Are You Identifying With A Passing Sensation?
As a human species, what is in our minds can often start to feel like our reality. We attach to the feeling of anxiety; we become it. We think we are our sadness. We start to create stories in our minds of how another person’s behaviour is because of us. We give such meaning to what is a passing sensation in time.
However, the reality is that our thoughts, emotions, and experiences are fleeting. They are only here and real in the present moment. If we are creating stories of what something means for the future based on a current thought, or how something that happened in the past dictates your present situation, then we are sabotaging ourselves from living fully and in the only moment that we have, right now.
Awareness and choice
Our minds like to get carried away; they like to run with a story until it overwhelms the rest of our being. But, we do have control over this from happening. It starts with awareness. We notice that we are identifying with our experiences and emotions as us. Then, we choose to stop following these stories. If we are no longer feeding them, then they don’t continue to grow. This is an action moving from living in our heads to living here and now, with our hearts. We can stop over-identifying with what’s happening in our psyche and as a result un-attach from the stories it creates.
It is possible to be a witness to what is happening in our experience right now and maintain peace with it, even if it feels challenging. Our mind detects inner problems which Michael Singer refers to as inner disturbances in the Untethered Soul. And we can often take these inner disturbances personally and attach meaning to them.
Giving meaning to an objective reality
When we give a passing circumstance meaning, we are inviting it inside of us. And instead of noticing the passing circumstance, in some cases less than ideal, witnessing it as such and carrying on, we give this scenario a home in our mind with its own room, bed, a hot shower, and then feed it an incredible meal. We attach to it and if we don’t step in with that present awareness, it can take us over.
Take for instance me waking up this morning to snow in mid-May. For anyone who knows me, I am an avid summer-lover. I love the sunshine, the warmth, the long days, and the play outside. As you can imagine, waking to snow in late spring was not a pleasant experience for me. And that is okay, we are allowed to have preferences. However, in the initial moment of shock in seeing the snow, I was upset, and an inner disturbance was born.
I didn’t catch it right away. I ran to grab my phone and take a picture of the snow and share it with others, “Can you believe this?!”. This is when I unintentionally and unconsciously welcomed the inner disturbance inside, and it is also when the fact that there was snow in May really started to bother me.
It didn’t end there. I went downstairs to try and get a better picture of the snow. Then when I opened the door, it felt frigid outside. That led me to look at the thermometer and see that it was near zero degrees. This is when I started feeding the inner disturbance a nice meal. I started to think of what temperature it was on the coast, somewhere with a milder climate where I used to live. I texted a friend enraged by the event I was experiencing. This circumstance was now gaining meaning in my mind. I reached into the past and thought of how warm it was in another city at this time last year. Another story projected into the future; that the snow here today means it will be like this into the rest of the month, which then led to me having a rash inner dialogue of how this is not a place I can live. The inner disturbance was really enjoying its meal now, and I was deeply lost in it. But then something happened.
Awareness entered onto the scene. I noticed how activated I was becoming over this unchangeable reality. I sat back and witnessed it as a third party, not attached to personal stories that were busy in my mind. At that moment, I made a choice. I chose again. I saw the disturbance as it was and effectively created space from it. The disturbance was not only escorted out of the home that I had built for it in my mind but it was separated from me and fell away entirely.
The snow on the ground was one aspect of my current moment, just like the glass of water on the table and the fresh bread on the counter. The snow just was. I didn’t need to make it mean anything more or anything less. It was snow on the ground. Again, not bypassing my preference for the opposite experience, but simply not identifying with the snow and making it mean more than it did.
Later that day, the snow had melted and I looked out my window at green grass once again. I didn’t fall down a tunnel over it. I just saw and noticed it. I didn’t give meaning to it. I wasn’t making it mean something about the future or the past.
What if we let the moment be what it is instead of laying down concrete over it and making it live within us?
The reality is that we don’t have to jump in the erratic car with the monkey mind when it starts, as it will. We can step into our own car and choose to sit in the seat of witnessing. We can be with the experience here, notice what it is, and allow it to pass by. The meaning only comes if we allow our car to go there.
So, next time you notice your own “snow in May” personal problem, can you observe the inner disturbance and then be in the exact moment that you find yourself without giving it meaning? Can it simply be a passing sensation? Choose your peace.