We have become “conditioned” by the views of our families, society and our environment.
All these beliefs and attitudes get right into our cells, becoming part of our mental and physical nature. We don’t even notice this as “programming.” It just seems as if this is the way life is—this is who we are.
Actually this is not true, as we are a spiritual being having a human experience. Our real nature rests in the stars and is always becoming, changing and growing.
However, since we live here on earth, in this body, we need to do something about the problem of identifying with limitations that cause suffering.
Since everything is impermanent it is possible to “re-condition” these limiting viewpoints about ourselves and life. We can set into motion new ideas that will bring about different outcomes.
The truth is that we are hard wired for freedom. Beliefs and opinions are software. We can download new software. It just takes time and an intense dedication to redirect this energy.
The first step is to watch our mind and the thoughts and feelings that flow through it, for we are always carrying on an inner dialogue. Oftentimes it is not pleasant, but we have become numb to it.
It is not easy to actually pay attention to each thought and emotion as it arises, but it is a step towards accepting where we are. Acceptance comes before change.
What we pay attention to changes that which we are seeing. Attention is a form of love—of compassion.
Love transforms. Time and loving attention heal all things, for they allow hard and rigid conditions to dissolve into something more permeable and fluid.
As the Tao says, “Everything that flows is healthy.”
Conditions are not written in stone, though they seem very firm and unmoving.
There is a great truth that water is stronger than rock, though appearances would indicate otherwise. Slowly, drip by drip, water can penetrate the stone and dissolve it. It digs a hole in it.
Emotions flow. I define an emotion as energy in motion. Compassion can dissolve hard places within our mind.
Compassion wasn’t part of my early programming as those around me were too busy trying just to survive. They had strong opinions about living that didn’t include real caring and compassion. They usually saw difficulties, pointed them out and lived in disappointment that things didn’t get any better. This was pretty much the modus operandi of my family. It conditioned the way I thought, felt and acted.
Out of this I became quite stuck, as if I lived inside of a rather tight box of rules of attitudes and behaviors, when what I desired was the light that was outside that box.
And what I have learned is that light enters where the wounds are.
But touching wounds can be painful! Here is where re-conditoning with compassion helps!
What I began to see was the hard, protective coat covering the wounds to keep myself from being hurt again. The irony is that this protective layer kept me inside that box.
I made a new choice: to learn rather than protect. We always have the choice between the two. Learning is re-conditioning.
This began the long process of investigation, inquiring into what my mind was doing. I paid close attention to my feelings, my thoughts and my emotions, and noticed when I criticized myself.
I began the practice of equanimity, reminding myself often that this is just the way it is right now. Causes and conditions have come to harvest. There is no blame.
When I hear critical words inside my head I ask myself whose voice is speaking? Is it my mother? Father? Brothers, sisters? Who is it that spoke these hurtful words? As I identify who is speaking I realize it is not me. It is the voice of someone from my early childhood. They were big. I was small. Thus I internalized them, and they slowly became “me.” Which is a case of mistaken identity.
I allow myself to feel the sadness that comes forth as early memories arise. These are the places of wounding. I grieve the losses of my childhood. I sit with the little child that lives within me. Now I listen to her. I care for her.
Time and loving attention heal old wounds. Grieving our losses brings about healing. Our souls gradually take on a different shape and texture. We are softer, more open, and yes, more vulnerable.
The compassion and love we set into motion will ripen in time, just as seeds that are nurtured blossom and grow.
Day by day new possibilities arise. And I feel a new sense of lightness.