How a Poly Bag Illuminated the Enlightenment Process

Driving over a poly bag this week was a striking example of how conditioning is collected and maintained. And how awakening is the most effective way to create the space for enlightenment to occur.

Years ago, I was driving my work-issue Astra along a road when a poly bag blew across and went under my car. It didn’t emerge from the back…

I felt panic. This was a company car. What if it’s stuck somewhere it shouldn’t be and causes damage? I stopped at the first opportunity and looked under the car. There it was. Stuck, melted, to the hot exhaust pipe. This seemed terrible! But I couldn’t do anything. It was too far under to reach, so it just had to stay.

I can’t remember now if I ever did anything about it after that. I don’t think I did. Pretty sure it just stayed there. Welded on.

Ever since then I’ve been scared of driving over poly bags in the road. Not scared like a phobia, or to the extent that I stop the car to deal with the bag, but I tense up, if I can I’ll swerve to avoid it, and if I have to drive over it I’ll quickly look in my rearview mirror to see if it’s blown out from behind.

It has always blown out, ever since that first time.

This last week I drove over a poly bag, and I caught sight of this fear that arises with it.

So funny – a situation all those years ago which caused no problems and no damage at the time, a situation that has never happened again (despite driving over many poly bags) and yet it was lodged in my mind as a scary experience and one to be avoided.

You know where I’m going don’t you?

This is conditioning in action! This same process is what’s led to all of our conditioned fears – a situation logged as ‘dangerous’ and ‘to be avoided’ has led to repeated tension in the body, feelings of fear and certain believed-to-protect-me behaviours every time a similar situation has arisen.

It makes perfect sense when (for whatever reason) *this* has been collected as dangerous.

Now clearly my example is way down the ‘this is dangerous’ list when it comes to actual potential dangers, but the principles are the same.

And it’s totally understandable that the physical system reacts with the threat response in the presence of the belief that there’s danger.

And this example has shown me, more than any other, that this collection of believed dangers through life, and therefore the repetition of the threat response, is an automatic, impersonal happening.

Nobody chooses the conditioning that gets collected.

Nobody chooses to evoke the threat response the first or subsequent times.

Nobody chooses to keep the patterns in place.

They are collected, stay a while, and are then released.

But what releases them? That’s what we want to know right? Becuase it doesn’t feel good. We know it’s not aligned with our nature.

Trouble is, the more we want conditioning to go, the longer it stays. The wanting it to go maintains tension and resistance in the system. No space for movement. No space for releasing.

Instead, with time, and spaciousness, and understanding, the system loosens and softens and it re-learns that what was once believed to *definitely* be dangerous was just a relevant-to-that-time occurrence.

This spaciousness is inevitable as we awaken and return to the knowing of ourself as awareness. This is why enlightenment gets so much easier the more we come to know who we really are. Our nature is spacious understanding of all.

We see from there that perspective that a threat response was massively useful, and even life saving, back then.

And here we are now. Different people. Different circumstances. Different capabilities and resources and influence. Lots of evidence where similar situations have happened and it’s not been a problem (I wonder how many poly bags I have driven over and not noticed, therefore no threat response – poly bags definitely aren’t causal to a threat response).

And we see that we live as a human body-mind which – if genuine danger was to arise – is perfectly designed to respond in that moment to what’s happening, without requiring pre-thought, planning, worry, or re-creation of a past experience in thought here, now.

We can really relax. It’s all ok. You are ok. Including the conditioning.

With love, Helen

If you’re curious about awakening and enlightenment and would like a community around you to hold you steady when you forget who you really are, I have a lovely community in Patreon where you get a regular flow of content from me and other teachers and guides in this work, plus live call time on the higher levels of membership. Go here to choose what feels good for you

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