Finding Your Self By Losing Your Mind

This ‘change of life’ affects not only your body but also your relationships and your feelings about yourself. It is a time when finding your self helps you drop all the labels and come into your own sense of who you are

Finding Your Self By Losing Your MindAlan Watts, the British born philosopher, speaker and Zen teacher once said: “We all need to go out of our minds at least once a day. When we go out of our minds we quickly come to our senses.”

It’s a remarkable concept, really, imagining how extraordinary the mind is.

It can span the sublime heights of intellectual ecstasy to the depths of suicidal despair; from piercing clarity to confused schizophrenia. The same mind that longs for a sumptuous slice of chocolate cake or a stunning dress or shirt, may afterward wonder why we ate something so rich, or let the clothing go unworn in the closet and feel guilty that we bought it in the first place.

This mind is capable of understanding the most intricate scientific and mathematical theories and can make complicated corporate decisions, yet the same mind can get caught up in trivia and nonsense, becoming upset or even unglued over a seemingly-harmless remark. It runs our lives, pushing us from attraction to repulsion and creating endless dramas that act out our insecurities and fears.

The tragedy is that such mental play is considered to be normal. We become exhausted maintaining our dramas and thinking patterns — “My mind is so busy, it’s driving me crazy!” — as if this were some sort of achievement.

In order to reinforce these patterns, we surround ourselves with people who think and feel the same way. It is a basic human need to feel loved and that we belong, so as long as there are others out there supporting and agreeing with us we feel fine.

There is no denying the importance and value of the mind — there is great brilliance and beauty here — but there is also great absurdity. Thinking, for instance, is not wrong at all, but are our thoughts constructive ones or do they generate further confusion? The mind is a perfect servant but a terrible master, for no matter how intellectually astute or creative we may be, this aptitude often has little or no effect upon the habitual mind and its repetitive patterns: the fear, guilt, anxiety, neurosis, shame, and self-centeredness.

We usually take offense when someone says to us, “Are you out of your mind?” But what if it is actually the coolest thing to say? What if being out of our mind means we aren’t disturbed or annoyed by the madness of our mind and are more in touch with our heart and our freedom?

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Humankind has come a long way in terms of physical evolution; we have developed our world beyond any other known life form and have achieved enormous technical advancement, like going to the moon. But there is still a long way to go in the evolution of consciousness.

Evolution takes us from the gross to the subtle, while involution takes us from the subtle to the sublime.

We have yet to touch the depth of our authentic self by turning within instead of outside ourselves.

Meditation is being present with what is and occurs in the inner quiet that is always there, beneath the discursive chatter and distractions. Like the water in a lake, when the mind is still we can see the depths below, but when the mind is disturbed it’s easy to get caught up in the waves. In meditation we watch whatever arises, like waves, and as we pay attention so they are unable to take over and run the show. We can experience this through our Be The Change Meditate e-Conference, where meditation comes alive and is accessible for all.

Like the water in a lake, when the mind is still we can see the depths below

When we get out of our mind and into our heart, then we are free from our insecurities, worries, judgments and self-centeredness, free from everything that keeps us confused, scattered and fearful, free from the dramas and stories that reinforce who we think we are. And we find who we really are instead; we see our limited nature more clearly and discover the vast, unlimited depth that lies withinour true self.

In the yoga tradition the true self is Atman, and the ultimate goal of yoga is self-realization. When we become selfrealized, we are the masters of our self:

The mind, emotions, and intellect are our means to live in this world – they serve us instead of driving us crazy. We can be in the world but not of it!

By Ed & Deb Shapiro

See our awardwinning book: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Jack Kornfield, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Byron Katie and many others.
Deb is the author of the award-winning YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND, Decoding the Emotional, Psychological, and Spiritual Messages That Underlie Illness.
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