Tasting Freedom (from the book, END YOUR STORY, BEGIN YOUR LIFE, by Jim Dreaver
by Jim Dreaver
(Los Angeles, CA)
The teaching itself is simple. It is to grasp that while we are a story-telling people, the stories we tell come and go, they change, but we, in our essence, are always here. We, as the pure awareness that sees and knows are still here, still looking through our eyes, sensing with our body, feeling with our heart and gut. Realizing we are that which is always present, and not the thought or story, which is ever-changing, is to be awake and free.
The practice, which is also simple, helps you embody the teaching and make it your lived experience. I will describe the practice at the end of this Introduction. The first time I discovered it was working for people was when I was teaching a workshop at the famed Esalen Institute. Esalen is an alternative education and retreat center devoted to the exploration of human potential, situated on California’s rugged Big Sur coast.
On the third morning of the five-day workshop, one of the women participants came in and reported having been to Esalen many times during the past few years, and telling of a man on the staff with whom she had some personal issues. Well, she saw the man that morning and was trying to figure out a way to avoid him, when she suddenly remembered the practice I taught.
As soon as she became aware of her discomfort, she stopped and did something she had never tried before: she became very present with her experience of conflict. Then she looked inwardly at the story she was telling herself about this man: basically, “How can I avoid him?” She noticed it was just a story, a thought. In almost the same breath, she saw she was not the story, not any story. Rather, she was what looked at the story. She was the lucid, ever-present awareness behind the story.
When she saw this, a magical thing happened. As the story dissolved before her eyes, the emotional tension created by being identified with the story and wanting to avoid a confrontation also dissipated, and she felt freer, clearer, more here. She then went up to the man and had a totally fresh, new interaction with him.
Of course, she didn’t become completely free from one moment of insight, but it was a beginning. It cracked an opening in the shell of her ego and all the stories holding it together. She experienced a glimpse, a taste, of the inner freedom which is her true nature.