For the first 18 years of my life, things were simple: I did what I was told. I was seen and not heard, followed instructions, picked up and followed the family’s way of doing things. That was that: nice and easy. I was lucky, there were no major traumas, no uncertainties. Friends, family and neighbours were supportive and followed the same social codes. Each day and week had its timetable, each month and years its human cycles, daily routine interspersed with annual celebrations or events: national holidays, family birthdays. Just stick to the calendar, do the right thing at the right time and life was easy; simple. This photos shows my family Christmas of 1970, but the image would have been petty much the same for many years either side of it.
To a Zen practitioner or Taoist and to all other (non-human) creatures, life is simple. They live in the moment; are wholly present in the here and now and through being totally at one with life, they know what they need to and respond accordingly. They are totally in the flow of all the natural rhythms of life, always, simply and naturally, aware of their environment, their context and innermost needs and able to respond to each situation with grace and awareness: nice and easily.
Conscious Evolution is the process of changing from the first to the second mode of being. To evolve consciously means committing to the on-going, personal, shift in the mode of consciousness that underlies our life and how we live it. That process and related experiences can be far from easy, simple or nice.
Unless we’ve been brought up to follow the Zen or Tao path, the chances are that this natural mode of consciousness is alien to us; often totally alien to us. Our minds will be full of all the rules of society, expectations, beliefs and related sub-conscious conditioning on which we base such much of our life’s decisions and actions. During the process of Conscious Evolution we become aware of all this sub-conscious ‘stuff’, our mental blocks and limiting beliefs and so on. Many of these, set in our minds since infancy, are almost hard wired. Old habits die hard. Even if we’re keen to change and put the effort in, this conditioning will resist. And it’s not just our minds that will cling to what they’re familiar with. Many of our habitual reactions seem to be held in our bodies. In our 2nd brain, for example, our gut. These memories will keep playing, like a CD in our very being: if that track isn’t in harmony with our higher intent to grow and evolve, then the result is dissonance, discomfort . .. and clear indicators that we have a far from easy, simple or nice, job on our hands.
As I undo my old ways of thinking, for example, I’ve noticed this: one day I may make a mental breakthrough. Something clicks: my mind, in some small, specific area ‘gets it’ and a quantum leap in understanding is made. I’m able to commit to the Taoist way, immerse in the now and start to enjoy a simple, easy, being. Except that bits of me still haven’t caught up. Some body memories seem to lag behind the mental acceptance, higher-level realisation and conscious shifts. I particularly notice it in my gut. In-between the mind ‘coming around’ and feeling physically at peace, I’ll often have to endure quite a few days of IBS symptoms: bloatedness and considerable discomfort. I’ve yet to find any way of avoiding or speeding up the process. I guess it takes more time and effort to change things at the denser physical level rather than at the lighter, energetic one. All we can do is give ourselves the time and space to allow this realignment to take place: be kind and gentle, stay as connected as possible as we heal away the past and allow the natural us to (re)emerge: nice and easy.