Saturday, June 30, 2007

Matters Are Soul Deep Now

Publication: Healthy Thoughts (Summer 2007 Issue 42-7)
What does it mean to have “soul?” It’s hard to describe, isn’t it? But we do know it, don’t we? To have a meeting of the minds is significant toward cooperation and to have heart to heart communication is even better but what happens when we make a soul connection. Feel the difference? You can feel the difference when something is on a soul level. Mind to mind occurs on an intellectual level, heart to heart is with feeling and perhaps love, but a soul connection registers in your body. It happens on a very deep level.

If you check in with your body, it has a binary system, a kind of “field.” Your body does not know how to lie and it recognizes truth. It has an intelligence far beyond the mind or heart. This binary system will tell you “yes” or “no,” “off” or “on,” “good” or “bad” if something is soulful or not, and so on. It is a deeper knowing. You can feel into or simply know in order to discern whether something has soul or not. If I ask you which of something has more soul could you discern that? Ok, let’s play. Choose which has more soul…

Saturday afternoon at the mall/ Walking along the river
Lunch at McDonalds/ Mom’s homemade potato leek soup
Coca Cola/ Glass of water
Paving the driveway/ Planting new trees
Reading a tabloid magazine/ Reading a book of poetry
The afternoon at your senior’s center/ Going to a matinee movie

Soulful things are life affirming, life giving, life enhancing and things that are not soulful are life draining, life impairing, life depleting.

Let’s amplify this game a little to make it interesting. Which is soulful and which is not? Giving the other driver the digit or paying the toll for the driver behind you? Cutting someone off in traffic or motioning for the other driver to go first? Buying a gift certificate meal for a homeless person or taking the family shopping at Wal-Mart? Shoveling snow from your vacationing neighbor’s driveway or yelling at their dog to get out of your yard? Buying and donating children’s books to your local library or buying new video games for the kids? Taking your elderly neighbor to the pharmacy or taking the family to video village? Throwing your detergent bottle in the basement trash bin or walking it upstairs to the recycling container? (Plastic takes 1000 years to begin to decompose in a landfill.) Taking the kids to the zoo or visiting the local animal shelter?

Now let’s really raise the stakes even higher where it may not seem so comfortable…Which is soulful and which is not? Making war on another country or using diplomacy and international pressure to get the country to conform to peaceful standards? Engaging in terrorism or sending aid to an area plagued with drought, poverty and illness? Using genocide to rid your country of unwanted elements or welcoming refugees? Vowing to wipe out all of those who profess to a certain religion or studying a religion to know what makes its followers “tick?” Using force and weapons to eradicate problems or using initial restraint and then reaching out with heart and soul connections to understand the problems? Making someone who is “other,” “looks other” or “believes other” the enemy or making connections to know and understand this “other.”

When the stakes get high the issues get tough don’t they? And the best choices are not always clearly discernable. With some soulful choices the stakes are negligible and with others the ramifications are enormous. How does anyone know what to do? If a leader has heart and especially soul, what are the likely outcomes? If a leader lacks heart or lacks soul, what are the likely outcomes? These are not easy questions nor are the answers blatantly clear. A bully on the playground is much different from a tyrant on the world stage, right? Or is it the same thing only to what degree on a horizontal axis?

Can people have soul? Can a country? What happens to a person whose soul is sick or who suffers from soul loss? What happens to a country when its soul is sick or it has lost its soul? What happens when a people have lost their soul and their leader is a bully with no soul? What happens when a country with soul gets a leader with no soul? Or the opposite occurs? What happens to people who live in a place where there has never been soul with leaders who have never been soulful? What happens when suddenly they are now free to have soul?

There are symptoms of individual soul loss. Individuals can lose parts of their soul through experiences in their lives. Pieces and parts of their soul can leave, be taken by someone else, go into hibernation and lose the ability to function usually from a trauma or overwhelming experience. The symptoms of individual soul loss are:

• Difficulty staying present or focusing
• Feeling numb, weak or dispirited
• Chronic depression, hopelessness, sadness
• Depressed immune system, chronic fatigue or illnesses
• Having been a sickly or chronically ill child
• Memory gaps, missing chunks of life
• Struggling with addictions
• Internal emptiness or void
• Feeling stuck and trouble moving on
• Phobias or irrational fears
• Chronic lack of vitality
• Feeling alienated from yourself or your body

Soul loss can occur from events impacting a life and at any age or stage. Events where overwhelming fear, trauma and helplessness were experienced can cause soul loss:

  • Childhood trauma or bullying

  • Natural or man made disasters

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

  • Wartime experiences

  • Incest

  • Rape

  • Loss of home or security

  • Experiencing or witnessing violence

  • The killing of a person or an animal or witnessing it

  • Physical abuse

  • Mental and emotional abu

  • Experiencing or witnessing domestic violence

  • Being the victim of a crime

  • Spiritual violence

  • Overwhelming or prolonged fear

  • Victimization by a stalker

  • Being restrained or held hostage

  • Loss of a loved one

  • Accidents or injuries

  • Surgery, anesthesia, amputation or loss of body parts or functions
And what do you suppose might happen when whole groups of people experience traumatic events or live with persistent stress or fear—perhaps a region, a culture, or a country? What happens when a country suffers soul loss? What would that people, region, culture or country look like? How would it operate in the world? What if a person, people, culture or country never developed soul? What if they lived from a state of raw survival throughout their whole existence? What would that look like and how would it play out in the world? A deadening of the soul has immense consequences for both individuals and groups of individuals.

So we see that soul or having soul is important. We see that exercising that quality of soul is important. Growing the soul or soulfulness is important. We see that soul or souls can be wounded and when wounded, be in need of healing. We can hypothesize that when one or many have never experienced soul that their behavior would not be soulful. What do you need in order to have soul? Hope? Faith? Something to eat? If you were busy daily with raw daily survival how would you evaluate your own soulfulness? The soulfulness of others? How would you practice it? Do you ever reflect upon your own soulfulness? Your children’s soulfulness and how you are or are not fostering it? How you are, or are not practicing soul and soulfulness?

We have found that a wounding of the soul can cause depression and great wounds of the soul can cause despair. If an individual with soul loss can suffer from despair, can a culture suffer despair, or can a whole country with soul loss have pervasive despair?

It is our woundedness that makes us human, makes us empathic to the plight of others but woundedness begs healing. We can certainly medicate or use a placebo effect to dress a wound, but that doesn’t mean the wound is healed. We can accumulate the ”things” and “status symbols” in life that culture tells us connote success in order to deflect our attention from our own deep wounding, but if our soul is sick they will not satisfy. If we do not practice soul and soulfulness in our dealings with others, their soul or soulfulness will not be awakened, reciprocate or find expression. With matters of soul, “pass it forward” is a good practice to cultivate. For the benefit of all!

There are those who work to bring the soul back into the affairs of humans and the planet. The organization of the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers is one, Vessels of Peace is another. Organizations that promote peace (not necessarily anti-war) are another avenue of soul. Religions that open their arms to all including those considered “other” are practicing soulfulness. Organizations that exist for the humane treatment of humans and non-humans have soul. Without soulfulness or humanness, hope is absent, faith is sterile and God (by whatever name) is made puny.

In what ways do you exercise your soul, your soulfulness? How do you contribute to the rise of soul and soulfulness on the planet? To the creation of peace? It may at times seem overwhelming or as if you, a solitary contributor cannot do much and your contribution counts for little. However, it is true what Margaret Mead said that a handful of thoughtful people can change the world. Today it is more possible than ever. Great teachers have said that the laws of holograms and physics govern the world and universe and that one act completed to lift and uplift the species is multiplied ten thousand fold. Never think that you cannot make a difference. You make all the difference. Your soul is the greatest tool you have for living. For a richer life, get in touch with it, exercise it, share it, act from it and above all-- pass it forward.

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A few Thoughts...

When I think about it, my own life is no less rich and the living no less inspiring than my pioneering ancestors and I come from a long line of Indians and outlaws so don't ever turn your back on me!

Life is, after all, a slice of human consciousness lived from its place in human evolution. "From here to eternity" as it were-- from earth to the stars, from personal space to cyberspace, from a small local footprint to the world reduced to the size of a notebook and sitting on your lap!

As a child I lived with the perpetual and immenent threat of annihilation. That's child abuse! It wasn't a kid-friendly world and I couldn't understand why the grown-ups who were in charge weren't doing something?

So at age seven with my face in the window eyes turned up into the night sky and staring at the stars I made a vow: "When I am a grown-up, I will do something."

My writing is that something and I write to "simply change the world." If that sounds like a lack of humility it isn't because I know that one person absolutely can change the world and I've met some who have.

Kay Kennedy put together an anthology that puts the reader in the midst of history to view it from the inside out.

When I was in high school and even college, history classes were stale and boring featuring memorization and regurgitation of dates that coincided with events that had no human face, certainly no magic, and no life!

Anthologies are great fun and stores are rich remembrances. History books chronicle; stories are little narrative slices of living. History comes alive through story. I often think of my grandmother and her story, her life-- the history she lived. In her lifetime she saw humankind evolve from horse and buggy to man on the moon.

I was a sixties kid and for the youth of the sixties, turmoil, disillusionment, and revolution were everyday 'business as usual'. Like a radio perpetually on low volume, fear and death dronned on in the background. The superpowers threatened to extinguish all life on the planet, the Vietnam War was escalating and peers were being escorted home under American Flag blankets. The civil rights and equal rights movements were testing human civility, and faster than one could recover from one shock another real life hero would fall to yet another assassin. Despair was commonplace. Contrast that with a man on the moon... we could conquer space travel but couldn't make nukes or war obsolete! It was a time when youth needed hope because hope was scarce. When it was finally resurrected, it came in the form of idealism and a philosophy of brotherly and universal love. Perfect principles; imperfect execution.

For others who contributed to "Looking Back," the history is different for each because the "times" were different as well as the perspective of the individuals. The stories of human societal evolution are enlightening, heartwarming, poignant and spellbinding. They put a human face on the past.

And there are people now who are putting a face on the future...