We can discover freedom from the constant inner criticism of the chattering mind when we directly recognize our naturally wakeful and liberated essence. One of my methods for helping others realize this is by asking the question,
What is here now, when there is no problem to solve?
In the video below, I describe the process of relaxing into our naturally spacious and awake ground of being. Beneath the video is an excerpt from my book, Shift into Freedom, in which I recount the story of one of my students shifting into this peaceful dimension of awake awareness in the midst of daily life.
Excerpt from Shift into Freedom
We all long for freedom, but real freedom is not a quality you gain; it is who you already are. Freedom arises from a deep sense of well-being that does not depend on any life circumstances. However, even when we’ve tasted real freedom, most of us can’t figure out how to intentionally return to it. What’s missing from our approach is not willingness, intellectual understanding, or effort, but the means to shift out of the confusion that causes our suffering and into the new way of being.
A student of mine, who’d only recently learned to shift local awareness, was at dinner with some friends he hadn’t seen for a while. He realized he was feeling anxious and self-conscious. He tried to calm himself, but nothing changed. Then he remembered that he’d learned a method of unhooking local awareness and shifting into his naturally peaceful mind. He’d only tried this method in the quiet solitude of his home before, but that night he decided to see if it worked at the dinner party.
While his companions placed their orders with the waiter, he discovered that only a short time was needed to unhook and shift his local awareness away from his painful, contracted state of self-consciousness and into a new way of seeing and being. He later told me, “I immediately noticed relief. My internal judge was gone—the critic of myself and others—and this allowed me to listen to my friends in a way that was much more engaged, heartfelt, and easygoing. Until the critic was gone, I hadn’t even noticed how much this anxious judge ruled my world.”
From the very first experience of shifting local awareness, many people report a kind of release or unburdening—like putting down a heavy backpack. Sometimes people experience an absence of negative qualities that have haunted them their whole lives; they feel relief from worry, agitation, fear, obsessive thinking, shame, and judgment. Others notice positive qualities like peace, spaciousness, unity, and love arising spontaneously. When you try unhooking local awareness from your thoughts, you’ll discover that you can experience the benefits immediately. The next step is learning which dimension to intentionally shift into. You don’t need to leave the room and meditate for half an hour in the middle of your workday or during a social gathering to discover the peace of mind that’s already here within.
Find freedom from your inner critic with my book, Shift into Freedom »