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What does it mean to Be Well?
I often end an email or conversation with the phrase “Be Well.” What does it mean to Be Well? This and deeper questions like ‘Who am I and why am I here?’, ‘Does life have a purpose and what is it? often arise most poignantly when we face a personal crisis. When we compound that by seeing our personal crises embedded within the larger social and cultural fabric, as we unavoidably must now, we are confronted with change on every level. How we respond has vast implications, both for ourselves and for the new world we are creating. How do we personally and collectively Be Well? The answer may surprise you.
In the ‘old world’ we were separate. Separate individuals, separate groups of many kinds: families, genders, organizations, communities, races, religions, nations; grouped us into ‘belonging’ groups where we felt safe and significant–two of our primary needs. Today, a microscopically small virus, COVID-19, dramatically demonstrates the lie. We are not separate at all. We are inescapably interconnected at every level, and what each of us does, how we interpret events, and what choices we make, affects not only us but the larger whole whether we are aware of it or not. Particularly in the US, where individual rights have been a treasured hallmark of our collective identity, the concept of interconnection seems to imply to many a sameness; a uniformity of being that grates at a deep level. This misunderstanding lies at the root of our collective dis-ease. We each treasure our individuality and creative potential, and at the same time feel a deep need for community; a longing for connection and relationship with others like us. How can both be true at once?
The answer lies in the critical need to grow beyond the ‘either/or’ thinking that is a hallmark of our mental, rational brain consciousness and the source of the victim mentality. What???? Are we at an evolutionary leap for humanity?
Until very recently the only consciousness we were aware of was our rational thinking brain. It has been regarded as the epitome of what it means to be human. It’s analytical, creative, and automated powers have given us great gifts of survival and innovation in the natural world; our collective ego elevating us in our thinking to the highest form of life on earth. From a perspective of separation, we have misunderstood “have dominion over” to mean control and dominate, rather than serve as stewards of. We have created a story of humanity where we are separate observers of an ‘outside’ world that we interact with, but are separate from. Imbedded within this perspective is the origin of fear. If we are separate from the world, we need to protect ourselves from outside potentials that might threaten our wellbeing, or even survival.
From this level of consciousness our reactions are not surprising; are even logical. Consciousness itself has only been overtly recognized for a relatively short time in our history, and still does not enjoy an agreed upon definition. While the recognition of thought as a human faculty has been explored and written about for hundreds of years, it was only about a century ago that Freud attempted to delineate what it was and how it is structured for the western world. He identified three ‘layers’ of consciousness: the id, the ego, and the superego; what we would come to commonly refer to as the unconscious, the subconscious, and the conscious. His protégé, Carl Jung, would further identify a personal consciousness and a collective unconscious, a realization that created substantial chaos in the thinking of the 20th C. Jung further defined archetypes, or patterns in the ancestral and collective unconscious that influence our thinking in ways we are not aware of, and that affect our mental perceptions and behavioral choices.
Astrologers, indigenous histories, and contemplative spiritual masters have been saying much the same thing for thousands of years, but in the ‘age of science’ which found only the material world to be ‘real’, and in which Descartes and others of The Enlightenment agreed to keep science and spiritual worlds separate, lie the beginnings the outcome of which we are now experiencing in our collective reality.
Others have noted that science was the religion of the 20th century. We are just now beginning to recognize the collective egocentrism of this. Even though we are now beginning the 3rd decade of the 21st century, this remains the prevailing paradigm, albeit with increasing awareness of its inadequacies to explain much of our lived experience. Like all paradigms which have outlived their usefulness, this one too is crumbling under the weight of evidence that there is so much more than just the material. For the past 50 years or so, even science (with the notable exception of medicine) has come to realize that everything is energy; matter merely the densest form of it. The quantum world is beginning to reveal itself in many ways, not the least of which is the need to expand our scientific inquiry to a larger sphere than just material reality if we wish to understand life and the universal principles which govern its origin and unfolding.
In terms of being well as a human being we can start with what we have affirmed as far back as we know—humans are composed of body, mind, and spirit. While medicine in its early study naturally began with the physical body, easiest to see, dissect, examine, and measure, it has gradually acknowledged the impact of thinking and feeling on health outcomes. Our culture is still struggling to incorporate the mind and its influence, and reflects many negative stereotypes relating to mental health. It’s shocking to realize that we still largely look at human beings as biochemical factories which can be successfully adjusted and regulated physically and mentally by chemical interventions and surgical manipulation. Even acknowledging that these treatments only mask symptoms and rarely address cause, the medical and psychological community largely resists the application of quantum science and holistic methods to human function and wellness.
As bizarre and antiquated as our scientific blind spots are, our foundational belief in separation fosters an acceptance of our physical bodies and our mental function as separate realities operating independent of each other, and excludes entirely our spiritual dimension from consideration when evaluating our health and wellness. As whole persons whose wellness and lived experience resides in the coherent integration of all three dimensions of our being this is an irreconcilable and inexcusable stance to remain in.
Religions too have contributed to this unsustainable confusion. Post Descartes and others, patriarchal religious structures found it far easier to have power and control others with fear than demonstrate and teach the inherent presence and power of love and the reality of interconnection taught by all the great spiritual masters. Absenting the a priori message of We are One, they too created and sustained separation in our most basic identity. One of today’s most encouraging signs is in the many who now identify themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” It is a striking indication of the emerging realization that spiritual integration is essential to our experience of ourselves as whole persons, and is an absolute requirement of health and wellbeing. It is only at the level of spiritual consciousness—what I have called heart consciousness—that we experience our connection to the larger collective, and what Jung called the collective unconscious becomes increasingly collectively conscious.
This level of consciousness is not possible for the brain which is only capable of binary processing. As miraculous as it is, the brain can only look for patterns, and patterns are only found in the past. It is only at the higher and deeper, larger sphere of vibrational reality that is present within our heart field, and broadcast with each heartbeat, that we experience the present. And it is only with presence that we experience reality as ‘both/and’; simultaneously individual and collective. This is the spiritual dimension of our being, and the level of consciousness now required of us to address our world in constructive, healing ways.
The essential need to reunite science and spirit in service to humanity and the world is the evolutionary demand of the moment. Science has shown us that everything is energy and operates at the largest and smallest levels according to holographic principles of unfolding. Without science, our spiritual life can easily diminish to just wishful thinking and beliefs without foundation. Without Spiritual consciousness, our science becomes a sterile, mechanistic machine devoid of meaning and purpose. Their artificial separation has been very costly in human and worldly terms. Both at their highest and best have affirmed our interconnection and demonstrate an ongoing search for what is true.
So we return to our original question, what does it mean to Be Well? Several observations emerge and resonate:
-life is dynamic; energy always in motion operating automatically according to universal principles of waves, fields, frequencies; quantum mechanics as best we understand today
-information travels on energy
-the foundational substance of life is Love which is present everywhere at all times
-fear is the absence of experiencing Love in our conscious awareness
-human beings are composed of energy and thus operate according to the same quantum holographic principles as all life.
-the principle of ‘as above, so below, as within, so without’ is the spiritual way of stating the holographic nature of reality; affirming differences of scale and sameness of process
-life energy can be directed with conscious intention, not of thinking but of vibration which we experience as feeling
-health and wholeness is our natural state which we return to whenever energetic obstructions are removed
-dis-ease occurs when the natural free flow of life energy in our heart field is obstructed
-obstructions can be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual
-our heartbeat vibrationally broadcasts the current state of our physical, emotional, and mental states, both within our physical structure and without to the environment
-coherence is when all 3 dimensions of our being—body, mind, and spirit—are connected and operating as a unified whole
-our Heart Field affects all those within its field, either positively when we are grounded and coherent, or negatively when we are not
Being Well is the natural state of our human being nested as an integral part of the larger whole that is our unified Oneness. As such it is much more powerful than any ‘outside interference’ and can only be directed from within. Inner knowing and direction is developed through practices of contemplation and meditation as we experience both our particular uniqueness and our universal connection and learn to direct our life energy with integrity.
The ‘how to’ accomplish this is the focus of practical application. Much can be said about this, yet the baseline always remains the same, “Love one another as you love yourself.” The obvious assertion is that you must first love yourself–experience yourself as love, loved, loving–before you are able to love others unconditionally and authentically. May we each contribute our own life energy of this truth, expressed in our own unique way, as best we are able.
All is Well
Always in all ways perfect Love casts out fear. Today it is critical to realize that this is not just a religious ideal, but rather a statement of spiritual and scientific fact. Unconditional Love is the most powerful source of healing there is, and it is constantly available to everyone wherever, whomever we are. The experience of fear marks those moments and situations where we feel disconnected from the awareness of this Presence within us.
Fear is not just a feeling or emotional state. It has been shown by cell biologists to instantly lower our immune system’s strength by at least half. It paralyzes our body’s physical ability to respond, and contracts our mental function to the ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ mode of the stress response. The antidote, present within each of us is easily accessed by shifting our attention from without to within, taking several deep and slow breaths, and sensing our own heartbeat. In these two simple acts, bringing our breath and heartbeat into our conscious awareness, is the confirmation–we are alive. Instantly banishing our deepest fear–that we might not be alive–we are filled with gratitude and joy as a deep peace suffuses our being. In our direct experience that we are a Being, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually present in this world, we are healed.
Even more, we are empowered to go forth and be that power of Love as embodied presence in all the moments and experiences the day will bring, radiating it to others and bringing their life energy into resonant alignment as well. Literally manifesting the truth of the statement “Perfect Love casts out fear” and able to express that reality here in the world–embodied in us, as us–of being Love as best we are able.
In the days to come we will collectively be co-creating a new reality in the world. As the old dissolves away a new will emerge. What that will look like and be like will largely be determined by our collective feelings, thoughts, and actions. Each of us knowingly or unknowingly contributes to the ultimate result. Choose Love.
Why Heart consciousness is essential
Albert Einstein famously said, “The intuitive [heart] mind is a sacred gift, and the rational [brain] mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
In my book, The Heart Field, I spend an entire chapter unpacking both the gifts and limitations of our mental mind in detail before describing the higher level of heart consciousness we are capable of; yet for most it is still the only level of consciousness recognized. Much of the distress we find in today’s world can be directly attributed to our failure to recognize the limitations of mental mind and intellectual function and expand our conscious awareness to the larger arena of heart consciousness and its intuitive voice. To our credit many are finally becoming aware of the need for mindfulness, paying attention to our thoughts, then further learning to direct them with intention. Few still are aware that it is only the first step in becoming fully conscious. We have a much more sophisticated and causal consciousness available to each of us.
We live in a society that considers the brain the seat of our highest function and the control center of our human being. Both science and medicine focus enormous amounts of time, money, and attention on brain function and its alteration; a prime example of what Einstein was speaking of. Yet our current reality demonstrates again the inadequacies of relying on our brains or mental mind for creating new solutions to solve problems. Einstein’s other famous quotation relating to insanity being doing things the same way and expecting a different result comes to mind. Why is this? It is directly related to how our mental function operates. Our brains are extraordinarily efficient at binary analysis and pattern recognition. Just like a computer, they operate in feedback loops of previous experience or teaching. This saves invaluable time in sorting incoming perceptual data and maintaining an automated default system that allows us to function in daily life without a lot of conscious attention to every single detail. The downside is that the analysis can, by definition, only relate to the past and shows a strong preference for what is familiar to us; whether or not it is good for us. It only recognizes patterns, but has no ability to discern truth or falsehood. The usefulness of Mindfulness is that it allows us to recognize our thoughts, then intervene to make other choices.
That brings us to the second, and perhaps more severe, limitation of our brain based conscious awareness. Our mental mind is home to our Ego, our sense of our unique individual self. While it is indeed true that we are each a unique expression of humanity, that is only half the story. Perceived as the whole of who we are, it leads to a sense of separation, highlights differences, and has no awareness of our connection to a larger reality. As a famous philosopher once said, “The mind makes a wonderful servant, but a horrible master.” When this binary mental function is our only conscious awareness it inevitably results in Either/Or thinking. This thinking is the very basis of the victim mentality, and creating separation. This week provided us another horrid example of the outcome of both the personal and social implications of this limited level of consciousness. We have said, ‘never again’ too many times without follow up actions and accountability. This graphically demonstrates the need to expand our conscious awareness from brain to heart; from separate individual to interconnected and interdependent parts of a larger whole.
“And a child will lead them.” How excruciatingly painful it is have to hear the children of Parkland, Florida say to us–the adults of the country who are responsible for keeping them safe–the simple truth that allowing patriarchal partisan politics to prevent enacting sane laws and policies is no longer an acceptable excuse. To realize that the laws/policies that we have are not routinely followed. To accept that this occurrence, like the many others, isn’t any one person or institution but the collective effect of communal failures at every level. To accept that it isn’t personal responsibility OR social responsibility, but is always personal responsibility AND social responsibility. To have to have them tell us that the issues aren’t either/or, gun control OR mental health, but rather the obvious and higher perspective of both/and; better mental health options AND rational gun control laws AND healthy families. How did we arrive at a state where the children are wiser than many adults? Will we listen to them when we have ceased listening to and talking with (rather that yelling at) one another? Do we care enough about our children and grandchildren that we will no longer accept excuses and talk and settle for anything less than personal and social action that promotes prevention, realistic treatment options, and especially social support networks that all work together to create healthy caring communities based on safety, belonging, and significance, rather than creating fear, defensive blockades, and rage based explosions? How did this happen?
Our rational mind or mental consciousness, while useful as what Albert Einstein called a “faithful servant,” is often mistaken today for our highest human function. If our conscious awareness is limited to the mental level of intellect and third dimensional reality the current world situation is bleak indeed. This week’s mass shooting at a Florida high school just the latest example of a world gone mad. From weather extremes to those of social and cultural polarization, mass violence, and the many ‘losses’ accompanying our shift into a new level of reality, a sense of disorientation as old familiar ways no longer serve is prevalent. As the shift toward total transparency and collective consciousness accelerates nothing can be hidden anymore, and to the extent that we have been living in denial of what has actually been happening for a very long time, some are surprised and shocked by the realities now confronting us. How we interpret what is happening and what dimensions of consciousness we are able to access to create our worldview presents us with very different perceptual frameworks for understanding and creating meaning. The current realities present us with an obvious need and opportunity for growth into a higher level of human being. They demonstrate the limitations of our mental intellect and reason and the need for human evolution into the larger domain of collective consciousness. This doesn’t happen in our brains.
In The Heart Field, I unpack the higher reality of our conscious potential. It involves moving beyond just mental mind to the larger consciousness of heart mind. Our hearts are the true source of both our individual uniqueness AND the place of intersection of our body/mind/spirit dimensions. Externally our heartbeat forms the vibrational field surrounding our physical body that makes up the energy field that communicates and connects us with others and our environment. The Heart Field created by its beating is the vibrational source of our internal and external interactions and communications. As we become aware of the vibrational and holographic nature of our human being, we discover that our heartbeat initiates, regulates, and maintains synchronization (or coherence) of all the levels of our being with the harmonic frequencies of each heartbeat. It not only pumps our blood, but also communicates with each cell and organ system of our bodies AND connects us externally with others and influences our environment. This is all new to most of us, although it’s been confirmed in scientific studies over the past several decades.
Of more interest to the average person is how to connect with this expanded level of consciousness. The good news is that it doesn’t require some ‘special gift’ or hard to do practice or an outside expert. It is available to every human being on the planet, and is easily accessed with Heart Meditation. I describe it in much more detail in The Heart Field, but you can easily begin by just sitting still in an upright position, closing your eyes to allow more inner focus, and paying attention to first your body sensations. As you pay attention to your feelings you gradually become aware of the presence of your heartbeat. As you feel the expansion and contraction of your heart beat and your breathing, the sense of genuine gratitude for their constant lifelong function is generated effortlessly. As you continue to pay attention to their presence within you and your presence within them, nothing else is necessary. You are experiencing the beginning of heart consciousness, and with a small daily practice of this your heart will effortlessly bring you exactly what is needed for your personal growth and well being. You will begin to hear the ‘still small voice’ within that brings to your awareness so much more than is accessible with brain mind. With the experience of connection with true self, with others, and with Source, your perceptions shift, your very sense of identity changes, and you become able to participate from the experience of being loved and loving rather than defensively reacting out of separation, defensiveness, and fear.
This is the evolutionary edge that humanity is invited to. It is the only authentic way that we change ourselves, and in changing ourselves change the world. May we choose wisely.