Conditioning

How we respond to anything at all, is learned, hence, can be unlearned

Essence

  • Conditioning is our response to experience

    • e.g., Receiving a compliment may be responded with joy for one individual, or with shame for another

  • All our responses are conditioned

    • responses e.g., ideas, opinions, thoughts, movement of attention, emotions, liking&disliking

  • Conditioning is learned, hence can be unlearned or further learned

    • e.g., From anxious to calm or from calm to anxious

    • e.g., from angry to kind or from kind to angry

  • There is a system underlying conditioning, which allows us to start changing our responses to our liking

Different & similar terms for conditioning are among others: neuroplasticity, personality trait, tendencies, habit energy, karma

Elaboration

What is a conditioning?

A conditioning is a learned response to a specific experience.

  • Response

    • A response automatically happens whenever we have a sensory experience, hence they happen every moment

    • Examples

      • Listening to a discussion and having an opinion or thoughts about that topic

      • Emotions such as shame, confidence, calm, fear, kindness, anger, forgiveness, resentment

      • Where our attention moves to

      • Resistance or Non-Interference

      • Liking or disliking

        • e.g., a song, flower, animal, individual

  • Specific experience

    • Specific experience is anything our mind recognizes as a 'similar situation'

    • Example

      • Eating together with friends

      • Going for a walk

      • Receiving a compliment

      • Recognizing a person

  • Learned

    • Learning occurs every moment

      • How we are or relate to the current experience, trains the mind, how to relate to a similar experience, next time

    • Example

      • Eating at work while being under stress, trains to respond with stress to eating in similar situations, such as eating at home

        • Eating at work while intentionally relaxing to reduce stress, trains to respond with relaxation, not stress

      • Receiving gifts in a loving way and enjoying it, trains to respond with joy when receiving gifts

        • Receiving gifts in a loving way and feeling guilty, trains to respond with guilt when receiving gifts

All your personality traits, all your reactions, all your opinions are learned and from the past.

How conditionings change i.e., learn

imagine a baby which continuously observes the behavior of others in order to learn how to behave.

Similarly, your body & mind continuously observe it's own behavior to the current experience, learning how to respond to similar situations next time they occur.

Example

  • Eating at work while being under stress, builds conditioning to respond with stress to eating e.g., feeling stress while eating at home

    • Eating at work while intentionally relaxing to reduce stress, builds conditioning to respond with relaxation, not stress

If during the specific experience, one relates to it with stress, your body&mind registers that, and learns to respond in that way for similar situations.

If during the specific experience, one relates to it with calm, your body&mind registers that, and learns to respond in that way for similar situations.

Every moment you are training yourself how to respond, whether you want it or not. It is now up to you to take action or let your autopilot continue.

How to change conditionings

To change conditionings, one has to relate to the current experience in the desired way.

In whatever way you relate to the current experience, this will be trained for similar situations.

Example

  • Practicing loving-kindness whenever you greet someone, will train to respond automatically with loving-kindness to everyone you greet. Increasing the response of loving-kindness, whenever you relate to it with loving-kindness.

  • Practicing forgiveness whenever you feel guilt, will train to respond automatically with forgiveness whenever you feel guilt. Reducing the response of guilt, whenever you relate to it with forgiveness.

  • Practicing non-interference whenever you feel fear, will train to respond automatically with non-interference, that is a feeling of safety, whenever you feel fear. Reducing the response of fear, every time you relate to it differently.

To provide a complete understanding of conditioning:

It is possible to intentionally condition negative reactivity. Often, negative reactivity is conditioned unintentionally/automatically e.g., envy, shame, however it is possible to condition negative reactivity intentionally by simply relating to the current experience with the desired response e.g., anger, greed, etc. .

You have control over how you want to respond to your world of experiences.

The only thing you have to do is practice.

How Clarity & Non-Interference influence Conditioning

All responses need a cause or 'fuel' to exist or to grow even further.

  • Similarly, a fire cannot exist without burnable material such as wood

Non-Interference & Conditioning

The specific set of responses called 'craving' has the fuel of Interference, that is the opposite of Non-Interference.

  • Responses of Craving

    • Responses based on Greed i.e,. wanting to continue or increase

      • e.g., Anger

    • Responses based on Aversion i.e., wanting to stop or reduce

      • e.g., Fear, shame

The specific set of responses called 'non-interference' has the fuel of non-interference, that is the opposite of non-clarity.

  • Responses of Non-Interference

    • Ease, calm, inner peace, contentment

The more we relate to our experience with non-interference, the less fuel is there for the responses based on interference. Hence, with time, those responses will weaken.

  • Similarly, the fire will extinguish once all burnable material is gone

Clarity & Conditioning

Clarity is a cause of automatic non-interference, hence the more clarity is developed, one will automatically respond with more non-interference.

In the same way, the more Non-clarity or 'ignorance' is there, the more interference is there.

Majority of our negative responses are fueled by Interference & Non-Clarity, the opposites of Non-Interference & Clarity. The more we develop in the skills of Clarity & Non-Interference, the less negatively we respond.

Visualization

This is a simplified visualization of how conditionings function.

Explanation

The fuel is the water

  • Every response has a cause of 'fuel' which keeps it alive or strengthens it. If not given the fuel, it will reduce in power and eventually die.

  • Water is the fuel for any plant.

All your conditionings is the Garden

  • Everyone has their own garden, with variety of plants and variety of maturity of plants

    • Variety means different responses such as joy, sadness or opinions

    • Maturity means the intensity of the response such as intense joy, intense sadness, or strong opinion

Freedom & Imprisonment

  • With clarity (mindfulness), you have the freedom to influence which plant you water, and which you don't

  • Without clarity, you are imprisoned by your autopilot which will choose which plants to water and which not

Practicing Conditioning

Conditioning

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