by Gina Lake
The only reality is this moment. It is all that really exists. The past is a memory, the future is a fantasy, and memories and fantasies are just ideas—quite inaccurate ones at that. Ideas arise in the now, but they are only a small part of the present moment. However, because we are programmed to pay attention to our mind, ideas often take the place of experience: We think about life and think about what we are experiencing rather than experiencing it purely, without thought. Experience colored by thought, and experience uncolored by thought is a very different experience.
When we are identified with the mind, we enjoy thinking more than we enjoy experiencing. The mind doesn’t like pure experience because it is left out of it, so it convinces us that it has something to contribute to the present moment. To be fair, it sometimes does: For practical things, like making an airline reservation, the mind is useful; however, most thoughts are not utilitarian but tell us what to think, what to do, and how to be in the world, according to our conditioning, which is not a good guide for living. The mind isn’t wise enough to guide us in our lives, not only because conditioning is an inadequate guide, but because the mind is usually ruled by the ego and its values and goals (e.g. superiority and more and better), which are not worthy ones and therefore can’t lead to true happiness and fulfillment.
Fortunately, something much wiser than the mind is already guiding us, but it doesn’t use the mind to do that. It guides us through inspiration, intuition, urges, motivation, and spontaneous actions. We don’t need the mind as much as we think. We hardly need it at all, which is what we discover when we stop listening to our mind and start listening more to our intuitions and the spontaneous urges and inspirations of essence as they are revealed in each moment.
When you are very present in the moment without giving your full attention to thoughts, as we usually do, you discover that many other things are arising in the moment besides thoughts. The mind discounts these other things as unimportant and uninteresting, so if you keep paying attention to your mind, you never have a real chance to find out about these for yourself. When we finally become disillusioned with the mind’s complaints, judgments, poor guidance, and version of reality, which is generally quite negative, we begin to look outside the mind for true happiness and true guidance, which is where it can be found.
The problem with the mind is not just that it gives poor guidance but that it keeps us from realizing the wisdom that is available and already steering our life as much as we allow it. This wisdom comes from essence—our true Self—which allows us to follow the mind until we discover this truth for ourselves. Meanwhile, it guides us as much as we allow it to. Once we become more aware that it is actively at work in our life, we can begin to listen more for it and cooperate with it, and life can unfold much more smoothly.
There are a number of things in every moment that you might become aware of, and they change very quickly, so there is a lot to pay attention to. Rather than nothing going on, which is what the usually mind thinks, a lot is going on in every moment that is changing quickly. In any moment, you may experience the following:
1. Input from your senses, including energetic sensations, body sensations (including pleasure and pain), sights, sounds, smells, and tastes;
2. Emotions, including, anger, disgust, sadness, happiness, fear, shame, jealousy, envy, guilt, hatred, greed, lust, excitement, and desire;
3. Thoughts, including memories, fantasies, judgments, complaints, opinions, beliefs, doubts, hopes, wishes, planning, observations, rehearsals for the future, ruminations about the past, and other ideas and conditioning;
4. Communications arising from essence, including intuition, psychic impressions, inspiration, insights, ideas, creativity, knowing, motivation, and urges to act and speak; and
5. “Feelings” arising from essence, including love, peace, joy, awe, bliss, elation, gratitude, happiness, and contentment.
In every moment, these are happening all at once, so there’s a lot to give your attention to. Communications and feelings from essence are most important to pay attention to because they are meant to guide your life. Sensations are also important to pay attention to because they keep you in your body and out of your egoic mind. They can also be doorways into the now when you find yourself identified with the egoic mind. Just by giving your attention to sensations, you drop into the now and into alignment with essence. On the other hand, paying attention to thoughts and the emotions that come from them takes you out of alignment with essence and into identification with the ego if you believe those thoughts and emotions. When you believe the ego’s version of reality, you become identified with it, and this leads to emotions. Without thoughts, the only feelings that would arise would come from essence: love, joy, elation, happiness, contentment, awe, and peace.
In any moment, your attention is moving around: You may go from a thought to a feeling, to a body sensation, to an intuition, to a sight, to a sound, to another body sensation, to another thought, to a sensation of the energy body, to an upwelling of awe, to peace, to contentment, and then to another thought. Every moment is unique in the experience it offers you, and every moment is constantly changing into the next.
You don’t have control over what arises in any moment, but you can control where your attention goes, and that will determine how you experience the moment. Any moment can be an experience of peace and contentment or an experience of upset and dissatisfaction, depending on where you put your attention. If you put it on thoughts and emotions and identify with them, you won’t experience peace and contentment, but if you put it on your senses or on what is arising from essence, you will be content and happy. Attention is the secret to happiness!
Gina Lake has a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology and over twenty years experience supporting people in their spiritual growth. She is also the author of several other books on spirituality, including: Radical Happiness, Choosing Love, Anatomy of Desire, Return to Essence, Getting Free, and Living Your Destiny. Gina is available for astrological and channeled phone consultations that support spiritual awakening. For more information or to order her books, read excerpts, listen to talks, receive a free newsletter, or download Radiance: Experiencing Divine Presence for free, visit http://www.radicalhappiness.com.