This blog will go deeper into the east direction of healing as first written about in the blog entry, “The Defeat Story and the Transcending True Self.” Healing started in the north and you can read about that in the previous post.
East is the mind and here we can find the mindfulness practice that allows us to be witness to the story of defeat versus buying what it is selling. When we can watch the mental stories and the mind blah blah blahing while knowing true self is not the thoughts, we free ego from being enslaved to the story of defeat. This gives space for true self to rise up from the shadow and synthesize with the ego. No need to understand how this works. If you learn to watch your thoughts but not believe in them and if you learn how to be the witness to your mind but not identify with mind as self, the true self will rise, synthesize and become ego. The healing of the east is connected to the air, seeing the big picture like a wise eagle up in the sky.
I want to share my personal story of healing in the east. Back in 2010, when I was 38 years old, I had never meditated before minus a handful of times. I had done countless journeys inward in the form of creative visualizations and shamanic journeys. I had stared out the window and allowed my thoughts to reveal themselves in silence probably every day of my life. But I did not think I needed to meditate and I had no desire until my father suggested I try it when he noticed how much I was struggling with a certain issue in my life.
Smack dab in the middle of New York city, I closed my eyes and began the basic practice of watching my breath and noticing my thoughts pass like clouds through the sky of my mind. Beginners luck. Within just a few minutes a profound felt experience took me over. I could feel me being my breath and the thoughts not being me. Suddenly, I changed forever. I no longer believed my thoughts were true. I no longer felt my self to be what my thoughts were telling me I was through their stories and more deeply, I no longer felt thoughts themselves to be anything even close to who I was.
An emptiness seized me for weeks afterward as I would have thoughts about me or whatever topic rose up and every single thought seemed irrelevant. Not pointless or bad or wrong or any judgmental thing. Just a soft neutral irrelevance that left me feeling empty because I used to fully invest in my thoughts before that. I used to not have a sense of space between me and my thoughts. All of the sudden there was space and complete differentiation. Thoughts seemed nothing more than song on the radio.
I am very mental by temperament. I have seven air planets in my natal chart which represents mind. I am a huge meaning-maker. Eventually, I found my way back to the love and joy I experience for allowing my thoughts to have some weight. During that period in 2010, I would have said, “I have seven air planets in my chart, is just a thought. Astrology is just a thought. I am a meaning-maker is just a thought. None of it matters. I am, is just a thought.” and let it all go the moment those thoughts rose up in me. This is a path many take in life and it is beautiful and true in its own right. I swung back to the middle because my true self love for meaning-making led the way.
Every time I get too invested in thoughts I can return to that place and drop all identification with thinking and identities that thinking creates. To identify with your thoughts means to believe them as true and to believe what they tell you informs you about the nature of reality, self, or whatever you are thinking about. We use thoughts as a means to communicate and they have their purpose. Eventually I found the right balance for me in how much I invest in thoughts but I don’t identify with them at all anymore. I can blab on and on about my natal chart and how it makes sense of my internal experience and I also don’t identify with Astrology as a concept, at the same time. This is how it is with every mental understanding that I love and that gives me a strong felt sense. I love exploring the archetypes, they give me a strong self sense and I don’t identify with archetypes as concepts.
I identify with only a felt experience of being me. It’s wordless. It’s love if I have to give a word.
I share my story of east healing to show how quick it can happen to loosen the grip on the mind. When we over-identify with the stories our mind tells us, we suffer. Buddhism is rooted in the psychology of detaching identity from thought. We are not our thoughts. Even being a “me” is a thought and radical practice of this transcends sense of self past the individual level. We are not who we think we are.
Thoughts are not ours. We don’t make them up. Thoughts travel around and we catch them with our brains that are like nets catching butterflies. Or you can see the brain as a radio station and thoughts are the radio waves. Those of us who channel experience this consciously all the time. I turn my brain to a certain channel and channel a certain being.
The big idea (which is a thought too, so everything I explain in this blog is also moot) is that we are not the stories we tell ourselves and we don’t make up thoughts we think. Rather, the human being is a frequency channeling other frequencies in one big frequency being.
How is this healing?
Because, for example, when you let go of believing you are insecure and not good enough, space is created within. This space will naturally fill up with love. Love is the frequency of oneness that is the core power inside every single human being. Love is God. Love is Nature. Love is Universe. It’s the most natural thing in the world. Yet it is very easy to blotch out. If you spend all day trying to prove your worth in the eyes of others or chasing after projections of what you think will satisfy you or tell yourself you are a piece of poo or tell others they are a piece of poo or whatever story of pain and suffering you tell yourself, you blotch out the natural love that is the very core of existence.
I don’t use the word love like a hippie woo woo creature you can make fun of but you might make fun of me anyway. Let me remind you, love is strong. Love is childbirth, love is surviving abuse and war and starvation, love is saving a life, love is working through problem after problem, love is communicating truth, love is being honest, love is being open, love is being vulnerable, and love is being present. Love is hope. Love is the blood in the body and the gold of the soul. The west is where we feel this love. The east is where we clear space to feel this love.
I have not formally meditated in years. I do a vinyasa yoga practice that connects breath to movement and this keeps me centered so that I remain the witness of my thoughts. Four times a week. Chill. I have huge struggles in certain areas and I am not on any mountaintop when I share that being witness to my thoughts is something that comes easy to me. For you it may be harder and you may need to meditate daily to stay the witness. We all need a different kind of practice.
You can meditate by simply watching your breath and thoughts pass by while sitting in silence. You can watch your thoughts and breath while chanting, making something with our hands that does not require thought, or do some form of movement that allows you to watch thoughts and breath at the same time. You can meditate for five minutes a day or hours a day. Some ancient eastern practices make it complex and add all sorts of fancy breath work. There is a lot of variety to choose from and practices root back to the beginning.
True self rises from the west when we create space by not identifying with thoughts. This is my take on it, coming from a western point of view where I have consciously chosen to embrace the creative play of being an individual soul. I don’t believe in the individual soul as a static thing because as we lose the human suit we may become more collective and when I let go of all thought, I feel only oneness as the play of forces and form. I like to use all metaphysical concepts playfully, poetically and free to morph, as a result.
I feel the play of forces and form that is oneness choosing to put on the costume of the individual soul. Like the Russian doll image, I feel oneness as the core doll evolving through individuating itself into more and more specific life forms. I feel oneness evolve through creating stories of being different life forms. Just as humans stem from the single cell bacteria here on earth…I feel oneness as the spirit version of the single cell bacteria, continually evolving into more and more life forms. Metaphysical tangent.
True self is the authentic individual aching to emerge from the shadow of the ego where it waits for ego to make space for it to rise.
When space is created by not identifying with thoughts, true self can begin to rise and embody the conscious personality. True self is a felt experience and not a belief system. Why must I always express myself creatively? It’s my true self. Why am so sensitive and feel things with the volume way higher than most? It’s my true self. Why am I so spiritual? It’s my true self. It’s me beyond an idea of me. It’s living breathing me.
I was blessed to be raised by parents who did not tell me what to believe about who I am or life itself. I was raised without religious or moral dogma. I was raised with a felt experience love, even through the dysfunction, abuse, and troubles youth delivered. This may have made it easier for me to know who I really am. I can only imagine the struggle for some who are raised with strong mental belief systems and dogma that forces them to repress their true nature at a young age to survive or be liked. I think about this especially for LGBTQIA kids and it breaks my heart that their true nature is made to be sinful and wrong by religion.
We all face the battle of true self versus conditioned self if we don’t align with our culture’s value system, on any level. Yet even if you are gender binary, christian, cis-male, straight, between the ages of 18 and 35, healthy, handsome, wealthy and educated with the cultural norm kissing your feet, you may equally battle discovering your true self because the world will mold your success so easily and distract you from looking within. However you are praised or marginalized by family and culture will inform how your true self is repressed or valued. Nature and nurture.
A certain true self temperament may not let any amount of cultural/family conditioning, abuse or trauma repress their true nature. Another temperament may crumble from the slightest thought of being humiliated. The reality of being oppressed, abused, or steered away through a strong value system put in place by family and tradition effects each individual in varying degrees. You can notice this in siblings who grow up in same household and culture but respond to external life in very distinct ways based upon their distinct internal experience. The distinct internal experience is the true self.
True self exists beneath and beyond thought but thought turns true self into a word and a concept. In the east, space is made between the felt experience and the thoughts that are always flooding in to costume the felt experience into a story. This story, when identified with, cements itself into the psyche and loops. This looping is called a neural pathway. The reason why we get stuck in habits of thinking and behavior roots itself in the way the neural pathway plays on repeat like forgetting to change the radio station and it always playing the same song, over and over. This is suffering.