9. The Being Experiment

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At turn of the new year, I was not feeling my best self. After a month of holiday parties and gluttony, I decided I needed to completely change my internal world, and so I cut sugar (for 21 days), alcohol (28 days), and caffeine (34 days) out of my diet. Harder than cutting out wine, whiskey, and/or the occasional beer was removing sugar from my diet. With the removal of these elements from my diet, however, towards the end of the second week I began to think and feel remarkably clear. Like a clear channel or frequency, it was as if information and creative ideas were flowing into my mind unobstructed.  

In addition to changing my diet, I also began meditating twice a day. One night in meditation during the end of the second week, the idea came to me to write down a bunch of words on a piece of paper that had highly elevated emotional quotients, throw them into a bowl, choose one every day, and try to embody that energy. The idea seemed to complement my attempt to create a new baseline of feeling good within my internal environment.  

When I told my 20-year-old nephew Jack, who is a musician and scored the soundtrack of my book trailer (not to mention has created an incredible unreleased soundtrack to my book) expressed an interest in the exercise, I decided I needed to think it through so I could more properly formalize it. And so that Saturday I went to a coffee shop and created The Being Experiment.

The next day I found myself thinking, what the hell—I’m gonna send this out to friends and see if anyone is into it. Comprised of 13 – 70 years olds, I wrote an email to about 50 friends. This ‘beta’ group of people resided in eight countries on four continents, and in the email, I included the following message:

What Is The Being Experiment?

In short, it’s a social experiment and an exercise in mindfulness. If you participate, however, I think you’re going to find it’s a lot more than both.

How It Works

  • Formatted in the attached Word Doc are 72 words that represent elevated emotions or expansive states of being. 
  • Print out these three sheets and cut the words into squares. Next fold the squares in half and throw them in a bowl or a bag (like you would do for charades). 
  • Put this bowl somewhere where you will see it in the morning. 
  • Before you leave the house, pick a word from the bowl. 
  • Your job then is to contemplate, interpret, act, and/or be the embodiment of that word, either for the whole day or at least in one instance.

I went on to say that I suspected participants would find it to be a creative process, because at times it will require a change in their being, habits, and/or energy—and when you change your energy, you change your reality. It’s my belief that like attracts like, so as a result of you embodying the energy of these elevated emotions and states of being, you’re going to pull interesting people, experiences, opportunities, synchronicities, and/or serendipities into your life that are a vibrational match to those elevated emotions.

After I sent out my email, I created a Closed Group on Facebook and invited the 25 or so people who answered the email. I figured it would be interesting for people to share their experiences and be inspired by others. Much to my surprise, by the end of the day there were 160 members, and as of publishing this, there are 650+ members. Today I made the group open to the public. You can join the Facebook group if you like or connect here on Instagram.

I’m also happy to report that The Being Experiment is now trademarked and is being developed with a partner into an app and a physical product. If you’re an app developer and/or a digital designer and would be interested in being involved, drop me a line. Let’s work something out.

Please drop me a line or add a comment below if you've had any interesting experiences as result of The Being Experiment.

Happy creating!

Have you watched my book trailer or explored the excerpts?

8. Architects, Ayahuasca, and Tinfoil

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How are architects, ayahuasca, and tinfoil related?

Architects
In my previous blog, Love and the Construction of the Universe, I talked about how I imagine the universe to be constructed. The way I theoretically see it, for every construct there must be a context, for instance, if you were an architect and were tasked to build a structure, you would need to know whether that structure’s purpose was to house a family, businesses, airplanes, assembly lines, and so on. So for the construction of the universe, it must exist in a greater context.

What I proposed (and what many other quantum physicists, leading thinkers, and scientists such as Dr. Joe Dispenza, Dr. Bruce Lipton, Dr. Eric Pearl, and Gregg Braden, among others) would agree upon, was that the construction of this physical world is for conscious to experience physicality. Why? Because consciousness in its purest state is just energy and awareness contained within an infinite field of frequencies. These infinite frequencies are creation itself.

The context of all creation is the unified field, which—according to where we’re at in the infancy and limited understanding of the human experience—is the supreme governing law and structure of all that is...and when I say all that is, I don’t just mean our universe. I mean the multiverse, which are infinite realities that exist beyond space and time.

Ayahuasca
I am going to step out of this space and time (which is to say the flow of the above three paragraphs) for a moment to share something that I think is relevant to this discourse. Last summer, I attended an ayahuasca plant medicine ceremony in a remote, wooded area about 1.5 hours from Mexico City. Before I tell you about it, I feel like I should make a public service announcement (PSA), and that is this:

PSA: My advice to those who haven’t done Ayahuasca and/or are thinking of doing Ayahuasca is this: Do as I say, not as I do. Unless you’re really prepared to go dimensional and explore the most outer/inner reaches of your mind, only drink one cup. (When will I learn this lesson?)

To make a long story short, when the ceremony was ending at 4am, I was just taking off. Another way to say this would be that around 4am, a tear in the seam of my being was just beginning. This tear was separating "Tim Shields" and my ego from my physical existence. In the process I fell into something much greater, much more infinitely expansive, and much more encompassing. And so began one of the most intense and humbling experience of my life. 

During the course of the next ten hours I received a lot of information, in fact it felt as if I was being waterboarded underneath Niagara Falls—only instead of being tortured by water, I was being tortured by an endless stream of information that was more than my mind could handle or process as matter in a physical body. (This included an entire download for my third book. Although I can’t recall all the particulars, I know the story lives in my biology, and under the right conditions, in the right state of what Steven Kotler talks about as flow in this video, I am confident I will be able to access it.*)

Download after download the information flattened me, leaving my quantumly expanded and physically depleted. And when I say depleted, the depletion I speak of is like nothing I have ever experienced. It did not even come close to my Division I college soccer days of double-session, pre-season training at Loyola University in Baltimore’s late-August, 110 degree heat. It could not even begin to compare to the highest fever I’ve ever had. It could not begin to touch my longest stretch of sleeplessness, which included nearly 40 hours of travel to the other side of the world. 

To use a plant medicine such as ayahuasca is to be a spiritual miner, journeying into the deepest recesses of one's inner world. In a sense it is the hero's journey into the darkest caverns of the soul in search of precious, metaphysical jewels to bring back to the physical world. This journey is not always a beautiful one, in fact, I can remember calling out in the void for my deceased parents or someone—anyone—to help me. 

Despite this rigorous odyssey into self, I received many jewels on this journey in the form of downloads. For me, the two most important ones I discovered I will share with you now: 

  1. Dimensional experiences, while mystical, are not something far off, removed, and inaccessible to the majority. Instead, they are simply a subtle sidestep to the left or right, and they are born out of choice and awareness.
  2. Because the greater aspect of our human existence is consciousness, be careful what you wish for, because you can have anything you want.

Tinfoil
And now back to our regularly paid programming…I want you to imagine for a moment a flat piece of regularly-sized tinfoil floating freely in space. That piece of tinfoil is the quantum field, the very fabric of reality that exists beyond our senses but is impressionable, pliable, and malleable through the energy of our thoughts, intentions, and awareness—the summation of which is our consciousness.

Now I want you to imagine a wooden block in the shape of a star, but instead of it being a star, I want you to assign meaning to it. That meaning can be whatever you want to do, be, or create while you inhabit your body in this physical reality we call the human experience.

Each time you press this star (which represents your energy and awareness) into this piece of tinfoil, you are creating an impression in the very fabric of reality. The more times you push into this piece of tinfoil with your energy and awareness (which we call intention), the more the tinfoil takes on the form of your intention. Eventually, your thoughts actually take form. We could call this the creative process, and this is a truth many ancient cultures knew. Somehow along the way, however, modernity lost this truth under the dirt, dust, and ash of time, a result of the physical world reorganizing itself. Fortunately, we’re once again beginning to awaken to this unifying law.

So what is my point? The point is this: like tinfoil, the very fabric of reality is malleable and impressionable by our thoughts. What we think and feel over and over—if we keep thinking that thought enough times—eventually that thought begins to take shape in this reality.

Whether you are conscious of it or not, at all times you are creating, therefore the questions you need to ask yourself are this:

  • Are you going to be conscious of the impression you are making into the fabric of realty?
  • Are you going to be conscious and push into this fabric the impressions of love, compassion, and unity?
  • Or you are going to be unconscious and push into this fabric the unconscious program of fear, hate, and division?

Remember, this fabric of reality responds to who you are being.

***

(Have you watched my book trailer or explored the excerpts? If you like this blog, you'll certainly like my book.)

*'Flow' when used to describe an altered state of consciousness is attributed to the researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his seminal book, "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience".

7. Love and the Construction of the Physical World

On a walk last Friday night I was thinking about the construction and nature of the physical world. The way I theoretically understand it is that there is an energetic reality that exists beyond our physical form (beyond our senses, which are what plug us into this physical dimension). This energetic reality, which is comprised of what Dr. Eric Pearl, the founder of Reconnective Healing, refers to as energy, light, and information, exists beyond the visible light spectrum and is comprised of infinite frequencies.

As far as we know, this energetic reality is endless—without beginning, without end, has always been, and always will be. Science calls this reality the quantum field, the zero point field, or source energy. Religion calls it God. The sweet spot, and perhaps the greatest hope for the future of humanity, is the melding of the two, which is why Dr. Joe Dispenza often says, "Science is the new language of mysticism." 

Of this field, Einstein said, “The field is the sole governing agency of the particle.” This means that the field governs all other laws of both the physical and nonphysical worlds. All information within this field is transmitted through the wave function, including our thoughts. Just as you would see a ripple in a pond when you drop a rock in it, that wave is the way the physical world transfers energy. 

As individual people, we are all a part of, and connected to, this greater field of consciousness. This field is consciousness itself—far bigger and greater than what we can comprehend in the human form or with our limited mind.

If you were to continue to move upward into this field of frequencies—which is to say, into greater levels of consciousness and awareness—there would be no separation, only oneness. It’s only when light moves beneath the speed of light that oneness, separation, and division begin to occur. 

If this model of reality is indeed true, then this is how I see the construction of the physical world:

  1. The Field (infinite consciousness/potentials/possibilities)
  2. The Question (consciousness becoming self-aware)
  3. Language (consciousness giving ideas form, structure, composure)
  4. Action (consciousness turning ideas into matter)
  5. Result (consciousness constructing the physical world)

So why the construction of the physical world? What’s our purpose here? I believe it is for consciousness to experience itself in the physical form. This requires us to truly live our life—to take risks, to love, to suffer, to experience loss, to transcend our suffering and loss, to get bruised and battered all while experiencing family, joy, unity, transcendence, wholeness, and all there is to experience in this physical form. (I talk more about this in my book.)

Mostly though, I think it’s about learning to love. Learning to love is a surrendering of our stories, because it’s our stories that create distance—I am this and you are that. When the distance created by our stories disappear, there is only oneness, wholeness, and the energy, consciousness, and awareness that unites us.

When will the human species get this lesson?

Seattle, WA 8/17/18

6. Surrender and Trust

 Only publishing this on July 16th, 2018 did I realize there is a mustrard seed in the middle.

Only publishing this on July 16th, 2018 did I realize there is a mustrard seed in the middle.

Last year was truly a transformative year that began with me quitting my day job to help a NY Times bestselling author edit his book. When finished I took off to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for two-and-half months to finish my own book. There, thanks to my friend Linda, I fell into an opportunity to help a Fortune 500 executive develop a book proposal. For the first eight months of the year, every day I was living my truth, and by living in that energy, every day I was excited about my life. I was in a constant state of awe at the opportunities that were flowing to me.

In August, I came back to my life in Seattle and fell into a ‘WTF am I doing with my life’ moment, and those moments turned into more than a season. I began a very subtle slide in the opposite direction of the energy of my truth because I was living in fear and lack. Sitting here writing this on January 8, 2018, I can see how lack, fear, and the correlating contraction affected my holiday with my family, as well as my relationship.

My analytical mind wants to deconstruct what changed, but the reality of the situation is that my energy changed. Our energy is our internal state of being, and that state of being affects our external reality. It’s a very simple when you break it down: who we are internally is reflected back to us in the external world.

What I know about the state of being I’ve been living in is that it is ruled by fear, and when you live in fear you try to control and predict outcomes. For months I've had my life in a vice grip, which has not allowed it to breath and expand. Instead, my metaphorical life has been choking and grasping for air. And so I decided this past Sunday that I have to let go, to surrender, and trust. Change only happens in the present moment, so I have to find a way to be who I want to be in the future in this present moment.

But what does it mean to surrender and trust? In the most simplistic terms, I believe it means to allow—to cease controlling and predicting so that the unknown can appear, after all, if you don’t allow room for the unknown, then you are living each day as the previous.

You would think I would have this down by now since it’s such a large part of what my book is about, but the truth is I don’t. Life is a series of expansion and contractions, and there’s learnings in each of these movements if we are living in awareness.

 Found January 7th, 2018 

Found January 7th, 2018 

Yesterday was the first day of living in this new space of surrender and trust. I meditated twice for more than an hour each time on the energy of who I want to be in the future. Despite occasionally feeling the anxiety of fear move up from my stomach into my heart, I managed it by telling myself what I seek is seeking me. I believe if you are living in your truth, then synchronicities and serendipities appear. This is feedback from the universe that you are in the right place at the right time.

It just so happened that yesterday I decided to roll a bunch of loose change. I was on the phone and sorting through the coins when I found one that was an odd size. I picked it up and on one side it read, “With faith, all things are possible.” On the other it read, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, nothing shall be impossible for you.”

I had never seen this coin before and have no idea where it came from...but now I keep it next to my bed as a reminder.

5. The Pursuit of Art

 Berlin, June 26, 2012

Berlin, June 26, 2012

In my book, A Curious Year in the Great Vivarium Experiment, while in Vietnam one of the characters tells the narrator, “One of the most challenging aspects of being an artist is figuring out how to make money when you’re becoming an artist.”

While all arts are a long game, writing tends to be a particularly long one, not only because it takes years of practice to hone your craft, but in some cases it takes years to even complete a manuscript. All the while you’re toiling away in solitary confinement at a vision of which you have no idea whether it’s good or not, nor do you have any idea how it will be received or perceived.

As if that wasn’t challenging enough, as you attempt to create something out of nothing, many days it feels like the devils of self-doubt and fear are whispering unworthiness into your ear, all the while with Kierkegaard’s blind leap of faith you pound away at the keys searching for kernels or breadcrumbs of truth. To add to the already herculean effort of taming those unloving voices in your head, you’re the only person in the world who knows what you are trying to do. You’re chasing the dream of being an artist or a writer—not for fame, glory, or riches—but because you feel like the dream that your life is awakening to could add value to others. From the outside, it’s borderline narcissistic, but due to a particular mixture of nature and nurture, you have no other recourse than to serve the self as an instrument of self-expression.

As time wears on, however, and months then years fall from the calendar, while you toil alone at your desk or in cafes you can’t help but feel a tinge of jealousy as you watch your friends build careers, climb the job ladder, take fancy vacations, and buy second homes. It makes you question everything you’re pursuing and everything you’ve done, yet at the same time, your so invested in your vision you can no longer turn back.

Instead, you’re betting the farm on something that has no tangible evidence in the 3D world—you’re betting the farm on a dream and a vision. This creates what at times can be an uncomfortable internal dichotomy; on the one hand, you find yourself longing for the security and stability of a regular job, but on the other hand it’s primarily through your art that you feel the most expansion in your soul. This is the energy I have found myself living in for quite a few months, and it is an energy of lack.

Last night while speaking with a trusted friend and advisor, she pointed out, “But don’t you see you are living your dream?”

The statement was sobering, landing on me with the force of an anvil dropped from the sky. For months, more accurately years, I’ve been so engaged in the chase that I haven’t been able to see the journey for what it is, and when you lose sight of the journey—no matter what you are pursuing in your life—you lose sight of your purpose.  

February 4, 2018

4. Dreams and Commitments

 Deception Pass, WA, September 21, 2017

Deception Pass, WA, September 21, 2017

I was deep in a conversation with a friend the other night about my book and how it took me 5-6 years to complete when she asked me, “What does commitment mean to you?”

Perhaps it was the wine, because even I was surprised by the swiftness of my reply.

“Commitment is marrying an idea with a vision and following through.” It was a thought that must have made a home somewhere in my biology and surfaced through the chemistry of thought, because I had no idea where it came.

“So the bridge is the follow through,” she mirrored.

“Yes,” I replied.

“The bridge is the commitment and that makes the commitment the structural element.”

“That sounds right.”

“You could say then that commitment is built brick by brick of mini commitments, yes? That creates the structure?”

“Yes,” I agreed again.

“So to build a bridge of commitment, you have to start with one brick,”

“Yes.”

“And then you lay another brick of commitment.”

“Yes.”

 “And another.”

“Yes.”

“You get it. So let me throw another idea out at you.”

“Ok.”

“Would you agree then it’s not about being clear on the commitment—it’s about actually becoming the commitment?”

 Deception Pass, WA, September 21, 2017

Deception Pass, WA, September 21, 2017

“Yes,” I replied again, following the carrot she kept dangling just out of reach.

“So I want you to think about this. With commitment, there’s an idea that we lose an element of our freedom…but at the same time, we gain our dreams.” She closed her eyes and continued.

“Our dreams represent our purpose and vision, so to see them we have to be present—we have to be in the present moment. That means we need to surrender the idea or belief that we are losing an aspect of freedom when we commit to something. Instead, what we actually need to realize is it’s through commitment that we achieve our purpose, goals, dreams, and vision. I think if we live in that space of commitment, we actually are free. That is what it means to be commitment.”

January 29, 2018

 

3. Awareness and Emotions

 Taken on Formentera Island, Spain, June 24th, 2015

Taken on Formentera Island, Spain, June 24th, 2015

A conversation I recently had with a fellow writer triggered within me a very strong feeling of self-doubt. As a result, I began questioning all my decisions about this self-publishing path. It sent me into a heaviness of the heart that was dense and dark, the likes of which I have not known for some time. The more I fed it, the more this anxiety knocked me off my center, and as a result I began to create a story in my head that had no basis in reality.

As I fed the anxiety, the anxiety fed the story, and the story fed a reciprocal feeling in my body. Eventually the voice in my head grew louder than anything I could combat with rational thought.

But here’s the thing about anxiety—it doesn’t actually exist in the external world. It lives in the body as a memory of the past or a fear of the future, and like a parasite on a host, it feeds on our uncontrolled emotions. In my own body, this monster erupts from my heart or my gut, and like a virus it begins to consume everything in its path.

I think most people aren’t even aware of this feeling in their body. Instead of pausing to observe it, they avoid it—the ‘it’ being unresolved or unprocessed feelings and emotions. These feelings and emotions can manifest as fear, doubt, unworthiness, and so forth, but because they make us feel so uncomfortable within our own skin, we numb the feeling with food, alcohol, sex, work, drugs, busyness, exercise, or whatever we need to do to distract us from being confined in an emotional-pain suit, otherwise known as our body.

I think this human predicament has two causes. The first is that we feel isolated, separate, misunderstood, and alone. While these feelings have always been a byproduct of the human condition, it seems it’s become a modern affliction. The second are unresolved wounds.

Like a dormant volcano, when these emotions erupt in us, most often the reality is that we are safe and sound in the present moment, but the feeling in the body—which was engendered by an external experience, the end result of which is an emotion, the root of which is the chemistry in our body—is not the reality of the present moment. Because we are not aware and in control of our internal environment, something in our external environment triggered these old feelings that live in the body. This is why it’s so important to be awake and aware. This is one of the most important steps toward overcoming the self, which at the core is what my book is about. 

That's not to say I've mastered it. Every time we molt an old layer of the self that no longer serves us, another challenge appears in our life. If we look at these challenges as initiations, then we don't become a victim to our life's circumstances. This is but one of many steps on the journey towards mastering the self.

Fall, 2017

 

2. Places and Spaces

 My birthday, July 17, 2011.

My birthday, July 17, 2011.

An “interesting place” is just a point on the map, coordinates comprised of latitudinal and longitudinal lines that allow us to zero in on the ‘idea’ of a physical space in time. A space then is just emptiness until consciousness and awareness is brought to it. This is why I’ve always said travel is not about the places you visit, but the person you are when you inhabit these spaces. Take, for example, the Taj Majal.

The Taj Mahal was a grandiose expression of love, a tomb built by a Mughal emperor to house the body of his most beloved wife. On my 37th birthday, my last full day in India after living there for three months, I found myself painfully aware of being alone, when all I really wanted was love and connection. It didn’t matter that I had just finished volunteering for India’s most important environmental lawyer, a man who sued the State of India over the course of 20 years to create a green zone around India’s most famous monument. He argued that the cultural relevance of the Taj Majal was worth more to India than the short-term gains of Industry, the effects of which had been yellowing and pitting the virginal marble. While I wallowed in loneliness, a couple beside me was celebrating their wedding anniversary. Their awe and enthusiasm could not be contained as they marveled at the extravagant ivory ode to love.

To me, the juxtaposition of these points of view proved that an “interesting place” is only as interesting as the awareness we bring to it. An “interesting place” then is simply a mirror of our internal state of being at that moment in our lives.

When boiled down to its essence, like the breath, being only exists in two states; expansion and contraction. To insert travel into this construct then makes travel a series of micro-choices: Do we bring expansion, which is love, into the places we inhabit? Or do we want to bring contraction, which is fear? I’d be willing to bet my best friend’s 401k that if we all brought love and expansion into the places we inhabit, the world’s borders would quickly evaporate. Think of all the new places we could then visit, interjecting love, connectedness, and goodwill along the way.

Travel is an idea. It is consciousness in motion—a movement through time within a physical reality where our senses comingle with people and ideas. I think it’s safe to say then that the most interesting place I’ve ever visited has been all those places where I’ve been at my best—expansive, engaged, present, aware, and connected to both myself, the people, and the culture. When you travel in this state of being, you can’t help but be a vortex for interesting people and experiences.

A place is only as interesting as the consciousness that is brought to it, for without consciousness, there is nothing.

(posted June 22, 2018)

Note: This was actually an essay I wrote for a travel writer position at The New York Times in the fall of 2017. The assignment was: tell us in 500 words or less about the most interesting place you’ve ever been. The crux of this essay is an underlying theme in ‘A Curious Year in the Great Vivarium Experiment.'