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Excerpted from A Gradual Awakening by Stephen Levine. Copyright © 1979 by Stephen Levine. Excerpted by permission of Anchor Books, a division of Random House, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 


"The internal dialogue is always commenting and judging and planning. It contains a lot of thoughts of self, a lot of self-consciousness."

Stephen Levine, A Gradual Awakening, Part 2

Also, because our breathing changes, the awareness must become very subtle to accommodate itself to it. Awareness watches the sensations that occur with the natural coming and going of the breath. Awareness penetrates the subtle sensations that accompany each breath. When we bring attention to the level of sensation, we are not so entangled in the verbal level where all the voices of thought hold sway, usually lost in the "internal dialogue."

The internal dialogue is always commenting and judging and planning. It contains a lot of thoughts of self, a lot of self-consciousness. It blocks the light of our natural wisdom; it limits our seeing who we are; it makes a lot of noise and attracts our attention to a fraction of the reality in which we exist. But when the awareness is one-pointedly focused on the coming and going of the breath, all the other aspects of the mind/body process come automatically, clearly into focus as they arise. Meditation puts us into direct contact--which means direct experience--with more of who we are.

For instance, if we watch the mind as though it were a film projected on a screen, as concentration deepens, it may go into a kind of slow motion and allow us to see more of what is happening. This then deepens our awareness and further allows us to observe the film almost frame by frame, to discover how one thought leads imperceptibly to the next.

We see how thoughts we took to be "me" or "mine" are just an ongoing process. This perspective helps break our deep identification with the seeming solid reality of the movie of the mind. As we become less engrossed in the melodrama, we see itís just flow, and can watch it all as it passes. We are not even drawn into the action by the passing of a judgmental comment or an agitated moment of impatience.

When we simply see--moment to moment--whatís occurring, observing without judgment or preference, we don't get lost thinking, "I prefer this moment to that moment, I prefer this pleasant thought to that pain in my knee." As we begin developing this choiceless awareness, what starts coming within the field of awareness is quite remarkable: we start seeing the root from which thought arises. We see intention, out of which action comes. We observe the natural process of mind and discover how much of what we so treasured to be ourselves is essentially impersonal phenomena passing by.

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