Reflection: Mom became like the sweetness of the chocolates she would eat. The dementia her sculptor, releasing the angel within, chiseling away memories, opinions, and beliefs until only her gentle presence remained. With personality stripped away, personhood shown more clearly - loving awareness.
The death of a loved one, and in a special way a parent, opens up space for self-reflection. Death asks, "Are you living a good life?" Dementia tries to help us answer. "Watch what I can strip away. Look carefully. What remains?" This is a difficult lesson. Death and dementia are uncompromising teachers.
Let these exercise meditations prepare you with the direct experience of you as pure awareness, beneath your personality, separate from what dementia can strip away. Let these exercise inquiries prepare you for dementia's stark truth - our personality is an elaborate, mental construction; its reality no more than that of a thought. And why do we want to do these exercises? Because there is a lesson both death and dementia missed. By stripping away all, the compassionate bliss of being shines clearly.
Exercise: In this exercise we will shift our focus away from the content of our thoughts and move it to creation of thoughts and to ourselves as the thought creator.
Intention: The intention for this exercise is for you to know yourself as a point of awareness able to generate thoughts.
Meditation: Once again, as in the previous exercise ( see There Is a Beauty Within You #8: Where Neuroscience and Mystical Intuition Converge ), become conscious of the location of yourself in the area of the frontal lobe, just behind the center of your high forehead.
Next, while maintaining your focus in this area, think to yourself some simple "I" phrases. For example, close your eyes and think, "I am a person." First there was no thought and then a thought occurred. Who created it? You did, so look for yourself. You must have been there. Watch closely for yourself, the thinker. Try to see who actually generates these thoughts.
Try a few more thoughts. Watch as they come into being out of nowhere and look for yourself, the thinker of the thought.
Inquiry: And what can you say about this thinker in your brain, this thought generator? The thinker never appears, but the thoughts do. Someone is generating them. What attributes do you have as a thinker? Awareness.
Intention Renewal: Allow the intention of this exercise to continue, knowing yourself as a point of awareness able to generate thoughts.
Service: Extend compassion and understanding to yourself and others struggling for meaning and purpose in their life. See if you can relieve their suffering a little by offering them some of the freedom and compassion you are finding in knowing yourself as awareness. Most of us are rarely open to listening to another's truth so don't expect to tell someone about this. Your offering most likely will be for you to simply be freedom and practice compassion when you are with them.
Background Reading: Quartz, Steven R. Ph.D., and Sejnowski, Terrence J., Ph.D., Liars, Lovers, and Heroes, What the New Brain Science Reveals About How We Become Who We Are, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY, 2002.