During group at the Monastery one Sunday morning, I listened as everyone spoke about whatever issue they were practicing with. The issues were as varied as one would expect, from disturbances with family to life-threatening illness to working out. As I listened to each participant move through their process, I realized we were all exploring the same movement—from small to Big.
Small is egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate, I/me/mine, personal, separate, all taking place in a conversation inside the head. As a story was told, the teller moved from a focus on that tiny, isolated, often anxious or fearful, judged and judging orientation to a more expansive orientation. They moved from small to Big.
One example was of someone who wanted to paint, but wasn’t allowed to. Each time there was an impulse toward painting, voices began a campaign to dissuade the painter. Why?
We can attend to only one thing at a time. Because attention can move rapid-fire from thing to thing it can seem as if we’re able to do two or more things at once. Seem is the operative word. All that happens in that rapid-fire movement is that we’re kept from being fully present to any one thing.
To maintain egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate, we must keep attention on it all the time. Because ego really wants to be maintained, we are heavily conditioned to attend to ego all the time. If it occurs to us (if it “drops in” as an intuition) that we would like to do something other than attend to that conversation in conditioned mind (meditate, exercise, pursue an interest for the fun of it, eat better, cut back on caffeine or alcohol or pot), the voices begin their campaign to prevent us from leaving the conversation to focus on something else.
When we choose to participate in an activity that moves attention from conditioned mind, we move into Big. Awareness (Big) is whole, expansive, open, receptive, welcoming, and energetic. We feel lit up, excited, generous, happy, and kind. Ego is not happy with our happiness.
The “whats” of Life are infinite, and making our way through the maze of whats in our attempt to see the “process” underlying all those whats can keep a person confused for a lifetime. This simple formula can assist us to cut through the conditioned mind confusion:
Small is having the attention on the I/me/my of ego. It’s when all of Life has come down to “me.” Small is a perspective that is limited, narrow, personal, worried about the past and future, feeling inadequate and fearful.
Big is Awareness, attention on Presence, on thisherenow. Big is possibility, optimism, clarity, confidence, wellbeing, and gratitude.
Sensing whether we feel our life is small and contracted or Big and expansive can let us know whether we are identified with ego or disidentified from ego. With Awareness Practice as our foundation, we open ourselves to the Big life that Life has “in Mind” for us.