#4245 - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - Editor: Jerry Katz
Today's feature is based Colin Drake's book, Beyond the Separate
Self, which you may learn about and order for immediate download
Overcoming Habitual Negative Thought Patterns
by Colin Drake
I recently received the following enquiry regarding anxieties, worries and
After running the usual gamut of non-duality offerings
over the last several years, I encountered "Beyond the Separate Self", which
I've since read several times. The discussion that hooked me, as it were,
was your description of the mind's tendency, especially when idle or unfocussed,
to create apparent problems out of thin air and then, ridiculously, attempt to
solve them. This has been, by far, the greatest sticking point along my
spiritual "path". In particular, when I awaken in the morning, I find
myself still beset by a habit that has been ongoing for many years. That
is, I become entangled in memories, thoughts, and concepts from the past (and
also, less frequently, the present and future).
What follows is a period of
depression and anxiety which is particularly aimed at my childhood difficulties
and "failures", followed inevitably by a powerful sense that "I can't get it!
(non-duality, that is). The situation can be very discouraging, As
you've probably heard endless times, I seem to be one of those people with a
deep and thorough "intellectual" understanding of "Oneness" (my default term),
but, when faced with real, or manifest, life, my old fears, anxieties, and
worries seem to persist, although to a somewhat lesser degree.
As I mentioned, I'm now retired,
so perhaps idleness is truly the "devil's handmaiden", but, having realized and
come to believe that my true nature is ever-present Awareness, I'm quite
concerned that these painful emotional states still exist. I feel, in the
parlance of AA, that I'm "talking the talk" but failing to "walk the
walk". Perhaps you could suggest something that would help resolve the
situation? I've begun to practice the meditative and journalistic processes you
discuss in chapter 14, but I still feel somewhat stuck, unable to face "real"
situations when they arise, and continuing to manufacture problems when they
don't really exist.
Thanks for your time and your
Here is my reply:
Thanks for your enquiry which I think many people can relate to. As
discussed in the book old fears, anxieties and worries will continue to arise
but will lose their power if you don't identify with them. That is to say that
you do not take them as indicators of who, or what, you truly 'are'. In this
respect I can do no better than repeat:
The simple solution to this is when it comes to reality don't believe a
single thought. Just rely on immediate direct experience, and this direct
experience that you are awareness can be had instantly. As soon as the
mind carries on with its doubts, anxieties, worries, questions and tricks,
notice that you are effortlessly aware of every thought. If you then
just watch the thoughts from pure awareness, without following a single one,
they soon quieten down and give up. This is an ongoing process but it is
no cause for despondency. For every time this occurs these negative
thoughts can make you turn to awareness itself! And in awareness there is
only serenity and peace
In fact, in the same way, every single
thing in existence is a pointer towards awareness. For everything
perceived appears in this pure awareness which is what you are.
The point is not to give these negative thoughts any weight but to
let them come and go without following them or telling yourself a story about
what they mean, or how they have affected you. Of course at the deeper level of
pure awareness they have never, and can never affect you! This is easier said
than done when engaged in worldly activity but by cultivation of 'awareness of
awareness' this will become easier as time goes by.
Also you mention that they assail you as soon as you awaken in the morning.
My suggestion here (which I adopt) is to sit and read some inspiring spiritual
book, or article, for 20-30 minutes before 'relaxing into awareness'. This will
put your mind into the right headspace so that this relaxation into, and
investigation of, awareness is easier to carry out. Above all do not become
discouraged, you say that you have realized that your true nature is ever
present awareness ... now you need to honour that realization by cultivating it
and becoming established in it. This can be done by reading inspiring texts and
noticing that awareness is ever present at any time of the day, especially in
your case as you are retired and have so much time available.
Something else I find helpful is to spend as much time in nature (walking
and sitting) as possible whilst enjoying the pleasant sensations that this
brings up. The smell of the forest, the breeze on the face, the wonderful vista
that unfolds, the refreshing taste of running spring water etc. etc. This is
truly fulfilling one of the functions of the mind/body as an instrument of the
divine aware nothingness, through which it can sense, experience, interact with
and enjoy its own manifestation as the physical world.
Two other things that occurred to me during the day are the fact that
physical exercise is a particularly good way of making oneself 'feel better' and
that memories, anxieties and worries themselves can direct you back to
'awareness of awareness' as their arising can be used as an indicator that you
are identifying back at the level of mind/body. In my case I do a 15 minute yoga
session every morning straight after my meditation/contemplation, which my body
loves, and when the old worries/anxieties occur I have actually started to find
them a cause of amusement ... as if my mind could be so stupid as to take them
seriously!! Love, Colin
To 'complete' this article I enclose the outcome of my reply:
Thanks so much for your
timely and insightful responses to my inquiries. Rather than run about
like a headless chicken in search of the "guru of the week" or the "ultimate
spiritual book", I have decided to take to heart the specific suggestions you
offer, both in your book and personal correspondence. I'm now meditating
thrice daily on my true nature, which clearly and non-judgmentally observes all
that is occurring in the relative world. I also take time throughout the
day, when available, to reflect on this Awareness. Furthermore, as all
paths are "individual", so to speak, I'm also writing down those concepts and
ideas that give me peace and clarity.
In particular, I've
finally started to realize that periods of extreme emotional turmoil, which
always seemed so debilitating and all-consuming, are nevertheless simply
ephemeral thoughts and feelings which arise in this Awareness. They are
seen to have no independent nature (or "power") independent of awareness.
This realization has been a great relief.
Finally, I'd like to add
that, although countless books point, more or less, to the same Reality,
"Beyond the Separate Self", at least for me, seems to cover all the bases, and
for this I am grateful. Your kindness and obvious personal interest in my
situation is truly heartwarming and, although I'd never barrage you with
incessant theoretical questions leading nowhere, it's great to know you're
willing to respond to a particular inquiry when I hit the inevitable,
occasional, spiritual "wall".
In Peace and Gratitude..
~ ~ ~
Find out about Beyond the Separate Self