Fear: Shutter of The Heart

Is Fear the most dangerous thing of all? Does it really serve a good purpose, or is it hiding the true reality? The thing I find myself fearing is fear itself, and what it’s doing to us as a culture, as human beings.

What do we do when we live in fear? We shut down. When we act from fear, we literally process information in ‘life or death’ terms and activate our ‘fight or flight’ response in the body. This mechanism exists to keep us safe and keep us alive. But in doing so, our immune system shuts down. Our brains turn off. Creativity drains away. Infinite possibilities evaporate. Open arms and hearts close up, barring entrance from anything or anyone suspicious. We process only that information which benefits the situation and the final ‘fight or flight’ decision. Only that and nothing else. Why would your brain waste precious energy in a life and death situation trying to be creative and open-minded? Doing so might cost our life!

Yet even with all the life-saving functions, we were not meant to live in fear ALL of our lives – only for small instances where we needed to outrun someone with a club, think fast on the road, survive an encounter with a bear, or save a loved one from scary situation. But the fear response, and what it creates and does to us, cannot possibly benefit us if we are living it every moment of every day. A dark cloud looming overhead. This emotional force was designed to save our lives in short bursts, not to be endured for an extended period.

What a toll this fear is taking on our health and our hearts. Constant fear certainly will not nurture our souls so we may grow and evolve as humans.

It seems to me that fear cannot inherently exist where there is love. Real, infinite love. If you are operating out of love, you have no fear, only confidence of the moment and the person or situation in front of you. Fear accomplishes nothing; Love accomplishes everything.

Without fear, I really do think we can see things as they really are – and not through the lens of darkness that fear creates. What illusions might we be seeing that we are interpreting as real? That are only shadows from a deep fear in our mind?

Who plants the seeds of those shadows? How can we remove them, shine the light to reveal their true nature and source? Will an open heart reveal them, lift them from our shoulders?

Fear puts words into our mouths that are not our own. Fear ignites motivations that stem from false truths. Fear paralyzes us, but tricks us into thinking we are doing great things and protecting the common good. Fear does not encourage us to think outside ourselves and our own interest. Fear shutters our hearts and minds from infinite love.

Belief in God… the three-letter-word

I’ve recently been trying to define my belief in God, or map it in some way, but it’s hard to describe. I’ll cut to the chase:

I think the subconscious is a direct line to God. I think the subconscious IS God.

I don’t think this is a sensational thought. In fact, I thought this to myself today and sighed in relief, as I think this is where I’ve been headed on my spiritual journey; finally, a destination of some sort has been sighted!

My own belief in God has been greatly enhanced and catapulted by recent readings from neuroscience and psychology, and also by physicists and other scientists who are trying to figure out what is this “cosmic background” that we are living in; what is “Consciousness.” And I naturally then start to wonder where the consciousness, raw emotion, ideas and imagination comes from. Within us? Without us? I personally don’t think these things originate only within ourselves… this only seems part of the equation.

I think it is entirely plausible that we are all receptors of God-consciousness and that every time we engage our imagination, feel emotions, and ideate, we are connecting to the ‘Cosmic Source’ – a divine source. I find that I am coming to the conclusion that ideas do not originate inside the bony, squishy skulls our thoughts call home: they originate through the subconscious, through the heart.

And that the heart – the spiritual, subconscious heart – is the receiver, the direct line within us of God’s divine force and intelligence.

I keep going back to the idea that the subconscious activity – as opposed to the conscious activity – is what is really driving the bus, and scientists agree. But we aren’t consciously aware of this. Why? Because we don’t have to be. We live in a biological world that has no biological need to.

Our brains are evolutionary wired to only tell us what we need to know to survive and pro-create, no more, no less. In this sense, it makes zero sense for us to know and feel all the subconscious activity that is going on in our brain. If we did, we would not function! Think about all the automatic processes that your brain is doing right now for you, and that you are not even aware: your brain is filling in holes in your vision in order to read this, your brain is automatically regulating your breathing to get your body it’s needed oxygen, your brain is creating quick, rapid-fire first impressions on my writing as you are reading this, most likely based on all your past memories and emotions in order to sort out if you should feel happy, sad, or upset – or whether or not to activate some kind of fight or flight response.

ALL of these things, and many, many more, are happening right now without you having conscious knowledge. And we do not need to know about these things, because if we had to consciously focus on them we would not have the brain function left to focus on other things, like building things, imagining things, thinking things, dreaming things….

We don’t know where our ideas or emotions come from because we don’t need to. We just feel them and think them, and they propel our lives.

I often think of ourselves as being suspended in a cosmic “soup,” within our machine-like, bio-computer bodies, and are permeable to the God-consciousness – the “God Soup” – that surrounds us. And this God-consciousness, or source, or the Infinite, or the cosmic background, or just God – whatever you would like to call it – is everything and nothing, all at the same time, continuing on into infinity, forever and ever and ever. This is how I think about God. And I think it possible we can access Him with our subconscious; that our subconscious can access infinity. A crazy thought.

When I think about God being ‘permeable’ it increases my relationship with Him (– or It, She, You, Me, whatever pronoun you prefer). God being permeable means He is more accessible – He is no longer “distant” or disconnected or omnipresent and omnipotent; what we think of when we think of an ‘infinite unyielding God.’ No – this is a God that we are co-creating with. This is a God that we are in intimate relationship with every day of our lives. This is a God that we are connected to. Permeable.

When I pray, meditate, journal, write, or do stream of consciousness writing, I feel like I’m connecting with something beyond myself. Outside of myself. And if I ‘go with the flow’ in this reflective state, I often activate my imagination. Here, in these creative thoughts or imaginative prayers, I find true passion, peace and ultimate love. God is not somewhere else; He is here.

And what is God but love – infinite, undefinable, no-restrictions love. The love that comes no-strings-attached. Feel it? Feel that love? God is within you.

***

When I define my belief in general terms, it comes down to two main thoughts that guide me:

  1. Separation is an illusion. This applies to all things: material, spiritual, God.  To tear down walls is to remove the “Us vs. Them” psychological prison so we may be more present and observant of our true connectedness.
  2. Live in love. Everything in love.

I’m not perfect, but I’m making strides. These two principles might come and go on my journey, but they strike me as the best guides that I have in this moment.

If I get a sense of “Us vs. Them” I know that the situation has been built on lies or untruths. If I am feeling that something is not being said or done in true, no-strings-attached love, I know it has been built on lies or untruths.

I am a seeker, and I will continue digging and seeking if I find untruths in my life and in others’ lives. Because we are all One in the Heart. Because I am You. Because You are Me. Because this is important. And the only way I think we can find these untruths is through the two steps above – nothing more, nothing less.

This is my obligation as a piece of humanity – my obligation as a piece of God.

In this way, I do not simply have a belief in God; I have a knowingness of God.

***

Thank you fellow heart-led blogger Mel at Mel’s Mouth, for inspiring me to write and think deeply about my belief in more distinct terms… Pushing me further down the rabbit hole 🙂

Flawed by Nature, or Flawed by Nurture?

I struggle with why and how a fellow human being comes to the decision to kill many others, go on a ‘rampage’ with a gun or other weapon, and cause this kind of deep hurt and malice.

I try to put myself in someone’s shoes, to work out what kind of motivations might meet me there, in a place so dark as to consider murder as the solution to a problem.

I wrestle with the concept that this kind of action is not only becoming commonplace in our “advanced” society, but – dare I say it – trendy. A trending way for the outcast, disgruntled, or misunderstood persons among us to express their grief, anger, or sadness. A way to act out. A way to be heard or known. Or perhaps they feel nothing at all.

***

How does a civilized world like our own create and nurture people to have them act like this?

It doesn’t. I think this is the problem. We are NOT a culture of nurturing, and I think it’s heading to our undoing.

In this day and age, when we think we are so strong and free and intelligent, self-reliant and confidant, I think it’s possible that this is a farce. An outright lie. That we, as Americans, act this way based on an early preconception in our nation’s history that we are powerful and don’t need anyone else to survive. That our nation is the greatest, that Freedom rings from sea to shining sea – without “handouts” or support from anyone else.

This false truth has trickled down into the individual minds and consciousness of our populace, and now we impart these ideas on a day-to-day basis as an integral part of our own self-concept. We promote ‘picking oneself up by the bootstraps’ as the end-all, be-all of the American Dream. We are told that if we work hard, we will be rewarded. If we persevere, we will prevail. Survival of the fittest. When we see millionaires, we believe them to deserve the riches they worked for – and if we see someone by the side of the road, with a sign held up asking for help, we think they must have done something horrible to end up there. Or even more common, that they are lazy and don’t work hard, thus they are getting their comeuppance.

Personally, I am coming to the conclusion that this is an outright lie; an illusion that has lodged itself into our brains and drives us to a hard-edged, patriotic culture. Where we are pushed out into the world to conquer it, or be conquered.

This way of thinking is not only detrimental to ourselves, but detrimental to humanity as a whole. It is a cold, calculating, logical way of thinking that removes the human-centered, “fluffy” emotions that are integral to how we think and act. When you are telling others that their feelings and emotions are shameful and wrong, you are devaluing their experience.

In many ways, Christianity and religion promote shaming. And as we think of ourselves as a “Christian nation,” we also shame and devalue others for how they feel or think that we don’t approve of.

We tell people that feelings and emotions are wrong all the time. The most pertinent and personal examples to me are the “cry it out” sleep training we parents are advised to do, or telling mothers that they spoil their baby by picking them up too much or nursing them to sleep. What are these things really saying? They send a message to the infant that we are not receptive to their needs; to their emotions and what they are going through. That we are not empathetic; only sympathetic.

Babies do not know they are being spoiled or that they need to sleep on their own; they don’t know the concept of self-reliance. (That is an ADULT concept.) Babies just want their emotions –their experience – to be validated, to be nurtured. To be comforted and know they are not alone.

As it is with our adult selves.

***

Gunman, I hear the news telling me to not acknowledge your name or your actions, as this would give credit to you and your “cause” or motives. That it would give you glory. But actually, in reading about you and others like you, if I read about you and your life, I feel deep sadness. I want to figure things out and make them right. How in God’s grace is it possible for you to kill others and justify this as a solution to a problem?

This is the kind of decision that one makes in a cold, calculating manner. A loveless manner. This is the decision from someone who feels unconnected and alone; someone who does not see things as human-centered. Perhaps someone who has been shamed for feeling wrong. Someone who feels mocked or belittled. Someone who has been ignored or kicked down, because they have been told they deserve it. Because we are sinful creatures. Flawed creatures.

I implore you: we are not flawed by nature; we are flawed by nurture.

In our free will as individuals, we are free to inflict harm on others. However, within us there exists a morality that guides us as to how to function with love and respect. A morality that must be nurtured. A morality that must be taught how to love. We need to witness it in the world, see examples, feel it in our hearts, if we are to act on it and live it.

We tend to imitate that which we see and hear in our lives. The motives, the thoughts of those closest to us, and the ideas presented by society. And our society is very bad at emulating nurturing, encouragement, and love.

If we tell others how wrong they are, inflict shame and guilt, but tell them to figure it out for themselves – or even worse, to ignore them – we are not nurturing our people. We are abandoning them.

What is abandonment, but another kind of death?

***

This kind of violence embodies desperate actions from a desperate person. And I desperately pray and hope that you know you are not broken; there is always a way to fix it. Our culture may not think so, but there is.

I pray for healing, love, peace and the care of humanity. We are ALL humans of unfathomable worth; I think it is time that we all acknowledge that and put our money where our heart is.

Love and Light to you all.

Letting Go… To the Heart

In order to have control, we must give it up.

In order to have power, we must let go.

In order to rule, we must surrender.

Are these statements true?

I have been ruminating much on the meaning of these phrases for some time now, and I believe the answer is…YES.

It appears to me that a lot of wisdom is gained in life when we are able to let go of things we cannot control, to release the worries and the burdens that we carry in our hearts and minds to become freer to be otherwise. But when we let go of the conscious control, and hand our fate over to God or ‘destiny’ or what have you, are we really just gaining subconscious control? Do we hand over the reins to the heart intelligence? This, I believe, is where our true wisdom might lie…

Perhaps the world around us is intricately connected with the heart-subconscious in a way that is too complicated for us to comprehend. That they exist co-dependently somehow. If this is true, then there is no fathomable way for us to try and control this world with our conscious minds, as the conscious mind is only aware of a portion of our reality; a tiny sliver of our visible and perceptible world. Only the portion that we need to know and perceive in order to survive and evolve – no more, and no less.*

And yet the subconscious heart is the navigational system that we so desperately seek to have control of, but lies just outside of conscious reach. Maybe the only way to access this valuable information is to let go of the conscious desire, the conscious will of the ‘self’ and the ‘ego’ that is constantly dictating that WE NEED to be the driver of our lives. That WE are in control.

Instead, maybe we should hand this job off to the subconscious. To the heart.

Maybe if we want the greatest power and knowledge and peace, we should move to surrender our conscious will to the heart. (Which ironically, we have to do consciously…? Sorry, I can’t help but chuckle at that!)

Can the heart do the heavy lifting? Can the subconscious drive us to where we want and need to go?

I think it already is. Perhaps our conscious-reasoning brain is just getting in the way all the time!

 

*If this topic of evolutionary perception and consciousness is of interest, Google the work of Donald Hoffman, who studies consciousness, perception, and how we view reality. You can view his great TED talk here. Watching this video earlier this year really sent me down the rabbit hole!

Parallels

A girl stooped down to tie her shoe. She was thinking about God.

Not THAT God. NEVER that God. The other one. The loving one.

She knew He was there. Or He/She. Or it. Whatever the ‘Source’ wanted to be called. There – in that spot that is unknowable, but relatable –  He resides.

She continued on with her walk to get coffee. The buildings surrounded her with weight and substance, but were not quite relevant. Brick and stone mortared to the world they stood, but not rooted.

Yet the more she walked this path in her life, this one she walked every day to get coffee, every day past these same soulless blocks of architecture that loomed overhead, she came to like them. There was a familiarity and ordinariness of how they stood by, in the same places, day after day. They were like the embrace of family for the flesh and bones of the humans that occupied them day after day. Humans who implanted and projected the blank buildings full of meaning and memories. Thus calling them ‘home.’ Because of this, the buildings then grow unseen roots that are not bound to this world, but the world that lives just below the surface. The one of feeling, of emotion and spirit. A world no less real then the one seen with her eyes.

From this, the buildings become something else. Something like an extension of the humans living amongst them. Buildings that cradle them and the humans loving them back. A coexistence of sorts. The humans loved and appreciated these brick blocks in a way that they themselves would not recognize: they loved them by paying them no mind. They loved them because they were not a threat. They loved them because their existence was to help us find meaning and roots of our own by standing by every day, in the same place, accepting and implanting whatever we give them. By reflecting our own meaning back to us.

Is this how God works? she thought quietly.

Does he help us by mirroring our meaning? Does he protect and guide us by being there everyday, offering familiarity and safety, but not interfering?

This was a comforting thought. That God was ordinary and stationery, standing over her day after day, never judging or emoting. Just being there, helping her to find meaning and build purpose and love without her ever realizing.

She smiled to herself and ordered her coffee. She saw the coffee shop with new vigor. New appreciation. All the drab window frames and coffee-stained countertops were now there in a way they were not before. Like they were smiling back.

She put her extra change in the tip jar and went out the door, past the dull bricks and stone, past the other humans, and felt in her a new coziness.

Maybe the cradle of the buildings.

 

sidewalk_thoughts

Lost Connectedness

What is the true meaning – the true purpose – of religion? To find God? To save yourself? To redeem yourself? To have a pathway to morality?

No, I don’t think any of those statements fully captures the main purpose – the real, subconscious drive that lights us up inside and compels us to seek and devote ourselves to any cause or religion. I think it might be more accurate that the main driver is connection.

Connection to God. Connection to others. Connection to this world. Connection to a higher purpose. Isn’t connection just love, as another word?

Again and again I am pulled to the belief that we as humans are inter-connected – a social consciousness. A symbiotic ‘net’ that for some reason does not know of it’s inherent symbiotic ‘net-ness.’ That we are operating in autonomy is an illusion, a conscious construction, because we are really ONE, subconsciously, in the heart.

It seems possible to me that each religion that we have ever seen is only trying to regain that connection. But I think the tragedy here is that because the religion is consciously created, and borne out of the conscious thought preconceptions (that we have lived and been programmed with for millennia) that presuppose that we are separate in the first place, they may be doomed to fall short of that which they ultimately strive for: TRUE connectedness.

True connectedness does not put up walls. True connectedness tears them down. Connectedness does not need religion. Connectedness is connectedness. It doesn’t need rules to engage. It just is.

In my heart I feel that the pervasive illusion of our time is this thought that we are separate. Separate in race, separate in religion, separate in nationality, separate in education, creed, in even morality.  Separateness seems to me a pervasive weed in our collective subconscious – our heart – that is always whispering in our ears that we are different, that they are not us. That seems to me an evil in itself, to use such a strong word. Who put this idea in our hearts?  Who pushes this agenda among us? How did the seed of this thought get incepted in the first place?

Perhaps we were once conscious of our connectedness, in a past time too far back for collective memory to fathom. But somehow, in some way, we’ve let this external world creep up and convince us that there are walls and they were always meant to be there. For our safety. For our benefit.

How can we take down these walls? How can we see the world and ourselves the way we ought to? Maybe we should ask ourselves what we are so afraid of, and then dive deeper into the pool. In order to keep swimming in the face of our insurmountable panic.

External Meditation

The other day I had a great opportunity to attend a talk by Dr. Amit Sood, a professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Chair of Mayo Mind Body Initiative, and a former TED speaker. The talk was to center on ‘training your brain to be happy.’

Initially, I bristled at the subconscious suggestion that I needed to WILL my brain to be happy. I was pretty happy already, right?

The talk was brilliant and won me over from my initial hesitation, mostly because he focused not on changing your life and making it happier and better through goal-setting, affirmations in the mirror, and using your willpower to propel yourself to a happier and better state of being. Not a bit of that was mentioned.

The message was instead focused on being a more compassionate and present person, and that in building relationships, more thankfulness and more love, therein you will find the happiness you yearn for. True contentedness. He had little tips and tricks for doing so throughout the day, like focusing on 5 people in your life that you are grateful for in the morning before getting out of bed; trying to notice something new everyday to keep curiosity alive; and practicing “Kind Attention” in your awareness of other human beings rather than “Judgmental Attention” – which is our base mode, the mode of sizing everyone up and geared towards the survival mindset. In practicing “Kind Attention,” you wish others a silent internal “I wish you well” rather than fall back on your automatic judgment processing.

All of this requires conscious effort, of course, since if left to it’s own devices, our brains are hardwired not for happiness and peace, but for safety and survival. Your brain does not care if you are happy, only that you are alive. We alone can drive our lives and our brains with intention.

At the end of the talk, there was a question from the audience regarding meditation, and whether or not this also serves as an effective tool in creating more happiness and peace in our lives. Dr. Sood acknowledged that he had practiced meditation, and advised patients to do the same, but that finding the time for this was difficult in our modern lives. He even noted that His Holiness the Dalai Lama told him he often could not find time to meditate!

He then noted that his small tricks, or habits, of focused attention throughout the day on love, gratitude and compassion for others WAS meditation – but  an external meditation as opposed to internal. He noted that instead of focusing on emptying the internal self of external worries and extraneous thoughts, he would rather focus his active attention outwards on love, wisdom and relationships. He then noted that in our modern times, we have more perceived internal threats than external, so it is easier for us to focus externally.

Is the internal self within so daunting and scary? I guess for many it is, and that instead we can spend small moments of focused thinking ruminating on compassion, kindness, gratitude, acceptance, forgiveness and love instead of the strange stew of random thoughts that enter our brains when on zombie – or ‘default’ – mode throughout the day.

I had never before heard of the term ‘External Meditation,’ but to me it sounds very similar to how I think and compose some of my writing while walking to and from work every day, and also of reflective journaling and stream-of-consciousness writing. Setting the intention, and letting the thoughts wander and flow in that one topic. Kind of like a waking meditation. Source Point was a blog entry that I originated in my mind while walking to and from work one day, thinking about whether or not all people are one with God. (I know, what a topic to think about before work!)

After letting the term ‘External Meditation’ really sink in, I have fallen in love with it. Set the intention on more love, wisdom and building relationships with others, and we will not stray from our desire to be truly happy and wholehearted humans.