Love, Truth & Justice

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Is light right and darkness wrong? Is space the enemy of matter?

Of course not. They work together, supporting each other in balance. The “masculine” and “feminine” aspects of nature work together to comprise creation.

It is beautiful, it is terrifying, and maybe it is all fucking perfect.

And until we are able to see the usefulness of both aspects of light and dark for the perfection of existence, we will be severely limiting and even crippling ourselves.

Right now in our society, we are taught that certain emotions are better than others. However, we are not usually taught the importance and usefulness of ALL of our emotions.

In the book The Emotional Life of Your Brain, Dr Davidson and Sharon Begley write of the unique aspects of the left and right hemispheres of our brains as they correspond to our emotions. It turns out, according to their 30+ years of study and searching, that the “positive” emotions are associated with the left hemisphere of the brain, and the “negative” emotions are associated with the right hemisphere. The right hemisphere is associated with more feminine qualities (intuition, creative expression, qualitative perception, vision, etc), and the left hemisphere the more masculine qualities (logic, direction, quantitative perception, factual knowledge, etc).

I might not need to mention this, but positive emotions are generally joy, happiness, bliss, inspiration, hope, pride, etc. While negative emotions are generally fear, anger, shame, sadness, grief, etc.

Here’s the thing which is so misunderstood in our society. “Positive” and “negative” are simply names of poles of magnetism. You know how magnets work, right? There’s a positively charged end and a negatively charged end.  Well, we humans are magnetic, too. And if we are only allowing ourselves to operate at one of these poles of magnetism, then we are not balanced!

The popular advice is to “be positive.” I now believe that’s terrible advice. It’s not balanced, and it’s not whole. How about we be balanced? How about we recognize the importance of being whole people who have both a negative and positive capacity?

Let’s take anger as an example of a negative emotion to demonstrate this:

We need anger to help us protect what is important to us. Anger is the emotion connected to our boundaries. When a boundary of mine is “pushed up against,” I’m going to have a sense of protectiveness, an energetic fuel of sorts, which propels me to protect that which I love.

Do I prefer to feel anger? No, not all the time, because it’s situationally appropriate. But sometimes in life, we must protect that which we love, and in situations that call for it, it’s important for us to be connected to our capacity for anger so that we can do just that.

Here’s a big surprise: we are all a part of nature. We are made out of earth, water, air and fire (sunshine). And we need all of these elements to be whole. And Nature is masculine AND feminine. If it’s too much of either, it’s not balanced.

If there hair on the back of my neck stands up when someone walks into the room, I’m grateful for my sense of fear, so that I can be alert to possible or imminent danger and deal with the situation accordingly.

When I lose something or someone that I love, I feel sadness. It’s a healthy response!!!

So let’s realize that we are all part of this infinite universe of light and dark, of negative and positive, of masculine and feminine, and that one is not better than the other, but that these poles of polarity support each other in the birth and death and existence of creation.

Did you know that Life needs Death? Is one better than the other? No! They need each other in order to BE, in order to exist in a healthy state. In his book The Book of Secrets, Deepak Chopra, MD writes about cancer. Did you know that cancerous cells are cells that have mutated in order to avoid their natural programming to die? Healthy cells are programmed to die in order to make way for new cells. So yes, cancer cells are cells which are refusing to die as naturally programmed!

Birth and Death are both required for this whole thing we often call LIFE to exist.

And it’s ok. It’s all ok. In fact, maybe it’s all fucking awesome.

I have this theory about Love, which I first heard described in an interview on Sounds True: Insights at the Edge podcast and Claude Poncelet who recently published the book The Shaman Within.

He said that he took a spiritual journey to the black hole at the center of our galaxy. And when he got there, the love he felt was so immense and intense and beautiful that he almost couldn’t bring himself to leave. And that’s when he realized that Love is the Truth. And that there is no difference between love and the truth, but that they are actually the same thing.

Could he be completely bonkers off his ronkers? Of course. And maybe he is! But listening to him speak, I believed what he said because I felt the sincerity and the depth of what he was saying. And now I, too, have faith that love is the truth. I haven’t traveled to a black hole (yet), but I can consider it a possibility. Why not?

I choose to believe that this whole thing we’re living in is made out of Love. That’s my theory and my faith: that somehow it’s all love. It doesn’t always make sense, especially when things “go wrong.” Like, when people are being hurt and killed and are starving or persecuted around the world… it doesn’t make sense when good people die early, or when good people suffer for seemingly no reason or for the shortsightedness and malice of others.

But then again, maybe it does. Maybe everything is exactly the way it’s supposed to be.

And maybe Love really is the Truth.

And somehow in this Truth, we continue our quest for Justice. For what is right and wrong, for what we stand for and for what we stand up against in this world.

Let us have the courage to live with our questions for as long as it takes, to never stop exploring for more and better answers, and to honor the infinity of which we are all an important part.

Love,

Aaron

To Dance With Your Demons

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The conventional wisdom says, “Be positive!” “Be stronger than your emotions!” “Overcome!” “Trust God.”

Fuck all that. I say dance with your demons.

If you’ve been through any sort of trauma in your life (in other words, if you’re alive right now), I doubt you found these worn out aphorisms helpful either. In fact, if we want to move through our emotional struggles and traumas, the opposite of these axioms would be a better place to start.

We already know from psychology and neuroscience that the brain looks for evidence of what it already believes and filters out what doesn’t support those existing beliefs. We crave certainty as human animals and have neural wiring that is predisposed to ask only the questions leading to answers that won’t shake our sense of certainty too much.

That’s partly why it can be so damn hard to move through trauma.

It’s also partly because the emotional intensity can be so high. And it takes time. Like a plant that’s been damaged, in order to recover, we need the right environmental inputs, too. If we extend the analogy, then sunshine, good soil and water for the plant become loving relationships, professional support, and time to heal (among other things).

Often when we are young children, we have experiences that overwhelm the nervous system and go “unprocessed.” Those experiences don’t go away (as we would often desperately want), they go into what Carl Jung, the pioneering psychologist called “the shadow.” Those experiences are still there, but they become hidden in our non-conscious and stored in our body.

And they can have profound influences on us.

I’m speaking here from personal experience as well as from what I’ve learned from myriad psychologists, healers and teachers.

So we acquire these blind spots. We have a lack of awareness around what exactly might be steering the ships of our lives. Our perception becomes distorted.

Unfortunately, the existing language for working with these issues is often cloudy, overly-spiritualized and sickeningly trendy. The words and explanations are sometimes so confusing that listening to someone talk about these things can make me want to throw up.

Open your heart. Be present. Don’t live in your head. Let go (and let God). Ugh, I want to puke right now.

One of my biggest struggles in life has been trying to decipher between what people are saying and what they mean. Often the two are much different. Granted, sometimes this happens because adequate words don’t exist or haven’t yet been formulated. However, I’ve heard people describe these issues I’m mentioning here in language that is simple and easy to understand. Cryptic language is unnecessary and unhelpful. Sometimes I even wonder people want to feel like they belong to a super-secret extra-spiritual society, so they use jargon and gobbledygook language to let others know that they’re “in.”

Sure, those cliches sound great on the surface, but there’s no denying that you’ve got to already know what they’re talking about in order to decipher the code.

In this post I intend to use language that is clear, specific and helpful so that you might gain clear intellectual understanding of how to more skillfully deal with your emotions. Actually processing and working through your emotions is a different from having an intellectual understanding of them, and it’s also usually the harder part. But we’ll get to that.

Let’s take the first cliche phrase above: “Open your heart.” Again, if you’re already in the “inner spiritual circle” then you’ll understand what someone means when they say this. But if you haven’t felt this before, it can be annoyingly difficult to imagine what someone might mean. Obviously it’s not a literal imperative. No one is slitting their heart open with a kitchen knife in response to this.

What they are really talking about is awareness. That part of you that can be aware of your fingers, the back of your knees, your bellybutton or the location of your parked vehicle for that matter. It’s that part of you that can be aware of anything or anyone or any part of anything or anyone. Your awareness is that part of you that observes you reading this blog post right now. You can place your awareness in the corner of the room or at the base of your spine.

Now, bring your awareness into your heart and let it rest there and observe what you feel or don’t feel. That’s it! That’s really all that’s required. The “opening” will happen more or less by itself. It’s not something you can force, or “do” exactly. In fact, there might be “blockages” around your heart. We’ll talk more about what that means.

When we place our awareness approximately where our heart is located in our body and observe what we feel, we have begun the process often cryptically referred to as “opening your heart.”

What’s important to understand about all this, if we’re going to be successful humans and live a fuller and richer life, is that unprocessed emotional experiences get stored in our mind-body. They can and do hang out around key areas in our body.

When I first starting processing some of my deep grief a couple years ago, I had a lot of tension right around my heart area. It had been there for ages, and the entire time I wasn’t even consciously aware it was there!

With help from a Network Spinal Analysis practitioner in Charlotte, NC (Dr Matt Lyon if you want to look them up), I was able to become aware of the locked and frozen energy around my heart. I connected with it and cried it out. As I finally allowed myself to feel what had gone unfelt for so long, it hurt, and then in what felt like magic to me, it was gone.

By feeling the trapped energy, I was able to let it go. And I’ve had to repeat this process many, many times.

However, this may be much more elusive than it appears to be.

I’ve been doing this kind of work now for years, and I’m still uncovering traumas and unprocessed energies. In fact, I’m working on my most difficult one so far which is terror. I’m using a combination of different psychological, spiritual and mind-body approaches to process this now, because it truly takes a team and everything I have to deal with it. One of my favorite techniques I’ve been using is called Brainspotting, pioneered by psychotherapist Dr David Grand, where you become physically aware of encapsulated trauma in the brain, in order to connect with it and release it. Look it up. It’s great.

I tell this story not to air my dirty laundry, but to let you know that I am with you. I know a bit about how hard life can be, and I firmly believe there is always hope.

So the answer is: You’ve got to feel it.

And it hurts. And it’s difficult. And it takes time. And sometimes, only a little bit will be let go of at a time, and that’s ok.

And no, you probably can’t do it on your own. Or at least you’ll do a lot better asking for help. Asking for help is what it means to be a person and a member of society. You help people, people help you.

But the hardest part about all this is that first you’ve got to realize that you even have traumas! Most of us don’t know. And most of us don’t want to know. It’s easier to be comfortable with the familiar. The familiar pain feels safer than the unfamiliar pain.

And the fucking hardest part about it is that even if you’re desperately hungry for the truth, you still might not discover your trauma for a long time.

I know this because I’ve been there. I’ve been begging God and the universe for the truth for 9 years. I vividly remember at the age of 18 kneeling down on the steps of a church alter in the middle of a service crying my eyes out begging God for the truth. I’ve had many experiences like that. And I’m finally starting to learn it.

So what is the truth?

Love is the truth.

And as hard as it is, love–awareness of the truth–is the only answer to our deepest, most terrifying questions. The ones that are so big that we might not even know we’ve been asking them our whole lives.

So here I am as an example and as a light to help show the way.

I’m with you and I’m for you, more than you know.

We’ve got to feel these things. Anger, Sadness, Fear, Terror, Hate, Bitterness…. the list goes on and on. Fear will generally guide the way. Fear is the doorway to love.

Will you go through?

Because THROUGH is the only way OUT. There is no escape.

It doesn’t mean our emotions are always telling the truth, by the way. And realizing that has been a crucial piece of the puzzle for me. It just means that we must listen to them. We must feel them. Because they’re all GOOD. They’re all positive. They’re all coming from our bodies as messengers pointing the way to a better place.

Or don’t feel them.

But the problem with not feeling even ONE of them, is that it bottlenecks ALL the emotions, and the beauty of life becomes dim, the way we hold our bodies subtly shifts and devolves, our vision blurs, and our hope fades.

Love is always calling us home.

Home is truth.

And the truth will set you free.

-Aaron

Surfing On An Emotional Wave

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Until you understand your emotions, you’re really missing out. You’ll never be as mature as you could be, you won’t enjoy life as much as you could.

Here are a few basic concepts to help you understand emotions, and a couple easy-to-implement techniques to “deal with” your emotions.

First of all, this is a GARGANTUAN topic, and this article is not even going to scratch the surface. However, if you read through it, I think you’ll get some awesome value and a new perspective that may lead to profound growth for you.

So, emotions come in WAVES. They come and they go. They are similar to waves in many ways because they are undulating and often they silently creep up on you and then crash down suddenly before dissipating, often leaving not even a single trace.

Most of us may be ok with little waves of emotions, but what about the bigger things that really can tear at us, like a break-up or stress from moving, or a job change, or a death of a loved one.

The bigger the wave, the more skill it takes to maneuver it without it killing you.

Think of your consciousness (your awareness) like a surfer. And let’s say the goal is to surf  (feel) these waves (emotions) in a way that allows you to enjoy your activity (life). Ideally, you see the wave coming, you prepare for it, you start paddling and enjoy the ride to the beach.

Now, what would happen if you were to RESIST the oncoming wave? Well, you could possibly be skilled enough to paddle towards it and escape before it crashes all over you. That’s not really resisting though, is it? That’s taking action and going TOWARDS the emotion.

What if you were to IGNORE the wave and hope that it would go away? Well, we all know that’s not going to work. Emotions are like that, too. They don’t just go away. They’re just as real as the waves, and we have to deal with them in one way or another.

One option is actually to be crashed into pieces by the wave. I’ve encountered a few situations in my life where I personally have thought an emotion would kill me, and I’ve held people in my arms who have thought they were going to die from the feelings they had. In some cases, these people have expressed clearly, “I want to die,” as they were feeling these emotions mercilessly rip through their bodies.

In 100% of the cases I’ve seen so far, when an emotion has been so strong as to crash that person down and make them feel as if they are being destroyed, they have come out later as stronger people with more gratitude and more value to offer to the people around them.

Still, those stories don’t always help when we’re in the middle of the emotion. In that moment, all we feel is what we feel and nothing else really matters.

As we mature (aka gain perspective and wisdom in life), we can become aware that these waves are such a gift. Sometimes the waves seem so big and scary that we just want to ignore them, hoping that they will go away. We are so afraid of the death and hurt that may occur to us if we were to allow ourselves to feel those emotions. Little do we know that once we free ourselves and give ourselves permission to start taking the waves as they come, we will be riding them like a surfer on a dangerous wave–full of gratitude, excitement, respect and awe for the beauty of what is happening in the moment.

Using your breath in these moments can be one of the most powerful tools for tapping into these waves and allowing them to do their work. If you accept the wave of emotion as everything that is and ever will be in that moment, you will be able to ride it out, and you may be surprised to find that the emotion fades and is replaced with peace.

As we learn to accept the waves for what they are, POWERFUL FORCES that actually exist no matter how much we want to pretend they don’t exist sometimes, we can become increasingly skilled at riding these waves. Life becomes a meditation. Breath becomes deeper. Love and gratitude expand.

It doesn’t mean that it will always feel pleasant. But it does mean that we allow for these waves to do their work and to make us into better, stronger, more loving surfers.

And who doesn’t love to watch an expert surfer embracing an awesome wave?

I know I do.

Love,

Aaron