Neuroscience, Couples, and Neo-Shamanism
We have to start with a little Neuroscience in to explain how you too, can achieve this. I’ll keep it short.
People who study the brain tell us conscious awareness consumes a tiny fraction of the resources available. That means the massive power of our very large brains is mostly dedicated to “unconscious awareness”. So the fundamental question here is this: are you running the 99%, or is the 99% running you? Keep that in mind when we come to the part about Neo-Shamanism.
The brain scientists also tell us that much of this unconscious awareness is emotionally driven, and primarily dedicated to protecting the organism… constantly scanning our environment for threats and danger. It scans for threats to our physical being, our social position and our emotional well being. Keep all that in mind when we get to the part about Couples Therapy, because if you’re constantly scanning for threats that you perceive as coming from your partner, you relationship is in serious trouble already.
Emotions are beautiful things, for included among them are things like love, joy, happiness, gratitude, reverence, delight, awe, wonder, contentment, connectedness, and a sense of deep belonging. Keep that in mind when we come to the part about Enlightenment and Heaven on Earth, because if you’re able to spend most of your time in these emotional states that’s what it feels like.
The big problem with emotions is when they are coming from the unconscious mind — being caused by triggering, projection or some primal fear of death. That’s what it really what it is, isn’t it? You’re afraid of death, yet you know it’s coming and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Another problem with emotions is that they usually happen too fast for us to process them in rational, balanced ways. Anger or sadness or any of the other negative emotions can just overwhelm you in an instant. Uncomfortable emotions are something most people avoid it it all possible, choosing instead to shove them down into the unconscious mind, where they ultimately cause much bigger problems.
And right there is the key to the whole thing! Sorry that took so long, but it’s not that easy to articulate for a science based people.
Slowing Down & Meditation
If you can slow your emotions down (through meditation for example) you can process them much more effectively and maintain your perspective. This is what we teach during our yoga and meditation retreats. When you first begin to practice meditation, you will encounter these uncomfortable negative emotions fairly quickly. In order to make progress you must be willing to sit with each them and discover what lies beneath it. What’s more important is what happens if you do this: you can actually change the programming of your unconscious mind, in effect training the sub-conscious mind to scan for miracles instead of threats.
This reprogramming is possible because of what scientists call neuroplasticity. It’s the remarkable ability of the human brain to form new connections.
Scanning the environment for miracles instead of threats is how the awakened mystic walks in Heaven on Earth. It’s because they see the miracles everywhere. These miracles are just as real, just as valid, and just as important as the tragedies of life. In fact, even your death becomes part of the miracle of your life. The difference between the mystic and everyone else is that the mystic has surrendered their ego and given themselves completely to life… they’re all in… 100%. Where most people sit on the edge and dip their toe in the water, the mystic dives in head first and starts to play.
“Couples who communicate effectively tend to have highly successful marriages.” What’s that go to do with couples therapy? It turns out that our brains are also wired at birth for connection and bonding. The first thing a new born baby recognizes is the human face. It instinctively and immediately begins to scan for human faces from the moment it’s eyes are all the way open. It literally strives to bond with other people. It’s only later in life that we get cynical about love.
As adults, we get over our initial infatuation with a new lover pretty quickly. Some people flee every relationship immediately after the infatuation phase. If you choose to stay beyond infatuation, that’s when the most important phase of any relationship actually begins. The key question being asked by the unconscious mind during this phase is simply this: “Can I REALLY trust you… or will you leave me alone in pain when that time comes… because I know that it absolutely WILL come. When I look into your eyes, I need to know for certain that my pain matters to you”. We’ve actually seen couples during our Couples Retreats where one partner will create trouble in a desperate attempt to find the answer to this crucial question.
That’s because we all know deep down in our genetic memory of the primeval forest that if we’re calling for help, and no one is coming, we’re in serious trouble — and we just might be lost forever. Isn’t that what’s really eating away at you? Don’t you wonder in your darkest moments, “Just how alone am I? Does anyone really care? And what will become of me?”
Bonding to Others for Joy
Before you sink into despair, remember that I’ve already given you the good news. You were BORN ready, willing and able to bond with others. If you’ve been so wounded that you’ve lost that, the good news is that you CAN rewire your brain for connection and joy.
That’s right – JOY! True intimacy is totally intoxicating! It’s intoxicating because it’s really the only thing takes that primal fear of death away and allows you to live in the moment. Emotion is the music of this beautiful dance. By attuning yourself completely to your partner’s emotion, you can improvise a beautiful dance together every day. More importantly, you can begin to heal each other’s scars, and eventually move beyond survival into creativity. Doing this makes both of you truly alive and truly free.
Alone Makes it OK
You’re still going to die someday, of course, but somehow finding real love and not having to face everything between now and then totally alone makes it OK. In fact it makes it better than OK. As I’ve already said, even your death becomes part of the miracle.
Much of what happens during our Sedona couples retreats sounds like this: One partner is hiding in sheer terror that if the other really knew who they are it would be over. They’re afraid to be vulnerable, afraid to be seen, and terrified to even look at their own wounds. While they’re busy trying to hide, the other partner is crying out in desperation, “I’m totally alone in this relationship and I can’t bear it!”
If you think about, the battle they’re trapped in, it’s literally a matter of life and death for both of them… and it’s pure misery. Couples who have been trapped in this battle for an extended period actually exhibit all the signs and symptoms of PTSD. When we deal with couples like that the suffering each is experiencing is a horrible thing to watch. But the good news is that if you are willing to look at yourselves and embrace your partnership with commitment and love, we can give you the tools to move beyond these feelings of isolation that in most cases stem back from childhood. That’s what our couples retreats are all about.
Enlightenment & Neo-Shamanism
“Discover your inner-shaman in Sedona.” It turns out that we all possess what I like to call “the inner-Shaman” (aka the soul, higher consciousness, divine awareness) that’s capable of holding these insights as we walk through life. More importantly this inner-Shaman recognizes that you’re actually a sacred being moving through four dimensional space and time. Neo-Shamanism is about taking full responsibility for your true Divine nature, and learning to manage your energy in the modern world.
The inner-Shaman is able to fully embrace the mysterious energetics of life. What are energetics? If you believe you can pray and that there is any possibility the Universe will shift as a result, then you already believe in energetics. It literally refers to the fact that there is a Universe and there is life within it, even though this is impossible.
There are little miracles and magic everywhere if you allow them. The more you allow them, the more there will be.
Your still going to die someday, of course. And enlightenment isn’t something you achieve once and then your done with it. The fear driven ego just doesn’t let go that easy. You’ll have these “Ah ha!” moments and we resolve to let go of our fear. At such moments you’ll feel the exhileration of totally freedom the same way a bird experiences flight. Then you’ll freak out, get scared and fall back down again. That’s totally normal.
The letting go, the giveaway of egoic self in order to reach for your higher self, begins again every morning. At least it does in the beginning. But as you start spending more and more time living in this Heaven on Earth, the day may finally come when you realize that heaven is a pretty awesome place to live… and you’re ready to move in permanently. You’ll know you’ve arrived when someone looks at you and says, “What planet are you living on?”
In the meantime slow down. Neuroscience and Neo-Shamanism is the working on processing your emotions. And be gentle with yourself along the way. Read more about our shamanic retreats.