Mind Mastery – what, why and how?
I chose to use the term Mind Mastery for my online course which you can find at www.engagedyoga.co.uk.
It’s quite a title and I want to go deeper at looking at what exactly that means for me and the people who choose to work with me.
For me the body is the mind and mind is also an emergent function of the body.
If we leave out the yogic or spiritual view for a moment of consciousness being the structure of the universe, we will come back on this later I promise.
So for now let’s look at what our experience of mind is and why on earth would we want to master it anyway.
What does mastery mean?
Let’s start with mastery. I am aware of the words gender implications and really don’t like it for that, and also recognise the relentless mystery that the appearance of mastery exposes and makes palatable.
Remember most people choose certainty over happiness. Most people would choose to zap themselves with a shot of electricity than sit and clearly see everything that goes on in their brain. And, much mental activity is a relentless array of story fabrication and meaning making that is seeking to help us feel safe and find our place in our world and in the face of a huge universe.
One of the reasons why we have to get to grips with the fact of impermanence at an early stage in practice is so we can drop the search for existential safety. I believe we have to drop the search for meaning as well as this too gets in our way unless we are very wise with it.
So mastery is simply the practice and process of uncovering our optimal possibilities.
Mastery involves us cleaning up. We uncover all the limiting beliefs and narratives that hold us back. We resolve unresolved trauma that keeps us living in fear and less than what our potential might otherwise be. We see and clarify any inner sabotage that keeps us invisible, keeps us in our place in the family constellation, class structure or national and global systems. Mastery involves us clearing up our shadows, owning them, taking responsibility and resolving them. It involves us never finding excuses again for why we don’t do things. It involves us never justifying our behaviour in any way, shape or form. It requires we never blame anything or anyone including ourselves for anything. It requires we no longer do shame and no longer shame others. Many people would of course rather blame, shame, justify and excuse as it feels easier than doing the work of cleaning up. But, cleaning up is the only route to freedom.
Mastery also involves us growing up. This is the psycho-emotional experience of understanding the multiple causes and conditions that led to this situation of us being right here, right now and accepting exactly how things are.
It involves us taking full responsibility for all that happens in our world.
All our thought patterns are no longer the responsibility of Mummy or Daddy (even celestial deity form versions!), no longer the responsibility of school or culture. It is our job to deal with them, own them, take charge of them. Cognitive activity, in all its forms, from this point on is our responsibility.
All the emotions that arise through our body and to which we respond in a variety of ways are now our responsibility. How we are with them, how we choose to react or preferably respond is our job. What do we want for our world, pain or suffering or joy, peace and love? Then we take responsibility for our emotions. No one else ‘makes’ them happen.
Our body becomes our responsibility. Our physical experience is the past tense of the mind in as much as everything we have chosen to eat or not eat, do or not do, feel or not feel lives as the flesh of our current experience. Taking responsibility we move in healthy ways, eat in healthy ways, take charge of our feeling world and no longer suppress, repress, deny, act out or project emotions but own them and transform them, because we can.
We work to resolve physical issues from the past through wise and whole body-mind strategies that help resolve and prevent future imbalance in our system.
We practice thinking, feeling, believing, breathing and moving in ways that prevent future imbalance. We take responsibility for our body-mind and its wellbeing.
We also take responsibility for our relationships. We are part of them and we can do what we can do from our end. We choose to act with clarity, clear boundaries, compassion and kindness as much as possible so our relational world is a healthy one. Its our job to do this.
We then take responsibility for our communities, we are part of them. We act in mutual empowerment with other people who are also learning to take responsibility and we create communities of mutual wellbeing and empowerment.
We take responsibility for our world, for its economy, for its ecology for its stewardship. Eight billion human beings taking responsibility and living in mutual empowerment would not be allowing themselves to be governed (dominated and abused?) by ecologically dissociated, emotionally illiterate, psychopathological, profit focused individuals and their cronies. This would not be happening.
Mastery does not take us into the illusion of control, but firmly rests us in meeting each arising moment with clarity, curiosity and an open compassionate heart. Mastery rests us beautifully in the great mystery, the unknown and the unknowable.
What about Mind?
From my yogic and Buddhist background I like the view on mind that there is the original nature of mind and then mind contents. Let’s look at these.
Mind content is everything you sense and feel and think. It is the flow and translation of the information from the sense fields into meaning, belief and story.
Mind is a dichotomous tool. It divides everything into polarised divisions. It creates up and down, left and right, in and out, good and bad, right and wrong, self and other. It then believes these distinctions and weaves meaning and narrative out of them.
Mind is also a tool that slows the universe down and carves solid chunks out of the weave of space-time. Everything is the flow of empty energy bubbling into and out of existence that makes up the quanta of particle-wave scintillations (best explanation I can do without mathematics). Everything is a seamless weave of atoms and molecules. I am mostly gas – hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen all bound up and wrapped around carbon that was made in stars. Everything I do is made of energy from the fragmentation of these bonds in what was formerly other life-form and became my food. These bonds whether from plant or animal based food sources all originally came from plants. The plants spun these bonds out of air and water and sunlight through the process of photosynthesis. The bonds breaking in my body to allow me to write this, think and move are from this photosynthesis and release this ancient sunlight as movement. I am sunlight and gas, air and water and earth as a feeling, aware being. Arguably there are no separate beings, we are all this interconnected, seamless, dependently arising flow. So mind has to carve a tree, or a table, or a friend or an enemy out of this weave, as it is this that allows us to feed, breed and grow. The technical term for this is reification. Mind reifies.
Mind dichotomises and reifies.
Mind then weaves feelings, semantics, stories, values and beliefs out of this dichotomy and reification. This is mind content.
What is the original nature of mind?
It is pristine awareness. It is awareness undivided by reification, dichotomy, conceptualisation, semantic, belief or story.
Mind Mastery helps us to see through the content of mind in a compassionate and appreciative manner and to find our core identity as pristine awareness.
This level of seeing enables us to have freedom of choice, liberation from conditioned patterns within the awareness space that is our experience of existence. This authorship over who we are and who we are becoming gives a creative and playful quality to life that is responsive, light, free and yet is responsible. This kind of freedom resolves psychological ‘stress’ as an unnecessary and uncreative response to the arising flow of space-time from which we are indivisible. It just no longer makes sense.
Mind Mastery helps us to feel into the weave and fabric of flesh and to understand from the inside that it is, we also are, the scintillations of seamless flow. We are space-time. Mind Mastery leads us inexorably into the experience of space-time as the subtle structure of the body, indivisible from pristine awareness.
When we know that space and awareness are indivisible in our internal experience what does this imply for the weave of space-time that appears as external?
An external that is in fact seamless and continuous with what we experience as internal, as our beingness?
What was there before this weave of space-time?
What will antedate it, if we use the metaphor of time loosely here?
Who or rather what were we then?
Who or what will we be if awareness (you might choose to replace this word with consciousness) and space-time are inextricable, seamlessly interwoven as two sides of the one flow?
Is the scintillating web of space-time and beyond, composed of particle-waves that are bubbling into and out of existence, inextricable and seamless with consciousness?
Is consciousness just another expression for this unified field of information, mathematical relationships and natural laws, or is it the very essence of this?
Perhaps this is the great mystery?
Mind Mastery is certainly about having the appropriate tools and methods of practice to dive deep into this inquiry in the laboratory of ones own body-mind, and find out through direct subjective experience what feels true and then to live by this.
You can find out more about Mind Mastery at www.engagedyoga.co.uk
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