Saturday, December 17, 2011

What Really Matters, pt. II [Heartprints]

¡Hola mi Gente!
I just received a call that one job prospect is the process of checking on my references. Send good thoughts.

Better yet, save your good thoughts/ prayers for the great singer, Etta James, who sadly is terminally ill. Love you, Etta…
* * *
Our purpose is to consciously, deliberately evolve toward a wiser, more liberated and luminous state of being, to return to Eden, make friends with the snake and set up our computers among the wild apple trees.
 -- Tom Robbins, Wild Ducks Flying Backwards

Deep down we all intuitively know that our true calling is in reality a form of spiritual evolution. An integration of the Universal Principle, The Godhead, of  Love -- whatever the fuck you want to call it. 

Yet we spend an enormous amount of energy suppressing that awareness because to make it conscious is to recognize that most of our manipulations, our religious dogmas, our personal ambitions and dramas, and financial grabs are not merely counterproductive, but probably trivial. In some real way, our lives are a series of acts adding insult to injury. Our mission, whether we recognize it or not, is to do away with the trivial pursuits and take on the responsibility of an infinite, hard-won joy that comes from a psycho-spiritual integration. Or, at the very least, get to taste the perfect slice of pizza before we move on. ::grin:: 

We are now living at a point in time in which the collective choices we make will either lead us to certain self-destruction on one side or toward a miraculous evolutionary quantum leap on the other. Sometimes my posts on personal liberation -- what I like to call conscious evolution -- seem to me self-indulgent. It’s winter in America and in this prolonged season of violence and war on every level, perhaps concentrating on self-improvement seems a wee bit trivial. But just maybe, taking a step back and looking at the world we have created with a light heart can help us see it more clearly. Perhaps with fresh eyes we can learn to respond more wisely to the crucial choices we have before us.

Do we continue our individual trivial pursuits, or choose to take on the primal and all-important task of sowing the seeds of joy and peace in our hearts; do we use the uniquely human gift of reason to come up with meaningful solutions to the challenges that face us, acting with wisdom to change a global climate bereft of love and compassion. And in case you haven’t noticed, our previous choices have placed us on the ever-increasing endangered species list. 

Sure, I know many of you are saying that you would love to have all these things. As any well-trained beauty contestant would tell it, you want world peace (or at least a safer world) and you want to prevent our world from turning into ash. You might be saying however, that sure, you want world peace, but so what? You might tell me that the problems we face are too large and that nothing you do will make a difference.

And my answer to you is, damn skippy

I know how that feels. I know the despair that sometimes comes from trying to make a difference. But I’m dense, I will fight to the last, even if I knew my struggle was doomed and it wouldn’t make a difference, I refuse to accept the way things are without a fight.

Perhaps it would be useful if we start where we are…

The first thing we have to grapple with is the possibility that our ideas about money, power, and dogma have outgrown their usefulness. In fact, all this competitiveness, self-righteous warring, in combination with technological advances used in the service to strengthen our status and satisfy our material desires, just might be making matters worse. Interestingly, some have observed that in spite of tremendous poverty and disease, people in undeveloped nations seem happier, more peaceful, less stressed out, and less anxiety-ridden than those “more fortunate” citizens of the developed countries. 

I can say this is true of poor people, or people who I’ve known who were raised in poverty (as I was). We didn’t have depression and we didn’t feel isolated or alienated. There were times we were hungry, but our lives were full of the things that really matter: love, family, connection.

Perhaps this is a sign that we should be looking for another way of being and doing.

I think the crucial question is, “How am I personally contributing to co-creating the world we live in.” As a mental health practitioner and social activist, I know too well true healing comes from a sense of personal empowerment. The key to personal transformation comes from a self-responsibility that embraces a vitally human connection to the world.

We can take our cue from the environmentalists. In response to the climate crisis, environmentalists are asking us to re-assess our “carbon footprints,” by living differently and working toward making that footprint shrink.

And this is where the concept of a “heartprint” can help us find answers to our questions or a path from the alienation that marks too much of contemporary life.. What is a heartprint? According to Karen Trueheart, a heartprint is the impression made by every feeling, thought, word, and deed.

At every moment, we are generating heartprints. Anger, fear, ignorance, and hatred create heartprints. They literally leave their mark within us and are picked up by mirror neurons in others and oftentimes acted out unconsciously. They create a ripple effect expanding in ever widening circles. If we don’t take care to feel these destructive emotions deeply and mindfully, and using their energy wisely, these heartprints cause much of the world’s pain and suffering, resulting the poisoned emotional climate we live in. On the other hand, heartprints generated by love, compassion, and kindness, love, understanding affect our inner and outer climate, and we create those too.

According to Trueheart, what we need is an emotional climate change, a shift in the emotional atmosphere. This doesn’t mean we become emotional Nazis attempting to stamp out feelings we see as “negative.” In fact, the opposite is true: if we consciously and mindfully experience all our inner emotions, we are confronted with the potential of transforming even the negative. Those that garden know too well that we can turn weeds into mulch. Farmers take shit and use it to grow life-sustaining crops. It’s the same with feelings. By feeling deeply, thinking clearly, and acting wisely, we can create heartprints for humanity and all life on earth. I realize this sounds like too much for all you reality-TV-watching, too-cool-to-care motherfuckers. I realize for those who have learned helplessness at a deep level, this may even sound impossible.

Maybe not. But try to let go of the dogma and all the trivial shit for one just a moment. Act as if it’s all not hopeless. Perhaps you have heard of the Butterfly Effect. In scientific Chaos theory, a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can potentially affect the weather in New York City. Chaos theory recognizes the profound interconnectedness inherent in all existence -- a very real connectedness on a global scale. In addition, current scientific findings on the neurological basis of social intelligence reveals there is an emotional equivalent that is called The Heartprint Effect.

Climatologists have used the Butterfly Effect to help us understand our participation in global warming and have shown us how to understand our behavior. By understanding the Butterfly Effect, we can see how small actions like planting a tree, changing a light bulb, or dialing back our thermostats even a little really do make a difference.

Conversely, by understanding the Heartprint Effect, we can begin to internalize our importance in a movement that creates a more peaceful and sustainable world. We can generate our inner light to change our internal climate. And this in turn creates the psychological spaces that can help others do the same. In other words, drop the Jesus talk and be like Jesus. Be the change you want to see in the world, Gandhi said. Understanding The Heartprint Effect could take something that seems impossible and help make it easier, or at least “doable.” 

Think of it, with every movement of our hearts and minds, we contribute to the emotional and mental climate of the world. If you can take this premise as true, then you can make a difference for the better. If our mission is to do away with the trivial in favor of psycho-spiritual integration, then the Heartprint Effect let’s us know that even a simple act of kindness contributes to global change. 

For those looking to act, I have listed some resources below. I’ll leave you with the following:

In the Buddhist tradition, compassion is systematically developed through metta mediation. Metta meditation begins with the repetition of the following mantra: May I be kind. May I be peaceful. May I be free from suffering. The point being that you progress through stages so that eventually you’re doing metta for all sentient beings (even teabaggers LOL!). In traditional practice, a student is not allowed to offer metta for others until the teacher is sure the student can make this offering, not out of need, but from a full and open heart.

For an illustration of the power of this approach, read the story of anonymous donors paying off lay-away accounts across the nation (here). Read it and pay attention to what simply reading about those acts do to your internal emotional climate. What does the story do to your hope about humanity? Notice what brings you true joy and fills you with peace. Then notice how when you feel this way, your way of relating to the world changes.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…


#OccupyWallStreet: Regardless of what you might have heard, the reality is that the Occupy Movement is a laboratory composed of many people from many walks of life seeking to reconceptualize the kind of society we live in. is the New York City site where you can join (or form your own) working group and find out about events and other occupations across the globe (here).

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning: to learn more about social and emotional learning in schools (here)

Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education: promoting human values and a sense of oneness within humanity (here)

Common Peace: Center for the advancement of nonviolence (here)

M. K. Gandhi Institute: Inspiring and supporting individual and group efforts to end violence (here)

Alliance for a New Humanity: To join with like-hearted individuals and groups (here)

Mind and Life Institute: To learn more about the science behind The Heartprint Effect (here)

The Network of Spiritual Progressives: an activist group (here)

We the World: Forming international networks of collaboration and action (here)

The Heartprint website (here)

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