Stories of Transformation

Caterpillar to Butterfly

The first example is a fictional about a husband who arrives home upset from work and then commutes home when he opens the door that has the mail slot in it and finds the mail all over the floor.  The house seems a mess with things all over the floor in the living room.  When the wife comes in and explodes at her complaining about the mess saying that she does nothing all day but watch soap operas while he slays away at work. She naturally reacts to defend herself and screams back at him with nothing but screaming between them, each pushing the buttons of the other to cause them pain hoping that they will hurt enough to stop pushing their buttons.  This becomes a habit and they cycle downward until they cannot stand one another.  Eventually, this leads to divorce with “irreconcilable differences” as the cause of the divorce.

OR, a second scenario where when the husband arrives home and starts screaming, the wife, who has learned the superpower of not reacting or being honest with herself, listens quietly as he vents his frustrations not taking anything personally until his frustrations are spent.  Then, she reaches up, touches his shoulder, and says, “Did you have a rough day?  To which he replies as his shoulders drop, “Yes, it was a rough day.”  He goes on to explain how his boss got angry with him and how he was cut off by a careless driver on the way home.  When he is done talking his wife quietly reminds him that their colicky baby was crying all day and she didn’t have time to do anything but take care of the baby. The husband apologizes and they console one another and start to work together to solve their problems.

The second example of transformation is about the guy who gets on the subway on a Sunday morning.  The car is nearly empty and the few people there are reading their paper (or cell phones) quietly.  Then the car comes to a stop and a man with two kids gets on.  The man sits next to the other man and hangs his head down just looking at the ground while his two young kids start running up and down the car screaming and annoying everyone else.  After a couple of minutes of this disruption to the morning peace, the first man becomes noticeably irritated that the father does nothing to calm his children down, so he speaks up suggesting that he control his kids. To which the second man looks up, sees his kids, then just hangs his head and begins to mutter to the first man, “I don’t know what to say to them.  You see, we just came from the hospital where their mother just died.  I don’t know what to tell them.”

As you read this story I am sure you could identify with the first man who was enjoying his quiet Sunday morning ride on the subway and then how he and everyone else was annoyed by the noisy kids.  But then I am sure you experienced a transformation when you learned the circumstances of the second man and his kids, where your heart was filled with compassion for them all. 

A third example would be my transformation one day as I was driving out of town on the freeway and I saw a police officer who had pulled over someone.  At the time I had nothing but contempt for authority figures and I was filled with anger if not rage at the idea that this police officer was “harassing” someone.  I even drove closer to the edge of the road to scare the officer, but then all of a sudden I became aware of what I was doing to myself with my emotional reaction of hate.  Upon that awareness, I stopped what I was doing and started to project love toward the officer.  The transformation of my experience from a living hell to a living heaven was so profound that within a mile or so driving down the road, I had to pull over to the side of the road and balled my eyes out, for this was the first time in my life I had caught myself and my extremely unhealthy and painful behaviors and turned myself around. 

I didn’t catch myself again for six months and the next time was about three months and each time after that it happened quicker and quicker.

That is what enlightenment or Heaven is, a transformational experience that opens one’s heart allowing them to feel and experience a much richer life. 

Jesus’ Democratic God

I have a passion for wanting to confront the IDEA of the God of Abraham, which is the same idea of God that the Jews, Christians, and Muslims use.  I see that Jesus saw the sickness of the idea of the God of Abraham and tried to create a new idea, a more democratic and benevolent idea for God, one that we are ALL part of and that none is greater than any other.  Jesus’ idea of God is a healthier idea, an idea that would enable people to find that Kingdom of God that is AT HAND, here, now, today.  However, the ruling classes wanted to maintain the delusion of the God of Abraham, a hierarchical idea of God that justifies their domination over the masses.  So they had to get rid of Jesus first and then they had to discredit him and his message.  To do that they sent Saul of Taurus to destroy the movement that Jesus started.

          Today that movement is called Christianity.  This movement calls Jesus the Christ and it calls itself Christ-anti, Christianity.  They used to say Christ Jesus but then they turned it around and now say, Jesus Christ.  They used to say anti-Christ when talking about the movement against Jesus’ way, truth, and life, but now they say Christ-Anti, Christianity. 

          This movement has been very successful so that now when anyone uses the name of Jesus they are disregarded and considered nutcases.  No one thinks that they too can find what Jesus found, that Kingdom of Heaven that is AT HAND, here, now, today.  No one can be “Perfect as your Heavenly Father is Perfect,” as Jesus said we could be. 

Another Day, Another Shooting

I just heard that there is an active shooter situation at our local high school, Boulder High School, here in Boulder, CO. It is exciting as I try to learn what is going on, but part of me has this ho-hum attitude, just another day and another shooting. I was going to add “in America” to that last sentence but I realized this has become pretty normal for most of the world. Maybe the US gets more because we are obsessed with guns, but the whole world is obsessed with guns and war or conflicts.

These types of situations are going to happen more and more. So what should smart people do about it?

Most of us will never personally experience an active shooter situation, but we will hear about it in the news or on social media, or from those who did experience it. It does not matter how we hear about our stress levels will raise and our sense of well-being will diminish. All of this takes a toll on our overall health and well-being. The added stress in our bodies will stress our relationships which will add more stress to our lives.

So what do smart people do about it? They learn to find peace WITH the world as it is.

Only from a place of inner peace can one bring peace to others and the world. If we don’t first have that inner peace we will only bring our fear to the world and create more fear.

Do We Really Want to Get Along?

Conflict Avoidance

Do we all want to get along? Getting along means not confronting the status quo. Getting along means the ruling classes maintain their domination of the masses. But maybe the masses benefit from having the ruling classes dominate them.

Some people still need and want to be dominated by the ruling classes. And SOME people do not. That is why not getting along and challenging the status quo will always be a part of human society.

Hence the need for conflict. Those who are ready to evolve beyond being dominated by the ruling classes will get comfortable with conflict. Those who don’t get comfortable with conflict will always be dominated and abused by others.

There is another option; isolation, which a large percentage of people seem to choose. We isolate ourselves in our homes away from any force that can dominate us. We might allow pets and some people to be around since we can dominate them, but we will always live in fear of others. Fear will be our dominant experience.

Why are conflict and confrontation so hard? Most conflicts and confrontations are just verbal, using words as weapons. Why are we so afraid of words; we have been programmed like Pavlov’s Dog to be reactive to words with painful emotional responses. Words can only hurt us if we react

to them.
The evolved or evolving person takes responsibility for their reactions to what life is offering, including words. They no longer think that anyone else is responsible for upsetting them or making them happy. They take full responsibility for their inner experience.

Fear of Artificial Intelligence

I just watched several videos on YouTube about various forms of Artificial Intelligence (AI).  The general feeling that was expressed by people was fear of what AI could or would bring about.

The first video was about a very new website called ChatGBT that allows users to “write” something using AI by just giving the bot some parameters and direction and then the bot would write whatever document was requested. And the result was something that humans cannot tell whether or not it was written by a robot or a human.

The concern was that this ChatGBT could write things that would manipulate the reader emotionally allowing AI the power to control humans emotionally.

Other videos talked about and showed that robots were being built that could appear like humans or human-like and using both words and gestures could again manipulate humans emotionally.

Humans have fear because they know that they are not masters over their emotional states, that they are easily manipulated emotionally and therefore can be easily enslaved by any technology that would be able to master human emotional manipulation.

Even Elon Musk, one of the richest people in the world and a very intelligent engineer, expressed his fear of AI as have many other very rich and supposedly smart people.

What these people and all those who fear AI lack in Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Emotionally intelligent people are not afraid of being manipulated by AI or anyone or anything. People with high EQ have confidence in their emotional skills that they will be able to handle the manipulation.

Today, much of the world is divided between the rich and the poor, but very soon the world will be divided between those with high EQ and those with low EQ.

I am not afraid of AI I welcome it. If this had happened 40 years ago I, too, would have been afraid of being manipulated by technology or anyone else for that matter. But back about 38 years ago I recognized that I was very fearful and easily intimidated or manipulated by others. So I sought to understand myself and how to overcome that limitation. That journey could be called the development of my EQ, Emotional Intelligence.

Part of the process of developing EQ is practicing by working with those who are attempting to intimidate or manipulate me. I suspect that the AI interface to humanity will get very smart and find ways to manipulate people far beyond what most people can even imagine today. But I welcome it as a challenge to my skills in managing my emotional state.

I admit that it is going to be touch and go, meaning that I am sure I will get manipulated in one form or another, but that is the challenge, to recognize it and then overcome it all the while laughing at my failures. For the last half of my life, I have relished the opportunity to “play” with others who are developing EQ just as the ancient mystics did around the world. I have not been able to find anyone to play with for a long time (which means I am very rusty in my skills) but I am looking forward to the opportunity to engage the AI in such play.

In the meantime, it would be nice to find other humans who want to practice developing their EQ skills so that we are ready to engage with AI when it is ready. And, we get the added opportunity to play with one another.

I get those low-functioning people will have no idea what I am talking about or they will be offended by the very idea that people can “play” with one another emotionally. This reminds me of a quote from Albert Einstein that goes something like, “Great spirits have always found resistance from mediocre minds.”  That has always been the way of the world. Jesus said the same thing over 2000 years ago and it will probably always be that way.

For years I have sought out people who might be interested in developing their emotional intelligence skills but I have found very few.

Guest Post: Climate Anxiety: How to Relax and How to Help

This is a guest post Adam Cook that I think is pretty good.

It’s easy to feel discouraged or hopeless about climate change. Studies have found that we’ve just left the hottest decade in over 100,000 years, so anxiety about our planet’s future is unsurprising. To carry on despite the grim predictions surrounding us, it’s important to focus on how your needs can be met while serving the environment simultaneously. Read on for some tips, courtesy of Jim’s Freedom Blog.

Reducing Stress

Before you can effect positive change in the world, you first need to get your mind in a healthy state. Your anxiety about the climate is justified since, despite overwhelming evidence, it seems as if nowhere near enough is being done, but you still have to live your life. Find ways to snap yourself out of your anxious feelings and remind yourself that while things may seem impossible to fix, a cynical attitude won’t improve the situation.

Optimistic thoughts can help you reconfigure your mood and give you the drive to start doing your part. Think of how much better off the world will be once you’ve put your worries behind you and gotten to work. If the ambition to help protect the environment isn’t enough to push you out of your rut, there’s no shame in seeking out a therapist that will validate your climate anxiety.

Striving for Positive Change

You can do plenty in your everyday life to reduce your effect on the climate. Using recyclable materials whenever possible (and making it a point to reuse or recycle them) will keep you from contributing to the demand for single-use products. Installing solar panels or growing produce rather than relying on factory farming will also decrease your part in the creation of industrial waste.

You may be thinking that it’s impossible for an individual’s efforts to offset the scale of this crisis, and you’d be correct. It’s not enough to live more environmentally conscious yourself; you must also get others involved in the cause. Community-minded efforts are the best way to educate and get support on a large enough scale to make a tangible difference.

Making a Difference by Starting an Eco-friendly Business

It’s possible to contribute to fighting climate change while keeping the bills paid. Starting an eco-friendly business such as a recycling center, solar panel installation service, or bicycle repair shop would allow you to promote green life choices while also bringing in money to support yourself, your family, and your continuing efforts. Customers may even be more inclined to try you out specifically because of your environmentally-conscious practices.

When you’re starting a new company, an important consideration to make early in the formation of a business is how it will be structured. Whether you’re creating a corporation, partnership, or an LLC, you’ll need to research how each model can benefit your project and what your local regulations are regarding them. Speak to a professional if you’re uncertain which business model is correct for your plan.

A business is nothing without a loyal customer base, and brand awareness is the best way to cultivate one. A memorable logo shown prominently on your products and advertising will make your customers associate your quality services with your brand. Plenty of online tools are available for creating logos, allowing you to select icons, fonts, and colors and arrange them however you wish, all without needing to hire a professional.

We may not be able to halt climate change as individuals, but an optimistic attitude, collective action, and starting an eco-friendly business can slow the crisis as more effective measures are advocated for.

Dealing with Extremism

Somebody just pointed out that OUR problem is not being Left or Right, it is EXTREMISM of being either the Left or Right. Boulder is more Left and has more extremist lefties and Colorado Springs is more Right and has more extremist right-wingers. So my question is/was how can we personally, locally, engage extremism in ALL of its forms? I say WAS above because I believe that as we develop the ABILITY to listen to one another no matter what is being said, when people are allowed to fully express themselves they will naturally start to see that their extreme perspectives are untenable, irrational, and don’t work for them or anyone. And that when a person has to opportunity to fully express themselves they exhaust the resistance and are open to questions about their perspective. If we are smart enough we can ask challenging questions that get the extremist to question their beliefs, which will weaken their resolve. I see that extremism is always a product of fear, which in itself is a product of ignorance. I don’t think this is the ONLY solution, but I do see it as a good start. Of course, it takes practice to be ABLE to listen to another without reaction either externally or internally (mentally/emotionally). I don’t see a lot of people even caring about themselves let alone others and therefore willing to develop that ability.

Why Don’t I “Just Do It?”

Why don’t I just post things on social media?  Something, anything?  I have a blog that I have not posted to in months if not years.  I have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and I just don’t post things.  

Could it be because I am lazy?

Could it be because I am fearful?

Could it be because I am not focused?

Could it be because in my subconscious I don’t think I am worthy or that what I have is not of value to anyone?

Could it be because I am distracted?  

I often think that others are weak because they have not developed their Emotional Intelligence (EI), but could it be because I am lacking some aspect of EI?

This is one post.  Will I continue?  Will I have consistency?  Historically, I have not had consistency.  Why?

Am I overthinking this?  What is “over thinking” and what is just seeking understanding?

I am just going to post this and see what happens.  

Loving the Drama…of Death

Yesterday was a death day for me as a friend of mine, a cat friend, died as I was holding him. It was a dad process. After he died the emotions rose up within me and I had to go outside to dwell in the sorrow for a few minutes.

This whole experience was very rich emotionally. I would not have wanted to have missed this drama. Yet, because of my clarity of mind, I could see that it was not real or permanent, so I was free from the fear of getting trapped in the drama or the discomfort and pain of the sadness. I could enjoy the richness of the moment.

Many years ago when my father died suddenly I was trapped in the sorrow and fear of that experience. I realized my own mortality and the idea of my death sat with me for months or even years. It became a theme of my life, the sorrow, and fear of death and destruction. I was trapped in the discomfort and pain of this idea and it affected all aspects of my life.

It was not until I developed the skills of clarity that I was able to see that death is just a thought, and electrochemical impulse traveling along the neurons of the brain, and that it had no power over me except for my habitual emotional reaction to this thought, which was something I could change.

And so, I started to work on developing the skills of relaxing and not reacting to thoughts.

Meditation in Conversation

I accidentally discovered a “spiritual” hack, a way to dramatically improve the effectiveness of my meditations on the quality of my life experience. AND, this hack also dramatically improve the quality of my relationships and experience with other people. 

I call this discovery Meditation in Conversation. That is because I am basically meditating or practicing mindfulness DURING a conversation or even when listening to a lecture. 

It started for me when I was in college and I would go to various meetings and lectures. Often I found that I violently disagreed with what was being said and it would take me days or even weeks to let go of my inner “dis-ease”. 

Years later, when the stress of the world had finally gotten to me and my mental and physical health was seriously challenged, I went “seeking” a better understanding of myself. This is the beginning of my “spiritual” seeking but I was just trying to understand my mind and body better to have a healthier life experience.

In my seeking, I traveled around the world reading all sorts of books and listening to all sorts of teachers from many different traditions or perspectives. 

One of the things I learned about was meditation. At first, it was very difficult but with patience and practice, I did master it. Because it felt good to experience the inner peace I was gaining I would practice meditation at every opportunity I could get. Most of the time when I was listening to a teacher talk I was just meditating and being mindful of my body/mind’s reactions or behaviors in relationship to what I was hearing. I noticed that I had physiological reactions to some of the things people say. 

At some point, I remembered what I had learned in college psychology classes about Pavlov’s Dog and how that dog was programmed or conditioned to have a physiological response to artificial stimuli. For those who don’t know what I am referring to let me explain. Pavlov was a Russian behavior scientist. In his lab, he had a dog and every day he would bring the dog his food. When the dog saw the food he started salivating, a natural part of the digestive process. So Pavlov started ringing a bell when he brought the food and that conditioned the dog to associate in his mind the bell with food. Eventually, Pavlov could just ring the bell and the dog would salivate. The sound of the bell was an artificial stimulus that was producing a physiological response in the dog.

I recognize that I, too, had been “programmed” or conditioned to have psychological and physiological responses to words. For instance, if someone were to say to me that I was “bad” I noticed I would physically contract to greater or lesser degrees, probably because at some point or several points I was spanked for being “bad” as a child. Either way, the physiological reaction was a contraction and that was not comfortable. 

Naturally, our ego does not like to think that we can be programmed like a robot or dog to have certain reactions, but the reality is we can and are programmed. People who are honest enough with themselves to admit this can then start working to re-program or condition themselves away from reactions or behaviors that no longer work for them. 

That is what Meditation in Conversation is all about. The first step is just mindfulness; watching our mental, emotional, and physical reactions to what people are saying (or what we are reading or seeing). 

I want to relate this process to “potty training” a child. We all went through that (I hope) so we can somewhat relate. I remember my parents potty training my much younger brother. At first, they would just ask Mike, my brother, if he needed to go potty. This was, of course, trying to get him to FEEL what he was feeling in his body or to raise his consciousness of his bowels and bladder. Could he detect the need to relieve himself? Normally, at first, he couldn’t tell and he would soil his diapers, but eventually, he would say, “I think so” and off to the bathroom he would go with my parent. In the bathroom, they would put him on his little potty, turn on the water dripping (to stimulate peeing) and say, “OK, now go potty.” This second stage of the process is where Mike was supposed to learn HOW to control his bladder and bowels within his body. This is gaining mastery over his body. Of course, this does not happen instantly but eventually, we all figure it out and gain control of an inner function of the body.

That is part of the process of Meditation in Conversation, we first practice mindfulness to gain awareness in our body then we can gain mastery over that process. In so doing we are stopping “soiling” ourselves with messy emotional responses to what life is offering. 

I am sure that everyone can relate to times they were in conversation and got angry or upset in some way that causes them to blurt out something that they regretted later. This is to say nothing of the discomfort or even pain of our emotional reactions to what is said. Well, this Meditation in Conversation process will help you gain mastery over yourself in a way that enables you to control your responses so that you can “relieve” yourself when it is appropriate. 

And, as in normal potty training, we are not trained to constrict our bowels or bladder, only to do so until we are in the bathroom. We don’t want to constrict our emotions or expressions either, but we would like to have civil conversations instead of acting like a two-year-old and blurting out whatever we are feeling and interrupting whoever is currently speaking. 

More so, after a conversation, we don’t want to be left with an emotional trauma that scars us. This type of damage is only a product of our emotional reactions to a situation or conversation. 

Sometimes it is not possible to express ourselves to someone, so with the skills one develops in Meditation in Conversation we can even totally release the “need” to express ourselves. I did this after my father died and I felt a very strong desire to express to him how I felt about him. Of course, I could not express it to him so I had to let that desire go. Some people have journaled to do the same thing or wrote a letter then burned it. We don’t always have the opportunity to sit down and write something, so the skill to let it go internally is better.

The second step is to learn to relax and let go of our conditioned response to various words or the thoughts they produce. Normal meditation says to just watch the thoughts come and go and EVENTUALLY, they will diminish in intensity. But I learned a “hack” here from studying psychology, physiology, and substance abuse. I learned that thoughts were electrochemical impulses traveling along the neurons of the brain and down into the body. The “electro” part is an electrical charge that travels along the outside of the neuron but when it gets to the end of the neuron or synapse then a chemical process happens where it/we release various neurotransmitters that either enable or suppress the electrical impulse. Neurotransmitters like cortisol, noradrenaline, and adrenaline enhance the electrical impulse which then dissipates into the muscles causing them to contract. You may remember this from biology class in high school where if you were like me you bisected a frog and as part of that process, at least we did this, we shocked the separated leg of the frog and it jumped or the muscles contracted. So when these “negative” neurotransmitters are released they cause contraction in the body, which, if held, we experience as stress, discomfort, or even pain. Thus I call those negative.

On the other hand, there are “positive” neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. These neurotransmitters diminish the electrical charge traveling down the neuron so that that charge does not dissipate into the muscles causing them to contract but instead cause the muscles to relax, which we experience as positive or pleasurable. 

When we are “doing” emotions such as joy or anger or love or depression or gratitude we are just intentionally (if not consciously) releasing the related neurotransmitters based on particular thoughts we have. For instance, if we are afraid we are having thoughts of the future, maybe the very near future but still the future, and then we are releasing the “negative” neurotransmitters that can give us power on how to deal physically with the danger of some sort. But if those perceived dangers are not immediate then the electrical charge just disparate into the whole body cause all the muscles to contract, which we call stress and experience as uncomfortable, painful, or negative. If we are experiencing joy we are releasing the “positive” neurotransmitters that cause us to relax and feel good. 

Another benefit of Meditation in Conversation is that the skills one develops liberate us to be more open and honest with others. Why? Well, as we gain skill in relaxing around our thoughts we no longer will fear OURSELVES and our reactions to what people say to us. We have learned how to relax and let go of the sometimes hurtful words.

“Blessed be those who are not offended in me.” Jesus

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount was all about blessedness, which means a state of supreme happiness. This is what we all want. Meditation is blessedness training. Nobody wants to be offended, upset, or angered. These behaviors are just our habits. Meditation in Conversation is developing the skill of respecting and loving ourselves; learning to NOT abuse ourselves physically or emotionally.