From the time we are born, maybe even earlier, we are learning. We grow up heavily influenced by our environments; at home, at school and wherever else our experience takes us. We learn what is perceived as right and wrong, good and bad, how to act and react in various circumstances etc. We even learn who we are, or at least who we think we are.
The majority of our thinking and behaviors are learned. We have no idea how much we run on these automatic programs until we come to the realization that there is something else beyond them, that there is a part of us that is clear and peaceful and joyful. We may catch glimpses of this bigger Self from time to time: doing things we really love; listening to music; being in nature. And then we go back into our every day world and back to the learned thinking that runs our lives.
I call this learned thinking and behavior ‘brain tracks’. Brain tracks run along very clearly defined thinking and behavioral tracks, like railway lines. They are automatic responses to given situations
We can try to change learned behaviors. There are countless methods to help us on this journey; countless organizations, psychologies, churches, teachers and books. And as we become more unhappy with certain situations we tend to seek out answers for this unhappiness. Over the years many of these modalities have certainly helped me become more aware of my own brain tracks. Eventually just knowing that “this isn’t me” became enough.
How do you know if your mind is running on a brain track?
- You aren’t aware of Presence in the background, of that sense of inner stillness, joy, that comes from your inner being.
- Your mind is insistent that you continue thinking these thoughts, reacting in this way.
- There is a sense in your gut or your chest of being uncomfortable, angry, hurt, frustrated, sad, guilty, fearful, or any other such emotion.
- Your mind insists that you are ‘right’ to think and feel this way.
- Any sense of joy you may have been feeling earlier, has gone
- There may be a powerful pull to distract yourself from the situation; this includes such things as ‘busy’ work, reading emails or links that take you to other interesting places, eating, drinking, drugs, the need to medicate and many more.
- You suddenly become very tired, too tired to do whatever it was you had intended.
- You become ill: back or neck pain, stomach or intestinal pain, headache, depression/sadness/lack of motivation, are just a few of the possibilities.
- Your computer or the tools you work with suddenly start giving you trouble.
- You experience interruption after interruption.
This is not to say that every instance of the above is your mind running on a brain track and there are many more symptoms. However, it is certainly worth investigating the possibility. When you are in a reactive, brain track mode, it can be difficult to recognise. You have most probably been operating in this mode for many years and have come to think this is you.
One thing you can say to yourself when you recognize a brain track is “This isn’t me. This isn’t who I really am.” As you do so, little by little a light begins to shine in your mind and you begin to separate your Self from yourself. This light is the light of awareness or consciousness. Then of course the question that comes up next is “Well if this isn’t me, then who am I?”
Separating the self from the Self
And so begins the process of separating yourself from your Self. The ironic thing is that as this ‘brain track’ learned behaviour began, it was a process of creating a self that was separate from who you really are. And now you are going through a process of separation again, but in the reverse; separating the self you created from the Self you really are.
This is called the awakening process. It can be quite shocking to realise that the majority of your life is spent unconsciously running on these learned brain tracks. You begin to question your thinking and your actions more and more. “Is this really me? Is there a way to look at this through the eyes of Life, my Self, my Inner Being, the Presence I Am?” You begin to discover that how you are feeling is of paramount importance. The more you connect with Life Itself and come to know how Life Itself feels, the more you can recognize feelings that are based in automatic brain tracks.
No more analyzing and dissecting
The wonderful thing about this awakening is that you don’t need to do any analyzing and dissecting. It is the mind that loves to analyze and dissect. Simply coming into the awareness of who you are not is enough. The awareness of who you are not, evolves naturally into a greater and greater awareness of the Self. Sometimes you will become aware of the origin of a brain track or experience a sudden epiphany of how it has operated throughout your life. Other times, the brain track just melts away. It is a created entity, not a real one, so when the light of awareness shines on it, it can no longer exist.
There is a place for analyzing and dissecting, don’t get me wrong. We have brains for very good reasons. The brain is an incredible tool that is barely tapped. When we make room by letting go of the learned brain tracks and allow Life Itself to express through the brain, there is no end to its value. As we become more aware, learned brain tracks that don’t serve become inspired thinking and with inspired thinking comes feelings of spaciousness and joy and inspired action.
Brain Tracks That Serve Us
There can also be learned brain tracks that serve us well along with those which don’t serve us. Morning routines are a good example. We usually run on automatic to rise, shower, clean teeth, apply makeup, take our vitamins, have our breakfast and so on. They serve us well no matter what we might be feeling. Awareness can only add to these brain tracks. When we are living in the present moment, we bring all of our attention to whatever we are doing. So we clean our teeth simply being present. No thought needed.