Mindful Reality asks you to put your physical reality up against the things you feel pressure to change in your life, similarly to Byron Katie’s Four Questions. I call this work a mindful reality check. Action, that is, “doing something,” is the central focus of my work because it is my observation that our suffering comes from a feeling that we need to do something to fix the situations in our life that trouble us. This is our dilemma, where our pain comes from. So I examine action to understand what it really is.
Action can only happen with the body in the present moment because that is the only access we have to our physical, actual self. We can touch it to affirm that it is here, and since we don’t have another body to speak of we can confirm that it is the only representation of us that we are aware of.
The only way I know to get access to this “tool” of action (our body) is to check in with ourself right now. When we do, we can see our body in the space it is occupying, involved in some particular activity. This is what I call our “physical reality.” We are programmed to believe we can manipulate ourself (this body) to do the things we need to do to manage our problems. This is what our thinking mind believes. It is an assumption most of us operate under; it is how we are wired as humans, i.e., to assume we have the control to make a decision in a given moment to help ourself with whatever we are struggling with.
To repeat, the only access we have to ourself (our tool for action) is the present moment because that is where we can find our physical body. But when we check in with ourself we see that our body is already in an activity. In fact it seems to me that this activity is in the process of happening before we get there with our awareness. It thus appears to me that we cannot get behind our actions (in the way we think we can) or impose an action on top of an action that is already occurring, as our body is “tied up,” so to speak, with what it is already doing. Until and if our current action ends, we cannot execute another action that would address our new need. I say that it is physically impossible to attend to any of our inner demands unless we already are. This to me is the reality of action, or what I call the Physical Reality Principle.
The awareness of this Physical Reality Principle is difficult to hold onto because the instant we become aware of it our mind takes over and tries to convince us, or does convince us that we have the power to influence our behavior. Because of the strength and persistence of this mental brainwashing, we need to sit with this knowledge very carefully and diligently to understand and internalize that our body absolutely cannot do anything it is not already doing, until and if it does. Remember, our actions are happening before our awareness witnesses them (even if this is a matter of one second). We can only discover what we are doing after the fact and by that point any action is over. We have already moved into the next moment, only to discover this reality all over again.