Mindful Monday - Let Go
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Let Go

"Hanging from a cliff, let go -
And agree to accept the experience.
After annihilation, come back to life - 
I cannot deceive you."

Koan by ancient Zen master Ta Hui
What we hold onto most strongly, as if our life depended on it, is what we identify with: our point of view, our opinions, our ideas, beliefs and anything or everything that we consider part of our identity. A “holding on” that is the basis of all disease: both individually and collectively. 

The “ego” is originally a force borne of the soul, and designed to be in service of the soul, to bridge the Natural Dimension of the living organism and the Spiritual or Implicate Dimension accessed through contemplation.

Over time, through parental conditioning, social influences, memories, and experiences, a pattern is pieced together by the neocortex, resulting in an “ego-identity”.

Experiences are only fragmented episodes unless they are woven into a meaningful narrative.

The concept of “I” or “me” provides a focal point to hang experiences together both in the immediate here and now, as well as to join those events over a lifetime. The neocortex weaves a complex model of the world based on this focal point, with expectations about where and what should happen. 

The two exercises below illustrate how the brain both fills in and leaves out sensory information to maintain familiar patterns.  

Exercise No. 1 - It's just an illusion

As explained in "The Third Goat", our brain processes and abstracts in order to organize, interpret and fill in information based on past experience: like the illusory square you think you see here.


Exercise No. 2 - Now I see me, now I don't

Did you know you are completely blind for two hours every waking day?
Our brains deliberately wipe out visual input when our eyes move. Just try this experiment:
  1. Stand in front of the mirror and take a good hard look at yourself.
  2. Focus your gaze on your left eye and have a good look at it.
  3. Now switch and focus your gaze on your right eye.
  4. Notice anything odd? If you alternate your focus of gaze from the left to the right eye and back again, you cannot see your own eye movements from the left to the right and back again.
  5. Ask someone else to do the same thing.
  6. Now you can easily see their eyes moving but, like you, they cannot see their own movements in the reflection in the mirror.
This is just one of the many different ways that are brain hides it’s true operations from our consciousness. We think we see a stable visual world, when in fact, it is constructed every time we move our eyes. This illusion of stability is the basis of magic tricks!

Illusions and Delusions

In fact, you have no direct experience of reality, your experiences are the result of an incredible amount of filtering, filling in, blanking out, processing and interpreting the raw data your senses provide. 

Our brain even maintains a stable idea of a “me” when in fact, reactions, responses and behavior can be very different in different environments and circumstances.

Multiple "me's"!

Anticipation of reward in all its forms (affection, appreciation, approval, etc.)  and expectations created by past experiences and different reinforcements may cause us to behave and respond differently. We have a work self, a parent self, a political self, an emotional self, a sexual self, a creative self, a spiritual self and even a violent self. We seem to switch between these selves effortlessly as if there was an individual doing the switching.

That is part of the illusion. There is not one self or multiple selves, it is the external world that switches us from one character to another. The experience of self as a cohesive, integrated character, is a model to make sense of the multitude of experiences that assault our senses. 

The "me" is not found in any one specific area of the brain. It emerges out of the orchestra of different brain processes involving the frontal lobe and other parts of the neocortex, and the brain stem.

We are capable of things we never thought...

Who we think we are does not depend only on our brains in isolation; our brains function within a sea of collective consciousness. We can be subject to a whole range of externally generated processes: mechanisms such as human stampedes and mob mentality. Impulses from the collective unconscious intertwine with the internal processes of the brain. Both Buddha and Hume referred to a symphony of the self – the self as a dynamic, moving pattern resulting from the ping-ponging between the Natural and Rational Dimensions of consciousness. 

Now, for the next trick...

Now, add to this illusion of self, the ability of the human mind, through its access to higher dimensions to recognize perfection, and to imagine absolute perfection. The ego then imagines attaining this perfection for itself: a perfected illusion!
The ideal is what it would like for its “self” (the pattern it has created and identified as itself). This put together entity is a pattern that imagines it can make itself into a perfect whole, according to some imagined ideal. And, it imagines magical outcomes, and bright, future possibilities if it attains this wholeness. The illusive third goat! The pattern seeks to be whole, complete, accomplished, and full, even though it is nothing but a bunch of ideas and experiences loosely strung together. 

This ego “entity” has no intrinsic qualities, and certainly possesses nothing unique or original. Because it is “put together” and not a real entity, it does not possess the wholeness intrinsic to the creatures and things produced by nature. Whatever has arisen through the natural process of evolution is a product of wholeness, a whole unto itself. This is true of the physical body. It is borne of a “soul”, a unique essence or spark, a vital force that  animates it, and keeps it alive for whatever time it is in existence.

Through the ability of the human brain to integrate higher principles and ideals into the pattern (the ego "entity"), the thought process becomes obsessed with its “incomplete” pattern of self. Given the opportunity, the brain will focus on the incompleteness, imperfection of this pattern. Effort is put into trying to “substantiate” the self through acquisitions, material possessions, “solid” relationships, meanwhile still hanging onto, and justifying its preferences, its likes and dislikes, opinions and experiences. 

The thinking process is overcome by the need to resolve the conflicts arising from the desire for an ideal self. It seeks what is needed to be complete to “substantiate” it so that it feels “real”.  

Anything or anyone who expresses something contrary to or symbolizes a threat to any part of this pattern is perceived as a threat, an enemy by the limbic system, causing fight or flight reactions and internally generated stress. 

The Heart of MICH Case Taking

In case taking, we listen for the key aspects of this pattern : 
the striving for a type of absolute completeness, 
the susceptibility to perceived or anticipated threats or rewards, 
and the sensations arising in situations of perceived threat or reward.
We see that the human organism can get totally hijacked, on all levels, by the perceived “condition(s)” required for the “existence” of the illusory self – that which forms the basis of our susceptibility. 

Through the process of identification, this mentally generated ego “entity”  is perceived to be the organism itself. The misconception that the ego-entity is “someone” causes unending suffering in humanity.  It has been proven time and time again, in all the traditions and cultures, that happiness, contentment and wholeness or health can only be experienced if the sense of self wrought by mental patterning, is seen for what it is: NO-THING. 

Your Mindfulness Exercise for this Week

  1. Catch yourself every time your thoughts turn to your "self": your opinion, your point of view, or what another thinks or says about you, or of what you should be or do, what is wrong or what is great about "you".
  2. Turn your thoughts towards the experience of living right now: the colour of the sky, the movement of clouds, the experience of the wind, breeze, or cool grass or the texture of whatever you are holding in your hand. 
  3. Re-mind yourself that you are here, alive, to experience: regardless whether it is work or play, or sitting in traffic, or relaxation, and engage yourself fully in all the subtleties and dimensions of it. 
  4. Notice the subtle shifts in your body as you free yourself from the web of illusions. Let go. 

More on the Illusion of Self

If you would like to learn more about how our brain creates patterns and scenarios and gets caught in a loop that causes stress and disease, some of these examples were taken from "The Illusion of Self" written by Bruce Hood.  It is an easy read, filled with hundreds of interesting stories from research from all over the world.  Enjoy!
This is the third and final email of our Mindful Mondays series - we hope you've been inspired towards greater mindfulness.  The other two emails were, in sequence:
  1. The Three Goats
  2. Not the Flag, Not the Wind
Let us know if you have not received these emails.

MICH is a vehicle of holistic consciousness, providing full accreditation training for homeopaths since 2005.  
Our diploma program is recognized internationally, and our new special interest courses provide self-guided online learning that embodies the whole person approach.

Our Mindful Monday series is designed to inspire you to welcome mindfulness into your life.  If you like this kind of content, sign up for our newsletter & share with your friends!