Making Changes: Healing from the Source
Monday, September 3rd, 2012
The chime of New Year bells calls upon us to take stock of our life, reflect on what has passed and contemplate our intentions, visions and goals for the year ahead. It’s a great opportunity to declutter our homes and cleanse the debris from our psycho-emotional lives. After the honeymoon period of the first few weeks or months, our attempts to make changes often lead us back to the same old feelings and self-destructive patterns of behaviour which reassert themselves in new surroundings and circumstances. Throwing things out of our house is one thing, but throwing things out of our mind or heart is another matter. We can’t reject the raw material of our mind and heart; we have to work with it. Good intentions and willpower are not enough. We also need to develop skillful means through which we can see through our self-deception and uncover the source of our disfunction. Before we write a list of New Year’s resolutions perhaps we should set ourselves the task of unraveling the unconscious conditioning that locks us into this cyclical wheel of discontent.
As we go about our daily lives we experience a continuous onslaught of mental chatter punctuated by some more colourful and intense bursts of emotion. These thoughts and emotions form an internal environment, an illusory realm in which we live and relate to the world. In order to work with our situation properly we need to allow a space in which we can see things clearly as they are, without projecting our own fantasies onto the world. In other words we must begin to see situations in a more panoramic way, which is meditation. Cutting through the speed and busyness of our monkey mind is the first step – dissolving the clouds of gossip that invade our consciousness. While the mind is racing, we can’t access the unconscious patterns controlling our actions. Slowing everything down allows a breathing space in which we can become aware of our body, our heartbeat, the in-breath-out-breath. By breathing mindfully and not dwelling on our thoughts we can descend beneath the white noise of the internal dialogue to the quiet stillness below. In deep stillness the mind and the body have a chance to relax, purify and rejuvenate. Our defense mechanisms begin to fall away and we may experience a kind of fragility or vulnerability that comes from not trying to run away, hide or change what’s lying underneath.
This brings us to the next step: to work with our emotions. When we are not carried away by the intensity and drama of our emotions we can experience them simply as they are – raw energy. If this energy is disturbed – angry or fearful, traumatized or depressed, then we can actually experience these qualities within the space of our panoramic awareness, rather than be completely immersed in them. We begin to see the pattern of our emotions – the highs and the lows – and by allowing that space we discover that we need not struggle with them. We can let them be, let them unravel, no longer as part of our personal story or life situation. These particular states of turbulence also have positive qualities. If we try to destroy them or work against them, it’s possible that we will be thrown back constantly because fundamentally we are running away from our own energy.
We tend to build refuges of safety in our lives such as movie theatres, computers, shopping malls, food and addictive substances that may temporarily shield us from our discomfort. By not trying to escape into a utopian world and remaining where we are – here and now – we can acknowledge our positive and negative qualities and work our way through, step by step. This means that we can cut through our projections and not run away with destructive behaviour whilst appreciating what is inherently creative and wonderful about us. So rather than forcing change externally we examine what’s happening within and start the healing process there, from the source. If we want to make positive changes then we have to be willing to go through this process of integrating the conscious elements with the unconscious patterning so we can experience ourselves as a whole. From wholeness comes stability and confidence – the confidence to meet the pressing challenges of our times and become more compassionate towards ourselves and all sentient beings.