THE ART OF CONSCIOUS LIVING
Have you ever wondered about where the motivation for your thoughts and actions comes from?
Countless studies have shown that our conscious mind is running the show only about 5% of the time, while the other 95% of what we think and do is controlled by our subconscious mind. While the conscious mind has the ability to create thoughts and initiate action, the subconscious mind acts more like an information processor that records everything in your life and stores it for future use. When the conscious mind is inactive or distracted the subconscious automatically steps in and takes control, but it is only able to reflect your past experiences and has no ability to create original ideas.
From birth until about the age of six your subconscious mind downloads and stores everything from its environment; every word that it hears, every emotion that it feels, every image that it sees. This accumulation of input from your family, religion, television, society, etc., becomes your basic persona or habit mind. Throughout your life the subconscious continues to be molded by outside influences as it obediently absorbs the norms and beliefs of your schools, friends, culture, government and media. On a certain level this subconscious database is very useful because it remembers how to do the countless things that you have learned over the course of your life. You can drive a car, cook an egg, and dance the tango, without having to consciously think of how to perform each step because your subconscious stores all of that information and does it automatically. This is all well and good when dancing or preparing an omelet, but the problem arises when you allow your subconscious habit mind to make the choices that define who you are and how you interact with the world. By letting the subconscious take over these personal decisions we surrender our power of choice and as a result we go through life unconsciously repeating the beliefs, habits and judgments that we have inherited from others.
The way to restore your free will and regain control of your life is by learning to live consciously. The subconscious only takes over when the conscious mind is not paying attention, so if you increase your awareness the conscious mind will be in control for much more than the “normal” 5% of the time. You can achieve this higher level of awareness by cultivating mindfulness which simply means setting your intention to be in touch with each present moment so that you can remember to use your conscious mind. A mindful person when faced with a choice of how to act in the world consciously resists their automatic subconscious reactions and then chooses to follow the guidance of their inner wisdom. Deep within each of us is a wisest self or soul self, and at every fork in the road of life it whispers: “Is that who you wish to be? Will that bring you happiness?”. Mindful awareness leads you to make choices that answer these questions with a resounding YES!
By living consciously you take responsibility for who you are in the world by intentionally choosing your thoughts, words and deeds so that they are in alignment with your highest ideals. This is quite a challenge because you must overcome an entire lifetime of being programmed by the ideas, actions and beliefs of others. At first you will continue to think, say and do things that are not in harmony with who you wish to be, but as each of these old patterns of behavior arises you simply shine the light of awareness on it and then gently correct yourself.
Over time this process of realignment gets progressively easier because your conscious choices will create new positive habit patterns in your subconscious, and the old inherited reactions will gradually lose their power. As you continue to intentionally create your thoughts, words and deeds so that they resonate with the wisdom of your soul you will find that consciousness will magically evolve in all areas of your life. You are likely to become more discerning about what you put into your body and how to keep it healthy. Your tastes in music and entertainment may become more refined as will your choices of where to go and what to do. This evolution of consciousness will unfold easily and effortlessly as a natural reflection of being in alignment with your highest choices.
Of course living consciously does not mean that everything in your life will always go smoothly, but it does give you the power to choose your inner experience in all situations. To feel what this means imagine that you are watching a falcon as it glides gracefully through the sky. With wings magnificently outstretched it climbs, dives, and changes direction with only the slightest movement of its tail feathers. The winds may come from the north, south, east or west, and they may be gentle or they may roar. The falcon has no control over the wind but it has complete control of how it flies, and regardless of how the winds may blow the falcon always flies elegantly. The events of your life are analogous to the wind because you never really know what direction they will be coming from. Sometimes the winds of life will bring you joy and happiness, but other times they may create difficulties or sadness. When you live consciously you ride these currents gracefully – soaring with the highs and flowing with the challenges. Just as the falcon flies with elegance in all types of wind, you can use your free will to live every moment as the beautiful person whom you choose to be.
Text: Jerry Brownstein