imprinting

Photo by Agto Nugroho on Unsplash

unpolished thoughts 3/8/2019

Someone outside and four stories below just closed a car door.

It’s an unmistakable sound. Other small sounds might happen that I can’t identify, but this one arrives to me as a pure fact. Probably for no better reason than because I’ve heard that sound a million times.

How do we get to the point of having total clarity about an experience without the need for any internal debate whatsoever?

The word I use for this is imprinting.

When something has happened so many times that we know it like the back of our hand, it’s as if someone had literally stamped an impression of this experience inside of us. It’s simply part of our nature now.

Why would we question it?

2+2=4 is like that, and you can feel that long before you’re an adult. So are many other simple facts and associations.

But so are some highly distorted misunderstandings.

We don’t only imprint the truth. We simply imprint whatever we experience repeatedly, for better or for worse.

Our habits don’t appear to us as anomalies. For the most part, we aren’t aware of them at all.

We think of our behavior as the way we are. We don’t generally see our personality as a choice.

Nor do we understand that what we perceive is not the same as objective reality (even though we generally treat it that way).

Luckily, new experiences can create the possibility that overriding our previous imprinting.

If we encounter fresh information often enough (or sometimes, if it is delivered very powerfully just once) then new imprinting can take place.

Have you ever thought about how many of your spontaneous actions yourself would have felt completely alien to your way of being at previous points in your life?

How do today’s impulses arise so naturally whereas in the past you never would have done such things?

You don’t usually question it because your spontaneous behavior represents the things you learned on a deeper level than all those books in college that you’ve completely forgotten.

(And if you’ve forgotten all that stuff, were you truly learning back then or just going through the motions? Maybe going through the motions was the essential lesson you were imprinting.)

If you suffer a major injury, lose a loved one, become famous, or experience any other fundamental shift in your daily experience, you can expect that new imprinting will reshape your relationship to the world.

But you can also invoke a shift intentionally, by learning a new language, taking up a new leisure activity, moving to another country, or taking any other action that consistently reorganizes your daily experience.

Major dramatic or traumatic events can rock your world, but you can’t plan for them.

However, this isn’t the only way to stamp new impressions into your being so that the things you take for granted are no longer the same. When that happens, your personality and behavior truly will change.

The most reliable strategy to create transformation on this level is through intentional repetition , otherwise known as practice.

Do you have some kind of regular practice that consistently imprints the qualities you wish to embody more deeply into your being?

Or do you leave that up to chance?