But one thing has become very clear over the years … one cannot will oneself to be free of the ego-mind. It just doesn’t work. The ego-mind is too strong; it is too much an integral factor of our self-perception.
What you can will, what is within your power, is to do positive things that put you in the desired spiritual space. You can will yourself, or your true Buddha self, to open up your heart and embrace all aspects of your being and experience. You can will yourself to open up the well-spring of loving kindness in your heart and let it flow out to yourself and all others. You can will yourself to chant or stop whatever you’re doing during the day and watch your breath. You can focus yourself on being grateful.
Recently I have found something else that I have the power to do … put myself in a space of joy and happiness. As you know from my posts, I have been working with my inner child, healing him from the wounds he suffered. And most recently, asking him what he wants. To which he answered he wants to experience joy and happiness; he wants me to experience joy and happiness and so be free of thought.
In my recent post, “A Simpler Path to Experiencing Joy,” I related how this exhortation from my inner child has had a powerful influence on me. That it has enabled me to experience far more joy than I can ever remember. I was even able, by focusing on the joy, to not be assailed by thoughts because it changed the direction of my energy flow and so created a forcefield around me (see my post, “Change Your Life by Changing the Direction of Its Energy Flow”). I was not able to will myself from thoughts, but the positive action of focusing on joy created a barrier to thoughts.
But there were still stretches of time when the background noise of my past, of my ego-mind, enveloped me in a grey, blah, heavy ambience. Then the other day, when I was in one of those spaces, I remembered Thich Nhat Hanh’s mouth yoga exercise and did that, turning my mouth into a smile.
In the past, that exercise only provided a momentary relief from my mind, a connection with the joy inside me. When the moment past, it was back to my default status.
This time though, it was different. When I did the mouth yoga and felt my smile, I was instantly connected with my smiling toddler, with my true Buddha self as well as, I think, my inner child. I let it pass. But the next morning when I woke up, I immediately turned my face into a smile, felt connected with my smiling toddler, and four hours later was still in that space.
One probably shouldn’t have records for this kind of thing, but it was a significant accomplishment for me. As I continued through my day, I could feel myself smiling most of the times Or if not, I was quickly aware of that and the smile was very close at hand.
What made the impact of mouth yoga different was two things. First, I had in the interim learned of the “heart’s embrace” practice, which had a profound effect on me. Second, not only had I healed my inner child, but I was very much in touch with the inner child that is inside me now. After being healed, my inner child seems to have merged with my smiling toddler, giving that image more substance and reality. Thus when I did mouth yoga, turning my mouth into a smile, I felt it was my smiling toddler, my healed inner child, smiling, expressing itself, and embracing all aspects of my being and experience. We were all one.