It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
The other day I really had to go to the toilet, but I couldn’t find my phone! Anyone else experience this strange attachment phenomenon? How did something that has only been around for about 25 years become such an inseparable appendage? Average smartphone usage in the US exceeded 3 hours and 43 minutes a day so far in 2020! Research has shown that cell phone usage has had a huge effect on mental and physical well-being, especially in adolescents. What are we attending to when we are checking our phones? Are we in any way cultivating our inner world, bringing more meaning into our lives, or contributing to what we were born to bring into the world?
How much of your life do you consider absolutely essential? When we really stop and ask this question, do we find ourselves grasping for things outside of ourselves to bring us happiness and comfort, are we clear about the contribution we are here to make, do we feel whole and fulfilled in our lives and relationships? Besides spending countless hours on our phone what other distractions, addictions, and things of little consequence are filling our days and lives? Do we feel connected to the living, breathing, numinous world that surrounds and pervades us? Do we experience ourselves as connected to the richness of life, or separate, without purpose or a sense of belonging? What is it that is calling to you, from beyond the superficialities, distractions, and the crushing intensity of this turbulently quickening world? Are we living deliberately or simply being swept out to sea by the restless tides of random comings and goings?
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. Henry David Thoreau
Perhaps we don’t have a cabin on Walden pond to retreat to, but we do have an inner world that is longing to be seen, felt, and heard. It is likely that there has never been a more fragmented, dissociated, or divided human presence on this planet than right now. While this looks like an “out there” phenomenon, we only have to turn our awareness inward to see, sense, and feel the festering splinters of the outer fragmentation within. We have succumbed to the lie of separation and have lost touch with the common thread that runs through all of life. Quantum physics has validated what the saints and sages have been saying for millennia, that everything is connected and affects everything else. As Albert Einstein said, “separation is a kind of optical delusion of consciousness that imprisons us.”
This myth of separation is at the heart of all suffering, pain, and dis-ease in our world. Medical research estimates as much as 90 percent of all illness and disease is stress-related. But, what is stress? Stress is defined by Webster’s as “feelings of emotional or physical tension, brought on by outside events that make you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous.” This definition doesn’t give us any relief from the symptoms and is based on events outside ourselves, making us victims to the external world. What if stress was simply a lack of inner capacity to meet the challenges, difficulties, and circumstances before and within us? This makes stress an issue of capacity, rather than something insurmountable that lies outside our sphere of influence. So, how do we increase our capacity to de-stress and meet the world with an open and authentic heart?
The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. William James
To increase our capacity, we first confront what is limiting it? We do this by coming to know the story that is living us. We think from our story, which for the most part is invisible to us. This unconscious narrative is the fabric of our ancestral hand-me-downs, cultural adaptations, familial patterns, and decisions we have made about ourselves in the face of difficult or unwanted circumstances. It constitutes our worldview, which shapes our perception and gives us what we call reality. Until we can begin to see the constraints of our personal narrative, we will remain locked into the prison of our own story. When we can see what is shaping our actions and reactions we can choose to respond rather than unconsciously react. Practicing being still and present gives us access to greater awareness, and therefore more choice options.
Full body listening, opening all our senses, and focusing on our interiority expands our capacity, reduces stress, and brings us to the edges of our identity, our story. It’s here, at the edges of our perception, that true healing can occur through integration of the frozen and fragmented parts of our original goodness. The word healing comes from the root wholeness. We’re not fixing or repairing broken parts, because we were never broken, flawed or damaged from a whole systems perspective. Our very intelligent nervous system shut down parts of our essence, our essential goodness when there was a real or imagined threat to our survival. This was a healing gift when it occurred, protection for our survival. Individual and community self-exploration supports the reintegration of our personal and collective soul loss. We cannot heal the mind with the mind!
Although it may often seem we can solve everything alone, now we see that we really need each other and that we depend on each other. The hyper-individualized arrogance must soften into outreach and a way of being more humble and engaged. Thomas Hübl
Healing doesn’t occur through force, coercion, or fixing, it comes from increasing our perception and awareness. We become more coherent by aligning our bodies, emotions, and mind… But, we didn’t become fragmented in a vacuum, and we will not heal by simply bringing self-awareness to ourselves. We did not suppress parts of our essence by ourselves, our nervous system did it in relationship to others, and true healing occurs as a co-creation. Much of the trauma and dissociation we experience comes from the collective, current, and ancestral wars, famines, genocide and natural disasters that have been occurring since the beginning of the human experiment. All of this lives in our blood, body, and bones.
The good news is that we have also inherited great inner wisdom through the evolutionary process. Life has continued to live through all the upheaval, destruction, and trauma. We have collective resilience, intelligence from the very heart of nature, and the web of life to which we belong. To return to our essence we must look to life, nature, and each other. The Buddist principle of interdependent co-arising, states that “All things are empty of their apparent separate self — all things are interdependent. We rely upon one another. All of us.” To discover what is essential, we must recognize the profound depth of our interconnectedness. In this endeavor, we will discover what it means to love.
Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone, we find it with another. Thomas Merton
Thank you for being a part of the Well of Light community and sharing your love for life and living. Try to remember that every action or inaction was born from either love or a longing for love. In this alone, we are all connected. May we learn to expand the net of our love until there is nothing and no one left out.
OK, you can use your phone now, how about calling up five people and telling them you love them. Make sure that at least one of them is difficult and stretches you to the very edges of your own myth of separation. What in you would need to transform to share your essence, your love with someone that’s longing for love and connection right now...
With infinite love and gratitude, Michael and the Well of Light Team
A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Albert Einstein
Why were you born into these times? Are you living your soul's purpose? Buddha