An Examined Life
“I commit to growing in self-awareness. I commit to regarding every interaction as an opportunity to learn. I commit to curiosity as a path to rapid learning.”
Dethmer, Jim; Chapman, Diana; Klemp, Kaley. The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership
What do all these titles have in common? I see them as catch phases in our culture pointing to something that sounds intriguing, a path to a transformed life. But what does that mean and can we do this?
Even I, who don’t read or listen to news, hear about the concerns of increase in depression, anxiety and mental illness. Suicide rates are on an incline for all ages. Addiction no longer just refers to over use of alcohol. People are over working, hoarding, eating, exercising, shopping… the list goes on. So here we are, how do we get from here to where we want to be? Easy, thought leaders tell us. Follow me!
Let’s see if I can scare you off with a Science of Mind quote.
“Consciousness is mental awareness. Consciousness is both objective and subjective. Objective consciousness is a state of conscious awareness, equipped with will, decision, and discrimination. Its reasoning is both inductive and deductive, therefore it has self-choice. The subjective consciousness is entirely a reaction to this objective volition. It is creative but not discriminative. It is, of course, conscious, but it is not self-conscious. It is conscious in the same sense that the soil is conscious of the seed. It knows how to produce a plant, but it is not conscious that it is producing it. It has no reflective, deductive, or discriminating factors. It is compelled by its very nature to accept and create.”
That’s ok if you skipped through this quote. I have to stop and read diligently even after 27 years of study to capture what it is really saying so I expect you are perplexed. But I don’t want to omit sharing Ernest Holmes words in fear of scaring you off. The quote is hard to understand and the work of getting from where we are to where we want to be is easily explained but takes practice, diligence, and great courage to embark. Let me explain…
Our personal life is constructed similarly to that of an iceberg. We are aware of about 25% of what is going on within our own heart and mind. The other 75%, like an iceberg, is out of range. We can’t see it. Oh, some of our family and friends might tell us about it, and then we get mad at them! Haha!! Think about it, there are things you observe in those closest to you and if only they would listen and take heed of what you have to share, you know they can make a difference in their life and move toward greater happiness and fulfillment. Ask my kids, I try this on them all the time… sorry boys ☺️.
So this is what Holmes is saying. Living a conscious life is being aware of our mentality… what we are thinking. I might be aware of thinking, I want an Oreo cookie, objective consciousness. I might be aware of the sensation of hunger. What I am not aware of is the much deeper set of beliefs and stories I am telling myself.
While writing this blog my body feels jumpy. After practicing this great work for many years I have learned that this jumpy feeling has nothing to do with the cookie but rather a knee-jerk reaction to calming the nervousness I feel about writing. I have concern and beliefs that my words will not be clear enough, or too direct, or misunderstood. My jumpiness is rooted in feeling fear, specifically worry. With this in mind I have noticed I get out of my chair, move and eat. The movement helps dissipate the jumpy feeling and the food gives my body something to do, digest. Both take energy. I feel calmer, sit back down at the computer and continue to write. Weeks later, and an increase in 10 pounds has me wondering about my lack of will to eat better, but the food has nothing to do with my desire to remain my happy weight, and everything to do with the 75% of my iceberg, or as Holmes says, subjective consciousness.
Subjective consciousness is the part of ourselves we are unaware of that doesn’t question our behaviour or our choices. Rather it works proficiently and effectively at fulfilling our deep desire. In my example above, my desire for calm at all costs is brilliantly achieved. The very difficult aspect of the results is I am unhappy with myself for my apparent lack of self control and my spiral into weight gain.
Here is where the courage of conscious work steps in. Once I use the tools I have learned to dig deeper into the part of myself that is running the background show (75% iceberg/subjective consciousness), and willing to face the deep fear and worry that follows me around through so much of my life, I am able to see that what looks like a desire to have a cookie is really an avoidance tactic from dealing with my inner pain. With this brought to the surface I courageously face my fears and the beliefs that perpetuate the worry and ask myself, are these beliefs really true? If I think, “Well yes, they are possible,” then I can ask again, as Byron Katie recommends, “Can I absolutely know for sure that it is true?” When this question is asked in light of the spiritual truths I hang my hat on (An Infinite Universe that is Good) then I can truly see the errors of my way, do some deep breathing, reflect on higher truths and skip the cookie.
My problem is never solved completely because these subconscious beliefs are insidious. But now that I know my cookie response is directly related to my fears, I have now increased my self awareness and can move forward in living my better life.
All the beliefs we have that lay well below the surface seem scary. But I gotta let you know, they are only stories we tell ourselves and they hold no validity. The only power they have over us is the power we give them by avoidance and believing them to be true.
So, this is what I ask of you… hold my hand, or the hand of any trusted thought leader in this field with whom you have trust and then leap, just a little at first, but leap you must. Dive under the surface of your waters and have a deeper look at that iceberg. It is waiting to float to the surface and have the light of day melt away it’s icy crust.
Do your research this week and sign up for a workshop, course or join a support group of any kind. Look for a path that is right for you to open up the way to a more fulfilled and joyous life. Once you have made the plan and committed, write me and tell me about your journey. I am happy to ride along beside you.