Good morning. As always, the hope is that conditions have allowed most of us to get a reasonably good sleep. And after that, hopefully we also got to go through a meaningful, intentional waking process that’s helped set us up for a rewarding day.
As this is the tenth meditation, now feels like a good time to note something that often goes unnoticed. In doing these meditations, each day we have operated with an agenda for our consciousness. We were all watching for something.
‘Watching for.’ That’s been the verb of our consciousness. It hasn’t been idle as much because we are ‘watching for’ something specific, it’s just that the ‘something’ changes on each meditation.
The interesting thing then is, what were our minds doing before we spent ten meditations being focused? Can we begin to see the issue at this stage? Is this enough meditations to realize that, prior to this, on a daily basis, our consciousness was not really engaged in anything at all?
The truth is, virtually everyone is literally wandering through a random, progression of events and reactions. And one hopes that feels as crazy as it seems to a conscious person. Because if we can see that, then that means we are becoming more conscious.
A lot of people find it’s almost embarrassing to admit that we’ve let this massive piece of ourselves just sit there like some gigantic, magic blob. It is insanely powerful. It builds our entire reality. And yet, if we don’t live intentionally, then every morning it means the unconscious person wakes up and, after that: We. Just. Let. Stuff. Happen.
It’s like the daily reality of our consciousness is represented by a big Santa’s bag. And the way we get it filled each day is just by leaving it laying around, randomly. And the entire world –including us– has gotten into the habit of taking whatever little treasures, keepsakes, or garbage that we find, and then we do as everyone else does and we put those things in just about any bag.
The weird thing is, when we take that thing (that idea, that belief, that perspective, that invention, that job etc. etc.), out of the bag, we’ll treat that experience like it’s our life. Ours? What did we have to do with it? Someone just shoved that in there and all we did was take it out.
A huge number of people still have their parents choose their careers. Most of our attitudes about the world will have been absorbed by osmosis, not chosen on principle.
Most people even primarily eat the foods they ate as kids. If we ask people for a list of five notable human beings they’ll tell us about famous people in other places or times that they have never met. In most cases they won’t tell us about their friends.
We sleep through the whole thing. In almost every way, our lives are mostly composed of random ideas put there by largely random people. We can love our parents and our friends like crazy, but we are us and they are them. No one else can tell us if our shoes fit or if we feel good about our work. Only we know that.
That doesn’t mean we can’t love our life or those people. Despite some scammers, in most cases people are quite generously filling each other’s Santa’s bags with what they believe is valuable, be that advice or warnings or fears. And even when then put some garbage in there, it’s either with the best intentions to clean things up, or because they genuinely believe it’s ours.
The problem is, especially when we’re young, we have no defenses against what’s in our bags. They are almost exclusively filled with stuff put there by others. And in our youth, even the stuff we pick is chosen in total innocence and ignorance.
In the end, it’s hard to separate out what was originally ‘us’ and what was just stuff from the bag. Which brings us to:
MORNING MEDITATION TEN
Today we are going to start taking a look at what exactly people have put into our ‘bags.’ Today our job is to find the ideas, beliefs, notions, fears, allegiances, hopes etc., that are not our own, but that were essentially given to us without question. Someone said, ‘here’s how the world works’ and we said, ‘okay.’
These can range from tiny things like, what teams we love; to huge things, like an adoptee noting that, at 14 years old, they found out that their bag had carried an entire alternate identity that they had put on and wore without noticing.
Are we a lawyer because a parent was too? Or because they were a criminal? Are we only in a gang because of what neighbourhood we grew up in and what friends we chose when we were little kids?
Are we an unlikely sports star almost completely because someone told us we couldn’t be at our size? Do we only love astronomy because we loved time with our Dad and our Dad loved looking at the stars?
What about political beliefs, admirable people, branded product choices, or home decor? There’s a reason that furniture stores can sell millions of something. Whether it’s fashion, haircuts, or attitudes, we are largely collages made of only those influences which are dominant in our era.
If we were born in a different year, or in a different place, to different parents of equal quality, we would have been a completely different person with completely different beliefs. Today our job is to find what was added to us. For tonight’s meditation we will discuss what is unique to us.
That’s it: look at every aspect of your life and ask what its origins were. We don’t have to judge those things, or evaluate them. We only have to notice them. After that, we can trust our innate wisdom. That’s what taught us everything up until we were about five years old, and we do a fantastic amount of development during that period. Trust yourself.
Enjoy your day. Done well, this can be a very surprising and enjoyable meditation.
EVENING MEDITATION TEN
Do the same thing as this morning, but instead of finding examples of our lives being programmed by others, think of times where we actually thought for ourselves, consciously.
Examples can be as tiny as: we walked up to a push-button walk light but noticed there was only one car, so rather than press the button we let the car pass and then crossed ‘illegally’ without changing the light and without stopping any other cars unnecessarily.
In that case, all of the signs told us to do one thing, but as a conscious expression of our environmentalism, or of our neighborliness, we ignored the instructions and acted as a free individual –letting traffic flow while still keeping ourselves safe (which was the original point behind pushing the button anyway).
We can also find bigger examples, like if someone told us we had to end a friendship we value and we refused. Maybe we stood up to a boss; left an abusive relationship; stopped taking drugs. Maybe we got arrested on principle. Maybe someone wanted us to join in on hurting or shunning another person and we wouldn’t.
Even the small examples are not insignificant aspects of life. These are times where we were conscious. This morning we looked at the things that were unconscious. And if we notice, the unconscious choices are more often than not, the ones that feel silly or meaningless in hindsight. But the conscious ones have a strange vitality and strength hidden in them. It feels good to live consciously.
We’ve all expressed our freedom many times. As we move through our evenings, it will feel good to be finding examples of our Selves in action. And, if at all possible, we should go so far as to actually go to bed and fall asleep with that search still ongoing in our mind. Because that is the act of uncovering the strongest version of ourselves. And that is who we are endeavoring to ignite each morning.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.