Many of us are peripherally aware that being “present” is the place to be for all solutions are found there. But what does that really mean?
We can only arrive at the light at the end of the tunnel when we can find that tunnel.
I submit that this “tunnel” is on the journey to understanding our external realities as well as finding our internal realities AND making peace with BOTH.
And here I found the tools taught to me by M Scott Peck invaluable: “emptying”, to question our assumptions and to find the paradoxes in situations, and “bracketing”.
Of particular importance at the outset is the tool of bracketing. Here Scott said that we should bracket away things we have insufficient knowledge or information to form conclusions so we can examine the things that are in front of us. This one practice allowed me to find my personal tunnel and I’ve been on that road ever since.
Since this is so important let me reframe it another way. Let’s call the skill of bracketing, “defense against the dark arts” or “defense against the never-ending conspiracy theories swirling in our heads”. Without putting this away we cannot learn to see the elephant in the room because we just have no bandwidth left to deal with things that matter.
Meditation in the eye of the storm.
When you have bracketed away what is unknowable at the time, what you have left is what is knowable or doable that is in front of you. And this is really the very beginning of the road less traveled. You are now in the tunnel and the light is further up this path. But there will be resistance to the bracketing and that’s why this road/tunnel is less traveled.
The “struggle” is for understanding, seeing the elephant in the room by joining a series of dots. Here I would like to reference the work of Daniel Goleman called “Emotional Intelligence”. In it, he said that emotional intelligence comes from the cerebral cortex and the trick is to allow “impulses” to travel there instead of just reacting from the limbic loop where fight or flight takes place.
I venture one step further and say that in fact, we cannot become “conscious” without finding a way to primarily function from this space… for the cerebral cortex is where learning takes place, where creativity resides.
Side note. “Consciousness” or “awareness” actually precedes Spirituality. Every time a new dot is joined our awareness of how things work is increased. And at this point, another question is raised: Do we use this new knowledge to do harm or good? Yet another question is: How do we stop the knee jerks, from making bad decisions, from spiraling?
So let me explain what happens when we have now made space—by bracketing—to look at the issues in front of us that are “solvable”…
STEP 1. When we first begin to join the dots we will experience cognitive dissonance. Our worldview will be challenged and we will feel unease. This is where the meditation comes in. Embrace the discomfort, feel those feelings but do not escape into a “narrative”. This part is not as easy as it sounds… so easy does it. ALL we have to do is to feel those feelings.
That actually means we are learning to embrace uncertainty without prematurely filling in the blanks, without leaving the reservation on that road less traveled.
Eventually, the answers will come in the form of epiphanies. There is no other way. Let me try to explain why.
When we start out on this journey we are usually a mass of multilayered contradictions — some formed by faulty reasoning sometime in the past, and some were formed unconsciously by past traumas, etc.
Those parts which were formed by faulty reasoning experience cognitive dissonance which can be corrected by reapplying reasoning again to those conclusions.
But the other parts, the roilings, cannot be reduced by deeper reasoning because it was never formed by reason in the first place. This part lies in the unconscious and will resist resolution from reasoning. So really all you can do is to allow the unconscious to raise it to the conscious in its own time.
That’s why during this time you must not create a narrative to escape. It is this escape from experiencing our discomforts that is the fight or flight impulse. This brings you back to the limbic system, the primitive reptilian mind that holds no answers. Reacting against something we don’t yet quite understand or retreating into a fantasy takes us away from the “present” which is the only place we can learn to understand what is happening and/or doing something constructive to solve it. So we need to still ourselves, to allow time for those fight or flight impulses to reach the cerebral cortex.
A new understanding will dawn if you stay on this road. And a new “reality” will emerge out of this cocoon. And then you must make peace with it. Hence the fruits of the spirit.
Side note. If we examine or feel the full range of “emotions” there is one subset that has no push or pull. And that subset comes from the fruits of the spirit. So with every stage of the new “awareness”, we have to learn to make peace with it. The fruits of the spirit point True North. If you are still unsettled then this means something else has to be resolved. And in this process, we also learn patience together with new understanding.
STEP 2. Repeat the process.
STEP 3. Repeat it again.
First, we thought the elephant was the tail, then we felt the legs, then the trunk and then the tusks. Over time, we get to have a mental picture of what the elephant actually looks like. This is the “reality” part.
In business I found a good context to foster this growth for there was always something to challenge me, to learn and it provided the possibility of growth each time I joined a new dot and made peace with my new understanding. And grow we must if we are to stop spinning our wheels. It’s a road we are on and with each new step, we approach that light.
I realize this is not easy to see so in my next post I will give examples from my own travels on that road in the hope that this explanation can become clearer.
Thank you for your time here with me.