Spiritual Practice: A Bereitschafts Moment
How many times have you heard people say. “I didn’t have a choice” or “He/She made me do it” or “There’s no such thing as free will?” How many times have you used these phrases? The truth is all of these statements are attempts to avoid taking responsibility for our actions.
The bad news is people use these statements all of the time. The good news is these statements misrepresent the people using these statements. Why? Because we always have a choice; no one can make us do anything when we are conscious participants; and there is such a thing as free will.
SpiritualPractices-ResearchThere is a compelling amount of research on the power of choice. Scientists the world over agree we cannot not make a choice. Essentially, we are wired for choice. And not only are we wired for choice, we are wired to make every choice our choice and no one else’s! And we owe this bit of failsafe choice-making to what we call Bereitshafts Moments.
A Bereitschafts Moment
A Bereitschafts Moment, also called Bereitschafts Potential, is the narrow neural time line between deciding to act and actually acting, In neurology, the Bereitschafts Potential (German for readiness potential), is a measure of activity in the motor cortex area of the brain indicating voluntary muscle movement.
This extraordinary human trait – and telling human trait- was first recorded and reported in 1964 by Hans Helmut Kornhuber and Lüder Deecke at the University of Freiburg in Germany. In a series of experiments, Benjamin Libet studied the relationship between our conscious experience of volition and the moment the Bereitschafts Potential ‘kicks in.’ He found that the Bereitschafts Potential starts about 0.35 seconds earlier than people report conscious awareness that they feel the desire to take some kind of action. He found that people were able to prevent an intended action at the last moment by consciously vetoing these actions.
What Does This Mean to Us?
That’s an empowering piece of research, don’t you think? It means we have dominion over any and all of the actions we take. We have the power to choose what actions we take, when we take them, where we take them, and how often we take them. That built-in 0.35 seconds gives us unprecedented control over all of our behaviors.
Before anything we think gets translated into actionable behavior, we have the inborn opportunity to veto any and all of our intended actions. Isn’t that incredible? Before we actually criticize someone, we can stop ourselves. Before we drink that beer, we can put the bottle down. Before we steal the CD, we can decide to leave it on the shelf. Before we say something hurtful, we can censor the indignity.
A Metaphysical Interpretation: Genesis 1:26
We are reminded of the power we have over our thoughts and actions in Genesis 1:26. We’re citing it from its usual literal meaning first and then following it up with a metaphysical perspective in order to corroborate the awesome nature of the Bereitschafts Potential.
According to the Genesis account, we are given dominion over the fish of the sea, the fowl of the air, the cattle, and over all the earth, as well as over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
When we use a metaphysical interpretation of this scriptural passage, the animals, fowl, creepy things and earth stand for traits, habits, and characteristics within us.
From a MetaSpiritual perspective:
- the earth represents our human consciousness;
- Fish (ideas);
- birds (higher thoughts);
- cattle (compliant, herd consciousness);
- wild animals (untamed or undisciplined instincts); and
- creeping things (our limited or destructive perspectives).
- As you can see, camels weren’t mentioned because they hadn’t gotten over their evolutionary hump yet! (We’re messing with you!)
Seriously — Our dominion is guaranteed by each built-in 0.35 second Bereitschafts Moment which is constantly available to us before we take any kind of action. We never have to abdicate our power. We can choose how we will respond to anything or anyone!
Use your Bereitschafts awareness as a failsafe mechanism to barometer your alignment with your Higher Self. Will the next action you take be in alignment with your professed spiritual beliefs? Will it represent the Real You or the counterfeit you? Will the next thing you say be congruent with your stated principles and values? Are your behaviors consistent with your professed standards of conduct?
Honor your 0.35 second gift. Use it to master the art of living!