I’m very glad to have found an online community which seems to share some of the ideas, practices, and essential experiences which I have been having over the last year or so.
My story begins with me searching for a way to be comfortable with seemingly meaningless work. My job is one which is repetitive and physical, however also rather complex. It requires a high degree of precision. Yet over the years I have mastered it, to the point where “I” no longer need to be in charge. The work does itself. You could say this already reflects a reversed version of the Taoist way of “action through non-action”.
So while it might seem a good thing to be free of needing to act, this leaves one with a lot of time to think, something which I wasn’t comfortable with. My mind would run off on long and sometimes chaotic lines of thought, often into paranoia. This was due to an inability to just be, even while I was doing something, like working. So I turned to distraction. First it was music, but, after that was exhausted for novelty, i turned to podcasts. This kept my mind occupied while my body worked. I was (and still do sometime) learning and jumping down long rabbit holes of thought, discussions, etc. while this managed to calm the mind, unfortunately my interests became more crystallised, and there is only so much content one can find on a particular thing before it’s exhausted.
i was consuming these podcasts in a very western obsessive manner. When the pool was exhausted, I was back to my paranoid craving mind, which was sometimes unbearable.
I listen to these podcasts on wireless headphones, to avoid wires getting tangled while I work. But, sometimes they may run out of charge, or fall out, leaving me interrupting my work process in order to fix the problem.
i noticed this in myself, and saw it as an issue. So, I decided to defy my mind’s need for this consumptive habit, and one day, simply stopped listening. But, instead of being lost in thought, I was focusing on what I was doing, but not like I was doing it, because I had already formed these automatic behaviours which allowed me to be an “observer”.
So as I observed myself working, I would simply watch the movements being performed, the sensations of the movements. The sensation of the movements of the limbs in space, making contact with the objects in the world. All the while i would also be aware of my breath. I had done one session of mindfulness prior, and found it to be useful for quieting my mind.
As this was happening, I noticed I felt more “present”, and my mind wasn’t wandering as much. But, I also noticed when my mind did start to go off on its tangents, “I” could observe it, but it felt different this time, not so much like “I” was thinking those thoughts, but more like they were appearing, and I was becoming aware of them.
As this happened a few times, slowly I felt a change and an opening up of awareness. But awareness also had some kind of sensation of itself. I began to rest in this state of self knowing awareness. While working, I would be observing the world, the body, the thoughts, but all the while, feeling like this observer of everything, aware of itself. This followed into driving between jobs, driving behaviour happened with little mental help (thanks to GPS). It seemed my awareness was separating from sensations, almost like the sensations were in another bubble on the surface of me, this bubble of awareness. There seemed to be some kind of boundary which was forming between awareness and sensations and thoughts.
There were times of great peace, contentment, and, inherent meaningfulness. Nothing else needed to be happening. I had previously struggled with the meaninglessness of doing the same thing over and over for years. But now, it seemed infinitely worthwhile, simply to be there in the moment.
This carried on for months. I noticed I could observe bad habits and seemingly with this focusing of awareness, squash them as they arose, or sometimes, before. The same was possible with negative emotions, or even negative reactions to pain. The light of awareness seemed to overcome any negativity.
As this process unfolded, I also noticed I was becoming more and more detached from the world. Not through resistance, but due to the quieting of the egoic tendency to reach out in the world. It felt like to remain as this awareness, the ego had to be shut down.
This became a problem, as, being part of the world, one must also interact with the world to remain in balance.
I my mind inherently knew this, because I began to struggle to remain in this awareness after a few months, some days would be clearer than others, the ego seemed to be merging back with awareness, but, as this happened, awareness was no longer pure, and would get lost in the trials and tribulations of the ego and its reactive tendencies.
After a while, I no longer felt I was this pure light of awareness, and felt like I was back where I started. But, the difference being, the awareness still feels like it’s there in the background, but I appear in it, along with the ego and everything else. As such everything is watched, but, when I look for the sense of being here, all there is is that awareness, with no sense of presence, compared to before it felt very close, then when detached it felt like I was this awareness.
This brought me to a Taoist text which I stumbled across, the secret of the golden flower. It seemed to be speaking to my experience somehow, especially the call to “turn the light around”. This was what it felt like when awareness had this sense of presence, like it could somehow know itself at all times, yet not phenomenally. It was never an act of effort, but always a relaxing back into what was already here, a zooming out of a kind.
It felt like home.
So now I find myself knowing the light, wanting to turn it back around, but I feel there are forces which want to unfold in another way first, a kind of transcending and including. The transcendence occurred, which gave a view of the world and the ego and body, but now, it feels like I need to reintegrate all of that back into this awareness.
So, after searching different practices and spiritual traditions, I find myself lead to Taoism, which seems to inherently contain this transformational and inclusive practice at its essence. I seek to know more and to understand the way this organism is seeking to unfold and flower.
Thats my story, I look forward to learning from you all and interacting.