“What are the barriers that keep people from reaching anywhere near their real potential? The answer to that can be found in another question: Which is the most universal human characteristic: Fear or laziness?”
– Richard Linklater, Waking Life
Think of something you want in life. Not just want, crave. Something that’s felt elusive to you, that no matter how hard you try you can never quite reach. The holy grail of your lifetime, or at least this part of your life.

Now imagine you have all the resources at your disposal to achieve it. Your mind can actively create new neural pathways just in thinking about it that  invent ways in which you might reach your goal. You can make choices each day that bring you closer to it, and use the laws of manifestation or physics (depending on your philosophy) to bring it to you.

Pretend on a level you’ve known this, or have at least considered its possibility. In fact, pretend the idea that “you can do anything you put your mind to” is so universally accepted it’s become a cliche.

Why don’t you?
I’ll make a suggestion based on what I’ve observed in myself, and you can decide if it sounds true to you: I don’t want to be conscious.

I’ve noticed in the places I experience the most struggle, I have the most resistance to showing up. I want things to work out on their own so I can finally reach the top of the mountain and be done.

Now just suppose that the achievement of objectives is actually easy, involving simple and understandable steps like “eat less, exercise more”, and it is only the desire to remain unconscious that makes it difficult.
Remaining unconscious does not mean a lack of discipline or willingness to try. We can be very focused and try very hard with little or no result, because on a level we are refusing to actually be present.

An example from my life is how I didn’t lose weight. After three years of intensive dieting and heavy exercise, I had gained over 20 lbs and crippled my body’s natural ability to burn fat.

It wasn’t until after I had given up all hope of ever losing weight that things changed. What happened is I invented a rule: I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, if I was conscious about it.

This meant slowing down to really enjoy the flavor, texture, and experience of eating. A sandwich could take a half hour to eat, a single scoop of dessert 10 minutes. Savoring every moment of the experience made me conscious, fed the deep part that was hungry, and answered my need.

Since then my body has steadily lost weight on its own without a thought from me. It’s still doing it, and at this rate I’ll be below my fantasy weight by the end of the year. People who knew me before congratulate me in shock at the difference in how I look, which is funny when you consider I’m not in nearly as good of shape now as I was then (but the laws of physics always were irrational).

Being unconscious is a form of laziness, but not how we traditionally define lazy. It does not refer to a lack of effort. In fact, the less conscious we are the more effort is required. Rather, it is a lack of engagement.

You are disengaging from the present moment and letting the mind run on habit. It’s lazy because it is passive.

Think about your carrot, the thing you most want in life and can never seem to reach. Maybe you’ve craved it for years. Observe your thoughts in relation to it, the feelings that come up, slow your breathing and consciously engage your experience.

Feel what is here for you. What is calling to achieve this thing? What is asking to be fed?

Wake up. Get off the hamster wheel and engage the the need behind the want. It requires a lot less effort and is far more rewarding an experience.

In every moment there are two choices: to be conscious or unconscious. The choice to be unconscious is an active one with dynamic consequences, the same as the choice to be conscious. The fact that we often make this choice in a passive state does not change its force or effect on our lives.

My invitation to you is to be aware that you have a choice, and to remind yourself of it when you find yourself struggling or trying hard with little or no results. Slow down, breathe, open to the present. Engage the need behind the want.

At the end of the month I will be teaching “Receiving 101”, a class that expands on this idea and takes it deeper. Learn tools for developing a firm internal foundation for manifesting the things you want in life. Click here for details.