December 5th and 12th – both cohorts
In rare moments of self-awareness and consciousness – we begin to see that more and more of our life, as each year passes, is operating on an internal automatic pilot. Quick to react to whatever confronts us, programmed by the influences of our learned, picked up, inherited indoctrinations and values, views, judgments, and perceptions. (Much like a leaf caught and carried by winds of the moment.)
These influences shape our feelings, how we experience a moment, the story we tell ourselves about that moment, the world, people around us – and our automatic pilot establishes patterns about what we expect of others and ourselves.
There are entire realms of society, including marketing, social sciences, and education, which believe we are shaped by two drivers – nature and nurture – the corollary being that those who seek change and want to make a difference, those who actually do – are exceptions.
Have you experienced within yourself the desire to improve, the urge to make things better, not just for ourselves?
The grind of everyday life gives little time for us to stop, notice what is truly happening to us, in us; to pause, reflect and deliberately dwell on what we really care about, what we love – who we love – what we truly value; even less time to shape, from the inside out, ourselves.
By the time we are adults, our lives are already complex and as we rise and fall, and sometimes break – we are convinced – without reasoning it through – that a pause is a time wasted and when we try to stop and reflect, we may find it uncomfortably difficult. While we are functional, seem to have a “life”, hold a job, even a successful career, meet obligations, and uphold what is expected of us, we often overlook a note of inner fatigue. Sometimes, initially to our surprise, we find ourselves easily offended, upset, we may lash out at our loved ones, over-protect (because we don’t feel safe); blame ourselves or others, be frozen in shame – and in those moments, we struggle to laugh, set ourselves free long enough to light ourselves, or others with joy; to trust, feel connected to ourselves. Right there, right then we are low functioning, and unfortunately, this is true in most people much of the time. How else does one explain the mess the world is in?
Have you ever heard the ever-so-loud argument – ‘When someone does something really wrong, it is not right to forgive because if I do, I would be condoning the act’?
The proposal here is not easy to see, it takes work to find its puzzle pieces and see the entire picture.
The desire to cause Enhancement is essential in our world filled with very complex and imperfect people. Each of us, in our complex endeavours, may falter, make really bad decisions, and in so doing break things, including ourselves or others.
Contrary to common rhetoric most of us are unfinished with much to learn…
and all of us can remember moments when we messed up, needed a fresh chance (sometimes more than one shot) to try again, and do better.
It involves a deliberately established mind state: in which we separate the person – the human life – in one’s mind, from whatever wrongful or destructive act was committed by them – with the compassion and understanding of knowing that adverse influences within an unprepared mind, can lead to harm being done.
How then to think about all the wrongful acts, the evil in the world? This is not about avoiding responsibility – quite the contrary. Don’t shrug it off. Pause, take a little time, to name the influence, take a stand against the influence and the act which it causes. Do not agree to the influence or the act. Do not condone it. Then pause again: do what you can, if you can, to help a life crippled in doing wrong, (without compromising your own safety), to find a route to their own inner intactness again. At the very least, you can want that for them.
This isn’t automatic, the decisions are not simple or easy.
It is not a small thing to want to learn, to remake one’s own mind to work every day for remedy. It is not an act of absolving another’s actions: it involves actively working to help another life to develop inner responsibility for inner self-correction, learning: to build something within that is stronger than the slave that they have become to the adverse influence. It’s no simple undertaking, not identifying and reducing the human person to the act or the influence that caused the act. We are familiar with the words: What has gotten into you? What “bit” you to do what you did? I lost it – Something else took over, I wasn’t myself. What possessed him? He is a saint, she is a monster, he is a thief, she is a liar… He is under the influence – DUI…. And more… There are thousands of ways we describe an influence in our daily life, without even realizing it. We are confronted by them from within and outside of us every minute of our life, and demonize or humanize others from the state of mind we are in.
Influences can be damaging, harmful, or restorative and remedial. We can be influenced by past generational hate, the desire for revenge, (staying locked in the cycle of violence), or future seeking peace, compassion, mercy, and hope (breaking out of the cycle). But this takes effort and work, (if we can call it work). Like a muscle it requires the daily practice of elevating to a high functioning (link to MMT session) mind state where enhanced thinking and perception is possible. Where we can identify and connect to our true core values, the human standards we wish to uphold, and the kind of person we truly wish to be.
In this state, we are aware of what is happening within us and can make different choices, from an elevated perspective that causes the warmth and compassion of knowing that we are all mostly low functioning and could fall under any influence at any time. We often say, “no one is perfect” and “we are always learning”… but do we really live by it?
This brings to mind the quote often used by Dr. Maya Angelou from Roman-African playwriter- philosopher Terence ‘Homo sum, humani nil a me alienum puto: I am a human being, nothing human can be alien to me.’ This describes beautifully the sentiment of our common humanity, each of us is capable of falling below a human standard and yet rising back up again and going further. The good the bad, the ugly, and the wonderful – are all part of the human struggle for its evolution, which we are all part of.
The self-cleansing act of Forgiveness is in taking responsibility.
Become aware of the influences.
When driven hard by the influence, if we can catch it happening, add a circuit breaker: take a breath; count to 10; don’t act under the influence; drink a glass of water slowly, take a walk around the block, and so on…
Teach oneself to meet the influences with one’s cherished values and importances, first within, then with others.
With those inner values, manage the influence.
If we slip and fall, or break – pause again, rebuild, and find our way back. Self-forgiveness is in the decision itself to take responsibility, to become more aware so that the influence does not gain access to where it can control our life again. And it is part of our self-cleansing, letting go of past mistakes, continuing forward, allowing and releasing ourselves and others into the possibility to update and develop ourselves, to become fuller and better in our humanity. The danger in not doing so is to remain limited and diminished, unable to advance towards our fulfillment, staying locked in the inadequacies of low functioning.
In the session participants were introduced to the horrors of children being forced into war – child soldiers that were influenced into committing horrible acts – when it was over, the sobering realization of what happened in them caused them to take responsibility and make others aware of this – to prevent it in the future. This was the story of Abraham – who was a child soldier in Chaptais.
Every life is enhanced and released into a new possibility every morning
Nature graces us with a fresh start and a new possibility every day of our life. We are allowed to continue our attempts at living the fullness of our humanity as we strive to be better today than we were yesterday, with the opportunity to be better tomorrow than we were today, to have the possibility of establishing something more humane and better in this world we live in.
At the end of the session – participants were introduced to a contemplation – meditation that evokes a special feeling from this sentiment.
Contemplation: Every night when you fall asleep you are taken to a place of peace, away from whatever happened that day. You rest. You are recharged. Washed clean. In the morning when your mind is handed back fresh and clean Your heart still beats, you breathe, something wants you to live.
There is no measurement made about deserving it. It is given, freely. You can decide to be of that same nature, this grace that gives every human life a new possibility just as you are granted that every day. It serves your life. Do you want to join it into releasing life into the possibility of something better?
Try this: to help you become more conscious, or train your systems to become aware of influences, when you look at artwork, or architecture, listen to music or read a book – try to register the influences that created the art, or composed the music or wrote the book. Note in yourself: what is it causing you to feel in your emotions, in your instinct, or in your mind? What thoughts are coming up? Where does your mind take you? Daydreams… where is it taking you? Don’t censor yourself – note everything that’s coming up and then try to weave it together to understand the influences at play. There can be more than one at the same time.
Try this too: when you watch the news, when you deal with another person, when you are with a grouping of people – try to sense what influences are enacted. What is speaking through them? Do you see history replayed? Is there biased incitement to one side or another – is it hate? Is it frustration? Is it hopeful and has a freshness and newness about it?