The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


There are so many models and maps of reality I want to share with you, but we need to slow down and examine what we already have.  A perfect tool is this idea of "Becoming a published writer in a year."  Together, the Hero's Journey and the Chakras present a lifetime of work and investigation. but let me lead you by the hand a bit longer.  the Hero's Journey (go back and read my articles if you are unfamiliar with this) are the process of growth--how one puts one foot in front of another.  The process of makign decisions, gathering allies and powers, confronting weakness and evil, coping with disaster.  The Chakras (in one sense) represent the goal--constant growth through the  different stages of our life, the different stages of physical, mental, and spiritual development.  A useful model is to think of the Hero's Journey as the path from one chakra to another, going from "lower" to "higher".  Don't think of the lower chakras as "lesser" than the higher, any more than roots are less important than leaves.  This is EXACTLY the mistake many seekers make, just as others make the mistake of thinking that the lower, animal sensory experiences and power acquisition comprise all that there is in life.  Both attitudes are limiting.
Let's talk about a story dealing with the first Chakra.  People often talk to me of motivation.  "I have no motivation."  "Nothing matters," etc.  They are lying to themselves.  If I threw a plastic bag over their heads and started choking them, every single one of them would struggle.  Every one.  This  is the natural, engrained response of all organisms.  All else is dysfunction and lies.  You have to get down to the truth, and then build from there.  So, biologically:
1)  All organisms seek to live.
2) All organisms seek to avoid pain and seek pleasure. 
Now, sometimes #2 will lead to suicide.  Understand why?  The attempt to avoid pain can cause problems when you are so confused that life seems nothing BUT pain.  In that case, death of the body can seem preferable to death "of the spirit."  Death is moving away from pain, do you see?
I think that one of the reasons that all world spiritual disciplines use the breath is that when you begin to elongate the exhalation, or hold the exhaled position, the hind brain kicks in the Cardio Respiratory Distress response--in other words, you get in touch with something that is realer than any of your supposed "problems." CRD trumps EVERYTHING.  if you want to find your motivation to succeed, to work, to exercise, to love and learn, get back to the most basic things about yourself:
1) you want to live
2) you want to feel good, and avoid pain.
The heart of the Lifewriting system is to write stories that deal with our own problems, to create metaphors that communicate to our own subconscious.  So if you write a story about a man or a woman who cannot motivate themselves to take a necessary action, how might such a story be resolved?
1) By increasing their motivation (the situation gets worse, or the reward gets better)
2) By increasing their clarity (so that they can see how they have been limiting themselves)
3) By changing their resource base--giving them a new ally to motivate and support them.  this can be external or internal.
4) By Having a natural pattern of growth or aging take them to a new level.
5) By having some catastrophic occurance or "breakthrough" moment force their hand.  In retrospect, they then see what they have done, and what they can be.
Conversely, you can have them fail to take action, and watch the consequences.
Of course, there are other options, but these will get you started.  Let them get in touch with their most basic, life and death drives.  Chakra #1.  It's always there.  Always.  The only way we lose touch is by lying to ourselves.  By allowing our fear and lonliness to mask our needs and true natures.
You can use this exercise to increase your understanding of motivation in the physical, mental, or emotional/spiritual arenas--it's up to you.
Get to work!

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