Cultivating Consciousness

We spend so much time thinking about being a human-being rather than focusing on the tasks before us. Some might say to ignore this chatter, dismiss the navel-gazing and maintain focus on the physical aspects of life. Yet what’s more human than getting lost in consciousness? We’re fascinated by our own reflection.

And really, how interesting is the process of mechanically masticating our meals? The physical things we do everyday are basic and repetitive, it’s the accompanying narratives and the interactions with our companions that makes all the difference. Activities are mere filler until our observing-mind assigns the meaning.

But, a ceaseless stream of unfiltered data also flows through our mind — and the observing part of our mind must deliberately evaluate this data. For instance, when we sense an undesirable mood forming, we must mark the offending thought as unwelcome and minimize it within our mind. With practice the process gets easier and automatic.

So no, I don’t believe we need to stop staring at ourselves. Consciousness is not the problem, it’s our careless handling of the incoming data that gets us into trouble. For example, if we tried to begin a garden and let every weed grow unchecked, our garden would be in shambles. Likewise, we need to prune the mind of pestilent thoughts.

The way we know something happened is because we witness it — in other words, consciousness is the witness of our life. Consciousness therefore, is not a burden that gets in the way of living, but the very process that proves we exist. Our difficulty with life does not stem from our self-awareness, but from our mismanagement of this awareness.

Decay is an effortless force in life. Leave something alone and the landscape will consume it. Memories for instance, are maintained by repeated recall — to stop a memory, refuse its rumination. Structure, on the other hand, does require effort. If we want a satisfied mind we must endeavor to cultivate such a state.

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