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Parables For The New Conversation (Chapter 14: The Two Tribes (Part 2))

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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.”

14. The Two Tribes (Part 2)

Even when they were not looking for something new, the running tribe was no longer sitting still on the island of Allandon. Running itself had become the main activity, allowing them to advertise the virtues of their new-found way of life by yelling out loud as they ran in and out of every corner of the island. Those who remained in the sitting tribe believed there was no point in running, because one inevitably ended up back where one started. They could not fathom the foolishness of the running tribe. Every time the running tribe passed by them, the sitting tribe enjoyed collective amusement at the loud spectacle.

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The members of the running tribe, on the other hand, truly felt they were getting somewhere. They were proud of their quest to run faster and longer, and felt their efforts were improving the quality of their lives. They thought the sitting tribe must be lazy, or were just a bunch of simpletons. As they raced by the sitting tribe every day they laughed and jeered at them.

The leader of the running tribe was always selected through a competition that determined the strongest and fastest member. He was held in the highest esteem, and was decked with all the honor and glory one could imagine. In the sitting tribe, no such honor was ever handed out, for everyone seemed to be able to sit with equal ability. The leader of the running tribe gazed upon the sitting tribe with pity and would often endeavor to educate them on the superiority of a running life. Sometimes members of the sitting tribe were coerced into joining, and sometimes they came of their own accord. Either way, the running tribe continued to get bigger and stronger, and became the de facto rulers of the island.

It is asking a lot from any culture or group bound by their own worldview to completely validate the divergent worldview of another. It certainly hasn’t happened very often in our neck of the woods. While many of us in the West studied the colonization of America in our history classes, it is unlikely that we were given the opportunity to fully appreciate the perspective of the Native Americans, as elaborated by Chief Seattle earlier. Somehow, his words didn’t make the final cut in our high school textbooks. Now it’s fairly understandable that most of us who went to school in the West ended up with an education that had a particularly Western slant; however most of us didn’t realize that there was a Western slant at all. We were led to believe that we were simply getting the facts about the past.

In my first year of university my three core liberal arts courses formed a multidisciplinary study of politics, literature, and art through history. The three courses were coordinated to study the developments of each discipline within the same historical time period each week. The only thing was that the history started with Classical Greece, which not coincidentally marked the beginning of Western civilization. But I had no issues with that at the time. I was part of the consensus among university types that the only history worth talking about was the history of the Western world, and that everything else was literally ancient history, a term that continues to connote past events that don’t have any practical relevance to our present lives.

To penetrate more deeply into this requires a brief introduction to the prevalent Western view of history itself. Please bear with me through this bit of heavy discourse since it sketches a very important distinction for our ongoing conversation. The highly influential 18th Century German philosopher of history G.W.F Hegel believed that history was an account of the evolution of human consciousness, which brings progressively greater freedom to humankind.[1]

Hegel saw all significant historical events following a pattern that he called the dialectic. Any belief, which he calls a thesis, eventually gives rise to an opposing belief he calls the antithesis. These opposing ideas eventually come into conflict, and only through the resolution of the conflict can consciousness evolve. He calls the resolution of these opposing ideas the synthesis, a new idea that is formed which in some way incorporates both the thesis and antithesis and thus is a more complex belief. The synthesis becomes the new thesis and the pattern is repeated (figure 2).

 

Figure 2: The dialectic

There are numerous examples of the dialectic in all facets of human life.[2] At a time in history when we believed the world was flat, the thesis was that it must be finite, with ‘edges’. The antithesis came when we realized through experience that we could never reach these ‘edges’, implying that the world was infinite. The synthesis came with the realization that the world is round, combining qualities of being both finite and infinite.

It is through the dialectical struggle that the West has made progress by breaking away from older traditions and practices. This mindset believes that there can be something new under the sun, that man is here to explore, to discover, to invent, to make his mark on the world, to build something original rather than settling for more of the same. By all appearances, the rest of the world has succumbed to this kind of thinking. Most cultures have slowly abandoned many of their traditional ways in favor of Western practices. The Western modernization machine has been spreading its influence far and wide across the surface of the globe like a tidal wave. The globalization of the economy that is occurring in our world today is spearheaded by modern Western laws and business practices, and many traditional societies are now in the process of trying hard to catch up so they can be part of it.

It is an interesting thing to observe this shift in the everyday life of more traditional cultures. While it is obviously a slow process for a culture to fully adopt a divergent mindset, nations like Korea appear to have embraced the West and have rapidly implemented its principles of modernization. Still, during my time living there, I did notice remnants of the holistic thinking on which their civilization was founded. The reaction of my adult students to the 1998 financial meltdown in Korea, dubbed the ‘IMF Crisis’, stands out for me. While the crisis was a result of inefficient and corrupt business practices by the country’s financial elite, most of the students were willing to own their society’s problems rather than standing apart from them. “We have gotten ourselves into trouble,” they would say, and “We have to work hard to get back on track.” When Koreans were asked to go to the banks to sell their gold so that the government would have some hard currency, they did so en masse, helping Korea emerge from the crisis more quickly. If the same kind of financial crisis hit in the heart of our Western society, we would scarcely be so ready to feel that it was our problem. Instead, we would likely place blame and point fingers at our politicians and business leaders: “How are they going to fix things?” or “Are they going to get punished?”

In the Western world, for better or for worse, people stand apart from each other more. In elevating the Ego Self to the highest stature it has ever enjoyed, we have brought the physical world into sharper focus and weakened our connection with the invisible world of the Dao where we are all One. As a result we favor the individual over the community, and we have less of a sense of kinship and belonging than more traditional societies enjoyed. We have grown and moved apart from each other as the family structure itself has seen a slow disintegration. It is ironic that we live in a time where technologies like satellites, cell phones and the Internet make us think that we are more connected, because in actual fact there has never been a time in history when we have been so cut off from each other, not only physically but emotionally and spiritually.

The more strongly a society is grounded in the physical world, the more it will be fundamentally materialistic, concerned more with matter in its various forms than invisible spirit. It will invest its energies into material gains and comforts rather than spiritual satisfaction. While it’s true that Western civilization has made huge advances in the improvement of the physical conditions of living, there has been a cost. We are forced to survive in a society founded on separateness, which has spawned dog-eat-dog competition and survival of the fittest. For all our material success we are left wanting for a deeper sense of fulfillment, one that make us feel that we belong.

Although I had started to become aware of these issues during university, it was only after I graduated that a feeling of separateness and alienation really impacted me. I needed money and so I had to find a job, but the prospects were far bleaker than I would have ever imagined. I couldn’t find any job, let alone something pertaining to my field. Potential employers and government employment agencies made me feel that it was probably better if I didn’t even mention that I studied philosophy. I had to go back to school and get a degree in computer programming before I was finally able to be productive and fit in to society, albeit a round peg in a square hole.

During the next several years I harbored a growing discontent with the Western paradigm. I came to regard it as exploitative, arrogant and far too linear. I became quite drawn to traditional Eastern philosophies such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Daoism, particularly by their gentle, humble, holistic nature. Many of the New Age writers I was reading at the time made regular and glowing reference to Eastern doctrines. I came to firmly believe that these ideas were more profound and ultimately more truthful than what I had grown up with and followed in school. Perhaps one of the reasons I went to live in East Asia in 1996 was because of the desire to get a taste of Eastern life and holistic thinking. I was anxious to see and experience some of what I had been reading about.

It strikes me as ironic that one of the main things that I took from my three years in East Asia was actually a new respect for the Western mindset. I saw how a life more closely tied to tradition had its moments, but it did not engender as much critical thinking, ingenuity, and initiative. When I would ask my university students what their future plans were, their responses were generally quite vague and unoriginal. Many seemed to be waiting for someone to tell them what they should do. Students that I met who had gone over to the West for a period of time generally stood out as having a better idea of what they wanted from their lives.

And that is really what the Western mindset does, it encourages individuals to stand out, to be independent, responsible, and to believe that they could do and be anything they wanted. Hegel believed that the freedom that individuals felt and exercised was the measure of how advanced a society was. It should come as no surprise that in recent times human rights have become increasingly important in the West. We have heard about and witnessed the barriers on human freedom and expression tumbling one by one in our recent history. The abolition of slavery. The right of women to vote. The elevation of the status of the disabled. The protection of children. The acceptance of homosexuality. In more advanced societies a person is not just part of a collective, a person is suddenly a world unto themselves, equal, whole and valued for their uniqueness.

What would have happened if Western man had followed Chief Seattle’s plea to end its domination of nature and learn to live completely in harmony with it? Well, we would probably have stopped making material advancements and our society would still be without electricity, airplanes, computers, and all the other wonders of the modern world. The fact that you have this book in your hands at this moment is made possible by a mindset that broke away from the cycles of nature and did things differently from how they were done in the past. Let’s be clear: I believe Chief Seattle’s words are stirring and provocative for many of us, and shall remain a timeless petition for maintaining respect and appreciation for the beauty of our natural world. At the same time, I believe very few of us would endorse wiping out all the technological progress we have made in the last few hundred years so that we could live today in a state of nature as the Native Americans did.

The Eastern mindset sees life itself as part of a cycle. Humanity is not seen as moving forward as such but rather simply returning to the One from whence it came. The Western mindset, on the other hand, holds that man is on a mission, both individually and collectively. There is a move to what is new, to undiscovered territory and unthought ideas. To the Western mind, the idea that human life is fundamentally cyclical is a real problem. If this were true, then what would be the point of striving to do anything? Why would we need to have choice? What would be the value of freedom? The Western paradigm believes that we very much have things to learn and uncover, to create and invent. Where there is no possibility of progress or evolution, life becomes devoid of meaning.

And so, when Westerners evaluate traditional Eastern history they tend to note simply that not much significant progress was actually made, and the only reason that Eastern cultures have shown any progress today is because they have been strongly influenced by Western ideas. Without this, they would have continued to plod along with their ancient traditions to guide them in their inertia. And so Western culture tends to consider itself great and judges Eastern culture to be somewhat backwards. It does not credit Eastern culture with making much of a contribution to the evolution of mankind.

When I was in India recently a funny thing happened that got me thinking. My wife had just finished drinking a bottle of water and asked a young Indian man where she could throw it away. He took the plastic bottle from her hand with a smile, and simply tossed it on the ground. “It’s OK,” he said, continuing to smile. He seemed fully unconcerned about material things, perhaps because for many Indians material things are part of maya, the illusion of the material world, and we should always be focusing beyond the illusion to the world of spirit. I like the idea, but that does not remove the fact that we have to live in the material world, and address problems like pollution, disease, and hunger.

Perhaps this is the very challenge facing India and other traditional cultures today. The paradigm of Eastern culture has not demonstrated an ability to master material life and overcome suffering from material poverty. Turning a back on Western modernization is no longer possible. Spiritual leaders from these nations look to the West with some regret for the preoccupation with materialism and lack of spirituality, but they still retain a measure of respect for the quality of life advances that the West has made. In some way or another their own lives have benefited from these advances.

So while there is something very precious that the East can offer the West, there is also something precious that the West can offer the East. We have not yet arrived at a point where East and West can easily appreciate the value of the other’s bounty in order to facilitate a worthwhile exchange. There is a mutual desire to have the best of both worlds, but our respective paradigms don’t currently show us how to manifest it. The West can bring the East a better life. The East can bring the West a life of greater meaning. Perhaps it is indeed time to have a conversation.

[1] For Hegel the history of Eastern civilization could be summarized in one phrase: the movement from a state of utter barbarism to the development of the idea that the One is free. People could achieve freedom, but only through a denial of their individual self by melding into the One, the Dao. It is only when we get to Ancient Greek and Roman societies that the idea that people as people can be free. However, these founding societies of Western civilization were built on the assumption that in order for some to be free, a major portion of humanity needed to be enslaved to support the freedom of the few. From there, Western history chronicles a series of events that have gradually moved humankind closer to its pinnacle, a society where all are free. When this condition is fully attained in the world, it would signify the end of history as such.
[2] Human relationships are always fraught with opposition, and they can only go forward when the struggle between different points of view results in a higher truth that encompasses both. The history of philosophy was driven at every turn by the capacity of human genius to synthesize conflicting schools of thought. So too does science and technology continue to progress out of the tension between established belief and new theory. And politically speaking, our Western democracies have grown as a result of a long series of clashes and subsequent resolutions between the powerful few and the masses. Our democracies continue to be governed by the pull of opposites, the ruling and opposition parties, whose debates and struggles are supposed to bring about higher ideas than those embodied by either two camps. Well, in theory, anyway.

Move on to Chapter 15…

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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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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.

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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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Consciousness

A Proven Technique To Neutralize Draining Emotional Reactions

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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...

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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.

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. 

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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