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Parables For The New Conversation (Chapter 22: The Dragon)

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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.

--> Our latest podcast episode: Were humans created by extraterrestrials? Joe sits down with Bruce Fenton, multidisciplinary researcher and author to explore the fascinating evidence behind this question. Click here to listen!

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.”

22. The Dragon

On the Western side of the island of Allandon the poet and his son journeyed deep into the forest until they came upon a hidden cave at the foot of the mountain.

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“This is the lair of the dragon of a thousand and one heads,” said the poet.

“Does it ever come out?” asked the son.

“Indeed. Each person on the island confronts it at some time. You will too.”

“What if I just leave it alone?” the son asked.

“Eventually it will come after you, heads screaming and breathing fire. The question is, what will you do when it does?”

“I will run away,” said the son.

“If you do, you will find that it will follow you until the end of your days, keeping you in fear and anxiety.”

“I understand,” the son said. “I must stand up to it and kill it.”

“You can try. You could wield a mighty sword high and slice off one of its fearsome heads. But you would see that where one head falls off, two heads grow in its place.”

“Then it is invincible!”

“In a way—but you should be happy about it. For killing the dragon would end your life also.”

“So what am I to do?” the boy asked.

“Your life is designed to teach you that,” said the poet.

The son looked into the blackness of the cave. “Has anyone ever tried to kill the dragon?” he asked.

The poet smiled. “How do you think it became the dragon of a thousand and one heads?”

They say that the first step to recovery is admitting that there’s a problem, being willing to face the truth. After many years of denial, I declare myself ready for healing. My name is Richard, and I am an egocentric. I would like to say reformed egocentric, but I know I have not fully kicked the habit. And thankfully, I am no longer putting myself under the gun to do so.

It was only after graduating from university that I came to a full awareness of what ego meant, and first made a semi-conscious effort to begin to walk a spiritual path. My early reading of ancient spiritual texts seemed to indicate that the ego was something that eventually needed to be killed off. After all, the literature suggested that the ego alienates us from other people, is the source of the attachments that lead us to misery, and at every turn prevents us from experiencing peace, love, and a permanent sense of belonging. I felt that all spiritual masters had been able to perpetrate their own ego death. So for me, following the spiritual path meant learning to smother the life out of any expressions of anger, prejudice, jealousy, and other ego-related vices.

At that time I may have already had the appearance of some kind of master to a few people: I seemed quite composed, rarely judged others, and could speak eloquently on matters of spirit. I thought I was moving down a spiritual path in leaps and bounds. In truth I wasn’t really going anywhere. I was still just a shy and serious kid with a tendency to think long and hard before speaking, a habit that was probably ingrained in me by my childhood fear of provoking my father’s anger. It was easy for me to censor most expressions of judgment and self-centeredness because I had been doing it all my life. And I continued doing it, only now with added pride because I felt I was banishing my spiritually improper inclinations.

However, trying to relieve ourselves of the burdens of the Ego Self with a well-placed magic bullet misses one important point. The desire to kill off anything, including the Ego Self, is inevitably sponsored by the Ego Self. So in trying to commit this act we are actually keeping the Ego Self in control. The unwanted desires and emotions simply get stuffed down inside of us and continue to be a force in our lives. And so not only do we maintain our ego-motivated behavior, but our habit of controlling, censoring, and suppressing our expression also causes us to lose touch with the practice of living freely, authentically and spontaneously.

In more recent years, I have begun to understand that the path to mastery of the Ego Self requires exactly the opposite of control—it requires surrender. There is such a skill and an art to surrendering that it has taken me an eternity just to grasp it, and I’m not sure that I’ve really been able to fully apply it yet. It’s like the lesson that keeps on teaching. The surrender of the Ego Self to the Dao Self is the quintessential act of courage, wisdom, and love. It is not a suicide but a succumbing. It is not a slaying of the dragon but a taming. It is not an excision of an unwanted part of ourselves but a healing.

While the Dao Self constantly bathes the Ego Self in love and acceptance, it is only when the Ego Self lets go of control that some of its hidden darkness can come into the light and, ultimately, be released. For the Dao Self all things are acceptable, even the desire of the Ego Self to lead and to control. The Dao Self will never impose itself since it has no ‘will’ as such, so what is required is for the Ego Self to will the Dao Self to be the leader and accept the designation of follower. Otherwise, we will by default be led by the Ego Self—which can only judge and condemn its own darkness and is incapable of healing it.

A spiritual master like Jesus was unwaveringly led by the Dao Self, which he called the Father. He was not without an Ego Self, for it was written that he could still feel the temptation of the Devil. But he never tried to destroy the source of this temptation, as he understood that the Ego Self—symbolized by the Devil—was an inextricable component of being human. Jesus had a choice, as we all do, and he consistently chose his Dao Self over his Ego Self. He had a clear vision that the larger plan for his life was more important than his pride, his safety, or any other ego-concern.

Like Jesus, we too have a larger plan for our lives. However, that does not mean we are all meant to live out the same plan as Jesus, nor can we be expected to follow our Dao Self as faithfully. There is no shame in seeing that Jesus was simply more conscious and more evolved than we are. That does not make him better. In fact he never thought he was better. He just was who he was. And very simply, that is all we need to do to follow our plan, and walk a spiritual path—be who we are.

This is not as easy as it sounds. This is because who we are as human beings is always in a state of becoming something greater. This means, paradoxically, that who we are is always in a state of moving away from aspects of who we are in any given moment. The way to see past this paradox is not to judge the parts of ourselves we are trying to move away from, for when we judge these parts of ourselves to be ‘wrong’ or ‘unacceptable’ they shrink back into the darkness and remain a part of us.

We all have darkness. But we are starting to find our way out of it. In the new conversation we have started to bridge the division of the spiritual and the material in our society. We no longer want to see spirituality as a separate domain of our lives, reserved for the hallowed halls of the church, the mosque, the synagogue, the monastery, the ashram. We also want it to encompass the office, the classroom, the sports arena, the restaurant, and any other place people get together in any human activity. Such a spirituality would not be about denial of ourselves and our selfish desires, and would not condemn the material focus of the Ego Self. Most importantly, it would not lead us into the seriousness of self-recrimination but out of it. It would help us all live according to a simple but fundamental idea: life is fun.

This is not possible if we continue to see ourselves as sinners needing redemption, compelled to pass the tests of an Almighty Judge in order to be worthy of Heaven, one who looks down upon us and is pleased when his rules are followed and offended when they are not. It is dawning on us that such a Judge cannot really be the One but is rather a projection of our own Ego Self.

We want to be allowed—nay, encouraged—to be our unique selves with all our flaws, to follow our inner voice of desire. The greatest times of our lives were not spent being obedient to the rules of others, but rather when we found a way to be who we are. In the new conversation we are encouraged to be who we love to be, not told to deny who we are afraid to be. As important as it is not to identify with the Ego Self, and not to let the Ego Self lead us in our lives, it is equally important to understand that the Ego Self is and will continue to be a part of who we are as individuals. Indeed it is the foundation of our uniqueness. One of the great triumphs of Western society has been the elevation of the individual and the blossoming of the expression of individual talents, gifts, and abilities.

Now we have to take the next step, and find a way to express our individuality while still moving together, hand in hand, towards unity. When we push for unity but ignore our individual needs, what some people would call a nobler path, we actually get farther from authenticity because we try to take a shortcut to unity. We suppress our dark side rather than honoring it and, perish forbid, let it be revealed to ourselves and the world. More often than not, this path of sacrifice and denial leads us to moral elitism and the sense that we are better than others who do not sacrifice as much or work as hard on being ‘spiritual’.

What we really need today is for the spiritual path and the material path to come together, and pave the way for truly feeling alive in the world. The main requirement is for us to be authentic. For some of us that’s exactly where the roadblock occurs. The proposition of being authentic itself is scary. We are tempted to act in a way that is more acceptable to others, that garners us some approval and status. But while choosing to act other than who we are may get us somewhere in the short term, it’s never where we’re actually going. It’s like rushing to get on the first bus that arrives at our stop, even though it isn’t the one that takes us home. No wonder we so often feel lost in our lives.

I always found it instructive to think very deeply about the following question: What is the worst thing that could happen by being authentic? Are we afraid of not fitting in, of being embarrassed, of being laughed at? So let’s look at being laughed at. If, like me, you are on a mission to be less serious, there may be no better experience to go through than allowing yourself to be laughed at for being who you are. And if you have the courage you can laugh at yourself as well. As Milton Berle said, “If you can’t laugh at yourself you’re probably missing the joke of the century.” Taking ourselves seriously keeps us in the domain of the Ego Self. If we are able to freely show to the world who we are and in the same spirit we are able to laugh at ourselves, then we give permission for others to live freely as well.

I believe the real spiritual masters understood this. They developed unlimited compassion for the egocentricities of others because they discovered how to have compassion for their own shortcomings. They are the ones whose facial wrinkles are forged by a peaceful smile, a sign of their constant amusement with their own fallibility and humanity.

When I started writing this book, I worked hard to make sure that people did not detect a hint of egocentricity when I spoke about it. After all, if I was going to present ideas about how to move away from one’s Ego Self, the least I could do is show that I’ve mastered it successfully in my life. But as I got further into the writing, and more deeply into self-examination, I realized that this was not completely honest. I was just being cautious. If I was to be authentic I would have to admit that I have not evolved beyond all self-centered desires when it came to this book. In some moments I was captured by the prospects of gaining some fame and recognition. Sometimes I got caught up in how much money I might be able to make. I cannot in all fairness assert that my motivation to get this book written has come purely from selflessness and unconditional love.

At the same time, I can say that I have learned a lot since I started writing. I have seen that when I come from a place of self-interest it is much more difficult to write, to get good ideas, to be in a flow with the process. I am more prone to feel fearful of failure, to be worried about how people will react to what I am saying and to be doubtful that I actually have something of value to say. On the other hand, when I have been able to get more centered on this book being a contribution to others, suddenly the words and ideas come more easily, the process is less burdensome. So certainly I have tangible experience of the value of trying to move into my Dao Self.

But an even more profound lesson, one that brings me great peace and happiness, was learning to accept myself when I am not coming from my Dao Self. This is my highest experience of authenticity. I can be who I am and speak about what is true for me in a given moment without worrying that I might sometimes not be seen as such an ‘evolved’ person. Trying to be conscious does not mean having to be cautious. I recognize that I need to live at my current level of spiritual understanding, rather than pretending to be more ‘holy’, more ‘spiritual’ than I actually am.

And so I believe even our egocentric desires are not without purpose. Sometimes even if people who are rich and famous have told us that money and recognition don’t bring happiness—and we believe them—we still feel the need to find out for ourselves. I recognize that I continue to be driven by the Ego Self from time to time, but then again so are most of us. To deny this is a subtle form of egocentricity itself. Let’s all cut ourselves a little slack. In a way, we could say that if we were never driven by the Ego Self we wouldn’t be driven at all. It’s time we all got together to create a space in which we are free to make mistakes, do the wrong thing, play the fool. Even if our ego-desires lead to dead ends, we want the opportunity to play them out without being judged. Given the chance to find out we don’t want what we thought we wanted, we get closer to knowing what our true desires are and living from our true selves.

In the West we have lived too long under the burning image of a spirituality that is divorced from the material. We walk away in sadness just like the rich man when Jesus told him to sell off all his possessions, saying to his disciples that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” We fear that spiritual mastery looks upon our materialistic strivings with disdain and disapproval. It seems that if we are to fully engage in spiritual practice, it requires forsaking our material desires. And if we are to follow our inner urges for material abundance, we must in those moments look away from our spiritual teachings. We try to make our lives work as best we can, but we tire of leaping back and forth across the chasm between our spiritual lives and our material lives. Our deep longing for a spiritual life is thwarted by a fear that we will have to give up too much. At the same time our enjoyment of our material life is tempered by a niggling guilt that we are not doing enough for those less fortunate. And so with all we have, and with all we can be, we are afraid to truly live either aspect of life with vigor and enthusiasm. We fear that trying to integrate our spiritual and material desires will make us hypocrites.

In truth Jesus never said that being rich was bad, nor that we have to abandon the material for the spiritual. He did imply that it would be a complex matter for someone rich to experience the treasures of a spiritual life. If we are to have a lot of money and not give material life any more of our focus than is needed, we are required to become complex characters ourselves, in order to avoid the traps the Ego Self lays in our fields of material abundance.

I believe we are ready for it. I believe this is the true challenge of our time, to bring forth a spirituality in harmony with our growing capacity for material wealth. We have started to ask ourselves: Why would our souls have been delivered into this wondrous world of the material if not to enjoy its fruits? All we need is some guidance, not away from the material, but onto that fine line that balances our material needs with our spiritual needs.

Of course this is not an easy path. This is why we need to be in conversation with one another, ready to accept each other’s help. Since our consciousness has evolved, we have started to become able to guide one another through the pitfalls of an integrated life. In the new conversation we can condone our Ego-Self desires without being driven by them. We are able to witness our own egocentricity in the space that is provided, when we are most ready to see it. The new conversation is in service of allowing us to stand in a place where the spiritual is not a denial of the material and our human desires, but rather the material and spiritual are balanced in a whole and vital life. If we guide each other carefully, I believe it will indeed become possible for us to put a camel through the eye of a needle—while riding shotgun.

Move on to Chapter 23…

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

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Awareness

How Does Anesthesia Work? We Still Don’t Know: What Happens When Someone Goes “Under”?

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

When patients ask anesthesiologists what we charge for putting them to sleep, we often say we do it for free. We only bill them for the waking up part.

This isn’t just a way of deflecting a question, it also serves as a gentle reminder to both parties regarding the importance of “coming to.” If we couldn’t regain consciousness, what would be the point in having the surgery in the first place? Nobody wants to experience pain and fear if it can be avoided. If the only way to avoid the pain of an operation is to temporarily be rendered unconscious, most people will readily and willingly consent to that, as long as we can return to our natural state of being alert and interactive with the world around us. We are awake and aware and that–rather than any particular conception of health–is our most precious gift.

How does Anesthesia work ?

From an Anesthesiologist’s point of view, we really shouldn’t charge for putting someone to sleep. It’s too easy. With today’s medications, putting someone to sleep, or in more correct terms, inducing general anesthesia, is straightforward. Two hundred milligrams of this and fifty milligrams of that and voilà: you have a completely unconscious patient who is incapable of even breathing independently. The medications we administer at induction are similar to the lethal injections executioners use. Unlike executioners, we then intervene to reestablish their breathing and compensate for any large changes in blood pressure and the patient thereby survives until consciousness miraculously returns sometime later.

In addition, those in my field have to contend with the reality that we really don’t know what we are doing. More precisely, we have very little if any understanding of how anesthetic gases render a person unconscious. After 17 years of practicing Anesthesiology, I still find the whole process nothing short of pure magic. You see, the exact mechanism of how these agents work is, at present, unknown. Once you understand how a trick works, the magic disappears. With regard to inhaled anesthetic agents, magic abounds. 

Take ether, for example. In 1846 a dentist named William T.G. Morton used ether to allow Dr. Henry J. Bigelow to partially remove a tumor from the neck of a 24-year-old patient safely with no outward signs of pain. The surgery took place at Massachusetts General Hospital in front of dozens of physicians. When the patient regained consciousness with no recollection of the event it is said that many of the surgeons in attendance, their careers spent hardening themselves to the agonizing screams of their patients while operating without modern anesthesia, wept openly after witnessing this feat. At the time, no one knew how ether worked. We still don’t. Over the last 173 years, dozens of different anesthetic gases have been developed and they all have three basic things in common: they are inhaled, they are all very, very tiny molecules by biological standards, and we don’t know how any of them work.

Why we still don’t know…

If you have never closely considered how our bodies do what they do (move, breathe, grow, pee, reproduce, etc.), the answers may be astounding. It is obvious that the energy required to power biological systems comes from food and air. But how do they use them to do everything? How does it all get coordinated?

These are the fundamental questions that have been asked for millennia, by ancient shamans and modern pharmaceutical companies alike. It turns out that the answers are different depending on what sort of perspective and tools we begin with. In the West, our predecessors in medicine were anatomists. Armed with scalpels, the human form was first subdivided into organ systems. Our knives and eyes improved with the development of microtomes and microscopes giving rise to the field of Histology (the study of tissue). Our path of relentless deconstruction eventually gave rise to Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. This is where Western medicine stands today. We define “understanding” as a complete description of how the very molecules that comprise our bodies interact with one another. This method and model has served us well. We have designed powerful antibiotics, identified neurotransmitters, and mapped our own genome. Why then have we not been able to figure out how a gas like ether works? The answer is two-fold.

First, although we have been able to demonstrate some of the biological processes and structures that are altered by an inhaled anesthetic gas, we cannot pinpoint which ones are responsible for altering levels of awareness because inhaled anesthetic agents affect so many seemingly unrelated things at the same time. It is impossible to identify which are directly related to the “awake” state. It is also entirely possible that all of them are, and if that were the case consciousness would be the single most complex function attributed to a living organism by a very large margin.

The second difficulty we have is even more unwieldy and requires some contemplation. As explained above, western medicine has not been able to isolate which molecular interaction is responsible for anesthetics’ effect on our awareness. It is therefore reasonable to approach the puzzle from the opposite side and ask instead, “Where is the source of our awareness in our bodies?” and go from there.

We do know that certain neurological pathways in the brain are active in awake patients, but if we attribute consciousness to those pathways then we are necessarily identifying them as the “things” that are awake. To find the source of their “awakeness” we must then examine them more closely. With the tools we have and the paradigm we have chosen we will inevitably find more molecules interacting with other molecules. When you go looking for molecules that is all you will find. Our paradigm has dictated what the answer would be like if we ever found one. Does it seem plausible to think we will find an “awareness molecule” and attribute our vivid, multisensorial experience to the presence of it? If such a molecule existed, how would our deconstructive approach ever explain why that molecule was the source of our awareness?  Can consciousness ever be represented materially?

A more sensible model would be to consider the activity of these structures in the brains of conscious individuals as evidence of consciousness, not the cause of it.  To me it is apparent that, unless we expand our search beyond the material plane, we are not going to find consciousness or be able to understand how anesthetic gases work. Until then I know I am nothing more than a wand-waver in the operating room. And that is being generous. The magician is the anesthetic gas itself, which has, up to this point, never let us in on the secret.

What happens when someone goes “under”?

The mechanistic nature of our model is well suited to most biological processes. However, with regard to consciousness, the model not only lends little understanding of what is happening, it also gives rise to a paradigm that is widely and tightly held, but in actuality cannot be applied to the full breadth of human experience. We commonly believe that a properly functioning physical body is required for us to be aware. Although this may seem initially incontrovertible, upon closer examination it becomes quite clear that this belief is actually an assumption that has massive implications. To be more precise, how do we know that consciousness does not continue uninterrupted and only animate our physical bodies intermittently rather than the other way around, where the body intermittently gives rise to the awake state? At first, this hypothesis may seem absurd, irrelevant and unprovable. I assure you that if you spent a day in an operating room, this idea is not only possible, it is far more likely to be true than the converse.

Let us first consider how we measure anesthetic depth in the operating room. We continually measure the amount of agent that is circulating in a patient’s system, but as described earlier, there is no measurable “conscious” molecule that can be found. We must assess the behavior of our patients to make that determination. Do they reply to verbal commands? Do they require a tap on the shoulder or a painful stimulus to respond? Do they respond verbally or do they merely shudder or fling an arm into the air? Perhaps they do not even move when the very fibers of their body are literally being dissected.

There are many situations when a person will interact normally for a period of time while under the influence of a sedative with amnestic properties, and then have absolutely no recollection of that period of time. As far as they know, that period of time never existed. They had no idea that they were lying on an operating room table for 45 minutes talking about their recent vacation while their surgeon performed a minor procedure on their wrist, for example. Sometime later, they found themselves in the recovery room when, to their profound disbelief, they noticed a neatly placed surgical dressing on their hand. More than once I have been told that a patient had asked that the dressing be removed so that they could see the stitches with their own eyes.

How should we characterize their level of consciousness during the operation? By our own standards they were completely awake. However, because they have no memory of being awake during the experience, they would recount it more or less the same way a patient who was rendered completely unresponsive would. This phenomenon is common and easily reproducible. Moreover, it invites us to consider the possibility that awareness continually exists without interruption, but we are not always able to access our experiences retrospectively

During some procedures where a surgeon is operating very close to the spinal cord, we often infuse a combination of anesthetic drugs that render the patient unconscious but allow all of the neural pathways between the brain and the body to continue to function normally so that they can be monitored for their integrity. In other words, the physiology required to feel or move remains intact, yet the patient apparently has no experience of any stimuli, surgical or otherwise during the operation. How are we to reconcile the fact that we have a patient with a functioning body and no ability to experience it? Who exactly is the patient in this situation?

What can Near Death Experiences (NDEs) tell us?

If we broadened our examination of the human experience to consider more extreme situations, another wrinkle appears in the paradigm. There are numerous accounts of people who have experienced periods of awareness whilst their bodies have been rendered insentient by anesthetics and/or severe trauma. Near Death Experiences (NDEs) are all characterized by lucid awareness that remains continuous during a period of time while outside observers assume the person is unconscious or dead. Very often patients who have experienced an NDE in the operating room can accurately recount what was said and done by people attending to them during their period of lifelessness. They are also able to describe the event from the perspective as an observer to their own body, often viewing it from above.

Interestingly, people describe their NDEs in a universally positive way. “Survival” was an option that they were free to choose. Death of their body could be clearly seen as a transcending event in their continuing awareness and not as the termination of their existence. Very often the rest of their lives are profoundly transformed by the experience. No longer living with the fear of mortality, life subsequently opens up into a more vibrant and meaningful experience that can be cherished far more deeply than was possible prior to their brush with death. Those who have had an NDE would have no problem adopting the idea that their awareness exists independently of their body, functioning or not. Fear and anxiety would still probably arise in their life from time to time, but it is the rest of us who carry the seemingly inescapable load of a belief system that ties our existence to a body that will perish.

What happens when we wake up from Anesthesia?

The waking up part is no less magical. When the anesthetic gas is eliminated from the body, consciousness returns on its own. Waking someone up simply requires enough space and time for it to occur spontaneously. There is no reversal agent available to speed the return of consciousness. I can only wait. In fact, the waiting period is directly related to the amount of time the patient has been exposed to the anesthetic. At some point the patient will open their eyes when a threshold has been crossed. Depending on how long the patient has been “asleep,” complete elimination of the agent from the body may not happen until a long while after the patient has “woke.” 

By the time I leave a patient in the care of our recovery room nurses, I am confident that they are safely on a path to their baseline state of awareness. Getting back to a normal state of awareness may take hours or even days. In some cases, patients may never get their wits back completely. Neurocognitive testing has demonstrated that repeated exposure to general anesthesia can sometimes have long-lasting or even irreversible effects on the awake state. It may occur for everyone. Perhaps it is a matter of how closely we look.

Interestingly, it is well known that the longterm effects of anesthetic exposure are more profound in individuals who have already demonstrated elements of cognitive decline in their daily life. Indeed, this population of patients requires significantly less anesthetic to reach the same depth of unconsciousness during an operation. This poses an intriguing question: Is our understanding of being awake also too simplistic? Is there a continuum of “awakeness” in everyday life just as there is one of unconsciousness when anesthetized? If so, how would we measure it?

Does our limited understanding of awareness keep us “asleep”?

Modern psychiatry has been rigorous in defining and categorizing dysfunction. Although there has been recent interest in pushing our understanding of what may be interpreted as a “super-functioning” psyche, western systems are still in their infancy with regard to this idea. In eastern schools of thought, however, this concept has been central for centuries.

In some schools of Eastern philosophy, the idea of attaining a super-functioning awake state is seen as something that also occurs spontaneously when intention and practice are oriented correctly. Ancient yogic teachings specifically describe super abilities, or Siddhis, that are attained through dedicated practice. These Siddhis include fantastical abilities like levitation, telekinesis, dematerialization, remote-viewing and others. The most advanced abilities, interestingly, are those that allow an individual to remain continuously in a state of joy and fearlessness. If such a state were attainable it would clearly be incompatible with the kind of absolute psychological identification most of us have with our mortal bodies. It may be of no surprise that Eastern medicine also subscribes to an entirely different perspective of the body and uses different tools to examine it.

Certainly fear has served our ancestors well, helping us to avoid snakes and lions, but how much fear is necessary these days? Could fear be the barrier that separates us from our highest potential in the awake state just as an anesthetic gas prevents us from waking in the operating room? It is not possible to remain fearless while continuing to identify with a body that is prone to disease and death. Even if one were to drop the assumption that the source of our existence is a finite body, how long would it take to be free from the effects of a lifetime of fearful thinking before any changes that reflect a shift in this paradigm manifest? As long as we leave this model unchallenged we may be missing what it means to be truly awake.

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

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Consciousness

4 Key Steps To Heal From Any Kind Of Trauma

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Trauma can be seen as stress that has been trapped in the body. It can affect our daily life in many ways, and given our neuroplastic brain, trauma can create undesirable habits if gone unchecked.

  • Reflect On:

    Do you feel consistent stress? Perhaps unexplainable low energy? Feeling as though you are on edge for no reason? This could be a sign of a body and nervous system stuck in a trauma trained pattern.

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.

Trauma can be challenging, but the moment we are willing to do work on it is the moment that so much potential for healing and growth opens up. The more aware we are of the bigger picture, the less we suffer.

As a general rule, the mind clings to negative, fear-based experiences as a biological survival mechanism. But when we can consciously step outside of our own stories, outdated beliefs, and personal perspective, we can empower personal transformation through self-awareness.

Below are some useful questions to ask yourself in different instances of trauma. They are designed to help clear your mind, open your heart, and begin the healing process.

1. Life Is About Evolution. Find The Lesson In Your Experience

The Big Bang has revealed a universe to us that is radically evolutionary. It is constantly growing, evolving, and developing, and has been for more than 14 billion years. Life is evolution. It is an ongoing process of transformation and conscious expansion. This is a natural law, and this means that from a higher perspective, all of the experiences in our lives are happening for us, not “to” us.

While things may create suffering on an egoic level, there is often a different layer of meaning from a higher perspective. You must be willing to look for the hidden order in your perceived chaos. Ask yourself:

What am I supposed to learn?

How did I play a part in the creation of this, and what habits or behaviours do I need to clear?

How can I grow from this?

These questions will take you out of a state of learned helplessness and begin shifting your mind to focus on the solution rather than the problem.

I recently worked with a client whose house burnt down. She was overcome with grief. While discussing the situation, she mentioned to me that it was also days within the ten-year anniversary of her husband’s death.

I asked her if she felt that the two situations were somehow connected. Right away, she mentioned that she had still kept all of her husband’s belongings in that house and their bedroom exactly the same, more than ten years later.

She also mentioned how consistently her family begged her to move on. One family member specifically said to her, “If you don’t let go and choose to move on, the universe will eventually force you to.” She felt that this was a lesson in moving forward in her life, and in letting go. She also knew that by holding on so tightly to the past, she was preventing new love and peace of mind from entering her life.

She knew it was time to let go, and as challenging as it would be, it couldn’t be more painful than spending every day trying to pretend that nothing had changed.

Finding the lesson is an important first step to opening our minds to the evolutionary process, and finding a higher meaning in the sequence of events occurring in our lives.

“The wound is the place where the light enters.”    – Rumi

2. See The Other Side

 Beyond simply learning from our experiences, we can also find the hidden benefits in all of the circumstances we are faced with.

Our beliefs and expectations will often create one-sided stories in our mind about whether events are good or bad. This often causes us to focus primarily on the drawbacks of unmet expectations. And yet the exact events that challenge us most in life often have the greatest unseen blessings embedded within them.

Ask yourself, “What are the unseen benefits of this traumatic experience?”

Based on the natural laws of duality that exist on our planet, this technique I’ve learned from Dr. Nima Rahmany in The Overview Method is very effective. It works to un-filter your selective perception so that you can see both sides in a traumatic situation.

Where are you being supported in the face of this challenge? How is this trauma actually supporting the things you care about most in your life?

If you are courageous enough, you will be willing to go directly into the challenges you face, open up your perspective, and do the work. The more benefits you find, the closer you will get to neutralizing the feeling of loss within yourself.

3. Look Beyond Your Perspective

There is a difference between pain and suffering. Pain is a feedback loop, while suffering is the story we create about the pain itself. It adds another layer to our pain

If someone else has hurt you, ask yourself: “Why, according to this person’s life story and perception of events, did this person feel justified in making their decision?”

Every single one of us makes a decision because the combination of our conscious + subconscious mind believes there are more benefits than drawbacks in that decision.

This means that everyone is always doing the best they can with what they understand at the time. And more often than not, the people who do the most careless or destructive things are often the ones hurting the most.

The same principle applies to you also, meaning that the notion of having regret is illusory. It is based on only being able to see the conscious mind’s perspective, putting us in a state of limited awareness. If we could open up the selective filter and see the bigger picture, we would find that the subconscious mind saw greater benefits in our decision at the time, that we weren’t consciously aware of.

In the words of Yehuda Berg, “Hurt people, hurt people.” With awareness and understanding, we can work to break the cycle.

4. Find What’s Missing

In the case of a traumatic loss, developed by Dr. John DeMartini:

All positive and negative particles in the universe are created simultaneously, in perfect one-to-one balance. We are made of these particles, and if these laws apply to all matter (in both quantum mechanics and classical physics), they must apply to the whole.

This perfect one-to-one balance exists within all things, but our senses create imbalanced perceptions. It is completely normal to become attached to the form of what we’ve lost, but it can be very healing to find where what we’re missing still exists in our lives.

Ask yourself, “What do I miss about who/what I’ve lost?”

For example, let’s say that you’ve lost a friend and you miss:

  1. His sense of humour
  2. Having deep conversations with him
  3. Playing video games
  4. His awesome hugs

Keep listing until you’ve covered all of the things you miss about that person.

Now, see where these things still appear in your life, but in different forms:

  1. Who do you laugh with now/who has a good sense of humour?
  2. Who do you have deep conversations with now?

Go through all of the traits that you’ve listed. Sometimes, you’ll have to look very carefully to open up your selective perception. The things you miss in your friend might not only come in the form of other people. For example, you might laugh with your aunt or siblings more often, but you might also find yourself watching more comedy television or funny videos.

If you look carefully, you will find that what you’re missing isn’t actually gone, it has only changed forms. Universal laws state that everything is always in a state of balance, a state of wholeness. While grieving is a necessary part of dealing with trauma, it is often the form we are attached to that creates the most suffering.

Then, what are the benefits of these new forms, that the old one didn’t have?

Some of these questions can be challenging to go through, but if you truly want to create transformation, they are well worth it.

Love yourself enough to do the work, ask the questions, and set yourself free. You deserve it.

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

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Consciousness

Full Moon In Virgo: Taking Important Steps Forward

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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.

IMAGE CREDIT: Sergey Svistunov

We are having a Full Moon in Virgo on February 27th which will appear the brightest on the night of the 26th for countries West of Central Asia and on the night of the 27th for countries East of there. This is the peak of the Lunar cycle that began with a New Moon in Aquarius on February 11th/12th. The energies of a Full Moon are strongest in the days surrounding it yet its astrological configurations also play a part over the following two weeks. You may start to see its themes slowly build up after the New Moon prior.

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

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

Virgo is an Earth sign ruled by Mercury. It is associated with tasks, duty, service, productivity, practicality, organizing, analyzing, perfection, physical health, cleanliness, sustainability, and purity. It is systematic, detailed, discerning, discriminating, diligent, and efficient. Virgo corresponds with problem solving, adjusting to changing conditions, and coming up with solutions. Negatively, Virgo energy can be cynical, overly critical, fussy, high strung, and too much in the head.

Pisces is a Water sign linked to Neptune and traditionally ruled by Jupiter. It is associated with sensitivity, compassion, empathy, spirituality, creativity, art, inspiration, dreams, imagination, oneness, and idealism. Pisces can be psychic, mystical, healing, and retreating. Negatively, this sign can also be unrealistic, flaky, elusive, delusional, and deceptive. Drugs, alcohol, escapism, fantasy, and illusions are also under the domain of Pisces.

Full Moon Opposing Venus and Trine Uranus, Both Planets In A Sextile With Each Other

This Full Moon is in a trine with Uranus in Taurus. This can be a stimulating energy which can be good for trying new things or anything involving originality, innovation, technology, metaphysics, or science. Some people may also experience breakthroughs or surprises in a way that is welcoming and beneficial in most cases.

The Full Moon also opposes Venus in Pisces which will be closely behind the Sun over the next month until they make an exact conjunction in late March. Venus themes pertaining to love, relationships, friends, values, pleasures, money, and aesthetics may also be at odds with duties and other Virgo themes mentioned. This can also emphasize certain Piscean energies such as creativity, art, escapism, and intoxication. However, if we emphasize the Virgo side of the polarity, this can also be good for productive efforts around our relations, finances, art, or other Venus ruled areas of life.

The combination of all of this can also reflect taking new creative approaches to things which can be potentially for our work. Social, romantic, and financially related occurrences and undertakings can be exciting, unusual, liberating, ingenious, tech related, or experience a positive and/or evolutionary change. Generally, Venus in Pisces can also bring a magical, spiritual, or compassionate tone in our relations with others which can also play into this configuration with Uranus. This energy will build up as we approach March 3rd/4th when Venus will make its exact sextile with Uranus.

Virgo Ruler Mercury Conjunct Jupiter & In Post Retrograde Shadow

The ruler of this Full Moon is Mercury which had finished its retrograde in Aquarius on February 20th/21st. From that point until March 12th/13th it is in its post retrograde shadow which is the conclusion of the retrograde process. Certain areas of our lives that have experienced shifts, complications, changes in perception, or revisitation over the last month are becoming more clear. Things will fall into place more easily and we will be in a better position to proceed ahead in a way that is revised based on what has transpired.

Mercury is closely approaching a conjunction with Jupiter in the same sign of Aquarius. This can be good for anything educational or applying our minds in expansive or explorative ways. Thinking or communicating about the big picture, ideals, or undertakings involving media, marketing, or foreign places may also come up. This energy will be strong on March 4th/5th and build up as we approach that date.

Halfway Point Between Eclipses with Squares To Lunar Nodes

This Full Moon is in a square aspect with the previous Lunar Eclipse in Gemini which is also a grand cross when we factor in the oppositions with the Sun. The period between now and the next New Moon in Pisces marks the halfway period between the previous eclipse season in November/December (which also included a Solar Eclipse in Sagittarius) and the upcoming one in May/June.

We may experience developments pertaining to the themes of these eclipses. It can be a time of making important steps forward while also releasing certain expressions of ourselves or expired aspects of our life to help us in our evolution. The areas of our lives that are being affected by these eclipses depend on how they are configured to our natal astrology charts and are also connected to expressions of Gemini and Sagittarius.

Developments connected to communication, information, duality, intellectual matters, our immediate environment, local issues, neighborhood/neighbors, or siblings, cousins, or friends from an earlier part of our life can be part of this process. This is represented by the North Node and previous Lunar Eclipse in Gemini. The Sagittarius side of this polarity can reflect shifts connected to beliefs, opinions, dogmas, judgments, morals, higher education, travel, foreign lands, and excessiveness.

A significant part of this halfway period will be on March 5th/6th when the Sun will be in a square with the Lunar nodes. The themes and potentialities mentioned in the above paragraphs can come up more strongly at that time. Considerations may involve where we are coming from and where we are heading or being stuck between things that can be holding us back and things that can facilitate growth. Activities and developments happening at this time can also involve incorporating beneficial aspects of the past and applying/experiencing them in an evolved or forward moving way.

On March 9th/10th, Venus will also be in a square with the Lunar Nodes. The themes mentioned in the above paragraph may come up again. However, they can also involve Venus ruled areas such as love, friendships, financial matters, values, pleasures, art, aesthetics, and creativity. We may experience turning points or perhaps we may also feel that we are at a crossroads when it comes to these areas.

Things To Consider

How can you integrate creativity, compassion, spirituality, inspiration, originality, or innovation into your work, duties, and service to others? What new approaches can you take for your health or to help you be more organized, productive, and efficient? Do you need to be more attentive to details? What is coming up for you now, and in the days prior to this Full Moon, that is bringing more clarity to help you move forward in a revised way? How do your friendships, social network, groups, the collective, technology, innovation, ideals, the big picture, education, or media tie in to this?

Is there a connection between current/recent developments, issues, insights, realizations, or ideas with happenings that occurred for you back in November and/or December? If so, these newer developments can be a next step for you to proceed forward in new ways and move on from certain behaviors, tendencies, or aspects of life that are holding you back.

These are just some examples of themes that could come up during this period; however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out as well.  If you wish to do any sort of intentional release connected to what has come up at this Full Moon, it is best to do so anytime over the two weeks following when it is waning. The exact moment of this Full Moon is at 8:17am Universal Time on February 27th. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

Follow me on INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, and YOUTUBE for more astrology-related content.

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I’m currently doing a DISCOUNT with 20-30% off personal readings Gain more astrological insight into what is going on in your life and have a better understanding of your individual potentials. Get a personalized astrology reading with Carmen (author of this article) specific to you based on your exact birth date, time, and location. Click here for more information or to order.

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

Continue Reading
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