The mindfulness path needs just 2 things: to increase awareness, and being willing to see more and more what’s there when awareness increases.
And what is there when we increase awareness? Yes the trees, the birds, the bees, my body, thoughts etc etc. And there is one other little thing that begins to appear. The most important thing for me in the entire universe. The thing that drives me, defines me, the thing that must not be spoken about. It is the controller of me, the thing I am terrified of meeting, the thing that most of my conscious life is set up to make sure is never seen….the subconscious mind. MY subconscious. (what Jung calls the shadow). And when it appears it is likely to be disturbing…
What is in the subconscious mind that we keep so hidden? Well it’s been pretty well documented by 1000’s and 1000’s of clinical psychologists, counsellors, psychotherapists and…… virtually no Mindfulness Teachers. It contains the vivid memory of our entire lives. And each bit of the subconscious is experienced as a here and now happening place and a here and now real me. So inside us we have all the “me’s” that I have ever been, adults, teenagers, 11 year 5 day 6 minute 11 seconds old me, 11 year 5 day 6 minutes 12 seconds old me, 5 year old me, infant me’s, baby me’s, in-the-womb me’s, and for some of us before-the-womb me’s. We now know that the creation of me as a person occurs in the early years. Experts looking at this are now saying most of who we are is learnt by the age of 3.
How does the Subconscious get made? We learn how from the all-wise super-beings that inhabit our world, we call them mummy and daddy. We learn from them the rules of love and survival, of whats allowed to be seen and what isn’t. Whats’s good and what’s bad. And what’s bad & not allowed is told to go away. So it has to go somewhere, doesn’t it? So we make a hidden box inside ourselves to put it in.
And what is the most not allowed thing on planet baby? Baby’s “negative” emotions, that’s what. And any behaviour that goes with those emotions, beginning with the womb and being being born. But for baby me who I am is my emotions! Sorry baby, not allowed. Oh, so I have to disappear into my subconscious? Yes, or else!
A clear example of this is mums taking babies for Cranio-Sacral treatment. In virtually every case, when the baby suddenly starts showing and telling us how horrible their birth was (which they all do if the therapist is willing to listen) in full screaming detail, the mother is in shock at what the baby is so upset in public, tries to calm the baby, stop it expressing. Then if the therapist is allowing of the baby, the mother starts telling us how distressing the birth really was. When the baby has decided it has told all it wants to today, the mother leaves with a relieved, less in pain, softer, more “present” baby whose feelings has been listened to.
So we have a choice. To allow the subconcious to be here, or to close our mindfulness down and close ourselves to it. Here’s a funny truth. To allow the subconscious to be here we need to let go of conscious control.
How do we let go of control? By being willing to listen to my buried self. And to be willing to let go of control of how that happens! You have to be prepared to let it tell it’s story, in it’s own way. Without any controls. Without any “safety”. Without any of your ‘rules’, ‘morals’ or ‘ethics’. Why? It becomes obvious, when you’ve been doing it a while…. you begin to see that nearly all the conscious mind’s activity is to keep the subconscious mind hidden. And all means all. And what is it this activity? It is control, rules, judgment, logic, morals, ethics, etc etc etc. And what does the conscious mind say. “all these controls are so important”. How important? “life or death important!” So do we let go of this control, these rules, easily? No we don’t. Actually, we’re too terrified to.
When we begin to allow the subconscious mind out, just like the babies above, we will hit the not allowed, the not lovable, the reveal-at-the-threat-of-death parts of us…. our “negative” emotions. And how will they appear? Well in our experience they appear as overwhelming emotions. And in an uncontrolled way. Its their nature. And the deeper into our subconscious the more powerful the emotions and experiences, and the more out of control we feel. In fact when this happens for a while one can think one is going mad. And feel like one in some kind of battle-zone.
And we also begin to really see that the mind’s controlling, judging and analysing is by nature not kind, is not loving. The mind justifies itself, while underneath it has cruelly locked children in dark tiny boxes, thrown away the key and pretended they don’t exist. Heartless.
It is this seeing for ourselves the cruel nature of our minds to our very selves that helps us to keep trying to be mindful, to be willing to let our inner child out, and to experience the overwhelming emotional world of that child first hand.
And so we enter a battle for our very lives, with the two sides both being me. You can read more about this internal battle here.
Letting go of control Justify the rules in your minds all you like, but the mindfulness path is about tearing them down. Not in any way that we are used to, but in a way that in the end tears down the most fundamental rule of all… the rule that I exist as an individual entity. The cause of all suffering, the Buddha said 2500 years ago.
And what do we find when the mind’s holding on to control is finally torn asunder, when I have cried and screamed until the deepest part of the hidden me is revealed and expressed, and I suddenly just drop out the bottom of it all? We find the place we have all been looking for all along.
The unconditioned. The unconditional. Who we really are. A void that is full of love, compassion and wisdom…. of the unconditional kind.
So the journey is compassion class. And it begins by beginning to be kind enough to hidden children to let them out and be here.
Beginners compassion class.
Or as Tich Nhat Hanh said, “Please call me by my true names”