Before you begin...
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.
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.”
27. The Testament
By noon on Remembrance Day most of the villagers had found their way into a large circle in the village square. Remembrance Day on the island of Allandon was a celebration of the present through an embracing and owning of injustices and atrocities of the past. Any one would have the opportunity to give testament, in their own words, to events from their collective history that they felt needed to be remembered.
After several minutes of silent contemplation together, the orchard owner was the first to rise. He put his hands in the air and bowed his head.
“Let us remember a time when we gathered up the harvest for the few, so that we could grow fat while others starved.”
“We remember,” the villagers said in unison.
The renovator stood up next. “Let us remember a time when we burned homes and villages, so that we could strike fear in the lives of others.”
“We remember,” the villagers said.
The old woman who cleaned the village square banged her pail on the ground signaling that she wanted to speak: “Let us remember a time when we tortured those who thought differently, massacred those who looked differently, a time when we raped the defenseless for pleasure and dismembered the innocent without remorse.”
“We remember,” the villagers said.
After a short silence, the orchard owner encouraged the young man who planted seeds in his orchard to say something. As the seed planter stood up and looked around shyly, the villagers clapped to encourage him to speak. And so with a deep breath he began.
“Let us remember that when the news of these acts of cruelty came into our ears and eyes—often as these events were still going on—we felt deep sadness in our hearts and anguish in our minds. But at the time we did not consider them our acts. We only judged them as wrong and mostly did nothing.”
There were audible gasps among the villagers. Some bowed their heads while others looked about perplexed. The seed planter bent down to the orchard owner and whispered, “Did I say something wrong? Aren’t people supposed to say ‘We remember’?”
The orchard owner smiled wistfully and said, “Give us some time. We will.”
If we step into the future just a little bit, it is not hard to imagine that we will look back to the present day and marvel at our relative inaction in the face of the human suffering and need on our planet. This is not at all to discount the incredible work that is being done by people to directly address the sickness, the starvation, the disease and the injustice; but it is still the work of the few, the exceptional, and the money that we provide for this work remains a drop in the bucket of global wealth, especially when compared to the amount being used to manufacture the tools of war and destruction.
More than ever in our history, we are front and center to the misery that is occurring around the world. We are hearing more about the aftermath of natural disasters, becoming more acutely aware of the spread of deadly diseases, and witnessing in graphic detail the catastrophic consequences of wars and conflicts as they happen. It makes us wonder if this is occurring because of the advances of modern telecommunications, or if the world really is headed towards fragmentation and eventual self-destruction. Either way it has become nearly impossible to turn a blind eye to it.
And perhaps that is a good thing. Not because we are more likely to be guilted into giving a donation, or to drop everything to become a relief worker abroad, or even to be forced to appreciate all that we have. The reason I say it is a good thing is because I feel that the broadcasting of human atrocities of the past and present sharpens our collective self-awareness and propels the evolution of our consciousness, which is the only avenue that will lead us to that long sought-after dream of world peace. Before Adolf Hitler orchestrated the holocaust, few people would have considered such massive crimes against humanity possible in the twentieth century. However they occurred, not because of the twisted vision of a single man, but because of the complicity of so many whose darkness had gone unexamined.
In a way, few people made a greater contribution to the eradication of discrimination than Adolf Hitler, because through his actions the darkness that was in humanity as a whole rose to the surface, like a disease that moves from deep inside us and erupts on our skin for all to see. The holocaust is rightly kept in memory not as a reminder that an evil man perpetrated unthinkable deeds, but that something in the darkness of our collective soul made such an event possible.
In the new conversation humanity is a true community, in which we share ownership of the darkness and fear that explodes into the world. As the development of the individual reaches new heights, so too is there a greater opportunity to see ourselves as One. So long ago Jesus implored that ‘he who is without sin should cast the first stone,’ to show us that the blame placed by one person or group on another is not really where the solution is but actually where the problem lies.
Blaming others for all the suffering in the world is a rather limited way to empathize with that suffering. We are better off being straight and simply saying that it causes us suffering as well. We may deny that we are affected, but denial is an acute form of that suffering. For a long time we have used coping mechanisms to escape from the guilt, the shame, the sadness that the current state of the world brings to us.
But can we be faulted? Can we really be expected to fathom what it is like to be an innocent bystander in a war zone and be captured, terrorized, and finally have our head sawed off? Can we grasp the anguish of a woman who is dying a painful death from AIDS as a result of having been raped repeatedly by soldiers of her own country? We might be excused for avoiding much more than a cursory, detached glance at these events, for fear of being overwhelmed and not being able to get on with our lives.
But this fear is only reasonable at our old level of consciousness, the one we are growing out of. It is coming from a place where we feel absolutely helpless and powerless, disconnected from our world and what goes on in it. From the point of view of our old consciousness, being at peace with what is going on in the world can only be seen as complete ignorance or unmitigated apathy. And so we proclaim righteously that these horrible events in the world are wrong, that they should not be happening!
Ah, but this is where we need to be the most careful, because—I’ll say it again—herein lies the lynchpin of the whole problem. What is most pressingly needed, in this matter as with all human matters, is not our judgment, but rather our acceptance.
But that seems absurd! How can I suggest that we lend acceptance to these horrible events? If we don’t judge these events as wrong, then why would we ever act to make things right? In accepting the occurrence of these events, are we not automatically condoning these human actions and sending a message to the perpetrators to keep right on doing them? These are the questions we ask ourselves. What we ask less often is: how effective has our judgment been in bringing peace and harmony to our world? If we look at the evidence honestly, we will realize it has been wholly ineffective.
In order to bring about lasting change we are required to bring our consciousness to a level above the one in which these problems were made and continue to perpetuate. Let’s face it once and for all: judgment does not lead to action, it only leads to reaction. Look at what has been happening in the Middle East since the end of the second World War. It is a chronicle of reaction. But history does not have to be about reaction. It can be about creation. The only thing we need to do is stop being informed on how to act based on what we know from our past, the favorite stomping ground of our Ego Self, and act instead from our deepest voice inside, from our self that is connected to the All, our Dao Self.
Let us begin with the most obvious of propositions: what is, is. In other words, if an event has occurred or is occurring, then judging it to be bad or wrong or horrible does not change or affect or negate the event one iota. It only changes us. It separates us from the event. It makes us feel powerless, because it makes us feel as though we are not part of the event, that we are not connected to it in any way. If we are not connected to it then we have no power to affect change.
Now true, our governments show us that if you have enough might, you can effect some changes in the world using the old paradigm of good over evil. But these are not the deep lasting changes that get to the source of any problem. These are more like the superficial shifting of lines on a map and titles of governments, while the real energy behind these events are pushed down into the depths of men and women, to re-emerge at the first opportunity. Ever wonder when the wars will end? The War on Terror? The War on Drugs? The War on Cancer? They will end the moment we stop believing in the need to wage war, the moment that our consciousness evolves enough to see that war is self-perpetuating.
It is tempting to pronounce ourselves on the side of good, but believe it or not, being on the side of good is actually the problem. Being on the side of good is really equivalent to being on the side of evil, for we will always be ‘evil’ in the minds of the group that we are opposed to, the side that we have called evil. This old consciousness is driven by our fear, and makes us proclaim to others that “you are with us or you are against us.” Even those who want to remain neutral become the enemy. It is only with an elevated consciousness that we can arrive at the truth about all the fighting we do—that ‘we have met the enemy, and he is us’.
In war, everybody believes that they are on the side of good. Everybody believes that the One, the Dao, God, Allah—is on their side, and their fight is in their Name. But this is the most absurd of contradictions. When you are on a ‘side’, it means you are in opposition to. It means you are fighting against. If we are truly with the One, the Dao, then we are not against—anything! There is only the One! Duality is transcended, duality which is fueled by judgment, by right and wrong, good and evil. Mother Theresa may have encapsulated this best when asked to join an anti-war march. She declined, and then added, “but if you have a march for peace, I will be there.” Perhaps, finally, we are ready to step into a consciousness that sees beyond the very human obsession with good and evil.
We have always had visionaries throughout our history who have known about this, and in their own way have tried to inspire people to a consciousness of unity. They realized that this consciousness cannot be forced, cannot be pushed, but can only be offered softly and humbly as a choice. We may have heard the words of this wisdom thousands of times in hundreds of different settings, but seldom have gotten to its core. No matter. The words will continue to be there for when we are ready. And when we are able to let our minds become still, it may be possible to hear those words again inside us as if for the first time, words of a stirring speech, a sacred text, or even a song like this visionary oeuvre by John Lennon:
Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try
No hell below us, above us only sky
Imagine all the people, living for today…
Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too
Imagine all the people, living life in peace…
You may say I’m a dreamer,
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people, sharing all the world…
You may say I’m a dreamer,
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one 
We are ready to be moved by great visions like this, and we are preparing to share similar visions of our own. The move to a new approach has started to change the way we are all thinking about healing the divisions on our planet. When we approach life from our Dao Self, we think globally rather than locally. We take ownership of the ills of the world rather than opposition to them. A recent campaign for AIDS awareness read ‘We All Have AIDS’, which shows the growing awareness that each one of us is complicit in any condition that befalls humanity, and we are an essential part of the healing of that condition as well.
Many organizations are now being created which, although certainly supportive of action in the world, are focused on the proliferation of a consciousness of unity. Initiatives like Humanity’s team, Alliance for a New Humanity, and the One campaign believe that when a critical mass of people have elevated their consciousness to the point that it is abundantly clear and self-evident that we are all One, something will become immediately obvious: there is nothing more pressing to do than to put all our energies into helping the most desperate among us in any way possible. This means no longer marginalizing people and nations when their ways are different from ours. This means making a priority of sharing our food, water, medicine and other resources.
This happens in the most spontaneous way. When we gain greater self-awareness our hearts are opened. If enough people move into this higher awareness, it is not impossible that one day the world will be freely willing to offer up all its resources—yes, ALL its resources—until each human being on the planet is free from worry and suffering.
Imagine if your young child was sick and needed immediate medical attention to survive. Would you decide that since you have budgeted 3.5% of your total wealth to this matter, that you would stop after it runs out? You would let your child die? I don’t think so. When we think about humanity the way most of us currently think about our immediate family, when we realize we are connected in just the same way, our behavior in the world will naturally change.
In the new conversation caring about others on our planet is not a command or even a request. The new conversation is simply an exploration of the experiences in life that we truly want, in a space provided for the expression of our truest, clearest, most grounded selves. In itself life isn’t bothered with the prospects of people starving and the planet disintegrating through war. Life will go on regardless. Our world is the backdrop to our experience, providing us with the possibility to make choices. When the situation in our world is dire it just makes those choices more meaningful, more felt. If we really could free ourselves from our old consciousness, we might have no greater desire than to care for the less fortunate among us and help to heal our planet of the Ego-devastation it has experienced throughout its history.
This does not all have to be overwhelming. In the consciousness of unity we realize that as goes the microcosm, so goes the macrocosm. Each shift in our individual consciousness affects human consciousness as a whole. Each gesture, each interaction with others in our lives has global consequences. And so if we want to exercise our choice to help make the world better for all people on the planet, we need to look no further than healing our everyday relationships.
 Imagine Words and Music by John Lennon©1971 (Renewed 1999) LENONO.MUSIC All rights Controlled and Administered by EMI BLACKWOOD MUSIC INC., All Rights Reserved, International Copyright Secured, Used by Permission
How Does Anesthesia Work? We Still Don’t Know: What Happens When Someone Goes “Under”?
Before you begin...
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.
4 Key Steps To Heal From Any Kind Of Trauma
- 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...
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:
- His sense of humour
- Having deep conversations with him
- Playing video games
- 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:
- Who do you laugh with now/who has a good sense of humour?
- 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.
Full Moon In Virgo: Taking Important Steps Forward
Before you begin...
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.
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