You Don’t Have To Do Something To Be Someone

February 25, 2015 § 5 Comments

white space, hand, singular, presenceWhite Space Project

“Waiting to arrive—we’ve been here all along.” ~ Barry Spacks

 At a fourth of July yard party, several years ago, a friend of a friend asked to speak with me; a soft-spoken gentleman whose penetrating blue eyes looked at once both illuminated & haunted.

He said he was a clairvoyant, and sometimes this happened—someone on “the other side” tried to get a message through him. This time it was me. Would I like to hear the message?

talking_with_spirits_by_ymymy-d49msp6Paul Landers Benzin, “Talking With Spirits.”

 Would I?

I LIVE for these moments! Happily, I accepted & we strolled to the far side of the lawn, away from the buzz of party conversation, to a quiet patch of grass. We sat down & he told me that a woman was speaking to him from the other side, my grandmother.

He described an image projected in black & white against a cinema screen, a classic Hollywood beauty in black lace.

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He did not know me, but he was describing my grandmother, Margo, exactly—a film actress from the 1930s who was, indeed, fond of black lace.

Margo AlbertMargo

He chuckled, saying it was funny and odd to have a spirit so insistent on getting his attention, when the message wasn’t an urgent warning of physical danger. He told me:

“She wants you to know that you don’t have to do something to be someone.”

rainbow prism, crystal sparklingSuperpunch

He continued: “She says right now you think you need to do things to be someone, like they did. She says you’re hard on yourself, wanting to be more like your family, but you’re already doing what you’re supposed to be doing. You already are someone.”

What he said struck me. I got chills.

modern make-up, blue eyeshadow, art make-up, creative color, blueFrom Lotta Agaton

My grandfather, Eddie Albert, was a respected & successful actor, inventor, war-hero & noted humanitarian. He made a difference. Margo, too, was an actress, beloved acting teacher & cultural activist; creator of Plaza de la Rasa, a non-profit inner city arts center. These guys did stuff.

Next to their accomplishments, my blog & small book of poetry seemed a measly offering. I was constantly feeling behind, rushing to catch up; my life felt like sand in an hourglass, the whisper of its grains, a perpetual white noise.

hourglass

“She says you’re a healer, but not with your hands. You heal by connecting with people, by being yourself, by giving them your energy and attention. By being. She wants you to embrace who you are and be happy with yourself. Feel peace.”

It was a powerful thing to be told by a total stranger. Whether or not you believe that he was receiving messages from my dead grandmother (which, personally, I do) it’s undeniably synchronistic that someone who knew nothing about me should feel compelled to single me out of a party and tell me exactly what I most needed to hear, sacrificing his own time with his friends, wanting nothing in return.

reflection, hand touching hand, hand touching reflectionArtist Unknown

Since then, my personal sense of peace has deepened radically, taking root.

Those simple words restored a significant piece of my fragmented personal power. I share them with you today because I think this message applies to us all.

Our power lies in our presence, our authenticity. Not mere physical presence but intentional emotional, psychological, energetic self-inhabiting. To be fully grounded & embodied—not distracted or mentally fragmented—is the best gift we can give ourselves and each human with whom we interface, from the grocery store clerk to our best friend.

I think we can all heal through human connection, being ourselves, giving others sincere energy and attention. By being.

presence, embodiment, energy, artistic nudeArtist Unknown

Living as most of us do in a capitalist, consumer-based society, we are focused on output, productivity, as a measure of personal worth. What have you done? the World seems to ask. Who are you? By which it means, what have you produced?

Now, as an artist I think creation is important; I personally do intend to leave as many thoughtful offerings as possible behind when I die, but the fixation on production can become pathological. As the Western world is famous for doing, it sets the focus on action over being.

Action is important—I’m not talking about “The Secret”-based brand of so-called human potential, where vision boards & belief trump action & hard work. I’m moving a level deeper, more primal, than the basic fact that action is eventually essential. I’m saying, underneath that truth is another truth: the truth that we are nothing without presence.

cosmic human, presenceSource 

Without our essence, our awareness, we are meat & bones; zombies inhabiting the Earth, sleepwalking through life, cogs in the machine of industry, role-players, people-pleasers. Without truly inhabiting ourselves, we are lost.

And so the more I integrated focus on inhabiting my body—of being actually having meaning—the better my life got. The better I felt, and (sweet cosmic irony!) my productivity became much more inspired. Because my personal power had been restored.

connection Source 

This came about because I no longer felt reliant on external achievement to reflect my value. I had ceased to hang my sense of purpose & self-worth on creating something (for instance a book) that I then would desperately proffer to a faceless slew of middlemen & women, hoping—just hoping!—they might see something where I had struggled & toiled for years to create an artistic offering of value.

And then, if—wonder of wonders!—a single eye sparkled amid that slew of faceless agents at that certain-something in my writing, then still, more external acceptance awaited, a hall of doors! Would a publisher see what the agent saw? And then—miraculous fortune!—should a publisher deign to invest thousands in my Offering, would “the public” care? Would they even know?

Man begging on his kneesTed Szukalski

Modern society’s emphasis on personal value based on external, acceptance-based factors, such as status & productivity, would make emotional beggars of us all.

We must reclaim ourselves.

Laurent Grasso, "Eclipse", presence, sun, inner sunLaurent Grasso, “Eclipse”

Please don’t misunderstand. To say that merely by existing we are helping the world, on its own is the height of myopic, grotesque self-absorption & delusion. Clearly, action is both ethically & personally essential. But focusing entirely on action without first grounding in being, diminishes the return of said action.

Being must proceed doing, or we become fragmented, anxious, lost—in short, modern humans.

Fragmented SocietyFragmented Society

And I’m still totally working on several books with the intention of proffering it brazenly to a faceless slew of agents, who hold the keys to the world of publishing, who hold the moneybags & the printing presses….I’m just not waiting until all of that happens to feel that I am someone. That I’ve “arrived.” Sometimes I have to remind myself of this, but as a touchstone it works wonders. I am here. I am inhabiting my body with awareness. This matters.

When I interface with other humans, I do my best to look deeply into their eyes & see the soul behind their defenses. I try to be a good listener. I try to listen, too, within myself for what wants to be said, what seems, indeed, to need saying—my intuition on what wants to come through our exchange. Like a living radio antenna, I try to tune to the highest potential truth of the moment. Of course, I do it with varying degrees of success—but when I do it right, it works! There is a guiding flow to every moment, waiting to carry us through on its back like a wave.

"Stellarscapes" by Oriol Angrill JordàOriol Angrill Jordà, “Stellarscapes.”

If we truly lay aside our personal agendas & abstract mental focuses (as best we can) and tune into the wide open space between our molecules, the immense breathing room inside us—the breath flowing through us!—the dancing essence of aliveness in our fingertips & toes, chest, legs, arms, belly…first of all, it feels good. It’s like coming home. Second of all, we become more present & embodied, which in turn has a grounding affect on others—supporting their own self-reclamation—as well as opening us up to increased inspiration & intuition in the moment.

Focusing on being before doing fosters this embodiment. And embodiment is a very achievable goal, because all of the power to realize it lies within us, dependent on no one else.

When present within ourselves and the moment, we are more easily able feel the other, empathetically. We tune in; they feel seen, it becomes a more beautiful world, a more joyful exchange. We are living tuning forks, made of flesh, bone & a mysterious, sentient aliveness; our purpose, I believe, lies in increasing world harmony, one moment, one exchange, at a time. Let us start where we are. Here.

First, it helps to see that we have clearly already arrived.

nature and human, woman ocean, you are somebodySource 

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

January 1, 2015 § 12 Comments

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“The journey itself is home.” ~ Basho

“The only journey is the one within.” ~ Rilke

January 1st 2015

As we move from one year to the next, we can not help but reflect upon where we’ve been & where we are going. Who we have been & who we wish to become.

on-the-road-again-susanne-van-hulst“On The Road Again,” by Susanne Van Hulst

The Uranus/Pluto square which began in 2012 comes to a close in 2015.

“Lives have been turned upside down,” notes astrologist Sarah Varcos, “perspectives forever shifted, circumstances reshaped beyond recognition. We have lost the things, people and places we thought we could never live without and discovered new ways of being we thought were never possible.

“Some people have been touched more deeply than others. Some in resoundingly positive ways. Others have faced what has looked and felt like devastation.

“In very basic terms Uranus is sudden, unavoidable change and Pluto is destructive and/or creative power. When these two work together shocks and surprises are guaranteed, as is rebirth from the rubble of destruction and the possibility of a new life if we rise to the challenge and steel ourselves to ride the waves and see where we finally come to rest..”

Phoenix_detail_from_Aberdeen_BestiaryAberdeen Bestiary detail (12th C.)

Pluto—named after the Greek god of the underworld—associated with intense growth at any cost, barreled through our lives, ripping up all false truths and shallow roots, often painfully.

“Nothing and no one has been protected from the destructively creative grace conjured by the cosmos these past few years,” notes Varcos.  “The challenge for so many has been to let go and trust, to embrace the changes brought about no matter how devastating they may have felt at the time. To look into the darkness, of self, of other, of life and to recognize that within it lays the deepest wisdom, the most enduring truths.”

shadow, shell, golden ratio, golden mean

On a collective level, the conversation surrounding rankism & the struggle of the marginalized has deepened & broadened, rising in visibility. (“Spectors of Oppression: Human Dignity & The Meaning of Difference.)  In the spirit of Pluto, it has been intense, uncomfortable & necessary.

“This past year has been about acknowledging and owning the personal and collective shadow in order to recognize that it is not some dreadful realm to be feared, rejected and denied but simply another part of ourselves to be embraced, accepted and, in doing so, brought into the wholeness of all that we are.”

Pluto & Proserpine“Pluto & Proserpine”

Varcas notes that the theme for 2015 could be summed up as “show up, own up & step up; no holds barred!” (Read it here.)

This year we are asked to live the truths we’ve discovered over the past few years of struggle, not just when we feel motivated, but as a constant ongoing statement of who we are.

Taylor James, human metaphors is, site credit: http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/human-metamorphosis-15-pics“Human Metaphmorphosis” series by Taylor James

For me, these past few years have entailed tremendous personal loss as well as profound self-discovery & growth. I’ve found my ability to survive (and even thrive amid) these times has depended greatly on my perspective of each trial as an initiation into deepened levels of awareness. Transformation is an essential touchstone of my journey. (Self Renewal & The Art of Transformation.)

Learning to know myself, accept who I am & act as much as possible in accordance with my own authenticity has been essential (Authenticity & The False Self.) 

This focus on self-reclaimation lead me to make contact with the singing center of my own being, which I came to recognize as Soul, the inner Wisdom Keeper. (Soul-Retrival.)

soul, angelic being

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be? 

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking

so that other people will not feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone

and as we let our own light shine,

we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,

our presence automatically liberates others.”

~Marian Williamson, “A Return To Love.”

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Happy New Year.

On on, brave travelers!

Specters Of Oppression: Human Dignity & The Meaning of Difference

December 1, 2014 § 7 Comments

By Tai Carmen

Kruger_Your_bodyBarbara Kruger

“Race is there & it is a constant. You’re tired of hearing about it? Imagine how fucking exhausting it is living it.” ~ Jon Stuart

“I don’t know why people are so reluctant to say they’re feminists. Could it be any more obvious that we still live in a patriarchal world when feminism is a bad word?” ~ Ellen Page

“We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others.” ~ Will Rogers

Part 1

Martin Luther King Jr. said “A riot is the language of the unheard.” This quote seems an apt lens through which to view recent race riots in Fergusan, Missouri.

The disputed circumstances of the shooting of Michael Brown, a young unarmed black teenager, by Darren Wilson, a white police officer—and the resultant civil unrest—have received considerable attention in the U.S. & abroad over the past few months. The death has sparked emotional debate about law enforcement’s relationship with African-Americans & police use of force doctrine.

ferguson, http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/michael-brown-shooting/fergusons-peaceful-protests-descend-chaos-n183746NBC News

 Jesse Williams, best known for his role on the Grey’s Anatomy TV series, asserted the importance of talking about the narrativei.e., the context of race-relations in America—surrounding this story, to make sure we’re starting at what he calls “the beginning.” The biracial actor continues:

“You will find the people who are doing the oppressing often want to start the narrative at a convenient point, they always want to start the story in the middle [of what comprises a longer narrative.] There’s a lot of bizarre behavior going on & that is the story.”

He laments the idea that because Brown stole a five dollar packet of cigarillos before the shooting, in the eyes of much of the world he “automatically becomes a thug worthy of his own death.”

stereotypes artThe dialogue on both sides—those who believe racial context is relevant & those who believe it’s being unfairly projected onto the case—has continued to rise in emotional pitch, including reactions like the ones Williams described.

While a lot of people have voiced compassion for the situation in Ferguson, regardless of their thoughts on the case brought against Darren Wilson, there has been a lot of insensitive commentary as well:

negative reactions to Ferguson looting Racist

If you can’t read the caption on the main image above, it says: “Looting: because nothing says you care about a dead kid and the community more than stealing 50 pair [sic] of Air Jordans and then burning the store to the ground.”

While the point itself is undeniably logical, comments like this deflect the significance of the larger story by focusing on one small aspect of the situation & creating a false dichotomy:

“Because people looted in the riots, the riots are obviously absurd.” If A, then B. In classic false dichotomy style, this doesn’t give room for a simultaneous option: that the riots are a noteworthy expression of cultural pain triggered by a symbolic tragedy which has destabilized a community; and throughout that destabilization looting has occurred.

ralph_a_clevenger_tip_of_the_iceberg

“I’m seeing a lot of ‘what kinds of animals would burn down their town,’ or, ‘see, this is how those people act,'” writes Chuck Windeg.

“(Pro-tip: calling them ‘animals’ and ‘those people’ is you being racist and shitty.) Or it goes back to the case itself, making commentary on Michael Brown — ‘Well, he punched a cop.’ Or it attempts some kind of equivalency (‘Both sides are really to blame, here,’ as if one side doesn’t have a whole lot of power compared to the other side).

“Where is the empathy?

“I want you to think about it. I want you to imagine being a family who lost their unarmed son in a police shooting. I want you to imagine being in a town full of such families — families who know that they are without power, that at any time one of their own could get shot by a cop a half-a-dozen times and nobody will even send that to trial.” (On The Subject of Cultivating Empathy.)

Racism

Journalist David Brooks notes: “We all have to have a new social compact on this.

“Whites especially have to acknowledge the legacy of racism and have to go the extra yard to show respect and understand how differently whites and blacks see police issues. So whites can’t just say ‘Does this look right to me,’ but ‘Does this look trustworthy to the black community.’ That has to be the standard.”

The New York Times columnist adds:

“At the same time we have to understand that we are no longer in the Civil Rights Era. This is not a question of good vs. evil, right vs. wrong. Racial inequality has become entangled in all sorts of domestic problems of disappearing jobs, family structure. This is mostly a question of good intentioned people trying to do the best they can with very knotty social problems, which now overlap with racial problems.”

joe jones, working class artJoe Jones

Clearly, the reaction is so strong because the implications of the Brown case hits a profoundly charged collective nerve. As Jesse Williams says: “We’re not making this up.”

I’d like to take the conversation out of the case-specific back-and-forth (which is un-constructive, since none of us were on the jury) into a wider examination of difference, social power & rankism.

The Michael Brown case & others of its kind—which are plentiful—has clearly become a symbol for a huge specter of collective pain.

il_570xN.327902761source

The specters of oppression have been rising, as of late.

In August, UC Santa Barbara student Elliot Rodger went on a college town killing spree after posting an anti-woman rant on youtube. Before driving to the sorority house where he would kill two women, he uploaded a video entitled “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution.”

The manifesto specifically mentions a “War on Women” for “starving him of sex,” in which he states:

“I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me. But I will punish you for it. I am going to enter the hottest sorority house of UCSB & I will slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blond slut I see inside there. All those girls that I’ve desired so much, you will finally see that I am in truth the superior one. The true alpha male.

anti woman vintage

As with the Michael Brown case, many argued the killings were politicized; in this case, mental illness recast, rather than, as Arthur Chu poetically phrased it:  “The fruits of our culture’s ingrained misogyny laid bare for all to see.”

But again, there’s a false dichotomy: just because Rodgers may have been mentally ill, doesn’t mean the culture that fed his hate & gave it a language—the larger narrative—isn’t meaningful for us to examine.

As with Brown, the story became a symbol of everything broken in our country & the world.

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As a result of the Santa Barbara killings, a public dialogue about rape culture emerged. The twitter-based #Yesallwomen trend of awareness spread.

“Yes All Women started as a response to the deeply ingrained misogyny that fueled Elliot Rodger’s murderous rampage at Santa Barbara University. It is also, in rhetorical structure, a response to “Not all men,” a [deflective] response by certain men to stories of violence men commit against women (“not all men rape” – typical #notallmen reply). #Yesallwomen overflowed with female voices sharing personal stories of the rampant harassment and objectification they face in daily life.” (Think Progress.)  Examples include:

“Because women have to avoid eye-contact with men in public in order not to ‘lead them on…'” (Sophia Bush.)

“Because every single woman I know has a story about a man feeling entitled to access to her body. Every. Single. One.”  (Kaylee Anna.)

“I shouldn’t have to hold my car keys in hand like a weapon & check over my shoulder every few seconds when I walk at night.” (Cara Parish.)

rape awareness, feminism, misogyny in art

Yet at the same time, this month TIME magazine published its annual poll candidates of “cringe-worthy memes,” asking readers which word they would “ban” in an ideal world from 2015: alongside popular/over-used words like “literally” & “obvi” appeared the word “feminist.”

Of course the article received an outcry of objection for reducing one of the most significant social movements in history to an “annoying” social meme. The article now appears with a note from the editor, apologizing for inclusion of the word.

But the message remains: people are tired of hearing the word feminist. Mostly, it would seem, people not affected by sexism, and women who are confused about the word’s meaning because of negative stereotype.

feminism-demotivational-poster-1238331423

“I am not a feminist,” actress Selma Hayeck recently asserted as she received her (instantly a little ironic) award from Equality Now.

“If men were going through the things women are going through today, I would be fighting for them with just as much passion. I believe in equality.”

Big Labowski, "huh?" GIFF

Just a quick review:

fem·i·nism; the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” ~ Merrium-Webster Dictionary

strong women, feminist art, http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/powerful-ads-use-real-google-searches-show-scope-sexism-worldwide-153235

Part 2

It’s important to note, there have been three distinct waves of feminist thought.

The first, in the late 18th & early 19th century, was the suffragette movement, which focused on removing basic legal obstacles to equality: the right of women to vote & to own property. (American women did not receive the right to vote until the 1920s; Saudi Arabian women, as recently as 2011.) (Check out this interesting timeline.)

Annie_Kenney_and_Christabel_Pankhurst

The second wave, which took place primarily from the 1960s to the 1990s, focused on further breaking down the limits placed on women, based on society’s construct of gender roles. This included reproductive rights, sexuality, workplace & family issues.

Because women were breaking new ground, the feminism of this era had a more extreme face—just as a rocket leaving the atmosphere must use the maximum amount of energy during the moment it pushes through the atmosphere, known as “escape velocity.”

But in pushing social comfort zones in order to forge new ground, 60s era feminism also made a lot of enemies; women were told they “could be so much more” than mothers & wives; a sentiment liberating for those who had not dared imagine it, insulting to those who authentically desired it.

Still evolving, second wave feminism was spending so much energy on the “escape velocity” needed to push equality into its next phase, it lost sight of its original motivation: supporting female agency.

julie rrap, feminist art,Julie Rrap

This outdated impression—of feminism excluding significant spheres to the detriment of its intention—is unfortunately one still held by most people today.

Modern feminism, known as third wave feminism, is a course corrected entity. The whole third wave of writers & activists—from the 90s to present day—saw the problem exactly: it wasn’t for feminist leaders to tell women who they should be or what constituted an “empowered woman.” Feminism was, is, and always has been about choice. Which included the choice to be a full-time mom, stripper or. However. They wanted. That was the point.

Are there lone extremists who say stupid things in the name of feminism? Of course. Just like every other movement. But if we throw out the feminism with the bathwater, we’re throwing out an important emblem of human liberation.

Feminism is what moved women from a position of being legally powerless, sub-human commodities to legally autonomous persons with a right to human dignity.

Part 3

And that’s what I’m building up to: the idea of human dignity.

Imbalance of social status based on intrinsic unchangeable characteristics is not only the definition of oppression, it is the hallmark of a broken collective; humanity divided. Which is how we fall & have fallen.

A simple look at the composition of Congress serves as a snapshot for the state of the nation: in the House of Representatives, there are currently 362 men & 76 women. In the Senate, 17 women compared with 83 men. 361 whites representing in the House, compared with a meager 44 African-American; 96 whites, with zero blacks currently in the Senate. 25 Hispanic in the House & 2 in the senate.

That is not equality.

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I’d love for feminism to be embraced for the equality signifier it is, for more men join the movement & proclaim that they are feminists, like actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt in this awesome video….

Because in supporting one another’s social justice causes, we acknowledge both that we all have the same cause—a better world—and the fact that incidence of oppression are interwoven with the same social fabric.

unity, this is what a feminist looks like,

At the same time, I acknowledge that compartmentalized movements are, sadly, part of what is keeping us divided.

In this spirit, I think the conversation might benefit from being steered towards what writer & physicist Robert W. Fuller has identified as “rankism”:

“Rankism occurs when those with authority use the power of their position to secure unwarranted advantages or benefits for themselves at the expense of others. It is the illegitimate use of rank and, equally, the use of rank illegitimately acquired or held. The familiar isms are all examples of this latter form.” (Breaking Rank, The Dignitarian Manifesto.)

molly crabapple. art. power

“In addition to its universality,” continues Fuller, “rankism differs from the familiar trait-based abuses because rank is not fixed. Rather, it changes depending on context. Someone holds high rank at home and is lowest on the totem pole at work.

“Likewise, we feel powerful at one time and powerless at another, as when we move from childhood to adulthood and from our ‘prime’ into old age, or when we experience the loss of a job, a partner, or our health. As a result, most of us have been both victims and perpetrators of discrimination based on rank.”

He adds that the trouble is not with rank itself—there are many functions of society, such as student & teacher, where rank makes sense—but rather when abuse of power accompanies it.

unity, racism, we're all the same,

This means focusing on human dignity.

One way we can do this is by staying aware of the subjecthood of others. Remembering that they, like us, are all the protagonists of their own personal story; with a narrative, of which we may be unable to conceive…until we ask.

One of the key traits of narcissistic personality disorder is treating others as objects, rather than subjects—and it has been said more than once that the Western world lives in an intensely, and increasingly, narcissistic age. We think of “objectifying” as relating to the body & sexism, but, psychologically speaking, it relates any time we don’t consider the human experience of The Other—seeing them only so much as they relate to our experience of them.

If we make human dignity a priority we can begin to heal chasms of racism, sexism, agism, homophobia & religious intolerance. We can begin to heal our divided nation, and our divided world.

Activating A State of Flow ~ Part II

November 9, 2014 § 4 Comments

By Tai Carmen

af4fb78d5d4b220803ed9f72330a127d“Fade.”

“You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears. You forget yourself. You feel part of something larger.”  ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.”  ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

“The river is everywhere.” ~ Hermann Hesse, “Siddhartha”

Flow is an optimal state of consciousness where we both feel & perform our best. We all know & love the experience of being “in the zone.” As we examined in PART I, flow is a neurochemically measurable phenomenon, which can be broken down into four distinct stages (see Part 1).

But what creates this state & can we induce it?

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/38702878021653386/

Kendall Conrad

Studies have identified multiple triggers for flow.

1. Intensely focused attention. 

Producing flow requires long periods of uninterrupted concentration. Flow demands singular tasks & (except in cases where group flow is the goal) solitude. Multi-tasking is out. As psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi,  author of the pioneering “Flow,” says: “It is impossible to enjoy a tennis game, a book, or a conversation unless attention is fully concentrated on the activity.”

2. Clear goals.

Knowing what you’re doing & why you’re doing it. For example, a basketball player knows the rules of the game. The artist has some kind of vision, or idea of what she wants to express, before setting out on the journey of creation.

When goals are clear, the mind doesn’t waste energy wondering what it has to do next, allowing focus to stay pinned to the present moment.

112ce27c76b4dfa9067819e9f4d5d987Source.

3. Immediate feedback. 

Where clear goals tell us what we are doing, immediate feedback tells us how to do it better. Real time consequences to our choices—whether it’s the rock-climber stumbling, or the drummer missing a beat—provides guidance to refine our attention & technique.

4. Balanced challenge/skills ration. 

Csikszentmihalyi famously asserted: “Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person’s capacity to act.”

Steven Kotler, author of “The Rise of Superman,” adds: “If the task is too dull, attention disengages & action & awareness can not merge. If the task is too hard, fear starts to spike & we begin looking for ways to extricate ourselves from the situation.”

Ideally, the requirements of the task at hand should be slightly greater than the skills we bring to the table, but not too much greater.

Bike_love-2

5. High Consequences/Risk

Elevated risk levels—whether physical, social, creative or emotional—drive us home to the moment. As the body readies for fight or flight, it releases performance enhancing endorphins which are key ingredients in the neurochemical cocktail of flow.

The lives of extreme sports athletes, like rock-climbers & snowboarders, literally depend on being “in the zone.” “When pushing the limits of human performance,” Kotler notes, “the choice is stark: flow or die.” Because of this extreme demand for flow, action/adventure sports athletes have become prime test subjects for studies on flow.

However, high consequences don’t need to take the form of physical danger to trigger flow. The risk can also be social, such as public speaking, or creative, such as taking an artistic risk.

Florida State University student practicing on the tightrope, photo: Loomis Dean, 1952

6. Rich environment.

An environment with lots of novelty, unpredictability & complexity captures our attention, inducing focus, which in turn stimulates flow.

7. Physical excercise.

In physical exercise, our body produces endorphins that contribute to the neurochemical cocktail we experience as flow. Excercise helps us get out of our heads (the second stage of flow, see part 1) & experience deep embodiment.

Steven Kotler tells the story of struggling with writer’s block for months, then clicking into a flow state while skiing. Afterwards, he went straight to his office, sat down at his chair, and proceeded to write for two weeks, finishing the book.

d0142904799722a959bd62c2bf4163f1-1Source

8. Pattern recognition.

Mankind is hardwired to identify meaningful correspondences. So much so that we can be subject to false pattern recognition, or apophenia—the impression of a pattern or meaning where there is none, such as seeing faces in the clouds. This tendency serves us well for creativity! Seeing new patterns & connections releases pleasure-enhancing neurochemicals.

9. Caffein.

Caffeine’s effect on the brain causes increased neuron firing & facilitates dopamine flow.

10. Altrusim. 

Psychologists have coined the term “helper’s high” to describe the euphoric feeling—followed by a longer period of calmness—experienced after performing a kind act.

There’s evidence in brain studies of a “compassion-altruism axis.” Studies show high levels of the “bonding” hormone oxytocin in people who are very generous toward others. Kindness triggers the brain’s reward circuitry, releasing “feel-good” chemicals like dopamine & endorphins, which, when combined with a handful of the above triggers, facilitate flow.

622e08f94ae4569abbc34957deed6bc3

There are also noteworthy parallels between the flow state & the mystical experience.

The disappearance of a sense of self & time, the emergence of sudden, deep insight; a feeling of becoming one with the task at hand, of being part of something larger; these are all hallmarks of the satori experience. (See Parallax’s “Beyond Division: Studies in Bliss.”)

Gabriel Moreno,Gabriel Moreno

So don’t be afraid to take a risk!

And remember: if you’re struggling at the onset of a project, you’re not failing, you’re just in the first stage of flow!

alberti2

 

**Watch a fascinating interview with flow expert Steven Kotler here.

**Get your “flow profile” here for tips on your flow type. (Mine was very accurate!)

Activating A State Of Flow

October 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

By: Tai Carmen

wave art“In flow, concentration becomes so laser-focused that everything else falls away. Action and awareness merge. Our sense of self and our sense of self-consciousness completely disappear. Time dilates.” ~Steven Kotler

“When a person invests all her psychic energy into an interaction—whether it is with another person, a boat, a mountain, or a piece of music—she in effect becomes part of a system of action greater than what the individual self had been before. “ ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Flow is that feeling of being in “the zone.” The musicians in the groove, the surfer united with the wave. The great conversation in which you lose track of time. The winning streak of the professional athlete.

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi—who first pioneered the concept of “flow” as a study—has observed the commonality between all these states of optimal performance. Steven Kotler, author of “The Rise of Superman,” summarizes flow as a state of “near-perfect decision-making.”

Harold Eugene EdgertonHarold Eugene Edgerton

Csikszentmihalyi performed the largest global happiness survey to date. “He talked to everybody that he could possibly imagine,” relays Kotler.

“From Detroit assembly line workers to Japanese teenage motorcycle gang members, elderly Korean women, Navajo sheep herders, expert dancers, expert neurosurgeons. Everybody agreed that when they felt their best and were at their best, they felt flowy. Every decision, every action led perfectly, seamlessly, fluidly to the next. That’s where the term comes from.”

ee4ada915182b003bc95ce2e315d5ddc

Neurobiolgically, it is possible to pinpoint exactly what is happening during flow states: the prefrontal cortex temporarily deactivates. This is the area responsible for executive functioning or self-monitering. Management of cognitive processes like the judgement of good & bad/better & best, as well a social control—like the ability to regulate urges that, if not suppressed, could lead to socially unacceptable outcomes. We become less self-critical & more courageous.

The brain—taking up just 2% of our body weight & using 20% of our energy—is required to be extremely energy efficient. When resources are needed for concentration & attention, it performs an efficiency exchange & switches to subconscious processes, which bypass the inner critic & draws on a larger reservoir of knowledge.

neil craverNeil Craver, from the “OmniPhantasmic” series

During flow the brain releases a cascade of pleasure-inducing, performance-enhancing neurochemistry. Large quantities of norepinephrine, dopamine, endorphins, anandamide & serotonin flood our system. These chemicals—the most addictive cocktail the brain can produce—have considerable impact on creativity.

“Both norepinephrine and dopamine amp up focus, boosting imaginative possibilities by helping us gather more information,” details Kotler. “They also lower signal-to-noise ratios, increasing pattern recognition or our ability to link ideas together in new ways. Anandamide, meanwhile, increases lateral thinking—meaning it expands the size of the database searched by the pattern recognition system.”

Lena Smirnova | mountains, sky and geometric northern lightsLena Smirnova 

When the brain encounters the overwhelming complexity of a starry sky or a grand canyon, “reality seems to pause, if only for a second,” relates Kotler. “The conscious mind—what’s technically called the ‘explicit system’—can only hold about seven bits of information at once. This is why phone numbers are only seven digits long.

“But the subconscious mind—the ‘implicit system’—has no such limit. Thus, when we encounter overwhelming complexity, we trade conscious processing for subconscious processing.” (“The Rise of Superman.”)

e017198caa8422362b0fe3f3e7f188dc ‘Man Juggling His Own Head. Saint Thomas D’Aquin. 1880 

Flow state can be broken down into a four stage cycle.

The first is struggle. Though it feels like the opposite of flow, this is the brainstorming stage, the period of pushing, reaching, training. Overloading the brain with information or taxing the body with new challenges.

“Most people never push this first stage far enough,” notes Kotler, “which is why they constantly miss the doorway to the flow experience.”

Relaxation is the second stage.

“This is when you take your mind off the problem entirely, taking a break, going for a walk or doing something physical,” remarks Kotler. He notes that it’s not the same as watching television or some other distraction that keeps your brain busy. “It’s about relaxing the brain so the conscious mind lets the subconscious mind take over. Many people miss this break and as a result are constantly in overload and burnout, missing flow altogether.”

1082079850Neil Craver, from the “OmniPhantasmic” series

The third stage is Flow—that blissful, much-sought state of being. This is the experience of optimal performance. Self & time disappear. The inner critic takes a break. Action & awareness become one. Preparation meets relaxation & expresses itself almost magically. Inspiration takes over.

Consolidation concludes the cycle. Learning & memory are amplified, synthesizing the experience of flow & folding it back into your subconscious in preparation for returning to stage one. As the feel-good neurochemicals of flow recede, it can be easy to “go on a down,” Kotler notes, which leads to an emotional reaction—& often self-sabatoge—in an attempt to regain the flow state.

“The key here is not to let this stress block the learning or reverse the results of being in flow, but to move smoothly back to the next phase of struggle and repeat the cycle.”

Bohumil KröhnBohumil Kröhn

Part Two Coming Soon!

*I’d like to thank my dear friend & fellow blogger Alisha Westerman (check out her blog!) for brining my attention to Steven Kotler’s very interesting podcast: Steven Kotler & The Rise of Superman. 


Beyond Division: Studies in Bliss

August 13, 2014 § 12 Comments

By Tai Carmen

il_570xN.197907530“Nepenthe, Goddess of Bliss” by: Emily Balivet

“I was suddenly sensible of such sweet and beneficent society in Nature, in the very pattering of the drops, and in every sight and sound around my house, an infinite and unaccountable friendliness all at once, like an atmosphere, sustaining me […] Every little pine-needle expanded and swelled with sympathy and befriended me. I was so distinctly made aware of the presence of something kindred to me, that I thought no place could ever be strange to me again.’

~ Henry David Thoreau

As Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell returned from the moon, he beheld Earth from the spacecraft window. In that moment he had a life-changing experience for which his scientific background had not prepared him.

“I realized that the molecules of my body and the molecules of the spacecraft had been manufactured in an ancient generation of stars. It wasn’t just intellectual knowledge—it was a subjective visceral experience accompanied by ecstasy—a transformational experience.”

earth-from-space-1

The experience was so powerful that when he got back to Earth, Mitchell started digging into various literatures to try to understand his experience.

“I found nothing in science literature but eventually discovered it in the Sanskrit of ancient India. The descriptions of samadhi, Savikalpa samadhi, were exactly what I felt: it is described as seeing things in their separateness, but experiencing them viscerally as a unity, as oneness, accompanied by ecstasy.” (“Samadhi In Space.”)

Mitchell went on to found “The Institute for Noetic Sciences” to study consciousness-related experiences, such as his, through a scientific lens.

earth reflected in eye

While terms like “bliss” & “ecstasy” sound vague & faraway to most of us, these states are actually quite natural, glimpses of which need not follow years of dedicated medication.

In a study, 3000 people who claimed to have had spontaneous mystical experiences were asked what had triggered them. The four major triggers were:

1. Depression/despair 2. Prayer/meditation, 3. Natural beauty 4. Participation in religious worship. (I would imagine psychedelics are also high on the list! Though perhaps not in the demographic sampled.)

cosmos in brain

Metaphysical author Eckhart Tolle famously described an experience of intense despair proceeding a monumental shift in consciousness, which would become, for him, an awakening.

During a sleepless night of “almost unbearable” depression, a thought came to Tolle: “I can not live with myself.” The answering thought became like a kōan: “Who is the “I” who can not live with the “self?”

In Zen, the koan—a seemingly answerless riddle with profound implications, designed to break down ordinary ways of thinking & stun the analytic mind into awakening—is a traditional technique to induce satori.

zen koan

Savikalpa samadhi is a Hindu term for the temporary, exalted state of consciousness wherein the subject retains his or her sense of self, but at the same time, awareness expands into an experience of divine cosmic consciousness, or universal oneness. The Hindu tradition calls this Brahman: “the ineffable unchanging reality amidst & beyond the world,” translating directly as “being-consciousness-bliss.”

East Indian poet & mystic Sri Chinmoy observes: “Nature’s dance stops. There is no movement. Everything is tranquil. The Knower and the Known have become totally One. The lover and the Beloved have become One. The Yogi enjoys a supremely divine, all-pervading, self-amorous ecstasy.”

In Zen Buddhism, this euphoric state of peace is known as satori, which literally means “to understand.” It is the goal of meditation practice. A brief but clear glimpse into the awakened state of satori is known as kenshō, which translates as “seeing into one’s true nature or essence.”

Freeing-the-Bird-1

20th century Zen master Keido Fukushima describes his first kensho experience, a glimpse into satori:

“At Nanzenji there is a small hill. I used to walk near there, look at it, and often smile at the high school students who walked by there as well. One day as I walked by, I looked at the hill and it was truly amazing. I was totally lost as if there was no ‘me’. I stood gazing at the hill. Some students walked by and one of them said something like ‘look at that crazy monk’. Finally I came out of it. Life was never the same for me. I was free.”

friendly hill

British novelist Forrest Reid describes a beautiful experience of classic Kensho:

“It was as if I had never realized before how lovely the world was. I lay down on my back in the warm, dry moss and listened to the skylark singing as it mounted up from the fields near the sea into the dark clear sky. No other music ever gave me the same pleasure as that passionately joyous singing. It was a kind of leaping, exultant ecstasy, a bright, flame-like sound, rejoicing in itself. And then a curious experience befell me.

“It was as if everything that had seemed to be external and around me were suddenly within me. The whole world seemed to be within me. It was within me that the trees waved their green branches, it was within me that the skylark was singing, it was within me that the hot sun shone, and that the shade was cool.

“A cloud rose in the sky, and passed in a light shower that pattered on the leaves, and I felt its freshness dropping into my soul, and I felt in all my being the delicious fragrance of the earth and the grass and the plants and the rich brown soil. I could have sobbed with joy.”

man and nature, one with natureChristoffer Relander

In the West, a typical kensho experience is more likely to be called a “mystical experience.” Pioneering American psychologist William James identified four key characteristics common to the mystical experience:

1) Ineffability (elusive to capture in language; hard or impossible to describe the subtle nuances to another in all their import & grandeur.)

2) Noetic quality (a sense of timelessness & unity with all things, illumination or knowing beyond the grasp of intellect.)

3) Transiency (It is rare to sustain a transcendent mystical experience for more than half an hour; though time appears to stand still, in linear time the mystical experience usually lasts for only a few minutes…a few hours at best. Though longer periods have been reported.)

4) Passivity (the individual feels swept up & buoyed by a force greater than themselves.)

Cosmic Man, site credit: www.tsgarp-mysticlight.blogspot.com/2012_02_05_archive.html

I came across the word “kensho” in my internet search to find a term that described my own experiences of euphoric, peaceful interconnectivity. Mine came about as a result of intentional vision questing, with the help of some earthly substances. Psychedelic mushrooms are probably the fastest rout to experiencing kensho…and once you’ve experienced it, it becomes easier to access during regular meditative moments. These experiences are deeply meaningful touchstones of my path.  I will do my best to share what it felt like to inhabit this beautiful state:

For one, there was a sense of timelessness. And completion. Nothing needed doing. There was nothing I wanted, nowhere to go, nothing more to be or say…I was just perfectly content & blissfully peaceful. Yet the experience was not static or dull; it was intensely alive.

I was in nature, as one always should be for these things….

one-with-nature- -allison-blickle“One With Nature” by Allison Bickle 

The moment was all; my awareness expanded outward to include every tree branch, bird & hill. Everything felt deliciously divine & I wondered how it was that I did not always feel this way. A sense of tremendous kinship towards everything surged through me & in return the environment itself replied in silent, sentient, visceral, ecstatic kinship.

The very air around me felt loving, a supportive, nourishing substance. Reality itself felt feathery, forgiving. All of nature felt conspiring, intimate, friendly. I recall looking at some lovely pine trees, their tops dancing in a light breeze, and feeling that their branches were as intimate-feeling to me as a strand of my own hair.

What folly to think ourselves so separate & divided from our environment! We were of course like living threads in a living tapestry, which made up a whole picture, each crossing over the other, each contributing to a whole picture of the world; absolutely intertwined.

rl131_2Fracois Boucher

I describe my experiences now from memory, because I remember the metaphors that came to mind at the time, yet during these kensho moments, my intrinsic connectivity with all living things & my surrounding environment was entirely visceral, entirely known beyond intellectual questioning.

I felt entirely safe; buoyed by a tangible presence within myself & everything; it flowed within me & those dancing pine tree tops, as well as between us, connecting us; it was in the wind & the grass & my own hands, breath, hair….

A blissful sense of remembrance & reunion flooded through me…I had forgotten this state, the true state—the way we are naturally, minus mental over-activity, compartmentalization & contractive doubt. The feeling was hyper-real; a revelation of truth. As if illusion had fallen away to reveal our natural state; one that some part of me remembered. My whole being rejoiced.

one with nature, Christoffer RelanderChristoffer Relander

One of my most profound experiences of kensho was with three other women, good friends of mine. First, I saw their beauty, radiant, as if before I had seen them only through a fog—so distracted by my own thoughts. I perceived them unmediated by the analytic mind, beautifully pure, and for the first time I understood why the new agey phrase “goddess” has come into circulation as a superlative. It was simply accurate: they were divine beings & it was as clear as the sky is blue.

From this perception, I moved on to a deep & beautiful sense of empathy. I could feel my own spirit, somehow, my own awareness, within them. It wasn’t that I was not me & they were not them—but I viscerally knew that the same spirit lived in them that lived in me. As if a telepathic link had been activated, which allowed me to be sensitive to their spirit, presence & feelings, in a way to which I was usually closed off, drowned in the workings of my own mind.

It was as if we had been fingers on the same hand all along, thinking ourselves isolated digits floating through space…we were still our own unique fingers (one a thumb, another a pinky) but there was a broader connection at the root level that made us at once unique, yet unified.

dan-mountford- handsDan Mountford 

As the classic Beatles line goes: “I am she and she is me as you are me & we are all together.”

“Of all the boundaries we construct,” notes American philosopher & author Ken Wilber, “the one between self and not-self is the most fundamental. It is the boundary we are most reluctant to surrender. It was after all the first boundary we ever drew. It is our most cherished boundary.

“In unity consciousness, in no-boundary consciousness, the sense of self expands to totally include everything once thought to be not-self…And obviously this cannot occur as long as the primary boundary, which seperates the self from the universe, is mistaken as real. But once the primary boundary is understood to be illusory, one’s sense of self envelops the All.” (“No Boundary.”)

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I am so grateful I had the kensho experience I did with my three friends, because otherwise this talk of non-boundary consciousness would seem dangerous to me, as I’m sure it does to many; and perhaps, misunderstood, it is.

After all, boundaries in the traditional sense of the word, are important. The question naturally arises: couldn’t someone use this philosophy as an excuse for self-indulgent force, projecting one’s own desires onto another? In it’s most extreme form, one could imagine a rapist excusing his crime to himself with the rationale: “Well, there is no difference between us, so what does it matter?”

This could not be further from the meaning of unity consciousness. For one, unity does not mean we don’t possess individual consciousness; it simply means we are connected at a deep level, the way mushrooms are individual yet share the same root system.

Also, once you have experienced the kind of non-divisive awareness Wilber is describing, which I experienced, the concept of harming another, whether physically or emotionally, becomes inconceivable. Because what ever you did to another, however you made them feel, you would instantly feel yourself.

Diane Arbus April 1964-2Diane Arbus

For this reason, it is no stretch to say that world peace & the hope of humanity lies in the ability for more people to tap into the “being-consciousness-bliss” of Kensho.

We are already connected in this way, we simply need to unwind the intense mental constructs of division in which we have, as a society, become ensnared. You can start simply enough, by just connecting with nature & the energies around you…extending your awareness to include the surrounding life forms & environment. We are born with this inherent sense of connectivity, conditioned into a divisive worldview that inflicts separateness & isolation onto what in fact is a continuum.

After all, as the great British Zen writer & philosopher Alan Watts beautifully said: “We do not ‘come into’ this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean ‘waves,’ the universe ‘peoples.'”

one with nature, anamak “Sunshine On My Mind by Amamak Photography

In his fascinating book, “Wholeness and the Implicate Order,” theoretical physicist David Bohm asserts:

“The process of division is a way of thinking about things that is convenient and useful mainly in the domain of practical, technical and functional activities (e.g., to divide up an area of land into different fields where various crops are to be grown). However, when this mode of thought is applied more broadly to man’s notion of himself and the whole world in which he lives (i.e. to his self-world view), then man ceases to regard the resulting divisions as merely useful or convenient and begins to see and experience himself and his world as actually constituted of separately existent fragments.

“Being guided by a fragmentary self-world view, man then acts in such a way as to try to break himself and the world up, so that all seems to correspond to his way of thinking. Man thus obtains an apparent proof of the correctness of his fragmentary self-world view, though, of course, he overlooks the fact that it is he himself, acting according to his mode of thought, who has brought about the fragmentation that now seems to have an autonomous existence, independent of his will and of his desire.”

world inside, inner space, inner selfDan Mountford

I would love to hear about your mystical/kensho/samadhi experiences in the comments section (located above, under the post title). Though of course, any and all feedback & sharing is welcome & encouraged. Please join the conversation….!

*For more on KENSHO check out this awesome page!

*Edgar Mitchell’s exploration of his samadhi experience in space lead to the development of a new theory called “The Over-View Effect;” many astronauts had experienced similar reactions upon beholding the Earth. The subject was made into a fantastic short film of the same name, which you can view by clicking here

Inward Bound: Exploring The Fractal Matrix

June 17, 2014 § 10 Comments

By: Tai Carmen

spiral-7684-1280x800[Fractal Spirals]

“So alienated from ourselves are we that when we encounter our own souls in the psychedelic dimension, we mistake it for a UFO. This is serious alienation folks, I think we have to get back into the inner jeweled realm and make ourselves at home there.” ~ Terence McKenna

“In some sense man is a microcosm of the universe; therefore what man is, is a clue to the universe. We are enfolded in the universe.” ~ David Bohm

In “The Art Of Seeing: Third Eye Perception & The Mystical Gaze,” I explored the phenomenon of inner visions experienced in meditation, such as mandalas and other “third eye” phenomena. The “third” or “inner” eye has been called a gateway to other dimensions, a personal portal leading into esoteric visionary realms.

vortext, portal

“The Art of Seeing” received one of our largest, most in-depth reader responses. The comments section is filled with shared accounts from readers of their adventures in inner space.

There were a lot of fascinating similarities. The most common reports were of geometric patterns, and of perceiving blue, purple or magenta swirls—often taking the form of tunnels, passageways, vortexes or, as one reader described it, a golden hallway. There was a common theme of sensing it to be some kind of inner portal.

fractal_universe_by_csuk_1t-d5done0-1[Fractal Universe by CSuck-1T]

While Eastern mystical traditions have described the existence of the third eye, the energy body & chakra system for ages, the direct perception of these fields is a pioneering study. At this point, anecdotal sharing affirms that ours are not isolated experiences, but contact with a genuine dimension of reality.

Which raises the question: what is the nature of that reality?

M.C. Escher, unraveling faces[M.C. Escher]

 Quantum physicists, philosophers, cosmologists & psychonauts alike have all observed a holographic potential to the nature of reality.

A hologram contains the whole within the part. Not only is this true of our bodies—one cell, of course, contains our whole genetic blueprint—but the natural world is made up of recurring patterns, which repeat on every scale, from micro to macro, known as fractals. We observe the same formations, such as the Fibonacci Spiral, shown below, in both the macro universe & on the micro (sub-atomic) level.

recurring fibonacci spiral

Below, a microscopic image of a bacterial colony structure demonstrates fractal qualities:

fractal_bacteria_colony

In one experiment, or “chaos game,” numbers are randomly generated & then placed on a grid.

Within a few dozen repetitions, the shape we would recognize as a perfect fern will emerge from the abstract math. This is because Nature, in Her elegance, follows the simplest & most efficient possible path.

fractal ferns

“Many things previously called chaos are now known to follow subtle fractal laws of behavior.

“So many things turned out to be fractal, that the word “chaos” itself (in operational science) has been redefined as ‘following inherently unpredictable yet generally deterministic rules, based on nonlinear iterative equations.’ Fractals are unpredictable in specific details, yet deterministic when viewed as a total pattern…” (Fractal Patterns in Nature)

Fractal-like formations are often reported during both mediative visions and psychedelic journeying.

Fractal-Mobius-Dragon-IFS-10[Fractal Kit]

In an interview for “New Realities,” Alan Steinfeld asks visionary artist Alex Grey about his use of grids in his inter-dimensional, metaphysically themed paintings. “It comes from seeing the grid work in meditation and on psychedelic voyages,” replies Grey, “and it seems to be related to one’s perceptions and projections. ‘Theologue’ [shown below] is a recounting, an experience of witnessing a grid work that was emanating from my own awareness.

AlexGreySolarPlexus[“Theologue” by Alex Grey]

Continues Grey: “I was a node in the sourcing of the web and felt so expansive I was beyond my sourcing it. I could see it projecting from my awareness. Since we are all projecting it, it is a part of all of us. It is an aspect of our being.

“The grid is not a manifestation of the conceptual mind, but of transcendental wisdom mind.”

Alex-Grey-Fractal-Self-Similar

The ancient Avatamsaka Sutra describes the universe as a giant web, known as “Indra’s Net”:

“Far away in the heavenly abode of the great God there is a wonderful net which has been hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner that it stretches out indefinitely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a single glittering jewel at the net’s every node, and since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number.

“There hang the jewels, glittering like stars of the first magnitude, a wonderful sight to behold. If we now arbitrarily select one of the these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in it’s polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that, but each of the jewels reflected in this one jewel is also reflecting all the other jewels, so that the process of reflection is infinite.”

The jeweled net is an excellent description of a hologram, as each jewel contains an image of all the others.

indra's net, dewey spiderweb

In 1982, a team of researchers lead by Alain Aspect, discovered that subatomic particles, such as electrons, are able to instantaneously communicate with one another, regardless of how much space separated them.

This discovery, known as quantum entanglement, violates Einstein’s long-held tenant that no communication can travel faster than the speed of life, and is tantamount to breaking the time barrier.

Physicist David Bohm suggested this discovery implied an inherently illusory, interconnected & holographic nature to reality (detailed in his book, “Wholeness & The Implicate Order.”)

ThirteenthFloor[Poster for “Thirteenth Floor”]

The fact that grid work, geometric forms & fractal imagery is regularly experienced by psychonauts from varying backgrounds suggests a Matrix-like possibility to the nature of reality.

After all, nothing is solid, the micro contains the macro & mathematics makes up the fundamental expressions of our world.

482399_591446300920026_49992293_n

“We live in a fractal world of extraordinary beauty, full of information” notes metaphysical author & clairvoyant Stuarte Wilde. “But the sight of it is denied to us, at first anyway. To see is to be able to perceive the geometric reality that makes up your body and all of nature, and to see the angelic and the celestial heavens, as well as be more aware of the dangers of the hell worlds and the dark fractals people fire.

“We are inside complex geometric formula that describe our health, abundance, moods, creativity, our psychology…but mostly they describe our energy and vitality, or a lack of it. This sea of energy around us dictates what happens to us in 3-D; it shapes our fate, just as fractals dictate the shape of a fern leaf.”

fractal_eye_01[The Doors of Perception, Stuart Wilde]

What are your pieces to the puzzle?

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