Vocational Arousal

This provocative term, vocational arousal, came by way of the joyful and visionary Barbara Marx Hubbard. She, in conversation with Steve Farrell, were discussing the obvious (and necessary) shift in our collective consciousness, and what this means for humans as we now them…us.

Vocational arousal describes an internal yearning or calling to our highest work; to our specific “duty” while on Earth.  While this “calling” used to be experienced by the few, specifically those in spiritual vocations, artists, healers, nurses, physicians, and teachers in particular, this arousal is being expressed, en masse, by more and more people on the planet.

In my own work, I use the term soul-work to describe this calling–this yearning deep within each of us that is often at odds with the duties and responsibilities of one’s person-hood….or so we think.

To this end, several of my colleagues at Soul Publishing Group and I are sharing our own stories of vocational arousal. These narratives, many of them decades in their unfolding, describe the journey of shifting from conventional thinking, to one of a higher consciousness and state of being. Many describe the sheer panic, the struggle, the ridicule, the second-guessing that accompanies any journey that is guided by the soul, our higher-calling.  The courage and grit of these stories are a true testament to the power of the human spirit.

To be true to who you are is the single greatest gift you can share with others. Then, when we unite with others who are similarly inclined, the synergy and creativity that unfolds is beyond what any one single individual could ever do, or even imagine.  Of course, we can “sense” these things– deep within, but our human minds are actually limited when it comes to fully grasping the magnitude and effects of the consciousness of connection and what this means for life and work as we know it today.

What is calling you? What is your soul-work?

Promoting Peace

Waking up to the news of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, I questioned everything. Life. Death. Meaning. What I would say to my daughters. What I would say to my students.

Just like you, my heart is broken; over this, over my island, over the chaos and instability we’re collectively experiencing. It’s enough to deflate the most optimistic soul. Still, we must not deflate.

Knowing that “we cannot create what we can’t see”, I sat down today to share what I see with my students. In the midst of tears, while bridging the ideas of a thousand educators before me, I strung together some possible ways we could work together; to help us accept all this with grace, so that we may work together towards a whole, peaceful, and productive world.

The Negativity Bias

This is a real thing. Simply put, the negativity bias is a conditioned response from your brain.

We all have a negativity bias, by the way. It is our “shark music” (Kristie’s term), and that part of us that exists to alert us of real, or perceived danger. It represents one input (just one) of many and often competing inputs and possible responses to our environment. When we operate from this space, it is common to distort a person or situation. It is the kind of primitive mentality that justifies hatred and prejudice. In its most benign forms, it is a form of fixed-mindedness that can imprison even the most rational among us. Carried to its extreme, only death of the “other” will suffice.

How do you know if you’re operating from this mentality? Fear and its usual companions, restlessness, anger, hate, or aggressiveness, are often the clue. Understanding what these emotions are telling us about ourselves, requires some intentional (and uncomfortable) tuning-in and listening to our own soundtrack.

Do you wish to master your mind, or do you wish to remain its servant? This is a choice only you can make. By becoming better aware of your own scary and negative soundtrack, you not only decrease the incidence of projection (assigning your fears and aggressions unto others), but you create space for a new choice and voice; one that will enable you to neutralize your negativity bias, and replace it with a conscious and thoughtful response instead.

Which would you choose?

Grand Canyon, 2010

There is a perilous, jagged, and crooked path that affords the richest, deepest and most expansive views of this life and world.

There is a straight, safe, and secure path which enables the most basic understanding of the human condition.

Which would you choose?

If given a choice, no one in their right mind would likely pick the perilous path. Most of us are rather content with the straight, safe and secure. Often times, however, we are not given a choice about which path we must traverse. Especially when love is directing our course.

Parents of chronically ill children have been “places” most would rather not go. However, the love of our children will take us places most would rather avoid; from impassioned conversations about quality of life, to human rights, to comparative religion and philosophy, to death.

When my daughter said to me, “I would rather live 3 good years, than live another 20 like this”, it stopped me cold in my own tracks. What are we really trying to do? Should we “fight” or should we “yield”? These are questions that only a soul can answer.

More than once I’ve been told by very well meaning people: “You have such a hard life!”, “I can’t imagine how I would handle what you deal with on a daily basis!”. I politely nod, because clearly, they’ve not traversed the crooked, jagged path of life– or perhaps they are unaware they actually have and that there is suffering in every life. Cancer patients know this. Recovered addicts know this. Artists know this. People who contend with mental health issues know this, too.

Only those who are awake and aware, intimately know the grace and the depth of understanding that comes from the most expansive and heart-opening life hikes. No truer is the adage “there are no short-cuts to any place worth going,” than in matters related to quality of life and death. We either go “kicking-and-screaming”, or in faith and grace– but it’s okay to totally do both.