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Conscious and Unconscious Minds

August 4, 2021

    I once stayed in the historic Mayflower Park Hotel in Seattle, in a corner room on the seventh or eighth floor. A brick window ledge was a landing for a resident seagull who paraded in front of the window now and then, apparently in an attempt to train me to put out edible scraps. When the gull took off, satiated or not, it would jump off the ledge, fall a couple of feet, then put its wings out to -- poof -- catch the air. The freefall undid me as if I were the one taking the leap.

One morning during my ritual sit, I asked my Unconscious Mind to help me make a decision. I'd had a humbling experience, and I wanted to be sure I was leaving something behind because I was moving on to something better and not because I was fleeing the not-so-pleasant experience. Who am I kidding? It had been horrific. I was still trying to balance what I had contributed with what others may have bequeathed to the unfortunate event.

As I sat conversing in my mind best I am able with my Unconscious Mind, a dove perched on my third-floor deck railing. I became absorbed in watching it. If you have ever noticed, most birds move their heads in a jerky motion, not in a smooth motion like humans. The dove's head jerked back and forth, looking mainly to the right, over to the next clump of trees. It dipped its knees as if going to spring into flight. It bounced a couple more times then did fly off, making that rhythmic whistle sound only doves' wings make. I thought, "Isn't it incredible that I noticed that the dove was going to fly." Anyone would have known. Consciousness was the means by which I knew. 

Consciousness is not by any means the Conscious Mind. Consciousness is awareness, the light by which we see, and the mindfulness when we are fully engaged and associated in the present moment, as opposed to the Conscious Mind who lives mainly in the past or future.

0266382001628357112.jpgSitting longer in my chair, I heard the distinct tap of a significant bug hitting the slider window behind me. I didn't need to look; the sound alone qualified it as a large bee. The sound took me immediately back to a ceiling-to-floor window in my previous home. Every evening as I watched the recorded news, a bald-faced hornet would try to break into my house in this rudimentary way. Bald-faced hornets seem always to be in a cantankerous mood. Was it the same one each evening? Eventually, it would stop smashing its skull against this window and fly on to the next. Needless to say, I was very familiar with the sound.

Then my Unconscious Mind did a fantastic thing. It turned the glass-smashing bee heads into my negative thoughts about the recent horrendous event. They could not get in. I was secure. Ha! I sneered at them, in my mind, of course.

Then I knew I was going to take the leap and fly. And I looked a few times in the direction I intended on heading, making sure it was doable with just the right amount of excitement, then imagined my takeoff. Would I freefall a bit before I spread my wings of certainty? Would I start leaning forward with a step then falter a few times before letting my foot land?

It turns out I took a few half steps, which translated into a few imagined declarations to inform the others who would be impacted. I drafted email after email, explaining my new course of action and only two of the many reasons behind it. Then one morning, the timing felt okay, but what felt better were the possibilities that opened up to me as soon as I did the thing my Conscious Mind had been telling me was despicable. No, I think not. The email flowed freely, and I sent it out into the ether.

How would I have flown had I not engaged with my Unconscious? Like the thin-waisted wasp who joined me for lunch today, on the arm of my deck chair in the sun. It sat a while, each antenna constantly probing independent of the other, then flew off. It bumped into the third-from-the-top rail on my deck. It backed up and tried again, bumping again into the same pipe. The third time it flew a little higher and, apparently by luck alone, passed between two rails and out into the blue. How had it survived this long, flying blindly?