The unconscious mind loves for things to be different from what they really are. It loves to control situations, solve problems (whether they are real or perceived), live up to self-imposed ideals, and continually strive for more.
Wanting things to be different seems to make the unconscious mind feel useful. When we are sad, our minds strive to be happy. When we are happy, we think about how to keep the happiness going. When we are poor, our brains thirst for more money. When we are rich, we want to be even richer—or at least not lose what we already have.
People who think they have everything even strive to be content with their surpluses. But striving to be content is, in and of itself, just another act of discontentment. The unconscious mind is peculiar: it fools us into believing that happiness is always in the future. Yet, there is nothing real other than that which is in the present moment.
Equanimity, the Christian condition of stillness (Psalm 46:10) and the peace that passes understanding (Phil. 4:17), is the result of greater consciousness. It is what remains when we stop striving and simply belong to the moment. It is also something that happens when we let go of our unconscious mind’s obsessions and calmly concentrate on our direct experience. It’s like what Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”(5)
By transcending the constant agitation of the unconscious mind through silent prayer and meditation, we can experience greater mental spaciousness. Once we stop pursuing the next thing, we can take ideas like success and failure less seriously. With greater equanimity, we can loosen our obsessions with yesterday and tomorrow and fully engage in the only moment we can ever have—this moment.
Expanding our consciousness through meditation, prayer, and helping others, can help us to worry less and appreciate what we have in our lives right here, right now. We can loosen the grip of our egoic minds and more fully engage in the present moment. Anchored by our breath, we can “let go and let God.”
With greater consciousness, Christians can achieve without striving. When no longer striving to pursue contentment, we can know that contentment has been here all along right here, right now.
5. John 14:27, ESV