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Tales from the Innerverse
67 minutes | a month ago
A Conversation with Matthew Duffett
I am so pleased to present this conversation with my friend Matthew Duffett. We covered some amazing information about his work as a student of Chinese medicine. His generosity and insight is a wealth of rich knowledge and provocative wisdom.
58 minutes | 3 months ago
A World of Possibilities with Antesa Jensen
I had the pleasure of talking with Antesa about her transformational work, her love of humanity, and the adventure of bringing people to the edge of discovering something new about themselves.After you listen to what she had to say, you can find out even more by visiting her website: https://www.antesajensen.com/ or https://adventureawake.com/
83 minutes | 4 months ago
EP 10 A Conversation with Tim Mckee
Tim Mckee is a guitarist, surfer, father, and good friend. We talked about music and how we experience the world and discover new ways to see our path to a better life in these strange times.
52 minutes | 5 months ago
EP9 Boho Mofo Fo Sho
A conversation with Greg Wilker film producer, podcast host, and sage. We sat down to talk about the old days where a strong brotherhood was forged in the fires of creativity, fearlessness, and a belief in miracles.
11 minutes | 7 months ago
Water The Magic Elixer of Life
10 minutes | 9 months ago
Kindness and Generosity
Kindness and GenerosityWe all love to be treated with kindness and generosity. We experience the warmth of human connection and receive the direct benefit of someone else’s energy. It also feels really good to be kind and to be generous. Being kind sets off a series of reactions in the brain. We release endorphins such as Serotonin, and Oxytocin. Additionally, being kind reduces our stress and distracts us from our problems. Engaging in this activity creates an oasis for both the giver and the receiver. The moment of generosity opens up our experience of the world creating a broader more hospitable place. We drop out of selfishness and out of our ego state and land in the realm of the common good. We feel more connected to our purpose and to others in the community.Many of us think of generosity in the material sense of – things or – money, but there is a deeper meaning to the energy of generosity. We find this meaning in how generous we are with our time, energy, and attention. Our listening skills come in very handy with this kind of generosity. When we engage in deep listening, we are allowing the moment to expand as we take in their words. At times, we can also give people something we call the “benefit of the doubt”. I see this benefit of the doubt, as the way we can discipline our thinking and judgment to allow room for more possibilities outside of our preconceptions, outside of our doubts. This is how we suspend our disbelief and allow for additional insight and knowledge to come forward in the moment. This form of generosity makes it possible for us to experience the point of view of the person we are interacting with. To really feel what they are transmitting in a more complete way. This opens up our hearts and creates empathy and connection. The other person is felt, heard, and seen where they are, at that moment. Kindness also opens up our internal experience in small ways during our day to day interactions. When we send out signals of support, approval, and smile at someone, they experience something beneficial and we feel better too. The reason for this is the oxytocin release, which causes a chemical to form in our blood vessels called nitric oxide. This helps dilate our blood vessels and lower our blood pressure. Oxytocin helps reduce inflammation in our bodies, which helps us maintain a strong immune system. Reducing stress is one of the great benefits of kindness and generosity. The beauty of it is that it happens to everyone involved. Kindness can be as simple as holding the door open for someone or smiling at people.Consistent practice of kindness and generosity has enormous ongoing benefits to everyone involved. Have you heard the expression, what goes around comes around? While we usually associate this with negative effects, it is also true of positive intentions. There is the expression, “pay it forward”, and another saying that “kindness is it’s own reward”. Which we can now see even more clearly, given how it impacts the body of giver as well as the receiver with better health and immunity.What does it mean to “practice” kindness? Consciously put our attention on how we treat others. To be mindful of the impact we have at every moment. Well, practicing also means that you have to recognize some days you are not running enough energy beyond your basic needs to make the extra effort. No problem, we all have days like that, but the idea is to keep practicing. Even when you feel a little below your normal energy level or even feeling depressed, just give kindness a try. Take a deep breath and give someone a smile, or a wave. You just might find that it amplifies your energy and leaves you feeling better than you did before. The practice of kindness often benefits from taking a moment and bringing in a deep breath, expand your chest and your awareness of the world around you. Can you find some source of gratitude for your life? Some sort of recognition of how blessed you are to be where you are? Even if you are struggling emotionally, you can decide to expand your generosity consciously. Just think about what you’re going to do with your life, how will it be remembered? What is your intention? Is it about you feeling your ego, and being proud of your self, or could it be something that directly relates to the person you have your attention on? Generosity is about the other person, not about our ego. In my coaching lately, Kindness and generosity, has been coming up a lot. We are exploring it as a path for men to create more connection and intimacy in their relationships. We, men, tend to think of kindness and generosity in the material sense, giving something we bought, or doing a task for our partners. There is nothing wrong with this in it’s basic sense, but, there is a deeper level. When you go beyond this material aspect and start to connect at the emotional level of generosity and kindness it really starts to open up the heart. Intimacy lives in this open space in the heart, where we feel safe and relaxed enough to share our truth with each other. Emotional kindness opens up this space, as does being generous with our attention. It is powewrful to go beyond listening for the moment to gain something, into the power of listening in order to hold space for and receive the other person’s true heart. Doing so, creates a timeless feeling for both people. I coach my clients to breathe deeply, stay conscious, and look into the eyes of their partner, and relax their need to respond. When we can do this and be generous with our quality of attention, we are able to receive the full spectrum of what is available from our partner in that moment. When there is a pause in the conversation, men can learn to hold their tongue for a moment and use their intuition to track what is being said. Find the thread and ask the kind of question that encourages our partner to reveal even more about themselves. Then, once our partner has stopped speaking and feels complete, we are able to offer a simple thank you, which can be the perfect way to recognize them and honor what they revealed in the communication. Sometimes, it may be useful to recap and reflect back what they said and affirm it as well, or if there is some need for further clarification we can ask for more detail, or simply confirm to them that the communication has been received. What happens for a person when they receive this kind of exquisite attention is that they slow down and feel even more deeply into their own experience. It’s funny, and kind of crazy, that we don’t do this more. Our interior lives are such rich areas of experience. Our hopes, dreams, and moods are whole worlds unto themselves. Well worth exploring and discovering together. But it can feel very vulnerable to open up like this. So, it is essential to allow the person time to reveal themselves slowly and be patient for them to get at their inner being, the deeper meaning for them. Once they have access to that deep pure emotional expression, we will gain so much from hearing it. Conversely, when it’s our turn to reveal ourselves, when it is our time to be generous with our inner experience, we may notice it feels uncomfortable to reveal. I know it takes courage, but I endorse being as radically honest as possible. Don’t try to pretty it up or make a story out of it. Share the emotions in all their complexity and paradoxical nature. One of the other ways it is difficult for us, may be when we are presented with people on the street who are asking for help. We all react differently, but for most of us there is a desire to make an impact. If you are at all like me there is some hesitancy. I ask myself, is this person scamming me, are they a drug addict, will my giving them money enable them or perpetuate their relationship with drugs? Is this helping them to remain victims in their mind? How does this affect their self-esteem? Normally these thoughts all happen in a nanosecond, and I end up asking myself, what if it were me? That is usually all it takes for me to give a smile and be as generous as I can afford at the moment. I decide, that it really doesn’t matter if any of those thoughts are true, I can be generous with my thoughts, as well as my resources.So much of what happens in the world that is toxic or causes trauma is about people being unkind to each other or being stingy. Imagine the difference we could make in the world if we all practiced more kindness and energetic generosity. Imagine the warmth that we would feel socially, the good we could do, the suffering we could abate. Imagine the good feelings we would create in ourselves and others. Now that’s the world I want to live in.
15 minutes | 9 months ago
Creating The New World of Possibilities
Creating The New World of PossibilitiesIn many ways, we are the new forefathers of our country. New tyrannies are arising out of old structures very similar to the historical context that was present in the early history of the colonies and the birth of the American experience. Large scale economic interests still displace the power of influence of the common people today. Taxes are used to fund wars, and laws are abused by corporations who have the money to hire lobbyists to negotiate for their special treatment. Coercion, bribery and blackmail are perpetrated on many of our public servants. The economic demands of running campaigns and competing for money create obligations and dependencies on big-money donors which skew the election outcomes. There is a system of debt, that looks very similar to the serfdom of 18th century Europe. The political parties are both ruled by money and the selection of congressional and presidential candidates is limited by the influence of the monied interests who finance the election process, as well as those who own the media companies and thus the message that is allowed to be part of the social discourse.These conditions create barriers to entry for our new crop of young visionary candidates, as well as containment around the marketplace of ideas, which prevents innovation. This has created a high level of stress on every day people’s sovereignty and our ability to change the way we live together through voting and political structures and institutions. We the people have less and less influence on what the rules are, how the taxes get spent, and what decisions govern our lives.Why am I speaking about this topic in the context of Men’s Wisdom Coaching? The answer is in the monumental challenge this represents for all of us, and what it will take for each individual to engage their imagination and creativity so that together, we can manifest a solution to these issues. This is nothing short of an astronomical challenge, and something we will all have to engage at our highest level, in order to create the result together. We will all have to find a deep commitment, a sense of purpose, and the courage to step into our collective destiny to accomplish this. The good news is, that a solution exists. Humanity is capable of incredible innovation and ingenuity, we will find it. But we must engage fully as individuals seize our personal responsibility and lift ourselves up to meet our full potential.I am on that path, I am pursuing my full potential in every moment, confident in my desire and certain in my conviction and persistence. My personal mission is to change the world, one person, at a time, through coaching. My purpose is to serve humanity and learn the path toward a new way of being in the world. I am committed to creating new possibilities for myself as an individual and for the collective potential of human beings as a whole. While this may sound grandiose, it is not about my ego, it is about appreciating the context of the times we live in. It is about getting beyond my own limitations and helping others to reach for their own pinnacle of performance. Because nothing short of that ethos, nothing short of that level of devotion, will be enough to shift the paradigm we find ourselves in. We must all abandon the path of comfort and rise above fear and our perceived limitations so that we can embody our true potential, overcome the challenge of what is holding us back, and step courageously into a new world of our own making.Creating the next great era of human endeavor will require all of us to lift ourselves out of fear and doubt. We will all need to devote our lives to new innovations and discoveries of the next frontier of growth. This is vision is what my coaches have taught me to create for myself and the result I am committed to facilitating for my clients.The American forefathers were far from perfect, clearly, they all had faults and their social context was fraught with conditions we can now look back on and clearly understand as horrific in their effects on human suffering. However, had the people of the 18th century become bogged down in self-judgments they might never have found the imagination to create the American system of governance. They might never have had the courage to take up the cause and create the effect of what was born into being oh those many years ago when we first began living up to the ideals of the dream of united states.The 21st century is now fraught with similar conditions and the call to action is ringing louder than the liberty bell, so we must now look past our personal aversions and limitations, look past our faults and instead focus on the innovations, imagination, and integrity that will be required to do what must be done.Indeed, contemplate that for a moment. What must be done? Each of us has a different picture inside ourselves that arises when we try to answer that question. This inner vision is exactly the exact point where your individual genius enters into the process. This is your calling, your purpose. What you imagine in that contemplation is unique to you and can be made into your individual mission. Many of us are confronted by what we know is required and might be knocked back by the daunting nature of the reality of what will be required of us to succeed. The lazy, weak part of ourselves thinks it would be so much easier to avoid the work and foist the responsibility on to someone else. This is precisely the wrong attitude and this lack of personal accountability and inaction is what has gotten us here. When each of you answers inwardly the question of what must be done, each of you has conjured your own image of the necessary steps. Perhaps you have no idea, or “believe” that you have no idea. However, I implore you to search deeper, listen to your conscience, there is an answer there. In your heart of hearts, your deep inner voice will speak to you and you must listen. Listen now as if your life depends on it! Do you have the courage to hear it and the greater courage and determination to do the work needed to bring it to a successful result? Our survival as a species, the survival of most living beings on the planet, depends on each of us stepping forward beyond our comfort and excuses.Fortunately, we have a great many precedents in history to teach us, to show us a model for such vision and courage. All our heroic stories provide the necessary symbolism and instruction for what must be done. They inspire us and remind us of the innate power of the individual to create a new possibility, a new vision for reality. There is something powerful that you feel when you watch or read these stories, something within you comes alive and your heart beats faster because it recognizes itself in others’ courage. Once again, your inner world is the most potent compass to guide your endeavor. What does your heart tell you? What does your inner voice have to say? These are your gifts. For some, it may be simple tasks like growing healthy food for others to eat or being the best teacher in school. We are all different, so each of us have different gifts. For some, it will be to write the framework for a new set of laws and initiatives to construct a fair and open society, for others it will be to train young people in courageous disciplines of martial arts or mathematics. Then we weave a community together based on these inner gifts and how we bring them to each other.My personal desire, the powerful message that comes from within me, is to help as many people find their calling as possible. To listen with my whole heart, and offer reflection, feedback, and encouragement so that each person is able to discern their own inner beauty, their own true imagination, “their” gift and purpose in this world. My joy and elation come from reconnecting each of my clients to the nature of their own inherent power, their basic goodness, and human qualities. I live to help them see their uniqueness and the fire of desires that are in their heart of hearts. My joy is to reconnect them with their own power, skills, and tools that will enable them to step forward and become what is most needed in their particular biography and the context of their life. Rising to meet their purpose and the recognition of their value and the importance of their individual contributions.My purpose also includes speaking up about my own ideas as well. Coaching is one path, that I walk, but I am a multidimensional man, I have other contributions to make as well. I have a vision for a worldwide change!How about the United States of Earth! Imagine a representative democracy that used technology to facilitate decisions of governance on a global scale. But the decisions are made locally in each community. Imagine teleconferencing that allowed us to convene in vast numbers beyond the Senate and House as they are currently structured. Use technology to craft representation that is increased by powers of a magnitude never before imagined. Imagine a whole new democracy based on a new format. A format that was free from corruption, undue influence, and coercion. One that used technology and sheer numbers of representatives, to make decisions freely and for the betterment of the planet, broader economic abundance, and healthier ways of life for all living beings. What if every cell phone was a portal to personal leadership, an access point for massive numbers of us to be counted among the deciders, instead of a top-down elite making decisions for all of us en masse. Imagine technology giving each of us as individuals, and as a community, a method that shapes the big picture! For years the promise of America was liberty and justice for all, but sadly it falls so short largely because of corruption and systemic breakdown. Imagine a global version where those things are replaced with a system of enabling a functional system based on equal justice, free enterprise, and religious freedom. Imagine a global world where you could actually go and talk to your government representatives and have influence on the decisions directly through your own participation.Ah…. I can hear the skeptics’ voices now, forming in the ether. But before you become one of them, just remember, back in the formation of America, it seemed impossible that a bunch of colonists could beat back Brittain, the greatest organized military force on earth. If you could have bet odds in Vegas back then, if they just decided based on the presumptions of power or rather the assumption of their own powerlessness, America would never have succeeded. But it did, Against all odds a bunch of ragtag colonists with the help of the Iroquois and the confederacy of the 6 tribes, beat the British and the French. Desire, vision, and mutual cooperation overcame the odds and triumphed. The American story is full of tragedy, genocide, and betrayal as well, but it is still the hope of many, a society that in principle represents the aspirations of people everywhere who yearn for freedom. Our world history, and the human story, in general, is full of heroic causes and quests that looked foolhardy and impossible at the outset. Yet through imagination, perseverance, and commitment, humans have achieved amazing results. Against incredible odds, we created miraculous machines, like airplanes and 3D printers. Medicine has evolved and more and more becomes wholistic and yet doctors have performed amazing feats like organ transplants, eye surgeries, and Neurosurgery. We send information through the air, create movies that are limited only by what we can imagine visually, and we landed people on the moon. The power of our creativity is second only to the divine. We must not forget our true inner power and how it has solved many of the greatest puzzles in the universe and discovered some we will not solve for generations. There is no need to give into cynicism, skepticism, and doubt. Don’t give your precious powers of imagination to visions of failure, destruction, and the degeneration of the potential for human civilization. Put your attention on the possibilities! Give life meaning, breathe fire into the possibilities inside your own heart, and be willing to die for something that matters greatly! Breathe in and recognize your own power to make a difference in what happens, for yourself, and for the future of all living beings! Use your inner vision to create the “new world” of possibilities.
14 minutes | 10 months ago
The Power of We the People beyond Social Media
I am old enough to remember the power to the people movements of the 60’s and 70’s. But, I am also young enough to have been a teenager in the early 80’s. This gives me an interesting perspective on the efforts of my parent’s generation and the subsequent misfire of realizing their ideals as the rest of the 20th century played out. Most of us get caught up romanticizing the influence of the 60s-70s counter culture on things like Sex Drugs and Rock & Roll. However, there was much more that happened that was about politics and power. In fact, the Sex Drugs and Rock & Roll piece is actually a huge distraction to the politics of mass movements that is the real story of that time.There was a war in Vietnam that was considered unjust and a waste of American lives by my parents community, my tribe. However, there were a lot of people in government and society who saw the war as a way to prevent the spread of communism. This was the basic ideological framework for division in this country at the time. There has already been a huge amount written about this conflict, it’s not my purpose today to analyze it. The key points I want to mention are about how people overcame what they called “The Establishment”. This is an interesting phrase that is still used today to denote aspects of our society that have become entrenched and calcified into the structures of our economic, political and social institutions. Back in the 60’s and 70’s the media was not yet part of the establishment in the same way it is today. Back then there were lots of published newspapers, and broadcast media that were held in high esteem as the ”free press”. Today that system of information distribution does not exist, it has since been centralized into the establishment of corporations. It is common knowledge that in 2020 all media sources such as newspapers, radio stations, TV networks, and even social media outlets are owned by 5-7 specific business entities.https://www.vox.c om/2018/1/23/16905844/media-landscape-verizon-amazon-comcast-disney-fox-relationships-chartThe reason this is relevant to consider is that back in the 60’s and 70’s people could actually see, hear, and read details about the way the war was going, and see images on their TV screens of the Vietnamese people being killed. The social discourse about why we were fighting the war was varied and diverse, and our media was subject to the rules of something called the fairness doctrine which required that if you had a license to broadcast radio or TV you had to offer equal time for the counterpoint, facts, and beliefs in any discussion or debate. This open discussion on national media made it clear over the course of the war that it was an immoral use of force. Additionally, it became clear that there was a profit motive involved for businesses who wanted to capitalize on the resources of Vietnam, as well as the profits of selling the weapons to the US government which were being used to fight the war. The discussions of this information were not subject to the kind of disinformation and “fake news” propaganda practices that are currently part of our media landscape in the US. The clarity of information was a galvanizing force in bringing together people to oppose the war.Make no mistake, in the 60’s and 70’s the people of the united states got together and broke all the rules. Through pure love and the power of numbers, we stopped a war and changed the cultural landscape forever. New ideas were tried, we expanded how we live our lives. Earth day was born, “ecology now” was a potent meme. Organic food began to be cultivated in small commercial ways, there were food co-ops, and people tried social living structures that broke with conventions of the past, we called them communes. White people started their journey toward uncovering the history of colonialism, slavery, and the destruction of the native indigenous population that are all at the foundation of the formation of our country. People came together and began to break down the dominant paradigm of our social structures. We were able to gather in huge rally’s consistently for over 5 years, despite tear gas, and cops with battens, people stood for change and their slogan was “Make Love Not War”. This fundamental activity of mass gatherings shook the foundation of the power structure. People were simply relentless in their willingness to share their time, energy, and attention with each other. Something woke up in people and they stood together for common principles. They stood together and their voices were heard in halls of government as well as society at large. Eventually, this heartfelt movement penetrated the media, the movies, music and culture. The power of it was the unity of purpose and collective desire for a more loving sane world. There were very few distractions, and there was no way to shame people into abandoning each other and the shared vision for a better world. Fierce love and willingness to stand together against water cannons, tear gas and the refusal to be divided along ideological lines. People were willing to adhere to principles of peaceful protest, tolerance for others, shared resources. We stood side by side ready to die for peace, love and a better world. Their power was undeniable, they took over industries, design aesthetics, and packaging initiatives before branding was a known thing. The famous Coca Cola jingle with the line, “ I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony” is an example of an advertisement that bent to the ideals of a whole new world of possibilities. War profiteers, businessmen, and politicians were set back on their heels along with conservative evangelicals who watched Jesus be redefined by a musical Jesus Christ Superstar. For a brief period of time, It looked like the world was going to change forever. That was until dark forces were able to drive a wedge into the unity that had been the core power behind this metamorphosis. These dark forces, the remnants of military industrialists, corporate heads who realized that their goose was cooked if they didn’t do something, began to slowly galvanize their own power. You can see the results of this reassertion of social messaging, and advertising influences in our divided culture now. Back then it began with the distribution of cocaine, and the re-emergence of self-centered ideals of the “Me” generation instead of the All Power To The People” cultural phenomena that won so much freedom and had broken open the possibilities for a more peaceful economic approach. Then, in the 80’s we got the election of Ronald Regan, the emergence of even more crack cocaine and the beginning of the media consolidation, slowly but surely the ideals of the old guard were able to reassert themselves. People who did not want to give up power did their homework and realized the role of media in the process of galvanizing public opinion. Bit by bit money and ownership began to chip away at the way we communicate and share information. Soon, we had wars in the middle east and cultural separation being practiced in the way art and music were served up in the marketplace. Just like the bins in the record stores, we were subjected to the impacts of demographic slicing and dicing. It all started with the Rock vs Disco, battle in the late 70’s and went downhill from there until we had the east-west hip hop battle sowing division and hatred of others. Meanwhile, big corporations began to buy up media conglomerates. Newspapers, and radio stations slowly but surely fell under the editorial control of the few. Many of these corporate entities did not want to see their profits eroded by a progressive vision of a peaceful world, with shared resources, clean power, organic food, and true freedom. I watched as the vision and energy of 60’s counter culture was eroded and replaced by niche marketing, economic division, and an increase in fear based media advertising. We began to worry about long hair, and fashion again. Advertising drove messaging that took back a lot of the ground we had staked out for free expression and eschewing the establishment. Even the promise of the internet got co-opted by the arrival of social media centralization. Facebook purchased every emergent network competitor and began to leverage our personal demographic data as their product instead of creating a broad context for liberation. Social media has corralled us into even more polarized division and separation consciousness, as meme farms and propaganda sites mine our likes and preferences and appeal to our lower base instincts and foster our biases and divisions even more precisely. Yet, all is not lost! The truth is, we can still galvanize ourselves and come together! People Power is still stronger than the complicated web of social context we think holds us down. Just look at the rise of environmentalism, Yoga, organic food, and LGBQT rights. When people decide, nothing stops the marketplace of ideas from rendering a new social paradigm into existence. Love is still the answer and the world is again waking up to the possibility of a new way of being together more and more each day. Despite the challenges of disease, and environmental degradation, people are using their power of imagination to comeup with new possibilities, new solutions The examples are all around us, Elon Musk built a solar power company that can charge your house and your car. Life coaches teach mindset, meditation, manifestation, and transformation. Yoga and organic diet are growing exponentially. In this wake of evolutionary thinking, quantum shifts in conscious awareness of our personal impact, people are looking for ways to change the dominant paradigm again. It has always been clear that war is simply an unsustainable and poorly engineered way of changing how we manage our economic and social structures. In fact, the USA is a primary archetype for the power of the ballot over bullet. The promise of a new world is still alive in this idea of resolving our differences through shared decision making. It comes down to the power of individual choice. Those dark forces are still trying to sell us fear. But more and more we have examples of how love and sharing the world together is becoming the obvious solution. Co-operation has been identified as the superior path to biological evolution, it turns out Darwin doesn’t get the last word. Science is showing us the true value of our shared spaces, the commons, and the path to happiness is not in hoarding and having more to ourselves in isolated enclaves, but in community and coming together. But we have to activate our intention, we can’t be passive and sit behind our devices blinded by memes and hypnotic screens. The better world is waiting for us. All we need to do is practice consistent discernment, to choose love over fear and the lies. The message of competition and scarcity does not have to be how we live our lives. Innovation, Ingenuity, and Integrity are calling us to galvanize our communities. Our young people are already designing incredible innovations to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The truth is, we actually have all the power we need in our collective choices to have the world we want! Together, using the power of our collective imagination, dedication and willingness to let go of the old story, we are bringing a new world into being.
10 minutes | 10 months ago
Death, Pain and Feeling it All
More and more my friends are dying, and not just from Covid -19. There are also people I know who have died of heart attacks, accidents, and cancers. It’s awful and I feel such grief if I allow myself to feel at all. I am 57years old, so this is really just the beginning of this happening more and more in my life.In this modern era, we try to teach men that it’s ok to feel in our culture, but there is still this hangover from the past and the influence of stoicism which perpetuates the idea that men need to remain in control of our feelings. Stoicism is somewhat maligned, it didn’t always mean emotionally unavailable, but it seems to have that connotation now. I still struggle with this myself as a man, despite the fact that I have been in a deep practice of allowing myself to feel since I was a boy. My parents made a big point of teaching us that feelings were ok, while we were growing up. I have been given all kinds of permission to let go and allow myself to experience the unknown, to feel, to allow the intense surge of emotional tides. Yet it is still frowned upon in many circles in our culture. Groups that want to hold on to a type of masculinity that represents strength. I honor that vision, but all too often it tips over into brittleness, unfeeling and being emotionally unreachable.Despite my upbringing, there is still deep social conditioning that is given to men. Something very serviceable really, when you think about what we ask of our first responders, our warriors. It’s the practice of men like Marcus Aurelius, Claudius Maximus, and Cato. The practice of stoicism. This double-edged sword of strength and surety, that cuts out empathy, and fear, sometimes to our detriment. Where is the line between strength and flexibility? Between holding my feelings at bay for the sake of the moment, to meet the call of the warrior’s heart, standing still and in my breath, as the maelstrom surrounds me and the impact of that on my stress level and thus my health. Yet, in the best form of this, I have the courage and willingness to feel and allow the processing of emotions to take me over. I’ve done it before, I know the idea of it, but in the moment, it always feels like it might be too much. I feel the resistance, the fear of my emotional tide sweeping me out to the sea of chaos. These moments don’t define me really, because past experience has shown me that allowing myself to fall into the reality of the momentary loss of control has positive impacts on my well being, my mental state, and my immune system. When I allow my feelings, it is always less stressful and better for me, than if I resist and deny. Resistance causes tension and stress, when I feel the constriction of resistance, I want to escape and avoid feeling the loss of control and the vulnerability that goes with it. Yet, it’s inevitable, we can’t escape how we feel for very long, especially in relation to death. Grief is relentless even it’s silent form, it can take over and rule us. The more time I spend in resistance and avoidance the more prolonged the tension and constriction in my cells. The longer I hold this constriction in my body, the more amplified the anxiety and hormonal disruption. This leads to a cortisol response which is highly damaging to our immunity and our metabolism. Long term these kinds of stress can cause insulin resistance, hypertension, and digestive issues. Avoidance provides a momentary escape, I could have a few drinks and avoid thinking about it, but when the morning comes, in addition to the higher stress and unresolved emotional, issues I will have the regret of the hangover to add to my pain. People do continue the pattern and go ever deeper into addiction and avoidance, but it will eventually catch up with you in myriad unhealthy ways.Recently, one of my teachers reminded me that the fear of feeling, the resistance of emotion, often lasts much longer than the actual expression of the emotion of the body. The body typically will run 90 seconds of tears, heaving sighs, and loss of breath. This may be true, but it also comes in waves sometimes wave after wave. Yet my teacher is correct, I know that when I am on the other side of the experience my body is freer more relaxed, and cleansed of toxins. Not so with resistance and avoidance, which prolongs the toxicity and threatens to return again and again, much like the snake swallowing its tail. Similar to drinking and a hangover, the avoidance of the pain leads to having another drink, the hair of the dog and then the cycle repeats, I am off to the distraction Olympics again, drinking my troubles away avoiding feeling, until I end up right back where I started, with grief banging on the door of my consciousness. In the many experiments, I have made examining this principle, without fail, I inevitably end up losing my shit and having the emotional breakdown overtake my nervous system anyway, despite all my resistance. I believe that even if I were successful at stuffing my grief, controlling my emotions, I would eventually manifest PTSD, or some other physical illness that is related to stress. That’s not how I want to live my life.I want to live life fully, I want to laugh, and cry. I want to look up at the mountains or some incredible piece of art and feel awe. I want to have friends who can empathize with me, and I know that creating those kinds of relationships with people, means I will feel their joy and their pain as well. This is part of life, the experience is full of sensations and not all of them are welcome. But, I very much want to feel the cold breath of winter, the warm cuddle of summer. I want to feel exhilarated, feel the skin on my arms rise, my pulse quicken. This thing we call life comes with all of it. It’s a three-ring circus, a dance of daring-do on the emotional high wire.I know that when I feel so sad at the loss of those people close to me, that I can feel that precisely because of the amazing love we shared, the amazing adventures, the long nights spent talking till dawn, sharing our hopes and dreams, our visions of the world we want to make, and philosophical discussions about the meaning of things. Even with all this, I see my grief as a precious gift, a reminder of my human capacity for love. I see it as part and parcel to the memories of the highest heights, the freight to be paid for my deepest belly laughs, and those quiet moments of sublime repose with my lover. Emotions like ecstasy or grief come and go. After the tears come, in the empty moment when I can catch my breath after the storm, there is space to feel alive. Eventually, I will feel precious joy once more. I trust, that despite all the turmoil and even with the heartache that goes with death and loss, I am grateful to be alive and for the gift of being able to feel, the education that comes with the human condition. For me, the alternative is emptiness and unwelcome flatness, a world without color, without passion, or excitement.In my world, I am man enough to feel it all and be the better for it. Welcome to the mystery school where the tuition is pain, pleasure, and the in-between. If you make it far enough through the curriculum of hard knocks, you get wisdom, with a post-graduate degree in whimsy.
11 minutes | 10 months ago
Courage, Fear and the Power of Desire
“Courage is the most important of all virtues because without it we can’t practice any other virtue with consistency.” – Maya AngelouWe all come to this life with its blessings and trials. We are granted a limited lease on life and experiencing the world. So many people have written about growth, stepping out of our comfort zones and stretching ourselves into becoming our best selves and being shaped by evolution. I know for myself that it is always challenging to approach the edge and step out of my comfort zone, but it is always rewarding. Something happens in the lead up to this place of discomfort. We enter into an internal storm of emotions. Usually, our heart has brought us to the edge, to the opening, a yearning for adventure. Other times, we are forced by external circumstances to confront the cauldron of transformation. Regardless of the path, usually, we are met by fear just as we approach the threshold of change. Fear, False Evidence Appearing Real, or so the acronym cleverly plays out. It lives in the most primal section of our brain and one of the oldest, the Amygdala. This center of ancient reactivity is built for survival, designed to respond instantly for our survival. This part of our brain is ready to release life-saving adrenaline in the event we are threatened. However, in modern life the actual threat that sets off this trigger is not nearly as life-altering as old Amygdala wants us to believe. In fact if we turned around and ran every time we had this response, we would live a pretty dull life. We would never be able to experience the realisation of our desire for adventure.There is a fine line between bravery and stupidity, but being willing to cross it means the difference between growth and evolution, or stagnation and isolation. The hero’s journey, the quest, and adventure all require breaking past the gateway of the ancient lizard brain and setting out into the unknown. For the moment let’s set aside discussion of the life of thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies, whose default way of being, seems to be ignoring these impulses and never looking back. The truth is, most of us pause at the threshold of fear and grapple with the implications of choice very little of which is truly life threatening, but could potentially be life altering. We normals, might spend significant time considering the logic and weighing the risks, before we muster the courage to step into the unknown and past the sentinel of our survival mechanism, and ask for that raise, or for the number of the person we are attracted to. Oddly enough, stepping back from these decisions and choosing to stay safely on this side of them, often results in circumstances leading us right back to the confronting precipice again and again. Especially when it comes to relationships. Life seems to want to teach us to overcome this habit of retreat. We may repeat the process of confronting and retreating several times before we decide to take the plunge. Once we are upon the other side of such resistance, we actually feel a great sense of relief. It all seems so easy once we’ve done it. So, what is it about the manual override of our internal survival instincts that leads to such joy? Why is courage so difficult and revered? I am no neuroscientist, so I can’t offer an analysis of how our brain chemistry works, but I do know that it is connected to pleasure. There is a great relief somatically as the body shifts from flight or fright into ecstasy. Nature has a sense of humor. Oh no you’re going to die…!!! Wait?! What !?! That was fun, let’s do it again. Weeee. In the process of stepping into the unknown and getting past our fear, we learn to become something more than our previous self knew was possible. New aspects of our personality open up and we become better versions of ourselves.Courage then is an admirable part of being human. The esteemable Franklin D. Roosevelt said, ”Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” That something else is who we become when we can break through the limitations the brain tries to impose on us from our ancient animal selves. Yet, too much courage and bam! Life is over. Do not try to battle a tiger barehanded or swan dive off the golden gate bridge.“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” said, Anais Nin. We shrink or expand based on our ability to survive beyond the outer edges of fear. We grow into someone new through the manifestation of our courage. If we don’t die or become injured, we are inoculated against our future resistance to approaching that behavior. We become heroic. We expand the range of possibilities for human behavior. The evolution of skydiving, evolves and becomes base jumping, which leads to people jumping off mountsides wearing wingsuits and gliding safely back to earth. Human ability is expanded, if only for the few. Not that long ago people considered flight to be a foolhardy endeavor, yet now we have jets that take us everywhere in the world. Maybe in 50 years, we will commute by wingsuit, ha!Socially, there is another imperative. Fear of social change represents an obstacle to our collective evolution. A barrier to shaping a better world. This is where we have to cross the threshold together not just as individuals. “Gloria Steinham said, “Being brave is not about being unafraid but being afraid and doing it anyway…When you feel fear, try using it as a signal that something really important is about to happen.” Courage has been exemplified in the evolution of women and their ability to overcome the obstacles holding them back has had huge impacts on the shape of our world. This is highlighted in the story of Katherine Johnson, the physicist who helped make space flight possible, and Dorothy J. Vaughan a mathematician who ran one of the earliest computing brain trusts in the 60s and 70s that lead to the computer age. These women changed our lives and had to overcome the massive fear and resistance of social norms, the fear of being both black and women in America. They both are relatively unknown examples of people who displayed the courage of their convictions, they are unsung heroines, for the most part. Through their courage and perseverance, they made important things happen.Nelsen Mandella said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” So what is it that lives within us, that finds a way to conquer our fear? What has us step over the threshold, change the response of the body from retreat to forward motion? The answer is desire! Desire arises from the heart. The courageous heart is about the desire to become our greatest self. To taste the forbidden. To unfold the miracle of life, express our primal nature. The poets and philosophers, the storytellers and the priests all share with us the tales of courage born of desire. In some cases, it is simple lust, but true courage is brought forth from something more complicated. Lust for life, primal expression of our DNA, the divine encoding rendered from the depths of human origin. This is bigger than the courage of the predator and his drive to eat and perpetuate the species, it is the yearning of creation itself. The hero’s journey arises from a desire to know the stars. For the human being to unfold the infinite possibilities of freedom. From space flight to mapping the miracles of the earth. Inventing new possibilities, discovering the limitless potential of the physical manifestations of the creation, the biosphere. Courage overcomes fear in the same way that a weed overcomes asphalt, a corn stalk grows from a small kernel and reaches 7 feet above the ground. Courage overcomes fear because we are always unfolding our nature. It’s more than the expression of the mechanics of RNA and DNA. There is something magical, something science is only beginning to bring into the light of understanding. Desire, This yearning aching that lives in us from before time, it is fueled by the curiosity to know what is beyond knowing, to see what is beyond our current scope of vision. This yearning renders fear and death meaningless. It is the fire that lives in our desire and from burning it we gather our will, it is the energy that transforms the mundane into the awe-inspiring. Desire propels us through the gateway of fear. Desire is the human legacy of nature’s creative renewal. The method and the means by which the universe recreates itself over and over. Desire brings forth the courage to live and focus on our intention. While fear shrinks and retreats into death and decay. Both are inescapable parts of being human. Who will you become today? What do you desire more than death? Let’s explore this together through coaching and expand the possibilities for your life!
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