If you’re working on your inner growth, I’d like to thank you. Because when you make improvements to your inner world, you also lift up the reality that exists among all of us, and in fact, you’re improving the consciousness that we all share. That’s why your healing is important to me…
Your growth is mine, and my growth is yours.
And, actually, when we put it that way, it’s still based on the language of a separation that doesn’t really exist. The growth belongs to all of us because we’re all part of the larger, universal being.
No longer is our “personal development” simply an individual activity, or something to dabble with in our leisure time when we’re bored with the materialism of modern life and the superficiality of our relationships. We might feel tired of this “un-fulfillment” and decide to explore a little deeper for the simple purpose of feeling better. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, perhaps we should also consider that our typical reactive behaviors are not to be taken lightly. Our automatic responses have become a massive problem in the collective. This “depression state” (as Jason Silva calls it) in which so many people live, is in my view a collective expression of our culture.
So because we feel it, and we want to do something about it, we start working on ourselves. We might start to realize that this is a path to reconciling and redeeming this cultural unwellness. And I say, now that you’ve had this spark of insight, come on, let’s do it! Let’s open up!
If you’re looking for direction, I can give you my best advice: one of most powerful ways we can resolve this imbalance is with our inhale. That may sound strange — and strikingly personal, but after all, it is personal. The pollution of our planet needs to get personal — and I don’t mean just the pollution of our environment, but slavery, human trafficking, poverty, and war. These are becoming things that we can’t stand.
In order to take the first step to clean up our outer world, we have to clean up our inner world. And the “cleaning up” isn’t even necessarily the most important part; the important part is to get to a space where you feel optimistic, engaged, and alive about what is in front of us, not to be depressed or closed down, or apathetic. To step out of that depression state that we all feel. And make no mistake, this is an opportunity, an incredibly beautiful opportunity for all of us to wake up to something. And to me, the only thing holding us back is that constricted part of ourselves that doesn’t allow us to be free.
Pema Chödrön, the well-known Buddhist teacher, starts with gratitude when talking to her class. She says, the fact that you’re here is unbelievably courageous. Because you may not see it right now, but the deeper you look, you will realize that you’re willing to face not just your individual story, but all of the pain and the violent past of humanity. And that is what bubbles up in you, and to say I’m ready to see it all, to let it all come up and to heal it, that is true courage.
And the beauty of all this, the unspeakable beauty of it all, is that we are equipped for this. It is nothing we have to learn. We are designed by nature to be able to do it. We just have to be willing to see and engage in it. It will all become so clear the moment that we go far enough on that path to the point that not only don’t we feel that darkness anymore, that reactiveness, but we go beyond it. In that moment, you start feeling what is beyond the pain and the struggle; you feel the wholeness, the oneness, the light at the end of the tunnel. It pulls you in, to where you feel so optimistic, with the insight that we have so much to gain (as deep as we are in the hole together). The possibilities of what we are starting to see now are incredibly beautiful.
And what you realize is that each of us is limited by our individual lens to fully see it because we need everybody else’s eyes and our collective eyes to see that potential future together. It takes all of us so that we have enough courage to see it and to let it come to us. We may need courage to look in the dark, but we need a lot more courage to look in the light! to accept the beauty that is going to completely blow us away. When I have moments of seeing this beauty with unveiled eyes, I hardly have enough breath to take it in.
For instance, when I traveled recently to Austria, I stood on top of the mountains and gazed into the valleys and tried to take in the beauty of nature in that setting. I told my son who was with me, I should stand here silently for three or four hours just to create the space inside of me to fully see. I don’t have the space! It was absolutely stunning. And of course, that’s a privileged situation, to be able to travel somewhere like that, but you can stand in your backyard and see the incredible poetry of nature in the bugs and the trees and the sunshine, and it can take you to that state of amazement.
And to come full circle, if you come back to your inhale and with that inhale, you are saying, I am willing. Just like when you were born, the first thing you did was inhale. Without that inhale, you wouldn’t be here! And you continue to take inhales every moment of your life, and each time, those inhales say, I want to live.
So this is how we address that depression state in which our culture is stuck. Because a deeply depressed or anxious person has very tiny breaths. All he or she feels is that closed-down sensation, which comes from their stress and anxiety. And you will find that to be true especially in those people who say, I don’t want to breathe deeply. Even the thought of breathing deeply increases their anxiety.
You could tell an individual like that, come on get over it, or you can start working with those who are willing to create a more loving society and engage with them, and create a field so that even the most anxiety-ridden people in our midst feel safe enough to go through that process. I believe we need to have compassion and empathy for those among us who are deep in that darkness. We can’t just throw them under the bus due to our privilege of having access to yoga, or therapy, or life-expanding and mind-expanding technologies.
What do we do with those who don’t have access, or don’t even know they need it, or maybe even fight against it? That’s what we need to consider from the perspective of being in this together, of sharing this collective experience of life. My answer is that we get together and build a field of oneness, of empathy and compassion. That’s the way to be there for those who need our help.
So to me, this process is personal. Your healing is personal to me, and mine is to you. Let’s take a deep breath — literally — and create this together.