Awakening usually comes in the form of a crisis of some kind – physical illness, mental struggles, loss of job, identity, home, relationship – or some kind of significant existential angst.
People call these spiritual awakenings which frankly, sound way nicer than they generally feel.To be honest, it’s pretty rare to recognize that we’re having an “awakening” in the midst of a crisis.
I call these experiences provocations, because they provoke us out of our comfortable narratives (and when I say comfortable I don’t mean they feel good, but that they are familiar).
Purposeful disobedience happens when we ask ourselves where we must break rules we thought we had to follow in order to live authentically and fully as ourselves. To be ourselves, we have to be willing to break some rules. This approach has been shown to be pivotal not just to live authentically but to offer the very best of ourselves in service to others.
The world is alive.
We are surrounded – and potentially supported – by this family we never even knew we had that want our curiosity, attention, and connection. Trees, plants, animals, rocks are not things but beings. And this perspective, which is “weird” according to the modern paradigm, is long-held by indigenous people all over the world.
You may be asking: how do you know that they communicate? I can’t hear them saying anything.
Just because you haven’t YET doesn’t mean you don’t have the inherent ability.
I’ve been teaching the practice of opening and closing sensory gating – our “gates of perception” – for decades. Before I ever trained people in these approaches in the Shetreat Decertification, I did this with patients – kids and adults – who came to see me as a neurologist.
The beauty is that it’s never too late to learn. We all have sensory gating that we can modulate with intention, and it all starts with showing up. We can learn to widen our perception so we can access the most beautiful, magical transmissions from the living world around us.
If there’s any remedy to existential loneliness, it’s deepening our connection and kinship not just to humans but to plants, animals, elements and the Earth.
Practice is how we bring our dreams, sacred moments and epiphanies into the every day. We’re in practice when we respond to getting cut off in traffic or to a hard conversation with our partner, kid or sibling. Practice is when we say no to something that doesn’t require our time so that we can rest, relax, or have fun.
Often, practice begins by learning to take the pause – to step into the role of the audience rather than to automatically react as the character from the script we always have followed.
Practice is life.
But sometimes we forget that life is mostly practice – and we get discouraged. That’s one of the loneliest feelings in the world.
That’s where having a framework to guide us, a community to remind us, and a guide and mentor to cheer us on makes ALL the difference.
We think pain is necessary because it means we really worked for something, and we really earned it. And undoubtedly, we will encounter plenty of painful experiences as we walk our journeys.
But our greatest mission, should we choose to accept it, is to find PLEASURE on the journey wherever and whenever we can. Pleasure is as integral to life as food, water, sunshine, and loving relationships.
We can access pleasure through joy, sensuality and ecstatic experiences, gratitude and appreciation, wonder and awe, or simply feeling pleased about a day well done. Pleasure brings about a whole slew of new Ps: peace, play, purpose, passion, possibility, plenty, and prosperity.
Children are fluent in this skill; as adults, we can be too.