floodwater dreams + empathy mgmt

I had a floodwater dream this morning, the first since I can remember. I don’t feel stressed or otherwise overwhelmed in my life, but things are about to get more full-on at uni when the subject about psychotherapeutic models begins. There was a dream before this where I had gone adventuring with a friend and we had for some reason not taken my camping gear ~ he had his, but there was a feeling that me having my gear was unimportant (not that I would cope without it, but that if I didn’t cope it wasn’t important ~ like, my needs were unimportant).

While writing about this I checked my various channels for messages and there were messages from two women friends who have been confiding in me a lot lately (about their traumas and consequent insecurities). I read these messages while significant numbers were displaying on my phone ~ 44%4:00am (first message from one friend), and 43%4:03am (message from the other friend). After reading these messages I saw a video from Bored Panda’s feed about chocolate makers who had sculpted Atlas, replete with world-symbol on his shoulders.

After the camping dream I woke up, and it was too early to get out of bed because I was still tired, but my mind was too active to sleep (thinking mostly about what uni work I will prioritise today). I eventually must have slept, until I woke from the flooding dream.

In that dream I was coasting down some really nice slopes on my bicycle. They were grassy but firm and my bike is good for those conditions. I was really hookin along, around curves and down sudden gradients, no worries. There were some muddy patches I thought would unsaddle me, but they didn’t. There were some places where water was lapping at the track. I reached the bottom of a valley and saw that floodwaters had engulfed the path ahead, brown and surging. I tried to backtrack but the waters were coming from that way now too and I was stuffed. I woke up just as the waters began to lift me.

Another question I have is about a dream that was accompanied by an experience IRL. I had been awake studying since about 3 or 4 (my typical waking hours, which I accommodate by going to be around 8 or 9), and I did my sadhana around 10 or 11, which this day included yoga nidra. I got about 5 mins into the session before I fell asleep (unusual). I slept for nearly an hour and woke up from a dream where I was asleep in a chair in an outdoor-setting on a verandah. A young girl wanted my attention from inside the house behind a sliding glassdoor, but I couldn’t make my eyes open to be present for her. It was distressing for me that I couldn’t keep my eyes open ~ I wanted to give her the attention she needed.

When I woke up and turned my phone on there was a msg from one of these friends, who for a few days had been saying she wanted to confide in me about a recent dating trauma she had experienced. The message was somewhat leading (asking what was happening for me at the time ~ she must have messaged during the time I was doing the yoga nidra and/or having the dream). Her and I identified a few months ago that we are twinflame soulmates. It’s not a romantic or sexual relationship, but we connected immediately when we met a few years ago, didn’t see each other for years, and have since reconnected and begun to notice there are distinct parallels in our lives and the paths we took independently to get where we are now.

I called her when I had composed myself from this paradoxically exhausting sadhana, and we spoke on the phone for half an hour or so, during which time she wasn’t able to express what had happened on the traumatic date, saying it was too painful to speak about. She texted me about it after we got off the phone, and it was indeed an experience that no one should allow themselves to have, calling into question all sorts of things about boundaries and in/abilities to say ‘no’.

During the phone call and immediately after, I felt profoundly exhausted and unable to take a full breath (as though I was deep in anxiety, but instead of anxiety I just felt numb and tired). I wondered if it was because I had too much coffee that morning and was having a caffeine crash. But I should have woken up restored from the yoga nidra. It wasn’t until a few hours later, when I noticed that I was once again full of beans (no pun intended) and ploughing through some uni readings, that I wondered if maybe I had picked up on what she was feeling.

I found an interesting empathy quiz the other day, and learned that, according to the model behind that quiz, I am an “authentic empath”. I’ve been wondering more and more lately about how much of what I feel is actually “my stuff” and how much is stuff I pick up from people and the environment around me. This phone-call case was especially extreme and I’m still learning how to manage the boundaries between my empathy and other people’s suffering.

I don’t know what my question is exactly. Maybe I’m just seeking validation. But if anyone has some resources about how to manage unruly empathy, I would appreciate that very much. Thank you.

~~~

featured image by Silvia Cordedda

a statement of Mission

after Snowden

I was watching a documentary about Snowden recently, and I was inspired again to start educating myself about a basic truth that our culture hides in plain sight: our government is not serving our best interests.

Maybe I can’t stop/change this entirely or totally, but I can inform myself enough that my complicity is minimised, and perhaps I can be involved in some community project that undermines the elite’s power over us, the ~pawns~, like maybe a community bank or helping to organise and distribute organic food from independent growers ~ Monsanto would hate that, right? Even publishing this website and blog is an act of dissidence, a way of challenging the fear-mongering of mainstream media, which the doco refers to as ‘the corporate media’.

I shared a video on Facebook recently, by a guy called Rob Dial, who explains that any piece of information we absorb is ~brainwashing~ us, which means that we can choose to watch the nightly news and scare the crap out of ourselves, engendering distrust of our fellows, or we can choose to watch … well, videos like this one, which explains that, contrary to what we are told by the corporate media, the world is actually a profoundly safer place today than it ever has been in history:

As a somewhat-serious student of psychology and as a human being who desires understanding of and a modicum of control over his own mind, I am fascinated by the very concept of brainwashing. I’m somewhat reluctant to indulge the subject because it sounds so conspiracy-theory-ey, but the reality is that brainwashing is happening to us at all times, whether it be through advertising, news media, unscrupulous religious leaders, or even just the things we unconsciously choose to give more of our attention to, whereby we brainwash ourselves. So it’s definitely somethig I’m trying to keep my eye on.

It’s a curious thing though, that making ourselves aware of these unfortunate realities can sometimes have an adverse effect before they have a positive one ~ a scene from the Snowden doco that I could especially relate to, is where he says that the more he learned, the more the anxiety mounted up.

This is a normal and healthy response to the dawning awareness that our so-called leaders, who we hoped and believed were serving our interests, are actually serving theirs. It’s not fair that we are treated like pawns in the elites’ game of chess. And something I find especially distressing about the whole situation is I know they are seeking refuge in the wrong object.

Seeking refuge is an idea in Buddhism that can be understood as ‘seeking happiness’ ~ we seek refuge, from suffering, in all sorts of things we believe will give us lasting pleasure or contentment. Some people seek refuge in power, control and unnecessary wealth, by brainwashing and exploiting the weak or disadvantaged ~ such ‘leaders’ are causing (or contributing to) the suffering of others, and ultimately they are doing this to perpetuate their own suffering by pursuing happiness/refuge where it doesn’t exist. As well as people, this kind of misguided behaviour exploits the planet, our habitat.

Distressing, no?

When we begin to understand this, anxiety is a natural response because anxiety is a natural response to threat, to the perceived danger of, say, immanent ecological collapse ~ called ecoanxiety. In Snowden’s case, it seemed the anxiety came from becoming aware that our own governments are spying on us, and not for the sake of our safety, as they would have us believe.

Whatever the case may be, I’m interested in understanding how to raise awareness of these realities without catalysing massive panic attacks or debilitating depression ~ much of my own experience of depression has come from feeling disempowered in wanting to make positive change in the world. So I’m interested in how to minimise the psychological damage of becoming increasingly aware that our greatest threat may come from within our own culture.

I feel a strong duty to inform myself and to help others free themselves from a system that does not have their best interests at heart ~ well, rather than free ourselves from “the system”, it’s about healing ourselves so that we, as aspects of that system, can begin to improve the system from within. It’s not enough (in fact it’s not healthy) to blame “the system” for all of our suffering ~ to do so is an abnegation of individual responsibility, and an expression of Ignorance.

What we need to do is liberate ourselves from psychological enslavement to the systems of power that control us, which is an entirely internal process ~ we don’t need to change the system externally, but change ourselves so the control mechanisms of culture no longer have any power over us.

So I’ve come here to declare the nature of my Mission, which I choose to accept in pursuit of a Vision:

I imagine a world characterised by harmony and diversity in unity, a world where each and every individual has realised the true nature of reality and therefore is happy to serve the collective interests over their own ~ imagine a world where everyone was watching out for everyone else … we wouldn’t need to worry about anything, there would be no cause for regret and we would all be free to enjoy the present again.

It’s been bouncing around in mind lately that my mission is to

help people heal so that our world doesn’t continue down a path where it’s okay for governments to spy on their citizens people and for businesses to plumb the earth to line their rubber wallets. Entheogens are being used to evolve consciousness and of course modern-day shamanism and other ancient soul-healing methods exist (they have survived the onslaught of scientific materialism), and I yearn fiercely to be involved with such transcendental forms of transpersonal psychology so I can 1) heal myself and, in doing so, learn how to 2) help others to heal the will to power.

If we can help each other to experience the divine connectedness that is at the heart of these ancient traditions of psychotherapy, we can begin to eradicate ruthlessness from the world. Call me an idealist, but I believe we create our own reality and we define our own meaning ~ if we can imagine utopia, then utopia will cease to mean ‘no place’ and instead come to mean ‘our place’.

If we can help each other to experience the profound empathy and compassion that is our nature, the world will begin to transform, which is already happening ~ we are very fortunate to be alive and working at this time, cresting a wave in the evolution of human consciousness and the planetary consciousness supporting such diverse forms of life.

I declare that I accept the mission to ride this wave along with the other awakening individuals I am beginning to encounter in the community. I declare that I will honour the powerful potential I need to fulfill by helping to create a world characterised by harmony and diversity in unity, a world where each and every individual has realised the true nature of reality and therefore is happy to serve the collective interests over their own.

In my burgeoning role as a transpersonal psychotherapist / shaman I imagine treating individuals who are operating at three levels:

  • the ~underdog~ who feels disempowered, so they might come into their own and realise their potential to contribute improvements as grassroots leaders within their communities
  • the ~average~ who is coping, surviving, but beginning to look for ways to pursue thrival instead of just survival
  • the ~leader~ who already has power, so they might wield it more compassionately and for the genuine benefit of all

I feel I am making the journey through these levels, having started out life as an underdog, raised myself to an average level of success and wellbeing, and begun to aspire to being a true leader in my community ~ when I say ‘leader’ above, I do mean ‘politicians, businesspeople, teachers and other heads of institutions’, but what I envisage is that in this millenium we will see a shift away from leaders and those who are lead, from elites and pawns, to a far-more-decentralised way of living and governing ourselves.

I am also interested in what I learned were the original aims of psychology ~ I don’t have the source with me here, but I recall from a textbook of positive psychology that the original aims of psychology were:

  1. the treatment of pathology
  2. the maintenance of wellness
  3. the nurturing and harbouring of talent and genius

Oh, I found the textbook!

In Positive Psychology: The Scientific and Practical Explorations of Human Strengths by Charles Richard Snyder and‎ Shane J Lopez, there is a quote from Martin Seligman saying the above three missions were the original aims of psychology, so, yay, I remembered!

What I definitely remembered (because I was especially impacted by it) is the idea, as described in the same quote (a breakout quote from the main text), that the second two were neglected throughout the twentieth century for reasons I don’t need to go into here, because the point is that I want to get behind the move in positive psychology to start focusing again on the other two objectives of psychology.

More than that, I would add that the fourth objective of psychology (or what I am starting to call ‘holosophy’ and what others might call ‘entheology’) is:

4. facilitate conscious evolution (the evolution of consciousness)

BAM! Homo evolutis.

 

making meaning from awareness of pattern

Learning to commune with Spirit is a process that requires a huge amount of trust, a deep willingness to embrace uncertainty and allow Cosmos to speak to us through means we are often too quick to discount as woo-woo in this age where linear rationality and material reality reigns supreme.

I often find myself wondering, What even is Spirit?, like I’m some Native American wannabe, but we don’t have to be Indians to commune with Spirit. I use the term “Spirit” in my journalling practices because it’s a word that comes easily to mind for me and because it seems to speak of a higher power that is beyond me, but which I can access.

That said, I’m starting to see that Spirit is not beyond me, not some supranatural force that exists outside ~ and yet, it must be called upon to enter my life.

It’s confusing for me because so much of my meaning-making is done through a deeply conditioned dualist perspective. If I feel like I cannot navigate this human experience using only my human wits, then I must need to call in some suprahuman power to guide me. But the power I seek for guidance is precisely what makes us human.

To live without access to this inherent power guiding us is to be de-human: the dehumanising forces at large in the world are those that separate us from that which is naturally inside us ~ empathy, compassion, intuition, and faith in the knowledge that Spirit is within, if only we can learn to communicate with our unconscious.

I sense very strongly that Spirit is nothing more and nothing less than the deep wellsprings of wisdom that reside in those parts of our Being we are only dimly aware of.

[Three miner birds (who I believe are my primary Spirit guide) are visiting now, as I write this. My life-path number from Dan Millman’s interpretation of Pythagorean numerology is 30/3. Because I believe the whole external world is an expression of our total consciousness, I believe these birds have come to visit from my unconscious to convey to me the message that yes, these words are truth.]

Spirit is not some otherworldly force we must call in from outside ~ and yet, we must call it in: the wisdom of Spirit does not communicate with our conscious mind if we do not create the space for this communication to occur, so in a sense it is outside us, in the sense that in our hyper-rational modes it remains outside our conscious awareness until we expand our conscious awareness to include that which we are yet unconsciously aware of.

How do we do this? How do we expand our conscious awareness to include that which we are yet dimly aware of?

I believe a basic principle of learning to commune with Spirit ~ with that which is yet buried in our unconscious awareness ~ is to keep an eye out for patterns:

if you observe a pattern, honour it by taking some action to integrate whatever insight might have arrived through interpreting the meaning of the pattern; the more we observe, honour, interpret and integrate any messages we divine from the machinations of Spirit, the more Spirit knows how to communicate with us.

[7:07 ~ resuming this draft after having it pointed at (in a comment at 11:17) that I woke from a dream at 3:14 … pi.]

An example from my own experience is the observation of pattern in numbers.

During periods of rapid spiritual growth in the last few years I have begun to notice patterns in the numbers I observe around the place ~ 11:11 or 3:33 on a clock, 22 on a letterbox, then 022 at the end of a phone number, then 22% battery left on my phone, three ducks lined in the row of the timespace continuum.

Many a naysayer will poo-poo this as nothing but woo-woo: “You’re only seeing those patterns because you’re looking for them,” as though this negates the significance of our observations.

People who say this are evidently not aware that we make our own meaning. It may be questionable to conclude from developments in quantum theory that we create our own reality, but it seems beyond reasonable doubt that we make our own meaning by interpreting reality ~ in that sense we are certainly participants in the creation of reality, and what else is reality but what we interpret reality to mean.

I think we tend to forget that we make our own meaning ~ a consequence of an education system where we are taught what to think, not how to think.

But how did people arrive in the first place at the ideas we are taught at school? Through observations of pattern. Long before educational institutions were a thing, humans were left to their own devices to make the meaning that has gone on to inform the structures of our institutions. This process continues, and what follows from this is that by taking responsibility for the process of our own meaning-making, we also continue to inform the structures of our institutions.

We are the culture makers and the meaning brokers.

What are the devices we use to make meaning and create institutions? Our physical and metaphysical sense organs ~ our eyes and our minds.

So with my eyes I perceive patterns in number and with my mind I interpret what they mean (to me). (I have done some cursory and haphazard research into numerology, but I’m less interested in what, say, Dan Millman has to say about numbers than I am in what numbers mean to me. [7:31]

[7:33] So, for example, I finished long-handing this draft at 7:31 and by the time I was at the keyboard the clock read 7:33, which might make more sense if I enumerate what each number means for me at this point (some of these are pulled from Pythagoras via Dan Millman, others from a numerologist I once saw, and others, especially 5, are my own interpretation):

1 ~ certainty
2 ~ masculinity
3 ~ expression/communication and sensitivity/compassion (from Dan Millman)
4 ~ femininity
5 ~ the Cosmic Joke
6 ~ ?
7 ~ higher mind
8 ~ abundance
9 ~ completion

So I read the time period 7:31~7:33 (a period of 2 minutes) to mean assertive but compassionate communication about ideas from the higher mind, and this gives me confidence that what I’m composing is relevant and significant.

How have I arrived at this meaning? By observing a pattern, and honouring it by taking some action to integrate whatever insight might have arrived through interpreting the meaning of the pattern, and by trusting that wisdom arrives through metaphysical sense organs that process their own form on non-linear rationality.

I’ve started to keep a numbers journal, where I honour the pattern I have observed by noting the numbers I see and the thoughts or events occurring at the time. I don’t always know what the numbers mean, but simply noting their emergence into my conscious awareness is a way for me to integrate the broadening of my conscious awareness.

If I don’t know what the numbers mean, I trust that at least they are communicating to me that my path is unfolding appropriately. Sometimes in the darkest times when everything else around me seems meaningless and pointless, a numerical pattern will emerge and it reminds me that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I also honour observations of numerical pattern by taking screenshots on my phone, a simple action that says to Spirit, to my unconscious, Yes, I’m listening. So my phone memory is filled with screengrabs like this one:

Screenshot_2018-01-10-08-16-18
7:37pm 33% 7:34pm=7:7

I told a guy once that I had been seeing many auspicious numbers, and he poo-pooed it by saying “all numbers are auspicious ~ if you get too much into that you’ll just be left with a phone full of screengrabs that mean nothing”.

This is like the idea that we’re only seeing the patterns because we’re looking for them ~ in attempting to negate your insight, the naysayer unwittingly reveals a truth that undermines their own denouncement: yes, all numbers are auspicious … everything is auspicious if we choose to interpret it this way.

Imagine how such an attitude might transform our experience of suffering, for example. Got hit by a bus and broke your leg? Maybe the bus stopped you from crossing paths with a rogue gunman committing a massacre round the corner. Observing a pattern of repeatedly attracting partners who are emotionally unavailable? A good sign that you need to look at your own emotional availability.

And how it might transform our experience of what we previously considered to be meaningless and innocuous. Saw three magpies eating worms on the way home from school? Maybe magpies represent a paternal figure for you, and by observing this behaviour you are reminded that you need to take more responsibility for your own physical and spiritual nourishment ~ this might remind you to have a snack and do some meditation when you get home, instead of having a coffee and cramming for that exam.

Whatever it is, if we believe it to be auspicious, then it is. By taking small signs in the external world to be meaningful messages from Spirit or from the material expression of our unconscious, we begin to open a space in our existence where spiritual meaning can begin to pervade our interpretation of all that happens.

So much of the modern malady is caused by a deep sense of meaningless we all feel to some degree. If we can extract meaning from our daily existence by interpreting reality according to our own organic, ever-growing framework of reference points, we might stop seeking meaning in shiny external pursuits like career, relationships, wealth and status ~ our daily encounters with instances of meaningful relevance will keep us feeling that everything is unfolding according to plan and we’ll feel less inclined to chase meaning externally or to impose our interpretation of reality upon others.

So if you’re seeing patterns that seem not-uncanny, you’re probably on to something and you’ll be surprised by what begins to emerge and how strongly it begins to emerge if you just honour it and trust that you’re learning something.