Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dancing With Discomfort: Conditioning: The Human Operating System

"How can we be free to look and learn when our minds from the moment we are born to the moment we die...have been conditioned by nationality, caste, class, tradition, religion, language, education, literature, art, custom, convention, propaganda of all kinds, economic pressure, the food we eat, the climate we live in, our family, our friends, our experiences - every influence you can think of - and therefore our responses to every problem are conditioned.
Are you aware that you are conditioned?" “Freedom from the Known,”Krishnamurti

What I love about the quote is that he really levels the playing field for all of humanity and points out that every response that I have is a conditioned response. Another way of looking at it is, it is my perception a situation that is responsible for the experience that I am having. So ultimately it comes down to being responsible for my interpretations or to take it another step, being responsible for my own happiness.

At first glance I felt like a fish in the water saying “what water.” My sense of right/wrong, good/ bad, and every opinion that I had always seemed to make sense to me. But upon further reflection, I began to see that my opinions, my view, my perception was actually not the only way of looking at the situation. There were many perspectives that were possible, yet I responded to the world in a way that just simply wasn’t working for me. Being right all the time can be exhausting.

What I have found over the years is that the more I become aware of the extent of my conditioning the more I can really detach myself from most of the uncomfortable moments in my life. That is not to say that I don’t have my preferences and that I continue to have my own opinions about things. Rather it’s the realization that the moment I’m experiencing any kind of INTENSITY in my emotions it is simply a reflection of how “right” I feel about my perception of that situation. To put it in a greater context for humanity, if you believe Krishnamurti, that means we’ve got almost 7 billion perspectives interpreting the world in their own unique way. No wonder why conflict continues to show up for me on a day to day basis. It is this idea that inspired me to start The Pink Elephant Project to assist with communication issues with the people most important in our lives.

But lets take this another step further. Its not only the awareness of the fact that I am conditioned that is important but rather that I am constantly being conditioned. Every single day I am getting inundated with all kinds of images, sound bytes, ideas, and concepts without my permission. There are countless studies about the subliminal messages that we are taking in that we are not even aware of. Today’s marketing and advertising worlds are so good that I still find myself paying $2 more for a well dressed household product that has the same exact active ingredient as the generic version. I guess the point for me is that if I don’t pay attention to the extent to which I’m being conditioned on a day-to-day basis, I begin to do things like some kind of automaton, completely unconscious, reacting to stimulus rather than consciously choosing my response. When I’m not choosing it eventually catches up and the experience of my life suffers.

The metaphor that comes to mind that is helpful to me is surfing the web on a Windows machine. All day long I surf around looking for what I’m looking for, reading what I’m reading, and unbeknownst to me there are all kinds of adware, spyware, and other kinds of malicious viruses penetrating my operating system. It’s virtually the exact same thing with my brain.

Eventually my Windows machine slows down, programs take longer to load, and eventually those programs start to crash. If it gets bad enough, the blue screen of death shows up and I’m forced to get some kind of help. POINT OF PAIN.

Its really no different for me in my experience in life. If I don’t periodically run my maintenance programs, and spend time doing my version of a virus and adware scan, I too eventually crash and my system shuts down.

What I have learned over the years is that the conditioning continues to infiltrate my subconscious and that there are many modalities, exercises, practices, and disciplines that can help gain an awareness of the conditioning and there are also many that help me deconstruct the stimulus/response pattern so that I can consciously choose a responses from my heart. It’s a journey of lifetime that for me has no ending. What I continue to get better at is managing the INTENSITY and the DURATION of the discomfort and suffering by systematically reconditioning my perceptions to allow for a more enjoyable and fulfilling experience on a day to day basis. 

In the next segment I will discuss the concept of Energy as I understand it.

From the heart,



  1. it is amazing...I often wonder who would I be, what would I do, what would I care about, what choices would I make if i was not brainwashed/conditioned...will the really Kelly please stand up!

  2. it is true. every time i sit in the venus flytrap livingroom chair with my partner i realize we're ever expanding. there used to be way more room in there...

  3. It is true. And it is worth reminding how important it is for us to filter what we are willing to take in when we have an opportunity to choose. I watched exactly the wrong movie one day at exactly the wrong time in my life and it reinforced the precise negative and false belief I was struggling with at that time and so for about 5 days I felt horrible. While I recognized what was going on, the observer, it is not easy sometimes to get back on track because this stuff is deeply rooted and at times, very painful old stuff.

  4. I've come to realize that the majority of my conflicts were based on my own wants and my perception of the way things were suppose to be. I thought that it was obvious that certain things needed to be a certain way. Then I thought for a minute, "According to who?" I mean, who was I to know, I did spend the last twenty some odd years being fed these things. It's sad because a lot of these things we choose to hold on to are the things that weaken us.