How to Create Lasting Happiness and Peace of Mind in Your Life
BY JIM DREAVER
For anyone who has tasted inner freedom—the ease, harmony and flow that is their true nature—the experience is very, very seductive and leaves most wanting more. When I had my first awakening in 1977, it so opened and inspired me that I spent the next twenty years learning how to live inthe awakened “state” all the time. Of course, true awakening is not a “state.” States, after all, come and go, but awakening, enlightenment or self-realization is to know yourself as the ground of being, that which is always here.
So how do you shift from intellectual “knowing” about awakening—from having had one or many tastes of it, which have now simply become memories—into the actual, embodied, living experience of it? In my books and teaching work, I encourage people to do the freedom practice, the fastest way I know to make the shift “permanent,” as permanent as anything can be in this world of ours.
You do the practice whenever you get caught in an emotional reaction to your perception, real or imagined, of what’s happening in your life—whenever you experience conflict, upset or suffering, or when somebody “pushes your buttons.” And the “doing,” of course, is simply a matter of remembering to take a few deep, slow breaths and being very alert and aware, watchful of your inner experience. There are three basic steps.
“The freer you are, the more you relax into the present moment, into here and now”
First, you learn to be supremely present whenever there’s even the hint of suffering in you—and, eventually, you learn to welcome it. This “welcoming” was key to my final awakening in the spring of 1995. During the year before it happened, whenever I felt even a vague feeling of conflict or suffering, I would say to myself: “Ah, I welcome this situation, because it’s showing me where I’m not yet free.”Second, you notice the thought or story behind your suffering—for example, “Why is this happening to me?” or “I’m not sure I can handle this,” or “My God, how will I pay the rent?” The story may even be an unconscious one, relating to some childhood trauma, so you may have to look deep within yourself. You may have to face some aspect of your past—some old “demon”—and acknowledge to yourself that while it was real then, it is not real now.
Third, you see the truth. And what is the truth you’re seeing? That the thought or story, just like the emotional reaction that it triggered, comes and goes, shifts and changes, but you—as the one who sees and experiences your thoughts and reactions—are always here. Then you simply breathe and relax into what you are—clear, spacious awareness, consciousness or presence. This seeing of the truth—that everything you are aware of comes and goes—has to happen again, and again and again, as many times as needed, day in and day out. You must see the connection between your thoughts and stories and your emotional reactions, be they of pleasure or pain, joy or disappointment, or of ease or anxiety.
Each time you see it you become a little bit freer, and more established in the present moment. Then, at some point, there is invariably the natural arising of a fourth step. You find yourself asking: “Well, just who is this ‘I,’ this ‘me,’ this ego-self I take myself to be?” However, when you look deeply within yourself to see if you can find the “me,” the story-teller, you discover something most extraordinary and liberating: the story-teller is no more real than the stories it tells! Once you’ve seen that you are not even the “I” or “me” thought, but that you, as an aware and conscious human being, are still very much here, then your inner work is done, finished, over.
You don’t have to “do” the freedom practice any more—other than when you experience a residue of an old ego pattern, and again find yourself being triggered emotionally. You’re free of emotional reactions because you’re free of this ego “I” who reacts. You still have the “I” and “me” thoughts of course, but now you’ve seen that, because they too come and go, you are obviously not them. You are the seeing, that which is always here. This is the essence of the nondual approach.The freer you are, the more you relax into the present moment, into here and now, and the more you experience the expanded vision of clear, thought-free, present-time awareness. The more you stay in your mind, however—“thinking” about what you may have just realized—the more your understanding remains at the level of the intellect. It is just more “story,” more belief, and the experience doesn’t become your embodied reality. Your mind, your ego, is always seeking “more.”
To make the shift, you must see that you are the seeing. You must become aware that you are not your body, mind or senses because these can be observed. Rather, you are what you are observing. What you actually are is pristine awareness or consciousness existing here, now, and expressing through this unique instrument, this individual body/mind/self called “you.” You are the timeless, unchanging awareness noticing and responding to the endlessly changing drama that is life.
You are the consciousness giving birth to the entire world between your ears, the world that you have always thought of as “you!” When you realize this, and when you are fully alive and present in this moment now, then your experience, at least in this moment—and there is only this moment!—is embodied. Then your emotional state is basically always one of ease, harmony and flow, of joy, love and a deep, profound gratitude for the fact that you are alive. Your mind is clear, quiet, your heart opens wide, and you bring a more loving presence to every encounter.
Be sure to check out Jim’s fantastic book on awakening to your higher spiritual self End Your Story, Begin Your Life by Jim Dreaver.
About The Author
Jim Dreaver is the author of End Your Story, Begin Your Life, his acclaimed book that is all about awakening to freedom. He began his search for freedom in the mid-seventies with the teachings of yoga, Zen and J. Krishnamurti. In 1984 he met European nondual master Jean Klein, who led him to seeing the truth in 1995. His mission now is to guide others to the same realization—that awakening is ever and only here, now! He has taught his work at Esalen Institute near Big Sur, California for many years, online, in Los Angeles and San Francisco and in New Zealand and Australia. He lives in Santa Barbara, California and is available for private sessions via skype, phone, or in person for those who want to accelerate their journey to freedom. If this is you, email Jim at email@example.com or visit www.jimdreaver.com