Trusting The Rip Tide

The experiences in our lives are determined by these subconscious undercurrents. We collect these sankaras, or past cravings and aversions, and they impact how we react to current situations. By observing sensations we can retrain the subconscious to allow us to act instead of react based on past experiences. I’m not sure if that’s completely accurate but it’s my Vipassana-neuroscience personal remix.

Now lets process go a step deeper. Supposedly, before something negative happens in your life you can feel a negative sensation on the body. I think I’ve experienced something like this a few times but never with the clarity that I said, “Aha, a negative sensation! Let me look outside myself to see how this will manifest in a negative experience.” It’s been more like, “I feel crappy and I don’t know why and now things are getting worse because this just happened.” So I can’t confirm that I’ve experienced this reality, but lets just assume it’s true for the post.

Now this is where things get trippy. If the events that happen to me are based on my past sankaras that means my conscious mind in this moment has no control over the current situation. It just has the ability to act or observe in this moment. I guess that’s not that different to drawing everything outside of me up to chance and just focussing on doing the best I can.

Yet this concept of giving up mental control of my life to these subconscious undercurrents seems crazy. Am I accepting that I don’t deserve credit for the accomplishments in my life? Where should my motivation come from? Should I trust the rip tide and just let it take me out to sea? Am I just providing a false mental crutch believing I have any control?

This is a weird subject to talk about and I clearly don’t understand it completely intellectually or experimentally. Maybe as my practice grows I’ll have more clarity on the subject but for now it just seems confusing and weird. Weird, but also a little cool. Hmm…

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About Ryan Shelton

While I'm currently married to a beautiful woman while teaching physics at Padua Academy, these descriptors fail to capture the totality of my adventurous life. I have hiked over 1700 miles, traveled to 5 continents, managed a bakery, started a meditation center, counseled troubled teens, attended Duke, UNC, and Harvard, protected forests as a wildland firefighter, volunteered thousands of hours with Americorps, rafted the Grand Canyon, SCUBA dived on the Great Barrier Reef, and continues to find new adventures. I hope my writing encourages you to pursue your dreams and be the best version of yourself while supporting your communities to work together to solve the current challenges in our world.

4 thoughts on “Trusting The Rip Tide

  1. The implication is that your “self,” your “I,” is your conscious mind. That the conscious mind should be the recipient of praise and blame. If it’s true that your conscious mind only has the power to observe, then it can’t “give up” the mental power to make decisions that it never really had. I think this is one of those situations where labels and preconceptions are the real source of confusion. What is the self, really? Is it the conscious mind? The subconscious? The union of the two? Something beyond them? Rational thought will take you around in circles, as you seek to find answers based on false ideas, definitions defined only by other definitions – reality is far away. Only observation of direct experience can give you an answer. Whether or not you believe “you” have control is immaterial.

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  2. Hey Ryan – didn’t know til got Ram’s e-mail that you were doing this! Great undertaking! I applaud your energy and courage! Have only scanned at this point, but will start from the beginning and leave a few comments. Hope things are going well with your academic endeavors! We miss you and hope to see you again before too long! Much metta!

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    • I only decided to go public with this blog about a week ago so you’re one of the first to know! I started out just wanting a place to journal but I’m glad other people are getting value from reading it. I’ve decided to come to the center for the old student meeting so I’ll see you soon! I look forward to reading your comments.

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