It’s very common to seek a certain feeling or state. It’s also very understandable.
Most of us are very familiar with changing the content of experience and are less familiar with changing the context of experience. So we set out trying to change the content of experience. We try to avoid certain experiences and seek other experiences. We seek a feeling or a state. There is nothing wrong with this. It’s natural. It’s good to be a good steward of our life in an ordinary sense. And yet, to compulsively attempt to change the content of our experience is in itself suffering. It creates an additional layer of suffering. It creates an ongoing struggle with our experience.
The alternative is to change the context of experience. To notice what’s here: sensory input and imagination, and how they combine to create certain experiences. Notice that this experience is already noticed and allowed. Notice what it happens within and as (AKA awareness, presence).
I can explore this in different ways:
What would I have to feel if I didn’t try to change my experience now? Feel that. Stay with it for a while. Notice any resistance, fear, impulse to change experience, and feel that too. Include that too in the noticing and allowing.
How does my mind create the experience of something lacking or missing here and now? (UI on this lacking state or a deficient self.)
How does my mind create the experience of something else that’s better? (UI on the desired state.)
How does my mind create the experience of a threat in what’s here now? (AI on threat.)
How does my mind create the experience of a command to change my experience? Or not change it? (CI to change / not change.)
This impulse to change the content of our experience has an evolutionary function. It is, in a sense, built into us. And yet, it’s possible to examine it and shift focus to the context of our experience as described above. We may seek to change the content of our experience through food, entertainment, being loved, sex, status, being right, and also through trying to hold ideas as true. These ideas can be any ideas at all, including ideas about ourselves, others, life, politics, religion, and spirituality.
As usual, this exploration intertwines in how we ordinarily do things in ways that are simple and also complex. It’s simple in that (a) I continue to be the best steward of my life as I know in a very ordinary way while also (b) explore the things mentioned above. It’s complex in that this exploration will shift how I go about being a good steward of my life. It shifts the emphasis on changing the context of my experience rather than the content. It removes a layer of struggle and suffering, which brings more of a sense of ease into my everyday life. I go about being a good steward in a slightly more effortless way. And there is an ongoing deepening here.
- Seeking a feeling or state
- common, good to notice, even look into
- what would I have to feel if it isn’t here
- how does my mind create the experience of threat, commands, the feeling of state as an object / thing
I notice that shifting attention to the context of my experience is just a shifting of attention. This context is already here. The noticing and allowing is already here. It’s just a shift of attention. And this shifts how I go about being a steward of my life.