Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Embracing The Heart/Mind/Body Connection

Duality seems to be the greatest challenge humanity is facing at this stage of our evolution. Whatever side of whichever fence we presently find ourselves on, what we can all agree upon is that we're collectively suffering from paralysis caused by our conflicting approaches to governmental power; our ongoing social clashes between men and women; our disagreements over what's profitable for individuals versus what's beneficial for life; our raging conflicts between what our minds want to explore versus what's healthy for our planet to experience; our wars over which religion is supporting the "truest" God...and so on down the line of our disagreements.

What is it about duality, we must therefore ask ourselves, that causes us to experience so much social dissonance? Certainly if everyone in the world felt, thought and acted exactly the same as everyone else we'd have far fewer battles and problems to resolve. Yet we don't all view life from a singular perspective, nor do we wish to, although we've all sprung from a singular source. So why are we experiencing these polarizing struggles, why all the pain and suffering we're going through as a species?

Duality, we're learning, can be destructive. At one time or another we've all joined or identified with a particular group and embraced its ideology, which in turn may have led us to fear the members of an opposing group. If we're Christians, we identify with the teachings and stories of Jesus Christ, which causes us to grow suspicious of those who don't embrace Jesus as the son of God. If we're Muslim, we identify with the teachings and writings of the Prophet Muhammed, which causes us to grow suspicious of those who don't embrace Muhammed's teachings. Two different ideologies, two belief systems, two seemingly intractable views on life and how it should be led by human beings. Is there any way through this tangled web that can leave both sides satisfied, both intact, both free to self-express without fear of oppression?

Whenever we're dealing with two opposing sides, the ability to solve a problem depends on both sides agreeing to a single shared solution. When those two sides are naturally divided both by philosophy and by approach, a disagreement more often than not leads to a no/no or a yes/no failure to agree than it does to a yes/yes agreement on a mutually satisfying solution. Consider how the Republicans and Democrats are approaching our political and economic challenges these days, and you'll recognize the controlling power of "no." The ability of the naysayers to stall any attempt - even by those in the majority - to solve a problem means that at least two-thirds of the time we can expect to fail to resolve our conflicts. The likelihood of any conflict that stems from human behavior resolving itself is quite small, while the likelihood it will worsen if we do nothing is substantial. Entrenched duality systems therefore create recipes for social disaster, as fewer and fewer human conflicts get resolved and more and more conflicts worsen in severity.

We're only just now experiencing the consequences of many years of duality thoughts and behaviors. The planet itself is letting us know that duality is not the right format for us to follow, because our problems are worsening even as our interpersonal conflicts grow more acute. So if duality isn't the answer we'd hoped for, what is?

All I have to go by, when proposing a social solution to this challenge, is my own internal experience of duality and how I resolved it. For years I suffered from painful experiences of dissonance between the inner workings of my own mind and the emotional responses of my physical body. At times it felt like a war was raging inside me. My body, speaking the primary language it knows, tended to constrict around my unconventional thoughts, sending signals of danger, fear and anxiety to my brain. Meanwhile my mind, speaking the primary language it knows, angrily disparaged my body's painful intrusions into the passionate explorations of what it considered to be important personal questions. Only recently have I discovered a way to move beyond that mutual hostility, to empower my mind to feel free to explore appropriate questions while encouraging my body to relax and trust that my mind won't push it in a dangerous direction that will threaten its future existence.

The solution, I've discovered, is not to forcefully try to unify my mind and body - either by getting angry with my mind for exploring perturbing thoughts, or by growing frustrated with my body for feeling the legitimate emotions that arise. Both of those methods have proven counterproductive. If I chastise myself for having negative thoughts, my internal lecturing only increases the number of negative, judgmental thoughts I begin to think. If I grow angry or fearful because my body is expressing fear and anxiety, that only increases the level of fear and anxiety I experience. Clearly then, increasing the power of something doesn't make it go away!

The process that lately seems to be working is to invite a third party - my heart's loving energy - into each dissonant conversation that takes place between my body and my mind. When I invite my heart into the mix and create a "trialogue," what I discover is the gridlock caused by polarity collapses. My heart, by virtue of its intrinsically loving nature (which is its primary language) holds the power to bring a healing, trusting energy to the battlefield where previously my body and mind were engaged in their war of wills. On the field of love, true synergy becomes possible. My heart sends waves of love and gratitude through my body for all its support, which immediately relaxes my body. It simultaneously sends waves of loving, heartfelt appreciation to my mind for all of its efforts, which shifts my thoughts from the negative to a happier energetic.

It isn't as if my heart takes sides or votes with one or the other; the experience goes a good deal deeper than that. My heart, simply by changing the tone of the inner debate that has been raging, raises the level of exchange beyond what feels good to the body versus what sounds right to the mind to what feels loving and supportive of that which they both are - life itself. On that level, love renders moot the delusion that there are differences between my mind's objectives and those of my physical body. When my body trusts that my mind's work is being done out of love for life, and when my mind trusts that my body's responses are offered out of love for life, they quickly realign themselves and begin to work together to address whatever challenge I am facing. Gradually my mind has been learning to pay closer attention to my body's responses, and to move slower and more gently through its thoughts. Likewise, my body has been learning to relax and allow my mind the necessary space and freedom to explore disconcerting ideas so it can find a way to resolve its own deep questions. The key to success seems to be maintaining an inner vigilance so that I notice when the dissonance first begins. That way I can quickly call upon my heart to intervene as the tension starts to rise, before the inner war takes over and causes more suffering.

I suspect this simple learning process that's been taking place within me is an illustration of what humanity has the potential to create on a much broader social scale. We can continue to focus on our surface differences, concentrate on our fears and suspicions, feed our mistrust and perceive "the other" as speaking a foreign language we don't understand. In doing so, we add power to those feelings and make more real the prospect we won't be able to solve our shared social problems. Or we can, by changing the context in which we perceive our problems, move beyond the duality of "us versus them" to a trialogue systems approach to problem solving. When we open our hearts and go beyond our fears for our physical safety, our competing mental ideologies, our cultural clashes and our external sexual differences, what we find - on the field of love - is that we are all unique and fractal creations of life itself. In life we are unified, and as life we can embrace, without a doubt, that what is good for one of us is good for us all. To begin to create solutions that emerge from love's field, rather than from where we presently stand entrenched in our mental and physical differences, makes it far more likely we will reach a yes/yes solution supportive of life.

And isn't life, when we get right down to it, what we're all here to be and do and know? Without life, and without love, what does any of what we think or do actually mean? To start there then - to perceive love as our shared compass and view life as our shared experience - allows for the emergence of a solution in which we can trust. How life unfolds may be a continual mystery, but the vision we hold of where we're going grows clearer when lit by love. When we love life in all its infinite forms and many creative expressions, there is no challenge we can't rise above.