2020 has been a year of awakening for some...and I would say it's a small number today that is growing. What do I mean by being awakened? You start to realize there is more to life than what you perceive. And we are all impacted by shifts in our collective consciousness.
Carl Jung first brought this concept of "collective consciousness" to light...an innate set of rules, behaviors and ways of thinking that we are born with. It's not something we learn, it's something every human is ingrained with since inception. As I've been on my own journey this year, I have learned so much about how collective fear, anxiety and hate can spread like wildfire across the world. It got me wondering, what if we had that same level of collective energy around peace, gratitude and love? How different would our world be?
In his book, "A New Earth", Ekhart Tolle talks a lot about ego mind. He highlights this concept that there is a direct correlation to your state of consciousness and external reality. "When you are in the grip of a mind-set such as "war", your perceptions become extremely selective as well as distorted." (Tolle, pg. 76). Your perceptions become distorted. He further says that the ego is a collective dysfunction...the "insanity of the human mind". Huh. Collective dysfunction...where all ego minds are on edge and creating their own ways of responding to situations. Sound familiar?
In continuing my study of the ancient yogic method of relaxation sleep, called Yoga Nidra, we learn a lot about the brain and the impact our thoughts have on our ability to see the world as it is, not as what we think it is. This concept of distortion arises from the fact that we all have an ego mind. And it's not a bad thing. Without it, we would have no sense of self or "I". Where we've lost our way is by allowing the ego mind to dictate what we think, how we feel and what we interpret the world around us to be. Our perceptions become "extremely selective and distorted". When the ego mind is in control...we "will see only what you want to see and then misinterpret it." (Tolle, 76). What if you could start to see your thoughts as a voice...that's all it is a voice...you are not obligated to listen to it...how different would your way of thinking be (Desai, 114)?
How do you do that? You start the practice of Dis-Identification. You start to see your thoughts as images or fragments of things that happened in the past...you have created a reaction to life and to different moments in your life...which then repeat themselves over and over again when you are faced with a similar situation. Your mind believes the right response is how it's responded before, rather than sitting with the experience and allowing yourself to Dis-Identify with what you remember. You become present in the moment. It helps us to "witness and watch rather than engage with the impulses and thoughts of the mind." (Desai, 114).
Take for example...2020. When you think of this past year, what are the thoughts that come up for you? Are they joyous and happy? Or are they fearful and anxious? We naturally go to the most negative thought we can find...and when our ego mind is in control, it allows us to take a journey down a rabbit hole. Waking you up in the middle of the night remembering all the things you haven't thought of in 10 years and the doom and gloom of what could happen if 2020 continues to be as it is. You can waste hours thinking and spiraling. YOUR ENERGY FOLLOWS YOUR ATTENTION.
What if we got our ego mind to quiet...allowing the present moment to exist...and letting go of the past or worrying about the future? What if you could find the happy thoughts instead of the anxious ones? What if we, as a collective society, could put our energy towards support and love for others rather than divisive schemes and angry words?
"In yoga we are taught to follow the path of knowledge, where we experience the pain, the sorrow, the agony and TRANSCEND it." (Saraswati, 34). To calm the ego mind doesn't mean we don't acknowledge pain, suffering, fear...fill in the blank. It means we give it space to exist, and then we let it go. We stop identifying with what we feel as a reflection of who we are and start identifying with the spiritual being that we are. We are collective energy...collective consciousness. We are all connected by something much bigger than life. And it's our role while we are here to find a way to collectively make this life better.
So...I've been thinking a lot about Collective Consciousness and how I am directly feeding into the collective energy of the world. Will you join me in shifting our story from one of anger, fear and anxiety to one of love, peace and gratitude? If we could all take moments out of our day to find the good in the world to focus on, maybe, just maybe, we can see a bigger shift happen...that brings us closer together and helps us find our way home.
Desai, Kamini. "Yoga Nidra. The Art of Transformational Sleep." Lotus Press. 2017. Pages 112-115.
Tolle, Ekhart. "A New Earth. Awakening to Your Life's Purpose." Plume Book. 2005. Pages75-77.
Saraswati, Swami Satyananda. "Yoga Nidra." Bihar School of Yoga. 1998. Pages 33-35.