Our entire species is in a time of being uncreated. The old institutions, the old ways and rules, are collapsing, like the way massive blocks of ice sheer off from the glaciers in the arctic, falling to the great sea to float aimlessly, slowly melt, and vanish.
The thing is, even if you have hated, say, the church, or capitalism, or patriarchy, or social structures, and even if a part of you celebrates their collapse, it doesn’t change the fact that you were raised to trust in these old solid foundations – and the collapsing of that trust is very difficult.
This is where we are. The structures are collapsing all around us. No one knows what the new structures will be. On the medicine wheel, this is the West – the direction of dissolution, dismemberment, release. In the spiritual blogosphere, we are told again and again to "release what no longer serves us." That’s great, important spiritual advice, but when you're afraid of the void in front of you, it's very daunting to just tear off your old clothes and run naked through the doorway to the new world. That void is the north on the medicine wheel, the direction where pure power of spirit pours into our dreams to fuel the new shape emerging in us.
The collapsing world is frightening, and when animals are frightened, they default to their life-saving animal instincts of flight, fight or freeze. This is what we see happening all around us, and inside each of us. We want to run and hide; we want to blame, subdue and kill; many of us are frozen in place, feeling clueless and powerless. Fear draws us down into our animal bodies. That is not a bad thing, and it's not a failure of your spirit, it's just something that naturally happens because we are inside these animal bodies.
However, we are more than our animal bodies. In times of distress, it's difficult to remember that. You have a connection to a higher self, a higher "vibration," a more expansive perspective than the animal body does, and I want to suggest some simple ways you can activate that.
We have three main energy centers in our body: The intellect, the heart and the belly. Each person is grounded, energetically, in one of these centers – it is their go-to place when under stress. Western culture has tried its best to make each of us an intellectually-centered person, and most of us in the west are. So we try, often desperately, to think our way out of stress. We are told that more information is the medicine for our stress, confusion and grief.
But we are finding that more information is not the answer. And it's not because social media has made objective truth a thing of the past. It's because what is most important to human beings is not facts, but myth. Myth is our true ground, our true reality. This is the source of the fighting we see all around us, and it’s the source of all fighting in history. We never fight over facts, but over the myth that is supported by the facts of our choosing.
This paragraph gets a little esoteric, so hang with me for a moment: Each of the three centers has a higher and lower realm. Myth is born in the higher emotional center, solidified and articulated in the higher intellectual center, and put into action (rituals and ceremonies) using the higher belly center. But as we have seen in all religions, the lower realm of each center intrudes on the myth and draws it down and shrinks it. This is how myth becomes institutionalized religion. Hypocrisy in religion is the tension between higher and lower centers, where rituals become empty, ideas don't make sense, and ecstasy needs to be forced.
The uncomfortable truth is that you are never going to change someone's myth. Not with facts, and not with your better myth. The only source that can change a human's guiding myth is Spirit, and that will happen when the person is ready, and not until. Violence is almost always the manifestation of someone's guiding myth being hammered at. The violence we see emerging is an act of the lower intellectual center fighting to hold onto the dead shell of a myth that has already collapsed. They default to the "fight" animal-body response, or to the "flee" response, where thy tribalize and shut out the world, or the freeze response, where cynicism rules.
The only way to change someone's mind is to help them move into their higher emotional center, which feeds and activates the other higher centers. We see this happen when, for example someone who has long hated a certain group of people, suddenly realizes they are human beings too. The only way to help someone move into their higher emotional center is for you to be in your own first.
So here is some simple medicine:
- Consider which of the fight, flight or freeze energies is the one working on you with most power. Ask that right now: do I tend most to want to run, to fight, or to freeze and play dead? Activate the belly center as a place of medicine – the belly is the place of physical action. Take one small action to un-create the behavior patterns that you usually operate with. For example, for me, I want to fight all the time. I want to set those assholes straight. So, I decided a while ago that I don’t want the animal-body fight energy to occupy so much room in me, and I want to stop feeding it. The very simple thing I will do is refrain from commenting on people's ludicrously misinformed and chock-full-of-dumbassery posts about Covid. And, I'm not going to make "You're so right!" comments to the people I agree with. Because both actions are about summoning the animal fighting energy that I want to be free of. I want to instruct my animal body to move out of that instinctual place. I've actually vastly reduced my interactions on social media, and I've felt that it has opened space in me. I've written fewer blogs too, and I feel more free.
- The "couch potato" syndrome is a part of the animal's "freeze" instinct, and so we can, again, take a small action, even for five minutes, before turning on Netflix and sinking in. That small action needs to be purely physical, like stretching, or sweeping the kitchen, or stepping outside to look at the swaying winter trees. Every small physical action builds power from the belly center, bringing in more support to move you increasingly out of the animal instincts that are calling you down into the fear-based patterns of flight, flight and freeze. The belly center is the medicine for an out-of-control intellectual center. The belly center is also the medicine for an out-of-balance emotional center (anxiety and depression).
- Open the higher emotional center as medicine for an out-of-control intellectual center. Ask yourself about two crucial energies: Love and Awe. What is it in this life that you love? What is it in this life that fills you with awe? (Gratitude is a third great heart energy, but there is so much written about it nowadays that I want to focus on Love and Awe.) Again, each time you feel called by the animal instincts of fight, flee or freeze, take 30 seconds to work with these two questions of what fills you with love and what fills you with awe. Tis opens the higher emotional center as medicine for out-of-control animal-body instincts. Then next time, take 60 seconds for love and awe, then five minutes, you get the idea.
- Then, ask yourself, what small action you can take to activate that love or awe in the world, to bring that energy to someone else. (A small action that does not involve posting on social media). This will go a long way to helping rebuild your energy.
We are on a long journey together, my fellow holy beings, and it's not going to suddenly get better with a vaccine, or an invention of warp drive, or a war. We are each, in our own way, at our own state of readiness, being matured and refined by Spirit, and as a species, this all adds up to a mass stepping up of our spiritual maturity. The best thing you can do is ask Spirit to step you up in your own maturity, and ask Spirit to help you participate in the emerging new future as best as you can, with your particular skills and loves.
We can each do our part in this world to make it better world, but none of us knows what is being unveiled yet. I take great heart in this: Flowers didn’t arrive on the planet until the dinosaurs were extinct. In the dinosaur era, not a single one could have predicted a world of flowers. But the flowers were stored in the belly of the Great Mother, to be released into the world when the time was right. Everything that will ever happen on the planet is stored right now in the belly of the Great Mother, and in the song wafting down from the Great Immensity. At this winter solstice, try as best as you can to tell your animal body to be quiet, and make prayers to the Great Mother to send the new flowers – whatever form they might take, and ask the Great Immensity to send down the new songs, with the new myth, the new story that will make a new world.