that you’re already enlightened; you just don’t know it yet. I spent a lifetime visiting this state of being sporadically with no concept of what it was, which is fine except that it meant I had no way of noticing when I was in it and how I got there – and more importantly, noticing when I wasn’t in it and the ways that this made me miserable.
For many years I have meditated nearly every day. For many years I have sought out intense exercise as a source of release. On occasion, I have taken mind altering substances to feel euphoric and connected. I didn’t realise until recently but all of these things are gateways to the state of being that I experienced while walking across that bridge – pure presence.
Sometimes it helps to give an idea a name.
The mind doesn’t naturally want to seek out the present moment. It lives in the past and the future, pushing feelings of regret or anxiety into the body to be stored there until we find some way of releasing them. We think we are our minds; the stories we tell ourselves, the thoughts that berate us, the identities that seem to support us in the world.
Once we know that this isn’t true, we are able to use techniques to bring us back to what’s real. For a handful of humans on this planet, this is a constant. For a handful more, this is a state that they visit anytime they care to. For me, I am finding that I can visit this state for longer and longer periods of time, and if my critical mind takes hold then I have techniques that I can use to get free again.
There are many roads that lead to the same place. I walk a number of different paths to get me to where I want to be: The Work of Byron Katie, Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The Power of Now’, meditation, yoga, breath-work, and spending time in nature are just a few of those paths. More simply, I am aware that this is the state that I seek; I acknowledge that my mind is delivering me stories that aren’t serving me and may not even be true, because if this is all there is then can a story really be true? If a story is causing me suffering, then is it worth holding onto? In this way, I keep tuning back into a state of peaceful awareness.
Then, my most favourite part, I ask myself, what is true? Unconditional love, bliss, joy, peace. Every divine freckle, every quivering eyelash, the smoothness of the bark on a tree, the rough surface of a solitary rock, the beating of my heart, the way your eyelids flutter and your lips part when you breathe in front of me. The silvery thread of intuition that guides my next move. The prompts of my ever-faithful body to sleep, eat, move, and breathe. What is true is what is right here, right now.
You may think that in doing this, you might forget the people you love or the tasks you need to complete, but it seems to me that the people we love are embedded in our being, and the desire to be with them naturally arises and prompts us to seek them out from time to time. Similarly, things that need doing gently tug at us and without too much effort, we do them. You may be shocked to find that what you actually need to do might not be as much as you are used to doing. You may find that life becomes effortless, because all that needs attention is what is right here, and it’s never too much to handle.
It is in this dance between my mind and my true being, in the act of repetitively meandering down the multitude of paths available to me, that I reach my simple bliss-state day after day. It is in this way that, at a certain point, my mind lets me go.