Comfort and Consciousness

May 20th, 2013



What you do not decide for yourself, others (people or situations) will decide for you.


This statement is good a summary of the practical relationship with our unconscious self. Last week we examined this at work in some aspects of our relationships but it applies universally. Here is a quick overview of these principles:


  • If we do not act consciously in regarding to someone or something our unconscious takes the wheel. It does that for the same reason the unconscious does anything: in order to become fully conscious. Like the tide coming in, the unconscious is always trying to raise our awareness of ourselves. That is the way it evolves.
  • When we let the unconscious sides of ourselves decide we experience it as discomfort and resistance. This usually takes the form of somewhat Shakespearian dramas, tragedies and comedies – those “Why did this happen to me?!” moments. If we do not see the patterns they soon becomes those “Why does this always happen to me?!” repeating dramas.
  • The only way around these spirals of confusion is through them. Instead of seeing the world as something ‘out there’ we need to instead ask the question: “What in me is attracting and creating these patterns in my life?” This we ask, not to hurt ourselves with blame or guilt but to empower ourselves with a solution.


Growing Pains


growing pains


We have mentioned many times in these blogs how ill health can be a way our emerging self-awareness attempts to nudge us into looking into parts of our life that we have swept under the carpet. If this sounds like we actively repress information that could help us grow you would be correct. But why would we do that?


Because we are constantly trying to avoid the discomfort that so often accompanies growth. Not only the individual but the collective so often reinforces our desire for comfort. In fact the desire for comfort and respectability has been described as the ‘twin illusions’ of the bourgeoisie. Why are they illusions?


Because nothing is permanent, everything changes and ultimately we will lose everything belonging to the world of form – if not before then at least when we part company with this earthly body. As Steve Jobs ironically put it: “I don’t want to be the richest guy in the cemetery.”


We cannot ‘save’ our life, our marriage, our family, our possessions, our money – ‘our’ anything – because they were never ours in the first place. Rather than a reason for depression this can be extremely liberating. Knowing that we cannot really win or gain anything material frees us up to use and appreciate every situation to be fully present.


Of Monks and Oysters


The Rinzai sect of Japanese Buddhism had the credo: “To be uncomfortable truly is the norm.” By this they meant that to get lost in the illusion of a comfortable life meant losing the opportunity to enlighten ourselves. As a consequence of this they were a travelling order with no monastery. They never stayed in one place for long lest they began to drift into the sleep of comfortable, familiar patterns and distractions.




The humble oyster was not always bound to its comfortable niche in a rocky crevice. At the early part of their life they are able to swim – the equivalent of flying free in their world. It is only when they seek a comfortable foothold in the rock do they lose this ability. As they stagnate and allow the sandy grit to accumulate they gather material possessions: a pearl they will never enjoy.


This is why we need not avoid the discomfort of our awakening consciousness. On the contrary, the trigger of discomfort can be very valuable in showing us what areas we need to address. By doing this consciously we avoid a much more clumsy ‘push’ by our unconscious.


The Penny Drops


So often in my clinic I see the penny of awareness drop as my clients experience that ‘aha’ moment and a shift in awareness that begins their path to healing. They are aware of two things:


  1. How they have fallen out of balance with themselves
  2. That they already knew it – but had not been consciously aware of it till that moment.


Penny Drops


So next time some discomfort is nagging at the back of your mind don’t sweep it under the carpet. Bring it out front and center and ask yourself about what you are trying to make yourself aware.


The answer might surprise you. Nah, not really…some part of you already knows.


Till the death of another week yields the pearl of a new Monday.




© Jeremy Halpin all rights reserved. All images are the author’s own. As always you can subscribe to this blog by clicking the button in the bottom right hand corner of the page – or share it on the social media of your choice. If you have any wishes or questions regarding subjects to be discussed on this blog use the contact information below. Jeremy is also available for seminars, lectures and personal consultation:

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