All that we knew to be true no longer holds. Our old ways of being, thinking and operating are no longer productive, nor desirable. We come to realize that our pain; be it physical, emotional, or psychological, is simply a manifestation of our disconnection from our essence, our essential nature, and our Source.
The path of healing requires surrendering, not just once, but an infinite number of times. It requires our humble submission to a life unlike the one we “thought” we were supposed to have, yet one that feels oddly familiar and rich, too.
In 2007, when I first began writing and producing books to promote health “from the inside-out”, I was not entirely sure why I felt so called to do this, only that I had to. The word “consciousness” was not even in my vocabulary at the time….nor soulwork…nor biofield…nor grace.
All healing journeys, whether someone is dealing with cancer, endometriosis, cystic fibrosis, mental illness, or divorce, have a common “treatment” and that is the elevation of the person’s consciousness. Without this, treatment is incomplete.
Very few medical doctors today can help you with this. It is something we have to learn to do for ourselves, breath by breath.
When you’re fully ready to receive the experience your soul is guiding, there is a calm and clarity that pervades your entire life. Follow this. Embrace this. Accept the invitation and trust that all will be well, not in the ways you “think”, but in the ways that are sustainable and real.
Notwithstanding this awareness, each individual, whether in a formal leadership capacity or not, can, if they so desire, work to advance the reduction of human suffering and therefore increase the conditions through which human flourishing can manifest, simply by expanding their own consciousness.
Wise leadership, which is grounded in several competencies including self-awareness, self-regulation and spiritual (energy) awareness and literacy, slices through the veils between the leader and the led, and shows us that true leadership is exemplified when all dependencies are eradicated. While dependencies and co-dependencies serve to illuminate our path (the places where we must actually cross!), if we remain bound to them, they can hinder our vision and agency.
Because they have traversed these steep and narrow passages, wise leaders model and counsel from a place of inter-dependence, not authority. They are gifted story-tellers because they have, in fact, walked their talk. They are powerful beyond measure, not forceful. They exemplify the best of humanity because they are living from the integrity of their soul, and deeply understand that failure and darkness are essential ingredients to growth.
Because chaos and conflict are the raw materials from which our human lives take shape and form, wise leaders leverage the inherent intelligence contained in each situation to illuminate a way through, not away from it. It is inclusion, not exclusion, that enables sustainable change and growth.
Wise leaders may or may not hold and MBA.
They may or may not be successful by worldly standards.
They are humble.
They are aware.
They listen more than they speak.
They have faith.
Wise leadership is not about winning, “slaying”, or bragging. Wise leadership evolves the basic tenets of servant leadership into a deeper and conscious discipline of being.
If we continue to approach the work of peace and peace education from a conflict resolution perspective, our strategies will not be sustainable. The reason for this is that the human mind is in constant flux. Accordingly, the “reasons” for peace and non-violence today, may no longer apply the moment someone changes their mind.
Minds change all the time. They are supposed to, actually. That is how they are operate.
Sustainable peace, then, is not something that should be approached from such a limited and temperamental perspective, but from the wisdom that is beyond reason; beyond the human mind.
“There is no coming to consciousness without pain.” – Carl Jung
Coming to consciousness, which is our ability to see without distortion, requires that we temporarily turn our attention away from a few trusted anchors, namely, our own thoughts and emotions.
While coming to know and understand the nature of our minds demands our full attention and awareness, if we don’t move past it, we remain stuck in our own thoughts, or worse, come to believe them as truth.
Same goes for feelings and emotions. We can become so certain that because we “feel” something, we must act upon it. Yet, without understanding the wisdom behind the emotion, we lack clarity– which inevitably leads us back to “enlightened wisdom” because of the pain and or suffering we cause ourselves through sheer ignorance.
Everything we do and don’t do serves the greater good. If we embrace the notion that everything that is happening is actually enlightened wisdom, and can hold this paradox in our hearts, our desire to judge ourselves or anyone, simply melts away.
So, is there a “right way” to expand our consciousness. No. All ways are the way. Even as I crafted this graphic, I realized the futility of creating something semi-linear and “staged”…..however, as our minds do like to try to make sense of these things, I’ve outlined what I see as the evolutionary path of consciousness (our ability to see the world without distortion), and the various stops along the way.
As always, this work of mine has a simple goal; to help reduce human suffering by facilitating human flourishing. If we don’t know where to look, we can’t see it, and therefore, we can’t create the conditions that promote health, well-being, creativity, and true-productivity.
I’ve been contemplating this for a little while– specifically, the people who have, whether intentionally or unintentionally “grinded” me; meaning that they caused me to reassess, re-think, and re-evaluate, whether personally or professionally, some aspect of my life.
The “grinders” are not easy people. They’re not supposed to be. Their sole (soul) purpose is to show you where you have work to do because you have not fully integrated your own trueness. That’s it.
Getting into any kind of ego battle with a grinder is not only ridiculous, it is wasteful of your energy and creativity. “Grinders” are learning too by the way, and you, in fact, are a “grinder” to them/for them! (in Buddhist teachings, the “grinder” is only yourself– there is no “other”).
Ultimately, the “grinders” are a gift because they represent the fullest vision and version of something you yourself find intolerable, and in doing so, provide an incredible opportunity to consciously change.
And the “shiners”?……they are represented in everyone and everything, actually. Anyone who makes you shine, lights you up, awakens some aspect of yourself, is a shiner– and that includes the grinders……especially the grinders!
While at first, this may feel fake, stupid, or even disingenuous, there are solid and scientifically-backed reasons why implementing such a practice will improve your life, work, and health.
Intentionally changing our neurocircuitry and neurochemistry requires attention, followed by action. With every thought, emotion, and action we create, or don’t, we are literally creating “code” in our body. Consequently, this creates a vibrational sequence (we now know that everything in the universe is energy) that either promotes or hinders our health and well-being, and that of those closest to us (see the work by Fowler & Christakis on connection and the power of networks).
When we practice seeing the good, we are affirming life as it truly is. When we affirm and accept, we create less resistance– in fact, we are yielding to what is…and when we yield to what is, we are free (yes, free!) to chose, move, create from a place of clarity and conviction, not one of fear and anger.
When we begin to see through the lens of gratitude, arguments become obsolete (you are only arguing with yourself, anyway); competition becomes a repugnant option; and you see, quite clearly, that supporting and enhancing your own trueness is what makes true progress occur; not destroying the other, but consciously creating the new you.
It seems paradoxical that something as gentle as gratitude, could be so powerful. Like any other contemplative practice, it has the potential to transform the way we live and work…but only if we practice it.
Being bilingual has informed me in ways I’m still discovering.
Having a vast range of words to describe the color of the ocean, for example, has shaped the way I see the ocean, and life.
Ultimately, we are, each of us, an expression of what we think we are and what we are capable of in this world. The quality of our lives, which is shaped by the words we use and the thoughts we entertain, time and time again, do steer our course.
But, what happens when we question this? When we challenge even our own long-standing language and notions, when we, like Rilke invites us to practice “living in the questions.”
Learning a new language, albeit French, Mandarin, or love and appreciation, will change you through sheer expansion of awareness. To me, that is the most incredible and fun part of being a human being; that just by getting a little “software upgrade”, we are immediately improved.
Contrast is one of our greatest teachers, and yet, we often miss the point.
When we choose to criticize, judge, or demean that which we find stupid, ridiculous or intolerable, we are, essentially, locking ourselves into a painful dynamic; one of divisiveness and self-righteousness.
In my experience, no one has ever helped me or changed my mind by telling me (or shouting) their “thoughts”. Being locked into a rigid dichotomy that blocks the creative and joyful insights that are available to us all, is painful. However, it is a type of suffering that can be healed within each of us.
Through practicing presence, self-awareness, and discernment we can easily see that there’s not only an alternative to criticism, but a much better use of our God-given talents and energy.
Criticism stems from fear– fear of “what” is up to you…but it’s deeply rooted in separation and desperation. Anytime we feel that “fear” rise within us, it’s a knock on the door of our mind, and an invitation to either enter into battle, or to yield, and instead, practice the better.
The better what? The better way. The peaceful way. The sane way. The way that places YOU at the helm and realm of possibility and of leading by example.
You have a better idea? Don’t tell us. Show us. Forget about tearing down the other— that’s easy.
Criticism is unmanifested creativity. Go create the better.
In 2017, I took part in a beautiful experiment. The “365 Days Together” initiative by INSIGHT TIMER challenged our community to meditate every day. Given my schedule and commitments, I honestly wondered if I could even do it. I’m grateful that I tried.
How did I do? Well, while I did not meditate 365 consecutively, (my longest span was 332 days), I have, since the start of my time with this app, meditated for a total of 938 days, and sat for 995 sessions.
What I found through my practice is that even on the days I did not actually sit down and use the APP, I was moving through my day with a different awareness and energy. Essentially, my actual life became my spiritual practice that day.
While “sitting down to meditate” is critically important, what I’ve noticed is that my waking life; my thoughts and behaviors (e.g. the way I expend and conserve my energy and what I choose to create) have become their own meditation, too….which invariably makes me long for increased and deeper communion through my meditation practice.
There’s no question that meditation has transformed my life. In order to become a better mother, educator, coach, and writer, I had to become a better student. I had to be willing to begin again, and again, and again– to sit and practice radical presence, patience, and self-compassion. More importantly, I had to be willing to ask myself better questions. I had to be willing to miss the mark and to embrace these seeming “failings” as an inherent and essential part of my own journey and transformation.
This year, what are you willing to try for 365 days?