Falling into old patterns again and again – and going unconscious – brought me today to a place where I think a commitment to simply living in the present moment is all that is needed. That and allowing the brain tracks that surface, to be there.
The process of becoming conscious is straight
forward; mind makes it difficult. Mind runs perpetually along learned brain tracks. Becoming conscious is a process of becoming aware of these brain tracks as they surface and take over our present moment awareness. We have gone unconscious when we lose awareness of the peace and serenity, the joy and awe, that Life Itself is. We have gone unconscious when we can’t take a minute to take 3 deep breaths. We find ourselves eating when we aren’t hungry, doing busy work instead of what our heart desires, getting into judgmental and confrontational situations in our relationships, and a myriad of other journeys that the unconscious brain tracks take us on.
This is a lifetime of learning that can seem at times like a giant tangled web that is impossible to untangle – certainly overwhelming to even consider – especially when you take into account that this tangled web of unconscious thinking is made up not only of that which we have learned and experienced in our own lives, but the mass consciousness that has lived in the world for centuries, that dips and changes constantly.
The Good News
The good news is that it is not about dissembling all this mass of thinking so much as simply becoming aware of aspects of it as they arise – and the way you know you are experiencing this is when things suddenly aren’t going so well, or you become ill or your car becomes ill, or you find yourself reaching for something from the frig, you know not what – but something to take away some unknown pain you are experiencing. Or maybe a drink – just to relax yourself after your tough day – you’ve earned it – you deserve it.
Awareness dissolves unconscious thinking. It is simple, but not easy. The mind has had control for a very long time and it won’t let go easily. Becoming aware each step of the way is the simple acknowledging of the thinking that ‘isn’t me’. I find myself falling into an old pattern of being upset with a loved one – and I just know I am right and he is wrong. Or I see a news item on TV about some politician spouting off so irreverently that it makes my blood boil. But it doesn’t feel so good – this judgmental thinking. I feel uptight, frustrated, even angry, deeply disappointed. Slowly the awareness dawns. This ISN’T me!!! This is thinking I have learned from somewhere in my past. This is a separate entity in a sense – a mind created entity – that is thinking those thoughts. So then the question begs “Who am I then?” If this isn’t me, who am I?” To get to that place I must stop. Stop right where I am. Breathe deeply. Bring myself into my body – sense the inner me, the Life Force I am, humming beneath the surface of all that is physical.
Interrupting Brain Tracks
The thing with interrupting brain tracks is that mind doesn’t want to let go of habituated thinking. This is its control, this is the familiar, the known, the false sense of security. This is also the descent into unconsciousness and old familiar pathways that take us nowhere but around and around on the same old merry-go-round. Yes it feels safer because it is known. But it is illusion. Waking up from illusion is going to feel uncomfortable simply because it is unknown and different – the way it feels when you walk into a room full of people and you know no-one. Choices face you in every moment: to venture forth and see what happens in this world of uncertainty, or to retreat back into the known and ‘apparent’ safety.
Create an Intervention
It’s known as an intervention in the addict-world – where loved ones and others set up an intervention for a person who is in the throes of life-debilitating addiction of some kind: alcohol, drugs etc. This is what we can do for ourselves and our brain tracks that aren’t serving us and can be creating similar life-debilitating situations. I believe, this is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and one of the most challenging to undertake.
Here are the steps I am currently practicing to bring myself to a place of Present Moment Awareness as a cure for anything.
- Stop! Stop thinking, analyzing, dissecting, wondering, even doing. Just stop in this moment. And allow whatever is going on in the underlying thinking and feeling of your being, to surface. Allow whatever is there to simply be. Acknowledge if you can, what you might be thinking and/or what you might be feeling. And then just let it be there again. Do NOT try to make it go away. Recognition is paramount.
- Breathe! Take 3 long, deep breaths. Just be. Let those thoughts and emotions swirl if they want to, but for this moment, be aware of that underlying Presence you also are.
- Continue! Make your decision as to which way you will go. Go ahead with eating that cookie if you want. Or not. The decision isn’t actually as important as the fact that you are now aware of other aspects of the desire to eat (or whatever it was that you interrupted). You do NOT have to understand. You do NOT need to be able to say “Oh – that is my fear of being vulnerable that just got stimulated”. You do NOT have to analyze and dissect. All you are looking for is awareness. The rest, the understanding, may or may not follow. It is NOT as important as mind would have you think it is. Awareness is.
The hardest times to put the above into motion are when I am deeply and intensely involved in a situation, be it work or a conversation with friends or family. If I have to, I’ll get up and take a bathroom break to help bring myself to awareness again, for however brief a moment. Or take a 1 minute stroll outside and look at the sky, or smell a flower. It’s a great idea to have live plants where you work, and you can simply look at the plant, relax into its “life force”, breathe, and go back to the task at hand.
Be persistent. It takes time and repetitive perseverance to create new habits, and creating the habit of awareness is fundamental to living a life rooted in the Present Moment.