A recurrent theme in my dreams is finding myself at point A trying to get to point B. Point B is usually some place I am trying to get back to, rather than a new destination. A return. There is a man here this time, in my dream, that can assist if I know how and what to ask him. But I do not. I usually strike out on my own, usually with baggage I carry, and the way is arduous and direction unclear. I’m constantly second guessing myself. It would be much easier if I had paid closer attention to where I was before, to where I am now and to what options for mobility are available to me. Instead, I have only a vague idea of where I am going, where I am is even more unclear and the only option for movement is whatever I am currently doing, usually walking or running. Along with what I am trying to drag along with me.
Drifting out of these dreams into the hypnopompic slice of awareness just before fully awakening, I recognize all this. Coach myself on what I could have done instead. Remind myself this has happened many times. But I am functioning from a different scope of self-awareness. An awareness of familiar patterns from outside of those patterns.
This is the promise of mindfulness. The tricky part is that we can be mindful of the patterns, but not while we are in the patterns. When we “catch” ourselves thinking and distracted during meditation, it is usually after the fact. This will gradually raise a baseline awareness to the point we can observe the pattern while it is happening with an awareness that it is happening, and without this awareness simply triggering another pattern we become absorbed in.
Bypassing uses mindfulness as a skipping a stone on the surface before sinking back in. We may attempt to leverage it to get out of uncomfortable states and into more ‘resourceful’ ones. But it’s the judgment about the utility of the current state that keeps us submerged. We may even learn to look from underwater and mistake a controlling state from being free of state. The hidden rudder is judgement.
The way back to primary mindfulness is perhaps knowing how and what to ask of our state of mind. Where are we trying to go? How are we trying to get there? What other options exist for us?