“You have to let it all go Neo. Fear. Doubt. Disbelief. Free your mind” - Morpheus
Remember the scene when Neo first plugs into the Matrix with Morpheus? They get transported to a rooftop in a world reminiscent of the “real” one Neo was accustomed to. However, Morpheus goes on to explain that here, in the Matrix, the laws governing the physical realm don’t apply. To prove this, he proceeds to leap an impossibly far distance from one roof to the other.
Neo, still tethered to his beliefs about the world he lived in - namely that jumping from a building results in instant death, grits his teeth and tries to convince himself this feat is achievable. After attempting this literal leap of faith, he quickly falls to the street beneath him, learning that while it's technically possible to pull off these crazy stunts it takes a certain amount of mental fortitude to do so.
Fast forward a few scenes, he trains with Morpheus to build up enough conviction in the fact that in the Matrix you really can control the world around you. Next time he returns to that roof, he takes the leap and lands safely on the building far away.
Where am I going with this?
Well, I’d argue that entering the Matrix, a world in which you are in control of your reality, is not only reserved for late 90’s classic action films. In fact, it’s something that anyone is capable of doing. All it takes is finding a quiet room, sitting comfortably, taking a deep breath, and closing your eyes...
Meditation. A practice unknown, or at least misunderstood by most in the West, consists of sitting still to quiet the mind and observing what arises. It sounds remarkably simple in theory, but in practice is surprisingly difficult for any prolonged period of time. What begins as a calming, tranquil practice develops into considerable discomfort as one is faced with the herculean task of taming a hyperactive brain. However, in doing so, it is possible to free yourself from the world around you, both the physical sensations and mental chatter, so all that remains is simply awareness.
When physical discomfort creeps in, a seasoned meditator is able to separate themselves from that sensation. It simply is rather than something that needs to be eliminated. The pain doesn’t necessarily go away but the discomfort, or suffering associated with it does.
If incessant thoughts arise or anxiety ridden internal dialogue ensues, similarly, it is recognized as transitory and ceases to disturb their peace of mind. They can acknowledge the thoughts for what they are, merely thoughts, and subsequently release them. Feelings and emotions will come and go, but absent a desire to change them, strips them of any real power.
In this meditative state, there are no external forces outside of your control. There is only your awareness and your controllable reaction to what you observe. This separation of self from thoughts, observer from observed, provides tremendous power. Like entering the Matrix, you gain full autonomy over your being, except instead of jumping across buildings or dodging bullets, you alter your reaction to what arises in awareness which ultimately becomes your reality.
Let that sit in for a second.
In meditation, the sole input that affects your reality are the thoughts that arise. You are not interfacing with the external world. Therefore you are in full control of your state of being.
We can even take this one layer deeper. Rather than just controlling your perception, the aperture with which you view the world, you can take a proactive approach to fundamentally alter your sense of self to a more idealized version. This could take the form of conquering fear, eliminating self doubt, building confidence, whatever it is that you feel is an innate part of you but exists solely in the realm of the mind.
These parts of you can be laid bare for you to observe for what they really are – stories. Stories you tell yourself about who you are and your place in this world that’s been shaped over the years by your experiences and again, mostly your perception of those experiences. In deep realization of this truth, it becomes easier to really dig into your psyche and perform a neurosurgery of sorts, taking out that which does not serve you and replacing it with something that does.
Like actual neurosurgery, it takes more than reading a blog post to know how to do it. You have to spend countless hours learning, practicing it over years and years to really get it right. It may seem daunting but like trying to stay in shape, working on your meditation practice just takes consistency. An hour or so every week. Start with an app, or by reading and learning from others.
With enough reps you’ll come to enjoy entering the meditation matrix and exerting power over your thoughts. This newfound enlightenment will be exhilarating as you no longer allow negative occurrences to rattle your core and can even positively mold your sense of self.
However, the true magic lies when you realize that these powers don’t only exist in the close-eyed, still state of meditation - when you open your eyes you are still the architect of your reality. But that may require an analogy from another thought-provoking movie to explain.