100% Aware All The Time? Yeah Right!

What a crowded parking lot can teach about the difficulties of present moment awareness

100% Aware All The Time? Yeah Right!

100% Aware All The Time? Yeah Right! 6016 4016 Christina Lopes

I was driving around slowly in a crowded parking lot, looking for an open space. It was a beautiful summer day and I was happy, singing along with the radio. I came up to a car with his right blinker flashing. So I slowly pulled ahead of him and continued my 10 mph procession down the lot.

I saw a guy pulling out ahead, to my left.

“Yay! Perfect timing!”

As he pulled out, I parked in his place and turned the engine off. But as soon as I opened the door, I heard aggressive honking coming from behind. At first, I didn’t think it was for me but as I closed my door and clicked the lock button, I saw an older man get out of a car and head briskly in my direction. He started yelling before he even reached me.

“I was waiting for that spot!”

I was confused. It was the same guy I had passed moments earlier, on the other end of the lot.

“You were? Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize…”

He didn’t let me finished that sentence.

“Take your car out of that spot right now or I’ll blow your tires!”

He was seething. And I was completely caught off guard by this sudden and aggressive interaction.

Then…my mind was pulled into the drama very quickly.

You see: I’ve always been rather anti-authoritarian. I don’t like to take orders — especially from men. I’m not sure where this wound comes from. But it’s there. It’s been lodged in my subconscious mind for as long as I can remember.

I felt my body tighten and anger started to build up in my stomach. I looked over the angry man’s shoulder and saw his car. He was driving a top of the line Mercedes. My mind immediately piled on more thoughts:

“Entitled pr*ck!”

But I didn’t outwardly do or say anything. I remained motionless for a few seconds, trying to stay fully present. I realized a wound of mine had been poked and was using the power of my consciousness to remain the observer of thought — without getting caught up in whatever the mind was thinking.

But the wound is deep. And Mercedes Guy kept poking.

“Are you taking this car out or not?”

My mind immediately answered:

“No freaking way you’re moving! If he had asked nicely, sure. But since he’s rude, you should teach him a lesson.”

I didn’t voice that thought though. I just remained motionless, starring at the guy as he threw his aggressive energy my way. He seemed bothered by my lack of reaction.

“Well? Are you taking the car out or not?”

I took a deep breath and stepped away from him. He stared at me, looking bewildered by my demeanor.

My mind continued to scream at me.

“Do not move this car! Teach him a lesson!”

But somehow, the words that actually came out of my mouth were:

“Sure, I’ll park somewhere else. No problem.”

For the rest of the day, my mind was relentless.

“I can’t believe you moved the car! Why did you do that?”

I was absolutely amazed at how much mental commotion that single incident caused in me. And as I sat down for my nightly meditation, I was keenly aware of how deep my subconscious pattern/wound around men and authority was. How did I know this?

If you want to know how deep your wounds are, simply notice how quickly your internal environment changes when they are poked.

Notice the profound change in my internal state during this episode with Mercedes Guy. One minute I was happy, singing with my radio tunes and enjoying the day. The next minute, I was angry.

How is that possible? How did my internal environment change that quickly? Because my subconscious pattern was deep. If it weren’t, I would not have felt anger or irritation toward the screaming man.

This reminded me of a favorite passage from the book Rediscovering Life: Awaken To Reality, by spiritual teacher Anthony de Mello. In it, De Mello talks about human “programming,” or subconscious patterns, as I call them.

De Mello was known for being a direct and sometimes blunt teacher. But his words go right to the point:

There are never any difficulties in relating to people. There are only difficulties in your programming. How come you’re getting upset?

You ask, “It’s possible to live with a guy who’s losing his temper every day and not get upset?”

Yes. Yes, very much so, to not be upset.

You ask, “When somebody insults you, you’re not getting upset?”

That’s right.

“Why not? Why not be upset when someone insults you?”

I mean, when the letter isn’t received, it’s sent back to the person who wrote it. You don’t receive it, it goes back. You know why you got insulted or why you were upset by the insult? Because you took it, that’s why. Silly, why did you take it?

“You mean that it’s possible not to take it?”

You mean, you call this being human — living like a little monkey? Anyone pulls a little string and you jump?

I’ll tell you what it means to be human. You know what it means to be human? It’s something like this: A guy buys a newspaper every day from a newspaper vendor. The newspaper vendor is always rude to him.

So a friend of his says, “Why do you buy your paper from this guy? He’s always rude to you. Why don’t you buy it from someone else just next door?”

Says the guy, “Why should the vendor decide where I buy my newspaper? Why should he have the power to decide that?”

Now, you’re talking about a human being. Otherwise, you’re talking about monkeys. You could control them; twist their tail a little and they act in predictable ways. Programming. Programming.

So, it isn’t the person who has upset you. It isn’t you who have upset yourself. It’s your programming. All you have to do is understand this and distance yourself from it, understand it. You want to do something about that programming? If you can, fine. Is it necessary? No. If you’re understanding it, you know that it comes from the programming, not from you, not from them. It’ll take care of itself, it really will.

You’ll be amazed that, after a few months, things that before would have made you sick with anxiety, or with suffering, or with whatever, you can take in your stride with perfect peace. You’re quite relaxed about it. That’s the spiritual life. That’s dying to yourself — dropping that programming. You drop it by understanding it for what it is. Call it by its name.

Drop it. Distance yourself from the programming. Exactly. I hadn’t dropped my taking-orders-from-men program. And once I re-read this passage, I knew it.

It dawned on me that this was my second episode with an angry man in the course of a year (I wrote about the 1st one here). Coincidence? I think not. Life was showing me my wounds.

Life was also giving me the opportunity to learn and evolve. And what were the lessons from this intense confrontation?

LESSON 1

It can be incredibly difficult to remain present 100% of the time.

The truth is, I was about a fraction of a second away from flipping Mercedes Guy off and leaving my car there. My mind was even planning out what to do if he blew my tires.

Intense awareness can come naturally to some — like the great spiritual masters — but I truly believe that for the rest of us mortals, “presence” takes more work.

It was tremendously difficult for me to remain separated from the mental chatter going on under my skull. And it took some deliberate actions — which I will detail below — for me to hold the “watchers” view.

LESSON 2

Life always mirrors your wounds back to you.

And in mirroring them, it whispers:

“Do you want to keep these wounds or let them heal?”

Or, as Anthony de Mello would probably say:

“Do you want to keep behaving like a monkey?”

These questions are an invitation to change something in our internal environment that is not in accordance with our infinite consciousness. And life will keep mirroring your wounds until you eventually see them.

I had a deep wound around men and authority. So life sent me an event with an angry man. I was confronted by him and learned some valuable lessons. But I overlooked the deep wound.

So a year later, life sent me another angry man.

The whole anti-authoritarian wound is part of my “program.” And it’s so deep that I allowed my internal world to be rattled by it. I allowed my happiness and peace to be disturbed by anger and judgment.

And this second incident with an angry man finally opened my eyes to this wound.

And I finally answered life’s question:

“Nope…I don’t want to keep the wound. I wish to let it go now.”

I got to these big picture lessons later on, with time and introspection. But in the heat of the moment, no one’s thinking about the “big picture.” When something intense happens in our external environment, it helps to have some “awareness training.” Sort of like CPR or First Aid training.

What actionable steps can you take when confronted by an intense situation that rattles your internal environment?

Deliberate Actions To Help You Stay Present…No Matter What.

1.

Breathe

Awareness of breath is absolutely key to remaining present — especially when confronted by intense, angry energy. If you find yourself in an intense situation, take a deep, conscious breath immediately.

You’ll be amazed at just how effective conscious breathing can be in deflating the power of the mind or ego.

The ego will try very hard to pull your awareness into its drama. By focusing your consciousness on your lungs, you keep yourself fully present and allow for some separation to occur between the real YOU — the observer of thought — and all the mental chatter going on in your brain (aka, the false YOU).

2.

Hold the observer’s view

In other words: watch what your mind thinks. Once you breathe and put some initial distance between YOU and your mind, now it’s time to hold that distance consciously.

The more distance you put between YOU and the ego, the less likely you will be to react to the situation unfolding in front of you.

3.

Put some physical space between yourself and the situation unfolding

As weird as this may seem to the person confronting you (as it was for Mercedes Guy), step away from the altercation altogether. Literally walk away. You can say:

“Excuse me for a second but I need to think this over”

Or simply walk away for a minute.

Putting physical space between you and the situation unfolding is important because it allows more time for you to center yourself before responding. But it also does something else that is unseen:

You remove yourself energetically from the vibes that are literally attacking you.

The truth is, we are not only affected by the words that others say. We are equally affected by their energy. We know someone is angry at us before they even open their mouths, right? And how do we know that?

Because we can sense energy even if we cannot explain how we do it.

The moment you physically walk away from the situation, you can untangle yourself from the energy thrown at you. Once you center your energy and feel more at peace, then return to the situation if you must.

4.

Recognize immediately that a wound in you has been triggered

If you can see the wound as soon as it’s poked, you’ll be a lot less likely to react to the situation. Awareness is like light that illuminates the dark.

This is actually quite simple to do. As I described above, you can be 100% certain that a wound has been poked when:

Your internal environment is rattled.

5.

Let the wound go

When your wounds are poked, when your internal environment is rattled…

Just let go.

There’s no better way for me to explain this. Simply let go of the ball and chain that has been shackling you. Because that’s exactly what a wound or “program” is:

A ball and chain that holds you back.

Think about it: do you really want to be held hostage by a subconscious pattern that can throw you off your peaceful center at any time?

If not, then just let go of the pattern when it is triggered. Leave the triggering part up to life. Life always brings you what you need in order to evolve. That means you can be certain your wounds will be poked sooner or later.

Life will simply send you a Mercedes Guy. And in that moment, you can let the wound go.

And last but not least:

Express gratitude to life when she sends you difficult situations.

Because at the end of the day, you have the opportunity to heal another wound.

In sending us difficult or intense experiences, life is helping us evolve.

And isn’t that miraculous?

NOW OVER TO YOU!

If you enjoyed this post, please share it on social media with your friends!

To submit a question for our weekly videos, add it below in the comments, with the hashtag #askchristina.

With deep love and gratitude;

signature - Christina Lopes

*  This post was originally published on Medium. Edited.

awareness

CHRISTINA LOPES, DPT, MPH

I’m a life coach, healer, spiritual teacher, and former clinician. My life’s work is to help you open your incredible heart, heal your past, and live with joy and purpose. Aside from my weekly video content, I also work 1-on-1 with people who need private individual guidance. If this is you, the fastest way to get help is to book a single session with me.

32 Comments
  • Thank you!!!!!

  • Thank you so much! I have similar programming and also don’t recall how it developed! I get triggered too- and this was really helpful! I can see it would give me the ability to talk about my position, that in my view he was not evidently waiting for the parking space and ask him why he thought he was so clearly waiting. In fact many in the rush of anger cant answer questions in the heat of rage and become unable to answer. Their programming expects equal anger or total submission! So when neither outcome occurs they lose the heat of their rage!

    I again thank you so much!

  • Love this article!
    After read it I realized that I have a lot wounds.. I guess.. And life has being showing to me a lot of times.. but instead of let them go, i embrace them more and more ..

    Well from now on, I will start trying such “exercise”

    Thanks a lot Christina, for all of your helpful and beautiful posts and thanks for your work

    With very warm gratitude
    Isabel Farola

  • Thank you so much Christina. Your lesson shared came in perfect alignment with what I needed most. I have had this independent fighter in me that I referred to as my ‘Joan of Arc’ ego. I would go to ‘war’ for no purpose other than to serve my personal anger and I would try to justify it. I would try to verify the purpose of my anger as if it were servicing a moral standing or sense of right and wrong but what I was really doing was defending only my ego and self. I really needed your article to understand how to practice and step away from that. I am so grateful for all you do, all that you share, and all that you teach. Rage is never effective but compassion will always win in bringing peace to the battle of self. Again, thank you for this lesson and tools to practice with.

  • Very true, thanks for sharing, Christina 🙏❤️🙏

  • Strange timing! A bit a go this creepy man in my neighborhood followed me to my house to tell me I was speeding (he threatened to call the police and I replied: Go ahead, I hope you enjoy yourself lol) and it really bothered me! I’m still bothered actually (I share your feelings about men telling me what to do). I saw him yesterday driving past me and he was wagging his finger at me and I flipped him the bird lol.

  • Yes, I know about situations like this one. I’ve been in few of them and my inner reaction was panic. If somebody would yell at me in past, inside I would shrink…become small, smaller…wanted to disappear.
    But now, when I meet people like that, I immediately tell to my self: ” totally unconscious negative energy have just tried to take me over and succeeded for a few moment but I’m back again”

    I would also move my car if he would yell at me and threaten to do something if I’ll not do it.
    I believe that totally unconscious people like him can not learn lesson on the way that you comfort him. That’s will just make him even more angry. I think that the best is to stay calm, move car calmly and next moment not to think about him or that event.
    I think that’s the best way.
    He was yelling, that triggered reaction in us, it’s a feeling of him not having respect for us, treat us like an obstacle on his way.
    Ok, that’s his level (very low, but no help for people like that) let’s just move on without giving one more second of out time/energy/thoughts to him.

    Why it triggers reaction in us?
    Maybe we had, in our life, very arrogant and rude male figure and people like that remind us about them. I think that it’s almost impossible not to react inside when somebody is yelling at us like that, suddenly, ” out of the blue”.

  • I just wanted to tell you that I am so very proud of you for taking “the high road” in that situation!😉 I think I would’ve reacted/acted on that same immediate impulse that you had shared and given him the “one finger salute.”

  • Babatunde Kolawole June 26, 2019 at 11:47 pm

    Good one from my teacher. More wins more wisdom…

  • The timing of your article could not be more appropriate.

    I had a difficult situation with a family, the only thing I was aware of was how hurt I was. In this particular incident point 3 and point 5 was practically impossible. Could you talk a little more about how can one navigate the intense (toxic) energy that hits you when you are unprepared particularly from a loved one? And how does one let go, this is the hardest thing to do – for me letting go is where it would not affect or influence my next interaction with the person or the love I have for that person but the wallowing in self pity/ what did I do to deserve this/ they always treat me this way mindset gets in the way of letting go.

    Thank you for your insight through your various articles and YT videos, I have only recently encountered your work and the authenticity comes through,

    • Head over to my YT channel, where you’ll see a video called “How to Let Go Of the past for Good”. That should help with your questions. 🙂

  • Yes. I am not present. That’s true. The next morning after reading your post dear Christina, I went to super market. Not me really. I have sent my personality, to buy some things I needed badly and I had not the money to buy them until today. Today is the payment day for retired people in Greece. There, my personality confronted a similar to your nice guy behavior, but by a woman. No big difference. I have traumas from both men and woman and a charming program that says all the time “show them that they can’t get you”.
    I won. But when I came back home I was sick. My brain played the same tape for one hour. Many deep breaths were needed to stop the playback.
    The lesson to me is “remind to your personality to take you with, even to the supermarket”.
    Thank you one more time for the bell you ring with your posts!

  • Right on time for me, thank you for sharing. It helped me organize my thoughts

  • I found a scratch on my car, made a police report and brought it to insurance company. Adjuster accused me of doing it myself. I was in shock, was he was saying I was a Liar, Bad driver or too stupid to know i hit something. He then threatened to take points off my license and get another “expert” to prove it if i put in a claim. My mind went to telling him of my spotless driving record of 20 years, first time ever making a claim for insurance and comparing my integrity to his any day. Instead i said great, Ill think about it and got in my car and drove away. That claim can stay open until the end of time for all I care, I wont be arguing with them.

    Thanks Christina for the inspiration!
    Michelle

  • Thank You Christina for the timely article. Just yesterday an incident occurred to me and your article helped me so much in processing it.

    Went for my usual yoga session. Saw 2 customers at counter and lady salepersonel was attending to one of them and I noted that it was going to take some time. So I decided to head in to put my stuffs in the locker before coming back to counter again to submit my registration card.
    The lady salesperson immediately stopped me and told me in a critical judgemental tone that I need to be registered before I can go in. So I passed her my card and proceeded in.
    I was feeling hurt by her disapproval tone. Prior to coming for yoga, I was in a good mood. Her unhappiness and angry energy seemed to seep through me.
    I did my centering and also clearing but I know deep down there was a raw wound being poked.
    I recalled another similar incident whereby I was also being dismissed in a critical and judgemental tone as if I was a villain or doing something unforgivable. That affected for an entire week.
    Knowing that this is an opportunity to let go of old wounds and programming and also to heal them gave me a sense of self empowerment and deep gratitude to the universe for such lessons.

  • #ask Christina

    Thank you Christina for this very useful article. I enjoy reading your articles and also your videos. They give very practical and easy steps to take handle the difficulties that we face in our life. I have been studying spirituality for a long time but your videos and articles given me a very different perspective towards putting the theory of spirituality into practice in everyday situations that we face. I would like to have a long talk with you and discuss many aspects of whatever I am studying. How is it possible. Please let me know.

  • #ask Christina
    Hi Christina;
    Would you be so kind to clarify something for me? If each person has their own path in life , how are we affected by our spouses or significant other own path ?
    Thank you so much;
    Mimi

    • Christina Lopes July 3, 2019 at 2:46 pm

      Our paths cross with other’s paths too. It’s a beautifully complex dance that we may never fully understand. But the operating word here is “affected”, meaning that others can influence somewhat our paths but ultimately, they cannot truly alter it as we are the ones who hold the key to our inner journey.

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