We often talk about the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual aspects or dimension of being, of our own self. As human beings, we live in all four dimensions simultaneously and it informs our thoughts, decisions and actions.
Over time, I have come to think about these differently and this post is describing this approach. It can significantly impact how we view and make decisions in our life.
Dimension of Being: Spiritual
In this dimension of self, we are our true essence. Many words used to describe this dimension of being are soul, our divine essence, Higher Self, I AM Presence, and more. At this level of our “self” we are pure love.
When we experience and access this level of our own self, we can see our life and the lives of others from a much bigger context. We see the beauty in others. Emotionally, many experience this dimension as peaceful, blissful, inspired, and very connected to all of the earth and others, as well as something greater than we as individuals.
It is a dimension often achieved through prayer, meditation, being in nature, in silence, listening to an inspiring piece of music, looking at the stars at night, and more. Everything comes into alignment in this dimension.
Dimension of Being: Mind
My own thinking about this has been influenced by the work of A Course in Miracles, which is a mind training system.
We often think that mind = brain. Our brains are an organ in our body, much like the rest of our organs. Our culture worships the brain, as I did too, many years ago. Mechanistically, our brain does a lot in our body as other organs do. We have this activity called thinking that for the most part originates in the brain. Damage the brain through injury or disease and the thinking is profoundly affected. We tend to think, therefore, that our brain activities and thoughts define us.
The Mind, however, is much bigger than our thoughts. Our mind is the connection to not only our body but also the connection to what we perceive as reality. We actively construct and create our reality in every moment. I have experienced this personally as many others I know have, too. This is what I mean when I say
When we change on the inside, everything outside changes.
For example: A father and his six year old son attend a parade. Afterwards, the father asked the son what he thought of the parade. The boy exclaimed “That was the best truck parade ever!”
The son was totally in love with trucks – any size, any kind. Same parade, completely different experience. He completely missed the floats because his focus was elsewhere.
Where we focus our mind makes all the difference in the world, and how we live our life. This is why meditating, setting intentions, saying our morning prayers, creating reminders and other little things that we do make so much difference.
We are pointing our mind to that which we want to create, and more importantly – we can point it to that which we are – the best person that we want to be, to live up to our highest potential. Do you train our mind to focus on your best self, your divine self? Can we see that in others? Or do you focus primarily on the trials and tribulations of living this life?
Overall, we as a human race are evolving into bringing more “mind” into our life. Increasingly, people are finding the practices of meditation and mindfulness, which help to develop the mind. More self care, more introspection, more conscious living, more effort to create space to get in touch with our “real” self.
Dimension of Being: Thoughts and Emotions
I put these two together because our emotions = our thoughts. Can you have a thought completely without an emotion? We are emotional beings and how much you are aware of it depends on your own level of self awareness. A Course in Miracles tells us that there are no neutral thoughts.
We judge. Everything. That is our nature. We often think that judgments are only “bad” but judging something as “good” is still a judgment. It is borne out of our experience of the world. It continually pulls us one way or another, and can pull us away from seeing situations and our own self more clearly. In the extreme, you may feel like you are “whipped around” by your environment, constantly.
When working with a client, I help them identify and release the energetic blocks associated with their attachments and judgments. Self reflection and introspection can help identify when these assumptions are at play and help the client 1) be more fully present in the moment, rather than consumed or overwhelmed with thoughts, emotions and judgments; and 2) look in a deeper way, explore some deeper truths.
Judgments are patterns of defenses that we build up to help us feel safe or keep us from feeling a deeper, more troubling emotion. They are often habitual ways of thinking borne out of experience.
Recognizing and relaxing these defenses, patterns of thoughts and beliefs help us become more heart centered and present.
The Practice of Equanimity
Contrast this with the Buddhist concept of equanimity. This is philosophy is in alignment with the concept of “Mind” that I mentioned earlier. According to Merriam-Webster, it is “evenness of mind especially under stress”. There are many subtle nuances to this concept, well worth exploring. It is an enduring sense of peacefulness amid chaos; it helps you see a bigger context. It does not mean that a person becomes indifferent and stops caring; in fact, the opposite is true.
It is the ability to recognize what is true, or in the words of Byron Katie, “Loving What Is“, to learn acceptance for what is, where you are at in the moment (versus wishfully thinking that things were different). It is the ability to see the actions of a person and recognize the whole person. One who practices this can observe the behaviors of another and still hold balance in the relationship. One who practices equanimity does not place happiness in the hands of another, as in “if they would only act this way I would be happier”.
Dimension of Being: Physical
Our bodies are an anchor for us in the world. It is a source of wisdom – the body “always knows” because our bodies are like recorders: they hold tension where we are holding anger, grudges, fear, beliefs, etc. It is one of the ways that we have meaningful relationships with others.
To “test” to see how much of the mind is reflected in the body, practice deep relaxation meditations for several days. Really get a deep felt sense of what it means to be fully relaxed. Then, notice during the day when you feel tension in your body and where. Neck and shoulders? Lower back? Jaw? Wrists, hands and forearms? These are places and times where our body is reacting to our state of mind.
I test this in myself often. When I am feeling an intense emotion I remind myself that I still believe in separation (as in, there is a “you” and a “me” and I am reacting/resisting something that is not true). I pause, take a deep breath, (“Oh, there’s that thing again…”) re-center and I return to my mind. I recognize that I am part of all of humanity and a greater consciousness, and I allow myself to feel that all the way through the dimensions.
By working at the level of the mind, I experience much, much more joy and peacefulness throughout the day. I also teach this to my clients in the program “What About Me?“