Monday, September 27, 2004 |
Culture & Assumptions
The universe is a seamless whole and everything is part of the same larger process: galaxies, our solar system, Earth, culture, our experiences. There is no separation.
The Universe can be seen as a holarchy: systems within systems, processes within processes. Everything is simultaneously a whole and a part.
Our experience of the inner/outer world is influenced by the holarchy we are embedded in.
- The characteristics/processes/habits of the Universe as a whole
- The characteristics of this solar system and the Earth
- The evolution of the Earth and our ancestors (going back to the first organisms)
- The evolution of humans
- Our culture
- Our personal experiences
Each human being is raised in a culture, and absorbs a large number of basic assumptions of the world. We then use these to survive and guide our choices in a complex world.
This is essential for our survival. And it can also cause problems if/when some of these assumptions are not appropriate for our current situation.
In the western world, we are still transmitting and operating from cultural assumptions that were developed hundreds or thousands of years ago, in a quite different situation from that we are in today. And a number of these assumptions are unquestioned and operate below awareness for many of us.
As we are facing an increasingly urgent need for deep culture change, it becomes increasingly more important to bring these assumptions into awareness, explore them and possibly develop alternative strategies.
What do they tell us about the world and our role in the world? How do they guide our choices and actions? What are their origins? How well do they serve us in our current situation? What may happen if we change them or replace them with other assumptions?
Some cultural assumption I am aware of and their consequences...
- There is a discontinuity between humans and other species
Through science, we understand the similarities and continuity between humans and the other species. But we are still stuck in a perception of separation between humans and other species in terms of ethics and how we relate to humans and other species.
- There is a separation between egotism and altruism
We do not expect there to be a congruence between what is good for oneself and the larger whole. This would change if we operate from an assumption of no separation.
- We are separate from the larger whole
We do not perceive ourselves as embedded in the Earth and the Universe. We may understand intellectually that there is no separation, while still experience the inner world (experiences, sensations, thoughts, emotions, etc) as discontinous with the outer world (plants, animals, rocks, clouds, stars, galaxies)
- [many more]
I participated in an activity yesterday that again brought these issues up for me: In the Miwok creation story
, Silver Fox is lonely and visions up Coyote. Together they dance, sing and vision up the whole world.
If this was our creation story, how would we experience the world? What would it mean for us?
Some possible answers: The world was created through visioning, play and joyfulness. So too can we create in our own lives. And animals are our partners and teachers, not below us or essentially different from ourselves.
Wednesday, September 22, 2004 |
Breema & Healing
Some reflections related to Breema and healing:
Self-healing is a characteristic of any living system, including humans. And it seems that there is one thing that often gets in the way of our healing: ourselves. Or rather our patterns (emotional, cognitive, behavioral) and our attachments to these patterns. Breema helps me as a giver and a receiver to get out of my own way, and allow the self-healing processes to unfold.
It seems that the rhythmical and gradual qualities of Breema bodywork allows me to deeply relax. The whole Universe is pulising, including the womb we all started our lives in.
Breema allows healing on all levels: physical (gentle leans/stretches), emotional (comfort, safety, connection, acceptance), mental (letting go of attachment to ideas), and spiritual (opens up for a transdual experience). Mainly, it allows the self-healing processes to unfold on all levels. It opens up for whatever needs to happen.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004 |
Beyond Altruism & Egotism
Existence is a seamless whole. How could it be otherwise?
My life is seamlessly integrated into the life of the Earth and the Universe. It is one system. One body.
And there are many simple life-centered choices that appear to be beneficial on all levels (of course, it depends on what we mean by "beneficial"):
- Taking care of myself. When I am more in balance, it benefits those around me.
- Eating low on the food chain and less processed (less resources consumed)
- Eating local (connection with land, money stays in the community, less resources consumed)
- Low consumption (simple living > more time for family/friends/community)
One of the Breema principles is Body Comfortable. As with all the principles, I continue to experience it in new, deepening and widening ways.
Initially, I took it literally (still do). Whenever I remembered Body Comfortable, I would check in with my body's comfort, and make whatever changes needed to move in the direction of more comfort. I found that I could sit, walk, stand, etc. in always more comfortable ways. And also that what is comfortable changes from moment to moment.
After a few weeks, I applied it to my whole self. What do I experience as comfortable? How can I be more comfortable right now? It gave me permission to make choices based on what works for me at the moment, rather than "shoulds" and expectations. If I would be uncomfortable doing something, and I would do it based on shoulds and my own or other's expecations, I can always say "no". Very liberating. And subversive as well as revolutionary in our culture.
Then, I deepened my experience of "no separation" and of human society and Earth as my larger body. And of course Body Comfortable also relates to my larger body. How can I live a life that makes society and Earth more comfortable. There are no "shoulds" and no intellectualizing, just the experience of wanting my life to contribute to the comfort of my whole body. Most of the time, the choices are simple. What is good for my small body is also good for my larger body and the other way around - no separation.
Monday, September 20, 2004 |
I have had several dreams over the last weeks, all with variations on the same theme:
I am leading a diverse group of people in a hands-on project (most recently building), and relate to each person individually and differently according to what is needed. There is a strong sense of leading and coordination, as well as (a) differentiation/diversity and (b) flow and unity.
I think the transformation coming from my daily Breema practice may relate to these dreams. I am bringing the diversity of my body/mind into awareness (the animal aspects as well as those beyond dualities) as well as the flowing unity of myself and the rest of the world.
Sunday, September 19, 2004 |
Food is another example of how something can be very simple. Still, we often make it more complicated - and in our situation with good help from commercialism (new fads promoted because someone can make money on it).
I have found an evolutionary perspective to be very useful when I make decision in any areas of life. How does it match up with our human history? (eg. the Atkins Diet seems obviously unhealthy since it is so far removed from the food situation we are biologically adapted to).
With food, it is simple:
* Diverse diet
* Less processed and whole foods
* Everything in moderation
* Daily excercise through diverse and daily activities
* Change. Eat with the seasons so no food is eaten regularly year round (give the body a break). Become gradually more intimate with my own mind/body and choose food based on what is needed at the moment.
And there is a strategy that fulfills all my biological needs, as well as my needs for connetion: Eating local food. Local food is seasonal, fresh, abundant, from people and/or places I have personal connections with, less processed, inexpensive - and immensely rewarding on all levels.
Thursday, September 16, 2004 |
Culture & Depression
In my own life I have observed when depression tends to sink in: when I am not meeting my deepest needs. When I live a life that does not work for me.
It is very simple.
We have basic and universal needs, and we try to meet those needs through various strategies. Often, we are attached to particular strategies even if they do not work very well, and even if we are not very aware of which needs we are trying to meet through them.
In my teens, I experienced depression alongside with a tremendous exitement about what this world has to offer. I explored Jung, Steiner, Bertelsen, Daoism, Buddhism, sustainability, art and more, and it gave me a tremendous hope as I could see a way out of the habitual patterns I had inherented from my culture and family. Patterns that led to a life where my deepest needs were not met, and depression as life's way of reminding me that they were not met.
When depression arrives - even in its mildest form - I know it is a reminder: which deep and universal needs are not fulfilled in my life? And I know there are more strategies possible to fulfill them than I - or any human being - can ever explore.
And the simplest strategies are often the most effective.
Life (experience & ideas)
I have seen how we humans easily get caught up in ideas rather than the taste and full experience. It is played out over and over again, including in different spiritual traditions.
There is the taste and lived experience, and then there is the ideas around it. The first opens up for life. The second, if by itself, for alienation. An healthy approach emphasizes the experience, and allows the ideas to support it.
And as everything is in change, our experience changes - and our ideas changes with it. There is nothing fixed to hold onto.
In Breema, there is a strong emphasis on the experience. It is one of the reasons why I find it such a nurturing and juicy approach.
Wednesday, September 15, 2004 |
The greatest miracle is that anything exists at all.
Then, that there is awareness.
Then, how the immense richness of the Universe unfolds from simplicity.
We experience the magic in life when we are present, when we have a taste of Existence or God - beyond all dualities.
And I notice how Breema, as my experience of it deepens, helps me open to this taste of Existence and magic.
Tuesday, September 14, 2004 |
It has been a wonderful summer.
I have taken weekly Breema classes, and went to an eleven-day intensive at the Breema Center in Oakland, California. At my return, I sent out an invitation for free Breema session at the Eugene Permaculture Guild email list, and have had 2-4 sessions daily since then. I notice that the more session I do, the better I feel. It has much the same effect as meditation, yoga and tai chi, although two benefits when I do it - not only my self. The personal connections have also been great and have opened up new doors.
It's been an abundant late summer/early fall, with much food preservation going on (drying, freezing and eventually canning as well). It is great to find more local sources including free ones. I have also gotten back into making foods including mustard.
When I lived in Madison, Wisconsin, one of the community activities that I found the most enjoyable was to help start NWEI discussion groups (on topics such as Voluntary Simplicity, Deep Ecology, Choices for Sustainable Living, a Sense of Place, etc).
Although the groups use an anthology of readings as background for the meetings, and a way of kicking off the conversation, I found that the magic happened in the interactions among the participants. It is amazing to see the wisdom and experience that is allowed to surface when we have a deep and personal dialogue, and the even richer and deeper wisdom that comes out of the group interaction.
It also became clearer to me how important it is to create a good container for quality interactions. Some of the guidelines: Speaking time is shared among participants, talking from personal experience (avoiding abstract ideas, blaming others, etc), solution focus, etc.
Saturday, September 11, 2004 |
Much of the mindless consumption in our society are attempts to meet basic human needs. And unsuccessful attempts at that.
Our culture has set up a quite impressive feedback system:
(a) Among our most basic human needs are deep, authentic and meaningful relationships to ourselves, each other and the Earth. These are needs that are not met very well in current western society (in the US least of all places).
(b) We are trained to be unaware of our basic needs. We are also trained to be unaware of how we choose strategies to meet those needs. Most of our strategies are habitual, unconscious, learned from our culture and family, and tragically ineffective in meeting our needs.
(c) We try to meet our basic needs through various forms of consumption. This is the one strategy that we systematically learn from an increasingly young age, and one that is reinforced by our culture.
(d) Our culture is set up to perpetuate alienation through promoting unsuccessful strategies to meet our needs (consumption, nuclear living units, mindless entertainment etc.). These strategies feeds the current (profoundly flawed) economical system and those who benefit from it (although they are as much and tragically caught up in it as anyone else of course). And this in turn is an additional incentive to perpetuate the same unsuccessful strategies.
It is a feedback loop that is doomed to failure, but we need to become aware of how flawed it is to change it. And, as with much change in human life (on an individual or collective level) it may not happen until the alternative (to continue what we are doing) becomes too painful. And the pain may partly come through our alienation, and partly through economic collapse and ecological unraveling.
Jen and I facilitated a workshop on voluntary simplicity today. We chose to do it as a discussion group, and is always amazing to see the combined wisdom and experience of the participants, and the magic that comes from the human interactions.
As with any group interaction, setting up the container is essential. And some aspect of that process this time was to give life to the realizations that...
(a) It is a process (no end goals).
(b) It is about intentionality and living a meaningful life - which will look different from person to person and different at different times in any person's life (there is no one strategy).
(c) There is a wide range of tools available, and which tools are appropriate depends on the situation and person.
(d) Some of those tools have to do with inner simplicity. For instance, NVC helps us identify and clarify our needs, and consciously choose strategies to meet those needs (and flexibility in which strategies we choose).
(e) Most of our needs have to do with relationships and connections with ourselves, each other and the wider Earth community. They can be met simply, and w/o much consumption.
Breema is one of those tools for me, allowing me to connect deeply with myself, other people (when I give or receive Breema), and the wider whole. I have a direct and deepening experience of no separation, I can more easily let go of my attachments to ideas and habits that do not meet my needs, and choose strategies that better meet my needs. Many of the "holes" in my life that I sometimes try to (unsuccessfully) meet through various forms of consumption, are filled through Breema.
Wednesday, September 08, 2004 |
I watched some of the 19 by Beckett plays tonight. It seems he, in many of the plays, pulls out one way we habitually relate to the world and then amplifies it.
In NVC terms, he shows how we are stuck in particular strategies to meet our needs, although the strategies do not always work and although we are sometimes not even aware of which needs we are trying to meet by a particular strategy.
NVC, meditation, Breema, etc. are some approaches to bring these habitual patterns into awareness, so we can relate to them with more awareness and choice.
Tuesday, September 07, 2004 |
News as a Tool
The daily news is mostly the same stories over and over, with different names, locations and scales.
Still, there is a surprising fascination with these stories, one that goes beyond what is necessary to make choices based on their information.
It seems that much of this fascination, especially concerning events that do not directly impact us, is due to projections. Something in the stories reflect processes and characteristics in ourselves that is not in our awareness. The stories trigger aversions (fear, anger etc) and attractions (admiration etc) that brings our attention to the stories so we can explore them in the outer world. From that, we - hopefully and eventually - recognize and become familiar with the same processes and characteristics in ourselves.
Ever since high school, I have used the daily news as a tool for awareness. Every characteristic I see in the outer world is also there in the inner world. There is no difference. No separation.
And with that, less need to be attached to stories, and less need for blind judgment (blind aversions or attractions). There is only events reflecting the human - including my own - condition. And there is more clarity in how to deal with these situations - how to reduce suffering.
What is left is deep compassion, based on recognition. It is all part of the human condition, we are all in this together. It opens up for a deep sense of connection, and for deep gratitude.
Saturday, September 04, 2004 |
Holistic & Consistency
I walked into a massage office today and left within a couple of minutes. The air was saturated with offgassing from new paint and carpets. My initial response was sadness - mixed with judgment - to see someone in a health-centered profession introducing toxins to their work space. It does hardly support the health of those working their nor that of their clients.
I then was reminded that we all do this. Our lives may be (consciously) oriented in a certain direction, but life is rich and beyond dualities. Our lives and actions are by necessity richer than any abstract ideology/wishes, and thus far beyond "consistent".
In terms of everyday choices, we live in a culture that is doing its job - it sets up patterns that makes some choices easy and others not so easy. With paint and carpets, it often takes more investigation to find high-quality and non-toxic products (unless there is a good store nearby specializing in those products).
In my own life, I consciously want to live in a way that supports life: for myself, the larger society/Earth, and for future generation (no separation there anyway). But my choices are by necessity not consistent. My awareness is limited and interacts with constraints set up by my culture and resources. My choices are relatively well aligned with my conscious orientation in some areas, and not so well aligned in other areas.
And then there is change: Everything is in change - the Universe and our experiences with it. There is nothing fixed to hold onto. My guidelines today are different from my guidelines tomorrow. What I perceive as appropriate choices today will be different from my choices tomorrow. New views emerge from new experiences.
Inconsistency is a part of the richness of life.
"To be who you are, you don't need much but you need to let go of much." - Jon Schreiber, Freedom Is in This Moment.
I have been doing Breema sessions daily this summer, and am experiencing more directly how simple and uncomplicated life can be. It just is.
There is life, but no need for extra. There is discernment, but no need for judgement. There is cause and effect, but no need for "shoulds". There are some guidelines, but no ideology. There is honesty, and no need for complication. It just is.
And it is grounded in every cell of my body, in my whole existence.
I dreamt that I was in a small US town, and crossed the street behind a moving police car. The car stopped, and a police officer walked up to me and started chit-chatting. I said "I know why you stopped me. It is because I crossed the street without using the sidewalk." He looked taken back. "Are you not going to try to make excuses?" I said "No. I like it simple. And I like to be honest."
I then woke up from a grunting racoon family outside the bedroom window.
I noticed how I enjoyed the experience of making it simple and honest. Uncomplicated. (And I was a little curious to see how he would react).
The day before: Talked with Jen about how simple life can be, through Breema (support to let go of extra).