'be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ (Romans 12:2)
The wild wolf of the unconscious mind feeds on a diet of what I have termed CRUEL GRUEL. He does this of course quite unconsciously because no one in their right state of mind would choose this diet if they knew that there were other options available. However when we begin our journey into life we are not conscious that there are other options and our only choice is to ‘eat the food’ (the data/information) that is given to us by others.
Science is beginning to discover through the study of epigenetics that this programming of our mind begins as early as in the womb where the predominant feelings and emotions of our mothers and the chemicals these produce in her body become food for the developing child. It seems that in the womb we already begin to build up a cellular memory of responses that will affect us unconsciously after we are born.
Throughout our early childhood we continue to receive messages from our environment that we process unconsciously and in fact it is not until the age of seven that we are able to begin the process of consciously questioning, accepting or rejecting the information/data that we are receive.
That means that as young children we are like sponges absorbing information from the environment we live in and from the significant adults in our lives. The prevailing culture we grow up in, the early education we receive and any religious/spiritual heritage we are part of all help to form our unconscious mind set. Often when we stop to look at the backdrop to our lives we see why the unconscious mind can be held in the grip of negativity.
Often our early programming presents a picture of ourselves and the world as being inadequate or lacking in some way. There can be a suggestion that we and/or the world are faulty and in need of fixing and the world is often portrayed as being a hostile and unfriendly place where we cannot trust anyone and must forever tread with care wherever we go.
Consider some of these sayings:
Many of us grew up with these kinds of messages unwittingly affecting our unconscious minds and over time they formed a belief system that affects our way of thinking and behaving.
The study of epigenetics explains that the cells in our bodies react to the thoughts that we have and respond to them in a certain way.
Over time our habitual thoughts create habitual emotions, feelings and behaviours which become so much like second nature to us that we begin to believe that they are actually who we are. In other words we make an identity for ourselves out of them. This identity is then strengthened and maintained by our unconscious mind seeking out further messages that support this identity. Even if messages appear that are positive the unconscious mind can and will filter these messages through its distorted lens of programmed thinking further reinforcing that thinking and building a cycle of energy whose purpose is to perpetuate and strengthen our (flawed) sense of self.
What we find then is that whenever this sense of self is challenged (when we are asked to think, feel or behave differently) our unconscious mind feels threatened and has no option but to go on the attack – materialising as the rampant wild wolf or pain body that is capable of lashing out at anything that gets in its way.
The good new is that we are not stuck with the habitual response to life that we have been programmed to receive.
We do not have to keep feeding ourselves the CRUEL GRUEL diet of fear, insecurity, confusion and doubt.
All of this is OLD food. It is past data that ignores what is happening NOW.
According to Bruce Lipton (author of The Biology of Belief) 95% of our time our unconscious minds are in control of our destiny. We live, breath and move on automatic pilot so much so that only 5% of out choices are made with the conscious mind.
While we may not be able to change this we CAN use the power of the conscious mind to help us re-programme our unconscious mind so that it begins to works in harmony with the conscious mind and the dictates of our soul.
TWO practices are helpful here:
Mindfulness is about using the conscious mind to be totally aware of the present moment. This lessens the hold the unconscious mind has on us and allows us to dwell on present data that is not filtered through the lens of the past. Mindfulness helps us to access fresh perspectives and to see the truth of the world beyond our preconceived thoughts and beliefs. Mindfulness, when practised alongside meditation, helps to bring the reality of the soul into our consciousness which helps to lift the illusion of separatism that the story of the two wolves perpetuates.
The hold the unconscious mind has on us can be loosened by the process of inquiry where we use our conscious mind to ask questions which challenge our thoughts, beliefs, truths, certainties, assumptions, behaviours and accepted norms about life.
This is the basis of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which attempts to replace old thought patterns with new ones. Basically whenever an automatic or habitual response shows up in life we would do well to question it.
We can start with simple questions such as:
The knack is to be gently curious and playful with our responses to see what else might be there beyond our habitual thinking. There’s no need to dig too deep with these questions, certainly not at first. All that is required at the outset is to let the questions linger for a while to see how they are received in the body. As new thoughts send new signals to our cells we will begin to FEEL differently
The success of the CBT approach depends on us embracing not only a new way of thinking but the new feelings that accompany this. At fist we may feel uncomfortable. We may feel scared or panicky thinking that our identity (and the security it brings) is being threatened in some way. This threat may in turn provoke the PAIN BODY into action and YET all this is okay. It is part of the dance of the two wolves. If we can meet what arises with love, kindness, acceptance and patience then over time we will gradually become accustomed to our new way of thinking and feeling. We will find that we begin to welcome the feeling of being ‘born anew’ and we will witness less episodes of the rampant PAIN BODY as the ‘bad wolf’ settles into remembering that it is part of a larger whole (the soul) and that it has no need to world so hard on maintaining a separate identity. Eventually we come to celebrate the fact that the lion is indeed lying down with the lamb and that Heaven is a place on Earth!
What more could we ask for?
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The opinions I express here are my own. However I offer them with the word 'syat' next to them. 'Syat' is a word used by the Jain Tribe in India which means 'To the best of my knowledge SO FAR.' In the spirit of openness I invite comments from anyone whether you agree with my point of view or not. In this way we can all learn and grow together. Thank you.