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Entering the Now Moment by Leaving Unawareness Behind
By Gabriella Kortsch, Ph.D.
If you could enter a state of instant peace whenever you feel anxious, worried, angry, or afraid, would you not want to go there? Would you not want someone to tell you how to get there? And what the procedure to walk down that road would be? Read on...
Body - Mind - Spirit
The process of getting there is always based on the same premise - whether you are worried about your finances, a life-threatening illness, the impending demise of an important relationship, or about your teenaged daughter who is on drugs, whether you fear you will never get the promotion at work, or you fear standing up to face the Board of Directors for the first time in order to present the annual budget, or whether you fear telling your partner that you will no longer accept his or her emotional abuse. This process of getting to a state of instant peace moves you from your body to your mind and emotions, and finally to your spirit.
You Always Have a Choice
As you contemplate the dilemma or fear that is plaguing you, bring this thought into your mind, and surround yourself with all of its latent possibilities: You always have a choice. (See my February 2006 Newsletter: "Making Choices: Taking Responsibility for your Life"). So this means, of course, that if you are steadfastly convinced that you will bungle the presentation because of your fear of speaking in public, you begin to realize that your belief about this is a choice you have made. And in the same way you made one choice, you can make another, such as choosing to believe that you will be able to speak well, and make a successful presentation.
What if you believe that you will not be able to live if your partner deserts you, or because your partner is having an affair with someone else? Again... the belief you hold is your choice. (See also my article "I Need You... I Need You Not"). So you could potentially choose to believe that you will get on with your life, and that this difficult emotional situation will make you stronger. Or you could choose to believe that if someone wishes to desert you, or has been unfaithful to you, it means that you are better off without that person in your life. Or you could choose to believe that a frustration of such proportions is in your life in order for you to learn something about yourself (see also my article "Committed Relationships: Use Them to Grow Towards Self-Understanding and Real Love").
Now breathe gently to relax. Even if the thought or worry or fear continues to make you hyperventilate or break out in a sweat, just breathe gently to relax. Watch your breath for a moment or two, and continue breathing gently. Now observe your body for a few moments. Is your stomach clenched? Your breathing shallow? Your heart pounding? Your temples throbbing? Continue to breathe gently and slowly, and just for a few moments observe your breath. In and out. In and out. Gently. Continue observing your body in order to notice how it gently slows down and begins to release its frantic hold on your nerves. Breathe gently. In and out. In and out. Gently.
Mind & Emotions
Now allow yourself to become aware of your self-talk and your emotions related to the thought, worry, or fear. Self-talk is often sabotaging and harmful bringing about further negative emotions, and sometimes, conversely, negative emotions bring about sabotaging self-talk. It's a two-way street whose provenance neuroscientists, biologists, and psychologists have not yet determined. Do emotions cause thoughts or vice versa? Antonio Damasio (The Feeling of What Happens) and Candace Pert (Your Body is Your Subconscious Mind), among others, have researched this subject extensively.
So now you are breathing gently, aware of your body, and immersed in your self-talk. Grounding yourself is a wonderful way to cut the vicious cycle of sabotaging self-talk. If you just tell yourself that thinking that way is of no use, it's my bet that your thoughts will continue to course about the hated or dreaded subject. So ground yourself. An easy exercise while you are driving is this: look at the license plate on the car in front of you. Sum its digits. If you come up with a two-digit number as a result, sum up those numbers as well. So GRZ 9482 adds up to 23, which adds up to 5. Do this with several cars until you notice that the thoughts have gone. You notice this because you are actually thinking about something totally different or nothing at all. Another exercise, should this one not have worked for you due to its ease, or because you are not driving, is this: think of any two or three-digit number and multiply it by another two or three-digit number in your head. This will be certain to ground you and get your thoughts away from your self-talk, because it is so difficult - for most - to do, and requires such concentration.
In this new state of mind you now find yourself, with no - at least just now - negative emotions or thoughts spilling over - create substitutes for your previous self-talk and infuse these with positive emotion. So for example, you might think of yourself as speaking with ease at the Board Meeting and giving a successful presentation, at the same time as you imagine how good you would feel afterwards. This positive feeling about the intended results is very important. Any type of new self-talk or imagining should always contain within it strong positive feelings about the intended result. This intentional focusing (also see my March 2006 Newsletter: "Intentional Focus: Your Happiness, Your Success, & the Law of Attraction") on what it is you would like to create or bring about in your life, is an important ingredient in getting to the state of instant peace referred to at the beginning of this article.
Pain Body - Emotional Body
So at this point you have focused - with feeling and intentionality - on positive substitutes for your previous negative self-talk, and you now need to become aware of another hugely important ingredient of the process. Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now) refers to this as the pain body and Chris Griscom (The Healing of Emotion and Ecstasy is a New Frequency) refers to it as the emotional body.
Essentially both refer to that part of us that likes to wallow in our pain. What, you say? Why on earth would I want to wallow in something painful? The answer becomes obvious. Because it is a place you know. Because you feel at home there. In other words, we have been there so often before, in this place of pain, that when faced with a choice of doing something new and unknown, or wallowing, it is much easier to fall back to the well-trodden path and wallow. We don't really even think about it. We just go there, because it is familiar. And then we feel comfort in the familiarity of the pain. Recognize this? Have you been there? And are you tempted right now, despite what you have read to this point, to go back to your painful thoughts? Does that just feel so much easier?
The Observer - The Witness
So as you become aware of your attachment to pain, also observe your compulsion to talk and think about it. Observe how you automatically go to this place of pain. And in so observing, begin to realize that you can make conscious choices in your thoughts, actions, reactions, and feelings, in order to leave this well-known place where you have been keeping yourself prisoner.
As you observe yourself automatically wanting to go to this place of pain, you notice that there is a difference between the "you" that observes and the "you" that wants to go to the place of pain. The observer, or the witness to your thoughts and feelings is separate from the one who wants to go to the place of pain. Tolle says: "Be at least as interested in your reactions [thoughts and feelings] as in the situation or person that causes you to react". And he adds: "Whenever you are able to observe your mind, you are no longer trapped in it". As you do this, as you become the watcher, the observer, the witness of your own mind, you bring yourself to the present moment. You are no longer in that fitful, needy, hurtful, distressing past or future, because your observation of the part of you that is in those places, has brought you to the present in order to be able to observe, watch and witness.
In doing this, you also become aware of your eternal self - the part of you that watches is not the part that will wither and die - the part that watches is eternal, and will forever exist. From the vantage point of your eternal self (imagine looking at your eternal existence from a high mountain, overlooking valleys too numerous to count, where your "current you" is one of those valleys), your "current you" and its pressing problems loses some of this urgency. As you access that part of you, as you recognize your eternal essence, you enter the Now moment, and you gift yourself with peace.
This entire process takes much longer to describe than to put into practice, and once you begin practicing it, you will find it easier and easier to access each time you do so. It gives you immeasurable relief from stress and anxiety, fear and worry, pain and distress. The more you do it, the more you become the observer of your thoughts and feelings, the more you give your awareness to your eternal self and remain in the Now, the less time you will be spending in wallowing in the pain body or the emotional body. As you eliminate your ties to those connections, your life will begin to change automatically because of the new focus you are giving it.
Remember: observe your feelings, thoughts, or reactions. Identifying with the observer brings you to consciousness. Remember that your "observer self" is eternal. As you remember, you leave the painful place in your thoughts, feelings, or reactions that causes you such anguish, because by observing, you place yourself in the Now moment in which there is no room for past or future. The Now contains only the Now. Focusing on it means you are unable to focus on pain because pain comes from elsewhere. And that brings you to the beginning of the state of peace. Always.