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Parables For The New Conversation (Chapter 5: The Sculptor)

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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.

The following is a chapter from my book ‘Parables For The New Conversation.’ One chapter will be published every Sunday for 36 weeks here on Collective Evolution. (I would recommend you start with Chapter 1 if you haven’t already read it.) I hope my words are a source of enjoyment and inspiration for you, the reader. If perchance you would like to purchase a signed paperback copy of the book, you can do so on my production company website Pandora’s Box Office.

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From the back cover: “Imagine a conversation that centers around possibility—the possibility that we can be more accepting of our own judgments, that we can find unity through our diversity, that we can shed the light of our love on the things we fear most. Imagine a conversation where our greatest polarities are coming together, a meeting place of East and West, of spirituality and materialism, of religion and science, where the stage is being set for a collective leap in consciousness more magnificent than any we have known in our history.

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Now imagine that this conversation honors your uniqueness and frees you to speak from your heart, helping you to navigate your way more deliberately along your distinct path. Imagine that this conversation puts you squarely into the seat of creator—of your fortunes, your relationships, your life—thereby putting the fulfillment of your deepest personal desires well within your grasp.

‘Parables for the New Conversation’ is a spellbinding odyssey through metaphor and prose, personal sagas and historic events, where together author and reader explore the proposal that at its most profound level, life is about learning to consciously manifest the experiences we desire–and thus having fun. The conversation touches on many diverse themes but always circles back to who we are and how our purposes are intertwined, for it is only when we see that our personal desires are perfectly aligned with the destiny of humanity as a whole that we will give ourselves full permission to enjoy the most exquisite experiences life has to offer.”

5. The Sculptor

In the middle of the night a thunderstorm came over the island of Allandon, and a lightning bolt struck down the exquisite statue that stood in the very center of the village square. A crowd of villagers gathered around in the morning, and sent word to the sculptor that his defining work had been destroyed.

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When the sculptor arrived he fell upon the pile of rubble and cried out, “Oh the suffering! The anguish! My legacy has been ruined!”

Many of those gathered around tried to console him. Meanwhile, an old woman whose job it was to keep the village square clean started picking up the rubble and tossing the pieces unceremoniously into her cart.

“Old woman,” said the sculptor, “have you no reverence? This was my work of art!”

“Then why are you here?” asked the old woman. “You should be off making a new statue.”

The crowd began to laugh. Fearing that he was losing their sympathy, the sculptor said, “Pay her no heed, she is a simple woman. She knows nothing of the suffering of an artist.”

“The suffering of an artist? Or a man who fancies himself special?” she asked the crowd. “After all, are we not all artists?”

A few nodded in agreement.

“And do artists not know that in our impermanent world everything that is created is ultimately destroyed?” she added.

“Yes,” said one.

“Perhaps he has forgotten,” said another.

“Then for this reminder he should be grateful,” the old woman said as she turned to the sculptor. “Now off with you to do your work. We can only hope that you won’t identify yourself so much with the next piece you create.”

Who we think we are really dictates how we experience life. When we look through the lens of the Ego Self, we appear to ourselves as small, separate, and vulnerable beings in a vast and daunting world. Our Ego Self encourages us to ‘keep it together’ by building a fixed and stable identity, one that we can rely on and feel secure with. Of course the Ego Self has its own agenda: the more solid and permanent our identity is, the more it ensures its own survival.

As the Ego Self is focused on the physical world of sense perception, we are soon directed to see ourselves as walking, talking bodies apart from one another. We know it has been this way ever since our first breath of life when we were physically separated from our mother. “This is me,” we might say, tapping ourselves solidly on the chest. And it does seems natural to see ourselves primarily as physical bodies that can somehow think.

Next we may look at our gender or race as important attributes, or extend our identity to involve our family history, our social class, our culture, our language, or our religion. We could also look at some of the many roles we take on: we could identify with the fact that we are a parent or a child, a boss or a subordinate, a small business owner or a doctor or a writer.

Then of course there is what we call our personality, which for many of us is the central core of who we think we are—our values, habits, tendencies, our strengths and weaknesses, our likes and dislikes. With simple statements like “I’m not good with instructions,” “I value honesty above all else,” or “I don’t like roller coasters and I never will,” we constantly reinforce who we think we are. And for aspects of our personality that are hidden from us, there are a growing number of psychological processes and personality type indicators that can help us to define ourselves more precisely and thereby get to know ourselves better.

Now I am all in favor of us getting to know ourselves better. In fact I would go so far as to say that gaining self-awareness is what we are really here on the planet to do. The more we come to know who we are, the more we are able to bring our unique perspective and creative vision to the world. However! There is a treacherous trap that each and every one of us has to be very careful about when it comes to the business of who we are. That trap is the tendency to identify exclusively with our identity as unique individuals, and believe there is nothing more to us. This is what happens when our Ego Self is given full reign. We end up working to reinforce and validate the identity we have created. Our sense of self-worth becomes dependant on maintaining our identity, making us resistant to the changes that life will inevitably throw at us.

For example, if our identity is founded in our body, it is likely that we will struggle with growing old, and will do anything to try to preserve a youthful look. We will naturally fear our physical death, because it means our total extinction. The only way we can escape the niggling dread of mortality is to avoid thinking about death altogether and act as though we will live in the world forever.

The problem with trying to maintain a stable identity vested in our body is obvious: our body changes over time. And I don’t just mean that it doesn’t last. I mean that we are literally a different physical being in every moment. With every breath, we take in ten billion trillion new atoms that become part of our body and breathe out ten billion trillion atoms that are removed from every organ, tissue and bone that we have. Over the course of a year almost every atom that was once our physical makeup has been released into the universe. In reality our body is one of the least permanent things about us.

Now if we identify too strongly with one of the roles we have taken on in life, we restrict much of what is possible in our lives. We move more in the direction of what we think we are supposed to do, what is expected of us, while ignoring an inner voice that may be trying to bring us in a different direction. We neglect to notice that these roles do not even touch our inner being. If we are what we do, for example, that would mean that when we don’t, we aren’t!

And no matter how enduring we think our personalities are, it might serve us to be open to the idea that they too can change over time. Otherwise we may get trapped into limiting our freedom to act. “That’s just the way I am,” we might say, diminishing our responsibility and the possibilities for our lives in the process. We can get so protective of our identity that we will unconsciously struggle to conform to it rather than flowing with our lives as they are unfolding.

For example, let’s say I consider myself a reliable person—which I do. You could say that it’s part of the way I define myself. I keep my word, I’m on time for my appointments, if I say I will be there then I will be there. A few years ago I was running a bit late on my way to an appointment with a client. As I got on the highway I  figured I would simply need to speed down the fast lane the whole way to get there on time. When I saw the traffic on the highway was a little heavy, I could already feel some frustration building. As the traffic got heavier I began to grip the wheel tighter, cutting in front of people here and there trying to inch my way forward a bit faster. Why this traffic now? I asked myself. Eventually it became obvious that I was not going to get to the meeting on time. Not even close.

I chastised myself for not having left home earlier. I started thinking up excuses to explain to my client how I could possibly be late—me, a person who prides himself on always being on time. My mind was going back and forth from excuses to regret, denial to rationalizing, all while weaving in and out of traffic recklessly, silently cursing the cars that stood in my way. Finally I had to give up, and could not prevent a certain repulsive thought from surfacing, one that I had pushed down several times before: maybe I was not such a reliable person. Maybe I was not always on time. I had to admit that this was not the first time this had happened.

Over the next few moments, to my surprise, I suddenly felt a huge shift in the way I was feeling, like a pressure-filled balloon that was losing air. With only a change of perspective, peace came over me. The traffic jam was no longer a problem. I was able to be with the traffic jam. I saw that it was just a collection of cars on a road moving slowly. It was neither good nor bad. I even admitted to myself that the traffic was not unusual for that time of day—it was just my excuse. The traffic clearly wasn’t the real cause of my suffering. And neither was my client—I knew she would be OK with me being late. All my suffering came from clinging so tightly to how I had defined myself. My repulsive thought turned out to be an epiphany. How I was to experience the car ride on the way to meet my client was all up to me. I didn’t owe it to anyone to feel guilty. I didn’t have to suffer through it. And so I didn’t—I actually enjoyed the ride.

When we see that our whole life is like one big car ride, we realize that we can make the choice to let go of whatever we’re hanging on to any time there’s traffic. We will always get to where we’re going, so it really makes no sense to struggle with ourselves along the way.

You’d think this would become more obvious to us as we get older. Yet despite mounting evidence that our identity is like a soft lump of clay that can always be shaped and molded by our ongoing experiences, we tend to increasingly see our identity as a statue, hardened in time and space. Perhaps it is because our bodies become ever more rigid and inflexible that we feel compelled to follow suit. Or maybe we become weary and tired of not knowing and feel we deserve the security of having a clear compass to tell us which way to act. The problem is that when we do this, we become less capable of dealing with situations that challenge the fixed position we have taken up. We lose our sense of adventure and our ability to be spontaneous. Things will annoy us more, we will judge our world to be wrong, and real peace of mind will elude us at every twist and turn.

Fortunately, we have in our world a cure for what ails us. It is each other. It can be a rather simple affair to rise out of the throes of rigidity when another person is given the authorization to step in and challenge us. In The Art of Possibilities, Ben Zander shares the following parable:

Two prime ministers are sitting in a room discussing affairs of state. Suddenly a man bursts in, apoplectic with fury, shouting and stamping and banging his fist on the desk. The resident prime minister admonishes him: “Peter,” he says, “kindly remember Rule Number 6,” whereupon Peter is instantly restored to complete calm, apologizes, and withdraws. The politicians return to their conversation, only to be interrupted yet again twenty minutes later by a hysterical woman gesticulating wildly, her hair flying. Again, the intruder is greeted with the words: “Marie, please remember Rule Number 6.” Complete calm descends once more, and she too withdraws with a bow and an apology. When the scene is repeated for a third time, the visiting prime minister addresses his colleague: “My dear friend, I’ve seen many things in my life, but never anything as remarkable as this. Would you be willing to share with me the secret of Rule Number 6?” “Very simple,” replies the resident prime minister. “Rule Number 6 is ‘Don’t take yourself so g—damn seriously.’” “Ah,” says his visitor, “that is a fine rule.” After a moment of pondering, he inquires, “And what, may I ask, are the other rules?”

“There aren’t any.”

When we are taking ourselves too seriously, there is usually a defiant arrogance within us that we are probably not aware of. It tries to protect our identity from the threat of a change of perspective, when all along the change of perspective is what we need the most. Taking ourselves too seriously is the surest way to a life of suffering. Our smallest problems are magnified into tragedies of epic proportions as the gateway to a life of fun gets shut and padlocked. This is why my greatest ambition is to take myself, and my life, less seriously. I know that when I get filled with self-importance, I isolate myself from the people and things that are around me. And what’s worse, I usually can’t see that I’m doing it.

But while it is difficult for me to see what I’m doing in those moments, it is not at all difficult for others to spot it. In the space of  trust that is created in the new conversation, it becomes possible for us to remind each other of how we’re being, just like the prime minister does with such eloquent brevity. The friends of mine who engage with me in conversation have been put on alert to bring it to my attention when they see me taking who I think I am too seriously.

Now true, to a certain extent we need to carry a rough working definition of ourselves as individuals in order to function in the world. However, we are always at choice as to how much importance we give to this identity. We have to be careful that it doesn’t rule our lives. Otherwise we might spend our every breath and ounce of energy proving that we are exactly as we’ve defined ourselves. The more we operate this way, the more we dry up the well of life’s very essence: exploration and discovery.

In life, the question ‘Who am I?’ endures because it never fully gets answered. All of life can be seen as a process of slowly becoming aware of who we are. We see glimpses now and then through our thoughts and actions, small pieces of an enormous puzzle. To think that we get to complete this puzzle during our lifetime is to misunderstand life. There will always be another dark and mysterious piece of ourselves for us to try to shed some light on.

I  believe that in the depths of our hearts none of us want a life that is stilted and predictable. I think we really want to keep our idea of who we are open, so that we can be spontaneous and move beyond any limitations we may have placed on ourselves. We want to experience peace in the middle of our traffic jams. We want to flow with change. Most of all, I think we want life to be fun. All this becomes possible when we start to look past our Ego Self and into the true depth of our being.

Move on to Chapter 6…

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Consciousness

New Moon In Aries: Taking Bold Action

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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 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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Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

Click here to check out a sneak peek and learn more.

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Consciousness

A Symbiosis of Humans & Technology – Changing The Conversation

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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.

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.

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

Click here to check out a sneak peek and learn more.

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Consciousness

A Proven Technique To Neutralize Draining Emotional Reactions

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CE Staff Writer 9 minute read

In Brief

  • 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...

Coherent icon

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.

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.

Energy Loss

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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Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

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