Who are you? What is your identity? The answer is rarely I AM, an acknowledgement of pure awareness. Generally, it’s the mind who answers this question by attaching its identity to everything it encounters. I AM: my body, my appearance, my possessions, my career, my family, my car, my position in society, blah, blah, blah. At the moment-to-moment level, the mind creates low level identifications with every stimulus it encounters.
Consider visual stimulation. We move through the world constantly encountering visual stimulation. We go to the supermarket, see a variety of people and have thoughts about them. Judgments about their clothing, hairstyle, good looks or lack thereof, or what we know about them. Visually we narrow our gaze to focus on the passing parade, very similar to the passing parade of thoughts in our head. We are constantly identified, and hence, less than, often significantly less than, 100% Present. This situation is what we call ‘normal’.
Begin to notice this automatic tendency. Notice how you are taken away by what passes by. As you study this phenomenon, you cannot help but notice how you lose sense of Self. Your Consciousness gets covered over by a blizzard of thoughts generated by the parade of visual images. Every one of these thoughts produces an emotion which motivates a behavior. Your mind and behavior are ruled by this process.
Recapturing the Now requires a payment. The price is your identification with your thought stream. If you have observed what I described above, you may become repulsed by the realization of how you are giving your power away. Now you are ready to work.
One way to break the bond of identification with your visual field is to open your peripheral vision and hold it open. Maintain constant awareness of your entire visual field. Do not allow your vision to zero-in on anything. Consider this an experiment. It’s a different way of Being. If, while doing this, you ask yourself what percentage of my attention is here/now, you may discover you are significantly more Present than before initiating the exercise.
Holding your peripheral vision constantly open makes you more effective in every way. You see life coming at you from the edge of your vision, allowing you to interact rather than react. You will have more moments of Inner Stillness in you daily life. Using this simple exercise will enrich your life through the gift of Presence.
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James Westly, MC, LPC, 8/17/09