It all comes down to taking in and drawing out.
When you meditate, you become more conscious of your subconscious mind. The chatter of your conscious mind, the constant “I need to file a report” and “oh look, a Facebook status update” clears away, and you are finally able to access a completely different part of your mind.
Your subconscious is diametrically opposite your conscious mind. It has a much stronger will, but weak logical capabilities. This is why, despite the fact that you understand that you should wake up on time for that Important Thing That You Don’t Want to Do, your subconscious, which doesn’t buy the whole should thing anyway ends up deciding that no, actually, you are not ‘gonna get out of bed until noon.
When you are born, you start off exhibiting traits of the subconscious mind: you are spontaneous, carefree, full of energy, and have very little sense of responsibility. As you grow up, society teaches you what it means to be an adult, primarily through the influence of your parents and schooling.
This has a lot of benefits- you learn how to use a toilet, how to cross the street, and how to be considerate of other people. The problem is that along the way, a lot of the great subconscious stuff becomes stifled.
This is primarily because it’s very hard to find the right balance between spontaneity and responsibility, between being independent and still being an upstanding citizen. It’s hard enough to do it personally, and it’s even harder for your parents to know the right balance is for you.
Throw in their own imperfections and society’s impatience with nonconformity, and it’s easy to see how we overly stifle this important part of ourselves. And the emphasis is on stifle, because it’s still there; we just try to disregard it by working over and around it.
When we use words like willpower, self-control or procrastination, these are clues that we are fighting an internal battle. And there is a better way.
The easy way
With meditation, you no longer struggle with your subconscious urges. You are able to get in touch with them, understand them, and engage in productive dialogue with yourself. Yes, you read correctly.
It helps to visualize the subconscious as a 3 year old child. The thing with 3 year olds is that almost always have their way. And if you ignore them when they ask for a cookie, they will just ask for it again and again and again.
A better way is to acknowledge that they want a cookie and then explain in terms they can understand why you aren’t giving them one right now. This does not mean there will not be a great wailing and gnashing of teeth, but ultimately they will a certain level of 3 year old reason.
If you are still doubtful, think back to a time when you were really annoyed at someone, and told them as such. When did you feel better? In a case where they ignored you, or in a case where they acknowledge your hurt and explained themselves to you?
This is what’s going on inside of you. There’s a part of you that is stuck at the age of 3, and the question is, how are you going to respond? Ignore it, or acknowledge it.
Meditating allows you to learn about the complex motivations and processes that are constantly going on inside you. This is the first step, drawing out the insights from within. After that, you can dialogue with yourself and internalize more productive paradigms, mindsets, and ideas.
With this new approach, instead of summoning up the “willpower” to wake up on time, you can look inward and discover that a part of you is afraid of being judged, for example. You might suddenly remember a traumatic episode from your childhood that left you in a continuous state of fear of vulnerably.
You may have done a decent job of stifling this fear, but it’s a continuous battle, and until now the other side has often won, because you weren’t even sure who you were competing against or what the motivation of this part of you was. This realization alone should relieve some of the anxiety, if you acknowledge and validate this emotion (and all emotions should be validated).
You can then take it a step further and internalize the reality the world is not as threatening to you, the adult, as it was to you as a child. Simply knowing this idea is not enough, because it remains an abstract idea on the conscious level; one that you need to constantly remind yourself of and which a big part of you doesn’t.
Through the power of meditation, you can internalize the idea and effortlessly introduce change in your life. You are simply aligning all the aspects of your mind and personality towards a common goal, instead of having two different parts operating with conflicting agendas.
Have you tried meditation? Did you learn something new about yourself? Share it in the comments below.