Posted by: Monkey | September 9, 2014

Conscious expression of thoughts and feelings

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As I begin writing this I imagine (think) that many of you as readers may have a preference and privilege towards feeling over thinking. This is something I have noticed within our evolving culture that as certain stages of development begin to come online that there is a natural movement towards feeling becoming an increasingly important source of information, again. Our feeling and moods can often shine a light on what may be appropriate for us and I notice for myself that when I drop into a trusting participation with my feelings, providing they are genuine, there is an effortless flow that comes online. Feelings are powerful and they can indicate so much of what is happening at a deeper level within us.

Feelings are a source of information that seems to be responsive to the environment, both internal and external, in the moment. Listening to my feelings I can know when I am scared, excited, angry, nervous, etc and when I follow this with an authentic expression of this feeling into the world “I feel nervous about writing this” the next appropriate moment suddenly has space to emerge. It is a beautiful thing to be aware of and express what it is we feel, especially if we can hold that with a level of non-attachment. As a witness I can observe nervousness, or anger, or discomfort, or even happiness moving through my body and when I am unrestricted I allow it to emerge into the space where I am, either as a statement or some other expression like a sound or movement. When I can do that without attachment to an outcome, without needing something to happen as a result, without needing my feelings to be affirmed or comforted or dissipated, then I become a conduit for the present moment.

So feelings are great, to an extent. If I don’t carry this deep non-attachment, which we can also consider as appreciation or being a “yes” to what is and instead I am needing something to happen as a result of my expression, then more often than not my expression of feeling will make a space fall flat. This may cause others to distrust or feel less close to me and there is often a sensation of being out-of-sync with the present. Somehow my life is jerky and not quite congruous to what is actually happening within and without me. Another way we can fall out of sync with this participation is to confuse feelings with thoughts, and this happens A LOT. My experience with myself and others when this confusion happens is that the moment takes on this kind of lukewarm sensation. It is like I can see or feel a depth yet it never quite gets accessed, and sometimes it is because it is scary and vulnerable to begin allowing this depth to bubble up into the moment.

The reason for me writing this post is not to pit thoughts against feelings or to make one better than the other, rather it is to highlight a distinction between the two, show when and how they can be confused or merged, and make a case for thoughts when being applied appropriately as having just as much power as feelings.

For me a feeling comes from somewhere inside my body, usually my chest but not always. There seems to be a movement or direction often associated with this feeling and sometimes it is response to a thought while other times it triggers a series of thoughts. Thoughts, in contrast, I experience as originating in my head somewhere. There is also a movement or direction behind my thoughts yet they definitely occupy a different space than my feelings. In some ways I experience it as feelings moving the moment within while thoughts are outside looking at the moment. Both are occurring right now yet there is this somewhat removed quality to thoughts as they seem to be able to project forward into the future and back into the past while feelings only happen right now.

Thoughts have their own power though. Every single invention on the planet, this computer I am using to type on for example, came about because of thoughts. This article emerged from a thought I had while meditating.

To relate both of these to my bigger inquiry into relationship, and in this case human relationship, where do the two become confused and where is each most useful, powerful and appropriate?

A way of distinguishing between thoughts and feelings and how they get confused is by paying attention to language. The way we phrase a sentence determines exactly whether we are referring to a thought or a feeling. Even though we often use the word ‘feel’ in a sentence many times it is a thought we are expressing. An easy way to see this is if there is no feeling word in a sentence or if there are any words between “feel” and the actual feeling then it’s not a feeling we are expressing, it is a thought.

For example:

“I feel like you are not listening to me”.

What is the feeling being expressed in this sentence? There is no explicit feeling, rather a feeling and a thought are being merged together. The effect of an expression like this is likely to cause conflict or confusion.

Teasing them apart we can express them separately:

“I think that you are not listening to me” and the feeling may be “I feel alone right now”.

The expression of either of these independently is already powerful, sometimes even more powerful than expressing them together as the negative space created by the absence of either the feeling or the thought allows room for and in some ways draws the other into an authentic interaction.

To combine them is something like this:

“I think that you are not listening to me and I feel alone”.

Be very very careful here in not creating blame for the other person by adding the all too frequently used “and this makes me feel”. Just because a thought and a feeling are happening at the same time and in response to a situation does not mean that the situation imposes those thoughts and feelings upon us. The situation is not responsible for us feeling and thinking in any particular way, it is our own unique make-up and history that create a context around what happens in our minds and hearts. In this example it may be a memory of an older sibling never listening and the alone feeling that would come up that is being triggered. It may also be that the other person is listening yet they are not looking, or any number of things.

As a quick aside, we started this example with an already reasonable level of awareness. To regress to show a considerably less elegant expression would be to say “you are not listening to me”. These kind of assertions hardly ever go anywhere other than conflict. Absolutely grow the skill in your life to avoid ever telling another person what their experience is, own your own!

Back to the refinement of expression we can also create an even bigger context by giving an insight into why our thought was formed:

“I notice you aren’t looking at me when I talk and this makes me think you aren’t listening. I feel alone over here”

See again that I left the feeling independent of the thought. The space between a feeling and a thought allows for exploration and co-discovery with another person.

This kind of sentence, while cumbersome, provides an elegance that gives all the pieces of the puzzle to another to know what is happening in our inner world. With that information they have a lot of room to respond without being reactively triggered. There is no blame, only a conveyance of three distinct pieces of information that may or may not be linked. By inviting another person into this with us we create a collective field and this is where things can get really juicy.

The three pieces of information:

  • noticing what is going on
  • the thought one is having about what is going on
  • the feeling that is occurring in the moment

This simple format is a powerful to communicate in a way that invites connection rather than creates conflict. Sometimes conflict will still arise and there is nothing wrong with that, conflict is powerful fuel and life would be a dull place without it. However, we can move towards conscious and productive conflict and away from the reactive and destructive conflict that many of us are all too familiar with.

When I started writing this piece I had something entirely different in mind yet as my fingers danced across the keys the words formed themselves and this is what arose.

The message, however, that I feel most inspired to bring is to reclaim thoughts as thoughts and recognise that it is entirely ok to have them, own them and express them. When I can express a thought, even one that is a negative judgment, and own it as what is happening inside of me while simultaneously being unattached to an outcome and open to discovering new… then I am able to bring my inner world out into deeper and more powerful connection with those around me.

Own your thoughts, whatever they are. Express them as thoughts, use the phrases “I think” or “I imagine” for any occasion you have a thought about something and are not entirely sure about the truth of the matter.

Use feelings to express and convey the flavours of emotion happening inside of you and to show that part of your inner world to another.

Be distinct and conscious in your language and watch how your interactions evolve!

I have noticed an influx of new subscribers recently and I’m immensely grateful and touched to and by all of you who have taken enough interest in my writing to want more. Welcome and thank you for subscribing!
It has me inspired to commit to writing something each week as I continue my explorations and musings into the human experience.
Currently I am immersed in the study of a Masters in Social Ecology, which essentially takes all the things I am most curious and passionate about and channels that into a formal educational qualification! How cool is that?
I am also working on my first ever book which is tentatively titled “The Foundations of Authentic Relating” which takes my interest for genuine, deep, personal and meaningful conversation and turns it into a manual of teachable skills to let all of our interactions become that much deeper and intimate. It is also a foundation for intersubjective practices, that allow us to enter into deep states of awareness with others, to build upon. I’m not sure when this book will be available, hopefully within the year.
Lastly I am working on a website to consolidate this blog, some of my other writings published in various places and to offer some of my services, including working on a podcast idea, to the world. I hope to be completed with this in the next few months.
For this week post I was replying an email to someone who had written to me off this blog and was pondering the question of the seeming conscious revolution that many people are talking about. The following are some of my ideas about what is occurring in the world today and how simply by reading this, thinking and talking about the possibilities that you are already participating in this new emergence.
Enjoy!

 

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Heya ______,
The two main things I see you are talking about is this urge of wanderers, particularly of a more spiritual bent I imagine, and their desire for being a part of community. And then in this next email about the spiritual revolution.
For quite a while now I have become fascinated by the concept of human development, and particularly higher stages of adult development. The theorists and researchers looking into this topic point to the fact that we don’t just stop developing once we reach adulthood, that actually the potential to keep on growing is there and in some ways mappable, in that it has certain attributes associated with them in different stages… just like childhood, teenager, etc have specific attributes associated with them.
Different researchers have looked into different sets of attributes such as values, meaning-making and ego development.
As we reach into higher levels of development we become more complex human beings and as such able to take on a greater and greater perspective. We may look at animals and think of them as benign and naturally loving creatures, or is it that they just don’t have the ability to make as significant an impact as we do? Do they really care about or even see this planet in any clear and personally subjective way?
As we develop our first notion, as a baby, is utterly ego-centric. There is no other, the entire universe exists simply to provide for me. As we grow we develop that ability to take another perspective. We see that “oh there is me, and there is you” I can start to imagine that my actions impact you. Then we begin to see that for a group, my family group or my tribe or my religion is the most important to the exclusion of others out there. Wars come from this stage of consciousness as people from a different belief are others, we can’t necessarily identify with their life or that they feel and think like we do… they are different and as such ignorant. And then we develop again and we begin to step into a world-centric capacity. We see that all life has value. This is a considerable path of development from the first cavemen and women! Many people on the world have not reached this place of being, they can’t quite see with this lens yet… it is happening though. More and more people are waking into this capacity to honour and love all life.
This whole spiritual revolution… firstly I’m not a fan of the term revolution as it implies on one hand revolving and going around in a circle, and on the other some kind of uprising against something external.
I like the idea of evolution better… and I’m starting to feel that all of this great awakening stuff, it’s just a momentum towards the next evolutionary step in humanity.
It’s happened before. We have been through a renaissance, an enlightenment, an industrialisation, democracy, etc. At each of these it didn’t just suddenly happen out of nowhere. Rather there were people talking about new ideas and possibilities, probably for a long time. Bit by bit people began living into these new ideas and eventually a tipping point occurred where at a larger collective this new way was adopted and integrated into the morphogenetic field of the human species.
I think this is what is happening now. We are moving towards something new, something post-post-modern, post-democracy, post-capitalism. We don’t quite know what it is yet, only that where we are now isn’t working anymore for a growing number of us and we are talking about it. Little by little this talk becomes action in thousands and thousands of tiny ways scattered around the globe. Eventually some kind of consolidation will emerge with some great thinker/leader (or more likely to be some kind of collaborative group I think) standing up and proposing, en masse, radical changes to the way things are and with a rush of excitement and disturbance we will enter a new age. It’s not the end of the story, and it’s not the end of all problems… likely it will solve a huge number of the problems we are currently facing (likely environmental) yet will create in and of it’s own a huge number of new and even more complex problems for the next generations to grow into.
As the famous quote by Einstein goes “it is impossible to solve problems by the same level of consciousness that created them” (or something like that). Literally we have to grow to solve the problems we create by growing.
And so this phenomena you see by your peers and our urges to be in sustainable and conscious community… I think this is a part of the imperative towards this new way of being. You are a part of and witnessing the outliers, those who are on the far end of the bell curve of human development and their natural desire reaching into, and dynamically co-creating, what comes next. We are unsatisfied with the consumeristic way of living, and we feel in our cells the destruction to our home, the natural ecosystem of this planet to which we are utterly interdependent upon. We know something needs to change and we want it, we crave it .
By having this conversation, by any of us having these conversations. By dreaming together into the possibilities we are moment-by precious-moment actively imagining it into existence. The morphogenetic field to which we are all part is laying down grooves that will eventually become solid reality. Thoughts and conversations have substance, they are subtle objects and they have a power to them.
I have hope because everything in our history points to change. We evolve, adapt and evolve again. Any species that ceases to falls by the wayside and the universe goes on. We aren’t the pinnacle of existence, yet as far as we know we are the first time for this to ever happen on this particular planet. Whether we continue to grow into our potential or not, life will go on and the great spirit will continue to evolve.
Much love,
Damien
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Posted by: Monkey | July 6, 2014

Our Relationship to Food

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Whether we are aware of it or not food pretty much dominates our lives. Regardless of how we eat; if it is for pleasure, for survival, for health or for optimising our performance, it is generally the primary relationship in our lives. Even if, say, you were to fast then it is still about the relationship to food, in this case by not eating.

It is our survival block. As physical beings not fixed to the ground and without photosynthetic capabilities our sustenance to fuel every aspect of living in this dimension comes from our food. It is powerful and predominant and has me looking at what is my own relationship to the food I eat?

I just finished reading a science-fiction novel. I thoroughly enjoy reading about future visions of our species, although in most cases I feel authors, while adequately creating projections into our technological advancements, rarely give enough thought to the mental, emotional and spiritual development of our species. More often than not these novels are full of humans thinking the way they do now with the same kind of drama and problems and pettiness that exist in our current age. With my own investigations into adult human development I don’t think that will be the case, these facets of our being will also evolve. Anyway that is a tangent to be explored another time and if I ever get around to writing my own science-fiction.

In this particular novel, and in many I have read, the food eaten by humans in the future is entirely synthesised. There is no agriculture and humans do not grow any of the food they eat, rather it is perfectly tailored to meet the complete nutritional requirements and then processed into various forms and flavours to simulate the food that has been a part of our heritage.

There is one scene even when the protagonist unknowingly consumes meat given by a woman he is dating that belongs to a ‘regressor’ type of group who are trying to revert to older ways of living on the land. The main character vomits profusely and then lashes out at the woman claiming she is insane by eating an animal. This is not in response to a vegetarian mentality, rather it is in response to the idea of eating naturally grown foods as utterly disgusting (perhaps like how more ‘primitive’ cultures as well as our ancestors would eat food that now appears utterly disgusting to us. Having lived in Asia for a while I’ve eaten all kinds of things that many people I imagine would feel uncomfortable with).

Reading this story had me thinking, as I said above, about our relationship to food. In some ways this kind of line makes sense. It’s easy, it takes away the sheer quantity of time and effort that we need to invest in our daily consumption of food and makes it as easy as removing it from a package and sticking it in something akin to a microwave. In some ways we are already headed in this direction as processed food often is so far removed from actual food, and so full of chemicals and additives that it is virtually synthetic as it is! What if we could have that same luxury, that same range of tastes and know that every meal we consumed provided us with exactly the nutrition we needed to maintain an optimal state of health?

It would certainly free up a lot of time and a lot of our advancements through the industrial ages have been in removing that time investment in regards to our food. Once our whole lives revolved around it. There was a time most of the entire day was wrapped up in the hunting and gathering of food which, as we congregated together in larger numbers, the growing, harvesting and preserving of foods. Now all we have to do is visit a supermarket once or twice a week, and cook. Or if we are eating for survival and taste only then just take it out of it’s packet and stick in oven or microwave.

So as a species we have all this extra time, and what have we done with it? While there have been massive advances in longevity, technology, etc there has also been a massive cost. There is a disconnect from this planet that sustains us. We think of things as man-made vs nature-made when the reality is that everything we use and consume has come from this planet. Everything.

There is a natural harmony that I find missing and with is a global pathology. Rampant illness exists, broad-scale destruction of the environment, depression, and an insane life based on the accumulation of stuff. We have more time than ever before yet we are also busier.

How much of this is within our relationship to food I wonder?

For me while I can see the sense in moving towards ease, eliminating all that time that revolves around food so that we can put it into… into… umm… the advancement of the human endeavour? Or whatever.

I feel a calling towards a more harmonious and integrated relationship to the basic needs of my life. Currently I don’t know where my food comes from, I don’t know who grew it, which soil it was in, or anything much about it at all.

I wish that to change.

The design science of Permaculture offers options, I think, to reintegrate… or from an integral perspective “transcend and include” our relationship to the basic necessities of life. With an appropriately designed house, suburb, city we can be in relationship with our food, water and waste without having to dedicate so much time to it. Perhaps we can also take a look at what we dedicate our time towards. Hours upon hours of work to get money that buys… food, shelter and stuff. How much of it do we truly need? How much of the ‘good’ life says that we have made it, that we have finally survived?

The truth is we can’t survive, not indefinitely. Death waits for us all. Completely and totally and absolutely.

And yet we are still functioning out of fear-based survival, from a perspective that says the more that I have the more that I am surviving. It is really quite insane.

What if we slowed down and took a deeper look at the relationships in our lives? That with family, friends, lovers, purpose and meaning and our survival needs like food.

To transcend and include means to go beyond where we were and yet to also include that which brought us here.

 

Posted by: Monkey | June 17, 2014

Some things can’t be fixed

I was attending the graduation speech at Naropa university in Boulder, Colorado. Pema Chodren was giving a speech to the graduates when she said something that struck me, hard.

“Some things can’t be fixed, they happened and can never be undone.”

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Stopping to consider this phrase had me take a deep breath and a painful peek at myself. How many things had occurred in my life that I wished hadn’t? And how much was I holding on to some possibility that I could find some way to reverse these things?

I discovered that there was a lot. That huge portions of my attention was oriented towards fixing aspects of myself and my past. Parts of my physical body, parts of my love history, parts of my life choices all wanted to be fixed and done over.

Now having returned from what was, to me, a turbulent journey in the USA where many of my inner demons took the opportunity to come out and play I am seeing that there are more things I am sitting with wishing that I had chosen some other direction and resulted in some other outcome than this one I am having now.

These decisions, these ‘wrong’ turns cannot be unmade. I cannot go back and choose again I am where I am because of the intentions behind the choices I made when I made them. This is karma. The repercussions of my intention behind my actions. My actions at the time, I can see now in retrospection, were reactive. An unconscious and, I think, unhealthy pattern crept in and took over and as a result I made choices that I do not think were aligned with my highest values. It’s a regular pattern and it has shown up repeatedly in my life in various forms and guises.

FlyOnShit2As I dwell on the feelings resulting from seeing that I made choices that I see now as being wrong turns, I notice several responses arise within me.

Firstly is a voice that finds reasons for why it’s ok, that justifies and placates the decisions by finding fault with the conditions around my choices. This is the voice that was loudest while making the choices and when I look more deeply I don’t trust this voice. Even though it hurts to acknowledge the anger and regret I feel knowing that I deviated from the way I most desire to walk, I am reluctant to soothe that away. By doing so keeps this voice alive, it gives it the fuel to continue to pop up and sabotage the show in it’s drama loving ways. Wallowing in the hurt, however, equally feeds this aspect as our unhealthy ego-mind loves suffering. It is drawn to unnecessary suffering like flies to shit and will nudge us in the direction for the creation of suffering. Repeatedly.

The next voice is the New Age and Spiritual voice that often say things like “everything happens for a reason” and “things worked out the way they were meant to”. I find that I am equally as suspicious as this voice. In some way this is also placating, it is an excuse for our unhealthy ego-mind to create as much havoc as it likes all in the guise of “it was meant to be”.

What if the truth is that things actually happened because I indulged the unconscious self. What if in those moments it is more that I aligned myself with an unhealthy set of values such as trying to be the person that I think will have me be attractive in a way I most desire? Rather than being moved by a higher intention to serve the evolution of consciousness on the planet. This intention doesn’t care how I am seen and to be aligned with an intention such as this would not create any repercussions of suffering.

So whenever I suffer it is that my intention has become self-serving and driven by an unhealthy ego. The choices made from this place will inevitably lead to a karmic outcome that is less than desirable. The solution here is to go in and find the patterns. Find the unhealthy voices and their intentions and remove them from our attention. As we shine the light of awareness into the dark places in our mind we see them and when we know where they are we can choose to move our attention towards that which truly serves our evolution. The unhealthy aspects of mind wither and fall away if we refuse to feed them.

Some things can’t be fixed yet if we are diligent, intentional and unwavering we can change the outcomes of tomorrow, today.

How committed are you to your own awakening? How ready are you to live a life free of suffering and drama?

For me I cannot see any other point of being alive.

spiritual-awakening

Posted by: Monkey | June 10, 2014

This Moment

I am about to write about something entirely not new. So many spiritual teachings point to the “now” as it, whatever it is.

Anyway…

I just returned to my humble mountain sanctuary in Australia after several turbulent and expansive months abroad.

The most striking thing on returning is how easily and fluidly I dropped into the way I am here, as if I never left.

There is nothing outwardly unusual about this, I imagine it’s a pretty common occurrence for travellers to return and re-enter their lives in a normal way. Having travelled a lot, this time was slightly different in the ease in which I returned and the pangs I thought might occur were not present… however this is not the point I am coming to.

What struck me the most was how seamlessly that entire experience, 5 months of being in another country, became a memory. In a single moment it became nothing more than some faint recollection of what happened and the only residue was the impact on how my subjective experience is in the world in this moment. I’ve noticed in myself that I spend less and less time in past or future as such this abrupt transition, that is easily overlooked in the seeming continuance of a day-to-day experience lived out in a somewhat familiar routine, hit me.

This moment is it.

Literally every single experience I have instantly becomes the past the moment I have it.

I think it’s easy to not really see and feel this as, like I said above, often our lives have a familiar flow to them that allows us to merge with some kind of continuance of our experience. It seems as if life is happening one moment after the other in a seamless unfolding.

But what if it’s not quite like that?

What if, like a movie, it’s actually a series of frames each frame being completely individual and isolated from the others. Yet when put into smooth motion these frames blend together to create an animated and linear progression that looks as if there is no break whatsoever.

Regardless of the actual mechanism what I find myself left with is that this moment, the very one happening right now, is the only moment I have. I may be able to fool myself by the smooth routines of my daily life or by the continued identification with who I think I am yet if I slow down enough to catch it there is only this. And so what point for drama? What point for yearning for some experience not yet arrived or regret about some experience now past?

If I can step into this moment, to the best I am capable, what happens? I can feel and experience and be with the textures of life. There is so much happening both inside and outside right now. I can have longing for something not here, yet what point to fixate on it as a discomfort… rather to experience the longing here in this moment, and it becomes pleasurable. It is what is alive right now.

And so the only thing to do really is to live into this moment in the best way I can and in a way that aligns with my highest values in constant and forever deepening for this moment. And this moment. And this one. And this one too.

 

There hope I blew your minds with some wholly original content.

Much love!

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