16. On Surrender, Resilience, and Self-Love

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“What makes the desert beautiful,' said the little prince, 'is that somewhere it hides a well...”

-       Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

From a distance, the desert is uniform and monotonous. Up close, however, it’s hearty, resilient, and complex. What first made me fall in love with it was that much like life, the more you pay attention to it, the more it unfolds.

***

Whether it was fate, destiny, serendipity, or the product of my own creation, after one of my life’s more uncomfortable seasons, I found myself living at the edge of El Charco del Ingenio, San Miguel de Allende’s high-desert botanical garden. At 65 hectares (160 acres) and an altitude of 1900 meters (6,200 feet), it’s home to more than 100 butterfly species, 156 bird species, and 550 plant species.

How I found myself living there was that shortly after New Year’s Day, my former landlady decided to reclaim the spacious, modern loft she was renting me. With the snow birds from the north flocking in droves to central Mexico’s most artsy town, finding a comfortable place to live, without the added high-season inflation tax, was proving to be all the more challenging. Seeing as my last few months of 2018 were full of turmoil, unrest, and uncertainty, like a beaten-down pugilist, I lacked the fight to go on. When you have no more fight left in you, you have one of two choices; surrender or die. Due to my commitment to self-preservation both as a human and an organism, the latter was not an option.

Down but not out, through grace and good fortune my friend and guardian angel of San Miguel de Allende, Linda Hampton, offered me stay in the casita on her property. While it was a bit outside of town, it wasn’t exactly uncomfortable. I had my own spacious casita, access to her kitchen in a home adorned with art, three dogs to love me unconditionally, and a pool by which to lounge…What I could not have known in my moment of surrender was that my time at Casa del Linda would serve as a safe place to rehabilitate, and that the unexpected gift of the desert would be a propellant for healing and awakening.

***

Originating from the northeast corridor of the United States and having spent the previous 18 years in the Pacific Northwest, I had never experienced the terrain, climate, or energy of a high desert. The desert is a place of extremes where the temperature can swing from -1°C (30°F) before sunrise to 49°C (120°F) in the late afternoon. During the course of a day, as the sun arches from the eastern to western horizon and the corresponding light saunters across the stark, arid landscape, the desert becomes a character in a novel who evolves in unpredictable ways. To add to its mystique, when the summer rains ascend, the desert transforms from an Ansel Adams photograph into a Monet painting. It took me almost no time to realize that the energy the desert provided was an endless fountain of healing and inspiration, and that the more I visited it, the more its elegant, cooperative beauty would unfold before me.

As a writer, the greatest tool I have in my toolbox is the power of observation. Observation is not only what colors a story—it’s not only what reveals the wounds, motivations, or psychology behind a person or character’s actions—it also marks the passage of time. How? Time is the passage of weather, seasons, people, lovers, blossoms and blooms, and the emergence (and thus hibernation) of insects, amphibians, and mammals. It is further marked by the birth of children, the death of loved ones, the upheavals of political events, the revolutions that inspired them, and the social movements that push society forward. To live at the edge of a high desert botanical garden, and to be able to visit it at a whim, gave me the luxury to observe my external life and the passage of time eternal, while juxtaposing it with my internal life, and the passage of time ephemeral.

One day while traversing upon a path, I observed crickets mating, which I found to be steely, focused, and meditative, while on another day I observed butterflies mating, which I viewed as poetic, ecstatic, and majestic. Other days I observed vermillion flycatchers, curved-bill thrashers, and monarch butterflies cutting through the air in sharp angles and dramatic movements, all dancing in the embodied expression of the same energy that created me.

Over the course of three weeks, I watched a steady procession of leafcutter ants (which, in addition to being the largest and most complex animal society on Earth beyond humans, is also the only species beyond humans able to make its own food) go about their business in service of the queen. Like a well-organized army, they were ranked from the grunts, who marched in a line, sometimes carrying things 20 times their weight, to scouts who patrolled the perimeters, to the larger ants who defended their nest from foreign invaders. Observing the tiny creatures, I thought about how all of us are in service to someone or something, and how just as I am a greater intelligence marveling at the simplicity and complexity of this lower life form, so too is there probably a greater intelligence observing humans and thinking the same.

Equally as curious were the survival mechanisms cactuses had adopted to evolve over countless millennia—how many have learned to grow their roots in nutrient-lacking soil and how some, such as the garambullo, the prickly pear, or the barrel cactus, learned to grow from the cracked walls of canyons. Others, like the nopal—a staple of Mexican cuisine and whose varieties are as vast as the North America apple—have grown massive spikes due to their edible (and thus vulnerable) interior. And still others, much like some people, invite you in with their beauty, yet get too close and you receive a prickly, thorny rebuke.

The paradox of the desert is that it is at once harsh, arid, and sunbaked, while at the same time quiet, peaceful, and giving. In its understated, and perhaps under-appreciated way, it is abundant with life. If one were to look upon the desert from high above, you would see one living, breathing organism, and yet if you drilled down from the level of its flora, fauna, and aviary species—all the way down to the level of lichens, bacteria, fungus, and the corpuscle—you’d find hidden treasures and symbiotic relationships as vast as the stars. As an example, when the Spanish conquistadors appeared on the continent in the 16th century, the color red—a symbol of wealth, power, and status—was everywhere. What they soon learned from the Aztecs was the dye that created the color came from a tiny white insect called the cochineal. The cochineal lives on the pads of the prickly pear cactus, and without a trained eye, it would look like nothing more than a white blemish. When dried and crushed, the minuscule, nondescript creature produces a rich, red dye. Behind silver and gold, this dye became the area’s third largest export. By the 16th and 17th century, the result was that the cochineal launched Spain on a path towards becoming a global economic superpower, created a red craze throughout Europe, and went on to revolutionize art history.

From competition to cooperation, in the mirror of the desert I could see the entire spectrum of humanity. Simply by observing the desert, I was learning about my life, and as I did so, in the mirror of nature’s intricate beauty, the learnings of my own journey were being magnified.

***

When you close your eyes and connect into the energy of a place or space, it whispers to you. As the desert is a place full of history, lore, and the transitions of people, plants, and ideas, it has many things to share, but you must become still to hear it.

On my first day in the garden, I sat beneath the shelter of a mesquite tree and did just that—I closed my eyes, let go of all thoughts, and focused on the tingling sensation within and all around me. That sensation is the commingling of the outer and the inner—the energy that inhabits us and the field of energy in which we inhabit. This ubiquitous energy is always present and available to us; most of us just haven’t been trained to put our attention on it. As I sat there beneath that tree, the stillness enveloping me, I heard the desert whisper: How fitting it is that life has delivered you to the edge of the high desert, after all, what speaks more to resilience than that which grows in the desert?

As I continued to focus in on, and connect to, the energy around me, I expanded my own field of energy into the space around my body. In doing so, my focus was no longer on my body, but on the field of energy around it. This is, after all, the energy that holds the universe together, so logic has it that it must possess a greater degree of knowledge, information, and intelligence then I can access on my own.

As I did so, the thought entered my mind, I wire my brain for the mystical. It was peculiar because I did not think this thought, rather, it downloaded to me. Not one to doubt the information, I placed my attention within my head, purposely feeling the unification of both hemispheres of my brain fire and wire in the name of the mystical.

Curious by the information I received, I decided to play with this energy by furthering my inquiry. As I cleared all thought and moved into trance, I asked the question: What energy do I need to tune into? Whether voiced by the desert or my own subconscious, as if an echo bouncing off canyon walls only to return to its source, the answer came back to—self-love.

Dumbstruck by the reply, as soon as the thought entered my consciousness, it multiplied with the rapidity of an algal bloom. Self-love is a subject I have been pondering, working on, asking to know more intimately, and desiring to awaken to. To truly love one’s self is to accept the limitations and shortcomings of our humanity (which in certain areas of my life, I’ve been challenged to come to terms with), while stepping into and embracing the limitlessness of our divinity (which, the acceptance of this responsibility, can also be challenging by its daunting nature).

In that moment, it became my personal understanding that this is what it means to awaken to the I AM—the universal key that unlocks all doors of creation. I AM is the power of the Word merged with the power of Directed Consciousness. It is the unification and alignment of the mind, body, and spirit within the declaration of self. Stated more simply, we become the totality of what we say, think, act, and feel.

No matter your belief, we can all agree upon the limitations of language when it comes to energy and the greater mystery of the universe. As someone whose personal mission statement it is to translate light, frequency, and energy into story so as to lead others to their truth, at least in this moment of my life, my job was simply to walk around the desert, observe the mystery, let it consume me, and articulate it as best I can.

And so it was I came to a deeper understanding that to awaken to the I AM is to know that all possibilities exist as energetic potentials in an immaterial field of information called the quantum field. In the first law of thermodynamics, the total amount of energy in a closed system (in this case, let’s call this closed system the totality of all that is, both visible and invisible, material and immaterial) cannot be created nor destroyed, but it can change from one form to another. To take this one step further, in physics, through the observer effect, simply by observing something we alter it. So the I AM is the ability to alter matter/reality through consciousness simply by observing something into being. Allow me for a moment to boil this down.

If you were to remove all the elements of this complex bouillabaisse, leaving only its liquid broth, the reduction you’d be left with is the creative process. The first step of the creative process is to dream. The second step is to fill in that dream as if it were an image in a coloring book. The third step is to keep revisiting that dream, each time filling in this image more and more until, metaphorically speaking, it transforms from a 2-dimensional idea on a piece of paper into a 3-dimensional hologram. To make the leap from the coloring book to quantum physics, that hologram is the pattern of the dream that already exists (beyond the speed of light and beyond the visible light spectrum) as light and information the field. The more you revisit or observe that dream, or the pattern of the dream, the more you slow it down. As the pattern of light and information slows down below the speed of light, division and polarity occurs, which is where the dream begins to take form as matter, experiences, events, serendipities, or synchronicities. Let’s look at this another way, but before we do, it’s important to remember what Einstein said: “The field is the sole governing agency of the particle.”

No matter how novel your flash of brilliance might be, when you come up with an idea, you are connecting with the energy of something that already exists in the field. The more you connect to this idea, as you observe it, circumvent it, and move through it—as you connect with the feelings of what the fruition of this idea might feel like—you begin filling in a mental image of something that already exists as a potential. The more you focus on this potential, the more you bring form to it—and the more you bring form to it, the closer it comes into existence. As an example, imagine looking up into the infinite lattice of the night sky. Then imagine that every star is an atom of potential. The more you focus in on a specific portion of the sky, as you apply your imagination and attention, you begin to cluster the atoms until all the sudden a form appears and you see Orion, Cassiopeia, Leo, Cancer, Taurus, Ursa Major and Minor, and so on and so on.

***

Although invisible to others, for months my internal world felt like dice in a Yahtzee tumbler. The challenge was not necessarily due to a broken heart or that the vulnerabilities I shared might have been exploited. That was simply a catalyst to confront the well-rooted legacy stories of my life.

For months, perhaps a year, a new self had been calling out to me, and yet I—the free-willed human being—resisted it. Resistance, whether found in an engine or the heart, is eventually going to wear down the machinery that evokes the function. If this resistance is found in the heart, the result is likely going to be lot of unnecessary pain. That pain is the result of friction caused by fear—and that brand of fear is the manifestation of our resistance to the soul’s expansion into the new, unformed edges of our being. To push outward into the unknown and often uncomfortable dimensions of the self is what it means to be initiated, and if we are paying attention, every initiation we pass awakens us to I AM.

And so in carefully observing all that the desert was reflecting back to me, I was forced to make a decision; surrender my legacy stories or remain living within the limitations of their confines and contours.

With the fervor and unconscious desperation that the cactus clings to the canyon wall, so too have I clung to my life’s legacy stories. Now it’s important to note here, dear reader, that these stories are not necessarily based in reality. Life is a series of concurrent events. Some are joyful and some are painful, thus we attach to them a corresponding emotion—and emotions carry meaning. The more we revisit these events, the more they become etched in our memories, and the more they become etched in our memories, the greater the stories we attach to them.

When we gain some distance and emotional freedom from the inciting or source incident of our pain, perspective allows us to see its service as one of life’s most important tools for awakening. Through this mirror, I realized my pain was, and has always been, the crack in which the light enters. On one hand, the awakening that commanded my attention was the fact that I was not my stories. On the other hand, the awakening that was calling me from my past to my future was that resilience is having the strength to keep going when you can’t see the road ahead. It also means having the courage to keep pushing up against those stories until—like when we confront the demons of our imagination by looking them square in the eye—the fictitious nature of that which once haunted us is revealed, thus igniting an energetic process of reverse osmosis. In the absence of the void these stories once filled, I was awakening to the I AM.

While sitting beneath that mystical mesquite tree, I felt a deeper trust than I had in a long time. In recognition of the calm within—the result of grace and the pendulum swinging from internal turmoil to a cathedral of peace—I breathed more deeply into the moment. As I released myself further into its gentle embrace, it dawned on me that peace is the alignment of our physicality with our higher-self (or soul) within the paradigm (or physical dimension) of time and space. The deeper I moved into this epiphany, the more it peeled back like the layers of a fresh artichoke waiting to be lathered in liquid butter. Similar to what I expressed in my book, once again—without doing anything but simply living, being, and showing up—an old form that no longer served me was effortlessly molting.

In the absence of that which no longer served me was my naked, liberated soul, eager to undertake the next expansive chapter of my journey, a journey whose design would take me closer to that which I desire to know greater—the source of the mystery—myself. After all, the source energy of the mystery is experiencing itself through my corporeal existence.

***

It is not only the desire, but the intrinsic nature of the soul to experience growth and expansion. These two aspects of life occur via our senses, those visceral portals through which we learn what it means to be human. In this context, life then is not only an awakening, but a remembering of who and what we are—the truth being that we are souls (or consciousness) embodied in a physical vessel, the purpose of which is to poke about the physical world classifying, dissecting, learning, and looking for clues that help us remember the singularity from which we were engendered.

As a form of energy, the power of the soul—which is the individual aspect of the universal consciousness—is that it is has been granted the autonomy to direct its energy. The byproduct of this autonomy is free will, which means that from within the physical form we have the freedom to direct this energy however we choose. The discoveries we make, as a result of the choices we take, can form the path back to eternal, divine love—the highest of all frequencies. Love heals, love forgives, love unites, and love creates oneness and wholeness.

When we are in a state of wholeness, everything we need is already within us. As we awaken to this truth, when we as a collective realize we already have at our fingertips all we need to serve, expand, and uplift the collective—when greed and the stockpiling of resources is eliminated, when we realize we all came from the same source energy—we will finally know peace on Earth. In achieving this degree of peace, the human species will evolve into something greater, and it will move into an an entirely new evolutionary period, the likes of which will seem like the science-fiction of yesteryears. In this new reality, what today might be categorized as a miracle may simply be something we take for granted as the pointed focus of the individual mind in the service of the universal conscious—or said another way—in service of our fellow men, woman, and children of Mother Earth.

In this historical evolutionary moment of becoming, like the pylon and the pier, you are being called to surrender that which no longer serves you so as to awaken to your greatest potential. This means having the courage to share the gifts with which you’ve been bestowed, and that means standing in the expression of your own truth, not in opposition—which is the device of many religions and politics—but in an addition to the whole. This will require you to be responsible for your own healing, which requires you to move beyond survival into creation.

As more and more people become responsible for their own healing, because consciousness is a wave, at some point we will reach critical mass, and the change we desire will come with increased frequency.

Then, much like the tillandsia, an airplant I observed that grows on the underside of some trees found in El Charco del Ingenio, perhaps human beings as a collective can evolve from the parasitic mindset that has grasped our species for many millennia, to an epiphytic mindset, after all—the epiphyte does not take from its host, but rather it lives in harmony with, and contributes to, the whole of its ecosystem.

Do you need help editing/writing your book? Or do you simply need a writing coach/accountability partner? And of course I’d be remiss by saying if you like the ideas in this piece, then you will like the ideas in my book. Check out the book trailer now.

13. On Becoming Conscious (or) The Pylon and the Pier

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It was the Friday after Thanksgiving in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, so instead of treating it like a regular workday, I decided to take off on a long run. My intention was to begin running into a new future, to run my way out of the subterranean hole I had fallen into, the likes of which I had not known since my mother passed away and my house burned down.

As I ran along the narrow sidewalks of Ancha de San Antonio, I turned left towards Parque Jaurez, ran up the north side of the park, and began running the stairs near the Paseo del Chorro. While ascending the stairs, a peculiar, unexpected thought popped into my mind: “Good things are about to happen to me.”

Now before I proceed, Dear Reader, if you are going to trust me as your narrator, I feel I have to admit something to you. Before I had time to fully register the thought, “Good things are about to happen to me,” meaning before the thought had time to register, assimilate, and/or entrain with my body—before the thought had the time to create a corresponding neural network for its existence, and ultimately it’s manifestation—like a bartender at closing, I threw that thought out on its ass and shut it down as quickly as possible.

The extermination of such a thought was an all too familiar act of fear, contraction, and limitedness, albeit an unconscious one. Nonetheless, in the same way malware affects the function and effectiveness of a computer, for a large portion of my life these unconscious programs have been running in the background of my awareness. There is a silver lining, however. I am happy to report that as soon as I shut that thought down, a moment of self-awareness occurred. I simply observed my thought. By observing the thought, I was able to bring forth from the darkness of the unconscious the light of a new awareness. What does that mean?

New awareness is expanded consciousness, so to combat the negative voice that so rudely interrupted my future, I consciously began repeating in my mind over and over, “Good things are about to happen. Good things are about to happen.” In repeating this mantra only a few times, like the moment when grinding gears on a bike finally shift into gear, the energy of the consciousness that produced the thought, “Good things are about to happen to me, clicked into my being. In that moment, I allowed myself to feel the energy of my future—and I can tell you it was as refreshing as it was titillating.

In that elevated, expansive state, I transcended an old form, an old pattern of the person who fell into darkness. Like any training or practice, while I would need to continue working on embodying this energy every day, every time I made the effort to embody it, I was pushing tinfoil. This self-awareness (or awakening) was a tear in the seam of an old form and pattern I have clung to for most of my life. Why? Because to a certain degree it’s safer to live in the known—a somewhat linear, predictable path that doesn’t require me to stretch outside of my comfort zone.  

To bring the light of consciousness to the dark corners of the unconscious was a moment of triumph for mind over matter, because it was not actually my consciousness that shut down the thought of “Good things are about to happen me.” It was the old habits, old forms, old patterns, and old wounds—unconscious programs that exist in the body as feelings, reactions, and emotional triggers. The summation of these repeated patterns causes the body to function as the unconscious mind. Perhaps at this moment you are thinking, If I stepped out of the paradigm of the known and stepped into the paradigm of the unknown, what could happen? The answer is infinite possibilities of rich, abundant, experiences in love, career, family, connectedness, and so on. Perhaps you would agree we could call this the fruition of our dreams.

According to the quantum model, if I step out of my resting or baseline state of being (the known) to embody and/or become the energy of my future (the unknown), then I am casting an electromagnetic signature into the quantum field, an infinite field of information that exists outside of time and space where all possibilities exist as energy and frequency. Therefore, when you become the frequency of your future self, a self which already exists in the field, as you connect with the energy of your future self, you pull possibilities towards you. This is, as Dr. Joe Dispenza says, how you become a vortex to your future. It’s also the truth of who and what we really are; consciousness animating matter.

And so as I embodied the thought of my future (that is to say, who I was becoming and who I could become), because thought is energy, that thought expanded the energy and frequency of my future into my body. This is the process whereby we heal. It’s also the process whereby we create, but are they not one in the same?

What all of this adds up to is that if we are to evolve as human beings, we need to surrender the old, limited ideas and aspects of ourselves that no longer serve us. This is the power of consciousness becoming awakened. It is what enables us to be energetic snakes and butterflies in human flesh. To not become aware of the unconscious programs that run our life is to live as a diminished potential of our highest self-expression.

The unique aspect of humanity that gives us domain over all other animals on the Earth is the power to become awakened. This power is our divinity—that greater aspect of humanity that calls us to be something more, that calls us as consciousness to evolve through the physical experiences of our senses. To say this more simply, the mind can train the body to be its servant. This servitude arises through heart and brain coherence, the unification of which turns the body into an instrument of higher consciousness. Like the snake, it’s this ascension into higher states of consciousness that allows us to molt old parts of ourselves, and like the butterfly, what allows us to transform from one state to another. As we do this over and over, it is not the physical that is ultimately molting and transforming, it is the internal—it is the individual aspect of consciousness in service to the transformation of the universal consciousness. Let’s look at this in a slightly more down-to-Earth way.

For a moment, let’s think of the old self as the remaining pieces of a decrepit pier whose utility has passed. Piece by piece, while time has dismantled the pattern of what was once a pier, a single pylon stands obstinate, clinging to what it understands to be its nature and form. Rather than surrender to the tides, it becomes an immovable force by which nature, in this case water, must circumvent it. This remaining pylon of the pier clings to the idea of itself as a pier because it is a safer, more known way to exist in the world. But if we want to evolve as individuals, or even continue existing as a species, it’s time to let go of the limited constructs that no longer serve us.

We only need to turn on the television to see that the outdated constructs of the old world are falling away around us. It’s important to remember, however, that our global external reality is nothing more than a reflection of our individual internal reality. The old is falling away so something new can be born, but birth is not an easy process.

What is being born is the awakening of a new planetary consciousness, but global awakening begins within each individual. In this moment of history, all of us are being called to surrender old ways, old patterns, and antiquated concepts of being so as to step into the new consciousness that is being birthed. I not only see this happening in my own life, but I feel it…and still the internal battle rages within as I cling to old ideas of self. I cling to the last standing structures, the last patterns, the last remaining vestiges that represent my old, limited ways of being. It is not an easy process, but a necessary one.

If we are to let go of these old forms, we must first ask of ourselves: If I am not the pylon and no longer the pier, then who am I? Who will I be if I step out of the patterns and prison of my own making and thinking?

The answer is I will become freedom itself, and within the limitless energy of freedom, I am free to create any life or reality I desire.

Like to read? Check out this list of some of my my favorite books.

Like to listen? Check out this narrated excerpt from Chapter 9 of my book. It features music from my book’s soundtrack. This song, People Zoo, also from the soundtrack, is why I named my blog People Zoo.

 

11. Big Love, Big Wounds, Big Change, and Big Gratitude

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“The good news is you love very deeply,” said my friend Linda over a glass of Brunello. “The bad news is, you love very deeply.”

It certainly wasn’t how I imagined my life in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico would turn out. Then again, life rarely does. After 15 months of a long distance relationship, I moved south of the border for love. While I was still three hours away from where she lived in Mexico City, at least it was better than 2,300 miles away from my home in Seattle, Washington. Before the first month was out, however, the relationship imploded, leaving me exiled in a foreign country and grieving over an imagined future that would never be.  “Big love reveals big wounds,” my friend Beth Bell says.

The thing with relationships is that they are about a shared frequency, time, and place during the evolution of our soul’s journey. Very often we begin in the same frequency as our lover, but sometimes the soul’s journey moves one or both into a different frequency; not necessarily higher or lower, just different. I had to accept that the greater aspect of our soul’s intersection was to put each of us on a new soul path and journey. As Dr. Joe Dispenza says, “When you remove the emotional charge from a painful experience, it becomes wisdom.”

When the relationship ended I fell into a deep hole, a hole from which it was hard to see the light. As a result, I stopped doing the things that were loving to me; writing, exercising, creating, meditating, being social, and so on. The thing is, when you fall into these holes, from your subterranean vantage point, you can’t see what’s around you—and if you can’t see what’s around you, then you forget how much there is to be grateful for.   

One recent evening on a walk through my beautiful, adopted Mexican town, I experienced a vivid moment of clarity. I realized that long before the relationship ended, my life had been shifting—and all along I had been desperately resisting it. Whether I liked it or not, the tectonic plates of my life were recalibrating beneath my feet, rearranging and restructuring the intersection of my internal and external world. As a result, I was desperately holding my life in a vice grip, and it was desperately struggling to breath. It finally took the dismantling of this relationship to realize I was in one of my life’s greatest initiations. When you’re in these spaces of initiation, what I am learning is that it’s not so much about embracing change as it is allowing it.

I am a work in progress.

I have been in this space of the unknown countless times in my life, in fact, I even wrote a book about being in the unknown. Theoretically you’d think I would feel comfortable in this space, but I’d be lying if I said I did. To jump into the unknown, to do the deep work of the soul is to find yourself in an endless labyrinth where you are not only called upon to make decisions, but to trust that those decisions are in alignment with your highest self.

Our external life is always going to shake us up, this is after all what life is all about—to rattle us out of our slumber. But it’s how we meet these external shakeups from an internal perspective that determines the duration and degree of our disorientation and discomfort. Personally speaking, I am in one of the greatest unknowns in my life, and I am so wide open and so far out in the unknown that there’s nothing left to shelter me—not a tree nor a toadstool. I’m on a lifeboat in the center of a vast ocean of the unknown, and the only thing I have to protect myself is a LifeVest made of surrender and trust.

When you’re in these spaces, it seems like a time of action—to start rowing, planning, plotting, or reading the stars for direction—but instead I believe it’s a time to go inward and be still. It is a time to take the remaining disparate pieces of what you knew as your former life and begin to shape matter and our external experience through consciousness and intention. It’s also a time to look closely at why these shakeups happened, because when we’re paying attention, shakeups lead to awakenings.

Part of what I have awakened to is the fact that for most of my life I’ve been holding on to dormant pains from the past. Like an old t-shirt you can’t throw away, for reasons you can’t name, this pain had become incredibly familiar and comfortable, and yet I know I have outgrown it and that it’s not really who I am. I’ve been so wrapped up in this pain—what I call in my book a soul ache—that I haven’t actually been able to see what I have before me, who I have become, and how I’m living the dream of my 17-year-old self. That dream was a dream dedicated to the pursuit of art and the freedom of my soul’s expression. It was a dream where I was free to roam the world, meet fascinating people, have experiences that caused my soul to grow, expand, and evolve, and to be able to express those experiences so that hopefully others would be able to see their own lives in the reflection of my own.

While by no means is my life perfect, in most regards I have managed to create the life I’ve always wanted to live. I’ve managed to express in a book what I’ve been trying to articulate since I was 17 years old, a journey that took more than 20 years. It was only through the experiences provided by time and space that I would have enough life experience to paint a picture in words of the intangible thoughts, feelings, and emotions of my soul’s journey.

***

Surrounded by a rim of mountains, the spires of grandiose gothic churches, calles lined with colorful facades, and rickety cobblestone streets, I live a life of freedom in one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico. I am constantly surrounded by and meeting interesting artists, creatives, and masters of energy and consciousness from all over the world. But most importantly, I am free to create the life I want to live, and this is one of the most important things I’ve forgotten during my current iteration and initiation of self.

Know that I don’t say this to be braggadocios, dear reader. In fact, the truth is I am giving myself a pep talk, and in doing so, I hope to be giving you one as well (if you are in a similar space). If you are going through an initiation in your life—and if some days you find yourself wondering how much longer you can last in this initiation, as well as dreaming of how much easier it would be to go back to the old, familiar self—I want to encourage you to look around you with awakened eyes at the abundance of blessings that surround you. Know that the pain and discomfort you are experiencing now will in fact become one of your greatest teachers and gifts in the future.

I also want to say that if you too are suspended in the anxiety of the unknown and living in a state of resistance, identify what you are resisting, release the resistance, and allow for the new to come forth. We are, after all, energy organized as matter, and we exist in an infinite field of energy, energy that calls us to become more coherent energy, for it’s that coherence that brings us closer to the truth of who we are as wholeness and oneness. It is the nature of energy to flow, so be the conduit for whatever this new thing is within you that is trying to be born. And remember, this is the time and space when we are called on the most to create, surrender, and trust. When you experience a great loss in your life, no matter what it is, our natural inclination is to lament the loss and close our hearts, but instead, as the poet Dylan Thomas said, “Do not go gently into that good night…Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.”

I think the best way to do that is through gratitude, so I am going to call on you to do the same. For the next 21 days I am going to practice gratitude. Why? Because gratitude is one of the highest frequencies, frequency alters matter, and our physical existence is made of matter. You can practice gratitude however you feel fit, but one of the structural elements of my book, and a practice I have used since 2010, is to write down five things you are grateful for and five things you want to create.  

If you too are carrying around pain from the past, I will also ask you to leave it by the side of the road. It may be comfortable, and you may have some nostalgic feelings towards it, but it’s no longer you. It is only in surrendering this part of yourself that you can allow a new aspect or dimension within you to be birthed.

Finally, I want to leave you with one of my favorite poems by the mystic, poet, paleontologist, geologist, philosopher, and French Jesuit priests, Teilhard de Chardin. It’s about being suspended in the unknown and the value of patience and trust.

Should you decide to take up this practice, feel free to comment below or drop me a line throughout your journey of gratitude. Thank you for reading and grace, love, and blessings to you.

Have you check out the book trailer to A Curious Year in the Great Vivarium Experiment?

 

 

 

 

10. Creativity, Flow, and a Book Deal in 21 Days

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It’s hard sometimes to shut off the analytical mind—the mind that wants to control, predict, and forecast outcomes. This mind certainly has its time and place, but not when you want to be in a creative space, for creativity is about flow, openness, expansion, and trusting the information and ideas that arrive in our minds. When we are in this state, it’s like our minds are radio antennas, picking up frequencies and information that exist behind the visible light spectrum. This is the state of being from which creativity arises and unfolds.

For nearly eight months last year I was in that flow space. If you read my earlier blogs, you know it culminated by living in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for two-and-a-half months to finish my book. Then I came back to Seattle and contracted…and contracted some more…and even more until the point where when I was alone in my own company, I was almost unbearable to myself. I was in such a state of contraction and discontent, I was blind to my future.

 At the beginning of 2018, I made a decision to get clear, which included quitting alcohol, coffee, and sugar for a minimum of 21 days. I remembered doing another 21-day cleanse about seven years prior, and I remembered how clear and creative I felt at the end of the second week. The Being Experiment was born out of the clarity of these 21 days in January, and the idea downloaded to me right at the end of that second week. What also occurred at the same time was that although I knew not what it was, I could finally feel my future moving towards me—so much so in fact that I wrote on my desk calendar on January 31st, “Finalize book deal.” While I didn’t know what that meant, I wrote it on there anyway.

Today, January 31st, marks the 21st day of the cleanse. When I woke up this morning and performed my morning meditation practice, which in turn changed my state of being towards the day into one of excitement, I said to myself before leaving the house: Anything can happen today. Today is going to be a great day. Even though I said this, I was unattached to any outcome, and since I picked the word “peaceful” that morning in The Being Experiment, I knew even if nothing else happened, I would be at peace at the end of the day.

Like any normal morning, I made my way to a coffee shop to write. On this day, I happened to choose KEXP, Seattle’s independent radio station. (If you are a music fan and don’t know about KEXP, this is one of the best independent radio stations in the United States and it streams all over the world.)

At first it seemed like any other day, however, when I opened my laptop I received a message from an internationally renowned New York Times bestselling author and lecturer. He told me he had received my name from a publishing house and asked if I would be interested in working with him. I was in complete shock. This great unknown showed up, or materialized, completely out of nowhere.

Of course I thought it was a joke, because it was so absurd that not only had I said something great would happen today, but I had also written on my desk calendar, “Finalize book deal.” While this communication with this author was the opening salvo of a negotiation, none the less it was a start towards finalizing a book deal. Not only was this occurrence seemingly preposterous, it was exactly what I had been focusing on creating during my 21 days of cleansing and meditation; a client from whom I can learn, a client to whom I can offer value, someone who has a big message for the world, someone who values me, and the freedom to work from anywhere I want.

As I said in the previous blog, in getting quiet, focused, and still, I have changed my internal state from fear and worry to joy and trust. Nothing changed in my external world, but I managed to change my internal state of being. It’s my belief that what we see and experience is just a sliver of a greater mystery that revolves around our consciousness and who we are being—and that our external reality is simply a projection of our internal reality.

In A Curious Year in the Great Vivarium Experiment, this is one of Thomas’s main discoveries—that the universe is not cold and lifeless, but loving and interactive, and that it responds to who we are being.

 This was originally written on January 31st, 2017 and edited on September 26, 2018

 

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 680+ 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

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