Friday, September 28, 2012

Becoming a Person of Power - Spiritual Connection

You may be reeling from your reflections around the first principle of power, Awareness of Wound.  It may feel impossible to acknowledge that difficulties in life come from how we react to outer circumstances, rather than from the outer circumstances themselves. You might even not believe this is so. Maybe you attribute your difficulties to a run of "bad luck" or to the "ill-wishing" of others. Someone once told me that our entire reality is created by the way we think.  The Huna Kapua put it this way -- "The world is what you think it is."  I had a hard time believing this at first, and sometimes I still do, especially when my outer circumstances are so challenging that I can't come up with a way to think positively around them.  And even when we are self-aware around wound, we have bad days. This is just part of life. Even the great spiritual master Ram Dass contends with this. He once said that after all his years on a spiritual path his demons haven't budged a bit.  I don't think he was saying the inner wound is impossible to live with or will defeat us -- I think he was speaking to the need for tenacity around our own ability and willingness to work with it and to come to peace with it.  The core wound is never healed, even though we are always healing.  Healing and empowering are on-going processes and they work in layers -- like peeling back an onion. 

If you are feeling resistance, sit with it awhile and try to discern where this is coming from. Notice what emerges. Sometimes it comes from wanting to have something or someone to blame for where we are in life.  We may have tried everything we can think of to change our circumstances, to feel differently about our lives, or to figure out what is not working and we feel stymied. Other times it comes from feeling pressure around having to succeed or to prove ourselves, and we pile so much pressure on that it is hard to think straight (which, of course, leads to feelings that might not be helpful to us).  Sometimes we need to give ourselves a break and time to regroup.  And we need another kind of human technology to do this -- nurturing our spirituality.

The second principle of personal power is Spiritual Connection.

This technology of the Soul revolves around nurturing our spirituality, which enables us to be grounded and centered. Being grounded means that we have a foundation. Being centered means that we are well-balanced. We are less likely to fall into unhealthy thought patterns and toxic emotions when we are grounded and centered.  These are spiritual qualities. They promote the feeling of being calm, even when everything around us feels like it is going haywire.

We need to be grounded and centered in our spirit for the other three parts of the Self to be healthy.  Being grounded and centered enables us to be calm and to think clearly.

Medical research has demonstrated a number of things that point to the importance of spiritual health and to the mind-body connection. Two minutes of meditation a day can improve heart health by 55% -- just two minutes.  Medical research has demonstrated that our thought patterns become wired into our brains through the establishment of neural pathways.  These pathways remain static unless we actively work to change them.  And medical research has demonstrated also that we can rewire our neural pathways and can think, feel, and act differently.  This requires intentional work on our part to change how we think.

We have brain tissue throughout our bodies.  This means that how we think (which affects how we feel and the actions and decisions that derive from this) has a profound effect on our bodies' operations and overall health.  There is even research that demonstrates that the spirit, the animating energetic force within us, has a small measure of mass.  It's real. There have been studies that show that vast parts of the brain the average person rarely uses are activated when we are actively engaging in a spiritual practice.  People can be healed from serious illness when others pray for them -- the energy of prayer is force that enables movement and change.  The work of indigenous healers and energy workers can have profound effect on health conditions, such as chronic pain and depression.  People who are active in spiritual communities live longer than those who are not. Faith is a factor in quality of life. 

Everything is connected.  Our thoughts, our feelings, our spirits, our bodies -- all of these parts of the Self are interconnected and, when working well together in healthy ways, enable us to make decisions from a place of personal power, rather than simply reacting to the things outside of ourselves that might trigger our inner wounds and unconscious reactions.  When our inner wounds and unconscious reactions are triggered and we act out of them, we are not in our power, but are controlled by something other than our personal power attained through self-mastery.  This can leave us feeling, literally, tossed about like a small boat on an ocean in a storm.

This brings to mind a story in the gospels where Jesus and his disciples are in a small boat on the Sea of Galilee.  A great storm comes out of nowhere while Jesus is asleep in the back of the boat.  His disciples panic.  Even though they are with Jesus in the moment -- can see, hear, and touch him, and even though they have seen him perform great signs and wonders, in their panic they lose their foundation and their balance for a moment.  They go to him, wake him up and ask if he plans to let them perish in the storm.  He is stunned at their reaction and asks them, "Have you no faith?"  As each of them contends with the inner struggle around this question, Jesus stills the storm and everything is calm once again.  They move forward toward their destination -- solid ground.

Like all the great stories of the different traditions, this story has a valuable teaching for us if we are willing to listen and to grapple with it. When we lose our foundation and are out of balance, we are able to reconnect within our spirits with what is solid for us.  We can literally awaken spiritual connection. This brings balance and we are able to move forward toward whatever it is we are trying to reach.  Faith in something beyond ourselves -- in power greater than ourselves, one that empowers our own personal power --  enables us to connect once again with the foundation that brings balance to our lives.  And this enables us to think and to feel differently about our lives and about our ability to reach our goals, whatever they may be. 

There is an interactive relationship between thoughts, feelings, and spiritual health.  It is difficult to find our spiritual center when our thoughts and feelings are raging out of control AND it is difficult to quiet our minds and calm our feelings when we are not grounded and spiritually centered.  We have to work all three of these parts of the Self in order to find balance.  And this inner dance has a profound effect on our physical health and our levels of physical well-being and physical pain.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Becoming a Person of Power - First Principles

It's helpful to know where you are going and it's helpful to have a map to get there.  These principles are like a map in that they offer landmarks for the journey.  They also point us in the direction that will take us to our destination, even if the roads we take are different. I will be highlighting four principles -- the list may not be exhaustive, but it is a great beginning.  Undoubtedly, you will find more as you move through your own journey.  But these four are what I would dare say are common to all empowered people.  Some of them are obviously supportive, while others help us to get out of our own way.  Even those, ultimately, are supportive. They all require both inner and outer work.  And some of them take a lot of work.  Each person is different, so you may find that some are easier for you than they are for others.  What may seem impossible to you may feel tremendously simple to another.  And I will offer another bit of guidance -- some of this stuff is tricky.  You may think you have it down, and then you may also find at times something will trigger something in you that feels more powerful than you are.  When these moments come, take a deep breath and press on.

Being powerful does not mean you are perfect.  Powerful people make mistakes and trip themselves up at times. Powerful people are just that...power-full.  They have the willingness and the intention to discover and to live into their higher selves, and they use the tools at their disposal and their inner drives to keep themselves from collapsing into unhelpful thought patterns and toxic emotions that can undermine them.  They are aware of energy and how powerful energy is.  They understand that they can create their own reality through self-mastery and by directing this powerful energy to create the outcomes they are looking for.  This inner work eventually leads to improved outer circumstances, whatever that may look like.  They understand that expectations can be a trap that can lead to self-destruction and that a willingness to notice what is emerging in the moment is the true indicator of healthy and life-giving self-direction.  They are curious and always listening, always willing to learn.

The first principle of personal power is Awareness of Wound.

Each of us has a deep core-level wound.  And when we are not aware of our wound, we can become triggered around it in ways that undermine and sabotage us. Sometimes our core-level wound controls everything -- how we hear things, how we see things, how we relate to others, whether or not we are willing to be open to learning new things. 

This wounding usually happens to us early in childhood and becomes part of the fabric of our Soul.  When we are children, we have limited understanding about life and about the projections of others, which may be the foundation of this wound.  And since each person is unique, we will have been wounded in some way that is unique to us and to our life experience.

Where this throws us into crisis is how we interact with every person and every situation we meet from then on.  Our wound becomes internalized and an unconscious motivator in all our relationships until we grow up and learn how to get conscious around our wound and its effects.

The wound we carry whispers in our ears constantly, trying to limit us -- especially around opportunity and risk taking.  Its job in our psyche is to keep us safe and in control of our outer circumstances.  But this is illusion -- being controlled by our wound never leads to safety and usually brings us to greater harm.  It knows where we are vulnerable and it is powerful.  Control, also, is an illusion.  The only real control we have is over ourselves.

Psychologist Carl Gustav Jung said, "There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious." 

This kind of consciousness enables us to harness ourselves and to attain thought patterns and emotional control that promote mental and emotional health.

We are complex beings -- we have a physical body, an emotional body, a mental body, and a spiritual body.  These four energies make up the whole person.  They all have to be working in concert for us to be able to master ourselves and to stand in our power.

We need to be able to control our thoughts so that unhelpful thinking patterns do not control us.  We need to be able to control our emotions, which are fed by the ways we think, in order to be able to communicate (and to act) well and effectively.  A Huna Kapua principle reminds us -- energy goes where attention flows.  How we think and what we feel matter.

Awareness around wound is critical to our ability to focus our attention in healthy and empowered ways, unencumbered by the unconscious motivation that derives its energy from an internalized psychological, emotional, or spiritual wound.

Emotional control and healthy thought patterns are the basic human technologies of powerful living, which at its core has to do with being grounded and centered. These technologies of the Soul are powered by spirituality -- however you connect with that.  We will talk about spiritual connection in the next post, for that is the second principle of personal power.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Becoming a Person of Power - Tools and Technologies of the Soul

In my own search for becoming powerful I discovered a few things -- mainly through my own experience and by being companioned and helped by some "safe people" along the way, people who helped me to make sense of my experience.  My own stories are not important to share here as I discuss first principles, but the feelings associated with them may be, as well as the process that these feelings catalyzed.

Several life experiences provoked two very uncomfortable feelings for me -- powerlessness and the feeling that I was at someone else's mercy.

These feelings caused a shift in me that I would express as, "Then, I hit my line."

This shift led to what I would describe as a cascade.  Something welled up in me and I knew, at the very core of my being, that I had to be in control of myself (self-mastery), even if I had no control over anything else. 

This epiphany is the beginning of power.

So, the process that led me to my own personal power can be described this way --

provocation, shift, cascade, epiphany, consciousness, and, finally, self-mastery.

The first four elements of the process were internal responses that led to self-awareness.  The final two required work on my part, both internal and external work.  Self-awareness is the tipping point in the process.  It is also the place of choice.  Do I stay where I am, even with new awareness?  Or do I move forward, go deeper, do the work that will bring me beyond self-awareness and into consciousness?  And, then, do I embark on the journey and do the work required for self-mastery? 

So, let's talk about power. What is power? 

Power is force that enables movement. 
Power is force that drives movement. 
Power creates possibility. 

Force is what happens on the inside. 
It is the catalyst.

Movement is what happens on the outside. 
It is the consequence. 

For the most part, force -- the provocation, shift, cascade, and epiphany elements in the process of personal empowerment are internal processes.  Consciousness and self-mastery, while requiring internal work, manifest on the outside and create movement in your life -- they are the consequences of force.

It's important to understand the relationship between force and movement...between the catalyst and the consequence.

You can have all the skills, talents, tools, and technology in the world, and there are more tools and technologies now than ever before at our disposal.  But if you don't cultivate the inner tools and technologies, the tools and technologies of the Soul -- everything else is meaningless.  You can put the tools and technologies of the Soul into service to empower your life so that you can use the more mundane, practical tools and technology to attain the outcomes you want and reach your goals.  These tools and technologies of the Soul enable us to stand in our power through profound self-awareness and consciousness.

With self-awareness and consciousness come choice and with choice comes power -- force that enables movement and creates possibility. 

In the next pieces of the discussion I will share what I have come to discover are the Principles of Personal Power.  I'm going to give them to you one at a time so you can ponder, reflect, journal, and create enough space within to really take them in and work with them.  Think of it as space for cultivation of what might be the most important work of your life and, if you feel resonant and inspired around this work, give yourself the gift of time to manifest a deeper level of personal empowerment.

I offer more tools and inspiration on my poetry and education page - Awakened Spirit - on Facebook, to assist you in your journey.  I invite you to visit the page and explore images, poetry, and teachings that can help catalyze your own journey as you awaken to the magnificence of your Soul and empower your journey through the landscape of your fractured-expanding-healing Self.