Does one’s inner state really matter that much? What if what is going on inside of you really is all that matters? Find out more…
I recently asked “Do You Live in a Friendly Universe?”. In that blog post, I reflected on the importance of one’s inner state and how to connect in with a larger, expanded reality. A reader, Samantha, posed this thoughtful comment:
“…I’d like to point out a couple of caveats that are important when are approaching any form of self improvement, but rarely get addressed. If at all.
There is an underlying assumption that the target audience off this type of practice are those who are somewhere near the top two tiers of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Otherwise, this kind of meditation is ill advised, and not because of any personal or moral failing (which is the conclusion that some of my more vulnerable clients come to when they read these sorts of articles.)
If someone does not know where their next meal is coming from, or experiences harassment or threats whenever they leave the house, which is a common concern for my trans and queer clients (Especially my clients of color, the universe *is* a hostile place.
This type of core work is also extra hard for trauma survivors, whose brains are wired to constantly be on the lookout for threats.
None of this is intended to discredit anything you put forth in your post.
And I’d appreciate a blog post on what to do and how to cope when the universe is actively dangerous vs. posing a less immediate threat.”
So, Samantha, here are some of my thoughts.
I was in my mid-thirties when it occurred to me that some people didn’t see the world as a hostile place.
I’m not sure how that thought drifted through to my awareness. For my whole life, I’d walked around the world suspicious of everyone I met, assuming that they meant me harm. I’d learned that perspective growing up. As the fourth of four kids in the sixties, it seemed normal that threats, fists, and humiliation should back up the pecking order. I eventually learned how to stop being a crybaby and fight back. Up until adolescence, I could beat up any kid my age.
Life was trying to make it through my paranoia to give me a different view. Folks in my white, upper middle class community were generally courteous and congenial. Strangers would hold doors or pick up something I’d dropped. My friends’ parents fed me dinner; teachers helped me, and looking back, there were probably lots of adults keeping an eye on me. I didn’t have to deal with crime or shootings in my neighborhood. I had the privilege of living in safety. Except at home.
I walked around the world scared and defensive. I didn’t ask strangers questions. In fifth grade, sitting waiting with a full bladder while my mom saw the dentist, I peed on the cushion rather than ask where the bathroom was. As I got older, I was very good at researching situations ahead of time and then vigilantly tuning into the underlying signals, just so I didn’t have to risk asking a stupid question.
As I moved into adulthood, some experiences managed to infiltrate my view of People as Threats. There was the time that, ferrying group home girls across some pitch-dark back road in Canada (we’d decided they should have a camping experience) I backed my Datsun F-1o over a culvert. When some big pick-up trucks pulled over, we huddled together, scared to death when 5 burly men got out. They hardly spoke to us as they surveyed the situation, actually picked up and moved my car, and went on their way. Now that made an impression on me. Maybe life wasn’t what I assumed it to be.
Eventually, I ran across this quote from Einstein. It’s the one in the post that Samantha wondered about:
“I think the most important question facing humanity is, ‘Is the universe a friendly place?’ This is the first and most basic question all people must answer for themselves.
“For if we decide that the universe is an unfriendly place, then we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries and our natural resources to achieve safety and power by creating bigger walls to keep out the unfriendliness and bigger weapons to destroy all that which is unfriendly and I believe that we are getting to a place where technology is powerful enough that we may either completely isolate or destroy ourselves as well in this process.
“If we decide that the universe is neither friendly nor unfriendly and that God is essentially ‘playing dice with the universe’, then we are simply victims to the random toss of the dice and our lives have no real purpose or meaning.
“But if we decide that the universe is a friendly place, then we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries and our natural resources to create tools and models for understanding that universe. Because power and safety will come through understanding its workings and its motives.”
“God does not play dice with the universe,”
Now my eyes really opened to a new possibility. Was it possible that both were true?That the world might simultaneously be friendly and unfriendly? I was intrigued. I started noticing how, in a flash, the way I viewed the world shifted simply because my own inner state changed. One moment I felt cheery and had a sense that all was well; the next, just because I’d tripped over something or read a scary story or talked to my mother–now suddenly the entire world became a frightening, foreboding place.
Meanwhile, I observed how someone’s state often triggered a certain response from someone else. A complaining customer led to a dour checkout person–creating more to complain about. Clients who walked around expecting negative outcomes couldn’t seem to catch a break. And I watched the couples I was seeing be locked into cycles where one person’s aggression would lead to the other’s collapse, which escalated the attack, which created more collapse, and on and on.
Decades of this, along with my understanding of the dynamics of systems theory and the role of projection as a defense in psychodynamics to my developing theories about Reactive Brain and Creative Brain. asI started to understand the power of every inner state to become a projection, and, ultimately coalesce into belief systems.
So, what about folks stepping out into a racist, sexist, homophobic or transphobic culture? Am I saying that they aren’t facing a hostile world?
I am saying: There isn’t a monolithic “world” out there. There’s an ever-changing kaleidoscope of possibilities according to a dance of infinite variables: Who crosses your path, what they had for breakfast and whether they slept well, whether their caregivers had any idea how to attune to a baby, what happened to them when they were five, how it was to be a teenager–and on and on and on. And of course, your ability to handle whatever comes your way will depend on your own access to Creative Brain. Are you, like me, especially prone to shift into Reactive Brain because of trauma? Are you aware of the signals in your body that you need use tools* to shift back into Creative Brain? Can you give yourself the physiological basics–food, water, enough sleep, exercise–so your body can support Creative Brain?
My life purpose is to support every person in experiencing their true power, their real authority, no matter what situation they encounter. I want each of us to have access to tools to see how our inner state completely alters our experience of life. I focus on building a friendly universe, believing that it is there where Creative Brain will provide us with our full faculties and enable us to solve the most crucial of issues facing humanity.
*You can find all kinds of these tools in my blogs and in my podcasts at www.juliacolwell.com
Would you like to learn conscious tools with me? Join me at the beautiful Omega Institute May 26-29 for Conscious Relationship Essentials.