Once in a coffee shop, I overheard a middle-aged woman telling her friend, in a hurt voice, “I feel so judged by him.” Therein lies the history of humanity’s suffering. So long as we identify with this ego “self,” this “I” we take ourselves to be, suffering—in the form of anxiety, fear, blame, self-doubt, etc.—is inevitable.
But our suffering can end, and we can live as the beautiful, creative people we are through a simple shift in perception. Then we experience a peace, joy, and happiness that depend on no “story,” event, or circumstance, but rather shines on its own.
To undergo the shift, I teach a simple practice, based on the mantra, “Only now is real…” which bring us into the present moment, into our true power, where we can begin to connect with others in a fearless, loving way. It allows us to see everything without the interference of any limiting “story,” belief, or prejudice.
It effectively ends any suffering, at least in this moment. Best of all, it takes less than a minute, making it the perfect spiritual practice for busy people. Let’s do it right now. Say the mantra, then breathe, get grounded in our body, and be very alert and present. Connect with our surroundings, then observe our inner reality.
Notice how our thoughts and “stories,” especially this ego “self,” this “I” that we most personally identify with, just like our feelings and emotions, come and go, shift and change. And it has been doing this our whole life. However, “we,” as awareness—the space in which our thoughts arise, and that is reading these very words—are always here.
If we’re emotionally triggered, we learn to love ourselves, to welcome the upset because it’s showing us where “we,” as this ego “I” who has a “story”—a judgment, an opinion, an expectation, a fear, a resistance—about everything, are not yet free.
Then we experience the emotion without creating any more “story” about it. We let our ego fade into the background. Whatever triggered us came from our past and was real then but is not real now. Only now—what’s happening in our current circumstances—is real.
And the feeling of just being here in the present, grounded in our physical body with our mind empty and alert, free of any “story,” and our heart open, is simply the best feeling there is. When we really sink into it, it feels like we are breathing pure oxygen. It is at once cleansing, healing, and renewing. We literally flow in love and freedom.
When we’re present like this, in the open-hearted, welcoming space, everything is seen anew. Then we can use the power of our mind, guided always by the wisdom and love in our heart, to create a new, happy outcome—and “story”—for our lives, one that will inspire others, and have a positive and healing influence on the world around us.
~Jim Dreaver met European spiritual master Jean Klein in 1984, awakened in 1995, and except for brief moments of “forgetting,” has been free of suffering ever since. He lives with his partner, Tanya, in Santa Barbara, CA. He is the author End Your Story, Begin Your Life, and has taught at Esalen Institute and elsewhere. For info on sessions and his new book, The Secret of Life: Mastering the Shift into Freedom, Love, and True Happiness.
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