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Erasing the Boundaries of Self

A headless-and-shoulderless practice

What does it mean that there is no self or that the goal of mindfulness is to understand your true selflessness? Let’s consider this esoteric idea through a few examples from real life.

What does it mean to have an itch on the back of your head? Does it mean the same thing as to say you have an itch on the back of your consciousness? No, the experience of itchiness happening in consciousness is on the back of your head. So where is consciousness then? it’s not in your head (or elbow or heart or gut for that matter). If you now get an itch on your knee and hear a cat meow (to explain all the itchiness) has consciousness morphed media and also appeared in a superposition of two places at once? No, consciousness appears to be formless but containing all the form of experience.

You might protest that you are conscious of your self. (Clever you). Consciousness of the body—including skin surfaces, musculoskeletal structure, and the vagaries of your internal viscera—are all important components of mindfulness practice and when truly considered, actually erase the boundaries of self.

Try this: sit comfortably and close your eyes. In order to get into the concentration you need for this practice, focus on your breath. Don’t control it. Just become aware of the subtle in and out of your breath.

Now focus on the sensations in your head. Pick a particular side of your head, right or left. Feel the jaw bone. Notice your tongue and the inside of your mouth on that side.

Now move down to your neck and shoulder on that side of your body. If you are like most people, you’ll have a kink where your neck and head meet, pay attention to this often unpleasant feeling until you can concentrate on the raw sensation of tension, pressure, softness, heat or cold, and can stop labeling body parts.

Now work to erase the boundaries of your shoulder and the corresponding side of your head. Start slowly, focus on the cloud of body sensations where sounds are entering into experience, how distinct is that body sensation to the light sensation labeled in your mind as shoulder.

This is for trying… for experimenting with… first by erasing your body into a cloud of sensations, then erasing your self—or more accurately—seeing that your nature is simply the entire space of formless awareness.


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