The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, April 07, 2006

Compassion for Conservatives, and the Path

The unfortunate thing about our political system is that it is, to many, a zero-sum game.  In other words, I believe many will support a candidate or sitting official because if that person goes down, they take the party with them.  And people identify with a party for a variety of reasons, not all of them sound and rational.

We have a situation right now where an increasing number of Conservative Republicans are questioning their support of the Bush White House.  At this point, beyond almost any doubt, I think Bush is the worst, most dishonest and incompetent president of my lifetime…but, of course, I could be wrong.  If I’m right, though, dear God are we in trouble.

As more Republicans begin to admit their dismay, it is VERY important that they be allowed to expose weakness without being laughed at, attacked or “I told you so’d.”  One day the shoe will be on the other foot, I promise you.  As citizens of this country, we have to be able to admit to weakness and mistakes without being savaged.  I can’t do anything about the hyena laughter on Air America as new information strongly suggesting Bush lied to our faces, or at the very least, stretched truth to the breaking point.  I don’t approve of the mockery…but then again I didn’t approve of Rush Limbaugh or Micheal Savage either.  Their job is to stir the masses, not encourage reasoned discourse. 

If things fall apart as badly as they seem to be, remember that we’re all in this together.  Welcome them with open arms, and realize we’ve all made mistakes.  Let’s do what we need to do to heal the country…

Then, after it is healed, we can go back to fighting amongst ourselves again.  Right now, our children are dying, and our grandchildren are being saddled with impossible debt, and our great-grandchildren face an environmental nightmare.  I’d say we need sober talk, not mockery.
Back to the PATH.  I promised to talk about the core of it.  I have to dance around this, because much of my thought was feeling…was experiential, although guided by conceptual structures.

There are several different structures I’ve studied quite a bit, chief among them the yogic Chakras, Maslow’s Heirarchy, and the “Core Transformation” pattern created by Connirae Andreas of NLP Comprehensive in Colorado.

All of them suggest that when lower, more basic needs are satisfied, we automatically evolve toward the next level.  (The Hero’s Journey says the same thing, of course.)

That, in essence, any human behavior, no matter how venal or violent, is an attempt to reach the Divine.  That it is the intrinsic nature of humanity to evolve in a spiritual sense.  Let’s just say that I had come to believe in this strongly.

Three years ago, I got ahold of an audiotape of Coach  Scott Sonnon’s called the Flow State Performance Spiral.  In it, he describes a model of human activity where all techniques are composed of breath, movement, and structure.  Each of these is “created by” the other two.  Interesting, and his “Be Breathed” technique (incorporated into my Five Minute Miracle DVD) provided a practical example that I could understand on a physical level.  Cool.

But he talked about the interaction of two combative athletes, and how YOUR job is to remain unified in these three aspects, while simultaneously disassembling your opponent: hampering his breathing, his ease of motion, or his structural alignment. That this was a hyper-efficient focal point for your strikes and punches, your throws, your locks and chokes.  And that the differential BETWEEN your efficiency and his creates the “Time Distortion” effect noted in master-level martial arts performance, where the expert seems to be moving almost in slow motion, but still “gets there” before his opponent. 

This was the first time I’d heard an explanation of this phenomenon that made sense to me, that matched my own experience.  I was hypnotized, and listened to that darned tape about fifty times, over and over again, disbelieving what I was hearing.  What Scott had done was provided me with a critical mass of understanding.  After forty years of continuous study, some part of me finally had a toehold on a Path  I’d glimpsed in yoga, in Martial Arts, in Christianity, in Contemporary Shamanism, est, NLP, Zen all of the varied things I’d explored over the years.  I FELT what they were all talking about.  And it boils down to this:
As you move through life, you confront obstacles within and without.  If your will is strong enough to move through them, you learn.  If you find the right allies and resources, you grow.  If you pay attention to the actual results of your behaviors and thoughts, you gain wisdom.

Pain and fear are stored both in the mind and in the body, which are inseparably linked.  These emotions compete with love for room in your heart, and love is the primary evolutionary power.  These negative emotions impact your health and ease of movement, cripple your energy.  If you learn to move your body as it moved before these negative emotions infected you, in effect, you release the emotions.

If you don’t release them, they will hide in whatever arena of your life where you put the least attention.  For most of us?  Our bodies.  They become sacks of rotting meat where all of the disappointments, rage, pain, and fear fester.  And the joke is that the poison will kill us, but not hurt us.  If we start digging into it, it hurts, but heals.  Man oh man, is it ever painful to awaken to that reality.

So, then, given all of this, a possibility presented itself to me.  A way that you can maximize your own, or a student’s chances of success.  Understand: I know of no way to choreograph a true epiphany,  although temporary “kundalini jolts,” “Cracks in the cosmic egg” CAN and have been orchestrated by teachers for thousands of years.  Without a continuous practice of some kind, however, the insights are quickly lost.  So, this is was I saw:

1)     If you created goals in a balanced matrix, body, mind, and emotions, your demons have nowhere to hide.
2)     “Spirit” needs not be addressed directly, and in fact, it is possible that it cannot be.  Dealing with body, family and community with love and honesty and integrity puts you on the path…you cannot help but grow toward spirit, if you are properly rooted.  On the other hand, trying to access spirit directly can lead to delusion and disillusionment.
3)     As you address your life in balance, you will fail again and again.  Fear and pain will attempt to encode itself in your body, your ego’s way of slowing your progress.  Therefore, some daily practice must be devised, a way of simply cleaning out your inner rooms daily.
4)     The practice must be both mental and physical, preferably one that simultaneously can lead to fitness and increased energy: energy is VITAL to the evolutionary process

I think that those are the basics.  Understanding the course of energy, raising energy, cleaning the energy, patterning the energy, balancing the energy.  Refining it so that it functions as a laser in your life, with nothing wasted, everything, all mind and muscle and emotion, moving in the same direction.
When I looked at this model, I realized that it made sense of everything that I had ever learned.  Over the next year I experimented with it in my own life, and satisfied with the results, began to wonder if there wasn’t some way to share it with others. 

And that was when I reached out to Scott, and pled with him to create a physical technique that could be taught to beginners, that would allow them to remove the negative emotional obstructions at the same time they raised their energy.  It took him two years to create, but we have it now.

And the first Path workshop is in two weeks. I cannot wait.

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