How do I manage to experience life consciously, to shape it according to my wishes and needs, to create a healthy buffer and not to fizzle out in everyday life? I would like to answer these important questions with this blog series and help you to go through the coming time relaxed and with joy.
Life is in constant change, every breath is fleeting and no moment is like another. No tea tastes exactly like the last. The universe is constantly expanding. Everything is changing and as slowly this day seems to end, the last six months have passed so quickly. The bamboo that was recently a sprout in the garden, the rose bush, which was barely knee-high, has now grown over the head, the weeds mockingly multiply, like the zeitgeist virus of our day.
Time is valuable. We all want to move in a certain direction and grow. The biggest obstacle is quite hidden and grows out of the well-known country “Un”. Being unconscious takes a lot of time and many treasures often remain untasted.
A lot has happened in the last six months. In me, in you and in the world. Nothing is as it used to be and yet in some places everything seems to continue as before. Is that going well? Can that go well? How much unconscious, half-hearted time can my life, your life, the world take? These mind games may be uncomfortable at first, but the intentions are good. In retrospect, ask yourself how did you use the last six months? Have you become more conscious, grateful and open to yourself and your fellow human beings, did you act differently or just reacted, consumed, hoarded and believed?
In this sunny weather, the image of the beloved quarry ponds from Karlsruhe comes to mind. It’s warm and you’re looking for refreshment in the water. When you wade in the water, you kick up sand, plants, and other particles. The water that was previously clear is now opaque and cloudy. A moment of inattention follows and the new, beloved sunglasses or brilliant piece of jewelery is sunk in the water. You can barely notice it. Now it’s getting exciting. You are often faced with these two choices. As in an interactive book, you can now either:
a) search for it quickly (red)
b) observation (green)
You decided it was time to act quickly. You step through the water, moving arms and feet, searching and feeling. Completely interwoven in the present, you only now notice that you are stirring up even more sand and mud and that visibility is deteriorating. Was there something? Too bad, no, it was just a small branch. After a few minutes of wild searches, the search seems unsuccessful. Resigned, you stop, pause and think about what you can do now. Your mind will calm down a little, the water around you will slowly clear again. You look around once more and you can see a shadow, a shimmer. You move gently towards it, feel and relief spreads. You have found it.
You decided to keep calm. At some point you learned to live in the mode of conscious action and avoid reacting wherever you can. First of all, keep calm is your mantra and your amygala remains calm. You stop, look around, bend your knees and feel carefully without causing a stir. Slowly you consciously search your immediate surroundings and a few moments later you have found what was lost.
Congratulations on the find. Which choice cost you more energy? Which choices are you currently making more often? We encounter moments and mechanisms like these in a similar form in a wide variety of contexts. The linear pattern is mostly: An external trigger (actio), often accompanied by irritation, leads to an often unconsciously learned automatic reaction (reaction). Milliseconds decide the choice of reaction. Now the question arises, how can I manage to find a space between “actio”, the trigger, in which I manage a conscious “reaction” (B = conscious answer)?
Reactions work according to a pattern and are similar to conditioning, both of which can be learned. The purpose of such mechanisms is as simple as it is plausible: to save resources and function economically. What is learned is easy to do, requires less attention and more energy remains for other things. Sometimes we arrive at a place without and to remember the trip there. We came to work on autopilot. It worked subconsciously that trigger A, the recognition of the signal change to a red traffic light, the reaction R, stopped (hopefully successfully). Everyday example India: While I am writing this text, I suddenly hear a buzzing close to the body, followed by skin contact (A), which triggered the automated reaction (R), clapping and smashing the noise source (mosquito).
Samples, templates, stencils, macros, information processing and other prepared processes make our lives a lot easier. But, be careful, especially if these are already happening unconsciously, they can be tricky and can then bring the undesirable success. A popular example is our naturally problem-focused and destructive self-talk (thoughts).
The good news is that if these patterns have been learned, they can be relearned once they have been exposed. The learned pattern is similar to the frequently used path across a meadow, which at some point becomes a clear trampling path that quickly takes us from A to B or from A to R. Subconscious re-actions resemble the most popular routes carved in the brain. These route preferences are often and gladly used for the sake of simplicity, because they have proven to be useful in one way or another and economize the process, because a conscious decision costs more energy in the short term.
So how do we get to the buffer mentioned above that frees us from an automatic “choice” and enables a new conscious path? In which surroundings do we find this easier? How can we create this?
The short answer is: free up resources.
Those who are already at the end of their tether find it difficult to give more. If a head is almost bursting, then another 90 minute learning unit is not very glorious. If everything is cramping then think twice about whether the pace should be increased again for the last kilometer and whether this will possibly become a killometer. When the to-do list overflows, the e-mail has hardly been answered and three new ones demand your “urgent” dedication, then the fun is often over and we fight or flee.
The way out is: recognize and take a step back. Create an overview, enable physical and psychological distance. How this can be done, I show here with this incredibly effective exercise. Even the smallest distance, stepping out of the circle of fire, can help you to find new support. You can achieve grounding by connecting with yourself and the five elements in you, especially your breath.
1. First of all, I invite you to find yourself in a comfortable upright position. Your head is balanced, regal, raja-like, and perched on your neck.
2. With the next breath pull your shoulders towards your ears, linger for a moment and then let go, relieved, with a sigh. Repeat this a few times and then watch how you are. If possible, your breath flows through your nose: in with pleasure and more slowly out. Now observe your breath flow for a moment without judging, and feel your breath as it is flowing through your body at the moment. Your breath does it all by itself and it does it wonderfully.
3. Remain in this state for a few breaths and allow yourself to let go completely. You are welcome to close your eyes now and enjoy a few deep and calm breaths, maybe in your mind in your favorite place.
How are you now Different, better? We are so entangled and our lives are changing so quickly and dynamically that we often become a plaything instead of a player who steers the ball and consciously acts with his surroundings and his teammates. The more often you withdraw from the state of the hunted animal and switch to a calm, conscious state, the easier it will be for you to create and enlarge this buffer.
I wish you a lot of joy with the breathing exercise, a day full of conscious decision-making and I look forward to welcoming you to Part 2, which will deal with indispensable habits for a better quality of life.