Who you truly are may only be experienced in the here and now, not through thought. When we move our attention away from thought onto anything else, we land in the here and now, and the experience of being present is the experience of our true self.
This experience is one of affection, compassion, acceptance, pleasure, and contentment. When you feel these, you know you’re identified with your true self instead of the ego. When you feel the opposite, discontent and unhappiness, you know you’re identified with the ego, with your thoughts. Experiencing what you’re going through and experiencing your thoughts are really different realities, really different experiences. When you’re going through what you’re experiencing, you’re at peace, relaxed, happy, and absorbed, with no thoughts about me or how I’m doing, or any additional stories, which are the ego’s version of reality. Instead of feeling reality, the ego tells a story about it, and that gets to be its reality. The egoic brain tries to get you to rush through life so that you don’t experience life, your sense of self, vanishes! So the ego rushes you on to the next minute and promises a future where you’ll at last be happy and able to breathe. But that future never arrives! It’s a shell game: The brain promises you a better life if you listen to it, while it takes you out of the sole thing that’s real: the here and now. That’s not a great tradeoff. The here and now is vibrant, alive, plentiful, and changing, regardless of whatever the real content is. This resonance, aliveness, and richness are the sole things that will ever satisfy you. What is artificial—thoughts, illusions, and promises of the time to come—may never satisfy you, but simply take you away from what may. Affection isn’t an emotion but comes from jumping into experience totally and being willing to truly have the experience you’re having. Each moment is a chance to leap in with both feet, without holding back by assessing the experience. The egoic mind inserts itself in each moment, or attempts to, by assessing it, fretting about it, or reciting a story about it. This commentary doesn’t heighten life or keep us secure, but merely distracts us from the experience and keeps us from being totally involved with it. Many individuals have one foot in their minds, as it were, and one foot in their experience. This does not feel the same at all as bearing both feet in the experience.