What if someone was to tell you that something which is as ancient as apparent time is can be learned by anyone?
Mindfulness, and it's a term bandied around my spiritual circles and now by psychotherapists. So what is it?
the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
"their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition"
a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
It is point 2.2 that can often be so empowering that what we thought were issues, no longer feel that way. What we believed we couldn't cope with is now just either a part of everyday life or has dissolved and it's hardly thought of at all.
Tanya teaches something called 'The Method' and it's an ever-evolving technique she learned through her own exploration that can help us begin to be more in tune with what is actually happening around us, rather than what we 'think' is happening. There is a very subtle and powerful difference, isn't there?
It's often when we believe everything our mind tells us we suffer and struggle. We begin to notice repetitive thoughts which Tanya calls thought-stories. They generally go something like, 'I don't feel good enough.' or 'I just don't fit in.' or 'Everyone seems to have it easy and I'm always struggling.' or 'Nobody wants me around.' or 'What did I do to deserve this crap?!' . . . and then our minds go gleefully out into 'the world' to look for the answers and come back with horrifying nightmares that crush our hearts, often in the form of distorted perceptions, other people's opinions, sticky beliefs that we've had for so long that they are all such familiar patterns of thinking that we call them 'me'.
Yet they are still stories, and these thought-stories go on and on and on, or more accurately, they rise and fall - they appear and disappear across the screen of our internal awareness, often very subtly, but making them more obvious can be learned . . . nevertheless, they're not true! Not one of them! If you noticed the subtle difference in what was said above, then you will begin to see what comes and goes cannot be 'you'. Do 'you' come and go? Or are you always right where you are? Here?
Now this might sound a little strange coming from a psychotherapist who has spent the past 30 years of her life studying the mind and human behaviour, but Tanya began to notice that her thoughts came and went. And if they could come and go, then who was 'she' who was watching the coming and going of such thoughts? She could not have been her thoughts. This gave her a deep insight into a greater awareness, which we can call Presence, Consciousness, Being, Here, Home, Life. All these words point to a simple truth. No matter where we go, whether it is by car, plane or train, whether we visit a different country or just go to our kitchen, 'you' are always right here.
Take a minute to notice how your thoughts are always about something in the future, or something in the past. Do you actually go back in time, or even forward in time to re-think these thought-stories, or do they come into the present to be noticed?
Life, living, being human, is a wonderfully complex experience if our minds have anything to say about it - but, the reality of life can actually be broken down into feedback systems called 'thinking' and 'feeling'. These feedback systems give us information on what an experience is. If we can watch our thoughts come and go, then who is it that is watching? Feel free to ponder . . .
But it doesn't matter at this point, because it certainly suggests that 'you' are not your thoughts. If they come and go, and 'you' were 'them', then wouldn't 'you' also come and go? It’s the same with feelings. If we 'imagined' being chased down a dark alley by a mad axe murderer we might begin to feel a sense of discomfort in our body that we would name as fear. But it isn't even a real event. It was imagined. So is it true that our feelings are a perfect feedback system? I'd say not. Your body really doesn't know the difference between imagination and real life. It responds via a set of chemical reactions that cause muscles to contract or relax, to speed up our heart-rate or slow it down, to increase our breathing or slow it down. But where were 'you' in any of this? Who did the choosing to breathe quicker, have a faster heart-rate, have our muscles contract or relax?
Tanya points this out because if we begin to see we actually are not who we 'think' we are, and indeed, we are not actually having the experience that our feelings tell us we are having, then that in itself can give us a greater freedom and relief from the self-persecuting thoughts we think we are that often cruelly play out, as 'you'.
The Method is a step by step technique that can help you begin to 'see' these different and subtle aspects of 'yourself' and by noticing thoughts and feelings, without the need to engage and identify with them, 'you' can live a richer and more comfortable life.
You can contact Tanya via the Contact Page.