The Dynamism of Social Conditioning
Unfortunately, social conditioning is a byproduct of social living. Social conditioning manifests in many forms. Family, institutions and media are all exemplary outlets of social conditioning, each consisting of infinitesimal aspects all acting as unique conduits, collectively pervading and influencing the surface beliefs of the individual; the individual whose mind was once as free as water. Social living is a byproduct of society, as is obviously deduced. Throughout life, many people start to uncover and eliminate the various subconscious prejudices and presuppositions invoked by years of subtle, societal indoctrination. If researched, one would find a vast array of different sources of inspiration relating to experiences that could be described as life-altering, spiritually epiphanic revelations. Paradigm shifts are induced and doors of perception are opened when tainted and unnatural beliefs are purged from the ever so delicate human psyche. When the filters of judgment are cleansed, “man changes the way he looks at things, and the things he looks at change” (Dr. Wayne Dyer).
In my humble opinion, I have always been somewhat of an independent thinker, but I owe much of my new, life-changing perspectives to a friend named Ben. Mostly all of my friends share very similar personality traits; not to imply that they are carbon copy clones each other, just like minded guys. Ben, however, is quite a different character in my circle of friends portrait. He is someone that many of the Right would quickly label a “hippy”, in spite of the ubiquitous, highly modernized trends popularized in the sixties that many young people of today are now embracing. Speaking of labeling,
Ben would waste no time to humbly chime in with a little gem of premature wisdom in peaceful opposition to the presumptuous act. His peace-and-love heeding, however, more often went unregarded as any offering of moral direction and instead insignificantly interpreted as a passive trait of his personality.
One day a few friends and I met up at the gym and lounged in the steam room after working out, a situation of awkward hilarity and pseudo-enlightenment ensued. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the events that would transpire that day would forever change the course of my life for the better. Four of us five all sunk into a reclined existence of respite in the face of overwhelming hot steam and sore muscles. John, Brad or Mclusky or all three let out a joking sigh of exasperation when it was quite noticeable that Ben was again displaying his ignorance of superficial public decorum by assuming an admittedly amusing looking meditation pose. I always couldn't help but somewhat admire the audacious innocence and seemingly unintentional zen-like quality of Ben's character. I recall formatting his caller ID on my phone with a picture of a Buddhist symbol after one of my first in-depth conversations with him; Ben has a knack of unexpectedly turning your average “empty time moment” into a deep discussion of music, philosophy, metaphysics, social dynamics, conspiracy theories, obscure facts, everything your new age hippy would have in his conversational arsenal. Later on, however, he insisted I change the Buddhist icon to a Tai Chi (yin yang) symbol, along with providing a detailed philosophical explanation as to why, all divulged with an undertone hinting of supreme importance.
“What are you doing, Ben? Are you trying to meditate? You're going to get us kicked out,” Mclusky said disapprovingly to Ben, in a completely joking fashion, though you might not have known it. As is the case with most friends who aren't women or sissies, it is commonplace to berate and degrade each other for the humor and benefit of all. We all had our “character flaws” that we were all well aware of and were all aptly adept at gleefully exploiting such shortcomings if the occasion ever
happened to call for it.
“I thought we were past having to keep you in the car?” Mclusky added in mock reprimand.
Our grins were all masked with fatigue, the synergistic effects of post-exercise and steam room tiredness taking its toll. I bemusedly sighed and reflected on the irony that in reality, Ben would be the last one responsible for getting us kicked out anywhere.
Ben employed his trademark, toothy smirk.
“Check it out,” Ben said while demonstrating the meditation pose. “Lay your left leg over your right thigh like Indian style, rest your hands palms facing upward on your legs, and then touch your thumbs and index fingers together.” Bemused, we all followed Ben's instructions. “Balance your breath; slowly inhale through the nose and out the mouth.” He did so, looked at us all and smiled. “Oh, and obviously it wouldn't be as intense if we weren't in a steam room. Just try to relax.”
He proceeded to close his eyes, as if with divine purpose and intent. Relaxing was no problem for me, I was no stranger to stress and any outlet of relieving any of it was to be gratefully embraced. So I imitated the position of Ben's arms, hands, fingers and legs and began to feel subtly different after a minute of relaxing. Thought was replaced with feeling. A sensation of blissful emptiness overtook all my senses, almost as if experiencing life for the first time. In amazement at this sense of unity with the universe, I eagerly looked around and noticed the dismal expressions on my friends, as if torn between relaxation and discontentment. I could tell they were still struggling with the attachment of their ego; the illusion of the self they've created in their minds. Then instead of looking at my friends, looking externally, I looked inward. For some reason, on this particular day, I realized that the amount of time I spent looking outwardly and worrying about things I have no control of by far outweighed the amount of time when I was anywhere near close the state of being I experienced during my first legitimate attempt at meditation in the gym's solemn steam room, which is where I now always want to be.
My friends are definitely in no way against meditation, but they are by no means proponents of it either. Through fully immersing and allowing myself into a new experience I opened new doors of perception in my mind. By ignoring any social bias or sense of embarrassment at partaking in an actthat was out of the social norm, I discovered the value of stillness and obtained the ability to clear my mind of negative socially conditioned paradigms that was the core problem causing many of my own shortcomings. I will never forget the value and potential rewards of being open-minded and non-judgmental. I also will always remember how grateful I was and still am for my friend Ben's willing openness to share and spread“free love”, as he so simply put it to describe the predominating, driving force of his life.
Edited by fizix, 03 December 2012 - 10:36 AM.