Friday, March 13, 2020

MindBlog passes on a note: on the relief of not being yourself.

I am going to start occasionally doing MindBlog posts on ideas that I think might have the potential of developing into longer pieces of work, but that usually remain as notes in my personal journal. This first one follows in the thread of Monday’s post on the work of Sam Harris. It came together when I woke during the middle of the night to find my mind clogged with a traffic jam of discursive thought. Then what appeared in my mind, in what felt like a mini-epiphany, was the words that I pass on below. They may make little sense to many readers, but please be assured that I have not gone wacko or nutter....
What a relief to know that this is not me, it is just the contents of my consciousness, which shift around all the time and are never the same twice. What has changed, after 45 years of doing an introspective personal journal, is that this sentence has become clear and true for me. It is a prying loose from the illusion of the sensing and executive “I”, self, the homunculus inside.
There is a particular feeling of renewal, starting over, in the first moments of the transition to seeing - rather than immersed in being - one of the contents of consciousness. Meditation practice can be seen as training the ability to inhabit this state for longer periods of time, to experience the self or I as co-equal with other contents of consciousness like seeing, hearing, feeling. It is having thoughts without a thinker, having a self without a self.
What is inside is the animal mirror of expanded consciousness, no longer locked into one or another of its contractions. This feels to me like a potentially irreversible quantum bump, a phase or state change in my ongoing awareness (perhaps a long term increase in my brain’s attentional mode activity alongside a decrease its default mode’s mind wandering?...also frontal suppression of amygdalar reactivity?)
(I would add the note, as I did to Monday's post, that experiences of the sort I describe here can be very disorienting to some people, and should be approached with caution. A google search for the names Willoughby Britton and Jarred Lindahl will take you to their papers on this issue.)


  1. Heribert7:12 AM

    I feel very much what you are expressing, though was not able to express it so clearly for the "external world". I shall follow your links. Thank you

  2. Bravo! The second paragraph, "There is..." is a great, clear distillation of a vast amount of writing and discussion