"Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate." Carl Jung
I read that quote the other day and I haven't been able to get it out of my mind. The first question I have is the obvious one: How does one make the unconscious conscious? Therapy is an obvious answer, but that's a tricky path. Don't get me wrong, I'm on the path; a big fan of the path, but it's no guarantee. There are things in life, even with lots of therapy, that never get discovered. It's not good or bad, better or worse, it just is. The brain is a mysterious organ and uncovering the layers is a lifetime of work, infinite hours of consciousness.
Consciousness, though, as I think of it in everyday life, especially as it pertains to my own behaviors and thoughts, can be wholly exhausting. It involves noticing, analyzing, processing, and then possibly putting that knowledge into action. Over time, that's how we become closer to the people we want to be. Habits are unconscious. Unchecked, our brain will keep going back to those pathways and nothing will change, unless we bring deeper awareness to the behavior.
I will always be working on bringing a higher level consciousness to my daily life. I have deeply engrained habits that I must challenge every single day-- nagging my family about things that don't need nagging, leaving my shoes in random places around the house, worrying obsessively that everyone will like me, dropping my stinky yoga clothes in a ball at the top of the stairs, skipping lunch. But in my 46 years, I have managed to overcome many of my bad habits by bringing a deeper level of consciousness to them-- an eating disorder in high school, a smoking habit I picked up when I lived in Spain, using plastic water bottles, compulsively revisiting relationships that make me feel bad, shopping at garage sales.
Staying connected, conscious, can feel like a lot of work. Enter Yoga. Yoga, for me, is a two-for-one. I can practice being conscious on a different level, and the very process unhinges something deeper, often bringing to light thoughts and feelings that have been living in my unconscious. When I practiced Yoga on Sunday, I had to skip several postures because of an injury. The havoc that skipping postures wreaks on my ego could have me reeling for hours, but I know from years of Yoga practice what I need to do. I acknowledge that I'm being highjacked by my ego; I do my best to release that thought; and I move on. The gift of Yoga is that I can skip the analyzing and processing steps that I tend to engage in when I'm not in the Yoga room.
The difference is, of course, that when we do Yoga, we use our bodies and our brains together. This very act gives our brains a break. There is balance because we are no longer fully dependent on our brains to do all of the processing. Moving, stretching, compressing, moving blood to different parts of our bodies (especially the brain) brings us feelings of unparalleled goodness. Yoga keeps our bodies healthy and vital. And yet without even thinking about it, willing it, working on it, the physical release in Yoga also unveils things in our unconscious that, outside of the Yoga room, would have taken much longer and been more painstaking to reveal.