Have you ever heard it said that
“You are the universe experiencing itself”
I’ve heard this many times and it is something that resonated with me, yet I don’t think I ever really took the time to truly understand what it meant, until it dawned on me today.
The quote is attributed to Alan Watts who was an English writer who took Eastern philosophy and religion and shared it with western audiences.
Alan wasn’t alone in coming to the conclusion that 'we are the universe experiencing itself'.
Carl Sagan was an American astrologer who came up with a very similar theory:
“We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”
And German born Eckhart Tolle, who is a spiritual teacher, has another very similar view to Alan Watts:
“You are the universe experiencing itself, very briefly, as human”.
How Mindfulness and Meditation has helped me to understand this point of view
Since I have been practising mindfulness and meditation more regularly I now try to live in the moment as much as possible. I have to admit it is very challenging and I am by no way an expert at this.
I find my mindfulness practice is at its easiest when I am out in nature with my dog. Today, as I walked in the local park I tried to walk slowly and purposefully and really appreciate the beauty of my surroundings.
I took time to stop and look at the waterfalls, the streams and the plants.
I walked up close to the trees and touched their bark; anyone who saw me would probably have thought I was a bit strange!
I stopped and took photos of the things that I saw and was blown away by the amazing intricacy of the details of things that I have never really given my full attention to.
I was in absolute awe of the sacred geometry that can be seen on the foliage of this tree.
As I walked the quote “You are the universe experiencing itself”, popped into my head.
I felt at that moment that I was part of the nature around me, but at the same time I still felt distinctly separate to it.
So how could I be the universe experiencing itself?
As I thought about this I realised that everything I was seeing only existed to me. It took my eyes to see my surroundings, my ears to hear the crunch of the leaves under my feet and my body to feel the wind as it blew against my face and hands.
If I wasn’t there at that moment to experience those things, who would be experiencing them?
If I wasn’t there to see those things in that moment would they have even existed?
As I followed this thought process, I remembered many walks I have taken in the past, where I have had things on my mind. On these occasions walking the dog was been a chore that I have just needed to get done, so I could get on with my day. I have walked the same route before and not noticed any of the beauty I saw today.
Suddenly the quote started to make more sense to me. We actually see what we are aligned to be able to see, and the universe reflects this back to us. Today I had the right mindset and was fully aligned to be able to see the beauty surrounding me.
On previous occasions when I have hurriedly walked this same route, without feeling present and with intrusive thoughts of the past, or my predictive future hurtling around my mind, I was also being the universe experiencing itself, however, on these occasions I was really experiencing chaos, anxiety and stress, rather than just experiencing 'what is'.
How our thoughts take us away from the now
I continued to follow my thoughts and it came to me that I should write a blog about the realisation I had about how we experience the universe through ourselves, and how our own alignment determines what we see and feel about our experiences.
As I soaked up these thoughts in my head I found myself at my desk, typing (as I am now) mapping out how best to put on paper what I had discovered.
I was so deep in the thought of writing this post, that I forgot my surroundings while I was completely absorbed in my mind. For a good few minutes I was no longer walking through the woods with the dog, but fully engrossed in the feeling of being at my desk writing this article.
As I remembered that I was trying to to be living in the present moment, I brought my awareness back into my body and the woods and thought about all the beauty surrounding me that I had missed for those moments because my mind had drifted off somewhere else.
Making space for the positives
The thoughts of pondering that 'I am the universe experiencing itself', and about writing this post, are what I would consider to be positive thoughts, but if we are not aware or conscious of what we are thinking, our minds will all to easily take us towards negative thoughts that are of no real consideration to the present moment.
As I practice meditation and try to become more self aware, I feel I am freeing up space in my mind for more positive thoughts. I'm sure we all have lots of things we can spend our time worrying about, but worrying doesn't improve the situation. In fact, worrying can have a detrimental affect on our minds, body and overall health. When we are filled with stress and tension because our minds are in overdrive, we experience the universe as a reflection of what is going on inside and ultimately this can lead us to feel bad.
Living in the now, and experiencing the beauty that is ours in every given moment won't make things that we may perceive to be negative to go away, but it will give us peace, and the headspace to allow us to let the positive in. With practice, this in turn makes those negative problems less marauding and easier to cope with.
The room I left in my mind today for positivity allowed me to envision a new blog post and bring it to life, without having to worry about what my next post would be about.
I'm sure that as I get better at weeding out the negatives, I will have a lot more room for the positives, which will in turn improve my life experiences and wellbeing.