When we stand on the edge of the now moment and look into the unknown, our heart may find itself feeling uneasy. I liken this uneasy feeling to the quivering of muscles just before they burst into action. In this case the heart area is where our “wing” muscles attach. While this is a metaphor, it works well to describe the feeling of tension in the heart area we get when we are facing the unknown.
We are standing on the edge of what we know, our comfort zone nest. Our ego wants to slip back into the nest where it has well-established patterns of behavior and emotion reactions. The consequences of these patterned reactions may not always work the best. They may even have unfortunate consequences. But they work well enough to keep us safe and get many of our needs met. So standing on the edge of our nest and contemplating jumping out into the unknown is scary to the ego. But sometimes the call of our heart, which wants to leap out and fly into the infinite possibilities of the unknown, draws us to the edge of our known life and begs us to jump.
For most of us this trembling feeling in the heart gets interpreted as fear. But because it is not about a known fear, we have to make up a story to explain the feeling. We look for something outside of ourselves to blame the feeling on and decide we need to run away from that something that we have decided triggers the uncomfortable feeling. This is our ego’s way of keeping us well away from the edges of our comfort zone. We then use judgments and separation to push that something away. When that does not work, we use food, drugs, or behaviors to numb the feeling of discomfort.
But it is just our heart wanting to fly. We want to transcend ourselves. We want to reach into the unknown and discover new and undeveloped pieces of ourselves that can potentially make us happier. We have done the best we can with what we have, but we are not fully happy. We make compromises. We suppress parts of ourselves and exaggerate other parts in order to play the games we have created with others in order to get our needs met. Most of the time these games are not really bad because they work. If they didn’t we wouldn’t keep using them. But they aren’t really good either, because we don’t get to be who we really are.
Our heart wants to be authentic. It feels bad to be inauthentic. We blame others for this bad feeling because they don’t welcome our truth. They want us to be what they want, not who we really are. It is not really their fault. Their desires are no different then ours. We want them to be what we want just as much as they want us to be what they want. So we feel stuck. We create the belief that if “they” would only treat us with unconditional love and acceptance, then we would feel right and ok. If only “they” would do what we want, then we would feel the happiness we are entitled to. The problem is “they” feel the exact same way about us. It all becomes a competitive power struggle for who gets their way.
Here is the crazy part. The winners in this power struggle don’t get the happiness they feel entitled to. The very act of being in a power struggle makes you inauthentic because the heart does not use power and control. The heart lives in this feeling that we are all one. So it feels like you never reach the top dog power position because you never get the prize. No matter how much you win, it is never enough. Just look at the feeling lives of the winners we see around us – the “special” people. How often are they alcoholics and drug addicts? How often are they addicted to work and never feel they have enough money? How many movie stars do you hear saying “Gee, I have finally gotten enough attention”? Very rarely, if ever, do the people we want to believe are winners ever feel content and at peace.
The feelings we are after don’t come from the outside in. No circumstance or situation in our life can fill our heart with what it really wants. Life is a painter’s canvas on which we express our truth or lack of truth. It shows us a reflection of how well we are doing in building a relationship with ourselves. It is the playground in which we develop the skills of internal integration and harmony within ourselves. It demonstrates to us how functionally mature our relationship skills are. When we are functionally mature and balanced, our life runs well. When we are immature, life is rocky and difficult.
While this viewpoint sounds like just a lot of philosophical meandering, the thoughts I am writing about are actually the consequence of the book I have just finished reading on brain neurology and neuro-plasticity – “The brain that changes itself” by Norman Doidge. The book was telling the story of the latest discoveries in neuro science and about how the brain actually works on a cellular level. It seems that all the theories about how they thought the brain worked are being disproved. For hundreds of years the belief has been that certain regions of the brain did certain things and this was a fixed rule in the brain. Well new research from many different directions and countries is showing that this view simply is not true. A brain is all about relationships and connections within itself. Our capacities in our outer life are really just reflections of the neurologic relationships and connections within our own brains. How well our brain works is also about how well developed these relationships and connections in the brain are built and evolved.
The desire for authenticity and integration that I mentioned earlier is really a deep reality within the structure of our brain’s architecture. Living a life of suppressions and lies in order to get by is just a reflection of inadequate brain interconnectivity between various brain regions, limiting our skills at relating to life. What we are all seeking is a level of inner harmony between all the brain regions as well as the neurologic centers all over our body – especially the ones in the heart and gut. It is this interconnected integration and harmony that produces the peace and contentment we are seeking. It also produces the excitement, joy, and radiant oneness. It is all an inside job. The outside world is a training tool and feedback device to help us develop our inner capacities. Nothing outside ourselves can ever give us the feelings we want, because the feelings we want come from the development of a high functioning and well integrated brain and nervous system.
The author of the book was actually a psychiatrist, and not a neurologist. So his reporting of these new brain discoveries was mostly on a practical application level. He dealt with mental disorders, strokes, learning disabilities, dementia, and similar real world issues. In each case amazing results were being obtained because of the use of these new brain understandings. He was relating how certain brain connectivity issues would relate to social problems and interpersonal relationship problems and the other way around. He saw how working with these very problems physically and psychologically actually changed how the patient’s brains were wired.
So we have a collision of philosophy and neuro-science. Certain philosophical beliefs are now found to be physical structural realities in how the human brain is wired. Why is this important? Age old questions like “how do we find happiness?” are now being answered through neurology. Our outer experiential life can now be seen and understood in a way that gives us direction that we could only guess at before. How we think and feel can now be measured scientifically as well as predicted by how things are wired up in our individual brains. Even better, this new research points to how we can change what we have to build something better. Happiness is a learned skill that involves building new and better brain connections. How to do this is being discovered and developed. A new age is before us.
We can learn to fly.