Normally, local awareness is identified, attached, or obscured within the thinking mind and ego function. Yet we cannot know awake awareness through thinking; our contracted, isolated sense of self prevents us from recognizing it. We may begin with a few preliminary practices such as reading, chanting, meditating, or yoga. These initial practices are done by ego-identification with the goal of relaxing the grip of ego identification. However, ultimately, it is imperative to let go of any initial technique, level of mind, and doer. Some people call this movement “dropping,” “releasing,” “surrendering,” “letting go,” or “turning over.” I call it “unhooking.”
We don’t have to change our minds first to unhook local awareness from thought. We unhook local awareness in order to change our level of mind. Unhooking is the ability of local awareness to detach from, tune out of, let go of, or disidentify from any state of mind. Not merely a change of attitude, it’s an experiential movement away from enmeshment with the contents of our everyday minds. When local awareness is no longer identified, we are no longer caught in ego-identification.
So the fundamental question we need to answer is: how do I unhook? But “you” don’t unhook. Local awareness unhooks from the “you” that plans to unhook. One of the reasons we have not been able to unhook easily is because the “I” can’t do it. However, local awareness is already inherently within us as an expression of awake awareness. You have the capacity to move local awareness intentionally, even though you don’t know it. Once you get a feel for it, you will be able to move local awareness from thinking to spacious awareness. It is like moving your awareness from seeing to hearing. The learning of it feels more physical than mental.
Unhooking can be the initial movement that takes us out of the ego-identified state, but it will not always lead to awake awareness. Local awareness is the skillful means of focusing from spacious awareness that can intentionally focus while maintaining an open-hearted view. Local awareness knows from within its new location, instead of feeling the location of the perceiver behind our eyes, in our head. For instance, when local awareness travels to your hand, it knows directly from within your hand. When it moves to your emotions of sadness or joy, it knows from within those feelings. Like a spotlight, local awareness has the ability to focus in one area. Local awareness can become small or expand to a larger area. Local awareness can move, become identified, or disidentified. It lights up its location from within. When awake awareness is the primary operating system, we can remain spacious and open while simultaneously focusing on a particular task.
Even if you didn’t know anything about unhooking local awareness before now, you can still do it. It’s not done by understanding with thought or as an act of will through intense effort. In fact, you may not understand how to do it even when you do unhook and move local awareness. It’s like balancing on a bicycle. You get a feel for it, and then you practice until you develop trust that you can do it again.
For more information, see Loch’s book and audio of meditations, Shift Into Freedom.