Thursday, March 10, 2011

So many choices

Had a wonderful TT class yesterday - so much knowledge and just plain fun as we all explored yoga behind the scenes. But it was something that a student said that I have been thinking about all night, so I have decided to focus on that today instead of what we did in class.

We were assigned the book The World Peace Diet to read before teacher training began. It is because of this book I am on this vegan journey at all. But while I was focusing on the animal suffering part of the book, another student, Megan, had focused on a deeper issue the book touched upon - our subconscious beliefs. I remember reading about this, but for some reason it didn't stick with me then as it did when Megan eloquently summarized it last night.  So thank you, Megan, for making me take a second look at this concept.

The concept is that there are two ways for us to make a choice: consciously and subconsciously. Conscious choices are the ones we have a say in. Whether we show up for work on time. What outfit we wear. What to do Friday night.

The subconscious choices are the ones we didn't get a say when they were first being made, someone made these choices for us. And because of that, our mind considers them as non-negotiable. We never think to question them because we never knew a world without them. For example, someone in an abusive relationship may not have chosen to get beat up as a child, but their subconscious doesn't know another option. So they accept that is part of life and usually repeat the cycle.

Another example is most people did not get a say in whether or not they initially ate meat. They were given it as a baby and because of that, it is routed in their unconscious as a way of life. Do you think if the first time you had the choice to eat meat - ever - was when you were 20 years old and had to watch the cow suffering before being slaughtered so you truly understood the consequences of your actions, that you would make the conscious choice to eat it? There is a good chance you wouldn't. But when something is routed in your unconscious, you don't realize there might be another way so you dismiss anything else.

To most people, my first example above will get an "ah - I could see that" reaction and my second example will  be received by readers more as "there she goes on another vegan kick." Why is that? Could it be because the first example is not part of your subconscious "truth" but the second one is, so you cannot see around it? Both examples are identical, but depending on what choices were made for you, it might be difficult to let go enough to admit it.

To become truly enlightened, truly free, we need to break free from all subconscious dictation. We need to understand the reasoning behind our conscious choices - having that steak tonight, going to that church this weekend, making up an excuse for that black eye - by figuring out which subconscious belief led to it. And then crush that subconscious choice so it can no longer decide for us. Only when our choices are truly conscious can we live in wholly in the present.

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