Tuesday, December 3, 2013
The Layer Cake of Crap or Awareness Practice
Here's the layer cake of crap that you, too, will most likely discover residing in your brain if you pay attention:
"Did she just remind us to breathe? I forgot to breathe."
"Oh my god...I can't even remember just to breathe."
"What is wrong with me?"
"My mind is always somewhere else."
"I am not very smart."
"Actually? I am just kinda stupid. And lazy. Definitely lazy."
"WAIT!? Did I just call myself stupid and lazy?! OH MY GOD...I am horrible at this mindfulness thing...and I think I am a spiritual person! What kind of spiritual person sucks so bad at this..."
And on and on...
Layer Cake of Crap.
One thought leading to the next thought leading to the next and the crappy judgement just getting thicker and thicker.
Rather than just noticing.
Rather than stopping right here: "Did she just remind us to breathe? I forgot to breathe."
Followed by: "That's interesting." ((BIG INHALE))
This is awareness practice: Watching the thoughts that are automatically generated in our mind just drift by with nothing more than interest. Without ADDING.
When we repeat thoughts like this over and over -- these negative thoughts that are freely flying about in our brains and have been since we were young (very likely) -- they, like any thought, create connecting synaptic networks. Those connections get stronger and stronger over time and with repetition.
Thus the importance of stopping the layering. We want to avoid strengthening those negative connections.
This is where chant can be so helpful: It creates those same sorts of connections but it's creating healthy ones.
Gandhi decided at a young age that Ram would be his personal mantra. He repeated it constantly and would go on slow walks, saying this over and over, until one day, it was so a part of his wiring that it was constantly playing in the background of his mind.
Ram is a name of God. So he was repeating the name of God over and over for decades, until the moment he was shot and his last word was Ram.
When the mind is busy with chant, there is little room for the Layer Cake of Crap to build itself.
Now...this is important to know because I think it relieves a lot of that Crap associated with shame and self-blame...traumas are PERMANENT in the brain. You can't rewire a part of the brain that is wired with trauma.
That sucks, right? No. It's the brain being uber-smart about protecting us from that same trauma. That mechanism is there to save our lives.
But...much of our trauma is the sort that is done, in the past, will never happen again because, for example, we no longer see our abuser. So what about that?
We can't rewire the trauma but we can WIRE ANEW AROUND the trauma. We can create connections of happy and healthy that in the long term become STRONGER than that permanently wired trauma area.
And again, we are right back at commitment and consistency and not pissing around.