Being in the Present
Still your consciousness
In the Eye of the Storm
An individual response to the Global Crisis
May 3, 2020
Ashok Bedi, M.D., Jungian Psychoanalyst
Robert BJ Jakala PH.D., Jungian Psychotherapist
In a storm, the safest place is in the eye of the storm. My colleague BJ and I will share our daily reflections on this centering process from an Analytical perspective, sharing from the repertoire of our personal and professional experience. BJ is a psychologist and a photographer and will pick an image of the day that catches him in this collective crisis. I will amplify it from a Jungian Analytical perspective. We hope that this may offer you a baby step on the path to your own unique response to this chaos.
Our will is a function regulated by reflection: hence it is dependent on the quality of that reflection. (Jung, 1956, p. 49)
I see two themes in this image:
There are times in life when we need to look back to continue our journey forward. This image of the fisherman, with his head turned to the left looking back on something he has passed, is such a moment. He is distracted by curiosity while his boat moves ahead. His quest continues but his mind is lingering on what is behind him. If he finds the answer to his question, he can look forward once again to focus on going forward. If his mind remains preoccupied by it, his attention will not be dedicated to the task of the day. It will sacrifice being fully present. Another possibility is that he carries what he sees with him the rest of the day, in a positive or negative sense. Then reflection has influence moving forward. Perhaps the idea is that he decides to let go of what he sees and focus forward leaving what is behind him behind.
- The birds give me a bit of puzzlement. Each of them has their own post. Are they in community/flock or just individuals? If I saw all of them on the ground or in the air spaced apart, I would consider them a flock. So, what determines community? In a playful way, I want a high school debate team to take up the issue: individuals or flock?
We learn from the past, we aim for the future and with these two foundations, we engage the present. Past is wisdom of Do’s and Don’ts, future is the vision of our Destiny, present is the intensity with which we engage the moment in a strategic manner that learns from the past but does not linger on it beyond its lesson and directs all its energies to honor the present moment aligned with future trajectory. Those who have been wounded, traumatized on pampered in the past can get stuck in the pain or pleasure experienced in the past as a primary determinant of their trajectory. This becomes a positive or a negative Complex or lens with which we look at ourselves, others, the future. This keep us locked in a very narrow bandwidth of possibilities, not looking outside of the box of our default mode established by our Complexes – i.e. our Hang-ups and personality quirks. This compromises the present and sabotages the future, since we are caught in the Implicit memory of our life experiences.
Things that people don’t purposely try to remember are stored in implicit memory. This kind of memory is both unconscious and unintentional. Implicit memory is also sometimes referred to as nondeclarative memory since you are not able to consciously bring it into awareness.
Where explicit memories are conscious and can be verbally explained, implicit memories are usually non-conscious and not verbally articulated. Implicit memories are often procedural and focused on the step-by-step processes that must be performed in order to complete a task.
It takes self-reflection to untangle the Karmic web of our Implicit memories to perceive the present moment without the past Implicit filters. When we honor the present moment AS IS, without past filters or even future distractions, we are truly present to the sacredness of the present. Such a state is the foundation of Mindfulness where we meet the Divine, the Brahman in the moment. This comes about when we Still our consciousness. This stillness of our Consciousness or Citta is the essence of the Yoga or yoking with the Spirit and is the central prescription of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, a five thousand years old Indian primer on the art and science of Yoga. There are neurochemical and neurocircuitry change in such a brain that is not distractible, the Alpha Habituation state, when we are not distracted beyond what is essential to deal with the present moment. Such a brain is laser focused to engage the present.
Yogas Citta Vritti Nirodhah
Yogah (Yoking with the Sacred, Brahman, Spirit)
Nirodhah (restraint from monkey mind turbulence or Stillness)
Being is the present is the shortest path to the Divine. The Brahman or the Spirit manifests most palpably in the NOW. Here are some reflections on Being in the Present –
the past seduces and entices us powerfully because it is the only sure thing in our life, we have already lived the past. It is finite, completed, known. The future is uncertain, unlimited. It is an abyss into which we peer without seeing its contours. The future is yet to be experienced. The only certainty about the future is death and taxes. The future may hold promise and potential, it is nevertheless a mere possibility and at best a probability.
Present is a glorious-or terrible – experience, that is constantly receding into the past as we rush toward the inscrutable abyss called the future. The past may be enchanting, romantic, nostalgic, sad, or terrifying, but we have lived through it and believe we have some knowledge of. The past is one of the faces of Maya, relative reality now experienced through the filter memory.
Some Points to Ponder:
- When has reflection on the past been beneficial?
- How has your past influenced your moving forward?
- How is your will regulated by the pandemic?
- When you consider the pandemic, do you see yourself more as a separate individual or more in community?
- As you cope with the pandemic, do you ponder on the similar crisis in the past?
- What does your past experience contribute to the present management of this crisis?
- Are you fully present to your responsibilities in managing the pandemic as it impacts you, your family and your community or are you distracted by the past in ways that either makes your complacent or paralyzed in fear?
- Are you able to let go of the past experiences of trauma and crisis in your life and attend to the present based on the best information you have now and your assessment of your personal best resources to adapt to it?
Photo taken in Kerala, India
Bedi, A. (2000). Path to the soul. York Beach, ME: S. Weiser., pages 208-209
Bedi, A. (2013). Crossing the healing zone : from illness to wellness. Lake Worth, FL, Newburyport, MA: Ibis Press, a division of Nicolas-Hays, Inc.,Lake Worth ,Distributed to the trade by Red Wheel/Weiser, pages 129-141
Jung, C. G. (1956). Two essays on analytical psychology: Meridian Books.
Satchidanada, S. S. (1978). The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. Buckingham, Virginia: Integral Yoga Publications, page 3
© Ashok Bedi, M.D. and Robert BJ Jakala, PH.D.