No More Limits

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As I was in the shower, I stepped back along the side of my tub that had the shower curtain.  As my heel made contact with the edge of the tub, where it curves upward, it also stepped on the bottom hem of the plastic curtain.  At that moment I felt myself start to lose balance.  I was going to tip backward out of the tub and right through the curtain to the floor.

But I didn’t…

It was just a split second and I recovered, but it got me looking at the curtain.  Why was it hanging low enough for my foot to step on?  Oh yes, I had purchased a set of nicer curtain hooks, but these ones made the curtain hang slightly lower.  What was I to do?  My mind quickly summoned up several scenarios that would solve the problem:

  1. Move the curtain bar to a higher location.  Hmm, that would require effort and time and yukk, I don’t like that option.
  2. I could put the old rings back on.  Nope, it was worth it to get rid of the old plastic rings
  3. Cut and re-hem the plastic curtain.  Oh man, really?  Hem the bottom of the plastic curtain?  I am not that handy, nor do I think it is worth a hem on the bottom.  ………wait just a minute.  Is there a hem?

Bending down, I examined the curtain.  No hem!  It’s just a plastic sheet.  Wonderful!  I had imagined something that wasn’t there, which affected how I perceived the task.

Thrilled at how easy it would be to simply snip away a few inched from the bottom of the curtain to solve this problem, and get rid of the yukky part of the curtain, I grabbed a pair of scissors and went to town.

Not 60 seconds later the curtain was curtailed and I was happy as it looked all clean once again!

How easy it was to simply remove the bother.  But it wasn’t easy arriving at that decision.  In fact, I stopped myself before I had even begun by the assumption of what it would entail.

no limitsHow many times has this happened in the past I wondered as I proceeded to rewash my body to make sure I was clean once more before stepping out.  I bet I never caught myself thinking about that before.  It’s such an easy thing to overlook.

That isn’t what I would call a ‘core’ limiting belief, but I might suggest that it is indicative of them.  Where there is smoke, no doubt a bright flame exists within me.  If I imagined something to block such a simple act, what was I telling myself about larger issues?  What was I saying to limit myself in other areas of my life?

These are good questions, I thought, after I started to shave.  I have grand plans for what I want to do with my life, but they are so grand, so big, that I scare myself when I think of how to get started.  I feel overwhelmed when I think of wanting to proceed.  Is it a dream, or could I turn what I desire into reality?

no limiut farAfter I finished shaving, I mused that I may be limiting my own potential by thinking about the imagined tasks ahead, just like the curtain.  I can only perceive what I have experienced, seen, or heard about.  I don’t really have a clue about how it might actually happen!

What if I didn’t have any limiting beliefs?  What would my mind do with my dreams and desires and many intentions?  Would it simply give them the attention they deserve?  Would I stop feeding my fears and doubts?  I think so.  I actually think I would revert to the child-like mind of anything is possible and step forward in areas that I may have perceived hardship, or doubt.

How long has it been since you thought that way?  Do you remember dreaming about what you wanted to do or be as a child?  Was it an astronaut? Fireman, Veterinarian, CEO, or Hero?  Our thoughts were grandiose weren’t they?  Did the world’s issues, problems and worries get in the way of what we thought might have been possible?

defeatedTowelling off, my body started to tingle.  I got goosebumps by imagining how limiting I must have been in my life until now.  Whatever happened, whatever has jaded me into thinking so easily that the task at hand was difficult or hard, I triumphed today.  I became aware of this false reasoning, this barrier to what I wanted to do and reasoned past it.  I investigated the issue and found it to be false.  there was no hem to dissuade me from forging ahead with my simplistic idea to just cut the bottom off.

You can't put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get. - Michael_PhelpsIt did turn out as simple as it seemed in my head, at first blush, before I questioned myself.  And I was truly happy afterward at what I achieved.  Imagine if I chose this same reasoning toward an important task I wanted to achieve, something life changing!

How often do our instilled limiting beliefs change our course of action to the mediocre?  How many times do we settle for what is achievable by our own sense of what we can accomplish?

Too many times!

We have been taught to submit to the teachings of others, to believe answers outside of ourselves, to play the game of life to get where you want, and by the way, this is what you want, need, love, desire!  I still needed to get dressed, but I felt cleaner, in thought and body, than I had felt in a long time.

When you start to become conscious about the choices you make, whether it is as simple as changing a nuisance curtain, or changing a significant aspect of your life, it changes the way you think.  My girlfriend loves the statement:

“Once you’re conscious you can never go back”  

Impossible-Quotes-opportunities-brilliantly-disguised-as-impossible-situationsI believe it.  It receive proof of it every day I examine my choices.  Every time I wonder why I did that, or said that, or felt this.  I can’t help but to question what it is that I became in the hands of others all these years, for surely I was not myself!  How could I have become so complacent with my life, when I had dreams, glorious dreams of what I would be doing by now!

I am in my mid forties now, and being finally dressed, I wondered aloud that there must come a time when we have been away from school, our parents, and even friends and partners for a time, to spend some time alone, and reflect upon what our life is all about.  Whatever makes us re-evaluate our life around this time, I am glad it happens.

timeI am so blessed, because as I entered that phase of my life, I found the most endearing, compassionate, like-minded soul I have ever met.  Together, we have exponentially grown closer to one another and our own selves.

Many of our beliefs are based on man made limits.  Like how old we are.  Really?  What does that matter?  As Mark Twain so poignantly presented: ‘Age is an issue of mind over matter.  If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter’

May you grow in consciousness and be able to witness your thoughts, decisions, and beliefs enough to verify if they still hold true today.  You might find, like I did, that many of the thoughts have been self limiting.  Now is the time to get out your own scissors and cut those limiting beliefs away!

What’s left will be more powerful than any teachings from another, and then your potential will really become unlimited, the way it was so many years ago!

Our Shadow Self

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Peter panAs long as there is light cast upon us, we have a shadow self that walks around with us.  I don’t normally pay it much attention, but occasionally it makes itself known.  I’ll see it here or there, making funny postures, or merging with someone else’s shadow.  It’s quite the trickster!  If you aren’t looking, who knows what it gets up to!?

When writing this I started to think about Peter Pan and the trixy shadow that kept getting away from him.  As I look back now, I wonder if there was some kind of lesson attached, or other meaning beyond that of enjoyment of a child watching a movie.

My shadow can be found in many places, and some I never expected.


Best to keep an eye on our shadow self!

This goes for our other shadowy self that we hold in reserve most times of the day.  Admit it, there is a part of you that doesn’t want to obey the rules, listen to others critique you, or do what we are supposed to do.  We want to do what WE want to do!  It has a slight Ego problem sometimes.

What we don’t realise, is that others can see our shadow side even if we are not aware of it.  They can sense the shadows in our heart, our hesitation toward feelings, our desire for self gratification.  We might not bother to see it, even when it’s right behind us, but it’s there, always underfoot.

For example, when we shine the light on ourselves seeking the adoration of our _______ (partner, neighbour, friend, workmate, boss, stranger, whomever), you fill in the blank, the shadow is there, darker than ever.  The light we shine on us, makes our shadow distinct, our ego is in full throttle.  However, when the light comes from within us, which happens when we do selfless acts of kindness toward others, the shadow disappears.

Light_From_Within_Printable_8x10Can there be a shadow if the light comes from within?

How we bring light in to our lives is often just as important as bringing it.  When we really want to do something for another person, it just doesn’t matter if we get recognized for it or not.  What matters is the other person.

When we seek out lessons of life and collect them like trading cards to show others what you are doing with your life, so you can speak the language of enlightenment, that light reveals the shadow.

self shadowWhen we stop looking for illumination outside of ourselves, we find the it within.  It’s  within every one of us, if we just take the time to still the internal waters of our mind.  Taking stillness time for ourselves, whether through meditation, walking, Bonsai tree trimming, or some other enjoyable task where time slips through us without thought to it, is a great way to seek inner truth.  This is what we are…light.

In order to see our true reflection, who we really are, we need to stop the ripples of daily thought, and seek the bliss of inner calm.  Seeing our self, is what awareness is all about.  Finding that light, that Aha! moment with our own answers IS enlightening; that’s where the light comes from!

The next time you see your shadowy self creeping up on you, ask yourself if the light is coming from outside or inside.  Remember to let your own light shine, and your Egoic shadow will soon disappear.

Conquering Our Faults

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We are all full of weakness, faults, and cracks in the armour we wear, but that’s how the light gets in.  That’s how we know where to repair what is broken.  It is through our failings that we learn.

What’s the difference between a Master and a Beginner?  A Master has failed more times than a Beginner has even tried! We all want to master our lives, but we have a fear of failing.

masterWho gave you that fear?  Were you afraid of failing in Kindergarten?  As children, we would just ‘do’.  If it didn’t work we might try something else.  Mastering our lives through review of what isn’t working as a way we can pull the weeds from the path we walk and slowly settle in to a calm way that works for us.  It improves not only our understanding of self, but it improves our relationships with others.

To share an example with you, I was feeling kind of low this weekend.  I have been giving a lot of mental and physical energy out this past week in my new job.  I am new at teaching, and the learning curve is immense!  I want to be great, connect with the students, show my peers I can handle it, and learn what I am teaching, all at once.  I struggle with things, then conquer them, but never as quickly as I prefer.  And, to be honest, I am hard on myself.

If there was a time when I needed someone to just be with me this weekend, it was now.  However, my girlfriend was away at a workshop all day Saturday and Sunday.  I had created an expectation to see her (and refuel my needs) after the workshops, but she felt the need to take care of herself, since she also felt exhausted.

Herein lies the dilemma.  I was weak.  I created expectations.  I let stories run in my head about why she might not want to share her time with me.  I spun them like a master spider, weaving a glorious web of ego based disappointment.

But the thing was, I was aware of how I was making myself feel, but I could not find a way to reverse the feeling.  I could see what I was feeling, and I could understand that I created the expectations, but I could not get the ‘feeling’ out of my body of yukky disappointment.  This poison was infesting me, and I was desperately seeking an antidote.

After indicating that I was upset Sunday evening at not being able to see my gf, she changed her plans of being alone and we discussed how I was feeling and what I was going through.

Part of my disappointment was the fact that our plans changed.  I need communication to change my expectations when plans change.  That is a clear boundary for me.  We made an agreement to communicate when plans change and we talked about my feelings around feeling lonely, alone, weak, isolated, and just down, especially given my expectations.

I created a method of dealing with self spun stories that analyses what I spin.  I will ask myself if the story I am creating in my head is at all related to the last experience I had.  It usually doesn’t jive when we are creating a negative story.  I will realize it is simply a story formed from my ego, then I can dismiss it.

Ego loves conflict.  It loves to divide us from others and it is a main ingredient in dissent among others, even in relationships.  My strategy will help me recognize and destroy my own stories…perhaps simply by laughing at them.  I mean, they can get pretty absurd, right!

This image and text seemed somehow very appropriate…

I am the problemI need to celebrate my small successes at work and not dwell on the challenges so much, so there is excitement and positivity in what I do.  I know it’s there, but it gets overshadowed by the challenges sometimes.

When we communicate, and share our vulnerabilities, our inner dialogue, and can tell our partner or friend the commentary that we had during the emotions we felt, it makes it that much easier to find ways to turn those feelings around, to stop playing the old tapes, and release those anchors that slow our progress.

Awareness has saved me once again from myself.  I love being able to watch and analyse my own thoughts and emotions!  My gf also likes the dialogue it creates, because we can actually understand ‘why’ we feel certain ways.  Sometimes it just needs a quick chat, then it’s like “Oh yeah, that’s all I need to do to change the bad to good!”  Thank-you babe!

It doesn’t matter if you are having issues with your co-workers, your friends, your siblings, or partner, awareness of what’s going on inside your mind can lead to greater understanding of self.  This is what we strive for.  This is what we were never taught in school.  This is what will save us from ourselves.

fix selfSo, let’s get out the tape, the band-aids, the repair kit, and look at our faults.  We can’t conquer them if we don’t look at them.  If we can see where we need to guide our attention, we can master our lives more effectively.

Become a master and fail more times than anyone else has even tried, and in doing so, you will always be the Hero of your own life!

Stumbling Toward Ecstasy

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Someone recently proclaimed that I ‘sound all Zen and Buddha like’, but in fact, I don’t know Buddha.  I don’t know Zen or Tao.  I barely know what awareness looks and feels like.  I will be the first to admit that I am literally stumbling around in a vast world of information, going from hollow tree to hollow tree, looking for some kind of nugget of truth to allow me to feed my brain and become more authentic.  That is how I might view the real meaning of ecstasy.

learningI think it’s a great trait to always want to learn more about ourselves.  Even heroes learn about themselves in the  Hero’s Journey; I mean that’s what the journey is actually all about!  I may still now know a lot after my journey has ended, but hopefully, I will have inspired some others to start on their path by then.

I realize that all I seek is within me, but it’s hard at times when you are essentially teaching yourself.  I don’t have a master, in the traditional sense and all I know is what feels right in my gut.

My mentor, guide, and fellow spiritual partner is my wonderful, illuminating girlfriend.  She is so compassionate, intelligent, and empathetic that her and I have the best conversations about enlightenment, awareness, gratefulness, and many related topics!  She is my mirror for much of what I do and we call each other on what we might consider an ‘old tape’ behaviour.  We learn so much together.

deep talkI truly believe that if you are interested in learning about ‘self’, in whatever way suits you, exponential gains can be made by simply discussing the topic with a like-minded individual.

Naturally I read many books, attend events, and watch movies and documentaries on other enlightened people, but I often wonder what it might be like to be taught by a master.  Even to be mentored by a teacher in several different disciplines, so that we all find the path that is most suited to our own unique paths.

Wouldn’t it be so powerful to be able to attend a school that allowed you to broaden your sense of individual power, skill, knowledge and connection with the world around us?  It might cultivate the awareness of self, the introduction of our Ego, the gratefulness of life, and the impact we have upon other beings.

As much as I may dream of such a place, in my current life I still fail to remove myself from my ego.  I still judge people immediately after I see them.  I still react emotionally firs, and I still crave money to succeed in life.  I don’t know Zen or Tao or Buddha at all.  But one thing I do have, that I didn’t have a year ago is awareness.

When I start to judge someone I see, I also start looking for why that is.  When I desire acknowledgement, I quell it for the sake of knowing what it feels like, and understand that it would detract from the moment for the sole purpose of my ego.

When I feel emotions, I can discuss them and start to understand that a lot about my past influences my current behaviour.

As far as money goes, I can go without the BMW M Series car and continue to take the bus or bike, but I really want be profitable enough so I can reach a large audience and show people around the world how we can all tap in to our own potential.  I’m working on that, one day, one post, one thought at a time.

I am constantly talking within my head about where my thoughts come from, why that is ‘so’, and if I am behaving selfishly or not.  There is a lot of programming and I still have a hell of a long way to go, but I know that.

That much I do know.

If I sound all Zen and Buddha like, well, it’s only because I try to do a little research in my posts so you can benefit from it.  I want to present all  my thoughts as coherently as possible, and not as they fall out of my head, tumbling and tied up in mental knots as they always feel at first.

I am stumbling toward something that I know is where I want to go.  I know it’s where I need to go, and I know that I will continue to stumble less and less as I make my way toward my goal of encountering my true self.

Many may have heard the poem, but I will repeat it hear again for any new readers, as it is so poignant and relevant to what I seek.  An excerpt from the poem “Little Gidding” by T.S Eliot:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

I want to arrive at the end of all my searching and exploration, while stumbling, crawling, and eventually running, to finally reach the end, and know what I see for the first time.  Even as I say that, I may never reach the end, and in realizing that, isn’t all of life in the journey?  I hope so.

Every moment is priceless because that’s all we have.  Imagine if all humanity was swept off the planet.,  Would the phrase “What time is it?” still be relevant?  Time is a man-made illusion, instrument, and convenience that we spend entirely too much ‘time’ on.  So my journey, even when imperfect, is priceless, no matter if it takes the rest of my life; and I think it should.

We may all stumble, trip, fall, and feel utterly depleted by our own follies in our exploration for something new, something pleasing to our heart.  But we shall not be disheartened.  As a matter of fact we should take all the stumbling, falling, failing moments and decipher them as signposts that tell us to change our course slightly; try a different angle.

Even our failures tell us something…and sometimes monumentally more than many of our successes.  When we fall, perhaps we can just sit there, and meditate, think, ruminate, and ponder the meaning of our perceived failure.  It just might turn in to the best thing we had going for us.

May your path, however rough, awkward, and full of surprises, never snag you, always inform you, and gently lead you forward, so you may at long last be able to lovingly gaze at your own understanding of mind, body, and spirit; self bliss and ecstasy.

By the way, what is a stumble? a misstep? a failure?  I think it might just be our perception of an event, yes?  If we can’t see the future, and I know I can’t, how do we know, until the future comes to us, if that perceived misstep was in fact a step in the wrong direction?  It just might have been the change in our path that we had been asking for all along!

Conquer Your Genetic Code

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If your my age, late Baby Boomer, you will be familiar with the thought that our genetics are predetermined from our parents.  What we get is locked in and completely unchangeable.  Essentially, we just get to wait and see what disease we are going to get.  Is it going to be cancer, heart disease, diabetes, kidney or liver failure, Alzheimer’s, ALS, or what?  Just live your life the way you want and you will get whatever cards were dealt to you.  Healthy people had heart attacks.  Young people died for no apparent reason.  It all seemed to make sense.

This process of deterministic heredity was confirmed, in spirit, if not in actual fact, by the biologist James Watson and physicist Francis Crick when they discovered the keys to the double-helix DNA in 1953.  In 1958 they stated that the DNA essentially determined, through a process, the proteins required in the body.  The proteins did all the work, being the building blocks of all the cells in our body.  This was called the Central Dogma.gene

16554_temin1964nijhoutThis was accepted for a long time until along came a few fellows by the name of Howard Temin, a geneticist in the 1960s [left], and H. Frederik Nijhout, a biologist in 1990 [right].  They were able to illustrate and prove a backward flow of information that essentially said the environment also had an impact on what proteins were created.  [some info]

Well, that was pretty monumental.  Think for a moment…first, we were told we were just along for the ride, with no way to change our bodies, no way to modify our biology.  Then, 30+ years later, it comes out that the interaction of the environment can affect our body’s production of proteins.  Essentially, the environment is talking to the protein builders in our body and the resulting cell create in a response to that.  Whoa!

Okay, you might not yet get the significance of this, but stay with me.  If the environment can effectively change our body’s cells, our biology, then what if there was something else that was under our control that could simulate the effects of the environment?  Do you know of something that can do that?

If you are familiar with the movie The Matrix, you might begin to understand the climactic “aha” moment that is coming.  In this movie, the mentor character, Morpheus, is explaining to the heroic character and protagonist, Neo, about the nature of reality.

Morpheus says: What is real? How do you define ‘real’? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.

prefrontal_cortexIf we take that one statement and think about it.  If we close our eyes and remember an experience with sights, sounds, and smells, we can react as if we are really there.  Our brain doesn’t know if we are really there or if our extraordinary pre-frontal cortex (PFC) portion of our brain is simulating that experience.  It is so powerful, this latest evolutionary expansion of our brain, and it simulates so well, that if we create a vision, or remember an experience, they become synonymous.  Experiences and visions can become interchangeable if they are both fleshed out.  Our mind can’t really tell the difference.  Nor can it tell if what we are experiencing in our mind is really happening or not.  Our mind still produces all the same chemical enzymes as if what it is thinking is really happening.  The body can’t tell if it is real or not!

Now follow this logic back: if our brain can not distinguish between what is real (the environment) and what we imagine (our thoughts), then can our mind control the biology in our bodies?  Our mind, by simple virtue of the powerful simulation in the PFC, can stimulate a flow of information to the protein builders in our body, just like the environment does, except there is one major difference: we control what our mind envisions, therefore we can simulate any environment we want!

brain powerWe can literally control the biology of our body simply by experiencing the mind’s vision of our environment.  [see Thoughts Are Real in the above image]

mind-powerThat’s a bit of a mouthful right there.  What do I mean by experiencing the mind’s vision?  It’s a bit more involved than just wishful thinking, or simply desiring a particular environment, say a beach scene where we want to live.  We need to turn our mind up to full power.  We need to make our vision something more powerful, so we can recall it at will.

What types of memories do we recall easily?  Experiences!  We need to make our mental image so detailed that it becomes a full sensory experience.  We need to see all of it.  we need to sense it, feel the wind, smell the earth, hear the wildlife.  Whatever your vision is, you must escape in to that world and experience being there!  Once you create this terrific, wonderful environment where you perceive your body the way you desire, where you live in love, gratefulness, positivity and bliss, you start to interact with your body’s cells in a way that can manifest changes.

hands on headWhen the vision becomes a fully formed experience, then your body starts to believe in it.  Yet, we can even take this one step further.  When we believe that what we desire has already happened, we erase the thought of waiting for it.  We eliminate the anxiety, or want for it to come true, and we can simply witness that it is done.

When we believe that the transformation is already complete, something wonderful happens.  The change that comes surprises us.   It must surprise us, since, for most of us, what we are imagining is kind of different from the life we lead right now.  If change is to happen, it won’t come in any way that we expect, otherwise it would have happened already!

Dr. Joe Dispenza talks about this in his personal research into spontaneous remission.   Biologist Bruce Lipton, Ph.D. discusses this in a number of his books.  There is innumerable research papers on this topic that I encourage you to research if you are interested.

What is really wonderful in this whole topic is that it isn’t just a few people telling you to think great thoughts, and then your life will change.  There is scientific proof that all over the world people are changing their mind and discovering changes in their bodies.  They are changing their habits, their environments, their life, and their body changes with them!

Now, why would any medical company, or pharmaceutical company, that depends on profits, ever want you to know about this?  It likely would not be good business.

marcusSo, our conquest over the genetic code is from within.  When you believe in yourself, when you strip away your limiting belief that we are just puppets on this earth and have no real power, you will be amazed at just what you can do!

I use this technique to manifest not only changes in my body, but changes in my life.  When I wish to manifest something I use the exact same process.  Dr. Dispenza says ‘ don’t get up from this visioning exercise until you feel changed’.  That’s what makes the vision an experience.  Once it is an experience, it is treated as though it is real.  When you mind creates something real, your body reacts as if it is real.

I’ll tell you how I manifested my dream of becoming a teacher after I abruptly left my old job in a future article.  It works!  Although it technically is science, it might just bend your perception about what science is, what is possible, and what is real!

whether-you-think-you-can-or-think-you-cant-you-re-right-119020-400-400

Awareness of the Hero Within

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Inside all of us is a strength that is uncovered typically through trial.  When we are put through a physical or mental strain, it tempered our body, is steels our mind, and we become stronger for it.  This strength is always there for us to call upon at any time we choose.  But more than that, our true self is stronger than we can imagine.  It holds all the answers we seek, and it can do see more than we can imagine.  How can we uncover and harness this powerful energy we all hold inside?  we simply need to become aware of it first.  This is a great start to the personal journey of awareness, or becoming conscious.  Some thought provoking questions around this are:

What is our core or spiritual goal in this life we lead?

To what end are we alive?

What do we want?

Why?

These are great questions to ponder, and there are many more that we can think of and that others have thought of that we can spend eternity striving to understand and contemplate on.  One of the quotes that stand out for me about contemplation and the act as it relates to how we live our life is from the movie The Last Samurai, when the character Katsumoto is talking to Nathan Algren, played by Tom Cruise: 

Katsumoto: The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one, and it would not be a wasted life.

blossomHere he explains that contemplation in Nature is a never ending quest, an always mystifying adventure where we continually learn and examine and question.  There are times however when we need to surrender in order to learn.  Surrender our idea of what is perfect, what is beautiful.  In the Tao Te Ching (I like this particular translation), a text written by Laozi (also Lao Tzu, etc), a philosopher in ancient China, it is written (Chapter 2, first line) that if we label something as beautiful, it can also become ugly.  Just the act of using words to explain what can not be explained is like trying to paint the Mona Lisa with a paint roller.  Our language is barbaric compared to the innate understanding of the mind to just accept what is.  Katsumoto understood this in his final moments of life when he spoke this words:

Katsumoto [With his dying breath]: Perfect… They are all… perfect…

My goal in life is for True Seeing.  I want to see what is real in life, not what my mind perceives based on the millions of layers of perceptions I have created since I was a baby.  I want to see with fresh eyes, listen with new ears, smell with a brand new tongue and l want to understand with no judgement, with no comparison, and simply settle with what is, in every moment.

Life-Journey-Carved-Stone-SIn my journey, it is more about surrendering, more about cutting the strings that I tied so precisely, so fastidiously, to my self from the agreements or beliefs that I made along my life to this point.  Every time I encounter a limiting belief, or an old tape that I play, is an opportunity to examine the validity of it.  When I learn to think critically and ask the meaningful questions about any one of the myriad of beliefs I created in my mind, what I find is that in the end there is no basis for them; and they begin to dissipate and dissolve away.  

antelope-canyon-arizona_usa_fullI liken it to water over stone.  Our beliefs and agreements we made since we were old enough to do so are so solid that they are represented by stone.  Water, being soft and flexible, is the new understanding we create when we become aware of our mind, aware of our thoughts, aware of the fact we are not that voice in our head, but much, much more than that.  If we keep pouring that water of awareness, of consciousness, of present moment on the rock solid agreements we made, the water will erode them.  How fast this happens depends entirely on how much water we pour and how quickly it runs and what kind of rock our beliefs represent.  Are your beliefs marble, or are they sandstone?

matrixSome of the ‘stand out’ moments of my journey to awareness come in the form of entertainment and Nature.  In 1999 I watched the movie The Matrix, where the leading character Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, is a computer programmer by day, computer hacker by night, that has a feeling there is more to life than is presented in front of him.  He senses something called ‘the matrix’ and he spends much of his time trying to find it.  The character Morpheus, played by Lawrence Fishburne, is the leader of the ‘awakened’ characters and he finds Neo, explains the existence of reality beyond the life Neo is experiencing in his day to day life, and welcomes him to see it.  In this line, he expresses a sentiment that we all know if true for every one of our journeys:

Morpheus: I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.

doors-twoLike all of us, we each need to walk through the door of awareness to start our journey.  When we can start to ‘see’ what is real, we can start to unlearn all that we have learned.  When we look at life with a full cup, as the Zen Buddhist saying goes, we have no room for any new information, any new perspectives or thoughts.  How can we appreciate anything that we may not understand if we label it with words, or compare it to other similar or different things?  We might gather information ‘about’ it, but we will never know it.  How can you know a tree?  How can you know a chair?  We can gather information about them, but we can not know anything but ourselves, and this is the biggest assignment of all: to know thyself.

My journey seems so large at times, so multifaceted, so huge, that it paralyses me into non-action.  It’s like a messy house: where do you start?  Then I tell myself: ‘You can actually start anywhere you like.  It doesn’t matter.’  That’s when I just stand up and walk toward the closest thing, and clear a space.  That’s one way of expressing how this journey of understanding, of enlightenment, makes my mind feel.  It clears mental space in my head to allow me to take in new information, new ways of thinking, and even to create new paradigms, like what is truly important in life.

When I have used my mental scissors of awareness to cut all of the strings attached to my old beliefs and agreements, and I have thrown out all the tapes of past learned behaviours, my cup will be empty.  In that emptiness, I think I might actually begin to see.  I may be able to really smell, listen, and taste the world, for the first time, without any preconceived notions.  That is my goal.

Naturally, as I create space, i am learning, so as the cup empties, I can fill it with new understanding.  As this progress, I am starting to see a new world.  

  • I see a new value in relationships with people
  • I have a greater understanding of my need to connect with Nature
  • I see the importance of listening with an open mind
  • I understand how all negative emotion is made in the mind
  • I acknowledge that we can control our mind by freeing it

Words are sometimes too crude of a medium to relay our feelings and thoughts to one another, and sometimes, they can get in the way of our senses.  I recall meeting a man in a social setting, and I immediate felt an overwhelming dark presence.  I disliked him for absolutely no reason (that I knew of).  As it turned out, he stole a vehicle of my friend and was a dark person.  When we can reconnect with our own senses, start to believe in our own power, we can tap in to what I call the Hero within.

let_it_begin__the_hero_within_by_eberlins-d4pdytrThis Hero, and it really is a hero [gender neutral], is the person we really are.  It is our true self.  In our lifetimes, we take up so many beliefs, and many of them unwittingly, many of them simply by following others in our family, friends, or people we trust.  These beliefs, however, can be limiting.  They can limit our thoughts by suggesting we do not question authority.  They can limit our physical ability, by telling us that the four minute mile is impossible to run.  They can limit our sense of what is important in life by telling us that material wealth is the pursuit of happiness.

The_Hero_Within__by_Pixel_EvoThe Hero within, defies all of these teachings, and believe me, there are many preachers of this type of doctrine around: from television, to newspapers, to entertainment, stories, history books, and so on.  The Hero within each and every one of us is there, waiting to be discovered.  It doesn’t have any limiting beliefs, it knows everything we desire to understand, and it can do anything we want it to.  It is truly a Hero of epic proportions!

When we start with awareness, we begin to see just where we are.  We start to understand what we are thinking and what we believe in at the moment.  A great way to move forward in our journey might be to simply ask our self questions.  

How do I view relationships in my life: with my partner, with my children, with my boss, with my neighbour, with strangers, with foreigners, with Nature, with myself?

Is this where I want to be?

In my journey, I surround myself with many books from enlightened people, I have profound, deep, meaningful conversations with important people in my life, and I continue to ponder, think, ruminate, and meditate, on where I am, where I want to go, and what my next step is.  Each time I step into old habits, or become unconscious while I run old tapes, or speak without thinking, it is an opportunity for examination, which usually leads to “Why the heck did I do that?”  Sometimes it was a role I played in my family, or it was a belief I held since middle school, or it was because that was what I learned in university, or picked up from peers in business.  In most, if not all cases, it turned out to be a belief that held me to a path that was not going where I wanted to go in life, and so I poured more water over it.  Eventually the stony habits of old will be cut down and I will be exposed to the world at my very core.

beach-waves_00405162I already feel it, the sensation of wave after wave washing the pebbles of my old beliefs down to nothing.  How refreshing to know that every day I live, my old beliefs diminish while my new awareness grows.  I don’t get disheartened when my growth seems slow either, like the Chinese Bamboo Tree, when there is no visible above ground growth for four years, only to grow 80 feet in six weeks in the fifth year.  When the focus of growth is in our foundation, our self, we have amazing potential!

hero backgroundMay you discover your own Hero inside.

 

EGO: Hero or Villain?

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Ford-Ac-Cobra-15704062013 New Maserati GranTurismo Sport Coupe and Convertible_3That car growls by me on the road and I stare at it, fantasizing about when I will be able to slip behind the wheel and feel the acceleration, the grip on the pavement as it purrs or growls depending on my mood.  The knowledge that all of the technology and prowess that is inherent in this vehicle is at my command, at any moment, should I wish to use it.  The fact that it may draw similar looks that I gave it when I saw it doesn’t hurt either.  It’s a good feeling, knowing that you have succeeded in today’s society enough to comfort yourself with a little of life’s luxuries.

To some, this is a subtle justification for the efforts we put in, to others, this is a gross misappropriation of funds, spent to mollify, or appease, the burgeoning Ego of the driver.

photo-2But, what is the Ego, and why do many people spend so much time telling us it is bad, bad, bad?  

It seems that the voice in our heads is actually our Ego talking to us.  The history of the word (etymology) suggests it may have been coined in the early 18th century, but it was likely Sigmund Freud’s use of the word in conjunction with the definitions of “Id” and “Super-Ego” that popularized the term.  In this context, the Ego was a go-between relating the impulsive, primal, Id with the self critical, socially conscious, Super-Ego.

What does that mean in plain language?  Simply it is the voice in our heads that decides between impulses and learned behaviour; specifically for the preservation of self.  We make decisions every moment of our life between what we ‘feel’, or our instinctual self, and what is socially proper, given our understanding, our personal agreements, and our beliefs.

This doesn’t sound evil or bad, but it does sound rather administrative.  Maybe that’s why it talks so much!  Let’s keep exploring…

ego+and+soulI feel that the term Ego is decidedly too shallow, or simplistic.  Do other parts of our body talk to us?  Does our heart have a voice to?  Can we stop listening to one over the other?  

There are aspects of the Ego that chose to focus on self preservation in a way that divides us from everyone else.  It wants us to rise above and dominate others.  This aspect of Ego is clearly for self aggrandizement, for the inflating of one’s own sense of entitlement or power over others.  I can clearly see the evil in that, but do we call that Ego too?

When we become aware of the voice in our head, Eckhart Tolle likens this to a reprieve, a sense of relief, when we understand that the voice is not truly who we are, but simply a voice to be contended with.  When we are aware of it, the sense of control that it used to assume dissipates, and accordingly, we are able to make decisions based on more factors than just instinct and social norms as pointed out by Freud.  We can start to appreciate new knowledge of how we are all connected to one another and this planet we live with.  When we see the Ego as simply an autonomous voice, do we still call it Ego?

When we start travelling down the road to self development, enlightenment, self awareness, I would hazard a guess that it is not done within the school classrooms of North America, but more typically after a life crisis and probably later on in life.  In my case it wasn’t until I was in my early forties.  I think I am very typical in this regard.  This is relevant because I believe we have many years of training, of previous reactionary thinking, of complete and utter unconscious behaviour that we need to contend with, and it’s a son-of-a-bitch at times to remain aware, especially if emotions are in play!

crisisIn these moments, the voice in our head tends to vocalize through our mouth, whether we like it or not, and we get ‘caught up’ in an event where we lack all awareness, or sense of the ‘big picture’.  But we can forgive ourselves, after all, we have been shaped that way for many decades!

Attention!!The way I see it, is that the voice in our head is a survival trait.  It has been there, and has obviously survived our evolution through to current year for a reason.  It works!  It gets us to safety when we need it!  Have you ever tripped on the road when a vehicle is coming?  There is a voice inside your head that says “Get UP!”…”NOW!”  And we get up and run to the edge of the safety of the curb just in the nick of time.  This self preservation voice is the primal and good aspect of our mind.  It is meant simply to preserve our life.

There is an aspect of our minds that likes competition, that enjoys winning, that loves positive achievement.  In winning, we see that we become superior to others, and we are more capable of surviving.  The dominance of others can be seen as a positive trait in the survival of the fittest, the Darwinian Theology.

It’s easy to see that depending on your viewpoint, on your perspective, the Ego can be seen as self centred and bad, or self centered and good for survival.  I think what has happened in this latest century is that we are living more and more in a safe environment, to simplify the comparison between now and, say, a few thousand years ago when living meant striving for survival.  In our society today, we don’t need to spend our mental energy on survival so much as striving for acceptance and ‘success’ within the ideology of the local country, or community, we choose to accept and live within.

egomaniac_guy_m-425x258Bearing this in mind, if we are not really aware of our Ego, our voice in our head, and simply react based on past automatic responses to stimuli, we may tend to be protectionist, self centred people.  Can you say “Selfie!” Our tendency is for survival, and these are the subconscious traits inherent from that perspective.  It’s not their fault, or ‘our’ fault (seeing as I was one of those people at one time), since this is also how our government and society like to train us.  We are taught to follow, yet those that forge ahead, or stand out, are sometimes the successful ones.  Those who are smart, tall, lean, have typical good looks, or perhaps speak well,are granted easy passage to the upper ranks of our western cultural community.  The Ego talks us in to either doing what we are told, or forging ahead when we see an advantage for us to do so.  That’s what it was designed to do, and it does it amazingly well.

In this role, the Ego doesn’t see a connection with other people, or the community, or the earth that we live with.  It doesn’t seem to recognize the powerful ability of joint effort, or working for the benefit of others, or for the greater good of the community.  What is this then?  Is this the opposite of Ego; the Alter-Ego? The Polar Ego?  The Ego-Opp?  How about this is the diminishment, the dissolution, or dissolving of the Ego?  It goes away when we think of cooperating, helping others, or doing something because it makes our core being feel nourished.

The word does not seem to have an opposite, which would make me think that it can’t be all bad for us.  I think it has it’s place, when we need to survive, or strive in a competitive environment.  We can, however, become so ingrained in this behaviour that it detracts fro our personality trait, and we become self centred in several aspects.  Awareness of our Ego, of this voice within our mind, is what can start a journey to allow or deny the actions or decisions our Ego suggests for us.  As we become more aware of why we feel a certain way, of why we desire to act in a certain manner automatically, we can start to redefine if that is the way we wish to continue.

we-are-all-connected-neil-de-grasse-tysonOnce awareness if brought in to our life, there is no un-seeing this; there is no un-listening to our voice.  We are firmly in a position to allow the act to take place, or to stop it, though stopping it, or correcting it, as we see fit, may take some time to undo all the programming we have had in our life.

Be grateful that your voice is indeed not all of you.  It’s just a voice, a rationalization of the primal urges with what we have learned is right or wrong.  Now that you can hear the voice, and you can simply watch it talk, you can explore the ‘whys’ and ‘foundations’ for it’s actions.

Get to know your Ego!  It just might be able to tell you a lot about yourself that you took for granted.

Here is a little poem I wrote for your amusement:

Oh the Ego!

You are in me and most other folk,
like a clever ungodly joke.
Oh how it torments me,
under my heavy, burdensome yoke.
Suddenly aware,
it’s nothing more than smoke.

ego

 

Strength in Vulnerability

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vulnerability2Many believe that exposing your vulnerable side is a sign of weakness.  That is simply not true when we look at relationships, which in my view, is the only aspect of life that means anything.  Always showing your strength can become boring, redundant, and one dimensional.  It blocks the flow of information that allows people to get to know you and keeps you isolated from everyone else.

When you are able to share a little bit of your vulnerable side, you open up a stream of knowledge to others that initiates understanding.  Their mind expands with putting the pieces that are ‘you’ together in their head, and often revealing something about you leads to others revealing more about themselves.

If you fear being vulnerable, you might want to ask yourself why?  Was there an event in your past that turned you away from sharing who you are?  There is nothing to fear about revealing who you are, especially if we do it authentically.

When we look at the Third Agreement “Don’t Take Anything Personally” [from The Four Agreements], we can share ourselves without wondering how others react about our feelings or vulnerable side.  It is who we are, and they can see it as precious, or not.  That makes no difference to us.  If they react with indifference or in a manner that is a poor reflection of their understanding of us, it is a reflection upon them, and not us.

When I see a person sharing sensitive information to me, or even showing a caring side to them that is not always visible, I start to see them in a new light.  Their persona starts to take on new dimensions; they become more whole in my eyes.

Someone who can share thoughts and feelings without feeling any less, any smaller, any weaker of a person, is stronger by far than one that shields themselves behind their perceived strength.

strong silent 2strong silentOur society has shown men as the strong silent types.  Not much has changed over the years either.  This is shown over and over again not only in dramatic pop culture movies, but even on the plethora of advertisements many people are subjected to every day.  When you see the typical societal images daily, no matter what you believe, it starts to seep in to your unconscious and it can start to make you feel uncomfortable to act differently from what your brain has perceived as the ‘norm’.

toni20/hdc/people/55/0019A character that I always personified strength of character was Richard Dreyfuss.  This was a man that was not afraid to show his feelings.  He held on to his passion, and he was passionate!  He didn’t care whether you believed in him, he was going to do what he wished, tell you about what he wanted to say, and he walked through life (in his typical characters on screen) not looking back.  That courageousness, that ‘what you see is what you get’ mentality is strength!

When we start to become aware of our feelings and thoughts and actions, however, we can become choosy in our acceptance of what we see, of what we tolerate, and what we decide to allow in to our lives.  We can appreciate the thoughts and feelings of others, and when we see it come forward from a stranger, their persona and character is emboldened with feeling and understanding, which can over time develop in to caring and trust.

quote-it-is-not-necessary-to-be-strong-in-every-place-if-in-the-place-you-are-vulnerable-you-are-loved-robert-brault-288623Above is a quote I found about Strength and Vulnerability, but I would go even further than this one to say that if we love ourselves, we can be vulnerable in every place, at any time.  We understand this type of person so much more than the characterization of what strength is in the media.

When I reveal how I feel, what I think, and share my passion with you, I am letting you in to my world a little more.  I don’t measure myself in how you take that information; that is yours to do with what you want.  But if you choose to understand me more holistically, as a person, then you will see my strengths and weaknesses together.

When you can appreciate me as a human being, with my own set of strengths and my own set of weaknesses, then you can see the dynamic range of my actions and thoughts.  You can start to appreciate me for who I am, and how I choose to interact with others, openly and honestly.  You will see that it takes a lot more strength, conviction and courage to be vulnerable than it does to remain shielded.

I wholeheartedly believe the world can become stronger by far if we all showed even a small part of our own vulnerability.  Won’t you help our society by showing some of your vulnerable side and not taking anyone’s reaction personally.  Just be you, it’s the best way to show your strength!

vulnerabilityShow me your vulnerability, and I will see your strength.

 

When the Child is the Hero

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dont-drive-drunkThis is what I KNOW I did right as a father.  I taught my son that no matter where he was, and no matter what time it was, I would ALWAYS come to get him if he has had anything to drink.  No questions, just a ride home.

Believe me, I have driven many miles out to the sticks, the woods, back country, and no man’s land, to get him.  It may be late, early, an unGodly time, or whenever, but I would go, or his Nan would go…someone would always pick him up.  He never went without, in that respect.  And he never took a ride from his friends.

The one time he did, it cost him.  They were driving too fast, and he wasn’t wearing a seat belt because he was sitting in between the two seats with seat belts.  As the small truck tried to negotiate a left turn at high speed, it hit a curb and flipped on the driver’s side, sliding toward oncoming traffic at about 100km/h.  My son was thrown down across the driver and as the driver’s door window shattered against the pavement, he threw his forearm down to brace himself.  His arm was torn with the sharp shards of glass, fused with sparks.  He was one lucky kid and his arm has the scars that will stay with him for life.  The driver and passenger were both fine, saved by seat belts.

That was a lesson of what could be.  Even though they weren’t drinking, they were all teenagers and they were cocky.

I don’t know if every teenager has a brush with death.  I bet they all do.  I did.  I drove too fast.  I slid many cars, some with entirely too much power, through intersections and around corners.  I drove so fast I probably doubled the travelling speeds of other vehicles and passed then in the right turn lanes along our highways.  I was the lucky one that never caused, nor was in, a collision, but I most certainly turned heads, had a few fingers tossed my way and disturbed the thoughts of many.  I was no hero then, I was the villain behind that wheel.

When I was young, years ago mind you, it was “NBD”, no big deal, to drive after drinking.  Everyone seemed to be doing it.  I recall being the most sober one driving me and my friends home.  We pulled over blocks from home to we could talk about our night, before we all forgot about it the next morning.  Then I drove the car home, to find a nightmare standing in the driveway, waiting for us to make it home.  

What’s the worst thing possible that a son could see standing at the top of the driveway when he’s done something wrong…and knows it?  His Dad.  No question.  Bring me the cops any time…just don’t make me face my Dad.  He said, as we walked inside with our heads down “You’re getting up when I am getting up, and I’ll be talking to your parents in the morning” as he faced each of us in turn.  

We were awake at 6am, sitting up straight on the couch, blankets folded.  He talked to us about what we did wrong and told us in no uncertain terms that…he would always be our ride.  Huh?  What was this?  He wasn’t getting all mad, we was giving us his services?  This made me think.  Was this a trick?  Nope, he was doing what was needed.  

He knew what he was talking about, too.  He had been a highway patrol RCMP member and had seen his share of highway deaths.  ‘The drunks always seem to be thrown from their cars and end up pretty fine’ he would say, ‘they never tensed up at the collision and sometimes were found far away from their vehicles.’  The sober ones were no so lucky, especially if a drunk driver caused the collision.  As mad as he was with us, he knew what he could offer as a parent.  He would offer us his services from that point forward.  I was too scared to refuse him, but after calling him from the drunk tank for a ride home at 2:00am, I realised that he cared for me, a lot.  There were no questions, so I had no explaining to do.  We just got home safe.

Dont-Drink-And-Drive-Sign-K-8676After that I always called him.  He or my mom would come and get me and I knew I had it good.  I didn’t have to worry any more about hitch-hiking home, or catching a lift with anyone, I had a built-in free taxi, and I used it.  My parent’s saved my life, and the lives of anyone I might of ran in to.  I’m sure of it.  My parents were my heroes, though I was too young to see the full spectrum of the service they gave me.

I sure see it now, as I am doing the same thing for my son.  

There is a sense of guilt that I drove so recklessly in my youth, not all the time mind you, but at times.  Adrenaline was a friend of mine, like it is to so many kids out there.  I understand, but there is no excuse.

I may have been a stupid teen myself, but I feel I have made some amends by teaching my son the value of giving someone a call when he is out, having a wobbly pop or two.

He has never made it home without calling someone, and we, as a team (Mom, Nan, Dad) have always risen to the occasion to get him.

That’s responsibility.  That’s what a hero sound like: asking for a ride home.  I’m a proud Dad right now as I just got home from picking him up, driving him and his friend home and coming back to my bed.  It may be 3:00am, but in my heart, it’s the best time in the world knowing he is safe and he never stops calling.  He may be 22 now, but he still calls, and that’s okay by me.

I love my son, and I know he listened to at least one thing I said.

Does Our Language Limit our Understanding?

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ovid1717-5Heroic though many poets and authors may be with our language, and the historic language of Shakespeare and Chaucer, it has it’s limitations.  I’m not speaking specifically about English, but all cultural languages.  These are sounds expressed by our mouths that form words and phrases that we have attached meaning to.  How can a single word, or thousands of words even ever convey the meaning of what the simplest object is?  We may be able to describe some aspects about the object, but to know it is ultimately impossible.  Do you know that flower?  Do you understand how it arrives at it’s pattern?  How it lives, The energy it gives off? It’s purpose on this earth?  How it is connected to Nature and everything else on this planet?

How then could you ever hope to convey the essence that is you to anyone else?  Our language is so primitive, it can only give us glimpses of lightness, shards of knowing, like the tip of a sewing needle.

094-limiting-wordsThe English language has just a few sounds, five vowels and 21 other consonants.  Even if you knew every word within the dictionary, could you ever hope to speak about who you are to another person?  If we can’t ultimately know anything about any object or person because of their divine connection to the field of creation, whatever that may be, then does the way we think limit us?

We think in our language, at least I do.  Perhaps you know many languages, and think in several at the same time, but those are just shades of the same idea.  Ultimately, I believe if we think in the language that was developed thousands of years ago, we are limited in our ability to understand the nature and essential qualities of every object we encounter, whether a stone or a person.

Think about it, if our consciousness is only about thought, and we think in the language that was developed thousands of years ago, with only minor changes to the present day, then how can we ever hope to gain real comprehension of our universe? Our surroundings? Our neighbour? One another?

One way, is to accept ‘what is’, knowing that we are limited in our ability to  understand, and that there is so much more that we just can not grasp mentally.  But we can feel!  We can grasp how an object feels to us, we can get a sense of the energy that it may be projecting toward us.  You know this when you meet a person and you get an immediate sense of either a ‘bad’ feeling or a ‘wonderful’ feeling toward them.  Something may draw you closer, or ward you away.  That is the energy field of their mind interacting with yours.

Heroes in movies will often be drawn to a certain place or a particular person, and they may not immediately comprehend why this is so, but they feel compelled to follow this desire.  This is an example of ‘knowingness’ that has no language attached.  There are no words to explain it, it is just a feeling.

shutterstock_147479798-415x260We have learned to leave the body and trust in the language, all through school and university, and business, but those of us that can sense, or that can open up to the idea of feeling, through all of the other sensory inputs we have in our body, have a greater understanding of the world we live in.

This is an idea that entered my mind just yesterday.  I simply thought, how can I describe something using such an old tool as language?  How can I hope to understand something so complex as the connectedness of all things, if I am still using the equivalent of a hammer and chisel to carve on tablets of stone, when the reality is sensations delivered by the universe?  There is just no comparison.

I would be interested in your insights.  Do you feel, or get sensations from those people in your life?  Are you drawn to locations, people, events?  How much do you rely on language to get across what you ultimately mean?

The reality is that we need to use language to communicate with most people, but there may be subtle ways that we can learn to communicate without language that we simply have not yet explored.  If we are so stuck on language as the ‘end all, be all’, then why would we ever look beyond that?

I am suggesting that it may be worth a look.  Some investigation.  Stop talking and start feeling.  What happens then?  I’m not really sure, but I’m going to give it a shot.  I’m going to start using my senses more to gain what I can from my environment, which includes the people I may interact with.  Can you sense the mood of your partner before they speak?  I sometimes feel I have a deep sense of connectedness with mine.  Sometimes I even feel it at my apartment while she is at hers, and either can sense joy or unhappiness when I wake up for no apparent reason.

Nothing may happen for some time, since, let’s face it, we haven’t even entertained the idea before!  Give it some development time and see what happens.  I would be very interested if any of you that are reading this have any progress.

I will enjoy the idea of using all of our senses, whatever they may manifest in you and I, along with our languages, in order to communicate how we feel to other people.  May your relationships grow in depth and understanding, for that is what makes our lives rich and our tapestry of experiences colourful.  I am excited to see what happens!

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