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(This excerpt is by the book's co-author, Christina Reeves.)
By the time we are adults, we have so much writing on our walls and we have so many old wounds from unresolved experiences that many of our responses are automatically negative. They perpetuate events that are not the best outcome and instead, they serve only to reinforce our initial learning from a time long ago. We get caught in a negative emotional event cycle often based on long forgotten past memories.
Some of these reactions continue to trigger negative interactions and might include judgment of self or others, feelings of being the victim, comparing our self to others, as well as a perception that we are not all equal, and so many more.
Because of the speed and bandwidth of the subconscious mind, the mind gets hijacked and once the mind is hijacked, it is running with these negative cycles of our earlier programming and we find that these past negative events create negative emotional reactions. They become more and more frequent until the originating event is healed.
As we delve into what it means to live with patterns, we need look no further than the story of our own lives unfolding. Often there is constant tension, as we are continuously creating patterns to make sense of our lives as we become aware of our habitual patterns. The goal is not to eliminate the tension. No, in fact that is impossible because we are always forming, sustaining, and breaking down patterns.
We are always being born again, living and dying in some form. Actually, the tension is helpful in revealing the patterns and learning how to hold onto those which sustain life, while transforming those that no longer serve us.
So much of living a full and happy life is about knowing ourselves. And both the forming and the breaking of patterns is a lifelong learning practice. The path to higher levels of understanding who we are requires us to discern the patterns that are shaping our lives. Discovering which ones will sustain us, and which ones no longer benefit us, as well as which ones we might want to create, are important to understand.
Discerning Our Healthy Patterns
Upon examining the nature of our patterns, we need to discern the healthy ones—those that we practice mindfully from the unhealthy ones of our habitual routines. What we can do is soften our habitual routines back into mindful and meaningful practices. The rigid, sharp-edged ones need to be softened or broken so our hearts can be at peace.
This softening and breaking of patterns is not about eliminating our humanness and it’s not about eliminating our emotions, wants, and desires. It is about curbing the stubborn ways we hurt and disrespect ourselves and others. So often we go looking for ourselves where we are not.
Being Authentically Yourself
It is not helpful to criticize ourselves, or to label our patterns as good or bad, and then try to rid ourselves of them. The aim is not to make ourselves pure and one-sided in living our lives, but it is to be authentically our self, learning what our strengths and weaknesses are. It’s about learning how to live in the rhythm of being human and to celebrate ourselves and others as the magical imperfect individuals that we are.
Self-reflection and self-realization are tools we can use to cleanse and become our transparent self—the one who feels both joy and pain and the one that feels everything that moves us through life. We practice self-realization because the self is the only way through which we can experience life and our place in the world.
What actually saves us from our self and our patterns is the power of our own honest gaze. We all get triggered by various experiences, and we can process these experiences from our thinking mind through a compass we call Awareness. We cannot will these disturbing emotions away. Instead, we must learn to accept them and process them by living through them from our heart as a way of living mindfully in peace.
Emotional Intelligence is another tool we can use and it is something we can learn to do with practice. Struggling with our feelings and emotions by applying logic and reason will not be helpful once the mind has been hijacked. From the point of noticing the trigger, and before the emotions become overwhelming, we have only a few seconds to step into heart Awareness.
Another interesting thing happens once the mind has been hijacked. All the systems of the body move into action releasing chemicals to support us while in an overwhelmed state. This is why it is not helpful to continue trying to communicate while we are overwhelmed or to communicate with someone who is already overwhelmed.
The helpful information comes from the conscious mind. Once the mind has been hijacked, we are locked into our old patterns from the subconscious mind until we come out of the state of being overwhelmed. To override this internal struggle, we need to move into Awareness and process the experience and our emotions from the heart.
The Brain in the Heart
In recent years, scientists have discovered that the heart has its own independent nervous system; a complex system referred to as “the brain in the heart.” This system receives and relays information back to the brain in the head, creating a two-way communication between the heart and the brain.
There is another interesting read on this topic, which is The Inner Voice of Love, by Henri Nouwen. He writes,
"The great challenge is living your wounds through instead of thinking them through. It is better to cry than to worry, better to feel your wounds deeply than to understand them, better to let them enter your silence than to talk about them. The choice we all face constantly is whether we are taking our hurts to our head or to our heart. In our head, we can analyze them, find their causes and consequences, and coin words to speak and write about them. But no final healing is likely to come from that source. We need to feel our emotions fully; let our wounds go down into our heart. Then allow ourself to live them thoroughly and we will discover that they will not destroy us. Our heart is greater than our wounds."
Life Is Role Playing
The story has been written and now we need to study the script and do the work of endless rehearsals when our patterns keep revealing themselves to us, learning the lessons we came here to learn. Patterns are like this—until the lesson is learned, it will automatically repeat itself, often without our even knowing.
Every day we are offered many chances to practice seeing our patterns simply by being in relationship to the many forms of life that feed us, that mirror us, and connect us. As with many things that matter in life, we must know ourselves well and we must face life, despite the countless distractions, obstacles and our patterns, as life is our journey.
We have to let go of the mind’s need to stay in control of our pain and trust in the healing power of our heart. Going to our heart with our wounds or any incomplete experiences we may have is not easy. We must take our questions to the heart. In our discovery process, for example, we want to know, “Why was I wounded? When? How? By whom?” The answers to these questions will come from the mind and although they may help us to understand ourselves better, at best, they only offer us a little distance from our pain.
True healing happens as we continue our inner work of seeing and transforming our patterns. With humility and awe, we find ourselves living a more curious journey—perhaps even a journey back to innocence, back to the beginning. The closer we get to the truth and beauty of who we are, the more authentic and beautiful we become.
As we move through the distractions and obstacles, reconfiguring our habitual patterns, we become clear vessels and it becomes easier to merge with the rhythm of all that is. It is here where we discover some mysterious laws of inner alchemy. The closer we get to the light, the more fully we become the light. It is in this moment we find out once and for all who we really are.
©2018 by Christina Reeves and Dimitrios Spanos.
Reprinted with permission. All Rights Reserved.
The Mind is the Map: Awareness is the Compass, and Emotional Intelligence is the Key to Living Mindfully from the Heart
by Christina Reeves and Dimitrios Spanos
In an enjoyable dialog format, the authors guide us to higher levels of understanding who we are. The book is enhanced by beautifully designed graphics illustrating the topics discussed. At the end of each chapter is a self-help section with tips and tools for self-discovery, self-reflection, journaling and meditation that enable readers to understand the workings of their mind and emotions. These questions help identify our patterns and provide a pathway to resolve depression, anxiety, stress and unproductive habits while simultaneously building self-esteem and confidence. For business and industry leaders, the ideas and processes within these pages will help you achieve top performance capacity, leading to business success as well as personal success.
About the Authors
Christina Reeves is a Holistic Life Coach and Energy Psychologist. She is also an accomplished author, speaker, and facilitator, hosting workshops, seminars and lectures in North America and Internationally. Over the past fifteen years she has developed her own programs for assisting others in the process of self-discovery and personal transformation. Working from her clinic and training facility, she continues to share her methodologies and techniques mentoring and supporting others to take responsibility in reaching their full potential while guiding them towards enjoying a joyful and happy life. For more info visit https://themindisthemap.com/
Dimitrios Spanos, CEQP, was born in Athens, Greece and has lived in New York for the past 45 years. With Christina Reeves, he co-founded the Eudaimonia Center, a learning center for offering transformational change, facilitating core healing and personal development, while empowering others to live extraordinary, healthy and productive lives. He is a Certified Practitioner of Six Seconds EQ -- the largest global organization focused on the growth and research of emotional intelligence (EQ). Certified in Heart Initiation, he works with Heart Interiority and Alignment and methods of sustaining heart-consciousness.