Well, its that time. Tuesday morning. Just played with Sienna before she heads out to sing and bang her hands on drums. Now its “blog” time. I am pretty comfortable with my utter clue-less-ness whenever I sit to write. At this point, its a given. You get to the edge of the cliff at the quarry. Its 90 degrees. You know you want that water so bad, to feel the aliveness of the jump. So you just jump. And so I jump.
We have had more people coming in and asking us, “Oh my God, is Charlotte getting angrier?” “Are people more in a hurry than ever?” “What is up with the aggressive drivers?” I personally have had this nagging sense – actually a deep sadness mingled with frustration – that we are, as a culture more polarized, split, and sad than ever. Anger is simply one the easiest emotions we can express when we simply don’t feel relevant and when there is a landfill of unresolved junk inside our selves and in our culture.
I am doing this 6 hour course with Brene Brown on Vulnerability (great stuff, by the way – available on Sounds True and its 50% off now). She was talking about this very phenomenon. Remember – she is a quantitative researcher and the opposite of much of the flatlined and depthless new age + pop psychology garbage that floats around our culture. She has researched this very question. She has said, hands down, over the last 12-13 years, our culture has become more angry, more traumatized, more disappointed, more disengaged, and more frustrated than ever.
The fact is (as I see it), we are at an evolutionary jumping off point in Humanity. We grow or face the consequences of not growing.If our “outside-in” approach to life was working we would not be terribly obese and freakishly in-debt. We would not have the HIGHEST health care costs of any nation along side of some of the worst statistics of overall health compared to other developing nations. If our “outside-in” approach was working, I have a hard time seeing us as the laughing stock of the world with ridiculous, pedantic, and infantile political games that nearly shut the entire economy down. If our outside in approach was rocking, I have a heard time seeing the persistent racism, sexism, and sick consumerism that embeds the fabric of our collective consciousness. One last riff on this: most people I know here in Charlotte are rich by most standards. Most of us, even if some have more and some have less, have such crazy abundance relative to human history and relative to the rest of the world. We have so many opportunities, liberties, and advantages. So, why are we not all walking around with huge smiles on our faces?
I recently asked an audience last week of about 100 people if they have noticed increased aggression, increased unrest, and increased road rage her in our Queen city. Unanimously everyone said YES.
To the degree we wont be vulnerable, to the degree that we keep settling for “nice and comfortable” is the very degree to which we keep pushing our pain down, and it keeps showing up in the world. Like a cosmic game of whack-a-mole, that which we repress, WILL express itself somewhere. And the more junk we keep repressing, the more it shows up in our lives. This build up of stress shows up in our bodies and is expressed in a litany of ways: tension, headaches, back pain, neck pain, digestive stress, immune imbalances, anxiety, insomnia, pervasive negative thinking, self-obsession, over-personalization, addiction, and on and on. What you push down (what I push down) will spring up like a geyser in a different form. And the longer we do it, the more tense we get. The more tense this planet gets. Our personal and collective nervous system blows a gasket, and pain ensues. Pain, by the way, is a beautiful thing. Its the angel on our shoulder to force a wake-up. Collective ibuprofen by whatever name we call it won’t scratch the itch. Numbness is no longer an option. I didn’t say pain doesn’t suck, I just said its beautiful in its truth.
Underneath all this anger, all of this disconnect. I see something beautiful. Underneath the stress I see the fuel for a (r)evolution of the heart. I see the perfect confluence of ingredients that can help us usher in a whole new level of humanity and a subsequent level of community heretofore not seen. I see beautiful hearts, I see the innocence of children. I see people who have been hurt and have been given the wrong medicine. A medicine that says, “the answer is out there, somewhere” And it has come hard and fast for thousands of years from many different sources. Everyone doing the best they could with the tools they had. Its just not working anymore and the cost is too high. We are up against a wall.
The How-to’s have run out of steam. How to win friends and influence people. How to have inner peace in 7 steps. How to be skinny and fabulous. How to get rich in a stupid amount of time with minimal work. How to this. How to that. If it worked, we would be in a different place. The research of Brene Brown supports this entirely. My experience supports this. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of wonderful books and teachings out there. I just happen to feel the most true and effective work will take you into the eye of the storm, not into using psychological or spiritual “technology” to avoid your life. Concepts just don’t have the energy to trigger a shift in people, no matter how pithy or wise. Anything that helps you check out does more harm than good.
One of the most beautiful places we can get in life is to be out of answers. To be totally annihilated by self-effort. Let me be clear, I am all about the discipline and hard work that will bring a dream and a vision to fruition. Yet, self-effort and self-help is starkly limited. And in that vulnerability and truth, I see the spark of beauty, I see the spark of the truth. Under it all is the energy and resourcefulness to heal and heal thoroughly.
On the surface, I see a bunch of human beings who have been hurt and who have built fancy space suits and knights armor around their hurt. Its been so long and so pervasive because every one is doing it that now we suffer from the greatest disease of all – we have soul amnesia. We have forgotten who we are. And if that is not the root of un-wellness I do not know what is.
I love this – this is from Rumi – he wrote this about 1200 years ago and it is as true then as it is now: “Be Helpless, dumbfounded, unable to say Yes or No. Then a stretcher will come from Grace to gather us up…So let us not be sure of anything, beside ourselves, so Miraculous beings come running to help. Crazed, lying in a zero circle, mute, we shall finally be saying, with tremendous eloquence, Lead us. When we have totally surrendered to that beauty, we shall be a mighty kindness.”
YES. Rumi nailed it. As I write this, I am totally tempted to hit the back space delete key as this is stepping far outside of what is comfortable to think about or talk about in our culture, especially a “chiropractic blog”. Yet, denial is a toxic black mold on the heart and soul. If we are all honest, really honest (and in fact I know this as fact from working with thousands of people and from the research of Brene Brown) underneath it all we have all had those moments where we have had our knees blown out form under us. And this can be when the magic happens. This is when we can, if we are ready, transition out of intractable stuck-ness forward into courage, forward into true power, and further into the readiness to step through our lame stories. They are not as true as we think they are. Our thoughts are not as true as we think they are. That is the moment is when we have the leverage to really open to resolution and grace and healing.
Many people have told me they want to open their hearts. Most of the time, in my experience, the heart is open. It is so wide open, crying to be seen, shouting to be heard, and longing to feel loved. In fact, it is so open it can actually feel the hurt of our inconsistencies and incongruence. Most people, about 75% according to Brene Brown, are stuck and struck in a world of feeling fundamentally unloveable and unworthy. Its less about some technique to “open your heart” and more about doing the real work that will transition us, body, mind, and soul into a real wellness that includes self love, self worth, and a felt sense of “whole-heartedness”. Being truly healthy + well is a whole lot more than low blood pressure and healthy cholesterol.
Alright, so much for a 700 word blog. So be it. So what do we do? What next? Here are a few suggestions that I have found very helpful.
- Learn to say no to the things that pull you away from what is important. A false sense of obligation, moving too fast, and perpetual busy-ness really keep us in a neurological stress mode and keep us from what is most important. Learn to say no when things don’t feel right. You know that tightness. Listen to it.
- Conversely, say YES to the things that move your forward, even if they are scary – exercise, yoga, therapy, network care, a new group of friends, a spiritual book club. Personally, I love Carrie Williams yoga classes here in Charlotte. She gets it!
- Take a 2 week break from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, reality TV, and other modes of “communication” that foster a pervasive sense of disengagement and inauthenticity. Personally, I have really vowed to use Facebook and Twitter as means of communicating authenticity and helpfulness. I don’t think anyone cares that I just drank a smoothie or have a perfect life (which I most certainly don’t).
- Have morning practices that juice you up for the day: prayer, meditation, journaling, exercise, breathing exercises. We have to fortify from within.
- Brene Browns audio program is great, and available on Sounds True (they have a 50% special going). Lynn and I listen to it in the morning while we get ready for the day. Its so much better than polarized news. Hang out with really inspiring books – readers are leaders.
- When you are out of answers, get help. Not sure where to turn, ask us? We know of great helpers all around the world who can assist you.
- If you are in Charlotte, attend our Somato Respiratory Integration and 12 Stages of Healing workshops taught by my wife Lynn or Brooks Haislip. These are amazing tools that we offer at ridiculously low prices to the whole community. This is a toolkit for life that should be taught in middle school.
- If stress has maxed you out and you are simply out of gas, I really encourage you to attend one of our “Discover Wellness” workshops to find out more about Network Care and Reorganizational Healing. It embodies a lot of what I have talked about here. When our nervous system is on overload and we are way in the red line with stress, its hard to get any “techniques” to work. When we are in overload, our brains are stuck in the very mode of defense and the best parts of us (the ones I am talking about here) have a much, much harder time coming out.
- Average up: average up the folks you hang with. You are the average happiness level of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Choose carefully!
- Get into a group of great folks that can support you. We have wonderful communities here at NWCC and a series of free workshops coming in 2014 to support you. The Olive Branch Center here in Charlotte will be hosting my mentor Andrew Harvey, along with Chris Saade, for 5 days in March. Its a great way to take a big leap and get with folks who are “in your tribe”.
Dr. Matt Lyon