The small sense of self feels separate, and this location makes us feel contracted, isolated, and in our heads. The experience of opening up during the process of awakening first brings spaciousness, emptiness, and freedom; these qualities can then be followed by embodiment, unity, and flow. In our journey of awakening the sense of no-self is a freedom from a specific place of viewing. We can feel infinite, everywhere, nowhere, here, and now.
Location matters: Where are you viewing from? From which level of mind are you looking? Contrary to popular belief, relief from suffering is not achieved by changing the thoughts, emotions, and situations that arise. Instead, relief is directly related to the level of mind from which we experience these. Ask yourself this question about any thoughts, feelings, beliefs, judgments, worries, and fears that arise:
Who or what are these experiences arising to?
You may not have previously thought about meditation as a way of shifting location. Our sense of self and our way of knowing is “normally” located within our thoughts. We can learn to shift the location of the observer out of identification with thinking. When you become aware of your thoughts—instead of remaining located within them—you begin to feel some relief from stress. We all know what it’s like to be located in a bad mood, a daydream, a righteous point of view, or a fantasy. When we’re self-centered, our location is clearly the problem. When we put ourselves into another person’s shoes, we’re changing our location to feel empathy and compassion.
In the open-hearted awareness approach, we learn to use local awareness for shifting our location. When we shift location, we change the way our brain works. When we use local awareness to shift our level of mind, our perception of the whole world changes. We are no longer confined to a small self in our heads, looking out from behind our eyes. We can learn how to move local awareness to a new location that generates a profound change in our sense of identity. This change takes us out of the emotional turmoil perpetuated by our current location. When we shift to a new level of mind, we find more capacity, space, and the ability to relate without fear or shame.
For more information, see Loch’s book and audio of meditations, Shift Into Freedom.
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