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Losing Your Mind To Find It

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Before the rain stops we can hear a bird. Even under the heavy snow we see snowdrops and some new growth.  – Shunryu Suzuki

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There & Back Again

When my wife and I were first married, we spent a summer on Madeira Island with her family. They lived three hours from the airport in a small, poor farming village, high up in the mountains. After a hair raising 3 hour taxi ride on winding, narrow mountain roads with drops of 1,000 feet or more, we arrived at the family home. I noticed quickly that there were no phones, no TVs or radios, no refrigeration, and only sporadic electricity. There was one road in and the same road out.

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In my time there, I discovered many interesting things about the skills and attitudes of the villagers. One characteristic in particular has stayed with me all these years. The shortcut to the center of town was a narrow, single file path along the side of a ridge with a drop of about twenty feet to the ravine below. In pitch darkness, townspeople could travel barefoot along this path at high speed, with no flashlights and without hesitation. No one, including the older folk, seemed to fall or fear the trek. It was as if they could see in the dark. My attempts to do this myself were met with polite smiles and giggles as I stumbled and demanded a flashlight. They couldn’t quite grasp what my problem was.

Madeira 3Three weeks into our stay, we were visiting relatives higher up the mountain. We stayed longer than anticipated and had to start down the mountain in the pitch dark. There was no road, only a primitive path with crevices, holes and boulders jutting into the path. It was a steep descent. As we started down, I could feel the fear of falling and being injured growing. In spite of that, I was moving faster and faster down the mountain. And then it happened. It was as if one part of my mind turned off and another turned on. I began to run. Incredibly, it all seemed to be in slow motion. I could see every crevice, every stone along the path. I neither tripped nor stumbled during the entire descent. Some part of me knew where to step. I leaped over crevices, dodged boulders and all at top speed. I saw the world in a totally new way; somehow I was aware of everything around me despite the darkness. My mind was clear, focused and in command. But it was not my conscious, everyday mind. There were no words or concepts, only awareness. It was what I have come to call the Instinctual Mind. A mind in which the world appears seamless and our senses fully integrated. But more of that later.  Let me get back to the story.

Upon arriving at the relative’s home, we partook of the obligatory homemade Madeiran wine and crackers while sitting for hours talking about the farm, the children and past experiences. There was little food to share but the Portuguese hospitality was magnificent. My mind was placid and content in the here and now, primed for a new experience.

Years later, after a career at the university and in private psychotherapy practice marked with the stresses of incessant multitasking, sitting for hours at computers, and driving in massive traffic jams, I began to jealously reflect on the extraordinary skill of the Madeirans.  How could we be so different?  Was their ability to use the Instinctual Mind inherently human but lost to us through some social or mental atrophy? Could regaining this ability contribute a clarity and focus to life that seemed long lost in my fast paced, technology dominated world? I couldn’t help but wonder if the ability of the Madeirans to harness the Instinctual Mind could in some way rekindle a sense of place, a deeper awareness of my surroundings, of purpose and a greater sensuality. I began to look into ways, some common, some not so common that could contribute to awakening that other mind that seemed so hidden and elusive.

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Hiking the Mountain

It may be helpful to look at hiking the mountain as a way of awakening the Instinctual Mind. If you have ever gone hiking, you know that it takes some preparation. You need supplies and proper clothing and a sense of direction. For me the preparation for ascending the mountain was three weeks of being free of all technology or knowledge of the world. Only the simple facts of everyday life were real. Once on the path upward, you need water, food and proper shoes so the journey can be completed. For us the hike up was hot and demanding. We had to negotiate the crevices, holes and boulders. All of this to reach our goal.

Many believe once you reach your goal at the summit the journey is over. You see the sky and the vistas. But for me reaching the top was only the prelude to the descent. Sometimes what we think is the goal is only the gateway to something more.  It was the descent that shattered my mind and opened it to a new dimension. Each of us must find the path and journey that suits us. For some it may be the climb up or reaching the peak. For others it will be the journey down. The only way to know is to start preparing and taking the first steps along the way.

Awakening the Instinctual Mind is allowing what is already in you its full expression. You are not adding something new to yourself. This awakening can bring changes in your relationships, worldview and health. Instinctual Mind is a mind of compassion and healing. But those are stories for another day.

Beginning The Climb

Here are a few ways to begin preparing for the climb:

  • Make a decision to free yourself, temporarily, from your cell phone and IPad or all technology for that matter. You might choose one hour a day so you can sit without the devices. Wean yourself from the constant clatter. Start to become accustomed to sitting, speaking to family, friends and colleagues without technical interruptions. You can expand this time as you grow stronger.
  • Limit your time listening to the news. All the calamities of the world will still be there when you get back. Cut the ties to 24 hour cable network news. Re-traumatizing yourself all day long is unhealthy and destroys composure.
  • Learn relaxation techniques to reduce stress. Relaxing is a good preparation to stilling your everyday mind that chatters on and on.
  • Go hiking, take up Tai Chi. These practices allow you to put aside the ordinary mind. Being in nature can be very helpful in the journey.
  • Start a meditation practice. There are many forms of meditation. Choose one that suits your temperament. Sitting is a path to awakening. Meditation is a way of scratching away at all the obstacles to knowing and giving expression to our true mind.
  • Find a teacher, group or someone you trust who can help you along the way.

Tools for the Hike

Ram Das: https://www.ramdass.org/

Original Mind: http://www.originalmindbrilliance.com/

Centering Prayer: http://www.centeringprayer.com/

Beginner’s Mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCOVusLqXmk

Go Wild: http://www.johnratey.com/Books.php

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Consciousness

How To Ground Yourself: A Simple Yet Powerful Technique

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Mental health challenges, depression and even physical illness, are all on the rise. All three are believed by emerging research to be linked to trauma.

Thankfully, nervous system health and trauma are becoming a big part of what people talk about as it seems people are looking to get to the root of these issues more now than ever before.

After coming to my own realization that I was traumatized from experiences I had, I began studying trauma to not only help myself but to see how I could further improve my own media work – which has been, in essence, trauma-informed, since 2009.

What I’ve come to feel is that trauma affects almost all of us in some way, while there is not much data to back that up, I truly believe this to be the case. Learning useful skills to work through that trauma is becoming important in order to take our health into our own hands.

In the video below, I talk a bit about how events going on in the world can make us feel anxious and worried, and how that affects our bodies, minds, and health. I also share a simple yet powerful technique for sensory grounding.

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Consciousness

Why Hugging Is Powerful: Especially When We’re So Isolated

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CE Staff Writer 6 minute read

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

When’s the last time you had a good hug? Can you even recall a time when one lasted longer than 10 or 15 seconds? Hugging releases oxytocin, a bonding hormone, as well as serotonin and endorphins. These hormones are a big part of what makes us feel good and build a sense of community and connection with others.

When we hug our friends or family, or even spend a good few hours with them, we often don’t know what exactly the mechanism is that makes us feel good, but often times it’s touch, eye contact and reading facial expressions.

Throughout COVID, once we got a sense of what it feels like to not have as much touch, see smiles, see our friends or family, we might have gained a greater awareness of how important this really is. Intense isolation, like we’ve all experienced, leads to touch deprivation, and one could argue, has led to collective traumatization throughout the course of this pandemic.

Humans biologically need touch, it’s built right into our physiology. When we are babies, touch is a crucial part of our ability to regulate our nervous systems and feel safe. When we’re very young, our bodies have not yet built the ability to self-regulate (feel safety and comfort), and thus our caregivers play the important role of not only touching to bring regulation and safety, but also using facial expressions to send the message that ‘all is OK.’

Further, humans thrive in a sense of community and connection. When we are too isolated, without a deep and dedicated practice like monk’s might do in a cave in Tibet, we begin to lose the benefits of co-regulation, and in turn our psychology can begin to suffer over time. Humans have built incredible things – together – when in community, and touch plays an important role in that.

It most cultures around the world, hugging is part of daily life. Other cultures might decide to greet one another with cheek kissing instead, but touch is often a common denominator. But it’s true, there are places that may be ‘less touch-y’ and will certainly find other ways to connect.

One thing I can say though, especially during this unprecedented time of isolation, make it a point to hug those close to you when you can. Make it a good one, 15 or 20 seconds! Pay attention to how you feel after.

As mentioned, hugging is not the only way we get a sense of co-regulation and connection. Looking into one another’s eyes, sensing facial movements and reactions are also important. We have millions of mirror neurons in our brains that are constantly reading what is happening in another person, and sending information to areas of our brain, subconsciously, that tell us how a person might be feeling, for example. When we witness someone taking an action, neurons in our brains respond to that action in the same way as if we were taking that action ourselves – hence ‘mirror neurons.’

This might mean that when we watch a nervous moment in sports for example, although we are not playing, we might take actions like covering our mouths or holding our chest, feeling the nerves the players are likely feeling. As you can imagine, this is not a perfect science. Sometimes we are nervous but the player is cool as a cucumber, but generally, mirror neurons tend to help us connect to what others are feeling or doing, giving us a sense of empathy.

It goes even deeper. Research from Institute of HeartMath has shown that the human heart emits a measurable electromagnetic field that contains information other people can pick up on and decode in their brains. Regardless of how ‘new-agey’ this might sound to some minds, it’s a reality of our physical bodies.

Just think, have you ever walked into a room with multiple people in it and noticed the energy of it? Perhaps you noticed right away it was very tense or very jovial. This sense likely comes from having an awareness of how our electro magnetic field is interacting with the collective field of the room.

What you’re feeling is how someone’s general emotional state is affecting the field they emit. The more we feel tension, anxiety, or depression for example, the more we also put that signal out into our communities. Now, this isn’t a call to get stressed out about how we’re affecting others, this is simply a realization of what’s going on.

In our current chaotic world, it’s quite common to feel anxious or uncertain about what’s happening, and acknowledging that is OK is perfectly fine. The next question becomes: how can I manage my emotional state and create a a felt sense of calm? (Which of course will change the field you emit as well.)

Managing Our Emotions & Energy

One very simple option is written at the top of the article we post here on The Pulse. It’s a simple technique I adapted from my training at HeartMath, but I added in my own flair learned from my trauma specialist training as I felt a greater focus on interception, our awareness of sensations in our body, was important to be in the mix.

As go move through your day, stop, take a breath and release the tension in your body starting from your head all the way down to your feet. Take a few moments on each muscle group if you like. Place attention on your physical heart and breathe slowly into the area for 60 seconds, focusing on feeling a sense of ease.

I wrote a much more in-depth article here, where I share more detailed steps and how this helps improve our overall energy levels as well.

Our bodies are filled with tools that sense anything from obvious to ‘unseen’ signals coming from others and our environment. These tools suggest we are beings of connection, and we thrive when we get enough of it. They also suggest it’s important to pay attention to more than just the material aspect of our world, as there is much that needs to be ‘taken care of’ in the ‘unseen.’ By that, I mean, as we manage our emotions and regulate our nervous system’s, our felt electro magnetic field communicates a different message to others out there.

What message are you sending?

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Consciousness

Full Moon In Aquarius: Rationality & Seriousness

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

We are having a Full Moon in Aquarius on July 23rd/24th. It will appear the brightest on the night of the 23rd throughout most of the world and on the night of the 24th in the time zones East of Japan. This is the peak of the Lunar cycle that began with a New Moon in Cancer on July 9th/10th.

The energies of a Full Moon are strongest in the days surrounding it yet its astrological configurations also play a part over the following two weeks. You may start to see its themes slowly build up after the New Moon prior.

This is a period in which we feel a push-pull between two opposing signs, in this case being the Moon in Aquarius and the Sun in Leo. It can play out as either a conflict, an integration, or some sort of dynamic between the energies of both signs. The Moon reflects the expression of feeling and emotion while the Sun reflects the expression of ego and conscious self.

We may feel this opposition happening individually within us and/or we can also experience it play out around us; with some people (or circumstances) expressing the Aquarius side and others expressing the Leo side. In some cases, Full Moons can also reflect/trigger some sort of change or release.

Full Moon In Aquarius Opposite Sun In Leo

Leo season began 36 hours before the Full Moon and will continue until August 22nd/23rd. This is the sign of self-expression, creativity, love, affection, children, courage, vitality, passion, leadership, generosity, and playfulness. Ruled by the Sun, it is also about shining in our power and being in alignment with what really lights us up and gets us excited.

The negative expressions of Leo can be egotistical, self-absorbed, authoritarian, dramatic, stubborn, jealous, and hot-tempered.  As it is associated with seeking praise and attention, it can be demanding of respect and be boisterous without considering or caring about how others respond to that.

The Full Moon highlights and brings the energies of the opposing sign of Aquarius into this Leo backdrop. This is the sign of friends, networks, social dynamics, social issues, groups, teams, humanity, and being in the best interest of the collective. This energy is unconventional, idealistic, innovative, progressive, scientific, original, inventive, technological, reforming, and even revolutionary.

Negatively, Aquarius can be overly detached, aloof, unemotional, and very invested in the mind at the expense of the heart. Traditionally ruled by Saturn, it can also be unyielding when it comes to the ideas and perspectives that it has already decided on.

Both Leo and Aquarius have some similarities. They are ‘Fixed’ signs and therefore can both be determined yet stubborn. They are also both associated with originality and authenticity. In Aquarius, this comes from its unconventional and innovative attributes while in Leo it comes from being inspired by its heart centred self-expression.

Full Moon Quincunx Venus, Conjunct Saturn, & Square Uranus

This Full Moon is in a quincunx with Venus which has recently entered Virgo. Our feelings, emotions, needs, or domestic lives may be at odds with friendships, values, finances, pleasure, or matters of love. It can be hard to integrate these areas but being flexible and making adjustments can be the solution.

The Full Moon is moving towards Saturn in the same sign. This can reflect a serious energy and we may be faced with limitations, restrictions, delays, or obstacles. We or others may be emotionally distant, pessimistic, or reserved. However, this can be good for some sort of effort that requires discipline, structure, and orderliness. After the Full Moon period, some of these energies will be strong again on August 1st/2nd.

Following the conjunction with Saturn, the Moon forms a square aspect with the disruptive Uranus in Taurus. This is activating the square between Saturn and Uranus that is happening throughout the year which I’ve covered in previous articles. Themes around ‘old versus new’, ‘restrictions versus freedom’, ‘the status quo versus revolution’, ‘commitments/responsibilities versus liberation’, ‘elder versus youth’, ‘progressiveness versus tradition’ and so forth.

Jupiter Going Back Into Aquarius

Jupiter entered its home sign of Pisces in mid-May for a short stint as it is returning back into Aquarius on July 28th/29th. The planet of expansion, freedom, beliefs, perspective, education, is unrestrained in Pisces and gets to express itself more ideally in this sign. We have seen examples of this as many jurisdictions loosened up covid related restrictions during this period.

With it going back into Aquarius, a traditionally Saturn ruled sign with Saturn currently present there, Jupiter will be more inhibited until late December when it re-enters Pisces again. It’s possible that during this 5 month period we will likely experience more restrictive measures return or new ones implemented. We may also experience this in different ways in our personal lives such as not being able to expand the way we’d like to. However, this might not be noticeable immediately.

The combination of Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius (which began last December) can be good for building towards something or planting seeds pertaining to some sort of technological integration, social networking, collective or social pursuits, activism, new scientific approaches to things, and innovation.

Venus Square Lunar Nodes, Mars Opposite Jupiter

Venus will be in a square with the Lunar Nodes which will be strong from July 28th-30th. We may be reflecting on the past and future, or perhaps at a crossroads, when it comes to friendships, love, values, or financial matters. We may need to complete something and address what is holding us back  to help us move on and take a step forward in an evolutionary way when it comes to these areas of life. Venus is in Virgo so therefore discernment, details, practicality, health, organization, or efficiency may be key.

At this time Mars will be switching from Leo to Virgo while in an opposition to Jupiter. We may begin to feel the need to apply ourselves in a way that is more productive, sustainable, healthy, and clean. However, we can overextend ourselves and take on more than we can handle. This can also play out as conflicts around beliefs, perspectives, opinions, or judgements.

Mercury’s Superior Conjunction

Mercury will be in its Superior Conjunction on August 1st/2nd which is in an important phase of Mercury’s cycle with the Sun. From this point onward we may have a better perception around certain things that were seeded or occurred in the previous two months which may also help our momentum forward. .

Circumstances and developments that happen at this time can help us gain more clarity or facilitate necessary realizations to help us make the right decisions and appropriate mental focus. During this conjunction, the Sun and Mercury will be opposing Saturn which can play out as hindrances or the need to be pragmatic as part of this process.

Things To Consider

How can you balance or integrate your personal passions with the needs of the collective? How can you resolve any conflicts between leadership and a team or group? Are you experiencing any challenges or conflict between your heart and intellect? What areas of your life do you need to be more orderly, structured, disciplined, or take more seriously? Is there anything that you need to separate from? How can you apply yourself in a more noble way?

These are just some examples of themes that could come up or ways to approach this period; however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out as well.  If you wish to do any sort of intentional release, it is best to do so after it begins to wane following the peak or during the two weeks afterwards when it is waning before the next New Moon. The exact peak of this Full Moon is at 2:37am Universal Time on July 24th, night of the 23rd. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

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