Language, Beauty & Evolution
Once I knew only darkness and stillness… my life was without past or future…
but a little word from the fingers of another fell into my hand that
clutched at emptiness, and my heart leaped to the rapture of living.
At the age of 19 months an illness left Helen Keller blind and deaf, lost in a dark and soundless world. How then did she become a prolific writer (12 books and numerous articles), tireless advocate for economic justice, activist for the rights of women and people with disabilities, respected lecturer, world traveler (she visited 39 countries), Oscar winner (1955) and student of foreign languages (she studied Latin, Greek, French, German)? It all began with a word! The moment she discovered the word water, a vast and beautiful world opened up for her and that word not only changed her world, it changed ours as well.
Here is what her teacher, Ann Sullivan wrote on that fateful day when a world of color, beauty and heart emerged from the dark catacombs of isolation for young Helen: …We went out to the pump-house, and I made Helen hold her mug under the spout while I pumped. As the cold water gushed forth, filling the mug, I spelled “”w-a-t-e-r”” in Helen’s free hand. The word coming so close upon the sensation of cold water rushing over her hand seemed to startle her. She dropped the mug and stood as one transfixed. A new light came into her face. She spelled “water” several times. Then she dropped on the ground and asked for its name and pointed to the pump and the trellis, and suddenly turning round she asked for my name. I spelled ”Teacher.”
P.S. …Helen got up this morning like a radiant fairy. She has flitted from object to object, asking the name of everything and kissing me for very gladness. Last night when I got in bed, she stole into my arms of her own accord and kissed me for the first time, and I thought my heart would burst, so full was it of joy. How is it that one word can bring forth a world of connection, splendour, hope, love, creativity, color, peace, contribution and immense joy – and yet another word can lead to separation, ugliness, resignation, hate, alienation, war and destruction? I would like to explore the connection between beauty, truth and evolution with you in this month’s column.
The limits of my language means the limits of my world.
Our language shapes how we meet the world and the world we live in is the one that lives in the stories we tell. If you want to know why your life is the way it is, just observe what you are speaking and listening into existence. Our actions live inside the language and words we use. We believe that there is a world “out there” and somehow the image of the outer world meets our retina or eardrum and produces an accurate representation of what we are seeing and hearing. But, it is not so. The world that we experience in our consciousness is not the “real world”, whatever that is, although it does constitute our reality. The real world for us is the story that we live inside of, which is constantly shaping our actions, interactions and perceptions. While my world has similarities to yours, it has more to do with our cultural brain development than objective reality. We live inside a model of the world that is literally created by our brain, and shaped by the stories we hear and tell. Each of us has a different perspective on the world and therefore a different reality.
It’s our ability to interact somewhat reliably with the world that causes us to believe it’s real. We can never know for sure, but our brain tends to treat beliefs as if they are 100% true, until we discover to our surprise, that we’re wrong. Our stories about others and ourselves are also not real, they are fabrications based on our experience, beliefs, assumptions and what we have been told or heard from others. How then is one to know truth?
We are made immortal, by the contemplation of beauty.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
As I grow older I find great solace in experiencing truth in beauty. It is a truth that, while I am still immersed in the world of language, seems to transcend my story and leave me in a deep and abiding sense of presence and stillness. I am not talking about the glamor and glitz of the jet set, high fashion, man made, diamond studded, wall street consumer oriented beauty. I am talking about the beauty that stops you in your tracks and takes your breath away. The beauty that opens your heart and connects you with the natural world and the web of life; a sunrise over still waters mist rising to greet the day, a certain tree you meet in the forest when the light streams in through its branches, or the birth of a newborn baby… there is so much beauty in the world!
Kalon is a word in Greek, which means both “good” and “beautiful” at the same time. We don’t have a word like this in our culture, which seems to have lost it’s relationship to beauty and I would suggest to goodness. We so often tend to focus on all the ugliness and negative things that are happening in the world and get caught up in awfulizing, which is really just another story. True beauty has the power to bring us into the present moment, beyond our beliefs and stories of good and bad. Beauty reminds us of the goodness in the world. It points to an order, a perfection, a virtuousness and a knowing that there is an evolutionary force that moves towards the good and the beautiful. It fills a hunger that is so missing in our culture and our times.
The human soul is hungry for beauty… When we experience the Beautiful,
there is a sense of homecoming.
What if we began to shift, at least some portion of our day, to exploring our relationship to goodness and beauty. To begin to meet the world with a greater sense of wonder, awe and reverence. How would the story of our lives change if we were scanning our world for beauty and goodness? Starting within ourselves! What beauty can we discover within, what goodness? Can we bring a sense of wonder and curiosity to exploring the magic of just being here in this body on this abundant planet in this vastly expanding universe? How much of our day is caught up in ugliness, listening to the news, worrying about how our life is going to turn out, withholding our goodness in fear of lack, being a victim of our past?
There is an order and aesthetic to everything. To recognize it, experience it and open to the inherent beauty of being alive, is to find ourselves at home in the majesty of the universe. This requires stepping out of our mostly self-debasing stories of inadequacy, doubt and lack. This is how we become one with the force of evolution itself. When we find the beauty within ourselves we give permission to others to experience their own radiance, to open and flower in the shining of our reflected light. Seeing the beauty around us means that there is more beauty in the world. We evolve towards what we see and experience which shapes the stories that creates our future…
For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
I invite our readers this month to schedule time in your busy schedule to immerse yourself in beauty, what ever that means to you. It is there that we can discover together our own goodness, step out of our old story and into the presence of our own loveliness, and belonging. Beauty and goodness are calling forth a new voice, a new level of gratitude for the miraculous unfolding of our world…
With love and blessings,
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion, to embrace all living creatures and
the whole of nature in its beauty.
April 2016 Newsletter
It doesn’t interest me if there is one God or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel abandoned…
When I was very young my mother died and I spent my early years traveling with my military father and staying with a myriad of different people. Perhaps that is why I never felt like I belonged anywhere. But, as I have gotten older I find that this is not an uncommon experience… Many people I talk with, regardless of their upbringing, when they really look below the surface, have this feeling of being abandoned or not belonging. While it is not a conversation we readily engage in, we find that much of our consumption, addiction, and destructive behavior originates in our loneliness, despair, and feelings of abandonment. This accelerates and deepens the feeling of being less than whole, fragmented and trapped in what Alan Watts used to call our “skin-encapsulated ego”.
We attempt to feed the emptiness, and longing to belong with things that are external to o
urselves looking outwardly to meet this deep yearning for fulfillment, believing that “if I just found the right partner, got the right job, found the perfect house or got the right car then I would be fulfilled” – but, it’s never enough! No amount of stuff, success, or recognition can quench our thirst to feel whole, connected, and like we belong. I invite you to inquire for yourself, where do you feel abandoned in your own life? Perhaps the places that we have abandoned in ourselves can provide a portal to true happiness, wholeness and belonging.
In contrast to how a child belongs in the world, adult belonging is never as natural, innocent, or playful. Adult belonging has to be chosen, received, and renewed. It is a lifetime’s work…
When we’re born there is no separation between the world and ourselves. Everything and everyone is an invitation for exploration, investigation, and play. Boundaries are blurred between you and me. In our early years we are fully connected. There is no separation and no question of belonging. We form an identity of self by establishing who and what we are that is different or the same as someone else’s beliefs, intelligence, physical attributes, and what is acceptable to our family, culture and the people we love. The more we belong to different groups the more we become separate and alienated from people that are not in “our group.” The more we see our selves as separate from others and the world, the greater our abandoned self. As we nourish our authentic self-expression and recognize our connection with all of life we become more compassionate and connected in our experience of the other. When we choose to perceive, receive or re-spect anyone or anything as sacred we increase our connection and mutual belonging. When we look for our similarities, rather than our differences we increase our connection with all life.
I celebrate myself, and sing myself, and what I assume you shall assume, for every atom belonging to me as good, belongs to you.
When we celebrate ourselves with all our flaws, projections, and perceived inadequacies, we drop our armor and begin to reveal our true humanity – which becomes an expression of our individual greatness. Ironically this act of acceptance increases our authentic connection with others and diminishes our attachment to form and status. When we sing our true song the world listens and opens to the truth of our interconnection with all life. The more we open to our goodness (and embrace our perception of badness), the more people around us have an opportunity to drop their self encapsulated identities and express their authentic selves. In this opening we find mutuality and common ground. This is the foundation for real peace within ourselves and the opportunity to create harmony, not only with the human family, but with the web of life.
We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us.
When we see land as a community to which we belong,
we may begin to use it with love and respect.
It is becoming more and more obvious that we cannot continue on the path of consumption and economic growth that has characterized the 20th Century. Expanding population, consumption, and pollution of our fragile ecosystem is not only unsustainable, but a pathological attack on our host which feeds and nourishes us. But, as long as we continue to isolate ourselves from nature, and view everything that is not us, as resources to feed our voracious appetite for things that can never satisfy our hunger to belong, we will continue to see the devastation of our life support systems. The earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth!
We have fallen prey to species isolation, where we are mostly disconnected from nature and the natural cycles and rhythms of life. We even further disconnect ourselves by disassociating from our own bodies and the ancient wisdom contained in every cell. Bodies have become little more than vehicles to transport the mind and head from one self imposed paradigmatic prison to the next. In the US one in four people takes some form of mood altering drug, which further removes us from our natural cycles and denies access to the our own unique and natural wholeness.
Our bodies know they belong; it is our minds that
make our lives so homeless…
One of the reasons I left the corporate world was the realization of how disembodied and disassociated we had become from the natural world. Moving meditation, embodied journeying and ecstatic dance are ways we can reclaim our connection with all life. Conscious movement can become a portal to reclaiming and rehabilitating our ability to be with our disowned parts and return our lives to wholeness. It is from this place of wholeness that we recognize our connection with all life. Here there is no separation between us and them and no alien other. All life becomes sacred! We honor our own holiness and our body and life become our sacrament.
It is time to awaken to the reality that we are already intimately interconnected and belong to the same family. What would it be like if we lived our lives from the view that we already belong? How would that impact our daily being in the world. Thank you for your co-creation in the evolutionary unfolding of the universal human.
With love and appreciation,
Belonging to oneself—the whole essence of life lies in that.
Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev
Language, Words and Creation
In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God,
and the word was God.
I was always curious about this biblical quote. Not being a religious person, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it and yet, I remember it as if from some very distant time, like the melody of a song I keep humming but can’t remember the lyrics. It led me into the study of communication, ontology, Gestalt and the power and nature of language. What does it mean in the beginning was the word and what God was John talking about? It was certainly not the fierce bearded male in heaven that can condemn you to eternal hell for not believing in the rules that the church conjured up to keep the masses in line? Where would we be without words and language? Would there be beauty, love, creativity, emotions, art, or invention… all these things that live in the unseen world that are immeasurable? Would there be anything at all?
When we call something by name we give it form and substance, fixity. It becomes some thing. Just like the Observer Effect in physics, which refers to the changes that the act of observation will make on a phenomenon being observed, when we name something we create it in an image that is consistent with our worldview. When we observe someone or something our thoughts, feelings and experience are expressed in words that are generated by our perception. We are not a tabla rasa, a blank slate on which a virgin impression is being made. We bring a whole world to our observations and that shapes our perception and therefore our reality. If language and words are so powerful, why don’t we pay more attention to what comes out of our mouths as well as the incessant stream of chatter from our internal dialogue?
The words. Why did they have to exist? Without them,
there wouldn’t be any of this.
As my friend and teacher, Sandra Ingerman often reminds us, the magic phrase we used as children, “abracadabra” is actually an ancient Aramaic phrase “abraq ad habra” which translates into “I create as I speak”. Our words have immense power, the power to create or destroy. When we say things to ourselves like, “I’m so stupid, I’m unlovable, I’ll never get it right or I don’t deserve to be happy”, we are literally putting a curse on ourselves. By the same token when we send thoughts like “What a Jerk, you just can’t trust them, people like that should be shot…” even though they are unspoken they send an energetic message that deepens the artificial separation between us and them. Words, even when expressed as thoughts, can be arrows that wound and condemn another to a certain way of being. Consider what happens to a person when a community shuns or condemns one of its members. Social rejection has been known to cause psychological damage and has been categorized as torture or punishment. There are even cases of shunning where people have died.
Emily Dickenson once wrote:
A WORD is dead
When it is said,
I say it just
Begins to live
Do we wake up in the morning and say, “Wow! I get to create my world today”? or “Who is this mysterious person lying beside me, what amazing adventures and miraculous experiences will we have together today”? (of course if you aren’t in a relationship that would be really strange and you might want to call the police) Are we creating the world that we want, or living into the same old boring story that was yesterday’s news? What if we actually brought a sense of wonder, joy and curiosity to our thoughts, words and language? What would be possible if we challenged our own story and began to create a new story of the miraculous world we were speaking into existence?
In my next Shift course called the Embodied Shamanism Mentorship Program: Shapeshifting into a New Narrative for Your Life. We will be challenging the prevailing story of who we consider our selves to be. Based on the way we relate to the external world it is obvious, when you take the time to honestly inquire, that we think we are our story. Yet, our story is something that has been given to us by our experience, family, culture and handed down from our ancestors. It is malleable not fixed. If we want to change our world and our life, we must learn to change our story. For the most part we seem to be playing a part in someone else’s story. What if we were actually the author of our own story?
The limits of my language means the limits of my world.
A shape shifter is one who is able to change form or identity at will, to transform into a whole new being. The basic tools of narrative shapeshifting are intention, focus, presence, embodiment, integrity (as in wholeness), and the recognition that the story from our past does not have to shape our future. In fact when we claim our rightful place as the author of our own story, we step into the world of the miraculous. We become the creator god of our life. Things we have spent a lifetime struggling to change suddenly become an access to our deepest longing, habitual patterns that have caused problems with our health, relationships, finances and work suddenly dissolve and the way forward seems so obvious we wonder how we could have been so blind.
It is not that we need to suppress or wrestle our problems to the ground and beat them into submission. That only makes the things we are resisting more powerful and solid. When we shape shift into a new narrative, we create a new story that becomes a context for the old to exist within. Things from the past that we have been trying to change or get rid of take on new meaning and present new opportunities for transformation. The old story becomes an access to living a life of love, contribution and connection. By re-scripting the story of our life we reinterpret the events of our life into a hero’s journey. This doesn’t just happen because you say so, It must be embodied to move into a new story.
Your cells are as depressed as you are,
and your cells are as happy and frisky as you are.
Our bodies have been evolving since the beginning of time and contain the wisdom of the universe. Every one of the trillions of cells in our body is a library of the larger story of which we are all a part. Yet for the most part we treat our bodies like conduits for self-indulgence and pleasure. Stored in the memory banks of our body is the blueprint for the salvation of our soul and the expression of our innate gifts, strengths and talents. Every personal story or narrative has corresponding postures, movements and physical expressions.
When we begin to recognize that we are living inside of a story of our own creation we move from playing a bit part to authoring our story, But, that is not enough. We must transform the embedded moves, postures and ways of holding that are stored in our body memory and physically express the new story we are collectively creating. Without this work of noticing and shifting our bodily expression into the new story we will revert to the old story that is held in our cellular brain and neuro-pathways. All of this will be covered, and much more in the upcoming course on writing a new narrative for living a life we love. I hope you will join us in the upcoming series starting March 16th. Below is an interview I did with Stephen Dinan about this subject. Enjoy!
Thank you for your partnership in transforming our world by shapeshifting into a new reality. We are being called forth by the planet and the cosmos, to step fully into our true genius and express the gifts, talents and strengths that we were born with. This is the ultimate act of creation, to speak (with our words, bodies and intention) our selves into a new story for the future of life on earth.
With love and blessings,
Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others.
Unfold your own myth.
When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.
HH the Dalai Lama
Given that Valentine’s Day is upon us I wanted to invite you into an inquiry into the age-old question of “what is love” and what is the role of gratitude and forgiveness in the fulfillment of living a life of loving kindness? I don’t expect to answer the question, only to stimulate a discussion of what it means to be a loving person. Shakespeare once called love a “grave mental disease” and to listen to some of the pop and country western music depicting the trials and tribulations of love you might concur. The way in which people speak of love can also be confusing. How can we equate “I love… cilantro, my new car, cats, movies, and hamburgers…” with “I love him or her?” Sanskrit has 96 words for love, ancient Persian has 80, and English only One. Having only one word for what has been described, as the “greatest mystery” is possibly inadequate to plumb the depths of this conundrum called love.
Perhaps this externalized perspective of love towards someone or something outside of our selves is a barrier to the fullest expression of it? If my focus is on the object of my affection, don’t I set up a subject object relationship to it based on outward appearances, projections and our own habitual relational patterns? Love then becomes dependant on the perceived qualities, actions or behaviors we have towards another. This automatically creates a condition of separation between the object of my love and myself. What if love was actually a unifying force, the key to the illusive oneness that is so often spoken of in religious and spiritual gatherings and writings? If we were to explore love from this perspective we might find that every barrier to living a life of loving kindness and compassion would point back to the evolution of our own personal human development. Every block to loving either another or ourselves could become a portal or entry to loving all that arises within ourselves and give us access to greater peace, harmony, happiness, and personal power.
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers
within yourself that you have built against it.
Taking the position that loving whatever arises within our own heart and life could give us access to freedom, presence and fulfillment, while deepening our connection with others. By loving our own barriers, blocks and the things we think we need to fix about ourselves we can validate without judgement what is occurring in the moment. This might give us the opportunity to drop the strategies and prescriptions we have developed in the attempt to obtain the love we have been longing for and generate a field of love for others to step into and experience without feeling smothered, manipulated or uncomfortable with their own barriers to living a loving life. Love might then become a bridge between our illusion of separation and the reality of our profound and exquisite interconnection with all life.
The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.
Henri J. M. Nouwen
When love is present in our lives we feel grateful and isn’t it also true, that when we are grateful we actually bring more love into our lives. As my friend Lynn Twist often says, “what we appreciate, appreciates.” When we love what arises in our own heart there is more love in our lives and we create a field of love that is infectious. If we can learn to love the “issues” we have been trying to fix or change, we become more spacious and whole in the present moment. This allows others to embrace the things within themselves that they have been fighting against and resisting which also brings more love into the world! Expressing gratitude towards others might also help them to feel seen and let go of the struggles and strategies that emanate from their feelings of not being seen or heard.
It is so easy in our terminally busy lives to take the miracles that surround us for granted. We worry about our future; will I have enough money, time, love; we get caught up in fear, doubt and anxiety; and we rush around missing the life that is disappearing in the wake of our motion. Shamans always begin and end all ceremonies and every day with expressing gratitude for the ancestors, the elements, the directions, all the nature beings and the life they have been given. What we hold in lack increases, just as what we are grateful for grows and becomes sacred.
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.
When we practice being grateful it brings peace to our day and quiets the mind. To express our gratitude brings us into the present moment. This expression allows others to feel seen and appreciated. It makes them happy and this in turn can fill us with joyfulness. It also alters the future by giving us a brighter outlook on what is ahead. Grateful people seem to have charmed lives that flow with whatever arises. It can also alter the past by reinterpreting memories of events that happened long ago.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace to today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. When we hold on to things that happened to us in the past, it robs us of our energy. We think that by holding onto the past hurts and grievances we are somehow hurting the ones that have hurt us, but we are the only one hurt by it. Learning to forgive is the doorway to gratitude and rearranges our story into one that is more empowering. We can see that, we survived, grew stronger, were led to our spiritual path, and many other strengths and possibilities that opened up as a result of the pain we endured. By seeing the gifts and miracles in our lives, we reorganize our past, and move into a new story of gratitude and thanks giving.
Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is an attitude.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Forgiveness is an attitude of letting go. It constitutes a blessing bestowed on another by one with a gracious heart. It does not make us better, bigger, wiser or somehow more evolved. It removes the blinders from our hardened heart so we can count our blessings. If we could know the secret history of those who have caused us pain, we would find in each person’s life agony, torment and suffering enough to disarm all of our hostility. Abuse is a learned behavior, so is forgiveness and gratitude. Resentments, disagreements, and estrangements hurt all parties because they reinforce feelings of separation and separation is at the heart of all suffering.
The Forgiveness Trinity
When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that
person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel.
Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.
Forgiveness falls into three distinct categories: forgiving others, asking for forgiveness, and forgiving ourselves. Resentment means to feel again! We are not in the present when we hold onto resentments. Repeating our story of how we have been violated and wronged infects our mind and body with anger and diminishes our vital energy. Often our resentment of others is a reflection of our resentment towards ourselves. When someone lashes out, rejects or abuses us, it might be reinforcing a view we already have of ourselves. Even a look can do that! We make everything mean what we believe. The practice of forgiveness takes great courage and an open heart. It is perhaps the greatest access for love that we have.
Recognizing that there is basic goodness in everyone is a courageous act! It can be buried under greed, hostility, fear and ignorance and doesn’t mean we overlook or condone the harmful behavior – it means we look past the roles, stories and behaviors that obscure the essential goodness in others and ourselves. To really look and see if there is anyone who we might have intentionally or unintentionally hurt restores our integrity and asking for forgiveness helps us regain lost power and wholeness in our lives. The other person may or may not forgive you, and just making the offering can be a very empowering experience.
The hardest person to forgive is of course, ourselves. If you said the things you say to yourself to someone else it would be considered abusive. You could be arrested if you said, “I can’t believe how stupid you are”, “you’re such a jerk”, “you never do anything right”, “you aren’t worthy of love” “you’ll never be successful… on and on! To learn to love whatever arises in your thoughts and deeds is an astounding path to freedom. We all have stories of unworthiness, inadequacy and doubt and that’s just what they are – Stories! Isn’t it time to get a new story? One in which we fall in love with our selves, warts and all. Then the world might just fall in love with us.
I hope you all with join me today in becoming love revolutionaries. Perhaps this is the only thing we can do that will transform our world in to one of peace, compassion and joy!
With love and blessings,
For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult
of our tasks; the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for
which all other work is but preparation.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Transforming our old debilitating stories into new empowering and generative ones.
We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works.
It’s been almost 2 weeks since I bought my new MacBook Pro and it still isn’t up and running, in spite of countless hours with technicians from Apple, Microsoft, and Native Instruments. Almost everyday I have been on the phone consulting with technicians and pushing buttons, which seemingly takes me one step forward and two steps back with each call. Those who know me know that this is an old story for me. In spite of the fact that computers, which support my writing, DJing, radio producing, broadcasting, coaching, learning, and online webinars, surrounds me, it seems like things are constantly breaking down. I’ve contemplated suicide, beating my computer with a stick, becoming a Luddite or joining a monastery, none of which seem a satisfactory solution without giving up too much.
Still the story goes on and I remain feeling victimized, frustrated and blaming my irritability on my technology. So when one of my students challenged me to use my own teaching to deal with this ongoing source of irritation and frustration, I thought ah, s!*#, busted. For the past week I have been meditating, journeying, journaling, contemplating, diagraming and cogitating on how to transform this old story once and for all. It might have been easier to write a book, but I will try to capture my process for those who would like to transform old debilitating stories, that just keep reappearing, into new life enhancing narratives that support, empower and inform a more peaceful, evolved and fulfilling way of being in the world.
The human spirit must prevail over technology.
The first thing I did was to distinguish the story. Which goes something like “technology is unreliable, always breaking down, wasting my time and a constant source of frustration, irritation and upset!” Then I journeyed (if you aren’t familiar with journeying you can go to my site at http://centerforshamanicstudies.com/classes-programs/the-shamanic-journey/ ) to discover the origin of this conversation. If you can’t find the originating conversation, just trace back through earlier repetitions and variations on the theme. Find the pattern. What I found was an interaction with my father when I was about 8 where he found me playing with his tools and he yelled (my father, the Colonel, could be quite loud), “Don’t touch my tools, you’ll break something!” At that point, in the face, of fear, embarrassment and shock, I made a decision, “I’m not good with tools and if I use them things will break.” This is, in shamanism, a classic example of soul loss. The part of little Mickey, that was innocent, curious, playful and wanting to make things, was shut down and replaced by a strategy for being safe.
We create strategies to compensate for our soul loss at the cost of our human wholeness. My strategy became to be clever and creative to compensate for my assumed lack of competency with tools and technology. Once that story started, it shaped how I saw the world and I began to gather evidence for what became my unexamined reality. Neural pathways were created that always led me to the same conclusion. Unexamined, it became what’s so! “Michael is just not good with tools and technology”, became the context that shaped my relationship with technology and became the way others also viewed me. The irony is that Spirit has a way of continually giving us opportunities to heal those wounded parts of ourselves by increasing our opportunities for healing. So here I am at 70 years of age, surrounded by the tools of my trade; they call them technology! I could spend the rest of my life affirming this story and being irritated and dissatisfied or, because I have the power to choose, I could stop and imagine a new more empowering story.
Live out of your imagination, not your history.
To create a new more empowering story we need a new larger context. Context gives meaning. To create a context worthy of my soul’s journey it needs to be based in my values, which include making a contribution, being kind (to myself and others), and teaching through example (which is why I am writing this month’s newsletter on this subject.) I want to be clear here that I am not trying to suppress or change the old story as this will cause more persistence of the drama. Outside of time you would never try to change something that wasn’t and shamanism is a practice that lives beyond the illusion of time. Whatever happens to us happens in the present, everything else consists of a remembered past or imagined future.
So after much thought, journeying and walks in nature I came up with a new context. “Technology is my partner in my commitment to supporting the emergence of a world that works for all life and future generations.” Now do my triggers from the past suddenly disappear? Of course not! But a new possibility arises in my expanded value-based awareness and commitment to a new narrative. When I get triggered into my old pattern, I have a choice between reacting to the pattern and getting upset, or I can choose to use it as a portal, a reminder of my commitment to new overarching possibilities. This allows me to reclaim my power to create my life and the way I respond to the circumstances that arise.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
Viktor E. Frankl
So creating a context gives us the opportunity to pause between the trigger and reaction and choose to act consistently with our new narrative. My triggers then become reminders of the larger story that I have invented for myself. Kind of like mental post-its! Conversations are stories being unfolded as we speak, but we act as though they are reality and beyond our creative intention. In effect what we are dong in this process is creating new neural pathways, freeway to freedom.
Now there is a problem here, because it is not only our personal story. It has become embedded in the conversations of our community and we have trained our friends and family to know that this is what Michael does, he gets upset with and has problems with technology. So, we now have a new opportunity to demonstrate to our community that we have actually stepped into a new story. In this case it is celebrating technology as my partner in bringing forth a life friendly world. In order to do this we must change our actions and conversations to be consistent with our new narrative. We need to do the work of literally changing our mind!
The other problem is that our stories are like a big ball of knotted string and when we pull one out, it is often connected to many other strings. For instance in my case this part of my narrative had become connected to the story that “I’m not good enough”, “I can’t”, and “I’m unworthy of love”. Revealing these other threads allows us to deepen our exploration of our Master Identity Narrative – the stories we tell others and ourselves that constitutes the “I am” of our existence in greater depth. To dive into the examination of the fabric of our own being takes courage, humility and a willingness to be constantly pulling the rug out from under our sometimes smug certainty about what we think we know about life and the world, which gives us greater power to have a say in the evolution of our own life and humanity itself. This takes us into the entanglement of the Morphic field, or thought pool we draw from for the so-called original thoughts we have, but that’s a discussion for a later newsletter.
Trial by Fire
There’s a common occurrence when you start to try to change familiar patterns in your life. When you are looking to have a breakthrough, it’s likely that what you will encounter is a series of breakdowns. It makes sense that your identity, whose primary purpose is survival, will push against your resolve to change an old, engrained identifying pattern in your life. The universe is testing our resolve!
After I wrote this on Saturday, I thought, after 10 days of suffering and resisting, we were nearing completion and I had an appointment to finish up with my senior Apple tech at 9am Sunday morning. I was feeling grounded in the new context “Technology is my partner in my commitment to supporting the emergence of a world that works for all life and future generations.” Well, she didn’t call, even though I called early and then several more times over the next hour. I started to get pissy and go into, “I can’t believe it, they stood me up again.” Oops, reboot, act from the new story. So I calmly called Apple, got a new person and started all over again. So nine hours of more breakdowns and holding them as my teacher. I learned so much about computers and myself. I can honestly say that, even when I got triggered again, I was and am well on the road to building new neural pathways with my body, emotions, thoughts and conversations with others all creating a new relationship to technology. I’m actually excited about expanding my understanding of computers and technology in my quest to have my life be a contribution to the world. In fact I am even talking with some friends about starting an internet radio station. Seems like a good way to support my overall purpose and intention.
I invite you all to join me in this practice of using our triggers and complaints to access and support the creation of a new you (and a new type of human) as we recognize and implement our power to create a new and evolving master identity narrative for our lives. Our descendants are counting on us to come through for them and ourselves.
with Love and Blessings,
Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.
George Bernard Shaw