The extraordinary spiritual text; “A Course In Miracles” states in one of the early lessons;
“I am never upset for the reasons I think….I see something which is not there”.
Said another way, what is being expressed here is that we are always triggered by a false and often past based perception of a situation. We human beings are in possession of a very efficient and reliable machine called the brain. I am no neuro-scientist, but I do know from as-lived experience of life that our brains are much like computers which have a mechanism to react to certain stimuli, all of which are formed during our lives while we log experiences which can be anything from seeing a cup for the first time and being taught how to use one, through to our first experience of an emotion like a moment of rejection.
Our brains are VERY useful. This organ helps us get out of bed, get to the shower, drink a coffee (way too early each morning), and get to work. Obviously it does not end there, this computer brain recalls information and reacts to information all day which sees us get any tasks done like remembering to send our boss a file, following a routine to get to yoga class, or calls on past experience to navigate how to respond to a prickly sounding message from a friend or even how to give CPR to save a life! All of this is useful of course on a practical level, however our memories stored in neural pathways which spark off into familiar brain patterns, can also reap minor irritation in our lives through to totally painful emotional havoc.
When we find ourselves feeling those emotions which we have been taught to categorise as negative such as anger, annoyance, irritation, frustration, worry, anxiety which are all manifestations of our choice to side with fear instead of love, our brains are, in short, recalling our past experiences and triggering a response which can be painful for us to experience. The Course In Miracles teaches that in that moment when we are feeling upset of some kind towards a friend who has not be returning our calls for example, we are actually perceiving this situation through the false perception of the past where maybe we experienced rejection from somebody we loved when we were very small. In one nano second of an instant, our brain machine provides with a set of thoughts, body sensations and emotions which seem to fit the latest moment in which we find ourselves feeling upset, except none of this response is real. It is all from the past. All of it. All. Of. It.
It may feel extremely appropriate and real, particularly in those moments of high anxiety or panic, but it is not, it is a brain pattern stored from the past and it cannot hurt us. We are seeing something that is not there, a moment from the past which is not really there, dressed up the facade of an experience in our present. We can notice our reactions, catch them, and stop and breathe into a moment of silence. Silence is where peace lives.
This “catching” of our past based responses takes practice, it is a lifelong practice. The more we heighten our awareness through spiritual practice such as yoga and meditation or chanting, we literally create space in our brains to find those moments in which we can observe our own unhelpful thoughts and mental states, so that we experience love and peace, true triumphs over the past. We can see through the eyes of true perception instead of the signals sent to our brain which cause us pain based on the past.