Posted on Aug 13, 2021 in Posts

We practice mindfulness meditation for seeing the world with fresh eyes, and for living a more conscious and fulfilling life. But a conscious life does not mean living out of the conscious mind all the time.

When Thich Nhat Hanh makes a map of the mind, he draws a circle and a horizontal line across the middle of the circle. What is above that line is conscious, and what is below is unconscious. That simple diagram unites the essential features of the mind as seen by Freud, Jung and the Buddhist tradition. The details differ among those three, but the rough outline is similar.

Living exclusively out of the conscious mind is an illusion. The conscious mind—the Ego in Freud’s terminology—is only a part of the psyche. The unconscious mind runs the body, beats the heart, and takes care of our digestion—it is our constant companion. It is where our thought patterns and archetypes reside. It also prompts our wishes, and takes over automatically when we go to sleep, creating the images and stories that dreams are made of.

It is also the home of our habits.

Habits, whether they are habits of mind or of the body, need to be addressed one by one. As far as I can know, there is no such thing as a general mindfulness that fixes all undesirable habits.

The first step for change is the insight that a particular habit is not contributing to your happiness, to the happiness of your loved ones, or to the health of the Planet.

The second step is to make a firm resolution to make a change.

The third step is to practice the new habit consciously, patiently, and nonjudgmentally, until it becomes habitual. Then it will be spontaneous and part of the treasury of the unconscious. If you are a middle-aged person, you may have practiced the habit you are trying to break for thirty or forty years. If you did it only once a day, that adds up to about 13825 times.

Say that you are trying to break the habit of taking things personally. You may have done that 10,000 to 20,000 times over your lifetime. That habit will not change just by wishing. You need to practice until you can naturally respond to negative comments with a smile, mentally saying, ‘His thoughts are his business! My happiness is my business!’

We know how to practice the piano and how to practice Spanish, but how do we practice such mental habits as self-love and not taking things personally?

Meditation helps. Use the resources on this website, the meditation mantras, guided meditations, and the videos to focus your meditation. To move further on, consider what other old habit you wish to break next, and what new habit you wish to develop.

Can you design your own mindfulness practice with that in mind?

Do you have enough resolve to keep at it for a few weeks?