Before you begin...
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” As a child, this well-worn phrase was the perfect antidote to whatever insulting name-calling I had to endure from other children. Those times I did remember to use it, it seemed to give me back some strength and made me feel good. For all of us, the perspective behind this phrase can turn an ‘insult’ into what it truly is: mere words, a string of vocal utterances without innate meaning or power, unless the recipient were to interpret them as such by taking them personally.
The very phrase ‘She insulted me,’ is at best a relative and not an absolute truth. More accurate would be the phrase ‘She said something and I took it personally,’ because these two things are always required for someone to be insulted. It is not a matter of whether or not she intended to demean, offend, or humiliate me; if indeed she did, though, the truth about it is simply that ‘She said this with an intention to insult me.’ In the end, this never proves the insult to be true; it just proves that she is a person who tries to insult others.
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If personal frailty makes us take offending statements personally–and many of us still fall into that category, at least some of the time–the experience always provides an opportunity for us to come to grips with how we feel about ourselves, and continue to do the personal work required that renders us invulnerable to insult. From this more powerful place, we can then deal with those who would insult or demean us in a much more effective manner.
Understand that I am not advocating that we individually or collectively suffer in silence when hateful and prejudicial speech is directed at us; I am suggesting that if we have allowed ourselves to be emotionally impacted by such speech, and have given these words power over us, we are unlikely to be able to deal with the situation in an effective manner.
Many people in our society have not yet done the consciousness work that makes them feel immune to criticism. They do not take personal responsibility when they feel insulted and maintain an identity that supports their own victimhood. One of the problems with this, especially in this age of social media and rapid communication, is that we have started to share this sense of victimhood as a collective, and our societal ego has grown into some kind of Frankenstein.
These days, we are getting more and more into the habit of banding together on social media in feeling victimized by the words of others, even if they are not directed at us; what is more damaging, we feel justified in expressing our raw outrage and self-righteous indignation at people who are speaking their minds, as though it will somehow make the situation better.
The fact is that this does not make things better, no matter how ‘offensive’ the words may be. It only works to bury the dark thoughts and beliefs of people instead of allowing them to come out and be expressed, which is the first step towards healing. We put too much emphasis on preventing words from being said, and too little on helping people overcome the ignorance that sponsored the words in the first place.
Political correctness, with its mandating of words and phrases not to be used in public, is a symptom of this. Let’s use our discernment here, because there is some nuance to this, and a simplistic approach can only cause polarization.
It is all well and good for us to agree that certain words, terms and phrases have a pejorative meaning, and foster a negative or demeaning perception of the group of people the words refer to. If we come to agree that there are better words to use, this can be helpful to foster a more neutral or positive perception of such groups within social discourse.
But this can be taken too far. When people or groups rely too much on ‘society’ to police offensive speech, rather than working towards becoming immune to it, it can cause the kinds of overblown reactions that are rampant on social media these days and actually start to hamper our individual impulse to speak freely.
We have seen the growth of what Salman Rushdie calls, ‘The Outrage Industry,’ that gives legitimacy to people taking words personally such that they feel they have legal recourse for the suffering wrought by their own emotional reaction. This industry makes it possible for not only ‘victims’ but lawyers and other supporters of such a system to profit from being insulted.
Tactics Of Control
There are some telling signs that this has been part of the agenda of our authority all along, to cause us to unknowingly police each other in suppressing our own individual ability to speak freely.
Bringing to bear the influence of government, the legal system and mainstream media to promote victimhood of offending speech culturally, our authority gains an entry point of control over what one is allowed and not allowed to say.
Fortunately, brave voices have already spoken out against that in the past. In a speech in support of the removal of the word ‘insult’ from a British law that made it possible for law enforcement to arrest someone for saying something ‘insulting’ to someone else, British comedian Rowan Atkinson had this to say about it:
The law…is indicative of a culture that has taken hold of the programmes of successive governments that, with the reasonable and well-intended ambition to contain obnoxious elements in society, has created a society of an extraordinarily authoritarian and controlling nature. That is what you might call The New Intolerance, a new but intense desire to gag uncomfortable voices of dissent. ‘I am not intolerant’, say many people; say many softly spoken, highly-educated, liberal-minded people: ‘I am only intolerant of intolerance’. And people tend to nod sagely and say ‘Oh, Wise words, wise words’ and yet if you think about this supposedly inarguable statement for longer than five seconds, you realize that all it is advocating is the replacement of one kind of intolerance with another. Which to me doesn’t represent any kind of progress at all. Underlying prejudices, injustices or resentments are not addressed by arresting people: they are addressed by the issues being aired, argued and dealt with preferably outside the legal process. For me, the best way to increase society’s resistance to insulting or offensive speech is to allow a lot more of it. As with childhood diseases, you can better resist those germs to which you have been exposed.
We need to build our immunity to taking offence, so that we can deal with the issues that perfectly justified criticism can raise. Our priority should be to deal with the message, not the messenger. As President Obama said in an address to the United Nations: ‘…laudable efforts to restrict speech can become a tool to silence critics, or oppress minorities. The strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech’ and that is the essence of my thesis; more speech. If we want a robust society, we need more robust dialogue and that must include the right to insult or to offend. As Lord Dear says, ‘the freedom to be inoffensive is no freedom at all.’
You can see Rowan Atkinson’s entire speech in the video below:
One area in which our authority has made great inroads in limiting our free speech is on the Internet. Social media giants such as Facebook, Youtube, and Google are now using designations such as ‘hate speech’ and ‘inappropriate content’ to justify blocking, shutting down, and deleting content, mainly because the content goes against the mainstream narrative or provides truths that our authority do not want out in the public domain.
Much more will be discussed on the subject of Internet censorship at a later time. And note, we are not talking about examples of the Internet being used in ways that could physically harm people. We are talking about words, opinions, points of view. For our purposes here, suffice it to say that I believe the rights to free speech supersede any perceived ‘right’ to be offended, and should not entitle authority to censor subjectively defined ‘insulting’, ‘demeaning’, or ‘hateful’ content. We should not be allowing external censorship, and have to take back our power and right to choose what content is appropriate for us.
Defending Free Speech
But it all comes back to us getting beyond taking things personally. If we get insulted by what someone says, we are not well placed to respond objectively to it. The point being made here is not that we should condone hateful, pejorative, negative speech; we are as free to make our feelings known about another’s words as they are free to speak them. Like the old saying goes, ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’
As awakening beings, we need to recognize that dealing with points of view we don’t agree with is essential for our growth. If those points of view happen to be laced with vitriol and judgment, all the more reason to allow them to be aired and, to the extent that we are able, to respond with equanimity, if not with compassion. This creates the possibility for understanding, growth, and healing for all.
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New Moon In Aries: Taking Bold Action
Before you begin...
We are having a New Moon in Aries during the later hours of April 11th in the Americas and on the 12th everywhere else in the world. This is initiating a 29.5 day lunar cycle and new wave of energy for the coming month; however, the astrological configurations mentioned throughout this article will be more prominent over the following two weeks. This cycle will include a Full Moon in Scorpio on April 26th/27th.
Aries season began at the Equinox (on March 20th globally this year) as it always does, as per the framework of the Tropical Zodiac. Being the first of twelve signs, and initiator of a transitional season, it begins the Astrological New Year. However with this New Moon actually occurring in Aries as well, it will crank up the energies of this sign even more so in comparison to the previous weeks that were part of a lunar cycle initiated by a New Moon in Pisces.
Aries is the domain of self, independence, and individual needs. As a Cardinal Fire sign ruled by Mars, it is assertive, courageous, direct, pioneering, and leading. It is initiating, quick, bold, energetic, and warrior-like. Negatively, this energy can be inconsiderate, selfish, hot tempered, combative, restless, impatient, aggressive, and overly competitive. Aries lacks thoroughness due to its quick forward energy.
New Moon Conjunct Mercury & Venus In Aries
This New Moon is close to both Mercury and Venus. This can reflect a period in which our social interactions and engagement with others can be more lively. Both Mercury and Aries have a busy moving type of energy and we may feel more active, physically and/or mentally, as a result.
The conjunction of both of these planets with this New Moon also means it is tied into cycles that each of those planets have with the Sun. Venus recently joined the Sun in the last week of March and it is now travelling ahead of it in zodiacal position.
In recent weeks this has been a time in which we experienced shifts, developments, endings, beginnings, or more clarity around Venus areas of friends, love, social dynamics, values, worth, or financial matters in some cases. This New Moon and the weeks following can continue this process, especially when it comes to beginnings or newer ways of expressing ourselves in these areas.
Mercury is now approaching the Sun as they will make their conjunction on April 18th/19th. At that time we may experience developments, which may be significant, connected to what has transpired during its previous retrograde in February and how things have unfolded since then. From there, these things may develop further with a better perception, or circumstances may indicate lack of sufficiency, not what was anticipated, or that something needs to change.
Planets In Aries Square Pluto & Sextile Mars Trine Jupiter
This New Moon, along with Venus and Mercury, are in a square with Pluto and sextile with Mars and Jupiter. Pluto combined with Aries and Mars energy can reflect a period of intensity. However, it can also play out as issues around power, control, manipulation, jealousy, insubordination, or subversion. It can also be revealing, psychological, compulsive, transforming, and purging.
The sextile with Mars in Gemini adds to the lively, assertive, instinctual, and energetic expressions of Aries. The Aries’ planets sextile to Jupiter, which is also trine Mars, can be good for applying ourselves in a way that is expansive, optimistic, educational, philosophical, explorative, freedom seeking, or centered around beliefs. New doors may open up and it can even be lucky for some people.
Uranus square Saturn (mentioned here in a previous article) is still in the backdrop as it will be throughout the year. Although it’s not in one of its strong periods, themes of ‘freedom/rebellion/revolution being at odds restrictions/limitations/traditions are still playing out. This may get activated in different ways by this new lunar cycle and the Aries energy that has already been present over the previous weeks following the Astrological New Year.
Making Intentions & Things To Consider
How would you like to grow and expand and what do you need to change to get there? In what areas do you need to be more bold or courageous? What have your relationships shown you in recent weeks? What is important for your individuality? What are your personal needs? What do you stand for and should you be fighting for it? Do you need to be a leader in any aspects of your life? Are there any new things that you want to explore?
These are just some examples of what to consider or focus your intentions on at this time. However, it is good to reflect on anything else that is coming up for you. It is generally best to make any intentions within the first 24 hours following a New Moon. The exact moment it will occur is 2:31am Universal Time on April 12th. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.
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A Symbiosis of Humans & Technology – Changing The Conversation
Before you begin...
Have you ever noticed that discussions about transhumanism tend to focus on technology more than humanism? The journey to reaching our highest potential as a species is usually focused externally on the technology rather than internally on our conscious evolution. This is probably because people assume that conscious evolution is more about spirituality whereas technology is more having to do with the things humans create. The two paths are interdependent so we need more conversations between experts in each of these fields. It will only be through a recognition of the symbiotic nature between humans, their technology, and the environment that we will avert self-destruction.
trans·hu·man·ism (n.) 1. A belief that humans should strive to transcend the physical limitations of the mind and body by technological means. 2. A movement of people who espouse such a belief.
Standing at a Crossroads: The influence that technology has on society and culture is called, technodeterminism. Most of us carry mini supercomputers in our pockets called smartphones. These devices act as external brains which seamlessly integrate into most aspects of our life. Most of us are completely dependent on them for travel, work, communication, entertainment, and beyond. Take a moment to consider the future implications of augmented reality, artificial intelligence, machine-learning, mass surveillance, automation, genome editing, nanotechnology, and their potential influences on society, culture, and our environment.
When I think about these things, I can’t help but ask:
Why aren’t people like the Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra, and Dr. Andrew Weil conversing more with people like Ray Kurzweil, Elon Musk, and Steve Mann?
Ancient Futures: It will become increasingly imperative for our most advanced technologies to be informed by the natural ethos of indigenous people blended with the emotional-intelligence of our enlightened spiritual masters. We must remember that the first humans who captured fire to light their cave, stay warm on a cold night, or cook their food were using technology. Anthropologists proudly call us humans “tool-makers” as one of the attributes that make us distinct from most species.
Paradigm Shift: Conscious evolution will require a concerted effort to communicate across silos and disciplines. Cooperation and collaboration towards collective goals will need to take the place of competition for personal gain. What are we hoping to accomplish, and at what cost? We are a risk-taking species and that drives us to exceed all our limitations. Let’s make these be calculated risks because with our technology also comes a great responsibility.
Start Within: Even our most sophisticated technology does not possess the complexities of organic systems. Computers and machines can do many things for us but they will never be able to feel for us. The realm of emotion is central and unique to our human experience yet it is only now starting to be recognized as a valuable form of intelligence.
“Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognize one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.” -Andrew Coleman A Dictionary of Psychology
Research in multiple fields of study shows that curiosity, creativity, taking initiative, multi-disciplinary thinking, and empathy are skills that will redefine traditional beliefs about intelligence. The ability to accommodate new information requires a certain level of mental flexibility, humility, and ultimately character. It is through our ability to feel and process our emotions that our higher intelligence flourishes.
SuperHumans: Any sports fan knows that there are individuals who possess superhuman gifts. Think of popular sports stars like Michael Jordan, or any of the various extreme sports heroes who somehow manage the seemingly impossible. We also have the various musical or art prodigies who express the skills of a master before the age of 10. We have seen humans walk on red-hot coals with bare feet, walk a tightrope between skyscrapers, and exhibit mind-boggling feats of mental-focus, and will-power. Did you know that Wim Hof ran a half marathon barefoot on ice and snow, with a time of 2 hours, 16 minutes, and 34 seconds? Humans are capable of amazing things when they channel discipline, practice, creative brilliance, fearlessness and focus. We have barely scratched the surface of what is possible!
Global Meditation: This simple practice of quieting the mind, and bringing presence to one’s breathing has a long list of documented benefits that include enhanced neural connections, deep feelings of connection and well-being, as well as a strengthened immune system. When we compound this focused intention to include tens of thousands of people all over the world, we begin to literally shift planetary magnetic resonance. The science does not lie, we are potent electrical beings with the ability to focus consciousness and create beyond our wildest imaginations.
Everything technology offers is a reflection of the technology that we, as humans are. Learning to laugh at ourselves a little while delving into our emotions and to make room for possibilities beyond our currently held beliefs is essential for this journey. In order for us to create technology that is aligned with all of life and our planet, we must first become aligned with ourselves and each other. Global meditation is where we practice together!
We can no longer claim that a technology is advanced if it is destroying our skies and rivers or perpetuating harmful practices like war and domination. These are examples of misguided technologies. Our DNA has been informed by countless generations of evolution. It is time that we focus our consciousness towards the natural wisdom kept by indigenous people, while embracing the presence of enlightened spiritual masters. This will allow us to infuse our science and highest technological advancements with ecological and emotional intelligence for the benefit of all life.
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A Proven Technique To Neutralize Draining Emotional Reactions
- The Facts:
We'll explore a simple scientifically proven technique to help neutralize emotional reactions that often drain our energy and reduce our ability to think clearly and make effective decisions.
- Reflect On:
How often do you check in to how you're are feeling? Do you feel you are able to self regulate your emotions easily?
Before you begin...
Do you notice that you sometimes feel tired or fatigued but are not sure why? Maybe you can have a restful sleep and still wake up having a sense that your energy is not quite there? Maybe you notice yourself being reactive, having a short fuse and feeling unclear about what decisions to make? Maybe you say things to friends, family or people online that you later regret or didn’t truly mean. Much of this can have a lot to do with how we’re feeling emotionally on a regular basis. Emotions that are happening just a touch outside our conscious awareness.
Let’s just do a very quick check in to see what I mean. If you stop a take a moment right now to ask “how am I feeling?” What do you notice? Are you feeling good? Energized? Do you have a background tension? Are you a bit stressed? Annoyed? Are you relaxed and calm? Are you perhaps relaxed yet feeling blah? When we do these check ins we bring awareness to how we might be feeling. This is something we typically don’t do that often and thus are simply not consciously aware of how we feel. If we were a bit more consciously aware of how we felt, we’d have a greater understanding of what we could do to feel better as we know where we’re at.
This is important because one of the greatest unrecognized sources of prolonged stress, fatigue and physical wear and tear on our bodies comes from living our day to day lives in a state where we consciously or subconsciously experience what we might call ‘draining emotions.’ These are emotions like worry, fear, anger, resentment, or sadness etc.
For each of us, we’re likely going to experience these emotions at some point in life, and this is normal. Typically when we experience these emotions, we’re getting an insight into ourselves. Since what triggers these emotions can often be subjective, we can learn something about our current self by paying attention to these emotions. For example, someone might cut us off while we’re driving on the freeway. On one hand, one person might react aggressively and become very angry, while another might simply see it as a mistake on the part of the other driver and move on with their day.
Why some of us react and others don’t typically comes down the the story we’re telling ourselves about why that person cut you off. Perhaps they take it personally, perhaps they see it as an attack in some way – who knows? You. Only you know, and you can get closer to knowing what that is so you don’t harbour that draining emotion for the rest of the day, and even remove the trigger to begin with so you don’t necessarily have to go down that angry road every time something small like this happens.
I want to be clear here, we’re not looking to avoid emotions or never experience them, we’re looking to gain awareness around why they come, and ultimately have the choice over what gets us bothered and what might be better to simply let go. There is a difference between momentarily feeling an emotion like this, and letting it become a ‘background state’ of being that slowly begins to shape our attitude towards unhealthy and draining tendencies.
We can likely go on all day about where we should ‘honor’ some emotions in some situations or stand up for ourselves in others – I’ll let you decide that within yourself for each situation, but what the focus here in this piece is to simply look at how we can neutralize an emotional experience so we can stop it from draining all our energy and gain greater clarity on why it might be happening.
The exercise below is geared towards improving our self awareness around situations and how we feel, so we can learn to self-regulate emotions at anytime, as well as turn off triggers that might not really be the greatest to have to begin with.
Remember, we’re going to stick with a situation where we are cut off in traffic, but you can use these steps for anything. Maybe you realize you are fearful about a situation. Maybe you notice ongoing worry about something that’s happening or may happen – whatever it may be, the steps can be applied.
A Quick 3 Minute Exercise
We’ll go through the steps, this might seem long at first but it’s actually very short once you get the hang of it. This method is based on decades of scientific researching involving the heart and the benefits of creating coherence through good heart rate variability. You can learn more about that here under the section “Coherence & Optimal Function.”
1. The first step is becoming aware of the fact you’re having the emotional experience. What we’re doing here is by reading this we’re setting up a bit of an increased self awareness in our minds that can help us remember to check in when we next have an emotional reaction to something. Perhaps the car cuts us off while driving, and we react, but then shortly after we remember that we want to have a closer look at that emotional reaction and perhaps choose a different response instead of going down an energy draining rabbit hole. So the first thing we want to do is become aware that the experience is happening.
2. The next step is accepting the experience that’s happening. What this means is, if the person in front of us cuts us off while driving and we get angry and realize we’re angry, bring to your awareness that this is OK. We’re not looking to create a judgement about what happened or what we’re experiencing, instead we simply want to see it for what it is, an experience that happened and we’re now aware of and sitting as an observer of it. What this does is it empowers us to be able to look a little more closely at what we’re feeling and why. After we become aware, take note of the emotion you’re experiencing and name it. Is it anger? Is it worry? Is it fear?
As a small kicker to this, just imagine that the intention here is to turn down the intensity of the emotion so we can go in a take a look at what’s going on in the same way that a firefighter will spray water onto a burning house to stop the fire and cool it enough to go in and assess what the source of that fire was.
3. Next we’re going to take a moment and place our hand or a couple fingers over the areas of our chest, around where your heart is, and use the placement of your hand as something to focus on. With your eyes open, take some comfortable yet slightly deeper breaths. Feel your breath moving in and out of the area of your heart (where you hand is). To do this, don’t worry too much about how perfect the breathing is or whether it’s exactly going in and our of your heart area, just sit with a gentle focus that your breath is moving in and out of the area of your heart. Our goal here is to bring awareness to the physical heart and begin to influence its rhythms ever so slightly. Breath into your heart for about 30 seconds.
4. Next we want to continue our heart focused breathing while also imagining the feeling of calm or ease enter into our bodies. Spend the next 2 minutes or so breathing in the feeling of calm or ease into your heart with comfortable breaths. Notice the calm and ease come over your mind and body. What this stage does is it shows us that we have the ability to produce our own emotional regulation by creating a physiological state that is more synchronized and favorable for introspection and clarity.
After step 4 you should feel a lot more neutral in your feeling, but it may be possible you’re still annoyed or upset about the situation, this is great and in many ways the point of the exercise. Remember the firefighter analogy.
If it’s a really small situation, this awareness might already help us choose to simply let it go. If it’s a larger situation, this exercise helps us reduce the intensity so we can gain a bit more clarity about what’s going on and stop us from simply circling the experience over and over again in our minds, potentially increasing our anger and draining our energy.
Now as a final step, you can take a moment to just assess, what is the story you have been telling yourself about the situation? What might be a more effective way to approach or think about the situation? In the case of getting cut off in the car, was it really personal? If so, how do you know? If it was a mistake, is anger helping you or just providing an undesirable experience? If you had the freedom, would you choose anger at the other driver or to just let it go and maintain better health?
The point here is that with awareness we get clearer on who we are and how we function. This inevitably gives us a choice in how we choose to react.
For more information on this and to build a bit of a deeper practice, you can check out a short course I produced in our members area called CETV. The course is called Improving Daily Self Awareness, Presence & Connection.
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Renowned Scientist Tells Joe Rogan: ‘We Have To Stop Reacting To UFOs As A Threat’
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