Question: I have been a student of self-help and other personal development genres for over 30 years. I have always had a conflict between using unconscious processes (hypnosis, etc.) vs. conscious awareness processes to facilitate change. Which is the proper avenue? Is there an exercise or technique you could suggest to help me stay aware of myself in the present moment?
Answer: It’s madness to surrender your mind to what anyone would have you believe is best for you, let alone grant someone, some program unrestricted access into the mind’s sensitive matrix. But, as always, everything depends on what one really wants from life. If it’s freedom you seek, a love without the painful presence of vacillating and contradictory opposites, a relationship with the compassionate Intelligence behind your own existence, then… without exception, all so-called “programs” designed to act upon and facilitate changes in one’s sub-consciousness are, at best, hopelessly incomplete; at the worst, they are potentially dangerous in ways too many to explain here.
But, consider the following: How can some “program” (regardless how sophisticated) undo the negative effects of yet another program… when the secret and true source of our pain, conflict, and limitation in life is as follows: we have been made an unwitting captive of our own unconscious nature that, in turn, has literally imprisoned itself (in an infinite number of programs) in the first place. Not to mention the unspoken assumption that the minds behind the creation of these so-called self-empowering programs are conscious ones… which they are not. How can one know whether this assertion is true or not? Freedom, love, compassion, peace, contentment are not the expression of a program; these are living and vibrant states of consciousness that can no more be programmed than a star can be commanded to shine because one wills it so. A computer has a program, a train runs on a schedule; the human mind is intended to be a reflection of creation itself, an ever-changing expression of infinite possibilities that never unfold in a knowable way.
As for how to stay more present to yourself, here’s the main idea: true exercises, etc. can be valuable when applied accurately. However, no matter how initially stimulating these exercise may be, it is our tendency to become bored with them and want something new again. This cycle can become a prison greater than the one a person hopes to escape through such regimes. What we need most of all isn’t some new way to stay awake, but a greater need itself (to be present to ourselves). This new and heightened need is the (spiritually) natural result of seeing what happens to us when we fall asleep, when we aren’t attentive to life. Start there… and stay there: the more you are willing to watch yourself, the greater grows your need to be watchful — along with the commensurate power required — to see what is necessary, true, and kind for yourself and all involved.