Spending so much time in my head – because I ride by myself so much – I’ve started to develop an awareness of the moment when my unconscious moves an idea into my conscious mind. It’s startling to experience the influence of a past pattern trying to rekindle its influence and it is wonderful to sense my emotions begin to build as that influence almost takes hold. I’m starting to be able to observe the process start as opposed to allowing it to continue, only to reflect on the poor choices later. Stopping the emotions allow me to return to logical thinking; which tends to render a much easier and quicker movement through whatever it was that almost triggered my past to begin again.
This skill is developing because I’m able to spend a lot of time by myself, thinking about stuff then thinking about nothing and repeating over and over again. Hard bike riding is meditative to me because the intense efforts or challenging terrain make necessary a silencing of the mind and a shut-down of that audible internal narrative that causes me to believe I am the center of the universe. It is of practical advantage because the trail eventually gets easier or I tire from the exhaustive effort and slow down; both of these things tend to shut off the meditation, re-empowering the voice to remind me that I am all that matters. The key thing is, after having consolidated your consciousness into the present moment, you become aware of things that you had stopped considering or had not normalized.
For example, my clothes don’t matter when I’m 3/4 of the way up a big hill. What the guy who cut me off on the way to the gym yesterday thinks about me doesn’t come into my awareness when I’m about to lock up my front wheel on gravel just to slow down enough to not launch over the escarpment fence. This stuff doesn’t exist then because I can’t manufacture it into existence. And when I’m not so tired or so focused on not crashing this knowledge carries forward into my conscious mind. I KNOW it doesn’t matter so it’s much easier to push the thought out of my head or simple justify them out of existence because I know they are the creation of something from my past and not necessarily the reflection of what I want for my future.
That is a summary of course and it represents the evolution of an aspect of self-awareness that has taken close to 15 years to move from not being considered, not just as a possibility but at all, to a well organized reality that I am able to engage, observe and manage.
So what? Well, given that we are pattern matching machines with a tendency to unconscious automation of anything that requires effort, we are most likely going to repeat patterns over and over and over again until we do something to stop repeating them. We KNOW something isn’t working for us, but we just keep doing it like a mindless computer following a program that has been written because we are, in many ways, mindless computers that run programs that were written in the past by our experiences and interpretations. Given this, one is not likely going to escape their past (stop running the program) until they accept that it is happening, which can take a while. They must then learn how to interfere with the program by preventing it from starting (avoiding the triggers entirely which is really tough to do) or observing the program beginning to start and stopping it dead. One gains a tremendous amount of independence and self-control by learning how and what these these old programs feel like, so in many ways self-awareness is the solution while avoidance is a treatment.
Our pasts become our future when we allow old patterns to become present behaviors. If these patterns are not working for you, you NEED to break them and you need to gain awareness and feel them before you are able to stop them. It can take a while to gain this awareness, but once you have it, you’ll be able to beat back these old patterns and create your future based on what you decide as opposed to what you did in the past.