Giving Your Future Self Gifts

January 2, 2017 § 6 Comments

christian-schole-twin-heart, empathy, self-love, self-care artwork[“Twin Heart” by Christian Schloe]

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”  ~Audre Lorde

A great many New Year’s resolutions revolve around exercising self-discipline, which may in the moment yield less pleasure, but will create a better outcome in the future.

Yet, 25% of New Year’s Resolutions are broken within the first week, and research at the University of Scranton suggests that only 8 % of people achieve their annual vows of self-improvement.

Recent research reveals that the part of the brain responsible for self-control is the same area that allows us to feel empathy.

Tigran Tsitoghdzyan, art, self-reflection, collage, portrait photography, mirror LLL [“Mirror LLL” by Tigran Tsitoghdzyan]

 The human brain perceives the future self as if it were a stranger.

Tests reveal that when we think about ourselves in the present, parts of our prefrontal cortex light up that remain dim when we think about a stranger—or try to imagine our future self.

“Empathy depends on your ability to overcome your own perspective, appreciate someone else’s point of view, and step into their shoes,” remarks science writer Ed Yong.

“Self-control is essentially the same skill, except that those other shoes belong to your future self—a removed and hypothetical entity who might as well be a different person.” (“Self-Control Is Just Empathy For Your Future Self.”)

1-reflection-photography-by-giulia-marangoni-1, http://webneel.com/25-stunning-reflection-photography-examples-and-tips-beginners

The English word empathy finds its root in the Ancient Greek pathos,” which means “passion” or “suffering.”

In the early 20th century, German philosopher, Robert Vischer, adapted the word to create the German term Einfühlung—literally “feeling into”—which was then translated into English as empathy, defined as “the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other being’s frame of reference.”

ashes to snow, elephant, gregory colbert, empathy art[From Gregory Colbert “Ashes & Snow” exhibition.]

Research has uncovered the existence of “mirror neurons,” which react to emotions expressed by others and then reproduce them.

This is why we get caught up in the emotion of art & performance, as well as the reason we feel a twinge of discomfort when we witness someone else experiencing pain.

Paul Apal’kin http://magazine.clickalps.com/fotografare-i-riflessi-fotografie-di-riflessi/#gallery reflection, art, black and white photography, two selves [Paul Apal’kin]

Some people—a case notably examined on the podcast “Invisibilia”-–have an overactive level of empathy, known as mirror-touch synesthesia, wherein they experience a debilitating level of physical empathy for any reaction witnessed in others.

“The capacity for empathy seems to be innate,”relates Jane E. Brodey, “and is evident even in other species — the adult elephant that tried to rescue a baby rhino stuck in the mud despite being charged by its mother, as recounted in “When Elephants Weep.”(“Empathy is Natural, But Nurturing it Helps.”) 

http://madebyrona.deviantart.com/, animals helping other animals, elephant rescuring kitten, compassion, empathy[Rona Helvrich]

Empathy is a skill that can be learned & developed. The more we practice imagining what it feels like to be in another person’s circumstance, the better we become at doing it—and at giving our future self gifts, not grief.

“Think of [it] as a kind of temporal selflessness,” notes Ed Yong. “It’s Present You taking a hit to help out Future You.”

http://jadoresimone.tumblr.com/image/133579951670

But for all the buzz empathy is getting these days, it’s possible that its sister state, compassion, is the more constructive practice to cultivate.

Buddhist Monk & French writer, Matthieu Ricard-–known as “world’s happiest man”—reflects that while empathy can lead to emotional burnout, the mood of compassion for another being is nourishing, energizing & empowering.

worlds happiest man, mathieu richard, red monk robe, http://www.gq.com/story/happiest-man-in-the-world-matthieu-ricard[“The World’s Happiest Man Wishes You Wouldn’t Call Him That.’]

The French monk details:

The cerebral networks activated by meditation on compassion were very different from those linked to empathy. In the previous studies, people who were not trained in meditation observed a person who was seated near the scanner and received painful electric shocks in the hand. These researchers noted that a part of the brain associated with pain is activated in subjects who observe someone suffering. They suffer when they see another’s suffering.

“When I engaged in meditation on altruistic love and compassion, [the researchers] noted that the network linked to negative emotions and distress was not activated, while certain cerebral areas traditionally associated with positive emotions, with the feeling of affiliation and maternal love, for instance, were.” (From Matthieu Ricard’s book, Altrusim: The Power of Compassion To Change Yourself & The World.”)  

Big sister comforts and embraces her little brother to alleviate fears and anxieties

Empathy fatigue can breed avoidance of the distressing emotions that can accompany resonating with another’s pain, but cultivating a focus on compassion is affirming & fortifying.

“When altruistic love encounters suffering it manifests as compassion,” Ricard tells us. “This transformation is triggered by empathy, which alerts us to the fact that the other is suffering. One may say that when altruistic love passes through the prism of empathy, it becomes compassion.”

French psychologist Christophe Andre writes, “We need the gentleness and the strength of compassion. The more lucid we are about the world, the more we accept seeing it as it really is, the easier it is to accept that we cannot face all the suffering that is encountered in the course of our lives unless we have this strength and this gentleness.”

We can apply this same philosophy to those “strangers” of our future selves.

christian schloe, two selves art[Christian Shloe]

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Under Pressure: Refining The Diamond in 2017

December 16, 2016 § 14 Comments

diamond, coal art http://www.honorgracecelebrate.com/2013/02/16/family-coal-or-diamonds/

“Strong currents continue to move through our collective fields. It’s easy to feel tossed around and swept up, but these are the tides of the times, and we are learning to become better swimmers so we can reach new shores.” ~ Mystic Mamma

*Comments on this post are automatically entered into an end-of-year raffle.

Coal needs pressure to become a diamond. The first stage of alchemy, called Calcination, involves burning off impurities under the heat of the flame.

We are in such a pressure cooker right now, collectively, as citizens of planet Earth. But we can use the heat & pressure alchemically, to crystallize our consciousness. Which will in turn give us more to offer the world in its upheaval.

Calcination stage. "Athanor of the Mind" -- "a curious drawing form the eighteenth century that presages the methods of modern psychotherapy using an alchemical furnace instead of a psychoanalyst." Site credit: www.alchemylab.com/directory[18th century alchemical drawing.]

In 2016 we lost a host of archetypal cultural icons—David Bowie, Prince & Leonard Cohen, to name a few.

Bowie & Prince in particular represented wild daring & freedom, revolution & authenticity.

david-bowie-1973 starman alien http://nerdfighteria.vanillaforums.com/discussion/3726/david-bowie-ziggy-stardust-the-spiders-from-mars

From a mythological standpoint, all three musicians represent the archetype of The Bard.  the bard, http://www.geeksundergrace.com/gaming/top-5-bards-gaming/

This means they occupied the role of the sacred artisan-musician, vision-bringers & human vessels of divine inspiration. A sphere similar in our cultural iconography to a shaman in a tribal scenario—particularly Bowie fits this archetype, bringing in the idea of other worlds & magical transformations.

Both Prince & Bowie also harken back to the Anrodgyne in alchemy, a stage  of spiritual integration wherein the inner masculine & inner feminine aspects unite, creating a whole & balanced human, symbolically represented by a hermaphroditic figure.

alchemical-androgyny http://projectavalon.net/forum4/showthread.php?68461-Androgyny-Alchemy-and-Evolution

The respective deaths of these iconic figures, which seemed to mark the end of an era, coincided with a year of mounting grief and tension in America—in particular, over equality & racial issues.

According to the Washington Post, this year “unarmed black Americans were five times as likely as unarmed white Americans to be shot and killed by a police officer.”

One example of the pattern we are seeing can be glimpsed in the case of Terence Crutcher. “The 40-year-old was shot and killed by police on Friday after officers saw his stalled SUV in the middle of the road. Initially, the police department said Crutcher had not followed orders to put his hands up. The released videos, however, show Crutcher walking toward his car with his hands in the air.”(Source.)

tears, suffering in the world, art http://www.femitaiwo.com/a-word-for-the-sufferer/

The rising division between people who support the #blacklivesmatter movement and reactionary movements like #bluelivesmatter & #alllivesmatter—which don’t claim a white supremacist alliance, but whose emphasis suggests it to many on the other side—further solidified the national divide, which was then exploited for campaign momentum by Donald Trump in his efforts to procure the seat of president.

In the debates, Trump advocated for racial profiling and “stop and frisk” methods, which have been deemed unconstitutional. He blamed undocumented immigrants for leaching the system & endangering Americans. And, last month, despite having lost the popular vote by a landslide, he won the electoral college vote and became America’s next commander in chief, giving way to a rising sense of crisis for a huge swath of Americans, who now feel unsafe in their own country.

Trump’s decisions, like picking a climate change skeptic with close ties to Big Oil to head the National Department of Energy have environmentally conscious Americans terrified as well.

earth from space http://pics-about-space.com/planet-earth-art?p=1

Internationally, the world has been watching the “complete meltdown of humanity” in the devastated Syrian city of Aleppo—either unable or unwilling to do much besides hand-wringing. The conflict may be technically over, but now what remains of the ancient city faces a grim, uncertain future.

At home in America, the protests in Standing Rock have represented an ongoing crisis, causing much angst as we witness tribal people attempting, once again, to defend their land in the face of an abusive & ruthless government takeover.

“For months, opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline have been expressing fears that it would affect local drinking water, because it was to be built under the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation—the primary water source of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

“Last week, the US Department of the Army announced that it would not approve the crossing of the pipeline under the Missouri River. The massive nearby spill —which was discovered on the same day that the Dakota Access Pipeline construction permit was denied —might have just proved the protesters’ point.”

defend-the-sacred-edit http://www.risingupwithsonali.com/more-activists-join-oceti-sakowin-in-north-dakota-to-fight-pipeline/

Indigenous peoples have long considered themselves custodians of the Earth.

This stand off between Big Oil and the Oceti Sakowin people represents the two forces currently in battle on our planet: systems of control versus the people, separation versus unity, violence versus peace, corporations versus the Earth, ego versus soul.

Christian Schloe[Christian Schloe]

So, how do we survive the pressure cooker? By using it as a purifying force that will expedite the refinement of our own consciousness.  Allow it to knock out complacency and revive your purpose.

Astrologist Cathy Pagano details that the configuration of Pluto in Capricorn offers each of us a way to engage in the transformation of the culture. Forcing us to ask ourselves what aspects of the collective mindset no longer serve the future of humanity. What parts should be expanded upon?

“We can begin to create this possible future with our art and our actions. Our actions, like what happened at Standing Rock with the Water Protectors, now will have more affect since we’ll do it as a group (very Aquarian of us). We show our Aries courage in standing up to the wrong use of power, to the stupidity of self-destruction. Life is what matters.

“Uranus is energizing our pioneering spirit again, though this time let’s seek the unknown for the good of all, rather than personal aggrandizement.

“When we return the Arts to their archetypal purpose—to teach, to heal, to create, to enliven, to imagine, to share, to learn—they will lead the revolution just as John Lennon and the Beatles opened up the world to a new paradigm. (December 8th-RIP John.) Artists can bring the message home to the heart. If we play our parts in truth, it will be a peaceful revolution.”

 

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Leave a comment for a chance at winning a “Tao Te Ching” pocket edition! (Most wisdom in one book you’ll ever find, best translation, too, by Stephen Mitchell.) The raffle will be held on January 1st 2017. Tell me a bit about how your year went, or your dreams & goals for 2017—or what subjects you would like to see me write more about.

I promise I won’t keep posting about politics, I know we’re getting it from all sides right now. (I might have to sometimes, as conscience demands, but I know that Parallax has traditionally been a respite from all of that, and I intend to keep the majority of posts that way). It just seemed like it had to be addressed. And it’s become a tradition here at Parallax to create a “year in review” raffle post at the end of each calendar year, so I had to revisit that caustic cocktail one last time, but 2017 will see a return to our favorite Parallax themes:

What is the nature of reality and what is humanity’s role within the cosmos? What are the latest scientific breakthroughs in understanding consciousness? How to be a visionary in a cookie cutter world. Why your genius lies in your wounds, and how to reclaim that power. How to live a mindful life & embrace your authenticity...My intention is to make Parallax your haven of thoughtfulness in a world gone mad!

May 2017 be the year of lived dreams for each & every one of you!

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This Is Not A Dress Rehearsal

December 3, 2016 § 4 Comments

001-martha-graham-theredlist

“In Buddhist practice we say congratulations because now is the time we have been practicing for. No more just practicing the dance. We must now dance. And this is not a dress rehearsal.” ~ Zenju Earthlyn Manual

There is one good thing about the Trump presidency as far as I can tell—it has, for many, eradicated political complacency.  For the 75 % of people who did not vote for Trump (nearly half of Americans didn’t vote—thanks guys!) we no longer feel we have the luxury to let our politics go on without us.

black and white photography, political art, http://hyperallergic.com/311570/an-art-historical-perspective-on-the-baton-rouge-protest-photo-that-went-viral/ black lives matter[Protestor Ieshia Evans, photo by Jonathan Bachman]

People in power and policies are shifting in American government.

Trump has appointed propaganda machine Brietbart news executive Steve Bannon to be his chief media strategist, a man who thinks “Darkness is good. Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power,” (Bannon, in a recent interview to the Hollywood Reporter.)

ink bleed, watercolor bleed http://creativedojo.net/ink-fx-studio-rodypolis-freebies/

This it is a time of reckoning for Americans.

For those who did not vote to put Trump into office, it is time to decide who we want to be politically and personally. For many who will be directly affected—or whose community will be directly affected, or whose values will be directly challenged—by these policy changes, the personal has become the political. As, indeed, it seems destined to do.

This is equally true for those who voted for Trump. It is your responsibility to watch the chess moves of the man you put into office and make sure he does not exploit your hopes for ill.

In both cases, we must ask ourselves: what do we stand for? And accept no substitute.

political art, black and white photography http://www.decorecomgigi.com/2015/01/sonhos-e-devaneios.html

Newscaster Dan Rather recently released a rousing statement to this affect:

“Now is a time when none of us can afford to remain seated or silent. We must all stand up to be counted.

History will demand to know which side were you on. This is not a question of politics or party or even policy. This is a question about the very fundamentals of our beautiful experiment in a pluralistic democracy ruled by law.

“When I see neo-Nazis raise their hands in terrifying solute, in public, in our nation’s capital, I shudder in horror. When I see that action mildly rebuked by a boilerplate statement from the President-elect whom these bigots have praised, the anger in me grows. And when I see some in a pliant press turn that mild statement into what they call a denunciation I cannot hold back any longer….”

black and white racial unity photography http://www.astucesdefilles.com/2014/12/18/14-idees-de-photos-geniales-a-faire-en-couple/

Rather points out that the “self-evident truths” of equality & unalienable rights are not self-replicating. It is up to each new generation to renew the vows.

“We have survived through bloody spasms of a Civil War and a Civil Rights Movement to extend more of these rights to more of our citizens, ” continues Rather. “But the direction of our ship of state has not always been one of progress. We interned Japanese Americans, Red Baited during the McCarthy era, and more. I feel the rip tide of regression once again swelling under my feet. But I intend to remain standing.

“This is not about tax policy, health care, or education—even though all those and more are so important. This is about racism, bigotry, intimidation and the specter of corruption. But as I stand I do not despair, because I believe the vast majority of Americans stand with me….”

connection[artist & source unknown]

I believe in human dignity, equality & progress. To me, progress first and foremost means caring for the ailing planet, our only home within the void of space, and for each other—which means not dismissing the raised voices of the disenfranchised as products of “victim culture,” as Bannon has and the alt-right does.

That is damn easy to say when you haven’t walked a mile in another person’s shoes, suffering the indignity of constant low grade, often unconscious, prejudice. Where the default space is a white space.

Slogans like “make America great again” may sound good to white men, for whom the 50s was a fine time to be a man, but it sounds like hell to most black people, who were still fighting segregation and legal discrimination, and to many women, who were still deeply oppressed by gender expectations and sexism. That America was not great for a large swath of Americans.

civil rights, political art, black and white photography, politics, black lives matter

There are already some undeniable parallels between  Trump’s rise to power and the atmosphere of early Nazi Germany, already some alarming developments which hark back to the witch hunting of the McCarthy era. A Professor Watch List site, for instance, has been launched by a conservative youth group called Turning Point—where professors with a liberal bias are listed. Presumably & eerily, to be “watched”—to what end remains unspecified.

It’s true, the majority of teachers are generally more politically liberal. But trying to control individuals through intimidation is not the answer. And we can’t discard the connection between higher education & progressive values—clearly, one begets the other. It’s not some mass conspiracy to plant liberal fingers into the minds of the young. It’s the personality type that is attracted to education positions.

If conservatives want more conservative teachers, they need to rally for more conservatives to apply for teaching jobs—not exert witch hunt tactics, intimidation and thought control over existing teachers.

“In the United States in late 2016, as the president-elect’s surrogates cite Japanese internment as a ‘precedent’ for what may come, any ‘watch list’ of any sort is worrying. One that targets outspoken intellectuals with views that oppose a mercurial future president who spent the weekend tweeting petulantly at the cast of a Broadway play? Abjectly terrifying.”

you are being watched art http://tonikor.deviantart.com/art/YOU-ARE-BEING-WATCHED-367369825

“If we are not careful,” notes professor George Yancey, “a watchlist like this can have the impact of a theoretical prison designed to create a form of self-censorship among those imprisoned. The list is not simply designed to get others to spy on us, to out us, but to install forms of psychological self-policing to eliminate thoughts, pedagogical approaches and theoretical orientations that it defines as subversive.

“I am now ‘un-American’ because of my ideas, my desires and passion to undo injustice where I see it, my engagement in a form of pedagogy that can cause my students to become angry or resistant in their newfound awareness of the magnitude of suffering that exists in the world. Yet I reject this marking. I refuse to be philosophically and pedagogically adjusted.”

mark riboud politcal art https://photobabe142.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/photojournalism-is-forever-political-art/[Mark Riboud]

Yancey continues: “I refuse to be silent about forms of militarism in which innocent civilians are murdered in the name of ‘democracy.’ I refuse to remain silent when it comes to acknowledging the existential and psychic dread and chaos experienced by those who are targets of xenophobia and homophobia.

“I refuse to remain silent when it comes to transgender women and men who are beaten to death by those who refuse to create conditions of hospitality…where unarmed black bodies are shot dead by the state and its proxies, where those with disabilities are mocked and still rendered ‘monstrous,’ and where the earth suffers because some of us refuse to hear its suffering, where my ideas are marked as ‘un-American,’ and apparently ‘dangerous.'”

martha graham, lamentation[Martha Graham, “Lamentation”]

He concludes: “If it is dangerous to teach my students to love their neighbors, to think and rethink constructively and ethically about who their neighbors are, and how they have been taught to see themselves as disconnected… then, yes, I am dangerous, and what I teach is dangerous.”

This is not a time to be silenced or to feel disempowered, but rather to seize our power and raise our voices; not just to stand up for what we believe in but to definite what that is with depth, precision and love.

claim power, savannah spirit political art activism black and white photography[Savannah Spirit]

Should you choose to accept, I encourage all readers—whatever party you identify with—to create a personal manifesto detailing your values. And I will do the same. After drafting, I encourage you to list them in order of priority. From your top three values, I invite you to pick one issue to be your cause for 2017, something you dedicate concrete energy and actions towards.

Let this new era of uncertainty be a time that forces our own values into stark relief—let it forge us in the fire, concentrating and refining who we are and what we stand for. We need to take part in this shift in America, and influence its direction in whatever way we we can towards what we believe is right—not just with a shared Facebook post, but with concrete action.

The pendulum is always swinging—that is part of the dance, part of progress and a working democracy. It’s up to us to make sure it swings responsibly. And if it doesn’t, to speak up. This is not a dress rehearsal.

martha graham http://yearofwomen.tumblr.com/post/118947893106/may-14-martha-graham-known-as-the-mother-of

“When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” ~ John F. Kennedy
 
 “My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.” ~ Teresa Pinkola Estes

 

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Surviving The Collective Exorcism

October 16, 2016 § 10 Comments

“Politics is the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.”

~ John Kenneth Galbraith

“We try to fix the outside so much, but our control of the outer world is limited, temporary, and often, illusory…achieving durable happiness as a way of being is a skill. It requires sustained effort in training the mind and developing a set of human qualities, such as inner peace, mindfulness, and altruistic love.”

~ Matthieu Ricard

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

On top of an already fraught, fearful & divided world, the approaching presidential election of 2016 has ramped up feelings of rage, alienation & despair across America.

In part, because social issues—race relations & sexual politics—are at the forefront of the debates between Clinton & Trump, this election season has invoked a truly personal, emotional response in us.

black pain, african american tear, oppression art[Detail from K.A Williams (aka “WAK”) “The Worst Sight.”]

The advent of smartphones has given us the means to monitor our monitors, and footage of police abuse of power against black male bodies surfaces constantly, raising pleas for social justice to a fever pitch.

While many are listening to these raised voices of protest, large swaths of the conservative demographic are reacting with mistrust and shutting down. And so the #blacklivesmatter movement gives way to responses of #allivesmatter and #bluelives (meaning officers) matter.

us vs them, teams, war, chess

Yes. We all matter. That is the point of the “black lives matter” hashtag—a reminder that a swath of our “all” is struggling and needs attention.

As if this issue weren’t fraught enough, it has become politicized. The left, being the party of social progress, has taken up this and other causes, attempting to “explain it” to the right; which has largely been perceived by conservatives as a buzzword-fueled lecture and accusation.

Although it may be difficult to understand why anyone with such superior social power would deign to listen to the struggling underdog, this reaction itself is framed in a certain view with specific assumptions. The people who aren’t hearing the message behind #blacklivesmatter, for instance, aren’t filtering it through the same set of reference points. The right perceives itself as the underdog under attack.

The “us” vs. “them” mentality is in full effect, raging across America like a wild fire. We seem to be in a Chinese Finger Cuff situation—the harder we pull, the more stuck we become; if the goal is ultimately peace and human unity. Which, come on, if we are to survive as a nation and a species, it logically has to be.

political art(source.)

One important fact to remember is that the “us” vs. “them” mentality is literally hardwired into our neurology; the second we identify with a certain group, it has been proven in experiment after experiment that the brain begins filtering facts to skew the data towards the perceived “us.”

“Our tendency toward partisanship is likely the result of evolution—forming groups is how prehistoric humans survived,” remarks Brian Resnic (“How Politics Breaks Our Brains.”) “That’s helpful when trying to master an unforgiving environment with Stone Age technology. It’s less so when trying to foster a functional democracy.”

us vs them, we, unity

“Studies have shown,” adds Steven Handel, “that people tend to favor a group bias even when they are categorized on relatively meaningless distinctions, for example: eye color, what kind of paintings they like, or even the flip of a coin.

This tells us that we can potentially separate ourselves from a certain group of people on any random and arbitrary characteristic. Therefore, everyone is susceptible to be a perpetrator and/or victims of social prejudice and ostracism.” (“The Us Vs. Them Mentality.”)

us vs them, dr. seuss

Although it feels like things are getting worse, this very well may be a time of national exorcism; the rock we didn’t want to look under has been overturned and we are staring directly at its maggoty underside. At least now we are facing it directly; the dank hidden pocket of darkness is being aired. And we are looking at it, talking about it.

A hundred years ago, only white men could vote in America. Today we have a black president and a female candidate. We have progressed! But we are still healing from historically recent wounds. Sociological blindspots, unconscious prejudice, glass ceilings and abuse of power still remain as a result of that past. The specters of oppression can not be banished so easily or quickly.

anxiety_by_vera_chimera-d57e6fw[“Anxiety” by Vera Chimera] 

With emotions running high and so much dissonance in the air, empaths and highly sensitive people are particularly vulnerable to depression & anxiety—it is essential that we combat this by practicing steady, systematic, daily routines of self-care. We must stoke our own light in order to better illuminate this darkness.

As we all navigate these stormy times of controversy, misunderstanding, anger, alienation and above all the tendency to break off into warring factions, let us try to outsmart our biology.

When politics breaks our brains, let us turn to the heart. For our goal logically must be harmonious co-existence, and we are united by more than divides us.

rainbow hand

 

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Unveiling The Mysterious Higher Self

September 3, 2016 § 6 Comments

chiffon, sheer figure, mysterious

“Every man is a divinity in disguise, a god playing the fool.”  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The Higher Self is whispering to you softly in the silence between your thoughts.” ~ Deepak Chopra

“Through meditation, the Higher Self is seen.” ~ Bhagavad Gita

In a time when depression & anxiety have become an international epidemic, we can no longer afford to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater—when we dismiss the idea that humanity has divine connections simply because religious dogma has made a mess of the sacred, we do just this.

We can observe that wherever great power exists, corruption will feed.

In this way we can deduce that the seed in the heart of all religious movements—the basic idea of a presence within us that transcends flesh & connects us with a vaster power—may be just such a smeared truth. I invite you to consider, as a thought experiment, that this is the case.

debra shaw, black woman, magical, http://giokathleen.blogspot.com/2012/01/debra-shaw.html[Debra Shaw]

In rejecting the idea that we are more than we appear, we cut our power off at the roots before even exploring its possibility. It should be considered logically suspicious that what has potential to be our greatest power has been routinely corrupted from the beginning of time.

Modern thinking embraces logic as a hallmark of reason, it is therefore only reasonable to consider all possibilities when considering something as elusive, mysterious and important as our place within the universe.

portal

While the the idea of a higher self has been revived in New Age literature, it is an ancient concept, dating back to the oldest sacred texts of India, The Vedas, a body of insights written by various sages after long periods of meditation between 1700-1100 BC.

The Vedas describe The Atman as the inner self or the soul, which is the true self or essence of an individual, beyond identification with form. In order to attain liberation, a human being must acquire self-knowledge (atma jnana), which is to realize that one’s true self (Ātman) is identical with the transcendent self Brahman.

By Ignacio Torres, www.ignacio-torres.com/projects/stellar/[Stellar Series by Ignacio Torres]

As pioneering thinker Terence McKenna said, “You have to take seriously the notion that understanding the universe is your responsibility, because the only understanding of the universe that will be useful to you is your own understanding.”

But you don’t have to meditate for hundreds of hours to touch this transcendent aspect of self, just block off five-to-ten minutes a day, preferably before you start your day, and go inward. As a thought experiment, open your mind to the grand untapped majesty that might await you, and investigate!

Germany by Aneta Ivanova[Germany  series by Aneta Ivanova]

What comes up when you focus your attention on connecting with the higher self? I’m not talking about the doubts and fears—push those aside, it’s only a thought experiment. I’m talking about: what colors? What images or words? What feelings?

Here’s an exercise. Think of a time when you felt most yourself, most alive and vibrant.  Hone in on that feeling and stoke it like a fire with your attention. Then, see what comes up. The imagination is the language of the subconscious, which is the gateway to the higher self. Play, explore.

rainbow prism, crystal sparkling

It is my experience that the better our relationship with our true selves is, the better we feel and the more we excel at what we do. So it is worth asking what your true self wants. And listening. It has rich gifts to share.

For me, discovering and forging a relationship with my higher self involved many years of trial and error, as well as an intensive year in shamanic psychotherapy, where I worked with a trained guide to re-integrate my fragmented self.

(*To work with this model yourself, check out my post: “Soul Retrieval. “ If you have trouble connecting to your higher aspect, try doing this exercise a few times to clear the psychic debris.)

reflection, hand touching hand, hand touching reflection

When I am aligned with the aspect of myself that I would call my true self or higher self, I make self-caring choices. There is a tenderness, a sweetness, a reverence at the heart of everything I do. I am kinder to others, I receive insights and visions and creative ideas…the world opens up.

My day is vastly improved if I give myself just a few minutes in the morning to tune in with my higher aspect and seek its guidance. To start the day out in this manner is a practice of many I have known and respected, and I highly recommend it. People have busy lives—do it in the bathroom if you have to. But connect, feel into this possibility, receive its impressions. There is a wealth of inspiration and insight waiting.

The conditioned mind, the mind society has groomed, has been trained into docile disconnection. The systems of control don’t want you to be empowered. But there are answers and insights waiting beyond the conditioned mind. The higher self holds the key.

cosmic human gif

 

 

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Patterns & Portals: Exploring The Fabric of Reality

August 5, 2016 § 8 Comments

new_flower_of_life_by_capstoned-d4rhwsk

“Plato said God geometrizes continually.” ~ Plutarch 

Sacred geometry patterns have been associated with mystical schools of thought for time immemorial, from the medicine wheels of North American tribal cultures to the sand mandalas of Tibetan Buddhism. But why?

At the forefront of this question is the idea that, because we see mathematical formulas & recurring geometric patterns in nature, math must be the highest form of expression—as mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss said, echoing Plutarch & Plato before him: “God arithmetizes.”

golden ratio, sacred geomtery in nature, sunflower

But many of today’s meditation practitioners & psychonauts are discovering a far more intimate connection to these patterns: through developing third eye perception, or spiritual/energetic sight, we are, many of us, beginning to visually perceive these sacred geometry patterns emerging from reality itself. (See the comments section of  Parallax’s “The Art of Seeing: Third Eye Perception & The Mystical Gaze,” for a plethora of reported anecdotal experiences.)

Psychedelics, such as ayahuasca, magic mushrooms & LSD, are also popular portals into viewing these sacred designs—though they are only brief glimpses into states which meditation can achieve in a more sustainable manner.

The implications of so many people perceiving these patterns—not just reading about them, but experiencing them directly—are profound. In a recent visionary journey with a friend we both came to the conclusion that existence is a constantly recycling infinity, much like the shape known as a torus.

torus, giff Source

This insight was accompanied by a tremendous sense of safety and security, because there was no falling through the cracks in this model of reality: everything remained part of the moving whole, and energy was never destroyed—the endless cycle spoken about in ancient texts, particularly of Eastern origin.

Viewed from above, a torus becomes a mandala, which is particularly interesting when we contemplate how long mandalas have been around, and how the modeling of the three dimensional torus is a relatively new construct.

torus from above, yantra, mandala Source

To those of us seeing through the spiritual eye, it appears not only that we each have a personal vortex of this nature within our own skulls—the third eye—but also that the greater fabric of reality is composed of these patterns. The more we cultivate our third eye perception, the more we will see these patterns emerging. Staring at the sky on a clear night or during a day with no clouds can be a great place to begin seeing these patterns emerge.

Our culture doesn’t encourage skywatching, because it has forgotten the importance of cultivating Being—conspiracy theorists might say this is no coincidence. But that is where we seekers must pave our own paths and rekindle the ancient truth that stillness & contemplation are essential for understanding, and hence progress.

Meditation, of course, is a major gateway into starting to perceive this phenomena—particularly third eye based meditations. (Although not specifically third eye based, Headspace offers a fantastic free guided meditation app that will get you comfortable with the basics.)

third eye meditation visionary artSource

So how does it all come together? What does it mean? For one, it means we are living in an energetic matrix, that we ourselves are composed of these fine patterns, which suggests a larger coherence & beauty underpinning existence than might meet the physical eye.

It would appear that the sacred mandalas repeated throughout history are intended as portals to initiate awakening to this awareness.

As the veil begins to lift, we see that we are more beautiful than we had imagined, that life is more full of the potential for joy than we may have conceived. And that this beauty and joy is already ours in its potential. It is not something that we can buy. It is something that we are. All that we need to do is access this untapped state within.

self-love, roses blooming inside silhouette, double exposure, flowers“Jade Rose” By Sara K. Byrne

As we become more aligned with these patterns of existence, we begin to receive more personal revelations and connect more dots—find more pieces to the puzzle. Our instinct becomes sharper…and our anxiety begins to recede. Because the more we understand about the nature of existence, the more we see that, from an ontological standpoint, there is nothing to fear.

We see that, while there are many atrocities perpetuated by man, the universe itself is always waiting, within stillness, to lead us home back to ourselves, to a place of peace and eternal unfolding.

child painting a flower of life

When I experienced this state of satori recently on my vision quest, I was particularly aware of one thread running throughout all of my visions: a sense of deep sacredness & reverence for life, which permeated all of existence. A feeling of sublime love was central to the feeling, and I understood why so many great spiritual thinkers return to the idea that Love is at the center of everything.

The more aware we become of our own being, the more tenderness & compassion we develop towards ourselves. The more tenderness & compassion we develop for ourselves, the more kindness we are able cultivate towards others—the more rippling outward effects we create, which is ultimately the road to world peace.

SacredContract matrix visionary art“Sacred Contract” by Robby Donaghey

At the conclusion of our vision quest, my friend voiced that she would never feel purposeless again, because she had tasted this state of intoxicating unity & bliss within her own Being. “It’s simple,” she said. “The purpose is to attain this frequency as much as possible, and to cultivate it wherever & however possible.”

This was music to my ears, because I have come to exactly the same conclusion, and it has served me well.

This is the higher consciousness we have been striving to bring forth.

Robby Donaghey "awakening", sacred art, visionary art, stars, matrix, meditation, sacred geometry“Awakening,” by Robby Donaghey

“There is nothing to seek and find, for there is nothing lost. Relax and watch the ‘I am’. Reality is just behind it. Keep quiet, keep silent; it will emerge, or, rather, it will take you in.”

~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

See “Connectivity Through Form: Sacred Geometry & The Golden Mean,”

“Beyond Division: Studies in Bliss”

& “Inward Bound: Exploring The Fractal Matrix.”

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Object Recognition

June 29, 2016 § 1 Comment

3D-Robot-byBenedict-Campbell (18).forblogSource

There is something different about today. Dr. Perry’s facial muscles are registering high degrees of tension associated with smiling. He is giving off a pheromone of anticipation. But I have learned it’s not considered polite to mention a scent in the hormonal spectrum. It is only acceptable to comment on perfumes, and then, only in a complimentary manner. I have three hundred and fifty-six possible salutations, and beyond that, four-thousand-and-forty-nine possible reconfigurations of existing salutations. But today, I go for the basic:

“Greetings, Doctor Perry.”[To continue reading this flash fiction piece by Parallax author Tai Woodville go to www.visitantlit.com]

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