Archive for October, 2011

“Magic can be defined as the art and practice of changing consciousness at will.” ~Starhawk

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How do you change your consciousness?  Learning to sit with ambiguity may be one doorway to doing so.  Perhaps that’s why I’m so drawn to writing about it so much.  There are many ways of shifting one’s mindset, attitude, focus or consciousness:  practical, psychologically-based ways, spiritual ways and disciplined ways.  There are, of course, unhealthy ways consciousness can be changed that are quite rampant in our culture as well, though I would not recommend them (examples would be:  escapism, drugs, alcohol, hoarding, obsession, compulsion, shopaholism, etc.)

The times I find I most need to change my consciousness (and I wish I could always do it “at will”!) are times when I am feeling and thinking darkly and starkly about life or about myself.  When I can only see things in black and white and I keep focusing in on the negative.  We all have moments when we feel so down it seems impossible to ever be “up” again.  I have a friend that calls this “being fatalistic”.  Breaking out of it can be very challenging (I know at least, for me it has been).

I find breaking out of fatalistic, undesirable funks takes willpower and creativity.  I tend to examine what I am exactly doing at that moment (sitting on the couch for several hours, not exercising for weeks, not reaching out to a support network of friends, emotional eating, whatever) and I ask myself what would be something different I could do than I am doing right now.  I often get out pen and paper to make myself SEE my options.  And then I do whatever works.  For me, sometimes it’s just getting up and moving if I had been stationary.  Or committing to that yoga class tomorrow morning.  Or stopping with the eating and writing instead (ahem, facing my emotions).  In DBT, this strategy is known as “opposite action” and it can be helpful in getting one unstuck.  Sometimes we just need some intentional momentum to get us going in a new direction (especially if we didn’t like the old direction).

Sometimes we want or need to change our consciousness or thoughts because they are not really helpful or accurate.  Redirecting our brains to reassess the accuracy of the statements we tell ourselves can help us be discerning thinkers and not be overly harsh or critical towards ourselves.  We all tend to engage in cognitive distortions (examples found here).  Knowing when we are making cognitive distortion errors and correcting them in our own minds is part of the secret of changing consciousness at will and for the better.  One of the most common cognitive distortions is Black and White Thinking.  Solution?  See the grey.  Sit with ambiguity!

current music faves:  the national, adele

current show faves:  new girl, happy endings, prime suspect

breakfast today:  bagel with sausage, cheese and spicy sauce (again!)

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