The Common Belief That's Preventing Your Happiness
Most people don’t realize it, but there’s an experience you have every day, many times a day, which has the potential to nourish your body, mind and soul beyond what you can imagine. It’s completely free and as common as breathing. In fact, it’s so commonplace, it’s easily overlooked, even when you’re attempting to notice it! The experience tends to get overshadowed by thoughts of past and future, fantasy, problem solving, formulating opinions, doing the day’s activities, interacting with your world, etc.
Yet the experience I'm talking about is actually contained within all these. In fact, you could be attributing the benefit you get from this experience to the form it takes. For example, it’s a common experience to notice while doing sports, making music, hugging, making love... so your mind will tend to attribute it only to special activities, limiting its potential to inform and transform your whole life.
I’m talking about the experience of not being separate. Consciously experiencing the absence of separation is a brain flip. It’s paradoxical, and I’d say it’s the richest resource we have available to us. Our sense of separateness is a prison we only realize we’ve been trapped in once we’ve tasted freedom.
In order to perceive this experience fully, you need to drop a habit you may not even be aware you have. We commonly know ourselves only, or primarily, as the unique body-mind vessel we inhabit for getting around on our little planet. Knowing ourselves in this way limits us.
Let’s take a mundane example: Every time you lift a glass of water to your lips to quench your thirst, what happens? In that moment, your world becomes the water meeting your thirsty mouth. In fact, on close examination, you become that activity. For a brief moment, as you place your attention on drinking, you no longer know yourself as the person drinking the water. Instead, the activity of water quenching thirst takes up the space of your awareness, claiming your identity.
Thoughts are suspended or quieted as the water touching your mouth, being swallowed, sliding down your throat, becomes your new world and the new you. Your sense of being a separate “self” starts to disappear in the activity of drinking the water, while that activity momentarily becomes the world you inhabit. It’s true, isn’t it? That’s what happens.
As your attention follows these two complementary processes to completion, you experience no separation. When you completely disappear into the water drinking activity, in that instant, there's no more "you." At the same time, when the water drinking activity completely takes over your awareness, there is no more context for it. Everything vanishes together when you participate in this inevitable conclusion. And this conclusion is happening in all activities, all the time. Your ability to consciously detect and participate in this vanishing is intrinsically freeing, and it’s a skill you can develop.
Once you consciously know yourself as the experience of no separation, you can never look at the self or world in the same way again. You know that at the heart of all experience is no separation. You know your true self. And you see bringing this awareness to bear on all you experience, as your true job.
This may sound a bit heady, but think about the moments when you’re most loving or deeply engaged in life. If you look closely, you’ll see the hand of no separation. Meditation is nothing more than a structured way to grow your capacity for loving, through recognizing its source and finding it in more and more places, at more and more times. Over and over again, you know yourself as the source of experience and you know this source as being the act of loving itself.