Note: My references to a higher self, are unrelated to any religious or spiritual woo woo. It refers to being virtuous. References to God/divinity are just for entertaining imagery.
“We are acquisitive, greedy, and pugnacious because our blood remembers millenniums” – Will and Ariel durant
We live in the future with a brain designed for the past. Surrounded by hedonistic barriers in our modern world. The path towards a virtuous future is difficult. Any book, video, person, telling you otherwise is misguided. However, there is a mechanism that can ease the difficulty of distancing yourself from negative primordial desires. It is mindfulness. Mindfulness will be the catalyst to readjusting one’s behaviour to a path aligned to your higher self. But, before exploring mindfulness. We must ask ourselves why do we do, what we do?
We are born predisposed to certain behaviors. A complex interaction of ancient evolutionary mechanisms co-mingles with our genome and environment that over time determine the choices we make. Primal desires motivate us subconsciously towards certain actions in response to how pleasurable they are to us. Pleasure being dictated by our neurochemistry, primarily dopamine. Thus, with each interaction a probability spectrum of what actions one is inclined to take is developed. This fluctuates daily through numerous variables including but not limited to food, sleep, weather, and mainly past decisions. As behaviors are repeated our primitive mind establishes a value hierarchy. Hence, behaviors at the top of one’s value hierarchy are most often the decisions chosen by the human organism to pursue. Furthermore, because our values are largely dictated by an out of date system. We easily fall victim to our modern world. Consequently, developing value hierarchies dominated by negative archaic patterns of habit.
Our limbic system still believes as if we wield spears and chase animals across vast distances. It doesn’t seem to be aware we have the ability to touch a combination of metal, glass, plus plastic a few times, and have a big mac and a huge cup of socially acceptable cocaine delivered to us in minutes. Evolution equipped us with the tools to survive a harsh primitive environment. Where rewarding substances, like sugar, were hard to come by. In contemporary times, this is no longer the case. Our wiring is not suited to dealing with the abundance of rewarding substances that surrounds us every moment. So, how do we distance ourselves from the primal desires we are greatly susceptible to? Simply, through awareness.
The conscious mind is the post hoc rationalizer of the decisions made by the subconscious. Utilized correctly we can readjust the narratives told to ourselves. We can open our eyes to the machine-like repetition of negative neural ruts. No longer falling victim to unconsciousness. The potential to develop a higher state of mindfulness will provide the capacity to visualize the habits of our hierarchies. To be present as the behaviours take place. And to slowly realign what truly is beneficial to one’s self.
A question we must first ask ourselves is, how does it feel to not be in control? How does it feel when your mind and body are hijacked? Slowly, overtaken and possessed by the animal lying in the depths of your mind. The slow slide into a machine-like state, sometimes with little awareness remaining. Other times completely unaware of your descent into the abyss of the negative neural ruinous rut you now reside in. Recall the slow battle of losing your higher mind to the control of the subconscious animal. The dialogue that takes place tainted by cognitive dissonance. Until, you are completely dissonant to your higher nature. With the behaviour complete and your subconscious satisfied, it recedes. Leaving you with regret. Explaining yourself, to yourself. Unaware of how to stop the repetition of the negative patterns you were overcome by. The only word capable of characterizing such a circumstance is madness. How horrifying it is to have your faculties taken over by what feels like an outside force, unable to intervene. Thus, to avoid such a harmful and dreadful reality we must develop a higher degree of awareness. Hence, aligning ourselves with our higher natures.
Mindfulness is a practice that must be developed as you would any other skill. We can start by taking our minds back to the negative behaviour that took place and illuminating it with consciousness. You will see through the surface of the short term pleasure derived from whatever the behaviour may be. Exposing it. Viewing it holistically. Notice the consequences of the aforementioned behaviour. View the anxiety that precedes it. You know what is coming if you fall into the hands of your primitive desires that please you momentarily. Yet, leave you remorseful, and self-antagonizing. Focus deeply on the negative emotions associated with the behaviour. Notice even the pleasurable behaviour itself and see that it is not as pleasant as you once thought. Observe the gratification you’d feel if you felt you were in control and not falling victim to whatever negative patterns of habit plague you. It is vastly more gratifying to be in control. Aligned with your higher nature. You recognize the long term deep satisfaction that’s a derivative of being one with the divine inner self that can only be connected to through a greater awareness.
If you aspire towards a meaningful life. One where you are in control of how your life unfolds. It’s by necessity that you must align with the divine inner nature, rather than the opposing animalistic nature that is in constant collision with your higher self. Practice mindfulness to achieve your goals because without being mindful, you cannot be self aware. To lack self awareness is to destine yourself to perpetual suffering. Thus, endeavour for evermore higher states of consciousness. Live and reap the rewards of the Garden of Eden. Lest you dare fall.