Have you ever watched your own mind racing between thinking and feeling? Usually, just before it triggers something about which you have a long-term feeling of unease?
We all do this. Our habitual reactions are based upon pre-formed responses, which, themselves, may be constructed from older building blocks of like and dislike going all the way back to our earliest childhood… These may be old, but they still skew our behaviour.
Many people – looking at their own lives – say that feelings are faster than thought, so thought isn’t involved in the experience. There is some evidence for ‘feelings’ being a faster response, but I maintain that there’s a tiny gap where conscious and ‘deliberated’ thought can enter the process of feeling a certain way. And it does so, right up front – if we let it.
None of this implies that thoughts are superior to feelings. Feelings are the key to the release of deep energies, energies that can be used for good or negative work. Thoughts are there to allow us to do real time ‘what ifs’, amongst other things. Used together, as they were meant to be, they are a dynamic combination.
This tiny space between thought and feeling is like one of those decision boxes in a logical flowchart; and it may just be that its presence is a deep part of our spiritual potential.
Say we have noticed, with surprise, that we have something in common with someone we regard as our ‘enemy’. We may harbour a strong dislike for this person. Whenever we come across them or their actions, we find ourselves getting tense and invoking an almost prepared script that rattles out the justification of our dislike.
Occasionally, we may be in a non-antagonistic situation where this disliked figure is seen responding to another and revealing part of their past. In a situation like this, I once found myself examining the previously unknown conditions of this foe’s past. For the first time, I could see how and why I reminded him of the adversity he had to face as a younger man.
Armed with this – and with a mysterious sense of heightened inner awareness, as though the moment were listening to itself – I said something supportive about him, giving reasons as to how a theoretical person might have developed aggression from that moment.
His eyes widened and he looked at me ‘in a new light’. I made sure we carried on the discussion, socially, after the encounter, in order to give this new condition between us chance to mature and stabilise.
We’ve been good friends, since…. To my astonishment.
Shortly after this turn-around, he and I were at a gathering of people, but far apart. At one point, I heard him speaking – and watched as my older reactions to his voice took over my responses. Knowing it would be instructive, I ‘hovered’ over my own triggered reactions and watched them play out. Assuming the role of a silent witness in my own mind. I saw, again, how decades of self-conditioning had formed something hard and ‘solid’, like an entire inner routine that played itself out when switched on by his presence.
And I could see how much energy was tied up in the creation of that construct… and keeping it alive.
As this continued, I substituted my new understanding of the man – now friend – and watched how my entire inner state changed; becoming ‘plastic’ instead of solid. This plastic mental and emotional state allowed me to take something new from the moment, something real, instead of the locked up and frozen negative of the past.
There was nothing special about me in that situation. Everyone has the capability. We just need to overcome that habitual ‘don’t want to go there’ barrier.
If we step back and look at our lives, honestly and in the light of such a moment, we see that a high proportion of what we do… and therefore are, is habitual. Even worse, it’s made up of frozen energies from our past that lock us into responses we have outgrown. This ‘self’ is lesser than we can be. Each of the elements of this habitual creature can be examined in the manner of my example, above. When we do this, we find patterns – entire patterns that have, literally, robbed us of ‘being there’ in the passing now.
Winter is a good time to reflect, and to review how we are and how much of that is down to how we react to things. Many aspects of nature are ‘frozen’ at this time of year, and we can use this to align with that which is in a similar state within us.
This allows us to begin the ‘spring-cleaning’ long before the renewing energy of nature’s cycle. Having derived and visualised such targets for positive treatment, the incoming spring tide of energy will flow straight into the negative and locked conditions – melting them… and showing us the boulders left behind, now devoid of anything fearful.
The ancients might have called it inner Alchemy. But we can think of it as using the wings of the bird of reason and emotion.
©Stephen Tanham 2022
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.