Have you ever experienced your mind hijacking your awareness? Mine seems to often have its own agenda (all in my best interest :-), about what I ought to give my attention to. It particularly likes to solve fearful problems or explain why I am powerless to change things, which leads me into sadness and despair. When I want to change my experience/story/life I have to contend with the mass of imbedded choices that my mind uses to guide my attention.
These choices are embodied in webs of thoughts that trigger emotions, which provoke more thoughts. Then I go online, or talk to someone, I often find “confirmation” and the mind/web wraps me up tighter and carries me away. This is what has been called Samsara, illusion. Especially the sense that I have no choice about what my experience is. There is little joy in going on this ride.
Although in the moment these mental/emotional states feel compelling and inevitably “real”, I do have a choice about wether to give my attention to them. The other day, in the kitchen making diner for my beloved, an old narrative arose involving isolation and helplessness. It’s a very old narrative. I remembered the experience of buying into it, curling up in isolation and helplessness and giving up on the world. This was the moment of Grace: that I recognized the track before I stepped onto it.
I looked at that option and said to my mind, no thank you! I’d rather make a nice diner and be happy with my beloved. I saw that I had a choice about how I showed up emotionally in that moment, and making that choice I began to feel differently. I started signing kirtan, let go of the old story, and gave my attention to simply being present. And the present was OK.
It’s not about fighting the story, or my mind, which is doing what it does because it thinks it will help. The original motivation and choices were often emotional. Emotional charge is what captures my attention, and is what I must release. Consciously taking my attention away (just as you change the channel, if a show is upsetting or unpleasant). It’s not about engaging my mind and discussing things with it. It would like nothing better. You pick option B and make a different choice. Own your attention and shift its focus. What would you choose if you had a choice? because you do.
The Green Tara Mantra
Lately my beloved and I have been doing the Green Tara Mantra. This invites Tara (Bodhisattva of Compassion) to take away all our suffering, the mental web of illusion that the mind presents as reality. The Mantra has been used for millennia by Tibetan Buddhists seeking liberation for themselves and for all sentient beings. So it has a lot of juice to it. Moreover Tara, an aspect of the Divine Feminine, is a powerful being in her own right.
If I had thought about it, I might have expected that Tara would help the mental patterns, beliefs and habits to dissolve, so that all the hinderances, fears, and attachments, simply went away. That would be nice, wouldn’t it. My experience seems to be a bit more subtle.
Rather than fading silently away, my old patterning has been coming up more, not less. But as it arises I also remember that I have a choice about how to relate to it. This is the Grace that I am receiving. I get to make a concsious choice. Doing this I claim power back from my mind. I claim the power to be my Self and experience Life from a higher perspective. I claim the freedom to be present in each moment and make new choices that create a new story.
Chant to Tara, pray to Christ or either Mary, or surrender the flowers of your mind to your Guru. Maybe your mental cages will arise one last time, so that you can make the conscious choice to step out of them. The cage is not you. You are Self not the ego mind and it’s stories. Each time you have this awareness, the ability to choose becomes stronger and easier. Each time you take another step towards liberation.