The Power of Presence, How “Living In The Now” Can Change Your Life

Presence is the powerful practice of being in the moment.

It is created through an acute awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and in our modern day society, being present doesn’t always come easily. The overstimulation and distraction that come from technology, social media, work, family life, social engagements, and the never-ending “to-do” lists regularly take us out of the now and into a memory from the past or a fear about the future.

Cultivating the power of presence comes from creating the space to observe one’s mind and one’s self. This skill of observation allows us to look at our own lives and the lives of others without attaching judgment or analysis. Using this awareness, we become mindfully attuned to all that is around us through our five senses (smell, touch, taste, sight, and sound) as well as our physical sensations — you know, those signs from our bodies that we often tend to ignore.

Our bodies are equipped with a natural mechanism called the “stress response,” also known as the “fight-or-flight” response, which was first described by Walter Cannon at Harvard. When we encounter something that feels like a threat, the amygdala in the brain experiences the emotion fear. The brain then communicates to the hypothalamus, which communicates to the nervous system, which signals to the adrenal glands to release the stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. This assembly-line-like process of the sympathetic nervous system is a crucial part of our body’s internal self-protection mechanism. The only problem is that we are not physiologically designed to be frightened often.

In today’s world, many of us live in overdrive and operate in a constant state of “flight or flight.” This state can be a result of feeling the fear of imagined threats: financial security, societal achievement, the steadiness or demise of a relationship, a perceived health threat, the loss of a loved one, etc. Operating from this place, it is no wonder that many of us feel the perils of stress and anxiety on a daily basis. We struggle with migraines, digestive issues, difficulty breathing, lack of concentration, fatigue, depression, and innumerable other physical ailments because our body is actually attempting to flee the scene of a real threat (car crash, lion chase, assault, etc.) that simply isn’t there. 

The opposite is also true. When we practice deep breathing and mindfulness, we encourage our body to employ the “relaxation response,” our body’s counterbalance to the stress response as defined by Harvard professor Herbert Benson. Being in a state of relaxation, your body will experience physiological symptoms of ease, openness, and balance.

A few days ago, I unintentionally experimented with the topic of presence when I accidentally left my phone at home. Even though I am generally good about creating intentional space to be phone free, something felt different. Normally, I choose to not bring it on a walk, I choose to keep it in my purse during dinner with a friend, and I choose to put it on airplane mode when I am writing or working during the day. Yesterday was the middle of the work week and if I had been asked whether or not I wanted to bring my phone along for the day, my answer would have unquestionably been “yes.”

Climbing up the stairs to the train platform, my hand impulsively reached into my bag in search of my phone. I was subconsciously looking for a meditative distraction during my morning commute. Remembering that it wasn’t there, I closed my eyes, took five deep breaths, and boarded the train car upon its arrival. Within moments of taking my seat, three street performers made an announcement, turned up their boom box, and had at it with their superfly dance moves. I was engrossed and totally present: wide eyes, big smile, heart beating in my chest.

Over the course of the rest of the day, I made note of a few other observations that I could have missed if I was in the phone zone:

  • A gathering of beautiful purple flowers on the sidewalk that had fallen off a tree
  • The smile from a saxophone player on the street
  • A little girl selling brownies in front of her house (although there weren’t many left because she was eating them when she thought no one was looking!)
  • The way the breeze felt on my skin between the high-rises

Upon noticing each of these observations I felt the tension in my body dissipate, I smiled effortlessly, and my body felt calm and at ease. Being fully involved in the present moment, I didn’t have the time to become entrenched in thoughts about the past or fears about the future. I was simply aware of what was going on in the now.

Now let’s be realistic. I know that we live in a technology-focused era and that our phones and our computers are significant tools for work, connectivity, and enjoyment.

They serve a purpose, and an important one at that. We also live in an age where anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population. Countless studies have begun to explore the effects of mindfulness on reducing anxiety and depression, with many of the results from these studies suggesting that mindfulness-based therapy is a promising intervention for treating anxiety and mood problems in clinical populations. If pills, therapies, and medical advice aren’t curing our ailments, it seems foolish not to give mindfulness a shot.

If nothing else, maybe we will get the opportunity to notice small and simple details throughout the day that put a smile on our face.

Join our upcoming workshop called Cultivating Embodiment & Presence inside our membership called the Explorer Lounge. Learn more here.

The post The Power of Presence, How “Living In The Now” Can Change Your Life appeared first on Collective Evolution.

Your Life Is Not Limited To One Path

It is no secret that life can sometimes feel like a limited paved road laid out before us that we feel the need to stick to. Look at how we are brought up. Most of the time we come into the world and develop our ideas and perceptions from those closest to us – our parents. As time goes on we find ourselves in school, around friends, extended family or even on the internet. These new sources of ‘life’ begin to model ‘what life is’ and so we often follow.

Through these early formative years, we are observing and creating an idea of how life should be; the ‘best way’ to play the game. We’re learning from people who learned from those before them and so on. Very small ideas evolve throughout history, but typically, most of the way life is stays the same. We don’t change a whole lot.

But what happens when it feels like a new future is calling? How does one wake up to the fact that life isn’t limited to this narrow path?

This of the concept of ‘the best decision.’ How many times have we heard “that’s not the best decision” or “that’s not the best decision for the whole family.” When you look at either statement you realize that ‘best’ is subjective. What the ‘best’ is to one person may not be the ‘best to another. Further, both perceptions of ‘the best’ are created from whatever belief systems each of us have been exposed to in our own lives. This is the key factor to realize when feeling the desire to free ourselves from old patterns.

We Get Trapped in Belief Systems

When our experiences lead our neuro-plastic minds create a belief system like this, we limit how we view things. We no longer feel what is ‘best,’ but instead we analyze and define ‘best’ based on a story; often a story from the past, based on entirely different times than the present moment. A story that we don’t check with our feelings, but that we justify with our minds only.

I don’t mean to vilify the mind here. It’s an incredible tool that is part of our experience, that said, can we connect it better with our bodies? Our nature? Can we have our systems work in better harmony? Or should we continue to operate on autopilot where our minds virtually run the show? This is what I want to explore in this piece further.

Let’s take the example of a child coming out of high school today. 9 times out of 10, that child will be told, and may even believe, that the ‘best’ decision they can make for their life is to continue their education at university or college. It does not matter that they do not know what they want to study, or that the education system will potentially cost them $100,000+, many will state that is best – and even have pride about it.

For someone wishing to become a doctor, continuing education is likely the ‘best’ path, but why, other than through fear and conditioning, do we force all other kids though the process? how does this affect them? Their desires? How they will treat their kids?

I want to be clear, a child often questions these things, but instead of exploring these questions deeply, culture and conditioning has them accept the idea that they are simply not seeing their future clearly enough. If they don’t follow along, they will ruin their future. Any inkling of their true desires and passions continue to be shoved down in favor of accepting ‘the path.’

Following post secondary, and I’m simplifying here, a young person is often told to get a job so they can buy a house, as owning and buying a house is a smart decision. If a person should choose not to buy a house or perhaps not go to post secondary, they are often felt to be ‘behind’ others. “I should go to university now, I don’t want to be behind.” How often do we hear this?

Since as young people we begin our lives following these beliefs and accepting them as ‘how it is,’ more often than not they will take this idea of what is ‘BEST’ with them for the rest of their life. They will judge their decisions by this, express emotions based on this, develop self-esteem based on this and so forth. After all, their mind has created literal pathways based on this reality, and their nervous system has aligned with that as well. We’ve built a physiological state about ‘what is best.’

Thus, moving forward, these young people will make every decision based on the belief systems handed down and taught to them.

And it can get even more narrow. What to study in school, what type of job to get, what type of car to buy, how to spend and save money, what type of house to buy and so on, all of these things are often taught. Through culture, family, media, society – not found necessarily within ourselves.

The Deep Truth

None of the stories we accept about life are true. It’s all a belief system. Perception, ideas! Because we often are invited into taking life VERY seriously, and I know cause I’ve been there, we shut our a sense of play, curiosity and flexibility that is essential to finding a sense of ease and peace throughout life.

With rigidity and seriousness, also comes stress and trauma. Then depression and anxiety follow – sometimes serious illness as well. This is because deep down we feel stuck. We are not expressing something deep within us and are pushing ourselves to conform to something that doesn’t feel natural to us in many ways. Perhaps in our minds, but not throughout our entire being.

Look at our world, how have we been convinced to all chase the same thing? The same stuff? Is it possible that we have been sold an idea called ‘the ideal life?’ Interestingly, most areas of the world has its own version of this ‘ideal life,’ it’s based on culture. But how many of us TRULY resonate with it vs it simply being something we’ve come to accept?

If we’re simply accepting it, who’s life are we really living? Whose dreams are we really chasing and carrying out?

We take this entirely expansive creative individual playing in an expansive playground called Earth and we confine them to this tiny little narrow path of what the “best” is. Instead of spending their life being able to make any choice they choose, they stay limited to what they have been sold as the “best” even if they don’t truly love it.

Even Deeper

Then you have the even deeper part, we then look upon and judge others when they make ‘the wrong decisions.’ Look at how we view those who change their minds about what job they want, what house they want or where they want to live. What do we say about those people? “They need to make up their mind and get their life on track.” What track? There is a track? Says who? “They didn’t make a smart decision with their money or their house so they are going to pay for it later.” Who says some decisions are better than others? Is it not an experience either way?

Now to bring these concepts into a more day to day reality. I recognize that if someone has a clear goal that they wish to carry out, say making X amount of money off their house in 5 years, then a ‘track’ must be followed. But what I’m getting at is, not all view life that way, and sometimes we only follow that track because we’ve been told it’s smart but we’re not actually fulfilled by it. Something deeper is calling, but we are not answering. Instead, we continue on with what is ‘best’ or ‘smart.’

For those of us feeling that deep calling for a new future, I hear you. I feel it too. On one hand, this is a journey of freeing our minds from the conditioning of the past, and it isn’t entirely easy, but it can be done with the right focus and support.

From a practical solution side, the path forward or the answer is not clear as in many ways it has not yet been written or done by someone else. But with each step forward that we take, the path becomes clearer. Imagining new ways of creating community, career, connection, economy and being in harmony with nature. As we delve into exploring and discussing these ideas, and taking steps to play with them on small scales, we gain the necessary insight into what may work and what may not.

If you’re looking to gain further clarity within yourself about what path you want to take, remember to ask yourself: the life you are chasing, the goals you have set, who’s goals are they really? Where did you first hear of them? Are they from your heart? Or are they what you have been sold?

Look inside yourself at what YOU TRULY want and how you wish to express yourself and create. Start there, and create from that space. You will see very quickly that you can create anything you choose.

To get there, set time aside for yourself to do this. We can’t explore simply by thinking for a few moments while waiting for our food to finish cooking or something. Take 30 mins each day for 7 days, dedicated no phone or computer time, and just journal out how you feel about some of the questions posed in this piece.

Remember, there is no right or wrong path here. It’s about looking back on what we choose, where we are at and saying “Is this where I want to be? Am I feeling peace? Expressing my deepest self? Am I inspired about where I am at?” and if you aren’t, you create a new path and see how that feels. Follow how you FEEL, not what you seek as right or wrong. Our life reflects our state of consciousness.

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A Simple Process You Can Use To Stay Calm & Present Throughout The Day

Do you notice yourself feeling tense shoulders? A cleansed jaw? Perhaps you’re holding your breath in some ways and you don’t even know it? Maybe you feel a clenched tummy from time to time and have tricky digestion. You might notice yourself rushing through life, tasks, wanting to get to the next thing. You may not be paying full attention to your life and everything feels like autopilot.

If this is the case, you’re not alone.

This is a very calm state of being for most people in highly developed countries who are living the ‘average everyday life.’ You wake up, go to your job, work all day, come home and then either veg out or spend time with family and go to sleep. This is the ‘modern life’ that we have accepted as ‘ a good life’ and yet almost every aspect of it presents a challenge to our health and well being. But, at this time, money is required to live our lives, and so we must play within this system in some way or another as we actively change it.

The good news is, you have ultimate freedom within yourself to perceive your reality as you wish to perceive it. When we are unconscious, or allowing our programmed states of being to run our lives, we typically move through life on autopilot, moving from one habit to another.  However, when we begin to gain presence, and pull ourselves out of all these unconscious habits, we begin to gain some freedom back. This builds over time.

Before we get to the exercise, I want to add that for those that pay a lot of attention to the news and media side of our work here at CE, using these practices to gain more presence and self-awareness in your life will play deeply into the CE Protocol which is designed to help us gain more clarity on what’s happening in the world, and be an active part of changing it. Skipping the personal transformation end of our journeys only holds us in our current state of being and understanding.

A Simple Process

One powerful thing you can do to begin seeing the subtleties in life, noticing the magic and incredible beauty around you and within you at all times is going back to the breath. Combine that with a few processes in releasing tension and getting into your heart, and you’ll truly begin waking up to who you truly are on a daily basis. The best part is, this muscle grows with time, the more you practice, the more present you become, and the more your monkey mind goes into the passenger seat instead of the driver seat.

Approx time needed: 5 mins

1. There are two ways to initiate the exercise, either you do it when you notice yourself tense or not present, or you set an alarm that goes off about 6 times per day. If you choose the first method, you want to know that your awareness already catches yourself about 6 times a day so you can make sure you are doing this enough.

2. When the alarm goes off, or when you notice yourself, stop what you are doing and take a couple of deep breaths. In through the nose and out through the mouth. Do this slowly and controlled. Nothing too fast and nothing too out of control.

3. After about 2 to 5 breaths, allow yourself to breathe normally, making sure it is still through the nose. Begin to say within yourself. ‘I am releasing all tension in my head, my neck, my shoulders, my jaw, my stomach, my fists, and my legs.” This is like a mini mantra if you will, but don’t take it too seriously in that it has to be said any particular way. You’re simply noticing and instructing the body to relax.

4. After you have gone through the releasing, and you notice your body is more relaxed and your breathing has brought you back to the moment. Sense yourself in your chair or where you stand. Feel the air around you, notice any breezes on your skin or any scents that you smell. Notice all the various sounds around you, not focusing on anyone or feeling any as a distraction, but noticing them and allowing them to be. This is presence, while in this state. Noticing.

If you happen to have any rampant thoughts or feelings of stress arise during this at any point, simply notice it and say within yourself “OK stress or OK task I have to complete, I see you, I will take care of you momentarily” and allow it to pass.

5. Once in presence, turn your attention to the area of your sternum, the heart centre. You may put your hand or fingers on this area, and simply focus your attention on this space. See your awareness moving into this space as if you yourself are moving from your mind to your heart. However that looks or feels to you is OK. It doesn’t have to be anything mystical. This is a common mistake of overcomplicating simple methods.

6. Finally, allow yourself to be in that space for as long as you like. 1 min, 10 mins, whatever works. Usually I say this exercise is meant to be done as a check-in for about 5 mins.

Repeat this each time your alarm goes off or when you notice yourself tense. Through this, you are gaining more awareness of self more regularly. You are also beginning to realize you have a lot more control over your state of being than once thought. This is a key step to emotional freedom. In this space, your mind does not run you, nor do your emotions.

Bonus: As an extended tip, once you gain a sense of what that short meditation felt like. Even if you notice yourself for a moment 20 or 30 minutes later being tense, just take one deep breath and recall the energy and feeling of your meditation.

The Takeaway

When will things like full disclosure happen, or big changes in our world? When people focus deeply enough on personal transformation that our consciousness becomes ready to hear what’s being hidden and becomes ready for a world that is grounded in a state of peace, love, and freedom as opposed to monkey mind behavior.

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Are You Tired Of Being Angry At The State Of The World?

There’s no secret: truths about corruption involving high profile government officials, politicians, high profile people, and agencies is coming to the surface like crazy right now. It’s in humanity’s awareness more so than ever before. This piece is not so much about exploring the validity of everything coming to the surface, but how it often makes people react and feel.

As these truths come forward people often have resentment or anger towards situations or ‘elite’ figures that are taking various actions that affect our society. It could be pedophilia, planned economic collapses, political lies or any number of things. We often believe we are ‘awake’ once we know these truths, and in some ways, yes, our consciousness and awareness has expanded. But the anger, resentment and rage that people often have and hold onto, not only keeps us asleep, plugged into ‘the old world’ but it also acts as a slow poison that is affecting our health and minds every day. Further, in this anger and resentment, we have a difficult time truly connecting to good ideas and solutions to move beyond the state of the world as it is today, because anger clouds who we truly are and the potential we have.

I’ve witnessed it hundreds of times over the past 11 years doing this work, after this anger, resentment and judgement becomes tiring and draining, people want to know how they can TRULY be free – not just in the world, but within themselves. This is when the deep awakening begins to happen. This is when our power comes back.

One note before we continue. When anger initially rises, this is OK. It’s not wrong that this appeared. It’s simply a feedback mechanism as to where we identify and why. I don’t wish to create a perception that feeling anger is wrong or that you should never feel it. My goal is instead to get us to reflect on whether a prolonged feeling of anger is where we want to be. And whether or not we are truly free if we can be pulled into anger so easily.

People have been providing me a great deal of feedback lately during these confusing and intense times. They ask “how do you stay so calm and grounded during all of this? Your content is bringing me peace and not making me afraid. How do you do this?” I enjoy hearing that because it means people can see and feel something different, and in that example, they are inspired. Being in an empowered state is the key to changing our current worldly state, and the more people who tune into their desire to truly be free and empowered, the more we will move towards change. After all, this is our natural state we are waking up to.

The reason why so many have a tough time finding calm, peace and KNOWING what the solutions are to move forward, breaks down into multiple categories:

1. They are angry at the state of the world, and do not work to ask why

2. The media they watch and the influencers they follow are often polarized and telling them who the bad guys are and why they should blame them for everything.

3. They are not simply observing events around us and using that information to make decisions on how to act, they are instead observing and becoming emotionally charged and stuck.

4. They remain identified with the unconscious: their mind, their thoughts, their body and who they think they are as a physical specimen only. There is not enough time spent in the ‘awareness; that they are.

5. They repeat the cycles of being in the above environments, effectively producing the same result over and over.

Now, let’s talk about #2 for a second. Are certain people taking certain actions that affect other people in a ‘bad’ way? Yes, that can be observed, very clearly. The trick is, are you giving away all of your power to those people by being angry, upset and wanting to fight them? Or are you choosing a path of empowerment where you:

1. Create awareness from a space of neutrality, which allows you to be free, and respond instead of reacting.

2. Getting clear on what you want your world to look like

3. Begin shifting your own inner state of being to know things differently and align with the energy and actions of the world you want to create.

4. Live that new state of being and invite others to do so as well

When you create awareness about things happening in our world, if you are doing it from anger, judgement, blame or resentment, your power IS going to those taking these actions, and you will experience suffering in the mind. In THAT single moment of learning of something, your ability to change it is not there, change will occur as you take action over MANY consecutive moments. Thus, acceptance of each individual moment for what it is, as opposed to resisting what is, will allow you to find peace and calm, and tap into the true solutions and ability to effectively respond that are within you when you are in this state. Within our matrix, when we remain fully in our minds, and not in tune with who we truly are, thus remaining polarized, we create a need for the opposite polarity you are operating from.

It’s like the movie The Matrix states, “Free your mind.” This means to become limitless, boundless and in tune with who you truly are, not stuck in our emotions, distracted, erratic and upset. Notice Neo’s character in the movie is a very calm and peaceful presence when he tunes into his full potential. He is able to make an impact on what they are desiring to change because he has moved beyond that which was limiting him.

If we reflect quickly on the feedback I shared above, where people feel calm, peace and empowered yet still informed and ready to take action after viewing my content, we can ask: what experience do we want? One where we are angry and repeating cycles of fight, slowly harming ourselves and not being clear on solutions? Or one where we are informed, empowered and ready to take action on creating a new world?

Yes, it takes some work and focus to get back to your natural state. One must spend time being the awareness that they truly are. Spending less time identifying with all of the thoughts and compulsive desires that come from the mind, and more time simply in the awareness of who we truly are. This IS how you change yourself and the world and the quantum level which informs the physical level. And while some people do feel that prolonged anger changes the world, has it ever really done that? Or has it only created a slightly different experience but with many of the same unconscious qualities?

Are we thriving? Is there peace? Are people awake to who they truly are? Are they offended and triggered easily? Yes. This is because we have yet to truly awaken, and awakening only truly occurs when we step back into who we truly are.

How Do We Get There?

Moving past the anger is about creating freedom within ourselves. It’s a different state of mind and being. Instead of having yourself be triggered by things all the time, we are aware and have the freedom to choose how we wish to respond to something as opposed to erratically reacting. I explain this further via my Shift Method.

Spend time being conscious of your breath. Take some deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Simply focus on that breathing. Do this for 10 minutes, 15 minutes. How do you feel? What do you notice?

Disconnect from social media, news and stories for a day or so. Do you feel different? How so? What do you notice?

Reflect on how it feels to be enraged and angry by what people say. Does it make you feel good? Is it draining your energy? Is it helping to change things? Do people respond better to your ideas when you’re angry or when you are calm and open?

I’ve created many materials over the past few years including a conscious breathing course and a personal transformation course designed to simply slow life down and get more in tune with yourself. Neither of these courses are huge commitments and approachable, ‘level 1’ like beginnings to seeing a different side of yourself – your true self. Utilize these tools if it resonates with you. Both are available in our membership called CETV.

Inside our inner circle, you will have access to powerful information, guided programs, and a community all geared towards being informed about what’s happening in our world, and how you can truly engage in a guided journey of personal transformation so that you can be a change-maker our world truly needs at this time. You’ll be inspired by how many likeminded people inside are ready to share in this journey.

If you choose to sign up, try my 10 Day Conscious Breathing Challenge and the 5 Days of You Challenge.

The post Are You Tired Of Being Angry At The State Of The World? appeared first on Collective Evolution.

Test Your Ability to Discover Truth

A psychological exercise called the Ideological Turing test, helps individuals explore their ability to critically analyze ideas, topics and beliefs.

The conclusion is if you cannot explain someone else’s perspective about something, there’s a decent chance you are either wrong or have not taken the time to understand what the topic truly entails.

Many of us exist in this category, which is partly why our society is so divided today. 

Historically a Turing test is used in AI development when developers are testing whether or not their AI model can think like a human. The test is named after Alan Turing, a computer scientist, cryptanalyst, mathematician and theoretical biologist.

“Turing proposed that a human evaluator would judge natural language conversations between a human and a machine designed to generate human-like responses. The evaluator would be aware that one of the two partners in conversation is a machine, and all participants would be separated from one another. The conversation would be limited to a text-only channel such as a computer keyboard and screen so the result would not depend on the machine’s ability to render words as speech. If the evaluator cannot reliably tell the machine from the human, the machine is said to have passed the test.” – Wikipedia

Basically if a human can’t tell the difference between responses from a computer or a human, the computer has passed. 

Now, the Ideological Turing Test is similar but slightly different. This time, instead of a computer passing off as a human, you have to be able to explain an opposing position of an argument as well as your opponents would. I.e. as if you believe it yourself. If you can convincingly do so, you have passed the test.

This would essentially mean you know how to listen to others and truly understand other people’s perspective around an argument.

Let’s take COVID vaccination, a hot topic that has people arguing constantly. Do vaccinated or unvaccinated people cause variants to emerge? Some will say it’s the vaccinated, others will say it’s the unvaccinated, but can you explain the perspective of both sides?

As a journalist, I can tell you that there is a scientific pathway for either to be true. But many who believe the vaccine to be highly dangerous will bias towards the vaccine being the cause of all variants. Where as, those who believe the unvaccinated are creating variants, will often simply think the unvaccinated are stupid and a problem to society, yet they are not aware that they themselves could be a source of an emerging variant.

Can you pass the test? 

Consider any topic you feel you know a lot about, take vaccine mandates for example. Now consider an opposing viewpoint to what your view is about the topic you choose. Now test yourself: can you present that viewpoint in a way that another person would accept as representative of them?

In doing this, you might find that you can’t explain their position very well, meaning you might have become ideological in your view or simply never considered their position. You might find that as you consider explaining their viewpoint, you start wondering what the other person might be thinking or feeling, effectively helping you empathize with another person’s perspective.

In the end, you may still disagree with them, but at least gaining empathy you can understand them and be respectful in future discussion. In fact, you can now go deeper in future discussions, while maintaining a sense of calm and respect.

Why is that important? First off, this becomes helpful in all areas of your life. Personal relationships, in work settings, online, and about societal issues. We connect as communities with authentic conversation. We make important decisions in our lives via authentic conversations. And part of what’s happening in our world right now that is causing division and breakdowns in relationships is that we are not being able to truly listen, understand and hear each other. Conversations remain shallow and avoided, not because they aren’t important, but because we feel we don’t know how to deal with them.

What we get out of deep conversation is meaning and authenticity. It can be tough at first, but it’s incredibly rewarding. You become closer to people and close to yourself. Instead of always burying our repressed ideas as a society, which is never a healthy thing to do long term, we face our mild disagreements in a healthy way through conversation.

More often than not, you’ll notice people actually agree with one another significantly more than disagree, yet culturally we assume we are always at odds with one another. We can end this illusion with improved communication.

It’s also possible this exercise pointed out some areas where your own argument might have been a bit weak, causing you to look more closely at it and perhaps gain greater clarity on it if possible.

But note, we’re not strengthening our argument to defeat other people. Our goal is to arrive at truth and understanding – not go to war. We can call it ‘strengthening’ if we like, but truly, we are attempting to get clear and converge on ideas where possible.

Now, some ideas are more philosophical in nature, and there may not be enough facts to ‘strengthen’ our argument. Nonetheless, it’s important we know how our philosophy came to be, how we can test it, and how we can listen to others. This involves building self awareness, a sense of presence, and skills of inquiry – tools that help us in all areas of life.

When exercises  like this cause us to feel offensive or uncomfortable, this may be a sign that you are connecting your identity to what you believe. Our ideas are not who we are, it is not us who is under attack when someone disagrees. If we see it that way, we might want to again take a step back and assess where we have become too close to things.

The implications of becoming stuck in identifying with our beliefs is that we begin to feed into divides, create rifts in relationships, and seed issues within communities. All of this will have us fail to arrive at a place where we can truly thrive. Sure, we can ‘get by,’ but is that all we want? If we had the power within us to thrive, would you want to create that world?

Are you looking for the truth? Or are you seeking to simply adhere to your own ideology?

We don’t want to be wrong or to be stuck in faith based beliefs that we think are factual. But when is the last time we truly tested our beliefs? How do we know what a fact is vs what someone is simply claiming?

I want to make a small note about the importance of seeking truth, through allowing our curiosity and playfulness to take us towards flexible understandings, not about holding hard to our side. Generating different viewpoints as people can be very helpful in collectively evolving our ideas and understandings in order to think of new ways of thriving not just surviving. 

As we converse with one another playfully, we can learn whether new understandings have come to light that require us to update our view. We might hear how ideas can affect people with different experiences than us, perhaps inviting us to be more flexible and have a more holistic understanding of a topic and its implications. We might hear from highly trained people who have the capacity to understand things we don’t. Whatever it may be, we all play a role in the information landscape and how it evolves.

Given the information landscape shapes our choices, decisions and actions, it’s important we know how to navigate it and evolve it well. Natural inquiry with one another is an innate sense of play in humans, but one that can get overridden by bias and rigid personality.

Real World Implications

I want to be clear, developing a better sense of questioning ourselves and updating our ideas does not mean we shouldn’t expect challenges and differences of opinion, it means we will be flexible enough to find a solution when it does happen.

Look at how political parties function today. We have picked an ideological side, left to or right for example, and regardless of what the issue is, we seem to think of a solution in terms of what our ideological side is suggesting. 

We often have a misinterpretation of the other side, often classifying their belief by some harsh name, and we get together with ‘like minded’ people to re-enforce our beliefs about the issue. We even watch news and media that are slanted towards our ideological position so we can strengthen it even further.

This effectively pulls us away from other people, often dehumanizing them into a name or a phrase to describe them, without ever truly understanding them. This, especially over time, has huge effects on how communities break down, politics runs a muck, and how we end up not knowing how to arrive at truth any more.

Thus, our decisions are hard to make, our direction as a society is unclear, and we can’t have basic conversations with people we disagree with unless it becomes heated.

As a journalist and individual who has been working to help people with personal transformation for over 13 years, I truly believe the skills we spoke about above are some of the most important things we can develop to turn our world around in the long term. Self awareness, presence, a sense of inquiry, critical thinking etc. It’s about developing all aspects of who we are, not just emotional regulation or not just mental processes, but ALL of who we are – things we really should have learned in school.

If you want to dive deeper into this journey, we actually use this test in our course called Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking. It’s a structured program I built with my friend and colleague Dr. Madhava Setty and it’s a very helpful tool in building self awareness, communication skills, critical thinking skills, and improving your overall sense making.

The post Test Your Ability to Discover Truth appeared first on Collective Evolution.

How To Have Your Own Personal Zen Master Around Anytime You Descend Into Stress

When you look at a true spiritual master, guru or yogi, one of the most remarkable things you might notice is that they don’t seem to experience stress. You might conclude that they arrive at this state through meditation, fasting, prayer, or other such disciplines. This is only partly true. Those spiritual practices can certainly contribute to stress reduction, but their ultimate effect is to support the maintenance of ONE KEY THOUGHT that spiritual masters hold in their minds (and bodies) with unfailing certainty.

Granted, this key thought is not easy to grasp, hold as truth, and then deeply embody within yourself. Throughout history spiritual masters have done their darndest to articulate it for those hoping for inner peace and harmony. The limitations of language, of all human languages, is woefully revealed in these attempts. But if you are ready, open, and genuinely seeking–an ‘aspirant’ as they say in yoga–then it becomes possible for a certain expression or turn of phrase to begin to activate your deeper inner knowledge of the state some call samadhi, enlightenment, Christ consciousness, or what I like to simply term presence. Are you ready?

Stress-Free Perception

In a true state of presence it is impossible to feel stress. Impossible. That is because stress is predicated on our seeing the world as dualistic. In a state of presence we embody a perception of singularity. The apperception of the world as whole, as unified, is truth unmasked.

From a perception of unity there is no past or future, there is only now. Note that human experience is only ever experienced through the now, past experiences were only ever experienced in the now, and the same will hold for our future experiences. Having the experience of presence helps us get a glimpse that time itself is a fabrication, a ‘program’ that helps our intentionally limited minds have a particularly lush and interesting kind of experience in the physical world.

How We Create Stress

But let’s get back to our everyday time-bound consciousness. For those of you who earnestly seek to dissolve your stress, and are open and willing to let go of anything your mind is clinging to in order to achieve it, I will try to explain the one key thought.

The experience of stress is the experience of the tension or dissonance between two things: how your world IS in any moment, and how you think it SHOULD BE. You create stress by carrying in your mind an image of how something in the NOW—yourself and others, the presence or absence of things, the weather—is NOT OK as it is. That puts you into a self-created adversarial relationship with the only point of contact you have with life.

Fortunately, your emotions alert you to this crazy confabulation, by making you aware of internal discomfort you label as STRESS. This STRESS is nothing more than an urgent signal from your higher intelligence to return to presence. But in a state of stress how can you possibly return to presence?

The One Key Thought Into Presence

You need to get into the habit of using your awareness of your own stress as a trigger to align yourself with this one key thought: everything is perfect as it is. It’s like having your own personal Zen master around any time you descend into stress asking you the well-worn koan, ‘What, in this moment, is lacking?’

It works. Trust me.

But it only works to the extent that you are willing to let go of the past (and future), along with all your judgments, grievances, ‘shoulds’, hopes, and fears that arise out of a dualistic perception. If you are truly willing and able to deeply hold this one key thought as ULTIMATE truth, above ALL other beliefs and opinions, you will start to feel it working.

Spiritual Context

If you have doubts about this one key thought representing ultimate truth, allow me to provide the spiritual context I work with in which the statement makes perfect sense.

A common thread at the heart of all great spiritual traditions is that we are all immortal souls who are currently having a ‘human’ experience. The circumstances of this life experience were chosen by us to facilitate our soul’s evolution. So any time you feel stress, you can see it as the universe prodding you to take an evolutionary step. That evolutionary step is to see the perfection in everything, if only for a moment at first. If you’re game, these brief moments of clarity add up quickly to a more permanent step up.

An Example

Let’s say for example you’re stuck in traffic, and realize you are going to be late for a meeting. Maybe it’s even your ‘fault’, because you left late or didn’t check your GPS. If you’re feeling stressed about it, realize it’s because things are not how your mind thinks they should be. Your mind thinks you ‘should’ be at the meeting on time–to get some important information, perhaps, or because your reputation as a reliable person is at stake, and you will be judged by others at the meeting in a way that may impact your future success.

Now, you can continue to be stressed in that moment (and subsequently for the entire drive to the office), or you can take ALL that very reasonable blather of ‘oughts’ and ‘shoulds’, roll it up in a ball, and drop it into your faux-ashtray. You will be able to do this if you reach for presence, if you remind yourself that there is only the present moment, and in the present moment you can choose to experience stress, or choose to experience peace. If you choose to be fully present you accept the present moment exactly as it is, realize there is nothing you can DO in that moment to remedy the so-called problem, and take the evolutionary step of seeing everything as perfect in this so-called ‘stressful’ moment. There is no problem now–and you will deal with the ‘problem’ when the ‘problem’ arises. You are simply in a car driving. You will then start to feel relief, and gain confidence that if you maintain presence through your arrival to the office, your late entry into the meeting, and your conversations afterwards, the ‘problem’ will never arise and you will literally breeze through the whole experience. You will be ‘ok’ with whatever happens.

Common Fears About Presence

FEAR: If I go into presence I will lose my mind.

Maybe-but only in a good way. Lol. Seriously, presence is not losing one’s mind, it is aligning one’s mind properly, with the timeless ‘true mind’ playing the role of master and the time-bound ‘false mind’ (ego) playing the role of servant, allowing the true mind to interface as it pleases with the time-governed physical world.

FEAR: If I go into presence I will stop trying to make my life better.

Perhaps. After all, what is better than presence, where everything is perfect? But there is more to it. You may be surprised to hear that a state of presence does not thwart action, it only thwarts reaction, fear-based, ego-sponsored drives to alleviate doubt, fear, insecurity, stress. In a state of presence the true mind decides on action, the best action for the situation, which is then carried out in perfect flow with the environment.

FEAR: It’s too hard to do and I’ll ultimately fail.

Failure is impossible. Patience, though, is required. The evolution of consciousness might seem like waves rising and falling on the shore, but the high water marks accumulate and eventually produce a stable higher state of awareness. Remembering and forgetting presence is natural, but with persistence it is remembered more often, maintained for a longer period of time, and eventually becomes part of your normal, base perception. With this as your base perception, then, it is truly possible for you to experience a life free of stress.

The post How To Have Your Own Personal Zen Master Around Anytime You Descend Into Stress appeared first on Collective Evolution.

How To Have Your Own Personal Zen Master Around Anytime You Descend Into Stress

When you look at a true spiritual master, guru or yogi, one of the most remarkable things you might notice is that they don’t seem to experience stress. You might conclude that they arrive at this state through meditation, fasting, prayer, or other such disciplines. This is only partly true. Those spiritual practices can certainly contribute to stress reduction, but their ultimate effect is to support the maintenance of ONE KEY THOUGHT that spiritual masters hold in their minds (and bodies) with unfailing certainty.

Granted, this key thought is not easy to grasp, hold as truth, and then deeply embody within yourself. Throughout history spiritual masters have done their darndest to articulate it for those hoping for inner peace and harmony. The limitations of language, of all human languages, is woefully revealed in these attempts. But if you are ready, open, and genuinely seeking–an ‘aspirant’ as they say in yoga–then it becomes possible for a certain expression or turn of phrase to begin to activate your deeper inner knowledge of the state some call samadhi, enlightenment, Christ consciousness, or what I like to simply term presence. Are you ready?

Stress-Free Perception

In a true state of presence it is impossible to feel stress. Impossible. That is because stress is predicated on our seeing the world as dualistic. In a state of presence we embody a perception of singularity. The apperception of the world as whole, as unified, is truth unmasked.

From a perception of unity there is no past or future, there is only now. Note that human experience is only ever experienced through the now, past experiences were only ever experienced in the now, and the same will hold for our future experiences. Having the experience of presence helps us get a glimpse that time itself is a fabrication, a ‘program’ that helps our intentionally limited minds have a particularly lush and interesting kind of experience in the physical world.

How We Create Stress

But let’s get back to our everyday time-bound consciousness. For those of you who earnestly seek to dissolve your stress, and are open and willing to let go of anything your mind is clinging to in order to achieve it, I will try to explain the one key thought.

The experience of stress is the experience of the tension or dissonance between two things: how your world IS in any moment, and how you think it SHOULD BE. You create stress by carrying in your mind an image of how something in the NOW—yourself and others, the presence or absence of things, the weather—is NOT OK as it is. That puts you into a self-created adversarial relationship with the only point of contact you have with life.

Fortunately, your emotions alert you to this crazy confabulation, by making you aware of internal discomfort you label as STRESS. This STRESS is nothing more than an urgent signal from your higher intelligence to return to presence. But in a state of stress how can you possibly return to presence?

The One Key Thought Into Presence

You need to get into the habit of using your awareness of your own stress as a trigger to align yourself with this one key thought: everything is perfect as it is. It’s like having your own personal Zen master around any time you descend into stress asking you the well-worn koan, ‘What, in this moment, is lacking?’

It works. Trust me.

But it only works to the extent that you are willing to let go of the past (and future), along with all your judgments, grievances, ‘shoulds’, hopes, and fears that arise out of a dualistic perception. If you are truly willing and able to deeply hold this one key thought as ULTIMATE truth, above ALL other beliefs and opinions, you will start to feel it working.

Spiritual Context

If you have doubts about this one key thought representing ultimate truth, allow me to provide the spiritual context I work with in which the statement makes perfect sense.

A common thread at the heart of all great spiritual traditions is that we are all immortal souls who are currently having a ‘human’ experience. The circumstances of this life experience were chosen by us to facilitate our soul’s evolution. So any time you feel stress, you can see it as the universe prodding you to take an evolutionary step. That evolutionary step is to see the perfection in everything, if only for a moment at first. If you’re game, these brief moments of clarity add up quickly to a more permanent step up.

An Example

Let’s say for example you’re stuck in traffic, and realize you are going to be late for a meeting. Maybe it’s even your ‘fault’, because you left late or didn’t check your GPS. If you’re feeling stressed about it, realize it’s because things are not how your mind thinks they should be. Your mind thinks you ‘should’ be at the meeting on time–to get some important information, perhaps, or because your reputation as a reliable person is at stake, and you will be judged by others at the meeting in a way that may impact your future success.

Now, you can continue to be stressed in that moment (and subsequently for the entire drive to the office), or you can take ALL that very reasonable blather of ‘oughts’ and ‘shoulds’, roll it up in a ball, and drop it into your faux-ashtray. You will be able to do this if you reach for presence, if you remind yourself that there is only the present moment, and in the present moment you can choose to experience stress, or choose to experience peace. If you choose to be fully present you accept the present moment exactly as it is, realize there is nothing you can DO in that moment to remedy the so-called problem, and take the evolutionary step of seeing everything as perfect in this so-called ‘stressful’ moment. There is no problem now–and you will deal with the ‘problem’ when the ‘problem’ arises. You are simply in a car driving. You will then start to feel relief, and gain confidence that if you maintain presence through your arrival to the office, your late entry into the meeting, and your conversations afterwards, the ‘problem’ will never arise and you will literally breeze through the whole experience. You will be ‘ok’ with whatever happens.

Common Fears About Presence

FEAR: If I go into presence I will lose my mind.

Maybe-but only in a good way. Lol. Seriously, presence is not losing one’s mind, it is aligning one’s mind properly, with the timeless ‘true mind’ playing the role of master and the time-bound ‘false mind’ (ego) playing the role of servant, allowing the true mind to interface as it pleases with the time-governed physical world.

FEAR: If I go into presence I will stop trying to make my life better.

Perhaps. After all, what is better than presence, where everything is perfect? But there is more to it. You may be surprised to hear that a state of presence does not thwart action, it only thwarts reaction, fear-based, ego-sponsored drives to alleviate doubt, fear, insecurity, stress. In a state of presence the true mind decides on action, the best action for the situation, which is then carried out in perfect flow with the environment.

FEAR: It’s too hard to do and I’ll ultimately fail.

Failure is impossible. Patience, though, is required. The evolution of consciousness might seem like waves rising and falling on the shore, but the high water marks accumulate and eventually produce a stable higher state of awareness. Remembering and forgetting presence is natural, but with persistence it is remembered more often, maintained for a longer period of time, and eventually becomes part of your normal, base perception. With this as your base perception, then, it is truly possible for you to experience a life free of stress.

 

How To Ground Yourself: A Simple Yet Powerful Technique

Mental health challenges, depression and even physical illness, are all on the rise. All three are believed by emerging research to be linked to trauma.

Thankfully, nervous system health and trauma are becoming a big part of what people talk about as it seems people are looking to get to the root of these issues more now than ever before.

After coming to my own realization that I was traumatized from experiences I had, I began studying trauma to not only help myself but to see how I could further improve my own media work – which has been, in essence, trauma-informed, since 2009.

What I’ve come to feel is that trauma affects almost all of us in some way, while there is not much data to back that up, I truly believe this to be the case. Learning useful skills to work through that trauma is becoming important in order to take our health into our own hands.

In the video below, I talk a bit about how events going on in the world can make us feel anxious and worried, and how that affects our bodies, minds, and health. I also share a simple yet powerful technique for sensory grounding.

The post How To Ground Yourself: A Simple Yet Powerful Technique appeared first on Collective Evolution.