If we liken life to a dream,
our typical approach to well-being involves trying create the best, most fulfilling dream possible. Toward that end, we seek out activities and work that we find fulfilling, try to cultivate healthy, nourishing relationships, increase positive (and limit negative) states of mind, tend to the body’s health and so on.
However, as natural as it may be to do whatever we can to create the most fulfilling life-dream possible, the reality is that our capacity to hold in place those experiences and circumstances we deem positive and keep at bay those we consider less desirable is, it would appear, quite limited.
But there’s a way around this seeming lack of control we appear to have over how the dream of life unfolds and it is this:
Along with doing whatever we can to create the best possible dream for ourselves and others, we can also experiment with taking periodic moments to simply allow what is to be as it is, making no effort to change or alter the dream in anyway whatsoever. And as we take such moments to allow the dream to be as it is, we can also ask a very simple yet profound question:
“What is this waking dream we call life actually made of?”
Physicists tell us that matter is made up of different atomic particles which are themselves comprised of quarks and other subatomic particles. But what about experience itself? What are the fundamental building blocks of that, the “particles” that make up our moment-to-moment experience?
To be sure, we have a seemingly endless array of words to describe and categorize our experiences. But ask yourself, do any of those words really tell us what the myriad things we encounter in life are actually composed of?
When we use terms like fear or joy, consciousness or self, what exactly are we referring to? We could say that states like fear or joy are made of particular constellations or patterns of feelings, sensations and thoughts. But this begs the question, “What in turn are those things we call feelings, sensations and thoughts actually comprised of?”
The most powerful way I have found to investigate such questions is to explore in a lighthearted and curious way what I sometimes call the texture or felt sense of experience. As we feel into the nature of any momentary state, what becomes apparent is the inadequacy of all our descriptive labels, the failure of our conceptual and linguistic maps to convey the unthinkably vast, subtle, and nuanced territory of experience itself.
Through this inquiry into the nature of moment-to-moment experience, what’s revealed is that every experience—including those we consider to be “negative” and in need of fixing—is a vast, indescribable field of open-ended, cloud-like energy and intelligence.
Happiness, sorrow, pleasure, pain, joy, anger, jealousy, gratitude—no matter how we might define such experiences, every moment turns out upon closer examination to be a complete free fall into endless openness, subtlety, nuance, lusciousness and depth.
It’s fine, of course, to continue trying to live life as skillfully and artfully as we can, minimizing those states of mind and circumstances we think of as undesirable while maximizing those considered (based on our descriptions) to be more desirous.
But while we engage in this more conventional approach to realizing a happy and fulfilled life, we can at the same time, investigate the “dream” of life itself and in so doing, discover that all experiences, including the ones we imagined ourselves stuck in or troubled by, are expressions of the most sublime and astonishing energy and vitality.
I invite you to enter into this inquiry, that you might discover the profound freedom and well-being that lies in the heart of every moment.