In Favor of a Light Touch

by Christopher Lovejoy on December 10, 2017

With a steady rise in the cosmic energies uplifting the sun, our planet, and the solar system, I have been playing with a rather uncommon question at the heart of my soul: just how sensitive and intuitive can I be with myself in relation to others and the world at large?

The following post is unusual because it covers a lot of ground on many levels. If, for any reason, you feel nonplussed by anything I have written, I would simply advise moving on to the next section, and if time and inclination permit, circle back to what was skipped.

Herewith, a post composed in favor of cultivating and demonstrating a light touch …

* * *

Suppose for a moment that every soul in this Universe agrees to forget some or much or most of their nature and origins between every iteration of this Universe, between the Omega and the Alpha, so that they can contribute to the creation of this Universe, and suppose too that you have it within you, if you can get past your cultural conditioning, to be the creator of your own version of this universe.

Suppose that every soul in this universe can be construed collectively as the creator of this universe, in which the source of the presence and the promise and the power and the purpose in every soul adds up to a creator with potential access to all levels of consciousness at all levels of density no matter which density a soul presently occupies, having arranged to safeguard each soul as much as possible.

I now cordially invite you to take a moment to pause and rest your gaze on the first person, place, or thing that compels your attention. Take a minute (or two) to make note of the details through fresh eyes, to summon a keen sense of your own presence, promise, and power.

* * *

When I take time to simply be, I perceive this world as a solid, steady, stable place to be.

Yes, I know that objects are mostly empty space at one very, very deep level, but when I sit on a chair, I don’t fall to the floor, and when I sip a piping hot beverage, the beverage doesn’t disappear into thin air, and when I turn the lights off at night, I can still navigate without sight.

Try as I might, at the level of sensation and perception, I cannot replace this world, here and now, with another world. Certainly, I can imagine another world coming into being, but I cannot, right here, right now, perceptually conjure any other world into being with magical intent.

When I do manifest a desired result in this world, there is almost always a delay in manifestation, and so, within the purview of perception, I am compelled absolutely to accept what I have, here and now.

This blessing in disguise offers a foundation from which to explore, expand, and express.

* * *

If existence exists, then reality is a perception of that which exists.

In essence, reality is existence as perceived by consciousness, and is tripartite in nature: (1) sensation and perception; (2) cognition, emotion, and volition; and (3) interpretation, intuition, and imagination.

I summarize as follows:

Layer 1: sense and perceive (helpful hint: be here now)
Layer 2: think, feel, and choose (helpful hint: o p e n   u p)
Layer 3: interpret, intuit, and imagine (helpful hint: do what matters)

Each layer builds on the next, each layer relies on the others, and each layer has its own freedom.

Although I cannot make a difficult situation in life go away in an instant, I can close my eyes and ears to it for a while; although I cannot avoid feeling what I feel about it as a result of what I think, I can choose whether to evade it or accept it; and although I can no longer evade this situation for long, I can interpret my relationship to it in a fresh way, even as I imagine another, better, more harmonious situation.

As I close my eyes, I bring to mind a cherished image of a place where I know I can be who I know myself to be and do what I know I must do even as I watch myself moving and flowing with utter grace and ease around and through any and all obstacles on route to my destiny.

* * *

We are, all of us, by the very nature of reality, celestial creatures of constraint and celestial creatures with constraints, and with a depth of understanding and appreciation of what this really means, we can more easily feel and show true care and compassion for one another.

So let us begin here: what is a celestial creature?

A celestial creature is a divine being with a dense form of constraints who can operate freely, relatively speaking, in space and time with forms of matter and energy to service needs and fulfill desires.

We are not merely celestial in origin and we are not merely creaturely in nature. We are both, and because we are both, we have constraints that enable us to understand and appreciate the presence, promise, power, and purpose of each of these aspects in relation to the other.

This is the awe-some, awe-ful price we pay for being and becoming divinely human.

Are we constrained? Yes, and no, this is not a matter of belief ~ even if I chose to contain and carry the burden of an orientation that is primarily Service to Self (95%+ of the time), caring little or not at all about the welfare and well-being of others except in relation to Self.

As one who favors Service to Other, let us now examine each layer for constraints.

* * *

Beyond organic growth, constraints provide measurable boundaries. Without physical, mental, and spiritual constraints, no synthetic growth is possible, and with nothing to push against or pull from, no stimulus or catalyst for growth from which to expand or express is possible.

The physical layer of sensation and perception provides this constraint: we can only sense so much at one time and we can only see, hear, taste, touch, and smell so much at once. In meditation, for example, we can only attend to one sensation at a time. With visual perception, we have omnivision (vision360) out of body, but with a body, we are constrained by nature to access only a partial field of vision (vision180).

The mental layer of cognition, emotion, and volition is constrained by the number of items we can hold in mind at any one time, although with some creative chunking, we can hold even more. For example, the number 123 456 7890 presents 10 units of perception as 3, but with some thought, I can choose to treat this string of consecutive numbers as one unit. With a number like 926 594 3718, however, I might feel a little disconcerted that these numbers are so scrambled, but with a bit of effort, I can choose to chunk these numbers and treat them as 3 units.

Just as the mental layer is constrained by the physical layer, so too is the layer of interpretation, intuition, and imagination bound by these two more fundamental layers, and yet, paradoxically, this spiritual layer is also boundless, offering a level of freedom not found in the other two layers, whereby an infinite number of interpretations is possible. This boundlessness, however, is short-lived when decisions are expected to be made for the sake of practicality: an infinite set of possible interpretations eventually yields to having a finite set of viable interpretations.

With any encounter, the practical imagination seeks to draw on all possible viable interpretations, and with any experience, intuition serves to guide the choice of interpretation. In taking a course of action, all layers merge seamlessly and subconsciously: I do my best (or not) to move through whatever it is I choose to do (or not) while knowing that all of my desired results are beyond my direct control.

Because we are creatures with constraints, we are creatures of constraint, and this is “a good thing” because it provides learning curves with which and from which to strive and grow, explore and create, involve and engage, satisfy and fulfill, expand and express, evolve and ascend.

Unfortunately, however, being creatures of constraint also means having to cope daily with a dark side. A big part of being human ~ of being celestial creatures of constraint in a world of constraints ~ is learning to negotiate and navigate this dark side mindfully, skillfully, artfully.

In my own life, I have had more than my fair share of dealing with the dark side, and helping others do the same, and because of this, I am more than a little qualified to speak on this dark matter, and so, how best to en-lighten the dark side without giving it much if any power?

* * *

ACT is not just a command to take action in the face of challenge or difficulty; it’s also a type of psychotherapy that “challenges conventional wisdom and overturns the ground rules of most Western psychology”, to quote Russ Harris from his remarkable book, ACT Made Simple.

ACT, Acceptance Commitment Therapy, negotiates pain through acceptance with a number of processes (connection, observation, defusion, expansion) after which keen attention can be paid to what truly matters personally by taking committed action around a core of values.

Where most psychotherapeutic models focus mostly on symptom reduction, having clients reduce their symptoms before they can live better lives, ACT takes a radically different approach, such that (1) quality of life depends primarily on taking action that is (a) mindful and (b) guided by the precept of “values first, goals second”; and (2) that this type of action is possible regardless of the number of symptoms, provided that clients can respond to these symptoms mindfully. Which is not to say that ACT cannot reduce symptoms ~ it can ~ it just isn’t ever the goal.

The goal of ACT is not to reduce your symptoms directly, but to change your relationship with your symptoms so that they no longer hold you back from living a life of quality and vitality, one that is congruent with your values ~ attuned to your values and aligned with your values.

The ultimate aim of ACT is to transmute the pain of life that comes from daring to craft a life of quality and vitality with a sense of meaning, purpose, and direction that satisfies needs and fulfills desires.

One benefit of ACT is that it en-lightens the dark side of life.

* * *

Long ago, back when humans played with sticks and stones, a rustle in the bush was not greeted with delightful optimism ~ it was properly treated with the suspicion that it deserved, and the appearance of a strange patch of berries was likely treated with cautious optimism.

I would assume that our remote ancestors were either cautious optimists or suspicious pessimists ~ and this is precisely why they survived ~ and why these same primal tendencies have been conditioned through time, even in the most optimistic and pessimistic among us.

As I continue to be mindful of doing my best to assume authorship of my life, I grow in the realization that much of what I have to say and do generates consequence for me and for others, compelling me to either move away from what I value most or towards what I value most.

Sometimes these compulsions are obvious, but most times these compulsions are subtle nudges in one direction or another, provided that I am mindful enough to pick up on them as I go about my day. Here, it helps me to insert pauses in my day, most especially in the morning, before the start of my day, when I can take the time to be: to be with myself, to be with nature, or to be with the sacred stillness within.

To be means to be open, curious, and flexible; this truly submissive posture of being supplies enough time and space for the ego to function or operate adequately or optimally with heartfelt assurance. Be open, be curious, be flexible is receptive, reflective, and responsive.

In the warm, soft light of this posture of being, this is the ultimate standing order for any ego in existence: pay attention ~ with this caveat, which is the most powerful principle in existence, whether anyone anywhere cares to realize it or not: energy flows where attention goes.

Of course, it pays to be open, curious, and flexible, but it also pays to be open, curious, and flexible in the right measure: not too open (your brains might fall out), not too curious (curiosity killed the cat), and not too flexible (fickle deed, fickle dumb) ~ this is why we need an ego.

And this is why it pays not to bash the ego and to view it as the enemy.

The inner citadel ~ the calibrating, modulating, regulating ego at the heart of soul ~ requires time and space to perform any one or more of the following functions, best treated as one process under the banner of psychological flexibility, especially in the heat of the moment …

1) connect (be wholly present to the quality and the vitality of this moment with enlightened awareness)
2) observe (be attuned with all the senses, including the sixth sense, to what is happening here and now)

3) defuse (separate fact and fiction, keeping in mind that opinions are not facts and feelings are not facts)
4) expand (relax into spaciousness as a witness to deepen, broaden, heighten awareness in the moment)

So that the most appropriate desire can be recovered or discovered receptively, reflectively, responsively.

In light of this listing, here are some choices to keep in mind …

I can resist this moment as painful, difficult, or unpleasant or … I can be present to it and remain curious about it long enough to accept it and release it or transform it without resisting it, fighting with it, being underwhelmed or overwhelmed by it, or running away from it.

Technically, this resistance is known as experiential avoidance, and as with almost anything, it has a bright side: sometimes it is not always possible or desirable, owing to a constraint in time or space, to be present to the eruption of a feeling so as to get really curious about it.

Choice point: resistance to pain or … allowance and acceptance of pain?

We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us.

We always have this choice.

~ Pema Chödrön from The Places that Scare You

I can also get caught up in thinking, feeling, and willing, or … I can bring the light of awareness to each moment. Also, I can be obsessed or compelled, rigid or fickle, in the moment or … I can pull back into spaciousness and pay attention (deeply, broadly, or fully) to the moment.

Technically, this insistence is known as cognitive fusion, and it too has a bright side: like when I insist on assuming a basic truth or when I insist on losing myself inside a novel or a movie. Otherwise, the conflation of fact and fiction obscures what is really happening, which can be a problem because it only serves to insulate and isolate me from entertaining a broader set of possibilities or interpretations.

Choice point: tense (fused) insistence or … relaxed (defused) preference?

A simple summary of fusion vs. defusion:

In a state of fusion, a thought can seem like …

  • the absolute truth;
  • a command you have to obey or a rule you have to follow;
  • a threat you need to get rid of as soon as possible;
  • something that’s happening right here and now even though it’s about the past or the future;
  • something very important that requires all your attention; or
  • something you won’t let go of even if it worsens your life

In a state of defusion, you can see a thought for what it is: nothing more or less than a bunch of words or pictures “inside your head.” In a state of defusion, you recognize that a thought …

  • may or may not be true;
  • is definitely not a command you have to obey or a rule you have to follow;
  • is definitely not a threat to you;
  • is not something happening in the physical world – it’s merely words or pictures “inside your head”;
  • may or may not be important – you have a choice as to how much attention you pay it; or
  • can be allowed to come and go of its own accord without any need for you to hold on to it or push it away

Source: ACT Made Simple (Russ Harris)

Paying attention well enough and long enough to mindfully and skillfully embrace and execute this process of Acceptance is the first phase in getting the ACT together. The second phase is no less daunting: attunement to value and alignment with value, which involves knowing what really and truly matters followed by a Commitment to recover or discover the most intensely passionate and appropriate desires to be found in the moment by moving arms and legs in chosen directions and doing whatever it takes to engage and embody the most cherished of values.

try this:

be alone in your favorite private space or place
choose a view, stand tall, spread your arms wide
be here now: take delight in all of your sensations
raise a fist in triumph and smile (or laugh at loud!)

follow these steps whenever you feel the call, or
follow these steps even if you don’t feel the call

The rewards of ACT are many and various:

  • I get to wake up to experience in the moment
  • I get to appreciate the fullness of each moment
  • I get to learn about how I think, feel, and react
  • I get to connect intimately with self and other
  • I get to regulate my own conduct and behavior
  • I get to broaden the range of my responses
  • I get to enhance my psychological resilience
  • I get to increase my satisfaction in life; and
  • I get to approach the ultimate in fulfillment

This all-too-brief overview is by no means comprehensive; it merely scratches the surface of that highly complex phenomenon known as being spiritual in human form. In reviewing this material, I would urge you to take note of this vast complexity to better appreciate the challenges and difficulties of being a celestial creature of constraint in a world of constraints. No one anywhere should have to face any of this alone. The fact that some of us can do so is one of the miracles of life.

* * *

At present, a constant battle is being waged between courage and gratitude in the minds of every single active soul on earth. The outcome of this battle has no winner; both must win for the battle to succeed.

With enough courage, experiential avoidance falls away; with enough gratitude, cognitive fusion falls apart. Be here now? Exercise courage. Open up? Cultivate a consistently applied attitude of gratitude.

The acorn becomes an oak by means of automatic growth; no commitment is necessary. The kitten similarly becomes a cat on the basis of instinct. Nature and being are identical in creatures like them. But a person becomes fully human only by choice and a commitment to choice. People attain worth and dignity by the multitude of decisions they make from day to day. These decisions require courage ~ Rollo May from The Courage to Create (edited slightly for inclusivity)

The research is unequivocal: gratitude is extremely beneficial for human health, fitness, and vitality.

An attitude of gratitude not only helps keep the heart healthy, it also helps to preserve or improve the integrity of brain structures that are wired for social cognition and empathy, as well as for processing rewards. Gratitude has been found to relieve symptoms of post-traumatic stress, to help those with PTSD recover more quickly, and to be a significant factor of healing for those who have survived trauma.

This fourth density attribute has also been linked to a wide array of benefits: greater sensitivity to others, a deeper sense of connection with others, a reduction in stress, less anxiety, better sleep, enhanced relationships, less focus on material gain, more resilience, more optimism, more happiness, and higher self-esteem. Now, you might be wondering, as I am: what can I do to be more grateful?

Here’s a wiser question: who can I be such that gratitude remains integral to who I am?

Before I provide a list of nine things that unusually grateful people might do on a regular basis, here is the bottom line, where the cultivation of an attitude of gratitude is concerned: it requires two simple approaches to life that many people are just not ready, willing, or able to take.

These two approaches to life, taken in tandem, are as follows:

  1. slow down
  2. look deeply

I invite you to pause and consider … how open, curious, and flexible am I in my thinking, feeling, and willingness to slow down and look deeply into the quality and vitality of my life, flowing with grace and ease between past, present, and future to say “thank you”?

But who has time to slow down and look deeply? Maybe you’re too busy being courageous, too busy exercising your courage, too busy moving courageously from one person to the next, from one place to the next, from one task to the next, from one tweet to the next.

I know how it is: “I have things to do, people to meet, places to go; I don’t have time for this, I don’t have time for gratitude.” I hear you, I get you, and I feel you, I really do, and so, I respectfully ask you: are you a human having, a human doing, or a human being?

I mean, who really has time to smell the roses, to savor the positive experience?

Who really has time to contemplate loss to reflect on what might not have been?

Who has time to receive the good things in life as gifts rather than entitlements?

Who has the time to retrieve cherished memories to cultivate a positive outlook?

Who has time to extend and express gratitude to others ~ and not just for things?

Who has the time to write a thank you note or even to thank someone mentally?

Who has time to keep a gratitude journal with an emphasis on people not things?

Who has the time to pray with gratitude or to meditate on the power of gratitude?

Who has time to place notes of appreciation on bits of paper into a gratitude jar?

Except for those who are deep into recovery or retirement, who has time to look deeply?

If ever I see you on a street, near a shop, in a store, will you be open or closed to your presence in my presence? Will you be present enough to look deeply through the eyes of curiosity? Will you be flexible enough in your responses to warmly greet what arises in the moment?

Again, at the risk of sounding repetitive … how open, curious, and flexible are you in your thinking, feeling, and willingness to slow down and look deeply into the quality and vitality of your life, flowing with grace and ease between past, present, and future to say … “thank you”.

If courage is commanding then gratitude is anything but demanding.

Can artificial humans ever know anything of courage and gratitude?

In my current view, there is absolutely nothing more important right now than wedding the bride of gratitude with the groom of courage (here, I am indulging my limitless capacity for cognitive fusion).

With courage and gratitude, I am calm (safe and secure), comfortable (satisfied), content (I have done my best), and carefree (I remain ever grateful), and with this set of Cs as my default measure, I can favor a light touch for myself in relation to others and the world at large.

Even as I refuse to take a carefree calm, comfort, and contentment for granted.

To share information and inspiration on what is happening on this troubled yet promising world, I drew up two lists of sites that are serving the causes of personal, global and/or cosmic awakening.

This post has been filed under Integration in the Ultimate Outline.

Note: my evolving outline on approaching a realization of the ultimate in personal fulfillment can be found here, accessible from the nav menu under the page “Be Here Now”.

Note: this ever growing perspective began here: Ultimate Perspective

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