You Are Not Your Mind
I spent the vast majority of my life believing that I was my mind – that my identity was contained in the organic storehouse between my two ears. This also meant that I was deeply attached to (even one with) that endless stream of thoughts, feelings, and emotions that my mind produces.
But the simple ability to perceive our thinking, to sit back and “hear” that inner dialogue, shines light on the fact the we are not, in fact, our mind.
It’s similar to our senses – for example, hearing something is a sensory input, and at times (usually?) we won’t notice it at all, while at other times we’ll be aware of our hearing, and then name and dissect the sound perceived. Like sensations, our thoughts are things happening that we can simply be aware of. (This is real self-awareness.)
But let’s say you don’t believe this to be true. (I once read a philosopher who believes this “awareness” of the mind is actually a trick of consciousness – so let’s say you’re on his team). Even if you don’t believe any of this: it’s a powerful ability to pretend exists.
Because as the proverb goes: the mind is a wonderful slave but a terrible master. Too many of us are slaves to our mind – and the ability to perceive the mind is the path to taking charge, to no longer be at the whim of our internal waves of thoughts and feelings.
It’s a great life hack: using awareness of the mind in order to not give our habits, thoughts, and desires free reign.
Because once we realize/decide we are not our minds, we can practice detaching ourselves from the influx of thoughts and feelings it gives us. We can, as in meditation, be aware of what our minds are producing, simply witness the stream, and then let things go.
In other words, we can realize that our emotions happen to us – they are not us. And then without judgment, we can let our consciousness play out in front of us without carrying us away.
Now, this brings up plenty of questions/complications/extensions, such as:
- If I’m not my mind who am I?
- How do I become aware of my mind, or once there, practice not being attached to what it throws at me?
- If I don’t believe something, how am I supposed to pretend or decide it’s true anyway?
- If this is true, why are you so [fill in the blank], Josh?
And I’d love to tackle all of these (the best I know how, which… well, you can judge…) but an admission: this isn’t the topic I wanted to write about! But I ran into a problem with other concepts I wanted to write about relying on this notion of us not being our minds, so felt the need to start here…
And, PPS, a video I made for IG around the same concept: