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Posts Tagged ‘subconscious’

Changes to our environment have subtle effects on us. Soon they are no longer changes, but have become just more background hum running through our lives.

While we may not be consciously aware of these effects, our subconscious pays close attention to every tiny detail. If our environment has happy, friendly people, our subconscious begins to recognize that as normal. If we are surrounded by negative, violent people, our subconscious begins to recognize that as normal, too.

Our subconscious will also try to normalize our experiences to those expectations. It will help us see the good it feels we expect, as well as the bad. It can also help us say and do things, making choices that will continue to reinforce the good or bad that have become the baseline “normal” in our lives.

So it’s important to take a breath – a deep breath – and let it out slowly, paying attention to how we feel. As we breathe in, what kind of environment are we taking in? As we breathe out, what expectations are we sending out?

Taking a few of these moments a day for several days in a row should help us become more aware of this sea of experience we’re swimming in. Once we’re aware, we may make more conscious choices as to how we wish to experience our days to come.

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Fullness of the Moon
In four weeks heavens renew
Perhaps, so do we

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One of our Commander Brain’s traits is that it likes to pretend that all of its frameworks and ideas are original observations based on an objective view of the facts before us. It can be trained otherwise, of course, but this self-referential bias is pretty common.

The difficulty with this is that unless we can dispassionately explore the roots and origins of our perspectives, we’ll be held hostage by hidden biases and subtext. So long as we leave them in the dark, these strings from our past can dance us like puppets based on judgments we never consciously made. And when we might otherwise see things in a new way and develop a stronger point of view, we might over-rely on these pre-judgments because we don’t know their foundations lay outside ourselves. What we don’t know about what we think we know will cause us to mislead ourselves.

As a bit of a test, I might suggest watching for something to come up over the next few days where you catch yourself in a mental habit. See if you can trace back the earliest time you felt a similar impulse or feeling, as clues to where it originated. Find out whether you can clearly define where the idea was first encountered, and who or what presented it to you. If it was hinted at by someone else, see if perhaps you can sense what prompted it for them, and what relationship that has to your current situation.

Of course, sometimes these “hidden origins” can come up out of the blue as an innocuous surprise. Not long ago, I was putting together some thoughts about Buddhism for someone, and came across something I hadn’t read before.

I have this habit of trying to finish every grain of rice when I’m eating a meal with rice, or otherwise “clean my plate”. However, I think of it most with regards to rice, with the impulse to eat each bit out of respect for the food and all who had worked to make it possible.

It wasn’t a fully conscious thought, but when I did think of it, I thought perhaps it had originated from my abhorrence of waste. Also, I do have a feeling that food is a sacred link in the chain of life, so it’s important to be conscious of it and give thanks. But then I came across someone writing about her Japanese mother having told her that seven gods of fortune live in rice, and it would insult them to leave a grain uneaten. I then read of a Filipino mother telling her child that leaving rice uneaten would make God angry, and then of Chinese and Vietnamese grandparents warning that their child would marry a bad and ugly person if they left any rice…

Where did this habit of mine come from, I now wonder? I think I must have heard it somewhere, perhaps while reading a text on Buddhism, or perhaps at the Hare Krishna temple I used to visit for meal-sharing, decades ago. I am searching for a clear memory and not quite finding it.

Doing this search, though, has given me a fresh chance to examine this habit of mine, and decide whether it’s worth keeping. While I’m not as obsessive-compulsive about it as I once was, I do still feel a strong desire to make good use of the food I am blessed to receive. I do want to keep habits that help me remember to be grateful, and do my best to honor these gifts. Now that I’m aware there’s a lot more to that one little habit of eating every grain of rice, it makes me even more aware of this practice and its importance to me.

That’s the upside to examining the roots of our feelings and beliefs: we don’t just get to improve on the ones that don’t serve us. We also develop a deeper sense of meaning in the ones that do, helping them serve us better.

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I’ve been thinking again about lucid dreaming, and of how my dreams tend to get bogged down in the same distracting tedium in the ways that can get my days off-track.  (Hence me not doing things like posting in a blog…)  It’s more than a bit annoying, and I’m done with it.

So last night, I said that I wanted to see if perhaps the hard boundaries between dreaming and wakefulness might be shifted around a bit, since they haven’t been that far different in theme.  I wanted to see about having more of the conscious world in my dreams, and bring more of my dreamtime into my waking world.

I don’t quite remember my dreams last night, but they did feel particularly mundane.  And my day today, while busy, remained distinctly dreamlike.  In a comforting, almost blissful way at times, now that I stop to think about it.

So no, how about seeing if I can bring out more of the comforting peace and focus, and less of the distracting tedium in both my conscious and subconscious states?

I think it’s worth a shot.

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I recently read about a study that talked about how we rationalize our lives. It concluded that we didn’t necessarily make the choices we preferred, but the ones we were able to rationalize to our satisfaction. One of the researchers put it this way:

Everyone feels that as a rational creature he must be able to give a connected, logical, and continuous account of himself, his conduct, and opinions, and all his mental processes are unconsciously manipulated and revised to that end.

– Ernest Jones

That is, we’ll choose what we can rationalize, and barring that, we’ll find a way to rationalize what we already chose.

Rationalization can be fairly harmless, especially if we apply TRUE rationality and really examine what we want and why — that can even be beneficial. But there’s things we’ll think, do, say, desire, and so on… that don’t have what we’ll feel comfortable calling a “good reason”. What’ll we do then? What will we think of ourselves? How will we move forward?

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