Part 2: narrative based and immediate based selfs



Neurological research using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has shown that these two forms of self-awareness—narrative-based self and immediacy-based self—are located in two separate areas of the brain (Farb et al. 2007).

Using neuroimagery, which can detect which “self” people are operating from, this study compared novice meditators to people who had participated in an eight-week program in mindfulness meditation.

When participants shifted from a narrative focus to their immediate experience, fMRIs indicated that the experienced meditators had less activity in the region associated with the narrative-based self.

In other words, through the practice of mindfulness meditation we can disidentify from the self we’ve created with our stories and discover a new sense of self based in the present moment.

The narrative-based self lives in a continuum of past and future, and as such is the source of wanting, dissatisfaction, and judging—in short, suffering.

The immediacy-based self exists only in the here and now.

These two orientations in the world are fundamentally (and neurologically) different.

The immediacy-based self lives with the inescapable emotional pain of being human, yet it is also present for the breeze on your face or the birdsong that you cannot feel or hear when you’re preoccupied with thoughts and stories.

The narrative-based self can help you avoid much of the emotional pain that’s inevitable when living in the here and now, but you pay the price, as you must instead live with the suffering that self-limiting stories create.



2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by rudid96 on June 4, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    Wow, firs time I ever got this description of living in the present so clearly. For whatever reason, it actually clicked. I’m able to clearly see the difference of when or why I’m living and the stretch to live in THIS moment. Not easy but perhaps this will help stave off anxiety & stay grounded more often.
    Loved Part l and Part ll.

  2. I thought so also

    Now you see
    It differently

    One suggestion

    Anxiety is not the enemy

    Trying to stave it off can make it grow

    Another way is to observe and breathe into it

    Feel your agitation
    Feel your nervous system
    Become friends with it

    Use the energy to exercise

    Accept and surrender to your anxiety

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