We live during a sacred time. A time ripe with possibility. With each storm, there is the opportunity for great destruction or transformation. These storms can help me recognize much is beyond the control of my ego – out of my personal control. My attitude makes all the difference. Once I recognize the sacred nature of the storm, I can choose to turn from fear to love. Instead of fighting the destruction, I embrace the transformation. I ask myself: what is possible? What good can come of this? How can I respond with love?
Think of your favorite friend. What about a beloved grandparent or teacher? Sometimes we may encounter a person who carefully listens to us and responds to us.
Unfortunately, for some of us, this may be rare. I think love is listening and responding. A nurturing mother responds to the baby’s cry with milk, changing a diaper, or a hug. Doing this moment to moment is love.
Many of us see the value of self care; we value adequate sleep, healthful food, and exercise. Most of us know the pleasure and value of having fun. Yet it seems play is a forgotten activity of our past. Authentic play has immense value – calming of pain, restoring our energy, and evoking excitement and joy.
I remember hearing, “don’t be so selfish.” Often people just assume that focusing on our desires is narcissistic or just a waste of time. If you are not enjoying your life because you neglect yourself, then what are you seeking?
Jesus emphasized that the most important aspects of his teaching are:
“Love God with all your heart, all your Soul, all your mind and all your strength. Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Why are you neglecting yourself? Is it idealism?
I think that it is through self love that we are able to love others. When I am rested, fed and content, I am most receptive to the needs and wants of others I value.
Much has been written about a sentimental view of love. Reducing love to the early days of falling in love, we miss so much of what gives life meaning. Do we even care anymore?
Some professionals write about relationships and bonding, but avoid the word love all together.
Attraction can rapidly lure us closer to another, but just as quickly can be lost.
Falling in love is different from other qualities of love. After a few months or a year or so passing, we may view our beloved very differently. What we once loved about someone, we may now despise.
Yet our heart can be deeply connected to another for years. We often feel this bond the most, when we part.
I think our heart is a symbol of love, for it can teach us much about what we love. When we can calm, our heart’s desire can be felt. Unfortunately, due to the traumatic nature of our world, we can be numb to the subtle longing of our heart.
A child is another powerful symbol for our heart’s desire. Often we neglect the voices of children as whimsical and irrelevant. Just as tragically, we neglect the inner child. For within our heart and mind, this dynamic can lead us to unforeseen gifts.
Emily Dickinson wrote to a friend in a letter, “the heart wants what it wants or it just does not care.” How much do we wander through our life, fulfilling obligations of work and family, feeling empty and unfulfilled?
Love is a mystery. Yet it is a mystery worth encountering with wisdom and sensitivity. Great secrets can be found, seeking the longings of our heart.
If you seek to reject the heart, be forewarned that scientific research reveals the power of our heart’s intelligence. “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart,” writes Hellen Keller.
What is possible? Do I really know? I have assumptions that help me navigate each day. I assume there is day and night. I get up each weekday morning with the morning sunlight and go to work. In the evening, I return home after work and I have leisure time. I go to sleep after the sun sets. The next weekday I get up and do the same.
There are somethings that we assume will never change. Yet all things do change. Leap year reminds us that our calendar and the universe are out of sync. We add a day every four years, because our way of measuring time is not a perfect fit with the movement of the planet earth around the star we call the sun. There are trillions and trillions of stars in the universe.
If we just consider human life on planet earth, light is quite varied. If I travel to Alaska, USA, in July, the sun sets at 10:30pm. In winter, the sun only briefly reveals itself.
The speed of light changes as does gravity. Our world changes in ways we may not realize.
As much as I may deny it, I must acknowledge that I live in an unpredictable universe. Death can stop me in my tracks. Suddenly the rhythm of my life can be thrown into chaos.
Yet there is nothing so bad that something good cannot come of it. Even Jesus’ crucifixion, enabled others to see and understand new possibilities that changed our world forever.
Learning to withhold our judgments can be very powerful. Once we make assumptions, we exclude options. There is a place of total possibility, some name the Quantum Field or the Matrix. This reality identified in quantum physics is a very powerful concept. Physics is the most validated science today.
It is modern physics and the study of electromagnetic fields that enables my iPhone to post this blog on my website which allows you to read it from almost anywhere in the world. Modern communication is remarkable thanks to modern physics. Quantum physics reveals a universe that is ripe with possibilities.
When we can approach life with an open mind, many constructive things can emerge. If I can set my assumptions aside, I can see the world in a new way.
My assumptions can act like blinders which limit my vision. It is like looking at the world standing in a valley. If I can set my assumptions aside, I can see the world from a larger perspective. It is like moving from the ground level of the valley to the top of a hill.
This is a mindful position of awareness. When I can observe others, events, and myself from a wider vantage point, I can see more choices. Our two basic powers as humans are to observe reality and make choices. Seeing more possibilities is empowering for each of us.
Please watch this video on a whole brain state which opens up our perception enabling us to see the world more clearly and to see more options:
Is selfishness always a bad thing? What is narcissism? The word narcissistic is in the news a lot recently. What does it mean?
Narcissism is an exaggerated view of your own abilities and wanting praise from others.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines narcissism as “extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration.”
While most of us would recognize the problem with narcissism, I do need to be self-centered in healthy ways. My body needs adequate sleep, healthful food, and frequent exercise.
When I neglect myself when I get too hungry, lonely, angry, or tired, and I am more likely to be self-centered. I may try to love others, but I am too needy. If I do not get 8 hours sleep at night, I may be so tired that my concentration is poor. I may not listen well. I may not be aware of myself and talk too much, too loudly, or insensitively.
Moreover, when I do not see myself and my story clearly, I relate to others from a cloudy point of view. This is called a projection.
I need to see others as they are – no more or less. I need to be see myself as I am. This is an authentic relationship. I am human which means I need real relationships. It is important to be noticed by others. I need to matter to myself as well as others. I need to be treated with respect. Others need to be treated with respect.
The golden rule is “to love thy neighbor as thy self…”. When I treat myself well, I have the patience and resilience to nurture others. This is being selfish in a wise way.
Psychotherapy, pastoral counseling, meditation, 12 step work, or coaching with energy psychology techniques enable me to learn to see my story more clearly. Seeing my narrative clearly enables me to see myself as well as others with more objective eyes.
For example, if I get angry or afraid when someone mentions money, then I am unable to listen objectively on the subject of money. When someone talks about money, I am distracted by my anger or fear, and do not hear their story. It is like driving with a dirty windshield; it is hard to see the road ahead. This lack of clear vision affects me when relating to others, like in marriage or raising children.
Our modern society is dominated with narcissistic and nihilistic ideas, Ken Wilber writes. In the Oxford English Dictionary, nihilism is defined as “the belief that nothing in the world has a real existence.” I may assume that we live in a 3 dimensional world made up of atoms. I may assume that nothing matters, therefore, I may as well do whatever seems to feel good and avoid obvious pain. So I may cheat to pass the exam or win the election. I lie to destroy someone’s reputation, because I want to hurt them.
It is ironic that those who neglects their own needs are the most self-centered. When I have a poor sense of self, I am the most narcissistic. My neglect of my own needs creates my own obsession with myself.
When I was born, I was self-centered. I perceived my mother and myself as one; each one of us does. As I developed, I began to distinguish between my mother and myself. When I cried, my mother did not always come to hold me and calm me. I learned that the world and I are separate.
Over the course of my life, I am learning to see myself as different from others. This learning continues until I die, if I choose to actively participate in the process of learning or not.
In addition to the normal human development of seeing myself as separate and unique, I can be wounded. I can experience being shamed – treated like I am worthless. I may feel unworthy of love. This self-hatred can be an additional block to seeing myself and the world clearly. The self-hatred can keep me frozen in self-centeredness.
The antidote to narcissism is authentic love of oneself. The feeling of self-love is healing for us humans. To consciously experience the sensation of self-love in my body enables me to heal physically as well as emotionally. Please watch this video from Michelle Minero, M.A., author of “The Self Love Diet: The Only Diet You Will Ever Need,” on learning to love yourself:
What comes to mind when you hear, “Merry Christmas?” I remember growing up in the Santa Clara Valley in Northern California, USA, and experiencing the wonder of Christmas as a young child. I remember going to midnight Mass at Queen of Apostles Catholic Church in San Jose a five minutes’ walk from our family home. I remember my dad’s voice singing the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. Upon returning home, my brother and sister and I, open a present from our mom and dad on Christmas Eve before we go to bed. We awake early on a dark and cold Christmas morning to open more presents next to our Christmas tree under the bright lights of my father’s eight millimeter (8mm) camera.
What is Christmas? Jesus being born in a stable in the small town of Bethlehem in the Middle Eastern part of the Roman Empire over two thousand years ago? The angel Gabriel appears to the Virgin Mary and announces: “Do not be afraid. Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.”
What does this mean to you? How do you feel when you hear these words? They may be vibrant and meaningful. Yet they also may be lifeless. Moreover, these ancient words (translated into English) may bring up rage or fear. As we encounter this story about the first Christmas, we have an opportunity to better understand ourselves as well as our world. There are over 2.2 billion people who are part of Christianity. Yet religion is different from spirituality. Our internal experience is a core part of our spirituality. This is a vital part of what we find meaningful in our lives. If we choose, it is possible to have a different sense of the meaning of Christmas by finding a new relationship to the story of the birth of Jesus.
Manuel Costa has been leading seminars about the teachings of Jesus for many decades with the Guild for Psychological Studies. Please watch this video and learn more about how to possibly see from a new life giving perspective:
How do you relate to time? Are you a punctual person?
Our relationship with time is important. Some of us are more oriented to the clock. When someone prefers to use our Judging process in the outer world, then one often has a different relationship to time. One is more aware of Chronos – a sense of time from ancient Greece related to chronological or sequential time. As human beings we have evolved from the sundial to the grandfather clock to the pocket watch to the digital wristwatch to the Apple Watch. Perhaps, we just look at our iPhone for the time. People who prefer their Judging Function prefer to be timely and organized. They tend to like planning and being methodical.
People who prefer to use their Perceiving Function are more spontaneous and flexible. They seek to experience and understand life as opposed to wanting to control it. They are adaptive and change course. People who prefer their Perceiving Function are more aware of Kairos – another sense of time from ancient Greece that is related to “a time in between.” While Chronos is quantitative, Kairos is qualitative.
The term Kairos reflects an earlier sense of time before sundials or clocks. Originally, our sense of time as human beings came from the cycles of nature – summer, fall, winter, and spring. The length of a day changes throughout the year depending on the season. The weather often varies from season to season. Time is variable. Farmers plant in spring and reap in the summer. The length of the light during the day waxes and wanes. Our bodies change with the cycles of nature – a woman has a period.
Yet the clock has become an unquestioned assumption for many modern people. We have a mechanical counting which reflects a 24 hour day. Our digital time is different from the rhythms of nature. A day in late December is very different from a day in the middle of June in Kansas City, USA, or Jakarta,Indonesia or Johannesburg, South Africa as well as for most of the world. Before we developed clocks our sense of time was different – more natural.
We had a different consciousness: sometimes referred to as mythical consciousness. These ancient people were keenly aware of nature and its rhythms. They perceived time as more of a circle of death and rebirth. “The ancients are said to have perceived events as iterations of a cosmic eternal return and regeneration within a specific place, whereas we believe that events occur on an irreversible, linear timeline that is independent of place,” writes Glen Aparicio Parry.
Most of us just assume that this ancient perception of time is fairytale, but that linear time is real. We do not even consider the possibility that this ancient view of time has validity. “The idea that time and space exist as independent dimensions is a relatively recent development. For most of mankind’s existence, knowledge of time and space was dependent upon place, for it was closely tied to the observation of the natural cycles of celestial and earthly phenomena surrounding one’s homeland. Knowing when and how to hunt, gather, and eventually to plant food all depended upon a close monitoring of the recurring rhythms of a place. What we know as time and space were merged into place,” writes Glen Aparicio Parry.
Our present day view of historical time assumes that time is simply a mathematical abstraction. This belief came from Isaac Newton who asserted that there was an “absolute” time. He asserted that time was then divorced from space.
Much of our modern thought originates from ancient Greece. One needs to carefully tune in to recognize an opening of Kairos. This is the source of the expression, “Seize the Day!” Kairos is also associated with an ever moving wheel of fortune. “Kairos time lives somewhere between intervals of Kronos time,” writes Glen Aparicio Parry.
“An Indigenous sense of time, it seems to me, includes both Kronos and Kairos and then maybe something more. It is understood that all is in flux, that everything is always changing and that even natural rhythms must be closely monitored because they are not guaranteed to remain the same. Monitoring these natural rhythms and cycles helps to develop an intuitive awareness, an awareness that recognizes the opportune time to act within a given cycle. This awareness seamlessly takes into account as host of variables, which are not logical or able to be broken down or counted because they are far too numerous – but they are understood nonetheless at an intuitive level,” concludes Glen Aparicio Parry.
Please watch this video on the Whole Brain State by Dr. John Omaha:
Have you ever been carried away with a mood? We can be swept away with our emotions and thoughts. A mood can come over us, and we may look back and think, “I just wasn’t myself today.”
One way to think about these emotional storms is that there is a psychological benefit to these reactions. Carl Jung identified the animus and anima as parts of ourselves that erupt and interfere with our relationships and work. A woman has an animus, and a man has an anima. June Singer writes that “anima and animus are those unconscious part of ourselves that carry the mystery of sex which is not ours.”
How we identify with our masculine gender role or feminine gender role can vary greatly from one culture to another. It is obvious that there are – in fact – differences between men and woman. Whether these differences are more psychological or physical is debatable as well as complex. Yet it is obvious that men and women are different.
These differences show up in our dreams and fantasies. The anima shows up in a man’s dreams as an image of a woman, whereas the animus shows up in a woman as an image of a man. This is because the anima and animus are related to what is the opposite of our conscious attitude. When we mature, we develop the opposite attitude to what we cling to in our youth. “Men have dared to discover their vulnerability and their feeling side, while women – more confident now of their strengths – are beginning to take risks which would have frightened them before,” writes June Singer.
Animus is defined as a “usually prejudiced and often spiteful or malevolent ill will” or a “strong feeling of dislike or hatred.” Aminus is the masculine form of the word soul in latin. Yet the animus is not as much masculinity repressed as it is the unconscious other that a woman is prevented from being in her daily life. The part of herself that is furthest from her waking life is what makes up a woman’s animus.
Carl Jung describes the animus as a strange passivity. “In the depths of the woman’s being, the animus whispers: ‘You are hopeless. What’s the use of trying? There is no point in doing anything. Life will never change for the better.’”
When a woman is able to separate herself from her animus, she is able to see that part of herself objectively. She is able to be detached and just notice these negative thoughts and feelings. She does not fall into the false belief that these thoughts are her thoughts. When she simply observes these thoughts and realizes that her response to them makes all the difference, she is able to main a healthy detachment.
A woman’s animus assists her in becoming a complete person by shifting repressed energy into active and creative pursuits. The animus does have negative qualities such as “brutality, recklessness, empty talk, and silent, obstinate evil ideas.” Yet the animus also has a positive and valuable side. The animus can “build a bridge to the Self through creative activity.”
For a man, the anima, represents his unconscious feminine other. The anima symbolically represents the eternal feminine. For a woman, the animus represents her unconscious masculine. Conversely, the animus stands for the eternal masculine. Robert Johnson writes that the “anima and the animus function most effectively for us as mediators between the conscious and unconscious parts of personality.”
When one learns to work with the animus or anima, one discovers a certain kind of genius within oneself. Please watch is short video by Judith Peterson on the animus and learn how to work with this energy to improve how you feel, behave, and feel:
“Thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life. Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.” Quote by Carl Jung
Our lives have different eras. What was true when we are young is a lie at midlife. When we are young our lives are focused on educating ourselves, obtaining work, and finding love. These are the appropriate tasks of our early life. We may get married and have children.
Our initial experience of religion is often about certainty. It creates meaning about being a separate individual. If we practice the correct rituals and believe the correct rules – dogma – then we will be saved. Someone translates other people’s experience of God. Yet this level of religion does not change the consciousness of the person. It is all about me – saving myself. This level of spirituality consoles the self and this is needed. It defends us. The problem is that we can use this type of religion to not become a more loving person. We can justify our self-centeredness.
Spirituality can also be transformative. As a young person we need to develop our ego boundaries by separating from our parents. We need to leave home psychologically and develop an identity of our own. We need to distinguish our values from those of our parents and friends. It is important to have meaningful work to do.
About 35 to 45, we reach midlife. Jung called this the afternoon of life. We have the opportunity to grow into a deeper consciousness not possible in our younger years. Richard Rohr says: “This process of transformation does not fortify the separate self, but utterly shatters it. Not consolation but devastation. Not entrenchment, but emptiness. Not complacency, but explosion. Not comfort, but revolution. In short – not a conventional bolstering of my usual consciousness, but a radical transmutation and transformation at the deepest seat of consciousness itself.” Our transformation comes indirectly, “catching us off guard and out of control. We have to be empty instead of full.”
Richard Rohr goes on to say: “The lust for certitude. The lust for answers the last 500 years of the Western Church has not served us well. Once we lost our spirituality of darkness for light, there just wasn’t as much room for growth any more. Everything was . . . words.”
Our journey of spirituality inevitable leads inward. There are many paths on this inward spiritual journey, but they all lead to an experience of the divine. This conscious knowing leads us outward again toward others. We are willing to risk vulnerability to join with others in intimacy. Our spirituality isn’t about looking good, but simply loving others. Please watch this video by Bob Epperly on centering prayer to discover one of many paths inward toward the center of our being:
“The ego is the seat of consciousness and if consciousness creates the world, the ego is doing God’s creative work in its effort to realize itself through the way of individuation” Edward Edinger.
The quality of our life is largely dependent on the health of our ego. If our ego is healthy, we will be flexible, strong, compassionate, aware and constructive. Having a healthy ego takes effort; we need to choose to do the work to grow up and mature.
My ego has two basic powers. The first power of the ego is observation, and the second power is choice. These are the two main functions of our minds: to monitor and modify.
What is an ego? When I look out from my eyes and see the world, I am aware of myself and the world. In some ways, it feels no different from when I was 7 years of age. I have a continuity of my sense of identity as an individual. I call this part of myself “I” or “me,” and I am referring to my ego. My ego is the part of me that is aware or conscious.
There are factors which help strengthen the ego: balancing one’s brain, regulating one’s feelings, reclaiming one’s projections, and engaging in self-care. These skills helps one see the world more clearly and make life giving choices. When my brain is balanced, I am able to use both sides of my brain. My left brain is about logic, facts, and time. My right brain is involved with relationships, emotions, and spatial relationships. When the sides of my brain are balanced and connected, I have access to both brain hemispheres when observing the world and making choices.
When I am able to calm myself down, I am able to see more objectively. When I calm myself down, I am not overwhelmed with emotions. As I am able to remain more neutral, my choices are more reflective of the facts of the situation.
A projection is something that interferes with my ability to see clearly. My projections are when I see parts of myself in others. A teenager is having a projection, when he idealizes an athlete or rock star. He is seeing his potential strength and creativity in another person. When he is able to see these projections and reclaim them, he is empowered. He does this by doing the work to develop his skills in music and sports. As he gains mastery in himself, he has more objectivity and confidence. He feels empowered, because he sees himself as he is. He can see his internal power.
When I take care of my needs for sleep, healthful food, exercise, and time with emotionally supportive family and friends, I feel calmer and see more objectively.
When I have a working ego, I am willing to do the work of an adult. I take the steps to keep my ego strong and healthy as an adult. I get 8-10 hours of sleep, eat healthful foods, take time to exercise my body, and talk with empathic friends and family. I also play and have fun. A working ego also implies a willingness to make difficult choices that support the vitality of my life and the lives of others.
An unhealthy ego is an ego that is weak. When an ego is not strong, it attempts to be the only center of the person. When our ego is weak, our energy alternates between thinking we are greater than we are (inflation) and thinking we are less than we are (deflation). It is like a balloon being too full or flat. We are most effective when we see ourselves and the world as we are – no more, no less.
It is possible to wield great power as a president of a company, the leader of a country, or a religious leader, and to still remain quite unconscious. Sadly, this is more often true than not. It is possible to be a leader who manages things and people with great authority and precision and still not be awake. If one does not have the interest or take the time to think introspectively – to examine oneself – then it is impossible to be conscious.
Our ego is formed when we are young. As young baby, our ego begins by being uninformed. We are totally dependent on our parents for survival. We are unable to see ourselves as separate from our mother. Over time, we begin to see that we are separate from our mother and by crying or smiling our mother responds by feeding us, changing us, holding us, or smiling at us. As we gain strength, we become more aware of how we can influence our own life. Our powers of awareness and choice are born in this way.
As we mature in healthy ways, we are able to see that we are not the center of the world. We are aware of the impact of our choices on our family and friends. We are able to consider others and the world as a whole when we make decisions. Some of us consider our Soul and God in our decision making. Possessing a healthy developing ego, we are able to be flexible with others socially. We can choose to love.
Please watch this video by Judith Peterson on the value of a working ego:
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