I recently finished reading this fantastic book called ‘Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, & Wisdom.’ Its a guide to help you understand how you can control your brain and have a more joyous, loving, and healthy life.
The author has a self-guided exercise you can do where you exist in the moment without an attachment to the idea of ‘a self’. You sit and relax and observe whats happening around you without assigning it meaning according to your point of view. If those kinds of thoughts arise that’s fine, you just acknowledge them and don’t attach importance to them and let them drop away. Easier said than done, but it’s a fun challenge.
You know how a movie is actually many different still frames going by one after the other in quick succession creating the illusion of a moving image? The author says our idea of self is made up of many little sequential moments in time that give us the illusion of having a unique ongoing personhood. In reality we only exist in the moment and in relationship to what’s around us. Woah.
Photo credit: Michael Bambuch
We’ve all heard that refrain ‘live in the moment’ before, right? I always figured that meant we had the option to choose to live in the moment. It seems though that the moment is all there is, and if we’re not in it, we’re walking around with our heads in a dream.
When was the last time you walked down the street absorbing each moment of that walk? Paying attention to the sensations but not attaching any particular importance to the way they affected ‘you’? When I tried the author’s exercise I was relieved to exist even for just a few moments without making it about my experience. It reminded me of the way I feel after a good yoga class.
Photo credit: Michael Bambuch
Having a sense of self is healthy and helps you form relationships and understand important boundaries. However the author says if you practice releasing ‘self-ing’ it can help you feel more relaxed and peaceful, less stuck in the illusion of selfhood, and more connected with what’s really around you.
This past year I’ve been on a mission to face my fears and nurture self love. I’ve realized that fear comes from a strong identification with ‘self’. An attachment to the idea of a personal narrative I need to protect, or a strong connection to my ego. In some circumstances that fear is healthy, I don’t want to put myself or anyone else in physical danger. In other circumstances, particularly creative ones, that fear is harmful and restricting.
If ‘self-ing’ is the cause of my fear, and it is an illusion, then my fear is based on an illusion. Maybe if I continue to work on releasing my ‘self-ing’ I’ll find fear loosens it’s grip as well.
In 2018 I’m also going to focus on noticing and holding onto moments of joy. I’m going to take action in the moment and I’m going to practice loving gratitude. Also, I might just read this book ‘Buddha’s Brain’ again.
So, goodbye fear. Here we go, 2018. 💛🙏🏼