Monday, June 06, 2022

I am not my problem

An explanation of the strange title of this post: Sometimes a new idea spontaneously appears from nowhere as I am waking in the morning. The title of this post - the (apparently nonsensical) sentence "I am not my problem” - is the latest example. The sentence can to be parsed to indicate in this instance that the "I" is referring to the illusory narrative self that our social brains have been designed by evolution to generate, and the "my" refers to our intuition or sensing of the vastly complex underlying interacting body systems (respiratory, circulatory, neuronal, muscular, endocrine, sensory, etc.) from which this veneer of a self rises. The brain is mainly not for thinking. It appears that several styles of meditation practice can expand our awareness of this fundamental generative layer. The "am not my problem" tries to make the point that distinguishing these systems can prove useful in trying to determine the origins of particular feelings or behaviors. 

As I’m writing these words I begin to realize that my “novel” waking insight isn’t so novel, but more an elaboration or restatement of my post of Friday, March 13, 2020, on “the relief of not being yourself,” which described another spontaneous rising of ideas associated with the transition between sleep and wakefulness. I repeat that text here:

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?)


  1. Anonymous6:46 PM

    Hmmmm. Fodder for a long conversation. Thanks for engaging about this and your thoughts and feelings.

  2. It's interesting to me how this corresponds to the teaching and practice of non-identification in spiritual traditions, especially those arising from the Vedic "mystical" stream. It's very similar as a practice, but has wildly different - and spooky - ideas on the nature of consciousness.