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by Ven Baxter

Everything in life is a pattern. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the human mind—except maybe in mineral crystals or bird migration or multiplication tables or DNA or ice!—or in human behavior.

When the mind encounters a situation that is similar to one already in its memory, it attempts to create a pattern by linking the new experience with the remembered one. In doing so, it is trying to create a feeling of safety and security by forming a direct connection between the two experiences: one that is old and familiar, and one that is new and unknown. The mind’s goal in this process is bodily survival, a mechanism we inherited from our animal ancestors.

When the individual (human) learns through patient practice to navigate through the subconscious mind, (s)he can almost see these links between experiences. These links show how the mind/brain uses past experiences to create later experiences (which it then categorizes based on those same past experiences) and to assign meaning to them.

In this whole process, neurons in the brain are severing old connections and making new ones in response to the new experiences. The more similar the new experience is to old experiences, the fewer connections are severed and made, and the more rigid these patterns become in the brain. As a result, it becomes stagnant and patterns are crystallized.

This is what usually happens to most of us. Similar events from different times in life are strung together and connected in the memory. As a result of this organization, patterns are instilled and reinforced in the individual, and behavior becomes automated. Because of the programmed responses that have now been set up in the mind/brain, the individual acts without thinking consciously and becomes a human pattern of behavior.

As a result of merely reacting automatically to events (instead of consciously using the mind—beyond the brain), the person becomes an effect rather than a cause. The person becomes predictable, dull, and unenthusiastic.

Established patterns in the brain, and the resulting automated thoughts and behaviors, are one cause of the human tendency to resist change of any kind. These behavior patterns are also the reason why open-mindedness and living the fluid life of faith are essential.

When new moments arrive (which they do unceasingly), the mind of doubt accepts the situation uncritically and treats the new moment as if it were just like any previous moment (which it never is). The mind of faith, on the other hand, evaluates each moment on its own merit and reacts to each new stimulus as a separate event in life (which it always is). This keeps the mind fluid and supple, the brain freer of unwanted crystallized neural pathways, and even helps to keep us young.

One might respond by saying that this self-automation process is indeed good. After all, this is how we learn! Yes, that’s true. It’s this crystallization of the mind that enables us to drive a car, or ride a bicycle, or sleep, or learn geography. But there’s a point where automated thinking becomes a hindrance, not an asset. That point is the dividing line between learned abilities and automatic choices.

Being a behavior pattern is the ideal state of an animal, not a human being. We are not to live by instinct, but by choice! It behooves us to learn which of our behaviors are best left on auto-pilot and which ones we should take charge of consciously.


Ven Baxter is an ordained New Thought minister and certified Dianetics auditor. He lives in Live Oak, Florida, where he operates a canoe and kayak rental service, writes books and magazine articles, and performs weddings. Readers may contact him on Facebook.

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