Two Ways of Being
We have (at least) 2 qualitatively different levels of consciousness, ways of perceiving & being in the world:
• the usual default, conditioned perspective (linear discursive, egocentric, reactive) – heavily influenced, even determined by past & current circumstances;
• the uncommon wisdom (observer-self, evolved, mature) – minimally, if at all affected negatively by past or current circumstances.
In our usual way of being, we tend to get by mostly on autopilot, being instinctively attracted (craving) by people, things & events that favor our personal & familial survival, and repulsed (aversion) by anyone or anything that threatens survival.
Appropriate, selective use of autopilot frees the mind to do more urgent or more complex tasks. Indiscriminately overused autopilot is mindlessness, carelessness, fraught with errors, very stressful, & results in missing out on much of what life has to offer. RE "Self-soothing": https://blogs.psychcentral.com/emotionally-sensitive/2012/04/self-soothing-calming-the-amgydala/
Appropriate, selective use of the biological approach-avoid dichotomy (craving-aversion-delusion; flight-freeze-fight reaction) may favor survival when our higher cognitive centers are off-line for various reasons. Indiscriminately overused, behavior ruled by these primitive reactive reflexes is highly antisocial & not tolerable in civilized societies.
A healthy, "quiet ego" and appropriate, selective use of linear discursive thinking allows us to problem-solve & effectively work towards worthy short-, intermediate- & long-term goals. Exclusive or over-reliance on linear discursive thinking may seem hilarious on sitcoms like "Big Bang Theory", but deprives individuals of all the nonlinear aspects that make life truly worth living: love, friendship, community, the arts, humor etc.
Wise, mature, civilized people competently care for themselves, but are primarily concerned about others (allocentric) & the environment (ecocentric). They are in the process of transcending their ego. The very basis of all wisdom traditions is about waking up from the nightmare of self-centeredness, and opening to the far vaster reality that is always right here, right now.
To the extent that we stabilize awareness in the uncommon, more evolved level of consciousness, we free ourselves from primitive reactivity & unnecessary suffering, can see clearly, and can therefore engage with life more directly, easily, effectively & joyously.
Through Mindfulness practice we observe the mind in action. We become aware of what the mind is doing and how it's doing it - what attitudes of the mind are present, what kind of effort is being used. Awareness itself allows us to naturally, gently, do less of unskilful patterns, and do more of skilful patterns.
*** When the usual conditioned perspective does not noisily dominate, but is used appropriately, selectively, then our inherent, uncommon wisdom naturally manifests. ***