Most of us live in a state of continuous contraction and constricted awareness that forms a nucleus of avoidance, attachment or both. Often we develop an identity and view of ourselves and the world based on rejecting experiences we don’t like or grasping onto others. In order to hold on to this identity we develop stories about the way we are or what reality is, stories which in essence are just mental interpretations of our experience, a way of organizing our beliefs and opinions but not the experience itself. Unfortunately one story tends to reinforce another story which creates an increasingly distortion of reality.
How do we move from constriction and partial views of reality?
One way is to engage in being present with our experience, with what is, in the moment. We call that beginners mind. Often though we have become experts at being ourselves, in the process loosing our ability to be open in a fresh, open minded fashion.
The totality of our present experiencing is much larger and richer than anything we can know or describe about it at any given moment.
What we notice in meditation practice sometimes are the islands of thoughts where our mind lands in the stream of consciousness, gaps between our thoughts. These gaps can appear to be scary, because they represent absence of control. However these gaps are entry points into non conceptual awareness that is always present. When we can settle into this awareness we are free to be with what is, open, curious, bearing witness(not having any agenda) to our larger unconditioned nature; this is what is meant by unconditional presence.
This meditative tradition through most of the different lineages always presented the great discovery of pure awareness, un-fabricated knowing, clear and fluid like water. We are immersed in this sea of pure awareness but our busy mind is constantly hoping from one thought island to another thought island, rarely resting. Here we learn to become more comfortable with gaps in our identity or the space between one breath and the next, so that we can merge with the fresh edge of the moment and relax our body-mind.
We must both see(wisdom) and feel(compassion), it is not enough to just see, nor enough to just feel. Reality is continuously breaking open our heart and when we can let go of holding on we discover a sweet, raw tenderness toward ourselves and the fragility and beauty of our humanity. Then, we can come to terms with the realization that from these open gaps and spaces we experience, come genuine clarity and an understanding that something alive is always waiting to emerge.