In Chapter One you began your journey within, exploring the realms of mindful practices for your body. After creating your own practices and executing them, you have now begun to feel the benefits of increased awareness and improved well-being of the physical form. Hopefully you found that, in today’s world, working with your physical state is easier than ever. Thanks to our scientific and technological development, there is very little argument on the existence of our human body systems and the effect they have on our overall health. Information (occasionally contradictory, but often consistent) about exercise, nutrition, and supplementation is easily accessible locally and online. You probably found that your heightened awareness of your own body was helpful in filtering this material to implement the practices that are best suited for you.
On the other hand, the “non-physical” state of the human being, including our mental, emotional, and spiritual connections and health, has yet to be fully accepted, understood, and agreed upon by the scientific community. As our scientific instruments are not adept at detecting and measuring non-physical parameters (such as emotion, sensation, thought, intuition, and other relatively etheric phenomena), and because of the complex, invisible nature of non-physical interactions, objective study of the non-physical human form remains difficult. Brain imagining technology, the study of our body’s electromagnetic field, and quantum physics are beginning to shed light on this previously unseen reality; but, for now, science and spirituality/philosophy exist as largely separate fields of study.
Fortunately, human beings are born equipped with the ability to expand awareness of the non-physical body from the inside out. In this chapter, you will work to extend your own awareness beyond the limits of external instrumentation. By investigating within your own being, you can discover and understand more about yourself than anything or anyone outside yourself can tell you. During the following weeks, you will explore the human mind and its reactions to physical and non-physical stimuli. The goal of these practices is to make you aware of your own states of mind by consciously observing the mind’s fluctuations. After we build a foundational understanding of the mind through Chapter Two, we will expand our awareness to deeper portions of our non-physical existence throughout Chapters Three and Four, as well as in subsequent books.
Fittingly, to comprehend the nature of the human mind, you must both open your mind and go beyond your mind. We all understand there are countless possible physical experiences for our bodies. Similarly, it is important to accept the reality of infinite, equally complex realms of non-physical experience for our minds. (Consider the familiar states of elation, depression, rumination, imagination, and dream.)
The first exercise of this chapter is the simple observation of your current awareness and understanding of the human mind. Most people have never considered the complexity of the mind, so there is no need for judgment during this practice. Do not overthink or research externally in search of validation. This practice displays that which your mind has already registered within itself. It displays how you mentally perceive the world around you, including yourself. Depending on your life experiences, this perception could be totally or partially psychological, rational, emotional, or spiritual. Take the next 15 to 20 minutes to complete the exercise below before continuing further into Chapter Two.
Briefly review the diagram below, then ask yourself the following questions:
Who am I?
What am I doing?
Why and how am I doing this?
Duration and Frequency:
Experience this observation only once for as long as it takes to understand your current perception of the mind. Record this in your Development Log.
Now that you’ve reviewed your current level of awareness of the human mind and its relation to your life experiences, it is time to expand your understanding from within by focusing your attention on the unique nature of each layer of the mind. This chapter presents mental activities in the same format as the physical body practices. Each week you will explore a deeper layer of the mind to build your understanding from within. Similar to your experience with the physical body, your first exercise is to simply take stock of your current state of mental health.
You have planted the seed for your Tree of Life seed by diligently expanding awareness of the physical body. Now you will focus on different states of mental health that allow that seed to grow. You understand that you are more than skin, muscles, bones, nerves, and hormones; you exist as a product of the interrelated functions of all body systems working in harmony. You may already be reaping some of the benefits that this more spacious sense of self can bring to your experience of life.
Continuing your expansion toward full integration of the human form, it is fitting to begin a daily practice focused on cultivating awareness of the mental framework that informs your bodily actions. In the following practice, you will explore and document the nutrients that you currently feed your Tree of Life.
Start by finding yourself a comfortable place to sit and relax. It would be best to pick the same location for these daily activities. Once seated, simply observe your current mental activities. Observe your emotions, thoughts, feelings, and any internal or external sounds and sensations. In this state, your goal is to observe as much as possible and gather information about your current mental state of being. You could observe repeating thought patterns and even the stimulations that cause the mind to generate more thoughts (such as sounds, sensations, or other thoughts). Your goal is just to observe without any judgment or manipulation.
Duration and Frequency:
This exercise could take 15 to 30 minutes and should be practiced daily until you are familiar with your thought patterns. When comfortable, begin practicing the next exercise in this chapter after completing the first day of this exercise.