“The original idea had been that the liberation of the self would create a new kind of people, free of social constraint. That radical change had happened but while the new beings felt liberated, they had become increasingly dependent for their identity on business. The corporations realized that it was in their interest to encourage people to feel like they were unique individuals and then offer them ways to express that individuality. The world in which people felt that they were rebelling against conformity was no longer a threat to business but had become its greatest opportunity.”… “If politics is also Freudian, i.e. if it’s a matter of politicians appealing to the same basic unconscious feelings that businesses appeal to then why not let businesses do it? Business can do it better. Business knows how to do it. Business after all is in the business of responding to those feelings.”
— The Century of Self, 2002
On this memorable day I’m curious about how we strike the right balance with our egos. After all, they can be used as a powerful driving force but left unchecked it can easily run rampant. In some ways it can be viewed as a formless and highly virulent parasite, intent on establishing itself through growing its collection of material objects, reputation and power.
For the last year and a half I’ve been maintaining a daily meditation practice with the help of the headspace app. I have completed a variety of courses on such topics as Balance, Focus, Acceptance, Anxiety and Creativity to name a few. The most recent course is all about Generosity and how to nurture a generous feeling for both yourself and others in everyday life. The common thread across all of these courses is that humans are naturally creative and accepting beings brimming with vitality. Our upbringing and very biology itself often create obstacles that make it challenging to fully realize this fact in its entirety. And while for some people especially those with neurological disorders this might be extremely challenging to achieve, I believe the majority of us are ability to learn, unlearn and relearn the necessary behaviors if we become committed to bringing more conscious awareness into all aspects of our experience.
Wow, amazing how much can happen in a year! After feeling entirely burnt out in 2015 I decided to put everything in storage and attended yoga teacher training last winter in Thailand. It blew open my mind, gave me new tools to heal my body and revealed aspects of my spirit that I didn’t even know existed. What I thought it would just be a quick one month retreat and-then-back-to-business-as-usual turned into a deep 5 month exploration of consciousness. A subsequent journey through Thailand and Bali provided a backdrop for revealing all sorts of old junk and a lingering, unresolved anxiety at the core of my character. The more I observed, the more I realized that this subtle yet persistent feeling had been influencing my behavior since childhood. In fact I’d crafted a complex world of distraction as a way to avoid it. I didn’t feel like I really belonged anywhere. I never really felt at ease. And no matter what I achieved outwardly or how elaborately I distracted myself, the feeling was always there, just under the surface until it bubbled up in outbursts of unresolved emotion.
Did you pay to get Trump elected? I did. And I’m betting you did too. Maybe not with your money or your vote, but we paid with our attention. Every time we laughed at brazen remarks or spread memes intended to disparage. Every time we taunted and laughed, we were inadvertently chanting his name and bolstering a campaign built on fear. We watched this ultimate reality show, unbounded by channel or network, play out across our screens, feeds and news outlets. And we couldn’t help ourselves. We willingly poured our most finite resource, our attention, into the gaping mouth of a ravenous beast that swallowed it all and still gulped for more. Each time we asked one another: “Can you imagine if he was actually elected?” we were subtly praying for it to happen. If you ever wondered about whether our thoughts create our reality, well welcome to the wake up call.
I’ve attended the past five Lucidity Festivals as an attendee and it’s seen me at my highs …and at my lows. Sheesh, let’s not even mention 2015! Earlier this year I returned from Asia and Lucidity was the first event I attended during which I met a few of the cofounders and I loosely mentioned how I’d like to support the project in some way. Within a short few weeks and through a string of unexpected circumstances, I met more of the core team and we began to interweave our dreams of community and collaboration. With each interaction I am won over by this crew’s kindness, authenticity and open-hearted spirit.
What I learned at the TransTech conference further convinced me of what I already intuitively know: transformative technologies have the power to be a huge gamechanger (and money maker!). While technology can’t solve everything, I’m a great supporter of incorporating the full spectrum of both old (think meditation and yoga) and new (think biometric sensors and data visualization) technologies to connect us more with ourselves, others and the planet.
On one hand this is a perfect week for posting a response to this article …if I want to avoid ruffling any egos. Or perhaps it’s the perfect week to inspire those who stayed at home. Either way I have a mob of friends at the Burn and I bet they’re having an awesome time. Of course I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t have a *little* FOMO, especially as the week builds towards what will no doubt be an explosive climax in the dust 🙂 I love Burning Man, and it has played a huge role in throwing open the doorway of my soul over a decade ago. And while Burning Man continues to be a mind-blowing, ever-evolving experience that has the power to open the hearts and minds of of its attendees, I continue to be niggled by a nagging question: “OK, so what do we do once we ‘get it’? What comes next?” It’s a question that I know is in the hearts of many and now that Burning Man org bought nearby land it seems like they are asking the same thing.
I just watched an awesome documentary last night called “American Commune” and I can’t believe I’d never heard of “The Farm” before! As we look towards a future where communal land stewardship and regenerative living are becoming increasingly common, it’s crucial that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. How to successfully navigate decision making processes, financial frameworks and healthy social systems will be vital to the long term flourishing of these projects. I’m very grateful for the brave pioneers that paved the way. May we learn from their achievements and their mistakes so that we don’t fall into the same traps 🙂
This is equally humorous as it is upsetting. Technology has so much potential to connect us with ourselves, others and the planet in deeper and more meaningful ways. But so often it’s basic use case attempts to be a stand in for having to deal with anything that doesn’t feel ‘good’. In this case for example, learning how to communicate like a grown up. When we no longer need to have difficult conversations that help us learn how to deal with our emotions in healthy ways then what kind of people do we become? Inept, malleable flesh bags calling out to AIs for apps and assistance? Sheesh! Sometimes WALL-E and Idiocracy look less like entertainment and more like prophetic visions. On the flip side, technology is simultaneously ushering in an unprecedented age of consciousness hacking that promises to assist us on our path of enlightenment and self-actualization. I’d ask “BUT WHICH ONE WILL WIN OUT?!” if I wasn’t such an avid supporter of duality dissolution. After all, it’s ALL a part of this crazy cosmic sitcom we call Life 🙂 Aah, now there’s a thought that REALLY feels good <3
I’m not an envious person… but Noam Chomsky, one of the greatest intellectuals of our time, gives me straight up brain envy. My thought process often feels like a firehose of impulse-fueled fiction by comparison when I listen to this brilliant man recount facts, clearly outline situations and explain otherwise complex systems with lucidity and objectivity.
I recently watched “Requiem for the American Dream“, a beautifully made film which provides a good overview for many of Chomsky’s insights and explores the compounding impact of such things as as income inequality as well as how to establish independence from of the forces that seek to control us.