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Monday, July 30, 2012

Life Teachers & Conscious Awareness

By Pamela J. Wells

Your life teachers are everywhere and come in different manifestations. When you are open to learning from everyone—everyone that you see and hear is potentially your teacher—a child, someone who is homeless or is limited physically in what they can do, someone who looks and dresses differently than you, someone from a different culture or who has different beliefs than you, someone who is living in poverty. You can learn from All of Life—All Sentient Beings—All People and Animals—All of Nature—Bugs, Plants, Trees, and Flowers. Life becomes your teacher, instead of limiting your life learning experience to conditioned notions and beliefs, you live your life from its fullest potential. Your eyes are wide open. They are not squinting, allowing only what you think should be allowed into your consciousness. 
You are also your teacher—you can learn more about yourself by becoming consciously aware of your thoughts, what you think and say to others and the actions that you take and do not take—and if you are unsure about what thoughts and beliefs are destructive to you and those who are around you—how you feel will not lie. When your negative emotions manifest themselves, they are waving a red flag at you, but you cannot see the flag, because you are swept away by your emotions. Instead of being on the shore and seeing the ocean of emotions, you are drowning in it.

You can start paying attention to how you feel on a regular basis. If you can lay your head down peacefully at night, all is well, but if you cannot, or if you find yourself getting upset, agitated, angry, anxious, or depressed—your thoughts drove you there and need to be examined. Figure out what it is, exactly, that is causing these negative feelings and emotions. What were you thinking prior to that emotion coming on? Sometimes you know immediately what it is and others times you will have to dig deeper.

Our tendency is to believe what we think and believe those thoughts to be real, when in reality, most of what we think is not based on reality. If you place a high value on what others think of you, if you have a picture in your mind of who you think you are, you place a high value on your identity, and are constantly comparing yourself to others—physically, materially, and socially—if you feel your value as a person is dependent upon some social “status,” if you place expectations on others, such as expecting them to change, to live up to your “standards,” if you have a need to control or manipulate others to do or behave the way that you want them to—you are actively contributing to your own unnecessary misery, pain and suffering—and you are projecting that pain and suffering onto others. The great thing is that—once you realize what you are doing, you can stop doing it. 

Some negative and destructive thought patterns and beliefs take time to break, especially when they are deeply ingrained and in our subconscious, like the roots of a tree, so it takes time and practice to release the hold those thought patterns have on you. It helps to put little notes in different places as reminders to be consciously aware, or mindful, of your thoughts and feelings. 

Meditation is wonderful. I highly recommend it. When you meditate and quiet your mind, you are able to feel your natural peace and joy that is within you. Meditation, such as sitting meditation, is great, but it is not enough—by itself, because when you are not meditating, when you are going about your daily affairs, you also have to be consciously aware of your thoughts and feelings as often as you can and are able to remember to. While most of our thoughts are unconscious, we can bring the light of awareness to them. The more frequently you are able to do this, the more natural it becomes, and the quicker you are able to catch yourself thinking negative thoughts before they turn into negative emotions. 

One thing that you can do is—when you catch yourself thinking something negative, say, “That’s not reality.” Or “I am not my thoughts.” When you do that, you begin to see how silly your habitual negative and self-sabotaging thoughts are and how they run on auto-pilot most of the time. Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk, has many wonderful books on mindfulness and meditation; for example, when you are walking, you can practice walking meditation—each step that you take, you are present in that step. Your mind is not off somewhere else. You are in the present moment, in the here and now. The unconscious chattering mind is a stress creator, so that is why you need to become mindful of each moment, each action, and the quiet and still peaceful presence.

Everyone can become mindful. You do not have to be a Buddhist monk or Buddhist to practice mindfulness. By being mindful, you are developing a life skill that does not interfere with whatever religious beliefs you might hold or non-beliefs. It is a way of life—a way of living. When you are mindful, you are not driven by your unconscious mind that is set on auto-pilot.

When you become mindful of everything that you do, in each moment, from moment-to-moment, and you are not off somewhere else in your mind, in the past—reliving it—filled with guilt or regret—or in the future—worrying about things you need to take care of or worrying about how your future is going to turn out—that mindfulness brings you to the present moment. When you are in the present moment, your mind is not unconsciously running its pre-recorded messages of the past and projecting them into the future. You are no longer living two lives—one, where your body is present and breathing in the here and now—while your other, imaginary life and egoic self, is being lived in your mind—where a movie is being played, filled with painful memories from the past and worries over the future, along with faulty and false ideas, notions, and beliefs—taking you away from the present moment. This is not to say you shouldn’t have any goals and that you should never plan for your future. You set your goals and take action now, but you don’t sit around dwelling on your goals or future. 

An Openness To Life and
Learning From All of Life’s Teachers,
Being Consciously Aware of Your Thoughts
and Mindful of the Present Moment,
Living in the Present Moment,
Allows Space For You To Feel
Your Peaceful Presence and Joy,
Radiating Outward From Within,
Touching Everyone You Meet.

Copyright © 2012 Pamela J. Wells. All Rights Reserved

Feel free to add a comment, if there is anything that you would like to add or any experiences that you would care to share.

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