Have you ever wondered why you can’t seem to follow through with certain goals you set yourself? Some goals may come easily, but there may be others that, no matter how keen your intentions, you just can’t seem to deliver on them?
As a meditation coach, I’m acutely aware that many newcomers experience the same, very simple challenge: they just can’t seem to get into the habit of meditating.
You may be convinced by the benefits of meditating. You may dearly wish to enjoy more calm, creativity and coherence in your daily life. But whenever you make an effort to get into the routine of meditating, something gets in the way.
That something may be your subconscious mind.
When we are not consciously mindful – that is, paying attention to the present moment, we slip onto the auto-pilot of our subconscious programming. In his intriguing book, The Honeymoon Effect, cell biologist Bruce Lipton Ph.D. describes how the subconscious mind is largely programmed when we are very young children. ‘None of the programming you received before the age of six came from your wishes, desires and aspirations. It came from observing your parents and your community …’
Bruce explains how, when we embark on romantic relationships, at first we are very mindful in the company of our new companion. As we get used to one other, and this level of mindfulness drops, we revert to auto-pilot, and our behaviour may be quite different. We are no longer the version of ourselves we consciously strive to be. We are, instead, the product of the subconscious programming we downloaded, in most cases largely from parents. The behaviour that ‘leaks out,’ whether in the form of gestures, expressions, or automatic responses, may be far from attractive. It may also not accord at all with how we consciously wish to be.
I would highly recommend The Honeymoon Effect, and not only for its clear articulation of the subconscious mind. The book presents a lucid, science-based and at the same time contagiously joyful explanation of who we are and how we can improve our relationships.
Both interesting as well as useful is the list of suggested ways in which we can reprogram our subconscious mind to bring it into line with our conscious goals. As Bruce points out, the subconscious mind works to a different set of rules from the conscious one. Appeals to reason and emotion don’t work here. What does work are hypnosis and the power of suggestion, repetition and habit formation, new techniques in the field of energy psychology, and plenty of practice and patience.
While going through these, I was struck by how many of them are the same tools used by Tibetan Buddhists to transform our experience of reality. Concepts such as ‘purifying karma’ may seem like religious terminology to outsiders. In reality they refer to letting go of all the unwanted programming, the deluded thinking and habitual negativity which most of us carry around in the form of unwanted baggage.
When I decided to start meditating in 1994, I decided to see a hypnotherapist to help me get out of bed 10 minutes earlier every morning. Living in London at the time, I found waking up a real struggle. I also knew how powerful hypnosis can be in assisting new habit formation. The hypnotherapist informed my subconscious mind that, when my alarm went off, I would get out of bed feeling bright, fresh and eager to meditate. The result was to create a life-enhancing habit which continues every day.
Should meditation teachers be offering hypnotherapy at the end of their introductory sessions so that students can align their subconscious minds with their conscious wishes? It worked for me!
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(Photo source: blog.gustavkaser.com.au/iceberg/)