Experience is a continuous process. It is always there from the time we are born till we die. It is always there from the time we wake up to the time we sleep. It is also there during our sleep. However, the nature of our experience changes during different times of the day and age. Each experience is not the same.
Come to think of it, how do we know we have experienced something? Because it stands out from the rest of the stream of experience isn’t it? We only notice the peaks of experience. If nothing has happened in the past one hour, it does not mean we have not experienced anything.
However, if suddenly there is a loud crash on the road and you are jolted from your sofa, then you say you experienced a loud noise. You may run out to the balcony to see what happened. If you see someone you know has met with an accident, you will experience something more than if you see some stranger involved in the accident.
If life is just a series of events that you experience day in and day out, then are you in control of what experiences you get? It seems not. Is our mind or brain just a box meant to receive sights and sounds and tastes and smells and experiences?
Are our experiences just a reaction to the external world? It does seem so. If it is hot outside, we feel miserable. If it is chilly outside, we feel uncomfortable. If someone says “You are a great person” you experience some emotion of happiness or pride. But if someone says “you are a lousy person” you may experience anger or sadness.
Is our inner life so tightly connected with what we see, hear or feel that we have no control on our own experience? It does seem to be the case. But we never pay attention to this. It seems so natural for us to blame some person or some condition for the experience we are having.
It should therefore come as a big surprise to you if I declare that you can experience any emotion you want in any situation. Since you have never exercised your ability to choose the emotion you want, it may seem difficult at first. Moreover, the external world is constantly throwing sensory impressions at you and you are constantly experiencing something or the other depending on your prior experiences and habitual tendencies. Further, you are continuously blaming something or someone for your experiences so the thought of being responsible for your own experiences never occurs to you.
To get out of this negative loop, we need to remember that we can choose our experience. The first step in that direction is to notice our current experience. If you notice what you are experiencing right now, then only you will be in a position to replace it with another experience. So the next question is obviously, with what experience would you like to replace your current experience?
It is not worthwhile to imagine replacing a sad experience with a happy one on the flick of a switch. It would seem odd that while others are crying because they have lost someone in an accident and you suddenly burst out happy and laughing. That is not the kind of experience changing I am talking about. What is reasonable to be able to do is that while others are crying, you may not experience that level of anguish. And even if you are crying, you may notice that you are crying. Noticing itself is a big thing. Noticing itself if maintained as pure noticing, will bring about a change in the experience.
If you continue to notice, you do not need to choose another emotion to replace your current experience with. The natural process will automatically bring you to a stable experience. That experience, if practiced, is also known as a equanimous calm or inner joy. This experience when practiced through non-judgmental noticing becomes unshakeable in due course.
Then you will not experience the ups and downs of your earlier emotional roller coaster which was totally under the influence of external events and persons. Now, there is an experience of a constant source of energy and joy underneath your outer appearance and which is not a result of any forced effort. But it is just there and you continue to notice the same.
This inner joy is your true nature. You will know yourself as this inner joy and not be caught up with your name and designation and other egoistic identifiers. There is no name for this inner joy but this is your true nature.
May you find this inner joy. There is nothing more valuable than this in the whole universe.