My daughter’s sleep schedule has shifted slightly, over the past few weeks. She is now going to bed a bit later and waking up earlier. Because of this, my wife and I have been having trouble getting up in the mornings in time to do our Practice, so I have been having to catch up in the late morning or mid afternoon to make sure that I get my meditation and if possible my yoga completed. Although this schedule has certain advantages (like the fact that it is often easier to concentrate later in the day when I have a bit of sugar in my blood) I would very much like to get back to a more regular schedule. Yoga and meditation in the morning is just the best way to start the day.
At present, the general scientific consensus regarding conscious to unconscious information processing within the human brain lies somewhere around 1 to 100,000. In other words, for every bit of information being processed by our conscious mind, there are about 100,000 bits being experienced by our subconscious mind. It is true that accurately estimating such processes may be extremely difficult, but even if this ratio were off by an order of magnitude (an error which could go in either direction), the implications remain the same. Our conscious minds are working on very limited information in comparison with what is actually going on around us.
Some may argue that the information we do have access to is representative of the whole. This argument would posit that the version of reality that we perceive consciously simply filters out unnecessary and unwanted information in a way that allows our conscious minds to more effectively deal with a model of reality that reflects the actuality of the universe we inhabit. This model would be akin to a Vermeer painting being reduced to a stick figure drawing. Obviously it would be a limited reflection of a much more complex and subtle subject, but from an exclusively utilitarian point of view, the content of the work could still be dealt with effectively.
I believe that this assumption, that the world we deal with in our conscious minds is a “simplified yet representative” version of the true reality we inhabit is inaccurate. One need only study our filters nominally to realize that they can be relatively arbitrary. They simply depend on what we are conditioned to. My cousins in Mexico City for example who grew up in a crowded household near a very noisy street have developed the ability to sleep in virtually any place under any circumstances. Their conscious mind simply filters out the noises that would keep me awake long into the night.
Clearly then, even our conscious sensory perception of the Universe we inhabit is literally changed by the conditioning we experience throughout our lives. This does not even touch on the much more subtle and certainly even more influential psychological filters which we employ to actually interpret and give coherence to our sensory data. A person who has had a traumatic experience with violence for example, will forever interpret and experience all manner of subjects and relationships in a completely different way than someone who has not.
It is important to bear the question in mind when we think about our lives, problems, stories, and identities: How much credence can we give them? When we use our conscious mind to provide the coordinates to navigate the path of life, we will always end up going in circles. We will always see, hear, feel, and think what we are conditioned to. In order to be free from this mind trap, we must learn to feel our way through life using the power and wisdom of our soul, our heart. It does not draw maps using straight lines and graphs for us to follow, it speaks to us through symbols, signs, and intuition.
Don’t follow your thoughts, follow your heart.