Meditation Diet: Routines and Rewards
The human mind is divided into two components working in tandem to help you conduct your daily business. The first is the conscious mind. This component is the one over which you have the most conspicuous control. You might see a pencil on the table and make the decision to pick it up – that’s your conscious mind working. This is the mind with which you make decisions.
The goal of a mindfulness meditation session is not to inhibit the conscious mind or detach it from the world around you. The goal of a mindfulness meditation session is to become aware of your surroundings from a dispassionate state. You become aware of a clock ticking in the background, a bird chirping in a tree, a truck passing on the street, but you simply allow them to be, without your interference. You treat thoughts and emotions the same way. You might think about how you need to set up a hair appointment, or bring your car in for a tune-up, or clean the kitchen. Rather than blindly following these impulses as they arise, you simply acknowledge them and let them pass. Rather than fret, you notice. Rather than act, you observe. Be to your thoughts the way you are to vehicles as you stand on the side of the road: you watch them pass, hear them, see them – but you don’t chase them, nor do you stand in front of them. They come. They go.
The second component of the human mind is the subconscious mind. The prefix ‘sub’ implies “beneath” (like how a submarine is beneath the water). This is because the subconscious mind operates beneath your awareness. The subconscious mind regulates heart rate, breathing, blood flow – all of the things that have to occur but can’t be trusted to the conscious mind because the conscious mind might forget – and the last thing you want to do is forget to keep your heart beating!
Your subconscious mind is also host to a great deal of wisdom. Your instincts are found in your subconscious mind. Your subconscious mind tells you when something is scary or pleasing; it acts as a sort of adviser to your conscious mind. When faced with a threatening situation, your subconscious mind says, “Look out! There’s danger here!”
If you tell your subconscious mind what you want, it will make suggestions to you on how to accomplish that end. This is where mindfulness comes in. With mindfulness, you are communicating your intentions to your subconscious mind, thus “reprogramming” it to advise you on how to make your wishes come true.
There is a prevailing belief that what you have done in your past (or what has been done to you) has an impact on your present. To an extent, this is true. When you were a child, perhaps you put your hand on a hot stove and learned that excessive heat creates an unpleasant response. This is your subconscious mind doing its job.
Where this falls flat is when people cite conscious decisions made in the past as reasons that new decisions cannot be made in the present. First and foremost, there is no such thing as the past. There are only memories, and memories are viewed in the present. Similarly, there is no future; there are only dreams, and dreams are also viewed in the present. There is absolutely no such thing as the past or present; there is only the eternal NOW.