At some point, we’ve all thought to ourselves, the process of change is not working for me; it’s just taking too long; I’m not cut out for meditation; or I‘m doing something wrong. Many of us contemplate quitting the practice and some think they have already failed. We might not say it out loud because we are still trying to keep up the appearance that we are creating a new self, but sometimes we feel worse than ever. In the meantime, the old self is always happy to return. While it takes an enormous amount of energy and awareness to stay conscious of our unconscious thoughts, behaviors, and emotions, it also requires a great amount of self-compassion as we wait for our future to manifest.
I often talk about the common experiences and characteristics of people who succeed in transforming themselves, but there is another experience that every one of us can relate to, and which we rarely discuss. All of us have experienced the frustratingly long lag between cause and effect, between the thought of wanting something to the experience of having it. We can express this as the space, and thus the time, between the separation of one point of consciousness and the other.
When we are in the middle of the river of change, sometimes it feels so good to default to our senses to prove to ourselves that change hasn’t occurred. We look around our all too familiar environment to see if anything has transformed, but our senses can’t perceive any difference. The fact that our senses don’t perceive a shift in our reality makes us feel that lack even more acutely, and we default to those old feelings of impatience, frustration, resentment, and failure even more.
Keep in mind though, that you are learning a skill, which requires a lot of time and practice. Master musicians and athletes spend more than 10,000 hours to develop their skills. In this case, you’re mastering yourself. You’re learning to practice with your eyes open in the game of life, and it takes diligence to be conscious of all the thoughts and actions that are driven by those aroused emotional states.
If you normally get out of bed close to noon but you want to start waking up at 6:00 a.m., it’s going to feel very uncomfortable for a while as your body adjusts to a new circadian rhythm. You think, So what? The alternative is not to change. However, the next morning you look with your senses at your same life through the lens of the same body and its familiar emotional states, hoping you won’t feel the same. Lo and behold, your senses are still dead asleep—and after doing this for “a while” you don’t experience any change. Getting up early seems more impossible than before because your body feels literally stuck in the past every morning. All your body wants is the familiar chemical state associated with sleeping in, and since it’s been conditioned to be the mind, it wants what it wants.
This is the trap for most people. When we come back to our senses from meditation, we literally come back to our senses. When we don’t see an immediate result in our environment, the emotions of lack and separation kick back in. Then we fall for the belief that it hasn’t manifested.
When our environment doesn’t match what we created in our meditation, we are experiencing that lag—that long period between cause and effect, between the thought and the experience, between one point of consciousness (I want this) and the other point of consciousness (getting it). When we experience that lag, and that interval is a long time, most want to give up on becoming the new self.
Since we are being catered to with on-demand services most of the time, the interval between the thought of what we want and the experience of it has been shortened with technology. As a result, we subconsciously feel entitled to get what we want without waiting too long. But that’s not how creating change happens outside the three-dimensional world. That’s paying someone for their time and energy to do something for us. So, when we are just learning how to create, sometimes the lag signals frustration and impatience, and that’s when we revert back to matter trying to change matter: pushing, controlling, competing, fighting, forcing, wishing, hoping, predicting, or whatever we think will get us to the outcome faster—and it usually involves trying to do more in a shorter amount of time.
Imagine that you want to become a kinder, more understanding person. After meditating, you get in your car and drive to work. As you merge onto the highway, another driver cuts you off, and you end up in a minor fender bender with the car behind you. Without pausing to collect yourself, you immediately feel anger and place blame—not only on the driver who cut you off, but also on the person behind you for following too closely. Finally, you save some frustration and blame for yourself for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. What happened to all that kindness and understanding? You think back to your morning meditation and wish you had acted differently. You tell yourself I must be doing something wrong.
Once we decide we are not doing it right, or that we have failed at meditation, there is even more judgment and impatience because of the separation and lack we feel from being our new self in our new life. We want to see it sooner and we get stuck in the urgency of trying to get to an outcome. When our senses confirm that nothing has changed despite all our hard work, we respond with even more emotional reactivity. Thoughts like I failed, I’m not doing it right, or there’s something wrong with me are exactly what drive us back to the old personality that we are trying to escape. When we look for someone to blame, we’ve already returned to the old self—after all, the new self has no interest in blaming. Until we remember that we are the new self instead of the old one, we can’t change. The fact is, nothing can ever change in our life until we change.
Imagine that you are envisioning a new relationship with someone and combining that intention with the elevated emotions of love and joy. You open your heart and feel those feelings each morning. But then you go about your day and you don’t see that person appear in your life. This is where you should stop and contemplate. Why are you looking for that person in the first place? If you are looking for them, you are back to the old person who is in lack. If you’re being the new you, you’re already feeling the love of that new relationship with that person before it manifests, so there is nothing to look for because you are not feeling separate from the experience.
When you are in lack, the lens through which you are looking at reality is still a conditioned, unconscious program that says, Where is it? If you are looking for something, you are separate from that thing because you are not feeling the emotions associated with having it. If you were feeling the emotions of love, you wouldn’t be looking for it—instead, you would feel like it has already happened.
How do we open our eyes from meditation and avoid the unconscious programs in our waking lives? You already know this. The first step is becoming aware and staying awake with our eyes open. Consciousness is awareness, awareness is paying attention, and paying attention is noticing. The tricky part is whether we can pay attention without judging. Can you become skilled at observing without attaching charged emotions to what you see, and can you notice that you’ve gone unconscious without judging yourself?
I am attempting to teach people how to change their state of being on command. It’s simply catching ourselves in the act of forgetting and then remembering. The question is not whether you are “doing it right.” You are. The question is, how many times do you have to forget until you stop forgetting and you start remembering? In other words, how many times do you need to go unconscious before you can stay conscious? That’s how we master ourselves and evolve in the game of life.
Thus, as my mother would always tell me, tomorrow is another day….