Health

Cultivate Detachment and Non-Identification (2)

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

“Inner silence is for our race a difficult achievement. There is a chattering part of the mind which continues, until it is corrected, to chatter on even in the holiest places.”

— C.S. Lewis


Reading time: 15 mins

“Inner Considering”

You’re on an internal cell phone to your “Self” that never stops ringing. You pick up and you say the same thing over and over. You hang up. And then it rings again and you start over, completely forgetting your last feverish conversation. Our wires become so crisscrossed and entangled with endless contradictions and conflations that we end up trapped in our mind.

A life of endless chatter, deliberation, vascillation, questioning, doubts, ten thousand possible ‘if’s’ and ‘but’s’ fuelled by our fantasies of the future and the past. These thoughts get our brain and nervous system so habitually overheated, criss-crossing over each other with complexity, that we cannot discern or discriminate objective from subjective.

That’s an unfortunate part of being human. We all do it to different degrees – mostly as our default position. It certainly takes me back to all kinds of poor decisions which were based solely on that inner noise of fear and anxiety and not much else. We can even make ourselves believe that it’s all logical and rational rather than an internal babbling of self-protection.

All this has a name: “inner considering”, a phrase drawn from the 4th Way teachings of George I. Gurdjieff and its relationship to indentification and self-remembering.

When we fully identify with the object of our attention we immediately begin a cascade of thought loops about what might or might not be, fuelled by anticipation and inner dissatisfaction. People, in particular, form our most potent forms of identification. This is the social battlefield of unresolved childhood insecurities and misdirected sexual energies. Plagued by endless loops of inner considering we are not motivated by truth but by self-protection and inner comfort. It’s like we carry around a no-entry sign for any authentic interaction. Only those exchanges which bypass “sensitive” lanes into our heart are allowed access. And since most people are asleep to themselves, therefore inauthentic, much of what we see as social interactions are merely the exchange of inner considerations.

Fear is still pumped into society on a daily basis and has produced immense distrust and cynicism. Our infotainment mediocrity elevates artifice and images devoid of meaning which means most of us search desperately for anchors of purpose. Albeit entirely understandable, this is a fool’s game because it is driven by subjective, frustrated assumptions and all manner of negative projections – all of it largely unconscious.

The net result means no change, or change for its own sake. The loops are still there based on a refusal to take responsibility for one’s own development. A contractile denial of one’s own deformations remains in place.

(more…)

Advertisements

8. Cultivate Detachment and Non-Identification (1)

© Infrakshun

“We live in a society where detachment is almost essential.”

— Philip K. Dick


Reading time: 15 – 18 mins

The quote above highlights a growing shift in the consciousness of Western populations – if not the globe – namely, the detachment and separation from our political system to offer any kind of resolution to domestic and international problems. The defeat of the remain camp in the Brexit exit poll to the election of Donald Trump are both symptoms of disillusionment with establishment politics. They represent a negative detachment of progressive politics not from rejecting the conservative “other,” but from an attachment to a dream of what ought to be, thus in direct oppostion to objective reality.

As Gilad Atzmon notes in his recent book Being in Time: A Post Political Manifesto (2016):

The Post-Political condition is an era defined by a complete failure of politics (Left, Right and Centre) and ‘Grand Ideological Narratives.’ Liberal Democracy, Marxism, communism, capitalism, and free markets are all empty, hollow signifiers as far as contemporary reality is concerned.

Total detachment describes the current relationship between ‘the political’ and ‘the human.’ We Westerners are becoming keenly aware that we have been reduced to consumers. The present role of ‘the political’ is to facilitate consumption. Our elected politicians are subservient to oligarchs, major market forces, big monopolies, corporations, conglomerates, banks and some sinister lobbies.

Liberal Democracy, that unique moment of mutual exchange between humans and the political, has failed to sustain itself. [1]

In the context of politics and culture, non-identification is essential if we are to separate from belief and move toward constructive solutions. Not to play the game of identity politics is to reject the idea that just because there is disagreement with a certain ideology does not mean prejudice against a race, sexuality, gender or religion. Identitarians would have us all categorised into rigid groups of tribal affiliations according to opinions, feelings and surface image rather than the logic and plausibility of the idea itself. Since identity is enmeshed in ideology and persona, to oppose an ideologue is to launch a personal attack. A specific defence mechanism is thus created to maintain this triad.

Examples of this would be:

  • Being white and male you are privileged and inherently racist
  • If you vote for Trump you are sexist, misogynist and a white supremacist Nazi.
  • Everyone knows there is a rape culture and if you deny it you support it.
  • If you disagree with pre-school education on transgender sexuality means you are transphobic
  • Criticising Islamic extremism means you are “Islamophobic”.
  • Criticising Israel’s human rights record against Palestinians means you are anti-Semitic
  • If you stand against police brutality you support radical anarchists like antifa
  • Institutionalised racism exists and police target black people as a result.
  • All those who criticise the science of human-global warming are “climate deniers”.
  • Being pro-Brexit and skeptical of the EU means you are xenophobic and right wing

Such identitarianism is spellbound by image and feeling rather than reason an logic. There is no room for nuance or complexity. With identify politics, radical feminism and social justice groupings, group identity and its beliefs take precedence over individual belief and autonomy. Any attack against the group is an attack against personal identity, the latter of which the individual give ups to further group cohesion. The ability to discriminate and critique based on reality rather than personal sensibility is lost. As such, it is a collective defence mechanism called “splitting” which we will look at later on.

To identify with someone’s pain or difficulties is to engage empathy. But when we identify with the ideology and belief – regardless of good intentions –  we limit our ability to see outside that ideology. It is then that empathy becomes politicised and distorted toward power and projection fuelled by the momentum of the group itself.

(more…)

Strive For Simplicity, Economise on Energy (7)

Image by Karen Arnold from Pixabay

“He is richest who is content with least, for contentment is the wealth of nature.”

— Socrates


Reading time: 10-15 mins

SEE

In this final post on Strive for Simplicity, Economise on Energy (SEE) we’ll summarise what’s gone before and end with a list of what we can do to get the ball rolling and a few other nuggets of interest to whet your appetite for change.

We looked at how SEE is expressed through Taoist traditions, the I Ching, Wabi-Sabi and Nature. This was followed by an exploration of how Western culture has lost sight of living simply with an unhealthy adherence to civil law and its development of “bureaucratic insanity.” A useless complexity bound by rigid absolutism enforced by an army of “robopaths” is in direct opposition to Natural and Common Law – not least the human wish to work together and seek self-sufficiency. A resurgence in voluntary simplicity and the natural community virtues that arise if cooperation were given the needed nourishment were also explored.

The challenge of simplifying our lives in order to reconnect with beauty and truth in practical ways can only be achieved with knowledge of how we use our energy – thoughts, feelings/emotions and body awareness. Our task is to use our energy more productively so that we turn towards creativity in everyday life. As a primer for further discussion on energy as it relates to applying SEE, we reviewed the nature of energy and the centres/chakras from a 4th Way perspective. The role of our planet, organic life and the moon as largescale sources that might drain our energy were reviewed, with a brief description of ancient and modern myths.

We then looked specifically at energy economy and conservation. After using the analogy of the house as our body-mind system we returned to Taoist and I Ching symbolism through the archetype of The Well as our fundamental resource, The Mouth as nourishment and The Cauldron as the alchemical vessel by which consciousness is refined to make SEE a possibility. This acted as a backdrop to the subject of sex and sexual energy which was briefly explored from a cultural perspective and the divisions and pathology which has led our sexual-creative centre being misused.

Beginning with a confirmation by science of the reality of the Chinese energy system we delved into the nature of sexual energy and back to the 4th Way views of the sex centre’s role in relation to culture, sexual relations and masturbation – a dynamic that is not just focused on the gentials but appears throughout our culture under different guises, all of which lead to the loss of intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual energy.

Finally, a brief look at the brain as the hub of energy refinement and loss was covered, along with some pointers on a digital detox from social media and other forms of infotainment  – a major source of energy drain. Two bio-mechanisms of procreative sex and pair-bonding were highlighted and the role of dopamine in the reward circuitry of the brain leading to a circle of unrecognised addictions. In light of these, we delved further into a narcissistic and orgasm-centred culture predicated on addictive behaviours which have displaced intimacy and bonding behaviours. This was followed with an introduction to the love-making art of Karezza as the most useful method for sustaining intimacy and harmony within a relationship.

(more…)

Strive For Simplicity, Economise on Energy (6)

The Kiss (Lovers), Gustav Klimt, oil and gold leaf on canvas, , 1907–1908.

“Behind every shallow sexual interaction, there hides a person who does not want to see or be seen at a deeper level.”

Michael Mirdad, An Introduction To Tantra And Sacred Sexuality


Reading time: 30 mins

Brain Power

Before we continue exploring the vital role of simplifying and economising through attention to sexual energy let’s take a brief detour into the brain and the spaghetti junction of incessant thoughts.

An enormous amount of energy is expended in thinking deeply about a subject and still more when our thoughts are a product of stress and anxiety. Factor in low-grade fantasy and you have a major energy drain in the mind-body system. With such a breach, our perception, impressions – what we give out and receive – and ability to think critically is seriously impaired by subjective evaluations, warped still further by defensive mechanisms and stagnant beliefs.

The brain is a big, jelly-like battery making up 2 per cent of our body weight. Even at rest, this incredible hub gobbles up a whopping 20% of the body’s energy. [1] It’s long been known that the brain uses more energy than any other human organ, – up to 20 per cent of the body’s total output., with two-thirds of that energy used to help neurons or nerve cells “fire” the remaining third devoted to general “housekeeping,” and cell-health maintenance. [2]

Each neuron has a small voltage 70 millivolts or 0.07 volts. That may not seem much when compared to the 1.5 volts of a AA battery or the 115 volts from a wall socket, but at the microscopic scale, which is where it functions, it’s pretty impressive. In fact, when you take into account that the brain is made of 80 billion neurological batteries each of which contains four times the electrostatic force that normally results in lightning during a thunderstorm.  [3]

Our brains pack a powerful punch.

And when the procreative urge gets in on the act, usually as a form of grounding all that “electrostatic” tension, then a massive explosion of neurochemicals occurs at the point of climax. Sexual saiety is the result – or offspring.

The point is, this is a major “charge” which has a major downside and may not only be exhausting your physiological responses and your nervous system but re-wiring the neurology of the brain toward habituation. We become addicts to what is a very narrow mental and biological mechanism rationalised by the intellect, fuelled by ignorance.

(more…)

Strive For Simplicity, Economise on Energy (5)

Infrakshun / pixabay.com

‘In order to make gold, you need to have gold.’

— Medieval alchemist


Reading time: 20 mins

Energy Matrix

Eastern philosophy and medicine has been well in advance of the West when it comes to recognising the energy of the body and mind. For thousands of years Chinese, Tibetan, Japanese and Indian practitioners had knowledge of the channels or meridians which carried two kinds of force, yin and yang, which flow along a network of energy pathways which map the entire body.

It is now accepted that our bodies are electromagnetic in nature with these energy pathways acting as electricity conductors, a fact of which acupuncturists take full advantage in order to regulate and “unblock” certain imbalances in the energy field. Knowledge of the energy network of meridians forms the diagnostic methodology behind Shiatsu/Acupressure, Qigong, Tai Chi and Yoga. Indeed, science seems to be catching up with what the ancients have already known for thousands of years.

As no anatomical foundation was perceived to exist for the meridian network in our current Darwinian-saturated science establishment the concept had been discarded and ignored as the Newtonian/Cartesian mindset held sway. However, a flurry of new experiments emerged in 2013 which produced a new anatomical foundation called the ‘Primo Vascular System’. Researchers at the Seoul National University in South Korea describe the PVS as “… a previously unknown system that integrates the features of the cardiovascular, nervous, immune, and hormonal systems. It also provides a physical substrate for the acupuncture points and meridians.” They propose “…a new vision of the anatomical basis for the PVS and the vital energy—called “Qi”—as an electromagnetic wave that is involved very closely with the DNA in the PVS.”

What is most fascinating is the duplication of the PVS by the vascular and the nervous systems during the very early stage of body development. Consequently: “… the PVS combines the features of the vascular, nervous, immune, and hormonal systems. The PVS in all its aspects is understood as a system that covers the entire body, and regulates and coordinates all biological life processes.” [1]

This was followed in 2016 with discoveries on the microstructure of the PVS via the use of a patented microscopy system by Professor Vitaly Vodyanoy of Auburn University in Alabama. He revealed for the first time “the microstructure of the miniscule, translucent system of vessels, subvessels and stem cell-filled nodes—together making up the primo-vascular system…” which appears in and on blood vessels, organ tissue and the lymphatic system. As for less complex biological of rats, it too features in the human system. [2]

Instead of a simplistic version of meridians lying on the surface of the skin, classical Chinese texts have always indicated the three-dimensional nature of energy pathways which carry liquid Chi to the internal organs. This liquid is made of stem-cells packed with DNA. And we know the enormous healing and regeneration properties of stem-cells and the mysterious nature of DNA as one factor in the interface of consciousness with knowledge and reality.

Now, keep in mind the importance of liquid in our bodies and its role in carrying protective and nourishing information.

(more…)

Strive For Simplicity, Economise on Energy (4)

© Creator76 | Dreamstime.com

“A man builds a fine house; and now he has a master, and a task for life: he is to furnish, watch, show it, and keep it in repair, the rest of his days.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson


Reading time: 15-18 mins

Energy Conservation

To conserve our energy in the way we think, feel and act we need to know how they might all relate in simple terms. So, let’s simplify it.

Think of energy efficiency (upgrades) and energy conservation (energy use) leading to the correct economy for your life. The home can be thought of as a metaphor or symbol of your mind and body. (If you like, this is an extension of Jordan Peterson’s thinking of tidying up your room).

Energy conservation involves using less energy by changing your behaviours and habits. Energy efficiency, on the other hand, involves using techniques, traditional systems of knowledge and new technologies that requires less energy to perform the same function.

Energy efficiency = all those qualities and techniques you can find to maximize your potential and minimize chaos. Accumulate energy for creativity and minimize loss from internal and external entropy.

Energy Conservation = simplifying your life through judicious, careful attention and limiting unnecessary drains on energy. employing measures which ensure you are not only efficient but have a constant supply on tap. Conservation sometimes means getting very creative. The more you conserve, the more likely that can be!

In other words, to be energy efficient means looking at ways your personality system can be upgraded so that less energy is needed to perform certain functions and which provides qualitatively better results. This can be “costly” in the short-term but requires much less effort in the long-term. This includes insulation, replacements, careful monitoring and upgrades.

Energy conservation involves actively seeking new ways to on your internal efficiency. You change your relationship to energy within your home. You seek ways to receive energy for minimum loss and a minimum amount of effort. It is strategic, long-term and eminently practical. It requires a re-calibration of existing appliances (organs of perception; centres) in order to extract a maximum amount of energy. The energy that you have is used wisely.

In other words, it means a change in overall behaviour through commitment and a creative application of knowledge.

How might we use our energy more efficiently?

Insulate, upgrade and monitor.

Insulate your mind and body from that which would drain but remain porous enough to let constructive influences through. And if you have good quality insulation then you have more energy to produce warmth and proper flow of electricity and therefore creative potential. (It might be stretching this metaphor to its limit but it’s no coincidence that key brain areas found to have more nerve fibre insulation or “myelination” equates to advantageous personality traits!)

(more…)

Strive For Simplicity, Economise on Energy (3)

“I have long held an opinion, almost amounting to conviction, in common I believe with many other lovers of natural knowledge, that the various forms under which the forces of matter are made manifest have one common origin; or, in other words, are so directly related and mutually dependent, that they are convertible, as it were, one into another, and possess equivalents of power in their action.”

— Michael Faraday, English Physicist and Chemist


Reading time: 20 mins

Energy

What is energy?

Energy is a property of matter, space, objects and fields. It can be transferred and converted, but it can’t be destroyed – or created. Energy can be chemical, thermal electrical and kinetic, all of which exists in and around the mind-body system.

For our focus it is potential energy which can be stored and qualitatively accumulated which is of interest.

Energy can be refined in order to get more vitality for your voltage, so to speak.

Since sufficient energy is the fuel for all manner of action, (and The Work) it stands to reason that the more energy you have within your mind-body system the more enhanced the capacity for change.  With enough stored, (and the “space” ready to store it) we have a greater chance of changing our physical, mental and emotional states.

With a greater store of energy on tap, this might even provide the “nourishment” and power needed to fuel overall meta-physical transformation.

At this point in history the demands on our time and energy are relentless. Many of us have become mentally ill or physically debilitated due to environmental and psycho-social factors. In this technological age there are reasons to fill every waking hour with activities and distractions which feed our restlessness but give little in terms of true nourishment. If we cut out the clutter and re-organise our daily lives so that things become simpler we make better use of our time. Time management goes hand in hand with simplicity. Economising conserving and simplifying are mutually inclusive.

What is crucial to your life and what is just repetitive, useless busy-ness? Is that moving centre sending into you spirals of pointless activity in order to displace energy that could be useful to personal transformation? Ask yourself honestly: Is your attention habitually fixed on getting things to feel better? Has this focus overshadowed what’s truly important in my life?

If that’s true and like so many of us, you have been caught up in finding too much satisfaction in possessions (or possessing people) then it’s a cue to simplify and to realise that attachment to beliefs and their possessions are often the greatest obstacle to living a more harmonious life. Or, as German poet and playwright Johann von Goethe expressed it: “Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.”

To achieve simplicity we have to conserve our energy in thought and action. One thing is for sure, you’ll need every ounce of it if you are to transform your inner life. By gettting rid of that which ultimately drains you, it opens up the space for an ongoing process of spring-cleaning, much like you do with your flat or house. And it’s amazing how much more can be achieved by decreasing one’s complexity.

(more…)

Strive For Simplicity, Economise on Energy (2)

© Infrakshun | M.K. Styllinski

“The expression of truth is simplicity.”

— Seneca


Reading time: 20-25 mins

Natural and Common Law

If you’re like me you might ascribe to a universal law that operates outside of human constructs yet gives rise to a specific set of perceptions and values. Natural law is a system of moral justice and balance derived from the cycles and symbols of nature rather than the rules of society. There are inherent rights which exist outside of legislative bodies and the State which are deemed a timeless product of nature and the Divine. Natural Law is a culmination of thousands of years of philosophical inquiry from Taoism to the Stoics and celtic Christian theology. Drawn from generations of common sense experience, the common theme is that morality, ethics and jurisprudence should determine the outcome of disputes and community conflict.

Natural law flows through the dynamics of social groups, how we cooperate and include, when we live and die, who we love and who our friends our; it is our home and our community; the values, virtues and moral autonomy that gives life to art and altruism. It comes about by the process of reason and conscience which determines what is beneficial or destructive to the individual as part of the proper functioning of a community. It is a law that requires us to learn the sometimes subtle difference between that which gives life and creativity or that which sends us down the road to entropy and evil.

Under Natural Law infections of evil are allowed to wither and die by withdrawing energy for their existence. Such entities are not bailed out and propped up – they dismantled, re-envisoned or ignored. This universal standard is as old as human conscience – the wisdom formed through experience. It is a law that transcends time, culture, and government. It is a law that helps to create organic order that is porus and fliexible as well as socially binding. Natural promotes self-responsibility, self-sufficiency and preventative measures when it comes to crime and dysfunction.  It is the judge who discovers the law in common practices which have been deeply ingrained in society.

At its best, it is simplicity in action.

The American legal school of thought called Declarationism believes that the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. constitution are based on Natural Law. However, that initial ideal has now been obscured – if not dissolved – under the heavy weight of amendments by successive administrations under the pay of corporations and antithical ideologies. Equally, one only has to cast an eye over the disease of legalise – American and European – to wonder how it is that anyone understands anything when it comes to civil liberties, family courts and civil actions.

The English legal system of Common Law is similarly rooted in this natural philosophy with its roots in the English Kings’ courts. This older, traditional form of common law is still in operation although, like the U.S. consituition, it has been covered up and camouflaged by modern legislative power which seldom takes into account the old local knowledge and simplicity of the system –  a natural outgrowth of community cohesion.

(more…)

Choose Constructive Emotions (and don’t forget your greatest asset) (6)

“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death. It is easy to say you believe a rope is strong as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But, suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice? Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?”

—  C.S. Lewis


Reading time: 8-10 mins

The Positive thinking, LOA and YCYOR triangle is the lynchpin of the new age or Human Potential Movement, often fused with left-liberal beliefs. What happens when these ways of viewing the world are placed in an overtly spiritual context?

A constant theme that runs through many of these essay series is the idea that one’s spiritual quest is fraught with potential dangers. It’s designed that way and is not for the faint-hearted. I am one of those who has learned the hard way that self-awareness and seeking truth requires an exacting sacrifice of personal, selfish desires.

If you decide to follow a genuine spiritual path without attending to fundamental emotional issues, you will find yourself on a very hard road indeed as the signal to grow receives a response. Such a response (depending on the degree of personality deformation present) sets in motion a process whereby the person is given the tools and circumstances by which soul influence can begin to grow. That cannot be anything other than painful since, like a drug addict, you are shedding outmoded and negative behaviours which you have taken on as normal. Cold turkey isn’t just for those coming off substance abuse, it can be as harrowing to divest yourself of childhood and cultural conditioning.

The cultural inculcation to support a psychopathic worldview is disguised as benevolence or empowerment. In the final analysis however, we always have a choice to change and to seek out what is really going on behind The Wizard Of Oz’s theatrical curtain on reality. Dealing with our emotions is the first step.

If we insist in wallowing in the influences of Official Culture, whilst immersing ourselves in the theory of spiritual transformation – it won’t work, at least not in the way we might think. Information becomes knowledge by applying and testing out what we have discovered. That means we cannot be in two realities at once which means a decision will need to be made, whether we like it or not. If you are perpetually on the fence then you at a standstill or worse, one centre of gravity within your personality will be inflated whilst another will atrophy.

Much of the illness of our western culture derives from the denial of what is, and the rejection of inner knowing in favour of security, self-satisfaction and a fragile peace. It’s ultimately a denial of the Universe/God which seeks consciousness, seeded in complex sentient life i.e. humans – to become self-aware, warts and all. Once we have made a contract with Life due to our self-evident existence, part of that decision is to willingly choose to access your greatest potential by serving others, thereby serving yourself. When we do so with conviction a new dimension of possibility opens up for us – literally. Walk long enough along that road without application of those discoveries then reality will become more and more insistent that you “walk the talk” away from theory and toward actualisation of faith and purpose.

(more…)

Choose Constructive Emotions (And don’t forget your greatest asset) (3)

Approaching Shadow, 1954 by Chinese photographer Fan-Ho born in Shanghai, in 1931.

“Don’t be so negative! Think positive!”

— positive thinking evangelist


Reading time: 15-18 mins

How many times have you heard the above smiley command from people who have joined the positive psychology bandwagon? Apart from being a tad self-righteous the proclamation might also mask the person’s inability to process the negative realities of this world.

This “pursuit of happiness” tightly bound with numerous affirmations and fixated beliefs intent on to forcing happiness into being doesn’t deliver. If we do not achieve those heights of impossible joy then we sow the seeds of re-occurring resentment.

As we have explored, positive thinking is an important part of self-betterment, but it is literally only half the equation. There’s a huge caveat that goes unnoticed in the drive to cultivate a better outlook and a happier life. Deny the vital role of negative emotions in this process and and we court serious trouble.

In fact, this blind spot is probably one of the primary reasons for many of our global woes and needs to be fully understood before we immerse ourselves in the positive thinking belief system.

Success in cultivating positive emotions lies in the nature of the methods we use to attain them as much as it does the reasons we embark on such a discipline. If the methods and reasons are faulty, then success may be fleeting and come at a cost.

But “the optimism of the action is better than the pessimism of the thought” right?

No. Not always. In fact hardly ever.  If the pessimism of the thought is grounded in the reality of what is, then you can guarantee that the “optimism” and good intentions of the “action” will inevitably create more chaos than order.

As Barbara Ehrenreich described in characteristically blunt terms:

Americans have long prided themselves on being positive and optimistic — traits that reached a manic zenith in the early years of this millennium. Iraq would be a cakewalk! The Dow would reach 36,000! Housing prices could never decline! Optimism was not only patriotic but was also a Christian virtue, or so we learned from the proliferating preachers of the “prosperity gospel,” whose God wants to “prosper” you. In 2006, the runaway bestseller “The Secret” promised that you could have anything you wanted, anything at all, simply by using your mental powers to “attract” it. The poor listened to upbeat preachers like Joel Osteen and took out subprime mortgages. The rich paid for seminars led by motivational speakers like Tony Robbins and repackaged those mortgages into securities sold around the world. [1]

This distinctly American obsession with positive thinking tied to a delusional neo-liberal brand of capitalism means “to get what you want” in as little time as possible and with minimum effort; a lifestyle which has permeated virtually every social and cultural domain.

(more…)

Choose constructive emotions (and don’t forget your greatest asset) (2)

 

“Everything can be taken from a man but …The last of human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”

— Viktor Frankel


Reading time: 10 mins

What is it you can tell yourself and that will ensure that every time you get in a negative loop you have constructive thoughts and actions which bypass that habit? Think of it as building new houses of emotion imbued with positive feelings in every wall and every beam. Make sure that you are not in an environment, relationship or work situation that continually places you in that loop. And if you are, ask yourself how much of those negative triggers are under your control to diminish? You’ll not be able change everything externally in your life but you can change how you react to these pressures and head off the kind of habitually negative thinking that harms you. Then you are laying the foundation for your life to change naturally. (Yes, really, you are). That requires faith and not a little persistence. But if you are able to cultivate feelings and emotions that work for you that’s when reality begins to change, even if it seems like a pipe dream.

I struggled with many things in my youth and beyond but passive aggression and an overly critical attitude were high up on the scale. This was due to intermittent depression rooted in a poor sense of self. It was only when I found constructive channels for release which took me away from my inner stress was I slowly able to heal. I could indeed choose positive emotions instead of wallowing in resentment and projected angst. In fact, we are choosing all the time, even if unconsciously.

Remember the two sets of thinking systems: system1 (instinctive and emotional) and system 2 thinking (logical; deliberative) and what Daniel Goleman called the “high and low roads” of emotional intelligence. We are literally a complex, tangled mass of biases and mechanical processes which make a mockery of free-will and independent thought. But we can get closer to those ideals. Our job is to ease into the marriage of the two and make them work for us. And to do that we need to be both internally considerate of our own experiences, pains and fears whilst affording the same external considerations to those with whom we live and work.

Learning to exert proper control over the wild horse emotions and chaotic feelings isn’t a bundle of fun but like unruly animals they can be gently tamed so that they begin to love their master rather than follow the bad parent of the ego who let’s them do anything at all for the next tasty treat.

A concurrent theme that appears throughout this whole blog is that we need a good social network present to keep us nourished. For example, snaps shots of positive social memories is an effective way to bring you back from the negative maelstrom. In combination with breathing this can help to re-connect with the biochemical component of that remembered reality. [1] 

(more…)

Practice Self-Control (2)

“Instant gratification takes too long.”

– Carrie Fisher

Reading time: 15 mins

Delaying gratification

The late Hollywood star Carrie Fisher certainly knew about instant gratification. Known for her biting wit and satirical bent the above quote was a comment on her own weaknesses but also described the nature of culture in the 21st Century. Gratification, in all its guises has proven to be the primary channel through which the human family escape reality and the darkness within.

That drive for the instant “hit” gets ever stronger the moment it is satiated. This leads to the following statistics:

    • Obesity: About 36 percent of American adults are obese — more than 1 in 3. And, globally, more than 1 in 10 humans are obese.
    • General substance abuse: Nearly 21 million Americans ages 12 and older had a substance use problem in 2015.
    • Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption is responsible for an average of 88,000 deaths each year.
    • Sex: The National Council on Sexual Addiction Compulsivity estimated that 6%-8% of Americans are sex addicts, which is 18 million – 24 million people.
    • Pornography: More than 80% of women who have porn addiction take it offline. Women, far more than men, are likely to act out their behaviors in real life, such as having multiple partners, casual sex, or affairs.
    • Gambling: Over 80 percent of American adults gamble on a yearly basis. [1]

The above are extremes. But for every addiction that becomes full-blown there’s another one germinating in the wings. We don’t have to be a gambler or substance abuser to know that we have a problem with controlling our desires and impulses. Often it’s a very fine line between addiction and what is considered “normal.” Equally we can be addicted to all kinds of covert negative behaviours which cry out for limitations and order. “Think before you speak” might be the most obvious and applicable to most of us. Practicing self-control means that you’re able to delay ego-gratification without going into an emotional tailspin. Do this often enough and it becomes an asset, thereby improving the quality of your life.

Stanford professor Mischel has spent his life exploring this very topic and provided some very interesting data that proves self-control is a key component of individual mastery. His psychological studies date back to the 1960s and involved children with an average age of 4 – 5 years old. Mischel and his research team published their findings in 1972 as Cognitive and Attentional Mechanisms in delay of gratification and it remains the most influential experiment on self-control available. These experiments were refined and improved over the decades, but the basic format remained the same. Popularly known as “The Marshmallow Test” from the book of the same name, Mischel’s discoveries and conclusions make fascinating reading, so we’ll return to some of suggestions on building self-control later on. Meantime, let’s look at what this ground-breaking experiment was about.

(more…)

3. Practice Self-Control (1)

By M.K. Styllinski

“No man is free who is not master of himself.”

— Epictetus


Reading time: 10-12 minutes

Let’s get the definition out of the way so we can get to the meat of the issue:

“Self-control [is] the ability to inhibit competing urges, impulses, behaviors, or desires and delay gratification in order to pursue future goals”

Self-control is probably the bane of everyone’s life to some degree of another – how to exert self-control and the faith that such a discipline can increase one’s quality of life in the long-term. There is the kind of self-control that most of us have in order to get through the day and exist as a functioning member of society. Without it, we’d end up in a psych ward or closely resembling many of our esteemed leaders…Many of the most repellent movers and shakers of our world are masters at giving the illusion of self-control in public, but allow all kinds of masks to fall once no prying eyes are around. Indeed, as they ascend the corporate, political elevator they don’t have to worry about controlling themselves, they live for the power to control others.

While many of us ordinary folk may not lust for power, we have are own mini-power differentials taking place everyday as we struggle to balance what we want with what we need, if not for our highest good then for a more peaceful life. We know that reciprocating the insistent charms of a sexy guy or girl at the office might be great for one’s sex instinct and appeals to our sense of adventure but not so good if you’re wife or husband trusts you implicitly. Our love for that person, our conscience and sense of responsibility will generally drown out that biological response – if it’s strong enough. If pre-disposed to alcohol as means to self-medicate, having that last drink will always end up being a binge session if we don’t listen to that memory and impose order as a protection against certain chaos (and a hellish hangover).  Allowing another family member to push our buttons for one thousandth time so that we react in kind is similarly about adopting limitation and internal order in the face of emotional heat that would otherwise taint the whole household. Once the trigger point or hot button has been pressed with a background of stress and tension, other issues tend to come bubbling up and it’s next to impossible to put that fiery genie back in its bottle. Sure, you’ll make up and apologise (if you’re lucky) but such reactions over time tend to wear down the will to try.

The problems come when a sufficient amount of intrapsychic storms have been allowed to build up and begin to uproot what was once stable. A battle with a past addiction or the waiting shadows in a family with a history of repressed emotions can be released, seemingly from nowhere. Psychic carnage is just one step away should we relinquish that self-restraint. But that’s what usually happens because we haven’t been taught any preventive measures, nor had our parents. And our education system only manages to increase the level of ignorance when it comes to self-knowledge and mastering ourselves at the most basic level. Schools and their overdevelopment of intellectual rigour replaces emotional intelligence and social awareness. Since the process of thinking and expressing a thought is riven with emotion it’s hardly surprising that we end up in a boiling vat of reaction when under pressure from every quarter.

(more…)

2. Respect Yourself (1)

By M.K. Styllinski

“Above all things, one should maintain his self-respect, and there is
but one way to do that, and that is to live in accordance with
your highest ideal.”

— Robert G. Ingersoll


Reading time: 15 -18 mins

“He doesn’t respect himself much if he can carry on like that.”

Did you see her last night? She’s got no self-respect.”

Have some respect for yourself for God’s sake!

Such judgements and admonishments are unlikely to install the kind of respect those persons are looking for. The very notion of self-respect is highly subjective. One man’s accusation of poor hygiene, grungy dreadlocks and disrespect for authority is another man’s expression of a “free spirit”. What matters however, is whether you have the kind of respect for yourself that makes your life worthwhile and makes you a pleasure to be around.

It reminds me of my time as a bewildered twenty-something who gave an air of self-control and ease but was struggling to make sense of life. The recurring theme of that period was a battle between dissociation and reality, creativity and sexuality, perfectionism and surrender. When one has the feeling of persecution and guilt embedded in one’s very being it means that making a mistake is the end of the world whereby great horror, ridicule and even annihilation awaits should you err in the slightest way. Way over the top of course, and a form of compensatory narcissism that makes you retreat into a smaller and smaller bubble that you deem navigable, where everything is micro-managed to shield oneself from anymore pressure. Ironically, that only makes such a bubble more prone to bursting, since embracing objective reality becomes a threat to that congealed mass of ego-masks built to protect, yet a barrier to growth. Bloody conflict ensues between one’s fears and the promise of change. Thankfully, I did break that conflict, but not without cost, which is as it should be.

Self-respect never arrives when we shield ourselves from life and do everything we can to avoid failure. The latter is how we learn and there is no other way to build success – be it in business, relationships or the growth of self-awareness. You will err, you will fail and that’s okay. The information that led you to failure offers knowledge for next time. And provided you don’t give up, then such bad experiences become useful for the future you wish to create – they are needed grist for the mill.

Without self-respect it is hard to achieve what we desire. It is even harder to sustain any success should we manage to block out that doubting voice which is intimately linked to self-sabotage and victimhood. “Better to scuttle one’s ship now and face an even bigger disaster” says that voice, Better to protect myself from that kind of pain and suffering.” Yet, it is precisely this fixation with future “disaster” and the debilitating voice of unreason that is asking to be analysed and thereby integrated. (see no. 1 Heal Your Past).

(more…)

Heal Your Past (3)

“Wisdom is nothing more than healed pain.”

— Robert Gary Lee


Reading time: 20 mins

Before any kind of deeper transformation can take place we have to address the past and any “blockages” to growth which may be holding us back. Those of us who have trauma or childhood adversity does not mean we haven’t been successful in life or made our mark in the world. We all cope in a multitude of different ways. But our personal lives are often entirely separate to our business interests. We might be a corporate leviathan, where success hides our shadow selves and the hidden trauma that rises to the surface in relationships and family life. Or conversely, family and relationships take precedent and fulfilment in our careers eludes us.

Whatever the variables, the only measure of value derives from how well we have been able to transmute our hidden shadows; that which has been adapted to the demands of daily life and often purposely buried or “forgotten.” Anyone who sincerely wishes to grow their conscience cannot leave the past unknown. It has a direct relationship to how well we cope with the uncertainty and unpredictability that hails from the future. By releasing our past demons we are slowly able to fully inhabit the present. This eventually allows us to face the future which unfolds from that new presence.

Healing means the incremental release of new energy that was previously used to service a false self. Such a persona exists through a normalised habit of shoring up the perceived breaches in our many defence mechanisms. That’s the nature of a self built from survival. It’s not the real self thus has no authentic foundations. And as anyone who has done any refurbishment on a house without having the right knowledge, you can go through money like water down a drain, until you are forced to take out a huge loan from people and situations who have that requisite money (energy). It’s much like being held hostage by a debt we could never repay without conscious attention to the roots of that pain. As each year goes by the interest on that debt increases until we will be forced to address it anyway. You become bankrupt and homeless.

Healing Developmental Trauma

One of the most effective methods of restoring a healthy mind-body connection away from trauma and childhood adversity is the NeuroAffective Relational Model ™ (NARM) a new form of somatically-sourced, multidisciplinary psychotherapy that synthesizes the latest peer-reviewed research and practice in the fields of mind and body healing.  While placing importance on the clear understanding of past events it’s focus is on how best we can attune to the present moment and facilitate our capacity to connect to that which naturally heals. This brings us back from feedback loop of disregulation to a process of conscious self-regulation. The latter means listening to our mind and body so that we can have healthy stress instead of stress that harms us. (Again, healthy stress isn’t the issue, it’s our reaction to it. And when we are overloaded with stress that crystallizes into trauma revisited over years, then this is obviously something far different. Habitual reaction to pain can completely deform the mind/body connection leading to chronic disregulation.

(more…)