The years roll by, the scenery changes, and yet much in our life stays the same.
Whereas it is easy to move the furniture about in the space that represents our lives, it is more difficult to see how to make fundamental changes.
We might move house, change cars, swap partners or switch careers, and yet inside it often feels the same. Everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you.
We are so caught up in the process of living that it is often hard to see what levers to pull to change channels, rather than just adjust the brightness or the contrast.
Changing channels requires a deeper introspection than just reviewing how our lives are going. We tend to make such a review at the beginning of each year, because making resolution after taking stock seems to put us control.
Yet a few months (weeks? Days? Hours?) later, we realise that nothing much fundamental has changed. We might have lost a bit of weight, saved some money, or drunk less, but the same mind is still in charge, and it still seems capable of making the same mistakes. So it is pretty much guaranteed that nothing substantial will change.
For real change to take place, you have to change your mind.
Not in the sense of exchanging your brain for another one, but more like changing the way that you think. We have to realise that we are not our minds. That there is more to us than the rational thinking processes that we so readily identify with.
“You are not your mind.” It is not a phrase that many minds take kindly to.
“What do you mean ‘you are not your mind’? Of course you are – what else could you be?” I can hear your mind say. Because the mind does not like to have its authority challenged.
“We’ve done OK together up till now – you are alive aren’t you? We have formed a unique personality together that we are comfortable with”. And so it goes on. The mind’s justification as to why you should identify with it.
It has a monopoly over your thought processes, and won’t let you go that easily. Some people so identify with their minds, that if you show any lack of respect, they will pick a fight with you.
We feel that we are our personalities, and to challenge any part of the way we think is to challenge the very essence of who we are.
And yet the very word 'personality' is an interesting one. It comes from the Greek word 'Persona' which were the masks that actors used to wear in Ancient Greece to signify their roles. The word literally means 'that which is spoken through'.
Our personality is just the mask we choose to speak through. It is a construction that the mind uses to negotiating its way through life. It has no intrinsic reality or value.
The problem comes when we have so identified with our personality that we almost feel trapped by it and we cannot think our way out of it.
Real change only comes when we realise that we are not our minds, that we are not our personalities, and that it is possible to identify ourselves with something much deeper than the constructs of our minds.
When we realise that there is a fundamental essence in life to which we all have access, and if we were to go beyond the limitations of our minds, then we would begin to see a new horizon that we could begin to aspire to.
It is this new horizon that facilitates the real change in our lives that many of us strive towards; that enable us to break the long established patterns of our lives, and therefore explore new ways of being.
Ironically, the way we access this essence is by becoming more aware of the extent to which we are trapped and programmed by our past. Gradually we become aware of new possibilities, and through taking up these possibilities we set off on a new direction in our lives.