Experience – Do we make it up?
Making up our Experience
Where does our experience come from?
It may seem like a simple enough question – yet the answer we are conditioned to believe, as we grow up in the increasingly complex world that has been created for us to live in, is one that colours our lives certainly from the moment we start school, and often before that time.
We assemble our experience of anything through the perceptions that are presented to our consciousness. We assemble these perceptions from predicting and analysing the sensual data we receive from certain stimuli.
Those stimuli can be what we see, hear, feel (touch), smell, taste – which are the 5 main OUTER senses (as we understand them) – PLUS – there are some other data sources as well, that come from interoception, what I would loosely describe as our INNER senses, such as the internal status of the body, time, balance, emotion, memory, etc.
Our perceptive apparatus predicts and analyses all the stimuli from moment to moment, and then presents to our Consciousness A VERSION OF WHAT IS HAPPENING.
Not what is ACTUALLY happening, you understand – just a version of events.
Harnessing the Power of Thought
This entire ongoing routine of prediction and analysis is merely a set of Thought Processes. Or, to or to put it another way, it is HOW we are using The Power of Thought, moment by moment, to make sense of what is happening in the world both around us on the OUTSIDE and also for us on the INSIDE.
What SEEMS REAL to us, in terms of the version of what is happening, is not what SEEMS REAL to other people either – for they, too, are making up THEIR OWN version of what is happening for THEM!
HOW we harness the Power of Thought creates for each and every one of us a VERSION, albeit an ILLUSION, of what is REALLY going on. In terms of our experience, we are making it all up – every one of us – ALL the time!
It is what is known as the INSIDE-OUT NATURE of REALITY.
The WORLD ISN’T HAPPENING TO US – IT IS AN ILLUSION WE ARE MAKING UP, from moment to moment
Knowing WHERE our experience comes from, through HOW we are harnessing the Power of Thought and then presenting the results to our Consciousness, is the simplest and most wonderful psychological concept for everyone, in the world today.
In terms of our personal well-being this is a very USEFUL thing to know and understand.
For each and every one of us, the Clearer our Minds become with THIS, the smoother our lives will be and the less we will be prone to becoming beset by problems and circumstances.
Yet there will always continue to be moments where we will DEFINITELY BELIEVE our thinking – because, as the song goes – we are ONLY HUMAN AFTER ALL!
So, DON’T put the blame on me – when I make assumptions, interpretations, predictions and judgments. For these are only ever based on my inadequate perceptions – and when I am vulnerable and less grounded in every moment to moment, my Human Frailty is BELIEVING this all to be REAL.
I find myself not just in the cinema WATCHING the scary movie, I’m actually believing I’m really LIVING inside the scary movie … and, you know what?
SCARED, that is – until the moment I CHANGE MY MIND, until the moment I realise once more that it is all an ILLUSION, until I hit the ‘RESET’ button that brings me back to my Understanding.
Keeping the ‘RESET BUTTON’ near at hand!
So, how can we mitigate our frailties and those moments when we are believing our thinking?
Well, part of this starts with our being more grounded – as a DEFAULT state of mind, so to speak. When we are more grounded, the instances of Frailty showing up in our lives will be less frequent. However – they will STILL SHOW UP!
They tend to show up at times when our back is turned, or when we are complacent about our grounded-ness.
So, should we be always on our guard – in a state of constant watchfulness?
Well, to be honest, that’s VERY HARD WORK! It is like being in a state of constant alert – watchful, mindful of the dangers etc. In fact, when we start to make demands upon ourselves, like that, it tends to lead us towards an excess of THINKING.
And EXCESS THINKING, as we know, is pointing us back to Frailty.
Constant monitoring of our mental state, therefore, is counter-productive.
Now, our Minds and Bodies are an integrated and synchronous system where HOW WE ARE BEING occurs, every moment of our lives. And there is a very simple part of our unified self that is encapsulated within that system.
And that is – our ATTENTION.
Our Thinking and Our Attention
Now, when we are frail – living in the OUTSIDE-IN momentary nature of our fluctuating states of mind, most of us strive to get the feeling of SECURITY that comes from a sense of BEING IN CONTROL of our lives.
“If I can JUST change what is happening TO ME then my life will become better, will start to improve, and I will feel I’m getting ‘a handle’ on directing my life towards the things I want and the way I’d like things to be.”
However, in terms of seeing the wood for the trees – by DIRECTING our Attention AWAY from the Trees of our Thinking and towards the wood of something else, we can allow some clarity to emerge from the excess thought, and thus return to the transparency of allowing the Power of Thought to just flow through our lives, without our needing to constantly ATTEND to it.
There is NEVER any need to constantly ATTEND to our Thoughts – even though we might be persuaded to believe this is a good thing to do.
How might we change our Attention AWAY from Thoughts?
Well the first thing to realise is that it is pointless for us to EXAMINE our Thinking in terms Good or Bad, Positive or Negative. This is like getting ourselves to filter our Thinking, which brings even more TREES into our Attentive Foreground! Remember, we need to be disengaging from ALL TREES!
We need to engage more Attention to our raw, sensual stimuli – the Sights, Sounds, Touches, Smells and Tastes. If we notice that those TREES are still pretty dense in nature, and are still masking the WOOD, get outside – into the garden, perhaps go for a walk, a run, a drive to an engaging place.
Read a distracting yet absorbing book, play some distracting yet absorbing games, do a distracting yet absorbing activity like cooking a meal from scratch. If you are creative, get writing or drawing; make something simple but absorbing.
Get really good at POURING your ATTENTION into whichever activity you have chosen to engage with. Remember you are filling one cup in order to drain the other in terms of the illustration of how a fuller Attention can mask Thinking in order to ‘RESET’ that Thinking to being more clear and transparent.
Using our Bodies
Spread the fingers of your left hand. Now, using the index finger of your right hand, trace the spaces between the fingers of your left hand. Allow your right hand’s index finger to move in and out and up and down, going from the thumb of the left hand all the way along to the little finger.
It is a simple physical exercise – yet utterly distractive.
Place your tongue as close as you can to the roof of your mouth behind your upper set of teeth. Imagine there is a tiny droplet of edible oil between your tongue and the roof of your mouth – and hold that droplet there for around half a minute.
Again, it is a simple physical exercise, that also invokes a directed use of imagination, or guided visualisation – and, as before, is completely distractive.
Close your eyes and imagine the space between your eyes – not on the outside, as you might see when looking in a mirror, but on the INSIDE. There is no significance to whatever imagery may come up for you as you are doing this Open Focus exercise – just let it come, and then let it go.
Next, imagine the space inside your nostrils, and notice how your breath passes through this space – first on the way in, when you breathe in, and then on the way out when you breathe out. Get a sense of how the breath flows through that space.
Engaging with these two Open Focus exercises for only about a minute, will disengage you with any excess or overwhelm of thought for that time.
Again, the ensuing and emerging imagery is not of any particular consequence, but it is more about how we are directing our Attention to exploring even just these two areas of our INNER SPACE.
As you work through these various short and simple exercises, notice, once you finish, what has happened to your Thinking? Where has it gone?
It is – as virtually everyone says – as if those thoughts have vanished into thin air!
I was working with a lady for her Fear of Flying. When she returned from her overseas holiday I asked her how the flights had been for her. She reported that there had been some turbulence, and that she felt some of her panic symptoms returning. “I just used the ‘fingers’ exercise for about a minute,” she said, “And then I felt fine afterwards – even before the turbulence had stopped. Thank you so much!”
We know we can direct our Minds to create change in our Bodies – we should never forget the power in our Bodies to create change in our Minds.
We are one complete, unique and synchronous system. It is there for us to engage with at all times!