Revealing Awareness

Your Portable Private Space

Following on from the experiments of Awareness Before Seeing… we each have our own private space, very distinct from the public face that other people see and we see when we look in the mirror.

Being Centered

The Directions:

  • With eyes open, shift your attention back and forth between objects in front of you and then back to your private space. Your attention shifts from attention outside to awareness ‘inside’.
  • Rest with awareness of your private space.
  • Now move your head and eyes from side to side. Notice how quickly your attention is distracted by the changing shapes and colours of your moving environment.
  • Practice turning your head and remaining in your private space. The objects of the environment may become fuzzier and your space stronger. If you wear glasses, your glasses can help make this distinction clearer. Notice your attention distracted by the world beyond your glasses and your awareness behind your glasses of your private space.
  • Once you’ve played with this you can take it a step further. From your private space extend your relaxed awareness out into the world around you. 
It’s a good practice for unhooking from attention from objects and becoming awareness. Habitually movement signals the object-focused attention pathways of the brain. With a little practice we can move and continue to use the awareness pathways of the brain. So we can predominantly use awareness for our inside space and our outside space. Then we use attention when needed, rather than as our modus operandi.

The World Moves Through You

In this next experiment you will walk around maintaining your awareness with your private space and notice how your private space does not change, the world moves pass or through you.

The Directions:

  • stand up and bring your awareness to your private space
  • walk in a straight line maintaining your awareness of private space
  • notice how the things of the environment are the parts that are moving. As your private space, you do not move, the world moves through you.
These hacks are inspired by the experiments of Douglas Harding known as the Headless Way. Check out more experiments on the website or with the iphone / android Headless Way apps. If you have a friend to test with, check out “The Tube” experiment.
As you do these hack / experiments your familiarity with awareness and your private space, grows. Your brain starts to rewire. You become the spacious center of your own universe, in a non-egotistical way.

Returning to Center, by Contrast

In busy and stressful times we need a simple touchstone that we can depend on, to return our self to the peace within. When we find the peace within, emotional reactivity and stress transmutes into a much softer version. This next direction is another way of using the same private space as your touchstone. Once you are familiar with the difference between your public face and your private space, you can shift between the two to create a potentially dramatic centering effect.
The Directions:
  • Trail 1: Contrast your public face with the private space you look out of. Have a look in a mirror or on a video call and shift your attention back and forth between your face on the screen and the space that you’re knowing looking out of. 
  • Trail 2: Shift your attention between the faces of the people (or pictures of people) around you and your private space. Again notice the difference between the form of faces and the formlessness of the space. Douglas Harding called this, “Face to No-Face”.
  • Trail 3: Just like Hack 2 except this time using your memory of people’s faces. A more difficult task. Switch between a face in your memory and the space that you view the world from. Shifting between memory and present perception. Again these are dramatically different.
This contrasting back and forth and seeing the space is like doing mental push-ups. We’re strengthening our ‘centering muscle’ – the neural pathways that ground us and bring us into the balance. Out of over-thinking, into perception. Out of over-focus, into awareness. Out of emotively driven behaviour, into the calm at the eye of storm.
So the second part of this is noticing the affect of shifting back to center. To fully test the affect, you’ll need to have a few neural pathway work-out sessions. Notice the before and after affects in your thoughts, emotions, sensations (probably a reduction) and with your calm, clarity and equanimity (probably an increase). The more you do, the easier the shift gets.

Private Space – A Simple Touchstone

To develop our meta-awareness or awake awareness we need a simple action that we can take in those moments when we remember… those moments when we pop out of our distracted thoughts and notice our discomfort. Coming back to your private space can be that action. 

There is no doubt that we need to repeat actions before the brain will rewire and start to act unconsciously in our favour. Once we have familiarity with shifting into your private space, and distinguishing the felt-sense difference between being thought-absorbed and being spacious, all that is needed is repetition. By repeatedly returning to our private space (and out of our public face) we are gradually transitioning the skill into unconscious competency.

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