When we are no longer able to change a situation we are challenged to change ourselves.
Viktor E. Frankl
Like a plant or even a single celled creature you and I are at our most basic just a living organism and not above the basic rules of life. I know, I know: you really want to be much more advanced than that luscious fern hanging from your back porch and in some ways we may be, but in the most basic life activities you and the plant are peers! So every creature that ever lives has spent their entire lives in one of two states, growth or protection. When a plant is growing we assume they are just gaining mass and when it is in protection mode it is in a state of maintaining homeostasis.With a human these states are clearly more complex and yet the same states. When we are growing we may be gaining or losing mass, or our growth may be intellectual, emotional, creative, or consciousness expansion. Humans grow in alot of directions unless we are stuck in protection mode and then our resources go to defense which presents as tension, anxiety, fear, hardened muscles and constricted minds. When we are in growth mode our blood is mainly in our bellies, viscera, organs and brain providing nourishment for evolution, but the minute we go into protection mode our blood rushes to our limbs prepared to fight or flee.
So, while it is natural to experience both growth and protection what is not natural is the constant fear messages our modern society sends us. These messages are so embedded in our lives we often don't realize we are getting stuck in protection mode. Yesterday enjoying a quiet moment meant to nurture growth all of the sudden a horrible screeching emitted from my cell phone. Immediately I felt my calm disappear as I went to find the source of the offending sound. It was an Amber alert. Now don't get me wrong I think warning a population to be observant for children in danger is a great thing. But what is not great is the three more times it went off before I figured out how to turn the sound off on Amber alerts. Next to the Amber alert there was a button for Emergency alerts. So those of us with cell phones, hello everyone, are carrying around a device that at any second can begin screeching about an emergency. This may up our chances of immediate survival but the long term affect is that we get stuck in protection mode and do not grow to our potentials. The Amber alert on the phone is one example in a million. Hello, 24 hours news!! Our society basically breeds fear and fear in turn puts us into protection mode which brings growth to a dead stop. So whats a growth minded individual to do?
We notice our moments. At every moment in life you and I are in one of three states. We are either in aversion (trying to push away our immediate experience) or we are in desire (trying to hold onto a moment) or we are cultivating the compassionate observer and just being present. Both aversion and desire are forms of fear that switch off our growth state. Aversion may be a more obvious form of fear (oh get it away before it hurts). But desire is also fear motivated as grasping pleasure is just the reverse of pushing away pain. So the only state in which we grow is when we are nonjudgementally and compassionately observing our lives. Observing does not mean being distant or unemotional. Observing means being aware that your mind is not the whole of your consciousness; observing means returning to breath awareness; observing means realizing your deepest truest self is not bound or defined by the moment you are experiencing but rather the moment is one pearl in the lustrous strand of your life. Observing probably means alot of things I am not aware of yet, but one thing I do know is that pure observing is free of aversion and desire. So notice the next time you feel emotionally charged. Are you pushing something away or trying to hold on to something? If so take a moment to return to breath, to return to the deepest truest you, to return to growth. Who knows the awesome places you'll grow!! The good news is cultivating your observing self works if you work it. Take a moment today to just sit and breathe and notice your thoughts and then do it again tomorrow, and again, and again and again and ... Stealing one from the US Army: Be all you can be! Let's start today, in this moment. Peace