As our nervous system develops, the cellular communication network requires feedback from the environment to tune the system and organize itself and its tentacular connections.
These phases of cellular testing and reorganization are often timed to our larger behavioral phases. At critical feedback points, we "imprint" the neurological system with patterns of behavior.
This is done in two ways,
by repetition of the same behavior pattern again and again, or
by a rapid, "catastrophic" situation saturating our awareness with a sense of intense pain/fear, or pleasure/joy.
Either method assures the neural pathways are well set and maintained throughout life. We are rarely aware of our imprinting; of why we are the way we are.
Psychiatrists and neurophysiologists have studied these phases in detail. Most parents are familiar with them or recognize them quickly.
It helps to think of the four primary phases in terms physical directions. Forward and back, up and down, left and right, and through time. Each phase is a progressive tuning of our awareness to control systems.
I have a series of exercises to sharpen our self-awareness of these phases and the strategies we imprinted ourselves with when we were an infant, a brat, a teen.
Some of these strategies - these behavioral imprints - can be harmful, especially if we don't get what we want or try to get someone else to do something they don't want to do.
Rather than have the imprints surprise us at indiscreet times, we can drag them out and examine our infantile ego to see how the child within ticks.
Not that these imprinted strategies can be changed very easily, their imprinting on our neural pathways of communication turns our responses into "knee jerk reactions". Knowing what they are will prepare you when the child within starts throwing a tantrum. Understanding where the reaction originates when somebody or something pushes your button offers "you" an opportunity to minimise the response.
As a side benefit, examining these control systems, gives you the flavor of the harmonic, higher levels of consciousness that are much more fun, but often obscured by the child within.
Come along with me, just after dawn on a Saturday morning.
I walk in calm and isolation. Up the hill along the Cottage Point Road.
When my mind begins to wander from the road I focus on a Yin-Yang breathing focus.
If my mind is determined to wander off and worry at some other problem - I hit it with multiple variations of the Om Mani Padma Hum focus, while fixing my awareness on the road, the trees, the early mist, the smell of the sea and the land. After a kilometer, I begin running.
As I run, I keep saying, "feel the energy, feel the power, feel the energy, feel the power" while observing myself and the energy flow around me. I visualize the Torus, see it surrounding me, flowing as the energy cycles with the air and the pumping muscles, the sound of the birds, the smell of some flowers, the slope of the road.
I form the time cross in my mind.
I begin thinking of the four levels of being, the directions of mind.
This is becoming phase, the flowing into or moving away from.
The infant ego level of attraction and fear.
My behavior patterns for this were imprinted from 0 to 2 years old. Gimme gimme gimme. Get away, get away, get away.
I experiment with this level, feeling it within me as I walk. To heighten this awareness, I move towards or away from objects and ideas around myself on the road. I approach objects with pleasure (I am attracted to that flower) and move away from others with fear (beware of those thorns).
I focus on how I feel and what I want to do in response to these feelings. I begin to recognize my own strategies of behavior; what I do to gain what I desire and what I do to get away from what I fear.
To heighten my awareness of the "to and away" imprint I overlay the image of a woman's breast on the hill ahead of me and run towards it, feel myself wanting it as I once desired the (relative to me when I was born) huge warm breast of my mother and all that her breast meant to my survival. I focus on the feelings this generates. Strong, positive, warm, desire coupled with hunger and determination. I'm half way up the hill before I have to slow, panting, to a walk.
Seeking to find my level of dominance and submission.
2 to 10 year old imprinting.
This is the phase where I learn about the pecking order; what is above me and what is below me. Am I bigger than he is, smaller than her? Is he better than I am? Am I better than he?
I experiment with the Status Level, feeling and reflecting on my dominance over, and submission to, physical parameters. I select gravity, feeling myself overcoming it as I move freely and with power along the road, and feeling the power of gravity overcome me when I try to jump up or move too quickly up the hill.
Next, I test dominance and subjection with social organizations and individual people. I recall moments where I was dominated and moments where I dominated.
This up-down business is what we normally think of as egotistical. The negative ego enjoys this part of the exercise, it's into dominance. I see a little lizard sunning itself on a black rock. I approach, swelling up, feeling huge, enormous, a mountain of dominance over the tiny lizard. In my mind's eye I see myself able to stamp it into two dimensions in an instant. It studiously ignores me as I run by.
This is the unfolding where I make decisions and thus unfurl my life.
6 to 16 years old imprinting.
This is the language level; the level of learning to use tools - like words - as strategic behaviors.
Am I learning enough? Am I doing this right? Do people like me? Should I go this way or that way? Left or right? Self-assertive or try to go with the flow? Analytical or Intuitive? Join in or go it alone? All the monumental teenage masculine/feminine traumas that torment our teenage minds.
I experiment with the Choice Level by moving my awareness between my left and right brain control centers. As I walk , I shift from left foot to right foot. Aware of the alternation, the balance, the arm swinging right to left while the legs move left to right in counterbalance; Left right, left right. Then I rapidly change directions, moving to the right or left of objects around me. I feel myself perceiving the instant of selection, choosing and turning.
Next, I move right and left in my thinking about the world and of myself. I become a very right wing individual - a loner - and then a very left wing communal person - a joiner. I become right-sided materialist and then left-sided religious person.
Negative ego is still keeping pace with me. I realize that the Negative Ego uses this level to kick off its tirades so I examine the imprinted strategies of the Negative Ego by becoming angry and then peaceful and carefully analize how I feel as I select and play with my emotions; angry and then peaceful. Angry. Peaceful. Mad. Happy. Serious. Laughing.
Imprinting age, the upper teens, 16 +.
This is the level where I span time by creating other beings that will outlast myself - like children. At this level I try my hand at building enduring physical things, writing and publishing, building an organization or spreading an idea.
This is a positive, adult ego. I test this by creating ideas and building things with my mind or remembering things I have built or published or created that will still be here long after I am gone.
That takes care of all of the four primary mind levels.
I unite them in a time cross.
The time cross is a multiple image of myself running along the road. The me of tomorrow in the lead, the me of yesterday behind me. The images multiply with the days I have run or intend to run along this road, stretching out ahead of me and behind me.
My negative ego becomes the back end of the time cross and it sees me up ahead, running along easily with plenty of energy and power. I am now in the lead position I saw weeks ago and the me of then is now behind the me of now by about 50 meters. This makes me feel good - I am improving my performance - tomorrow I will run even faster and will be the future me I can no see ahead of me in my mind's eye.
The long axis of the cross is the forward and back dimension; the to and from axis.
Up and down, the vertical axis - up pointing to power and overcoming, down pointing into the earth where I am confused and submissive and powerless.
Extending to each side of me, there are other images of myself, on the left and on the right. They represent the left, right axis. They are parallel dimensions of being. I could be on the left or the right of my present position tomorrow or compared to yesterday.
The time mind is in the center of the cross, directing the show, creating the time cross itself in my imagination. I see the time mind as a torus.
When the negative ego tries to catch up, I run faster. I tell it that from now on, it is to just provide me with information. It is like the driver of my limousine. I'm the executive in the back seat, the ego works for me. I make the decisions.
Maintenance is taken care of by the so called sub-conscious mind. When necessary, it can bring me information about any problems with my inner workings.
Now I am ready for the higher levels. I float above the torus at the center of the time cross and see myself from a prospective directly above the time-cross and also at the forefront of the cross - in the future. At the rear of the cross is the "demon" me from my youth, bounding along, little fangs glinting in an open-mouthed effort of trying to keep up.
Above the road, looking down on the moving time cross, seeing the whole thing. I move towards and into my higher self.
Here we start the whole series of exercises again, on another level. This is awareness looking at the first four levels of mind. It is the flowing together of information within the language mind of man.
As consciousness flows and exists between people, so this higher self is a part of that awareness. It is an Earth conscious awareness. It floats. It is self-objective and removed, it is intelligence surveying intelligence. Here the Observer is born from the womb of mind.
I begin the exercise by feeling my consciousness move towards or away from this higher level. I feel the pleasure and fear of higher levels of consciousness and as I feel these I can also feel myself advance or retreat. I float up from the torus of energy surrounding the time-mind, attracted to the sensation of freedom, of flying.
I retreat back to the running body, center inside of myself. This is real, I feel the blood hammering through my heart. I float up again, the hammering retreats but sustains me. To and from.
On this harmonic, the higher self discovers it can move up and down through the layers of consciousness that comprise it.
This is exciting. The observer moves up
to the layers of consciousness of the physical environment - the nature spirits - the controls of the ecosystem.
further up to the consciousness of the planetary biosphere
and from there up to the forces of the cosmos.
I reside in the higher self, somehow able to voyage with the observer and yet not be the observer.
The observer moves down
into the cell consciousness forming my body.
further down into the DNA consciousness forming the cells. As the observer does this, I sense the flow of energy through the torus expand outward, the torus flowing now into and through the DNA harmonies of the surrounding trees and shrubs and I feel my unity with all living beings.
further down to the atomic consciousness, the communications on the atomic level sizzle through me. It is an effort to examine these levels and their relationships to each other because of the excitement and wonder of the experience. But I push the barriers aside as I recognize them as negative ego thoughts. I look for, but do not find, anxiety or dominance or submission in the exploration of these levels. All are equally impressive and powerful. When the observer reaches the atomic level of mind, awareness is moving through the cosmos at over a million knots. A strumming, powerful feeling of great clarity.
On this level I discover the releasers and suppressors, the feedback controls in the system of becoming. This is the selection structure of the forces expressing the form of the cosmos, the mind of the planet, and all its derivations - from subatomic particles (and anti-particles) to Hollywood.
Here is the language, the consciousness, of the higher harmonic levels, its ability to make biological or ideological tools and thus prevail in its environment and grow more and more complex in its learning.
This is a universal language, appearing instantaneously (such as the shape, or form of the galaxy that exists all at once, beyond relativity or the speed of light).
I experiment with this by moving my awareness into various games of living, seeing the releasers and suppressors at work and avoiding them, and then using them.
Synchronicities network on this level as do archetypes and other controls. I accept a "Christian" program and allow all the Christian control systems to thread into the concepts of life. Then I remove this and replace it with a Buddhism belief system. Then I change to a Scientific Program. And with each change I totally accept and admire the diversity and power of the precepts and controls.
They are a harmonic of the agonizing right-left social decisions of the teenager, but on this level they network decisions for a pubescent humanity.
I perceive a river of awareness flowing between all the layers of being.
From my physical awareness through to the awareness of the being of God.
Here is the thread of awareness in chaos, guiding us towards the ability to transcend the first four levels of being, to learn ways of seeing and knowing beyond our horizons of perceptions, to know the thread of awareness itself.
I experiment with this by simply experiencing it. We experiment with each other in an awesome feedback loop.
I am the Earth and the Sun come alive and seeing itself as a living planet, running down the Cottage Point Road, imagining a time cross and a torus, grinning like a love struck fool.
Notes and Comments:Our yacht, the Moira, spent many cyclone seasons tied up to our friends mooring in Cottage Point. We began our popular series of cruising guides here - a sailing guide to Vanuatu and a sailing guide for New Caledonia. The Moira, for nearly ten years, was a migratory creature, heading to New Caledonia and Vanuatu during the austral winter months and returning to Cottage Point for the cyclone season.