I have to force myself to blog this morning and I share this because it has to do with the topic at hand. Having a mental paradigm shift stems from being able to follow discipline when the feelings strongly wish to stray from the practice.
The practice is the actual root. Mediation is key. Yoga can be meditation. Chanting can be meditation. Meditation is watching the thoughts pass by while focusing inward and on breath or the mantra. With yoga, the focus is on linking breath and movement while you watch the thoughts.
The practice builds your inner witness (your soul) so you may watch thoughts but not identify with them.
Most people identity with their thoughts and feelings. You think you are your thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and you believe the stories you tell yourself about yourself, life, and others. Yet these stories are only stories.
Same goes with your feelings. You are not the sorrow, despair, joy, inspiration, frustration, anger, rage, loneliness, (on and on) that passes through you in waves.
When you identify too much with your thoughts and feelings you wind up suffering.
The more you find yourself in stillness, breath, and just being, the more peace, balance, and letting go results.
You don’t need stories to define you although you still create them because as humans we are wired to make meaning out of life. You don’t need your feelings to define you although you still acknowledge and express them so that they leave the body. Through the practice, thoughts and feelings are given their right place within the land of self.
This skill of experiencing self as being develops through consistent practice. It is not magic or miracle.
When you put in the dedication and time to meditate most days or every day, you build the skill of self as being. This is where your true source of power is discovered and cannot be taken away no matter what happens to you in the external world, from slight aversion to major trauma.
The true source of power found in being naturally radiates empowerment, contentment, balance, and peace within.
As you build this skill you detach more and more from your thoughts and feelings and this is the prerequisite to being able to make a mental paradigm shift.
What do I mean by making a mental paradigm shift? Let’s say you believe in following the heart no matter what and you keep winding up in toxic relationships, or you believe that feelings are not to be trusted and always find it hard to connect with others, or you strongly believe all men are bad or all women are crazy and you keep attracting the same unhealthy relationship to project your belief onto to prove yourself right (insert your mental paradigm here). I am using only relationship examples but this could be any area of life.
Your mental paradigm is a meta-program that filters all of your thoughts into its main stance. Strong mental paradigm stances that have no room for suppleness, change, growth, or flexibility are usually put in place to protect the ego from being wounded…again. They are purposeful and were put in place to help you but eventually they become a source of suffering.
We all have a protector within us. The protector is the aspect of self that tries to protect us from pain.
Your protector may be sarcastic, flippant, accusatory, wanting to build a case, avoidant, controlling, manipulative, narcissistic, masochist, shy, show-offy, on and on…basically the protector creates the defense mechanisms we unconsciously use to keep us safe and lurking in our familiar haunts that mirror the childhood family system in some way.
Although we long for more connection, secure attachment, and freedom to be the true self, familiarity is hard to break. Most of us find comfort in the familiar pain we know from youth and we tend to unconsciously wade in it rather than risk the vulnerability required to open up to more of what we truly desire on a soul level.
The protector makes sure the vulnerable child deeper inside does not get slam dunked into pain and disappointment again. This means we don’t risk vulnerability and instead we wade in the familiar comfort that is painful but manageable.
Some protectors think they are content but rely on addiction to feed them a false sense of joy. Some protectors are self loathing and rely on feeling bad about self to avoid taking risks. Some protectors rely on being right and good and never doing wrong. Some protectors are critical and judgmental and live on high horses. Protectors project a strong mental paradigm about self, other, and life itself.
The stories that the protector projects are wide in variety but you always know it’s the protector’s mental paradigm when the stance cannot be budged, is narrow in focus, comes out unconsciously (without thinking) or uses some technique of blame, hate, minimizing or negatively perceiving self or other in a black and white fashion.
These protectors are born very young and reflect a mentally immature mind. When we were young these defense mechanism stories were the best we could come up with and allowed us to survive or cope with being a self in the family system. Even privileged children who do not endure trauma may be raised with avoidant parents, surrounded by functional addiction, not receive the attunement or structure needed to develop a healthy ego capable of making healthy choices and traversing through painful experiences.
At a certain point in the healing process, it is time for the protector to stand down and allow vulnerability to express because the protector creates suffering on repeat.
The protector’s story usually makes a hard line between victim (self) and perpetrator (the other) or the reverse of this where self is bad and other is glorified. I am not speaking of actual crimes and violence when there really is a perpetrator and victim. I am speaking of the messy relational field where we come into each moment carrying the hurting inner child wrapped inside the protector who will go to any lengths to make sure the child is not hurt again.
To let the protector stand down and to be vulnerable becomes much easier when we build the inner witness and no longer need to identity with our thoughts and feelings as strongly. There is a detachment that develops. This detachment doesn’t take away from the passion of living, it does not stop thoughts or feelings…it simply creates space so we can breathe and access our true source of power within.
When we can access and feel our true power, self love, spirit, nature, emptiness, whatever you want to call it depending on your temperament and belief….we can let go of the mental paradigm that is causing us suffering, we can allow the protector to stand down, we can allow our vulnerable self to show.
The mental paradigms that create suffering are not who you are and they do not have to rule your life. Yet to release them you must become somewhat comfortable or at least willing to feel and share your vulnerable self without it causing you to crumble to pieces when another causes hurt. The process of becoming somewhat comfortable and willing is different for each person. Trauma may make it much more complex and attachment wounds can be just as difficult.
Temperament has a lot to do with the process too. Nature and nurture are always at play. Patience is needed. Love is needed to not judge the spiral of progress that may look like two steps forward and one step back on the regular.
Human beings are designed to endure pain and we are also designed to be vulnerable.
Most of us are not present. Our wounds and insecurities live with us from the past, alive and sizzling in the heart and mind. Many of us were not safe as children. Many of us could not be vulnerable as children without being dismissed, avoided, scolded, controlled, or abused. This is why we cling to the hard nosed stories that the protectors create to make sure that the little person inside does not risk danger again.
The healing work to integrate the inner child, have the protector stand down, and develop a strong inner witness is hard work but brings potent results.
Meditation is part of healing and so is therapy or some kind of process work. You can process with healers of all kinds to help you move energy and understand your inner landscape. The point I want to make is that there needs to be some form of processing of the thoughts and feelings, past and present.
The key is to balance not identifying with the thoughts and feelings with processing the thoughts and feelings, so that we heal from a holistic perspective. Meditation, energy work, talk therapy, depth work, using crystals, herbs, dream work, shamanic healing….whatever you are called to do is what works best.
Having a mental paradigm shift may also happen by miracle. Miracles are real. I have experienced them myself and witnessed others suddenly change. In an instant their suicide ideation is gone, their cigarette addiction is gone, their mind suddenly grasps a new paradigm just like that, a story of betrayal vanishes, a feeling and story of attachment to another turns on or shuts off…and we shift in an instant. We cannot rely on miracles but they happen.
Best to put in the daily effort to keep the self supple, growing, healing, and expanding.
Hard work is a part of life. Paradoxically, putting effort forth each day to open the mind, integrate the psyche, heal the self, and grow as a soul will make life easier and more loving and make you more present. It is not the experience itself that does or does not create suffering, it is how we digest and interpret the experience. We are the meaning makers.