Released August 2018,
published by Non-duality Press (an imprint of New Harbinger)
“[Nic Higham’s non-duality book] is not only wise, but also deeply human, honest, and compassionate. [His] own existential struggles with loneliness, isolation, forlornness, and angst were the portals to a more authentic Self that he has discovered and now shares in this book with great humility. Drawing on a wide range of wisdom teachings, including Nisargadatta’s “natural yoga” and what Nic calls “radical mindfulness,” Nic examines separateness in a way that is spiritually, psychologically, and philosophically astute. Throughout this process of Self-remembrance, Nic skillfully reveals the essential Aliveness that is always at the heart of experience and that is the source of greater harmony, wholeness, and connection.”
– Michael A. Rodriguez, author of Boundless Awareness: A Loving Path to Spiritual Awakening and Freedom from Suffering
I’ve realized that loneliness, isolation, and anxiety are not as clear-cut as they first seem. Their roots go far deeper than merely having too much stress or not enough social contact. Alternatively, realizing our aloneness can be a catalyst to reflect, to meet and understand ourselves, not just as a person, but as a seamless part of life itself.
In my non-duality book, I point to the reality that we’re ultimately not individuals but expressions of the One Life, and as such, unified with wholeness. Aloneness is synonymous with oneness. Aloneness is not merely a social predicament. It is our essential nature. What’s more, it’s a nature from which we are estranged.
Fundamentally, the root of suffering is our perceived separateness from life, which means that we experience life through the eyes of duality rather than from a non-dual perspective. It’s our sense of disconnection that triggers this outward seeking. This agitated neediness only creates more division and suffering, bearing little fruit. When we’re outsiders trying to get into a contradictory world that refuses to meet our desires, we start to feel existentially anxious. We might start asking big questions like “Who am I?” Far from being a disaster or something to fear, this is the start of radically mindful inquiry which calls for courage and earnest questioning.
By making friends with my yearning for wholeness and learning to inquire into the nature of myself and the world with greater focus and discernment, it became apparent that what I had been searching for was Self- intimacy. Reexamining separateness is the heart of this book— it is a journey of discovery that I am sharing here, in these pages. We won’t just focus on loneliness and isolation, but they are relevant experiences to explore because our encompassing sense of separateness has a powerful influence on our daily lives.
“When we dive into the ocean of our aloneness, our loneliness can come to an end. What a beautiful paradox to meditate upon. In The Life That You Are, Nic Higham challenges us to stop running away from our present experience –however uncomfortable or intense it is and plunge into the ocean of present moment awareness. This is not about ‘letting go’ of or ‘releasing’ our anxiety, our fears and sorrows. This is not about destroying the ego or becoming a spiritually enlightened, superhuman being, immune to the pains of being human. This is about being exactly as we are, human vulnerabilities and all. This is about letting go of our assumptions about reality and becoming deeply curious about ourselves, allowing our feelings instead of resisting them, watching our thoughts instead of trying to control them, questioning our beliefs instead of holding to them. This is about discovering the beauty in our ordinariness, the divine essence in our flaws, and coming to see that loneliness is not an enemy, or a mistake, or a sign of our failure, but a great signpost to non dual awareness, a call to remember this constant, brilliant light that illuminates our lives from deep within. The Life That You Are weaves together psychology, ancient wisdom and honest personal reflections into a coherent and inspiring whole. If loneliness is the great disease of the modern age, then Nic’s heartfelt plea for self love is much needed medicine. Even if your mind cannot comprehend all the ideas contained within this book, your heart will know the truth of them.”
– Jeff Foster, author of The Deepest Acceptance and Falling in Love with Where You Are
‘Living The Life That You Are’ uses offers an informal and playful Self-remembrance approach, an approach which gradually presented itself to me on my bittersweet journey. Additionally, I’ll give you practical, simple meditative inquiries designed to bring greater clarity. I call this approach “radical mindfulness”, which is nothing other than the readiness to , observe, acknowledge, and question our experience without censorship.
Mindfulness means to focus Awareness onto what’s taking place in the present moment. Non-duality is a way of seeing life that is free of limitation and separateness. I invite you to question everything, not necessarily to gain more answers but to release your assumptions. Radical mindfulness will help bring you back to your essential Aliveness, to true connection, a deeper knowing. Radical mindfulness, instead, is the way to Self-intimacy— locating and continually returning to our Aliveness and our shared radical aloneness, the loving oneness of life, which unveils the indescribable non- dual Source that we are.
This is true mindfulness: the art of Seeing beyond the mind (duality) to fullness (non-duality—which is so full, so all- inclusive it’s also empty because it’s All There Is). As we experientially assimilate the viewpoint of life seen from Deep Knowing and realize the essential perfection of every form and expression, we unite with and communicate that truth.
In the book we’ll investigate loneliness with fresh eyes and consider a new, radical perspective of aloneness. We look more at our apparent separateness, and I introduce the various “modes of life” I’ll be referring to. We see how through “restless inadvertence”— the state of being switched on mentally but switched off spiritually— we’ve become seemingly cut off from life. Finally, we inquire into key aspects of our suffering: desire and fear, and we explore how imagination shapes our perspective of life. Because of desire and fear, which we’ll explore in detail, we misconstrue aloneness as loneliness. Existence gets distorted by concepts and projections and from these springs the cycle of desire and fear: solitary confinement by way of an obscured lens. But if we’re mindful and examine it in depth, aloneness can also be experienced as a capacity that’s full of possibility, not a deficit in need of repair.
I invite you to take a deeper look at anxiety and loneliness, and begin to encounter our essential Aliveness or Beingness. Finally, we explore the various aspects of radical mindfulness— the art of seeing ourselves with eyes of clarity and compassion as the One Life. I offer a set of mindfulness and inquiry qualities and skills for a more discerning focus, which I’ve arranged by the mnemonic acronym SEER CRAFTS:
Embracing and releasing experience
Receptiveness to truth
Remembrance of Self
Fullness and emptiness
In the book we’ll explore our natural unity (or as Nisargadatta Maharaj puts it ‘Nisarga Yoga’) with life in which we are deeply connected and harmonized with everything. We then get more of a handle on what it means to be radically alone and how this kind of aloneness is synonymous, not with isolation, but with oneness. Lastly, we discover that the final step beyond oneness is “Deep Knowing”— a profound, yet ordinary meeting with our indescribable, unlimited, eternal Self.
When you inquire into your constructed world, not taking it as absolute truth, you’ll see that it’s an illusory sphere through which you filter your private and public experience. Let’s explore the potential of focus as a way to meet the dilemma of loneliness and aloneness. Specifically, we’ll inquire how, as mortal islands floating in apparent isolation, we can shift our Awareness to the universal life. This is the heartbeat of authentic connection.
We can reconnect with and give attention to ourselves wherever we are and whoever we’re with. We’re not deficient in any way whatsoever, so there’s no need to seek beyond ourselves— equality is the supreme order of things. This self- intimacy can be transformative. It’s this phenomenon which opened my eyes to there being another, more profound way of looking at loneliness, isolation, aloneness, and our deeper existence.
My book invites you to come to know yourself as inherently complete and flawlessly connected with your Source. Through radical mindfulness, you’ll embrace a wider perspective by shifting and broadening your focus.
Key Words and Concepts – Modes of Life:
Self (capital “S”): The Non-dual, Absolute, Deep Knowing, Awareness, Source, the Ultimate, truth, uncaused, infinite, indescribable, beyond time and space, supreme reality, all- excusive and all- inclusive, the common ground of every experience, that which makes the following concepts possible and knowable
Oneness: Universal Being, universal Consciousness, universal witness, wholeness, all- inclusive love, impersonal existence, the sense of being deeply connected with all, the “radical aloneness” we all share
Aliveness: Beingness, Being, localized consciousness (immediate as opposed to universal), “I am”, “I exist”, sometimes experienced as “existential loneliness”
Separate self (small “s”): Person, individual, ego: “I am someone/something”; “I need other people and things to be whole.” This self- image is based on an underlying belief in “dualistic isolation” which takes the superficial, experienced forms of “interpersonal isolation” and “interpersonal loneliness”
The “Separate self” mode of life is a product of:
Imagination: The projected universe of time and space which projects Being through the following filters to give it form and meaning.
Fear, or “fear filter”: Aversion, resistance, avoidance— suffering in the form of trying to push away a perceived threat.
Desire, or “desire filter”: Scarcity, lack, grasping, deficiency— suffering in the form of trying to pull at something perceived to be an enhancement to the sense of self.