I recently had an emotional experience which became a wakeup call or reminder if you will. However the only way I can tell you this story is to first discuss the conscious mind.
We are all too familiar with our conscious mind it rarely ever shuts up or gives us a moment of silence. It’s a hamster in a wheel going around and around with inane thoughts, creating mental fatigue for people. It’s the Tylenol cold commercial where the lady is lying in bed asking herself ‘….maybe the hokey pokey really is what it’s all it’s about’.
At birth a baby has no knowledge of words; words and language are progressively learned. The only way a baby communicates is through feeling and emotion. With the learning of language the conscious mind awakens. It starts integrating and interpreting external language and emotions which unfolds into a voice in our heads we identify as self, our personality, and characteristics. It is also the development of ‘ego’ or the ‘I’, the insignificant self which is a set of beliefs and values that are downloaded in to the subconscious mind.
The conscious mind draws on prior knowledge, memories and situations from the subconscious to comprehend its perception of the world. The perception of course will change based on the level of knowledge at the time. For example what an adult perceives and knows of the world is very different then what a toddler perceives and knows. Hence it would be ridiculous to expect a toddler to know how to drive a car as it has yet to experience and learn that knowledge. As a mother of two teenagers I really have to remind myself over and over of this truth.
The conscious mind is required for us to learn a new skill like how to ride a bike or drive a car for the first time. The other property of the conscious mind is the ability to work in unison with the subconscious to imagine and dream. Now this is an amazing quality if used with purposeful intent. Let’s say you want to build a table, you start by using your conscious mind to imagine a table or perhaps several tables drawing from your stored memories in the subconscious. Then perhaps you think of what you could add to the table to make it unique or more useful and again procure the intelligence of the subconscious. Then you draw on the carpentry skills that you learned in the past to build the table. This is focused and productive use of mind. It helps us evolve, create and expand.
But what occurs if the mind is allowed to run free and wild without awareness of the thoughts it is thinking or what it gives attention to? Well it starts taking on a life of its own, it starts imagining destructively. Perhaps it will start reminiscing about a hurtful event in the past and then it will add details to the ‘old memory’ that aren’t true but make the story more exciting. Or perhaps another person will be telling a story and the mind will make an assumption that the person is talking about them, it will add all sorts of context that make it feel the assumptions are true. Or it will start thinking about a future event and all the things that might occur. Or perhaps it will just chatter about nothingness. What remains the same in all these scenarios is that it has no value other than to cause stress, anxiety, worry and lot’s of drama.
A mind without creative awareness is dangerous and self-destructive. It will keep living in the illusions, the creations of the insignificant self, the ego. This egoic self loves to keep all the stories alive of all the people that it believes have hurt or offended it. It loves to be important and identify with its awards or titles or degrees. It loves to be right. It loves and feeds on misery, past hurts or future imaginings. It loves to fight, to be righteous. It believes it is knowledgeable and intelligent and special. It is a program that creates separateness with anyone that doesn’t see it as significant.
Here is where my experience comes in. I recently found myself rambling on about a past situation and it brought up old ‘wounds’ and I was feeling awful inside. I was essentially victimizing myself all over again. Then I remembered I was simply rehearsing an illusion, something in the past, an old program that was over and done with. The ego, the ‘insignificant self’ always has a hidden agenda….all of its illusions create division. The ego identifies itself with the story that it has created, it is its creation after all and very much wants to keep it alive. But as soon as you enter in to the story you have lost touch with your current reality which is the only truth.
It is very easy to identify the workings of the ego self because it keeps you ‘trapped’ in a repetitive story, a self-made hell if you will. A story of ‘she said this…’and ‘he did that to me…’ and ‘I can’t believe they don’t understand…’ and ‘if only I …’ and ‘I should have…’ and ‘I am going to do this to them….’. However the story isn’t real it’s either a past distorted memory or a future figment of imagination that is causing discomfort. All that the story does is rob you of joy and happiness in the present moment.
“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present…gratefully.” Maya Angelou
The only way to remove yourself from the story is to first have awareness of the thoughts you are thinking and secondly to focus your mind in the present moment. The ‘me’ writing this blog is all that exists in this moment. The ‘me’ from yesterday and the events that transpired are no longer occurring in this moment. The ‘me’ tomorrow hasn’t happened yet. When the mind is focused on the present there is no story, it simply vanishes! The mind becomes quiet and mindful of the task at hand.
The present is the only way to bring you out of the dream, out of the illusions of the egoic self. It doesn’t mean that we discard that aspect of ourselves, we require it, and it serves a purpose, the conscious mind is part of how we create. However its purpose is to be utilized with benign intent and focus. It is supposed to be harnessed to create cooperation and togetherness as a species.
The ‘I’ in all of us feels separate from other humans, it feels like it has to do everything on its own, that it’s goal is always independence, competition and comparison, survival of the fittest which is simply conditioning. We teach separation and have all forgotten the fundamental principal that our relations with one another are supposed to be synergetic.
Imagine if tomorrow every farmer stopped working, stopped producing the food that feeds our families or the sanitation department decided to stop picking up our garbage. It wouldn’t take long before crisis would ensue. We are all dependent on one another, we all require each person’s talents and abilities and the sharing of those abilities in order to survive as a whole. Everyone is significant. Now if we are able to grasp this truth then we can start with cultivating deliberate thoughts and imaginings that serve, expand and support not only ourselves, but each other and the planet. This is the productive use of mind.
“Separation is a figment of the ‘I’magination.”
Light and Love,