Perhaps the single most important thing to become aware of if you wish to awaken from the dream of mind is being fully aware of how your mind attaches itself to stories – and in particular the story of you and the world.
It is my experience as a person who has long explored the human psyche that we all come into our lives with “soul issues”. These are essential tendencies and patterns of behaviour that recur from lifetime to lifetime.
There are other kinds of stories besides soul stories which impact our lives. Like soul stories, they are embedded within consciousness fields that impact how we experience life on this planet. For example, the consciousness structures of our ancestors become implicitly contained within our psyches when we are born, as does the energy of place, country, race and so on. Then there are planetary and cosmic influences. All of these things operate beyond our conscious control. An important point is that though highly significant, these other energies tend to be subtle. They are best dealt with by highly attuned masters of the spirit. In other words, addressing them is like doing advanced courses of math, and it is not much use for an average student attempting to explore such things.
This is not so with the power of story. It is your mastery of this level of mind that lays the foundation for your awakening. Without a strong understanding of the mind, you quite simply cannot awaken. This is true even if you are a master of the psychic realm. And this is why many people who are highly psychic or intuitive are not spiritually mature. Many clairvoyants remain trapped in drama and suffering because they do not become masters of the mind.
It is a very simple thing to become aware of your story. All you have to do is witness the thoughts that repeatedly enter your head as your life unfolds. Those thoughts contains patterns of belief, and macro-constructs about how life and cosmos operate.
The self-limiting themes that dominate humanity are easy enough to spot. We have the story of the victim, where life is unfair and has stolen your light from you. This is perhaps the most pervasive of all meta-narratives present in current humanity. It is a story of blame. It is always the other guy’s fault. Then there is the story of the bad boy or girl. This is one of guilt and shame, where the dominant idea is “There is something wrong with me.”
Of course we also have the stories of the bully, the unloved one, and the lost soul. In the story of the outcast, our hero must be vanished from the village, forever ostracised and alone. A related theme is that of the pariah, the dirty one who must carry the sins of the fathers.
All such stories have subtle variations and expressions, and the precise beliefs that underpin them vary from person to person. Nobody loves me. I can never get what I want. You can’t trust anyone. The world is a cruel and terrible place. People are crap. Life is unfair. It doesn’t matter what you do, you can never succeed. I am powerless.
There are, of course, positive stories and expressions of consciousness, yet they don’t tend to hold us back. Believing that “I am a beautiful and loveable human being” won’t get you into too much trouble. The exception is with narcissistic or delusional beliefs. Believing that you cannot fail may have certain advantages, but sooner or later the story will come unstuck, because we all fail at something sooner or later. So sometimes we have to bring awareness to how we set ourselves up for suffering by overestimating our capacities, and what is required to produce certain outcomes in life.
Every single thought that enters your mind, and every single life event you experience is an opportunity to deepen your awareness of your story. This is the great news. No matter at what stage of life you find yourself, you can bring attention to your soul story simply by bringing yourself fully present and observing thoughts and beliefs as they arise. One time I became more deeply aware of my story as the victim, when I saw how following a certain sporting team was bringing out my victim-centered story. When my team was losing, I found myself blaming the umpire (a very common theme!), the ground conditions, the media reports and so on. Anybody but the team. Have you ever met a person who, on Monday morning, admitted that the referee gave his team a leg up? It doesn’t happen. The referee is always against your team, the media biased against your political views, and the teacher always grades the other guy above you unfairly. Strange that, isn’t it? Like I said, the victim story – the idea that everything is unfair and the world is against me – is the prime story which currently holds back people on this planet.
Becoming present is simple. Whenever you find yourself in a situation where there is suffering arising from the world of mind, simply stop and bring your attention to any object that is within your physical proximity. It might be the photocopier, the chair, the tissue on the table. Plants are wonderful ways to ground yourself in presence, as their energy in completely here, completely now.
As your attention falls upon the object, say the words to yourself: “I re-set. I am here now in the truth of this moment.” Breathe deeply, centre yourself within your body. Then witness any thoughts that enter your mind in relation to the situation in which you find yourself. As the witness, you will be able to separate your judgments towards what is happening from the situation itself. Make an intention to stay in that state of presence for at least thirty minutes. As you ground yourself in the present moment you will be able gain a new perspective upon your situation, and from there you will be able to intuit the best course of action to resolve your problem; or alternatively simply relax and await the situation to run its course.
It is only from the truth of presence that you can truly see the world, can truly see yourself in your infinite magnificence. As long as you remain in the world of story you cannot live in the truth of who you are as a spiritual being. You cannot truly love yourself, nor this world where God has placed you.
The mind is a world of illusion. But most people tend to be so attached to their mind’s story and its interpretations that they cannot distinguish thought from truth. Your task on the path of awakening is to develop a full, experiential, embodied understanding of this. And once you do that, you will be a master of the mind, and a champion of the soul.