Everything ends as quickly and suddenly as it begins. All of a sudden, you hear a bird, and just as suddenly that ends—it's over. If you notice, this isn't only true of birds singing, but of most things: Something shows up, and just as suddenly it disappears. Life is coming and going quickly, cleanly, and sometimes without our even noticing it. Life happens, and it happens by suddenly showing up and just as suddenly disappearing.
Of course, some things that show up have a longer lifespan, but even those are in constant flux during their lifespan and eventually disappear. Experiences that last awhile never remain the same while they last: If you are watching the clouds, they are constantly shifting, and then they are gone. If you are watching a ballgame, every second is different, and then it's over. If you are eating a meal, every bite is different, and then it's gone. If you are in a relationship, every moment, day, week, and year is different. Nothing stays the same. Whether it comes and goes quickly or more slowly, nothing remains the same.
The mind doesn't like it when that fun, exciting, or pleasurable moment is over. It also doesn't like the deterioration of the body as it ages, which is a more long-term phenomenon. The body is a good example of something arising and beginning a course of constant change and eventual demise. The mind clings to events, experiences, or images that have passed away, or tries to, but it can never win that game. What's over is over and can't be regained. The mind tries to retain experiences and things through memory, but memory is a poor retaining device. Like a sieve, most of the experience is lost and what remains is a poor substitute for life.
To begin to live in the moment more fully, we have to become aware of our egoic mind, what it is thinking, and how true those thoughts are. The good news is we don’t have to do anything to develop that awareness. We have always been aware of our mind or we wouldn’t be able to recount what is in it or think about our thoughts. Something else is present besides the mind that has always been aware of it and everything else that is occurring in the sensory mechanism we call our body. This awareness, this Noticer, this observer, is you, the real you.
Exercise: Noticing the Real You
The real you is subtle. This inquiry will help you become more aware of who you really are.
Who or what is it that is aware of reading these words? Notice that awareness. How do you experience it? What does it feel like? Where do you experience it? Is it contained anywhere? Just stay with the experience of it for a moment. This is who you are. The experience of who you are is available in every moment. All you have to do is give your attention to the real you instead of to the egoic mind.
The egoic mind projects another you, the thinker of the thoughts. This is the ego, the you that you think you are: the you that has a name and looks a certain way and is a father/mother, sister/brother, and so on. (Fill in the blank with all the things you call yourself.) That you is the one that does not exist. That you isn’t real. Instead, you are the awareness of the person you think you are.
We get into trouble when we take things personally. What I mean by that, besides the usual meaning, is that we make ourselves unhappy when we personalize our experience, when we tell a story about our experience rather than just have the experience. Telling stories wouldn’t be much of a problem if they were uplifting and true, but usually our stories are partial truths and complaints about life that generate unpleasant feelings. Those complaints and feelings color life and spoil the potential happiness and grace in each moment.
For example, you notice your spouse’s clothes on the floor and say to yourself: “Those clothes were so expensive; I can’t believe he/she threw them on the floor.” That story can make you angry, and you might express that anger to your spouse or do something else in reaction to it (e.g., eat cake, go on a shopping spree, complain to a friend). Instead, if you’re able to just notice the clothing and the story that arises, then anger and any other reactions the anger might spark won’t happen. Then just pick up the clothes or don’t pick up the clothes. End of story. The anger is unnecessary and so are the other reactions. Such feelings and reactions waste our energy and get us nothing but unhappiness. What if you just noticed what you notice without telling a story about it and then just responded? Voila! No suffering!
Listen to a 14-minute excerpt from the October, 2010 intensive about busting the illusion:
This excerpt is from a collection of 4 MP3s of talks (totaling 3 hours), which explains how to move out of the egoic mind and be present and how to bust the illusion cast by the ego. MP3s can be played on your computer or MP3 player. New, lower price: $14.95. To purchase the set, please go to
Here's a 3-minute meditation about noticing for you to listen to:
This meditation is a sample from Gina Lake's DailyOm online course called 60 Meditations for Greater Happiness, which you can sign up for and begin at anytime. In this course, every day for sixty days, you will receive a short meditation like this one, in both written and audio form and set to music, for you to enjoy and contemplate at your leisure. The sixty empowering essays/audios that are part of this course will inform you, inspire you, and enable you to be more present in your life and, consequently, happier. $25 or whatever you are able to pay. Please visit DailyOm to register and for more information
Radical Happiness is dedicated to spiritual awakening and living in the Now. It will help you move out of the ego and into the present moment, where true happiness—radical happiness—lies.Gina Lake is a spiritual teacher and writer who is devoted to helping people find fulfillment and true happiness.
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Being in the
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“It might seem like the mind is experiencing the moment, but the mind only experiences its version of it. In a sense, there are two possible experiences of every moment: The moment as experienced by the Self and the moment as experienced by the ego."
"We have everything we need because all we need is love, and everyone has an unlimited supply of that. Not everyone feels love, but it’s always there and available to give to others. The way we experience this unlimited supply of love is by giving it away. That’s counter intuitive, which is why it may seem like there isn’t enough. When you believe you need to get love from outside yourself, that sense of lack stops the flow from happening from inside you. The belief in needing love becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy: You believe you need it because you aren’t experiencing it, and in trying to get it, you fail to give it."