Angels – and the Hay House World Summit

Technically I’m not finished with the series on science, but I decided to take a break for a few weeks because it’s time for the Hay House World Summit. Four wonderful, uplifting weeks of videos and lectures from some of the brightest stars in the spiritual community. This series played such an influential role in my spiritual development last year, I couldn’t let it pass without writing about it.

Yesterday, as I listened to a talk with Kyle Gray about working with our Angels, I wondered – Do I believe in Angels? Based on a lot of my other writing, it might surprise you to learn that I do… at least, I can allow for their existence. (see here for more on the concept of Allowing). And, of course, as I look up at the microwave and stove clocks, right after writing that sentence, it’s 11:11am on both.[1]  🙂

It’s like the angels laughing and saying, “Ha! We very much do exist.”

I really do love those moments of communion.

In many of my posts I talk about energy. I am familiar and comfortable with the concept of energy. (Although only recently am I more openly talking with others about this). For many, many years of my own spiritual development I was not sure I even believed in a cohesive soul (ie – that the soul was a distinct entity vs. just a collection of energy in a particular lifetime that rejoined the ‘all’ after death).[2]

Naturally, based on that belief structure, I struggled with the concept of angels as defined, individual, entities – even at an energetic level. I still struggle with that, but thanks to the concept of allowing, I don’t have to worry so much about what I believe and I can focus instead on the experiences that I have.

Kyle talks about how his own belief in angels has evolved over the past five years. Initially he seemed to crave more definition around our angelic guides – knowing his own guardian angel’s name and understanding the angelic hierarchy. However, he has moved to a place where he seems to associate them more with their energetic vibration and worry less about attaching qualities to their existence (wings, names, etc.)

It’s a thoroughly interesting and uplifting talk – you can listen to it <here> (although the link may re-direct you to a sign-up page if you have not already registered for the Hay House Summit.) For this short period of time only it’s completely free and totally worth checking out!

 

[1] In Kyle’s talk he mentions that there’s a lot of hub-bub around “11:11” and angels and I remember thinking, as I listened, I’ve never heard of that and I don’t remember any significant “11:11” moments in my own life. So, of course, the very next day I would look up at the clocks while I’m writing about allowing for the possibility of the existence of angels… and it would be 11:11 on two clocks J J According to Doreen Virtue’s angeltherapy.com “In the case of “1’s,” they represent the post of an energy gateway. The more 1’s you see the stronger the gateway.”

[2] Ironically, it was my first pregnancy that convinced me otherwise… maybe I’ll tell that story somewhere on the blog someday.

Science & Spiritual Path – Part 3 – Thoughts on Co-Creation

I hadn’t intended to write a post about Co-Creation as part of this series. However, when I chanced across an article about Australia National University researchers furthering research into the Observer effect, it occurred to me that this was the perfect place for such a post.

This post builds on the arguments for the ‘non-existence of time apart from motion’ as laid out in Everything is Now and the argument for Free Will laid out in The Double Agent of Change. Certainly they are not a pre-requisite for understanding the ideas in this post, but if you read those afterwards they might help the overall argument make more sense.

Before we get too deep, let me define Co-Creation as I understand and experience it. Co-Creation is the process of influencing energy at a base level to bring about particular outcomes in reality in ‘the future.’ When we live in flow and are connected this happens so naturally that we don’t always stop to think about how amazing it is.

Our ability to influence reality always depends on the momentum and trajectory of energy. One person, or even dozens of people, can’t stop a speeding train. This is why our ability to influence reality one or two steps ahead of us is tremendously limited (see the post The Art of Finding for options in dealing with immediate situations).

However, because the only moment that exists is the now, what we think of as the further future – months or years out – doesn’t exist yet and can therefore be an ‘open space’ for creative influence.

What does this look like in practical application? At the risk of putting myself in the crazy category I’m going to share some very real examples from my own life…

  • In the year 2000 when I graduated from college, I wanted more than anything (do not ask me why!) to work for Leo Burnett in downtown Chicago. That summer, while I was walking around downtown submitting applications, I put my hand on the Leo Burnett building and said “I wish to work here.” Shortly after,[1] I got a call from one of the personnel agencies I submitted a resume to. They were filling openings for a large ad agency downtown – guess where? Needless to say, I got the job. – Every job I’ve gotten since college has a story like this one.

 

  • In the year 2002 when we were visiting San Antonio and walking the Riverwalk I made a wish that someone influential in Chicago’s city planning would see the Riverwalk and do something like it in Chicago. When I visited home just a few years later I stumbled into a building that showed plans for a redesigned walk along the Chicago River.

 

  • In the year 2009 when my husband and I visited Montreal we found an extensive bike infrastructure – including very protected bike lanes and even traffic lights with little bicycles on them. I remember thinking – if Montreal, a place that’s colder that Chicago, can do this, why can’t we? I made a wish that we would put in such a bicycle infrastructure in Chicago and I’ve watched over the last few years as that has started to grow and develop (Chicago was pretty late to this party, admittedly J).

These are three examples out of dozens and dozens from my own experience and I’m quite sure that hundreds of thousands of people across the globe have experienced the “magic” of co-creation for themselves.

Did “I” influence reality to bring about these outcomes? Without ever talking to anyone, writing a letter to the city, or being an activist for a cause? It sounds crazy right? If asked point blank, depending on my mood, I would respond somewhere in the range between of course not! To probably not or unlikely and sometimes simply I don’t know. But, here is where the Trickster lesson of the ‘bait thief’ comes in handy.

To believe that all these events happened only because I wished them to be so is to swallow the bait and the hook – to be delusional. To deny it outright and say it’s impossible that I had any influence at all is to leave the bait and the hook (ie – I don’t become delusional, but I don’t get to eat / transform my life either). I need to take the bait without swallowing the hook – I need to be able to simultaneously accept that these events came into being (partly) because I wished them so and that they could just as easily have had nothing to do with me at all.

There is tension between these two realities, if I can allow that tension to fluctuate in my mind-space, I can let data points accumulate and accumulate and accumulate… I can say, I don’t know for certain whether things are truly happening because of me, but whatever it is I’m doing seems to be working out as I hoped – so I’m going to keep doing it. 🙂 [2] See the post Trickster Makes this Road for more about the Trickster and the Spiritual Path.

Seeing is Believing

So far I’ve explained what I understand Co-Creation to be, and at the risk of sounding quite crazy, I didn’t want to soft-pedal or be evasive about it because it’s huge, amazing, and fascinating – but now we need to talk about how it works from a more scientific perspective since that’s what this post is about.

Let’s start with the Observer effect and the experiments into it thus far. From Wikipedia the Observer Effect “refers to changes that the act of observation will make on a phenomenon being observed.” The long-standing experiment into this involves light acting as either particle or waves and a new experiment by Australian National University has essentially reproduced this experiment with atoms.

What is important about both these experiments has nothing to do with “who” is doing the observing (whether a person or mechanical apparatus), but rather has to do with the very simple conclusion that even something as slight as observation – by anything at all – influences reality. Or, to state it another way; at the smallest, most particulate level – all energy is influenced by interaction, we cannot even watch energy without influencing it.

If merely watching reality can influence reality – imagine how much more actually trying to influence reality can influence reality.

The other piece that’s important, that triggered the writing of this post, is what this latest experiment demonstrates about what I think of as the ‘nebulous reality’ of the unknown.

When I was in grade school I was a bit obsessed by a silly thing that I called “the collision of worlds” which was the idea that when we meet people (not people we know and co-exist with on a regular basis, but random people – like the grocery store cashier in a different city) that it was like a collision of their whole world and my whole world that existed together for just the time of that interaction and then drifted away to a completely separate existence again.

Since then I have been somewhat interested in the idea, even though it seems impossible, that everything outside one’s own sphere of awareness (and even some things within our sphere of awareness) might be a bit nebulous; unset, unformed. I guess how I would explain it is this – where knowledge is connected, reality is ‘set’, but where it isn’t, it isn’t.

This is already a really long post and it would take several hundred more words to explain the experiment. You can read about it here, but the conclusion the scientists drew is this,

“If one chooses to believe that the atom really did take a particular path or paths then one has to accept that a future measurement is affecting the atoms past, said Truscott. // The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of their journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence.”

I believe this is a ‘double-sided’ problem to which we’re seeing one side here. Our measurement brings that atom into ‘known’ existence for us – and it’s past becomes set. But at the same time our existence also became known for the atom. Or, to use the earlier concept, our two worlds collided in that moment of existence, so to speak. Even though our existence seems continuous to us, it may in fact be nebulous to the atom (who knows how an atom even perceives us?) until the moment of measurement in the ‘now.’

As argued in Everything is Now, the only moment that exists is ‘now’ which occurs at the cross-roads between the past and future. The ‘now’ has energy leading into it and energy leading out of it, but since it is the only moment of actual existence, it also presents the only opportunity to change the direction and flow of energy.

If thoughts are energy (and the Universe is made up of energy) then thought – or intention, or whatever you want to call it – can influence reality just as physical action can. This may seem ridiculous or unrealistic when we think about trying to “move” a physical object with our minds – but if thoughts are energy and what we’re trying to move is energy (the unformed, nebulous energy of the future) then it becomes a bit easier to fathom.

What we are doing when we co-create is use our energy to move energy in the future. Instead of trying to push the train in a particular direction, we are ‘re-arranging the railroad tracks’. We influence the future trajectory of the energy, not the actual physical matter itself. When we influence the trajectory, things in the present start to line up according to our intention and vision.

How Do We Do It?

There tend to be a few sticking points around this for people that I’d like to address here;

Thoughts are not energy.

If everything in the Universe is made up of some kind of energy, then thoughts must be energy also. If thoughts are not energy, what are they?

Thoughts are stuck inside our head and therefore cannot influence the outside world.

Most people have had at least one occurrence in their lives where there’s a song running in their head and someone else start’s humming it, or they are thinking about someone and suddenly that person calls / contacts them, or someone is searching for a word and we think it only to have them nearly simultaneously come up with the same word we just thought of. Our thoughts are not stuck inside our head – in fact, sometimes I wonder if they’re in our head at all. At the very least, many of our thoughts are in our energy field which not only surrounds us, but through which we are connected to other people and also the Universe.

“My” thoughts and wishes don’t seem to come true.

For many of us most of our thoughts are pretty weak – meaning that we are not truly convicted about them. Weak thoughts don’t influence much of anything.

This gets very tricky, actually, and is one of the reasons walking the spiritual path is so key because sometimes, consciously, we can think we’re very convicted or motivated to go in a particular direction, but subconsciously we have fears that hold us back or sabotage our progress. One of my biggest clues that I’m not as aligned as I think I am is when I can’t get traction on a particular wish or intention.

When we have a subject where there are already lots of conflicting thoughts, influence is much harder (probably impossible for an individual). Take a concept like gun control or abortion or the environment – there are already tons and tons of conflicting ideas around these concepts keeping them in something of an energy quagmire. In order for these topics to ever move anywhere, an idea is going to have ‘come from the side’ so to speak or do something to disrupt the existing tangled energy.

In summary, thoughts have the most opportunity to influence reality when the below three conditions are met;

a.) There is ‘open space’ for the energy to move (for example, new or different ideas) OR thoughts / intentions align with where the energy is already going; situations where there is not already a lot of conflicted energy keeping things stuck.

b.) Our ‘minds’ and hearts (or conscious and subconscious) are aligned, our whole being sends a clear signal – so to speak – versus a mixed signal

c.) We have a strong connection to the Universe (or God or whatever you want to call it) through which we communicate our wish or intention.

A person who has put energy behind a thought or intention where a, b, and c are all true is going to have a very good chance of influencing reality in that direction. More importantly, though, a person who regularly connects to the Universe through meditation or prayer and is more aligned overall is going to experience Co-creation more often – even on small things – because b & c are going to be true ‘by default’ so anytime a is also true, anytime there’s space for the energy to move, BINGO, the Co-Creation process will start.

 

[1] (not the next day, but like maybe a week later – I mean, this was 16 years ago… my memory is not that exact! J)

[2] On the flipside, you might suggest that I’m really just ‘psychic’ and I didn’t “wish” these things into being, I just “knew” that they would come to be. I would counter, though, that I do have a fair bit of experience with psychic knowing[2] and it’s a completely different feeling. To “know” something psychically, at least for me, is to have a sense for how energy is moving and where it’s going. For me, that knowing is like a physical sensation.

In contrast, for cases of co-creation the energy is either nebulous and unformed or it’s going in a different direction and I can feel that resistance when I put out my request. If I have a feeling around these events at the time I make my request it’s uncertainty. Or rather it’s a certainty that any number of future outcomes are possible.

Science – Part 2 – Thoughts on Evolution

Like so many debates, the one around how we came to exist is a victim of the ‘false dichotomy’ problem between “Intelligent Design” – another way of saying “God did it” or a godless, random process where it’s total chance that we ever ended up existing at all. Even the “Giant Spaghetti Monster” hypothesis is really just another version of Intelligent Design.

We are not limited to these two choices in understanding how life in general and humanity in specific came to exist on Earth.

In college, I used to get in fierce debates with my science-major friends about the non-randomness of evolution; arguing that I strongly believed in evolution, I just didn’t think it was random. This was something they seemed unable to understand. For them, if I didn’t believe in Random Genetic Mutation (RGM) coupled with Sexual Selection, I was a Creationist.

For my part, I thought this was a vast underestimation of the data that gets exchanged at a biochemical and energetic level among organisms in the world we live in. Everything we take into our body – whether breathing, eating, or absorbing through our skin – has an impact on us.

Consider the pheromones given off by many creatures (including humans!) when they seek to mate. Pheromones are a chemical substance that communicates more powerfully then any pick-up line could.

I couldn’t understand why it was so hard to believe that our bodies could take in environmental information at a cellular (or atomic / energetic) level and use it. Granted, maybe not in the current generation, but perhaps in future generations. For me, this meant that it wasn’t a random genetic mutation driving evolution, but a very targeted one.

It seems like the very core of evolution to argue that a species genetic code can be modified based on the data that came in from the environment.

Reflecting back, I can understand a little bit what the resistance of my friends might have been. Targeted genetic modification sounds a lot like ‘someone’ is making a ‘decision,’ and that sounds an awful lot like “Intelligent design.”

However, I associated this behavior on a cellular level as a more fundamental example of what we readily observe on an organism level. For example, when a plant grows in the direction of sunlight – is that a decision? When a tree (or plant) gets too much sunlight and flips it’s leaves over so that the more reflective backside of the leaves slows the absorption of sunlight – is that a decision?

No.

It’s a stimulus and a response.

Missing Pieces

Interestingly enough, it was a college Ecology class that really galvanized my belief that evolution is not random. (And before you ask, I went to college at a large public university). We were discussing the evolution of evolutionary theory; gradualism, random genetic mutation, sexual selection, etc. One thing the professor said really sparked my interest. She said,

“The one big mystery of evolution from a random genetic mutation perspective is that you would think – if it’s random – the fossil record would be littered with bad mutations – ones that didn’t work out, but that’s simply not the case. We don’t have a record of all these failed random mutations.”

We have records of organisms both large and small that have gone extinct, even organisms as old as stromatolites. But we don’t have examples of animals that have mutated in unsuccessful ways. Isn’t that interesting?

Now, one could argue that all those fossils have disappeared into the Earth – or that the fossils we do have aren’t really a representative example of all the iterations of creatures that have existed. Or it could be argued that the fossils we do have may have had failed mutations that aren’t visible in their remains.

The lack of fossil evidence of random genetic mutation is not a smoking gun by any means, but it is a data point that’s worth paying attention to.

A few years later I stumbled on Olivia Judson’s book Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation, a pop-culture evolutionary biology book that bolstered my developing belief that evolution is something less than random. Here is one interesting quote (of which there are quite a few) to illustrate what I mean;

“an experiment with yellow dung flies…has shown that testes size can evolve in response to sperm competition in as few as ten generations.” (pg 23)

So first of all – I hope you weren’t eating. If you were, I apologize 🙂  Secondly, though, ten generations?  That’s not millions of years, that’s evolution happening in weeks and months. Also, worth noting, if we were talking about random mutation in response to an environmental stimulus (here: sperm competition), one expect flies to turn pink maybe or grow extra legs or maybe their wings change size, but that’s not what happened here.

Maybe it’s easy to miss, but here we see (and I did do a quick skim through the source studies for this one) that evolution is happening in a very targeted way for the animal– one that corresponds to the area where adjustment is needed.  That makes perfect logical sense, but it’s definitely not random.

This is not to say that there are no random mutations. That surely happens. My argument is merely that random mutations (even ‘coupled’ with sexual selection) are not the primary driver of evolution.

Of course this may all seem like ‘old news’ now as I know there is a “new-ish” field called Epigenetics that studies modifications to the genetic code based on environmental conditions.  Still – it’s worth considering that evolution may be a bit “smarter” than we thought without needing to imagine a single, high god tinkering with every plant and creature.

Off the Deep End

I’m now going to take a leap in a completely different direction – I think it’s only fair to warn you.

Above we’ve discussed evolution of organisms from the perspective of ‘matter’ – that is, bodily, but we haven’t really touched on the idea of consciousness. Consciousness in general is possessed by most subjects in the Animal Kingdom. We can all tell that there is a difference between the consciousness of a plant and that of a puppy.

But, as an observable phenomenon, there seems to be a categorical difference between the operation of human consciousness and any other known life on this planet. We may talk about dolphins and whales as intelligent animals, but we do not mean by this that dolphins can work with complex mathematical algorithms, nor do we evaluate the complex narrative structure of a whale’s song compared to a work like War and Peace.

The human ability to create and self-reflect, to understand diverse perspectives and craft narratives based on complex emotions and motivations; all of these are representative of the uniqueness of the human condition. Also notable, is the human ability to build on what came before – not just over tens of thousands of years, but year over year. We don’t really see that with any other known species.

Now, some may argue that we simply don’t know enough about the inner life of a whale or dolphin (or ant for that matter) to judge. This is true. We should allow that that’s possible and avoid dismissing the argument outright. However, on the other hand, we should not let that argument stop us from thinking about the difference between human consciousness and that of all other life on Earth as we presently understand it.

It is partly this difference, of course, that sparks our speculation on the human soul. In the face of the human experience from the perspective of this difference, it is perfectly logical and rational to wonder why it is so. Why can fruit flies evolve sexual adaptations in ten generations, but in the 60,000 years of human existence hasn’t another species evolved a consciousness like ours?

Based on the current evolutionary debate it seems like we are at an impasse here – that we must choose between believing in a human soul and believing in evolution. Fortunately, that is actually not true, we are not required to believe that our bodies and our human ‘sense of self’ came about in the same way. People have certainly been wondering over the mind-body connection since Descartes and probably a long time before.

As a person who believes in both evolution and reincarnation, I feel compelled to be open-minded about how these two parts of our existence (both as spirit and as body) might have come into being and changed over time to result in our current experience.

In closing I want to note that I am clearly not a geneticist or an evolutionary biologist. It is not my goal with this post to try to convince you that the ideas in this post are right. What’s most important to me is that you take away this; we don’t have to ‘choose sides’ between a ‘godless’ evolution and a creationist myth that clearly ignores the evidence we do have on record – the more possibilities and options we consider, the better our chances of making a real breakthrough in this area.

Science and The Spiritual Path – Part 1

“Science is not a perfect instrument, but it is a superb and invaluable tool that works harm only when it is taken as an end in itself.  Science must serve; it errs when it usurps the throne… Science is the tool of the Western mind, and with it one can open more doors than with bare hands.  It is part and parcel of our understanding, and it obscures our insight only when it claims that the understanding it conveys is the only kind there is”

— Carl Jung, from Psychology and Alchemy / Collected Works

Some topics in American discourse are what’s known as ‘sacred cows.’ Defined by Google as, “an idea, custom, or institution held, especially unreasonably, to be above criticism,” sacred cows can be so controversial that even wanting to have a conversation about one is viewed as suspect.

Vaccines, for example, are a sacred cow in this country. Very few people I’ve encountered want to have a discussion about vaccines. People tend to fall into one of two camps – either they tell you you’re crazy if you don’t get your child vaccinated or they tell you you’re crazy if you do. The very fact that I’m writing this paragraph lands me squarely in the ‘crazy’ category for some simply because I’m not decrying the ‘anti-vaxxers.’

This post-series isn’t about vaccines though, it’s about science. Not only is the concept of “science” itself a sacred cow, but there are dozens of ideas associated with science that are also sacred cows. In this series we’ll touch on how science is funded in America and why. We’ll take on one of the most inflammatory scientific sacred cows, evolution. (I can already feel your hairs standing on end 🙂 ).

We’ll talk a little bit of how the cutting edge research in physics may be providing the foundation to explain how co-creation works. And if that isn’t enough, we’ll cover how computer science driven research into neural networks may have unlocked part of the answer to how existence transitions (or persists) from one moment to the next.   We’ll wrap up the series with a brief discussion of where science fits in walking the spiritual path.

Before we get there, though, this first post in the series takes a step back to discuss the term “science,” itself, and it’s use in common discourse.

The Search for Meaning

A quick google search defines science as, “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.” (This is identical with the Oxford English Dictionary definition and a near match of the Cambridge Dictionary)

Merriam-Webster says science is, “knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation.”

A little bit of an infinite loop occurs when I look up the word ‘experiment’ as it is often defined as ‘a scientific procedure’ – So here we have science defined by conducting experiments and experiments defined by being scientific.

This recursion is not all that surprising, though, as in common discourse the term “science” is used to mean something apart from ‘following the scientific method’ to test a hypothesis. In my experience, the term is typically used to shut down a conversation that is venturing into strange and unknown territory.

What do I mean by that? Let me try to answer by way of analogy. Right now I’m reading an excellent book by Jeff Patton called User Story Mapping (it’s an old one). At one point in the book Jeff talks about the word “Requirements” in Software Development. (Requirements are a documented description of desired application functionality.)

Jeff’s style is to initiate more of a conversation about what the client / customer needs rather than rely too heavily on copious documentation written by someone who doesn’t actually use the software or have the need.

In relation to this, Jeff mentions an encounter that brought him to a fundamental realization about the way people thought about requirements;

“As the company grew, we added more traditional software people. At one point the head of a different team came to me and said, ‘Jeff I need you to make these changes to the product you’re working on.’

I said, ‘Great, no problem. Tell me who they’re for and what problems this solves for them.

Her response? ‘They’re the requirements.’

I replied, ‘I get it. Just tell me a bit about who they’re for and how they’re going to use this, and where it fits into the way they work.’

She looked at me like I was stupid and said to me with an air of finality, ‘They’re requirements.’

“It was at that moment that I learned that the word requirements actually means shut up.”[1]

This matches my experience in how people use the term ‘science’ in discourse today. When someone trots out a scientific study (or the lack of one) it means ‘shut up.’ Here’s a recent example from my own life that mirrors the Jeff Patton example.

Recently, I was reading some excellent posts listing scientific studies on the benefits of meditation.[2] In the comments section on one of them (I can’t remember which right now) one commenter brought up our ability to influence reality via thought / intention / meditation and I added a few corroborating notes of my personal experience with this.

Another commenter’s reply? “That’s very nice for you, but I prefer to live my life on a more scientific basis.”

Such use of the term “science” or “scientific” is very common and seems to be stuck in a level of confidence and understanding that comes about only after experiments have been conducted. Yet, ironically, it’s often used to reject topics where little to no comprehensive experiments have even been conducted so the field of possibility should be wide open not shut down.

For a more real-world example, see Kiera Butler’s Mother Jones article “Enough Already with the Bone Broth Hype.” This article (which reads more like an editorial) frames itself as a point-by-point refutation of health claims about bone broth. Each claim is paired with a negative ‘answer.’

For example, in the article we find, “Claim #4: Drinking bone broth will make you look younger. False” yet nothing in the paragraph below the ‘false’ statement actually proves this claim false. Butler, herself, admits that “the only actual study on bone broth is form 1934.” Which – again – should suggest that the field of possibility is wide open.

I can understand wanting to protect people from a ‘snake oil’ phenomenon, but if that were the main goal – a much more helpful way to frame the article would have been something like this;

We hear a lot of claims about the healing properties of bone brother, such as: <insert claims>. Here’s the scientific studies we do have on bone broth. The only other evidence we have are anecdotes from proponents such as <insert some anecdotes>. As there are no lab studies that corroborate these claims, readers will have to determine themselves how seriously to take them.

The way the original article reads it seems like personal anecdotes are unreliable as a source of information. However, when we don’t have scientific studies to corroborate a claim (which is quite common), the only thing we do have are anecdotes. Anecdotes are not inherently false or untrue – in fact, witnesses to the scene of a crime share their anecdotes of what happened in court and this is considered evaluated by the judge / jury in relation to the case (although some people think it shouldn’t be). There are things that can discredit a witness, but merely being a witness or providing an anecdote of your experience is not automatically ‘incredible.’

What’s most unhelpful about this use of ‘science’ is that it cuts off discussion instead of allowing more ideas to percolate around in our brains and spark new ways of thinking. ‘Open’ thought is the creative climate that allows the generation of hypotheses for the scientific method to test – if we don’t allow ourselves that, it’s a wonder we ever discover anything new.

Presidential Science

Additionally, before we get too ‘high-minded’ about the objectivity of scientific research and experimentation we should consider that a significant percentage of scientific research in this country is undertaken with the ultimate goal of creating a profitable product. Is the intention to make people’s lives better? Yes, at a price.

An East Bay Express article reprinted on alternet.org noted an increase in corporate funded research at UC Berkeley and at many Universities across the nation. The article comments, “For decades, much of the research on campus was federally funded and driven primarily by scientific curiosity. The results of this basic research allowed the public to better understand such concepts as genetics, the origins of humanity, and the laws of physics. It also won UC Berkely numerous Nobel prizes”

The article goes on to assert that, “The rise of corporate funding… has spawned a dramatic increase in the amount of applied research on campus. It’s typically funded by industry and aims to develop products that can be quickly brought to market – and create corporate profits”

These days, unless there’s a demonstrable commercial application for research, it’s unlikely to get funding. And yet, on the flipside, it is the people who have bucked tradition and –in some cases – scrounged together studies, data, and experiments in the face of skepticism and discouragement who have made some fantastic breakthroughs.

A great example is the discovery that ulcers and gastritis were, in some cases, caused by the microbe Heliobacter Pylori. As Discover magazine put it in a April 2010 article, “The medical elite thought they knew what caused ulcers and stomach cancer. But they were wrong – and did not want to hear the answer that was right.”[3]

The article further goes on to describe that physician Barry Marshall strongly suspected that ulcers were caused by the bacteria, but “unable to make his case in studies with lab mice (because H. pylori affects only primates) and prohibited from experimenting on people, Marshall grew desperate. Finally he ran an experiment on the only human patient he could ethically recruit: himself. He took some H. pylori from the gut of an ailing patient, stirred it into a broth, and drank it.”

And before we think that we’d be ‘in the dark ages’ without our rigorous scientific experiments under lab conditions, let’s not forget the number of important discoveries that were made by accident. No less than plastic, the microwave, x-rays, matches, gunpowder, nuclear fission and, of course, penicillin. The stories behind this list and seventeen more discoveries like it can be found at Mental Floss

Those discoveries did not come from “science” as the ironclad authority by which all ‘crazy’ ideas are judged and found wanting – they represent the Hermaion – the ‘accidental find’ brought to us by the powerful influence of the Trickster. (To read more about the Trickster see the post Trickster Makes this Road)

How, then, should we think about ‘Science’?

I vote that we take a new look at an old way of thinking about science – which is merely to treat it as a process by which knowledge is gathered and ideas are tested. This does not mean we should ignore scientific studies on a particular subject; by all means we should examine them rigorously with the goal of enhancing our own understanding.

If we internalize the wisdom of the Jung quote that started this post we can see science as a useful and important tool for understanding our world, but not the only one.

There are probably hundreds of aspects of our daily lives that haven’t been ‘scientifically proven’ under lab conditions and yet we feel no need to decry them as false and unsubstantiated because they are present to our regular experience.

In my high school anthropology class I learned that Eskimos have more than a dozen words to describe snow and ice. At the time that sounded incredible – as far as I was concerned the only word for snow was “snow”! Over time and observation, however, I learned that it’s possible to differentiate between varying types of snow – even here in Chicago.

Have all the various types of snow been scientifically studied and classified under lab conditions? Probably not. The difference is subtle, if we’re not paying attention, we’ll miss it – but that there are different types of precipitation that could be categorized as ‘snow’ is an observable phenomenon. I would argue the same way for “Energy” (as previously discussed on the blog in this series) – it’s subtle, and takes a little effort to experience, so our tendency is to say ‘it doesn’t exist.’ However, it can be as present and observable in our regular experience as snow.

If you only feel on safe territory discussing and absorbing ideas where copious amounts of study and research have already definitively weighed in, challenge yourself by considering why that might be? Why put such a barrier between yourself and the unknown? Are you afraid of being wrong? Looking like a fool? That others will make fun of you?

In quoting ‘science,’ how scientifically rigorous are you? For example, when you read an article quoting scientific studies, do you dig through the studies themselves to determine whether the conclusions drawn in the article are, in fact, supported by the study? Or do you, also, take some things on ‘faith’?

Is the mystic’s report really any less credible than the journalist’s? Both are people reporting their present experience.

When the reports of many show such similarities (as is the case with the mystic experience), we may not have scientific studies that provide documented and detailed understanding, but we run the risk of missing out on something important if we simply ignore.

In dealing with the vast unknown, it is natural and understandable to want the safety and security of repeated results obtained under lab conditions. However, I have found that the most transformative instances of discovery and growth in my own life have come from walking in the direction of uncertainty and discomfort.

Check back in next week – the next post in this series will tackle one of the most controversial topics – evolution.

 

[1] User Story Mapping, Jeff Patton kindle loc 466, O’Reilly

[2] 76 Scientific Benefits of Meditation by Live & Dare and Neuroscience of Mindfulness on MindfulnessMD

[3] Discover Magazine Article, “The Dr. Who Drank Infectious Broth, Gave Himself an Ulcer, and Solved a Medical Mystery.” By Weintraub, Pamela, published Thursday April 8th 2010.

A Few Words on the Concept of ‘Allowing.’

A couple years ago, my husband came across me reading Michael Newton’s book, Destiny of Souls and asked me incredulously, “Do you really believe that stuff?” I paused, a little taken aback, since I hadn’t even thought about it. I was reading the book, it was interesting, but did I believe it? In the moment I couldn’t really answer him, but I also couldn’t explain why I couldn’t answer him.

The answer wasn’t ‘yes, I believe it,’ but it wasn’t ‘no’ either. I grappled with how to explain. The moment passed awkwardly, but this question bounced around in the back of my head for quite some months before eventually colliding with another concept that had been germinating over a number of years; the concept of allowing.

Periodically there are concepts that bounce around in the ‘connection space.’ What does that mean? 🙂  Well, basically, a concept will come and it will seem like our ‘own’ (in this case, allowing seemed like ‘my own.’), but then the concept will start to pop up everywhere. I started hearing the word “allow” in the language of various figures in the spiritual space and realized it was one of those concepts that was coming into general consciousness for all of us together.

Allow Me

When the idea of allowing originally occurred to me, personally, however, it first manifested in noticing that we can sometimes fall into patterns of behavior with each other. I experience this with my birth family. In general, my attitude and behavior towards others is fairly consistent between work, home, and social engagements. But I noticed that, when I visit the family I grew up in, especially when we were all together, I unconsciously reverted to outmoded attitudes and behaviors.

I found myself getting riled up about things that would never faze me at work and, somehow, we’d all end up having the same old exchanges; if not the same-in-subject then the same-in-type. Although we had all grown and changed in the years since we lived under the same roof, we treated each other the same.

We often want people to change, and in some cases maybe they do, but our actions towards them, the limiting beliefs we have already set towards them, do not always allow space for them to behave differently with us than they always have.

The co-worker that we think never has anything useful to say walks down the aisle and already our defenses are up – What does he want? Can’t he see I’m doing something important? Why does he always waste my time with inconsequential things? What we do not see is how our own feelings impact the way we communicate with them.

The look on our face, the impatience in our tone, the other person may pick up these subtle emotional (or energetic) nuances and it may consequently affect their behavior towards us. Our co-worker may be thinking, she never listens to me! She doesn’t even try to understand what I’m saying. I can tell just by looking at her face that she wishes she were somewhere else. Why do I even bother?

Thus we may find ourselves going round in circles, each silently blaming the other for the way the exchange is going.   We think they never change and they think we never do. If we treated every exchange as the opportunity for something new to happen, one day it actually might.

Sit Back and Relax

Allowing is a very passive activity. We tend to think more highly of taking “ACTION” than being passive, but sometimes we can miss important things by being too active in our thinking. In our rush to action, we may be too quick to either accept something or reject it. In contrast, to allow is to put an idea in a suspended space where it can still be of use without having to commit to it.

One good symbolic aid to the concept of ‘allowing’ is to think of a house. If you invite a guest into your home then they can come in, but they can only stay as long as you allow and then they are required to leave. Having a guest over does not mean they are going to live with you forever.

We can act like houses when it comes to information. If it isn’t something we understand or if it doesn’t fit into our belief system, we may not even allow it to visit – or bump around in our conscious or unconscious mind (although the unconscious mind will often make its own decisions about these things).

If we do not allow things to come into our space, then we cannot use them to make connections later, we cannot use them to create new things or build a new understanding. A wonderful example of this shows up in Lewis Hyde’s book, Trickster Makes This World related to discovery of Pluto’s moon.

“In 1978, at the US Naval Observatory, James Christy was working on describing Pluto’s orbit. One of his photographs showed an elongated image of the planet; he was about to discard it when he came upon another photo in the archives labeled: ‘Pluto image. Elongated. Plate no good. Reject.” Christy made a collection of such plates and in this way discovered that the elongation was not an accident. Pluto had a moon.” (page 99)

The previous scientists who discovered the orbit irregularities that pointed to Pluto’s moon simply did not allow themselves to consider the discrepancies they found to be meaningful. They discarded something that would have led them to a new discovery simply because they could not allow for their own findings to be true in the face of what they had previously been taught.

Impossible or I’m possible?

It was this tension that I was struggling with when my husband asked me if I believed the reports of Michael Newton’s subjects. The tension between defaulting to what is ‘commonly accepted to be true’ and opening myself up to something wildly different and new-to-me.[1]

I believed that Newton’s subjects were reporting honestly – at least, I didn’t think anyone was trying to ‘pull the wool’ over the readers’ eyes. Did I believe they were reporting actual experiences of life between lives? I wouldn’t say that I believe it, but I could allow for it to be true.

I could allow the possibility and thus I could take all those reports in and let them bump around in my consciousness and connect up with other ideas to build new and interesting pictures and since my reading of those books that has certainly happened. Ideas and concepts from those books have sparked several of my best blog posts.

Creativity and innovation flow from the space of allowing. The more ‘locked down’ our concept of reality is, the less we can dream a different world into being. About ‘80%’ of what I write about is in this “allowing” space for me. The things I truly believe are minimal, but there are all these ideas floating around that I allow for and can therefore write seriously about.

I wasn’t always this ‘open-minded,’ however. A decade ago I found myself on the other side of the coin. 🙂 At the time, the director of our small credit department at a mid-size company said, “Wouldn’t it be great if, when we got a phone call from an incoming customer if the computer would automatically bring up the customer’s account so all that information was there when we needed it?”

Voice over IP was only coming on to the scene at the time, certainly I wasn’t familiar with it, and I thought, “This crazy old guy – he has no idea that telephones and computers operate so differently that that would never be possible.” And yet, that technology was probably possible even then and it’s certainly here, now.

When I started to see examples of what he was talking about come into use, I realized that it had been me who was dreaming to small. I had rejected the idea outright, instead of allowing it to come into my consciousness and build. In this particular case it’s doubtful that anything tangible would have happened differently if I had acted differently, but it represented a pattern of behavior I would not have recognized in myself otherwise.

The next time you hear a new idea that sounds outrageous and impossible, see if you can avoid rejecting it outright. Try putting it in a suspended place where it’s perfectly okay for it to remain ‘possible’ until there is definitive evidence proving that it is not. You don’t have to believe it, but avoid rejecting it outright. (This holds true even for ideas we don’t like! 🙂 ) Over time you will find that these ideas will take on a life of their own and lead you to more interesting ideas and experiences!

[1] I mention allowing as one of those concepts that comes through connection and starts to inform general consciousness. “Tension” – as in balancing the ‘tension’ between holding two opposing ideas to be true or possible – seems to me to be the next germinating idea that is going to become relevant within the next 5-10 years…

One Quick Exercise to Start ‘Feeling’ Your Own Energy

I know I said the last installment was the end of our Energy series on the blog. However, I don’t feel right dropping a post series making elaborate claims about the nature of Energy and the Universe without providing at least a little bit of ‘how-to.’ (if you haven’t read any of the other installments in this series it starts <here>)

I’m tempted to write that it’s better to have some meditation practice before you start trying to feel your own energy, but my own history reminds me that my first introduction to energy came without any previous meditation practice. In fact, it was the informal study of my own energy that led me to meditation – not the other way around.

Becoming energy sensitive is an exercise in developing comfort with subtlety. Too often we think something doesn’t exist if it doesn’t hit us over the head. Or my personal favorite, “if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist.”

That may be true for commercial purposes or a graduate thesis… but there are plenty of stars and galaxies and all sorts of things in the Universe we can’t measure with current scientific technology that very much do exist.

As I mentioned in the second installment of the Energy series – there are certainly times where I have struggled with my own energy sensitivity; doubting it.

A few months ago, though, as I quietly worked at my desk in the office, all I could hear was the ticking of the clock on the wall. It was so loud I couldn’t concentrate. I actually had to get up and walk away for a few minutes. In a moment of association, it struck me that the clock was always ticking – just that loud, just that way. It had been for years and years, I just didn’t always hear it.

Energy sensitivity is like this. When we’re distracted, when our attention is full of other things, we don’t notice our energy, even if we are familiar with energy-sensitivity. For people who are unaware of their energy, then, it’s fairly easy to ignore. We shouldn’t mistake subtlety with non-existence, however.

Most people actually do have experience with energy sensitivity, they just don’t think of it that way. The pain in our heart from a terrible break-up or loss of a loved one, the tingly feeling that comes with a new romance, gut feelings, some types of anxiety – the physical sensations associated with all of these are expressions of what’s going on in our energy field.

If you’re interested in starting to develop your own energy-sensitivity, I recommend the (fairly standard) exercise below.

Okay, So…. How do I do it?

Allow yourself about fifteen minutes in a quiet place (where you will not be disturbed) to try this exercise. That’s fifteen real minutes not five ‘this-feels-like-forever-surely-it’s-been-fifteen’ minutes.  🙂

If you’re the type of person to be constantly checking the clock or be worried that you should be spending your time doing “more important” things, set a timer on your phone or stove or whatever so that you are able to temporarily release the clock-anxiety.

It is critical to success of this exercise that you be able to ‘get out of your head’ – if you’re worried about how much time you have, all the things you need to do, or re-hashing some event at work, home, school, etc – you are unlikely to be able to do that.

The easiest way I have found to developing initial energy sensitivity is to stand or sit (whatever is going to be less distracting) with your palms about three-to-five inches apart in front of your heart.

Some recommend rubbing your palms together until they get all tingly and warm. This can be very helpful in the beginning as it will get your attention out of your head and into your palms – where it needs to be.

Try to move your palms as close together as you can without actually touching. Hold them there. Does it feel as if the surface of your palms or fingers are pulling together? The initial sensation to ‘feel’ for is an almost magnetic attraction between the palms of your hands.

Now slowly pull them apart… what happens to that magnetic sensation as you pull? Stop at about eight inches apart – keeping your concentration on the insides of your hands only – start moving your hands close together again.

Do you feel any resistance? (Keeping to the magnetic imagery – it may feel like you’ve flipped two magnets so that they are ‘like-to-like’ and are pushing back against each other).

Once you’ve developed some initial ‘magnetic’ sensation¸ slowly move your hands towards and away from each other, as if you were clapping in slow motion. Focus acutely on the sensation between your palms and how it changes. You should start to feel as if the air between your palms develops a ‘taffy-like’ quality.

Don’t worry if you don’t feel anything the first time you try. Spend fifteen minutes really trying this exercise every day for a week and I’m fairly certain you’ll feel something by the end of the seven day period.

The people that I’ve recommended this exercise to usually get so freaked out the first time they feel something that the minute they become cognizant, it’s gone.   If this happens to you, don’t worry. If you’re interested, keep trying. As with anything in life, practicing will help your energy sensitivity to develop. Soon you’ll be able to ‘hold’ the sensation with full cognizance.

Once you’ve developed a high degree of confidence working with the energy between your hands, you can move on to exploring the energy around your full body and in your chakras. I will post some exercises for those a few months down the line.

It’s important for me to disclose that I am not an energy master, by any definition. I have become familiar with my own energy and that of the “Universe” in various ways at varying levels across a number of years of casual observation and lay practice.

Energy-sensitivity is indispensable in walking the spiritual path for a number of reasons, but it is not synonymous with the spiritual path (ie – simply developing your energetic abilities does not equate to ‘walking the Spiritual Path’).

Resources for further study

If you’re looking for some teachers who specialize in energy development, you may want to check out the following resources;

Sonia Choquette – On the surface, Sonia Choquette’s work is about intuition, but get just a bit more in-depth and it’s all based in energy and vibration. I have taken some incredibly helpful, fulfilling online classes with Sonia Choquette. I’ve enjoyed a few of her books and I’ve twice gone to her for personal appointments at key junctures in my life.

Barbara Brennan School of Healing – I have never personally taken any internet or live classes with Barbara Brennan, but her book Hands of Light was the first book I ever read about energy back in 1995.

Deborah King – A well known name in the world of energy healing.  I have taken some online energy classes from her website – fascinating stuff!

What is Energy? – Part 5 – A Side-by-Side comparison between Energy and The Force

Please note: “The Force,” “Jedi,” “Star Wars,” and a host of other related terms are trademarked by LucasFilm / Disney. Additionally, the opinions and views expressed in the below article are the author’s own and not associated or endorsed in any way by LucasFilm or Disney. Lastly, the goal of the articles in this series is to intellectually compare an idea from the fictional Star Wars universe with a concept from our actual universe – not to imply that these two things are the same.

Welcome to our last (I promise!) installment in the side-by-side comparison between The Force and the concept I refer to on the blog as Energy. In this last installment we’ll take on the 2nd half of the below quote from the Wikipedia Article (see last week’s post for the first half) and we’ll end by summing up the discussion at the root of this series.

“A number of other paranormal, psionic Force powers are demonstrated in the film series, including telekinesis, levitation, hypnosis, and mind control, as well as extra sensory perception based abilities such as telepathy, clairvoyance, and enhanced empathy.” (underlining mine)

Telepathy

Google defines Telepathy as, “the supposed communication of thoughts or ideas by means other than the known senses.”

We tend to think of our brains as a ‘contained’ space and our thoughts as private. If we return to the premise that ‘everything is made up of energy’ and add to that the idea that we are able to process the information in that energy to varying degrees of ability, our brains can be quite ‘leaky.’ I’m certain we have all been in a situation where a song is in our head and someone else in the room starts humming or singing it. Alternatively, we might watch someone else struggle to find a word, we ‘think’ the word in our mind, and suddenly they have it.

Telepathy is an obvious similarity between The Force and Energy and is one that most of us experience in subtle ways without even realizing it. Have you ever interacted with someone where there is such mutual understanding between the two of you that words seem only supplemental? Even words are energy. When two people are energetically in tune there are multiple levels of energetic communication between them; spoken words are only one level.

In contrast, have you ever interacted with someone where you had an incredibly difficult time communicating? You understood all the words they were using, but you just couldn’t understand them? Or, they seemed to be unable to understand you? When two people are not energetically in tune, the energetic dissonance gets in the way of communication and spoken words can rarely bridge the gap.

On a side note, if we are looking for irrefutable ‘proof’ of telepathy – perhaps we ought to consider that most people minds (including our own) are hardly very clear and focused. When we are not clear ‘senders’ of signals and not clear ‘receivers’ how can we expect to be able to practice telepathy in a way that would hold up to ‘lab’ testing conditions?[1]   Although it’s not as obviously experienced with Energy as it is with The Force, telepathic ability is a similarity between the two

Clairvoyance

Google defines Clairvoyance as, “the supposed facility of perceiving events in the future or beyond normal sensory contact.”

Like telepathy, clairvoyance is an obvious similarity between The Force and Energy. Our energetic connection opens a channel to perceive situations and events in a manner beyond our cognitive reference. As introduced in the initial installment of this series – if everything is made up of energy and we are able to connect into that energy, then unlimited amounts of information are available to us.

The challenge in the physical world is in increasing our awareness of this connection and broadening our ability to process the information that comes through so that we can cognitively make use of it. On a personal level, I would never consider myself a psychic,[2] however, I have experiences that would qualify as ‘clairvoyant’ on a fairly regular basis.

Enhanced Empathy

We touched on this subject in the very first section, so I won’t repeat what was said there. However, I have found that, through connection, my sense of empathy in general has increased.

Huston Smith writes in The World’s Religions, “Seeing all things under the aspect of eternity would make one objective toward oneself… Personal failure would be as small a cause for concern as playing the role of loser in a summer theater performance. How could one feel disappointed at one’s own defeat if one experienced the victor’s joy as also one’s own; how could being passed over for a promotion touch one if one’s competitor’s success were enjoyed vicariously?”[3]

To be fair, my experience of enhanced empathy has been more that I feel another’s defeat and sorrow to such a degree that it dampens any victory. In general, it has turned me into a person who is not very competitive. I am also highly moved when I witness kindness and love between people; not romantic love, but the kind that gives without any expectation of return.

I want to be careful, here, not to suggest that I have some sortof emotional mastery that abnegates the self in favor of the collective. I still very much have a self – and, in fact, I like having a self. My self still has concerns about others’ perceptions, about being loved, about doing the right thing, etc.

Enhanced empathy is not synonymous with being a ‘perfect person.’ It’s not even, necessarily, always a desirable quality. Famed spiritualist Sonia Choquette says highly empathic individuals often have weak psychic boundaries. They let other people’s emotions influence them in, sometimes, unhealthy ways. In my case that’s very likely to be true, I’m working on my energetic boundaries. In any case, enhanced empathy is a similarity between ‘The Force’ and ‘Energy.’

The Sith are able to generate a lightning-like manifestation of the dark side of the Force that can be used either in combat or as an instrument of torture, as demonstrated by the Emperor in Return of the Jedi (1983).[13]

I’ve got nothing on this one. I’ve never seen anyone control or generate lightning using energy.  🙂 I suppose it’s possible, but let’s leave this one in the ‘difference’ category for now.

Conversely, Yoda demonstrates an ability to absorb, dissipate and deflect these energy attacks in Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005).[4]

What I can say about this ability, from my own personal experience, is that I tend to feel a build-up of intense, ‘crackly’ energy when a strong storm is coming (as one example). When that happens, the Energy needs an outlet, and I find I need to ‘ground’ it (by directing the flow of energy to the Earth), cry, or do something physically draining (dance, running, etc.). If I don’t do these things, I end up fighting with someone – the energy comes out as aggression.

When I direct the energy to flow through me instead of simply trying to absorb it or manage it internally, I feel much better. Based on that, I can imagine a master energy practitioner (the equivalent of a Yoda, for example) being able to masterfully redirect energy from a direct energetic ‘attack.’ I consider this capability a similarity between The Force and Energy.

Practice, Patience, and Perseverance

The development and use of Force abilities requires intense willpower, discipline, and concentration, which becomes easier with practice. Use of the Force requires considerable effort and energy, and can be physically draining.

This is definitely true of both Energy and The Force. What the Star Wars series alludes to, but the watcher does not really experience firsthand, is that working with Energy takes a tremendous amount of effort and patience. Even for people with talent in one particular area, I imagine they have to put in considerable effort to expand their experience of Energy.

In the newest installment of the Star Wars movies, The Force Awakens, the main character, Rey seems to just “come into her abilities” without a lot of training or effort. In contrast, in the initial trilogy, Luke spends most of The Empire Strikes Back in training with Yoda. The latter aligns much more closely, in terms of effort required, to my experience working with Energy.

Additionally, in the Star Wars Universe, it seems that all or at least many of the properties of The Force are available simultaneously to ‘force-sensitive’ individuals. Maybe I’m just ridiculously untalented in this area, but Energy talent does not appear to manifest the same way.

Even when people have a strong, natal talent for working with energy it seems to be higher in one or two categories rather than spread across all of them. For example, one person might be highly clairvoyant where another is highly empathic. However, it’s certainly possible, if people were to begin training in such practices on a regular and consistent basis, that we might see more people with abilities across the full spectrum.

After a side-by-side comparison, I see many similarities between what I call Energy and George Lucas’ concept of The Force in the Star Wars universe. There are certainly differences also. One obvious difference, though, is that one belongs to a fictional world where its properties can expand to whatever the plot requires.

The other is a real element of the corporeal universe. While we can all train ourselves to consult at varying levels of ability, the properties of Energy are still bound by the physical laws of the Universe.

I hope you have enjoyed this series. Now that we’ve gone through the basics on Energy, hopefully it will make more sense (if it hasn’t already) where it comes up on the blog.

[1] See the paragraph in ‘The Art of Finding’ about how ‘performance anxiety’ can interfere with tapping into our subtle abilities.

[2] See the post “What does it mean to be psychic” for more details on this

[3] The World’s Religions; Smith, Huston; 1991; Harper Collins; p23

What is Energy – Part 4 – A Side-by-Side Comparison between Energy and The Force

Please note: “The Force,” “Jedi,” “Star Wars,” and a host of other related terms are trademarked by LucasFilm / Disney. Additionally, the opinions and views expressed in the below article are the author’s own and not associated or endorsed in any way by LucasFilm or Disney. Lastly, the goal of the articles in this series is to intellectually compare an idea from the fictional Star Wars universe with a concept from our actual universe – not to imply that these two things are the same.

Welcome to the next installment of our side-by-side comparison between The Force from the Star Wars universe and Energy from our universe. J This week we’ll tackle the first half of the below quote from the Wikipedia article on The Force.

“A number of other paranormal, psionic Force powers are demonstrated in the film series, including telekinesis, levitation, hypnosis, and mind control, as well as extra sensory perception based abilities such as telepathy, clairvoyance, and enhanced empathy.”

Let’s take these one by one;

Telekinesis

Have I ever been able to call a lightsaber to my side just by reaching out my hand? No. However, before we move on from the subject of telekinesis, let’s dig a little deeper into this idea.

Google defines Telekinesis as, “the supposed ability to move objects at a distance by mental or non-physical means.” If we consider the Universe to be made up of energy – whether fixed or fluid (Ie, in a fluid energetic state or fixed in matter) and, if we recognize that it is possible to influence that energy in the future through our own energetic connection, that – in a way – is a type of telekinesis.

Also, I have had a couple of odd experiences in my life where it seems almost as if I have ‘called’ things to my side. In one example, I was sitting in our family living room meditating on the middle of the carpet and thinking about this small Turquoise rock I had lost. I had lost it months before (maybe even more than a year) with no idea of what happened to it.

When I opened my eyes at the end of the meditation, and looked down at my hand on the carpet, there was the rock! I had been meditating in the middle of our living room – one of the most high-traffic rooms in the house, so it’s fairly impossible that the rock had just been sitting there all this time. I could imagine that someone walked by and ‘dropped’ it – but no one in my family is really big on carrying small rocks about. This is still a mystery to me, but it’s a ‘data point’[1] in the direction of being able to move objects energetically.

If we accept this broader view of telekinesis, this ‘power’ could be a similarity between Energy and The Force. However, if we focus only on the specific telekinetic actions of the characters in the series; literally moving objects through space in the moment, I have never witnessed nor experienced that directly… so that would be a difference between these two elements.

Levitation

Levitation is certainly something that mystics have claimed to be able to do. I have never levitated, nor have I ever seen anyone levitate.   On the other hand, sometimes during meditation I have felt this incredible ‘lightness of being,’ an intense pull upward that made it feel like I could levitate if I just went a little further along that path. I could see how that feeling, alone, would suggest levitation may be possible using energy. I have never personally achieved it, though, so let’s leave this in the ‘difference’ category for now.

Hypnosis & Mind Control

A further quote from the Wikipedia article; “They are also able to influence and control the minds of others by making use of the “Jedi mind trick”, or using the Force to implant suggestions with which the subject is compelled to comply.[8]

I have a strong negative reaction to the word ‘control.’ However, Energy can definitely be used to influence others. I have certainly ended up accidentally influencing co-workers, loved ones, and friends. The idea of deliberately influencing another person energetically feels a bit unethical, though, so I honestly have not tried to do that.[2]

On the other hand, I do believe I’ve been on the receiving end of such influence. In January of 2013, I found a meditation center that I briefly considered attending / joining. At the time, I was searching for a Spiritual Path mentor, and I had hoped to have found one there. After a couple of visits, though, I came to believe that the leader of the center was (however purely intentioned) trying to manipulate my energy.

The first time I visited, I could feel him digging around in my heart chakra. I’m not familiar enough with the mechanics of energy work to know whether he was just ‘opening up’ old trunks and closets and things I had closed off or whether he was deliberately wreaking havoc, but I came out of the experience feeling deep heart chakra pain and crying the whole drive home.

Unsure of whether I’d had a deeply cathartic energy experience or a deeply wounding one (hey, sometimes pain is good for you, right?), I went back once more. This time, when asked to wait in a private waiting room, every chair I sat in caused an intense energetic reaction (I’ve written about this experience in more detail in the post “Out of My Mind“). I concluded that some very intense energetic influence was happening at that practice. Already out of my depth and unsure how long I’d be able to hold my own, I withdrew.

Based on that (and other) experiences, I could definitely imagine that an unscrupulous energy worker could heavily influence or ‘control’ a person who is unaware of energetic influence and in a vulnerable place emotionally. Would it be as obvious an influence as when Rey, in The Force Awakens, says “You will release my restraints” and the storm troopers comply? It’s hard to say.

I imagine that a master energy practitioner (which I am nowhere near) would probably be acting enough in harmony with the flow of energy that they would be able to avoid getting into a situation where they would need to push that hard. If they needed to, could they? Probably. I would sort this ability into the ‘similarity’ category.

That rounds out our discussion for this week – in our last entry, next week, we’ll cover telepathy, clairvoyance, enhanced empathy, and a few miscellaneous items.

[1] See the post “Sink or Swim” for more on the significance of data points in spiritual path work

[2] I imagine if I or my family were ever in danger, however, all those scruples of “not influencing someone energetically” would go out the window – I would definitely try.

What is Energy? – Part 3 – A Side-by-Side comparison of Energy & the Force

Please note: “The Force,” “Jedi,” “Star Wars,” and a host of other related terms are trademarked by LucasFilm / Disney. Additionally, the opinions and views expressed in the below article are the author’s own and not associated or endorsed in any way by LucasFilm or Disney. Lastly, the goal of the articles in this series is to intellectually compare an idea from the fictional Star Wars universe with a concept from our actual universe – not to imply that these two things are the same.

What About All the ‘powers’ associated with The Force in Star Wars? Does working with Energy come with those also?

In the previous two posts, we explored Energy, at a high level, in comparison with George Lucas’ concept of The Force and we covered my personal discovery of Energy as an initiation point on my Spiritual Path. In this next installment, we will do a side by side comparison of the ‘powers’ associated with The Force from the Star Wars Universe compared to those associated with the concept I refer to as Energy.

Initially I planned for this to be one long post, but it topped out above 3,000 words and I have since decided to break it up into three sections; parts 3,4, & 5. Using the Wikipedia entry as our guide (I know that’s hardly exhaustive if you’re a Star Wars aficionado, but it provides an acceptable entry point) let’s look at some of the features of The Force;

“As the Force connects all living things, Force-sensitive individuals may feel what is called a “disturbance in the Force” when death or suffering occurs on a massive scale

Force-sensitive individuals may be able to sense each other’s presence and emotions across distances, as Luke and Princess Leia do in The Empire Strikes Back.”

I’m going to take these two together because my experience with them has been fundamentally related. I do tend to feel pain or ‘a disturbance’ in my heart chakra when someone I love is in trouble. I have also noticed this sensation in my heart chakra during times of extreme distress on a national and global scale; September 11th 2001 specifically comes to mind.

It’s hard to parse out whether this feeling is attributable to mere ‘fear’ on my own part or if it’s triggered by the energetic connection. Additionally, I’ve had a number of apparent ‘false positives’ – where I feel this disturbance with no readily identifiable cause. My ability to process what I get through my energetic connection into ‘sensible’ information is still developing so sometimes I feel things without knowing why.

Theoretically, if we are all energetically connected and we are mindful of that connection, we could certainly ‘sense’ things via that channel. Based on my own experience and understanding, this is a similarity between Energy and The Force.

“In A New Hope, the Force aids Luke in launching proton torpedoes with precision into a two-meter-wide thermal exhaust port on the Death Star.[3]

We could say that Luke uses his ‘intuition’ to help him launch the proton torpedoes. However, as much as I appreciate intuition, I don’t think the term itself is very self-explanatory. Another way to look at the situation is this; Luke’s energetic self is connected to all the other energy of the universe and therefore is more informed than his brain.

When he trains himself to listen to his energy body without his logical mind interfering he’s able to use that energetic information to gain more accuracy in hitting his target. The energy body informs the physical body more quickly than it informs the cognitive part of the brain.

The body is not interested in processing information, it leaves that to the brain. The body acts on information. On a personal note, I associate this ‘power’ with the ‘art of finding.’ When I go into ‘finding’ mode, I deliberately bring down my logic mind and visual dominance and let my energy field direct me. Check out the post on this subject for more detail.

Another exercise I have tried related to this is walking through narrow hallways with my eyes closed (slowly!) to train myself to feel with my energy where the walls are. Thus, I consider this ability to also be in common between both Energy and The Force.

Count Dooku, Emperor Palpatine and Yoda, despite age or size, are able to competently fight younger or larger opponents than themselves in the Star Wars prequel trilogy of films.[4]

This one is not that much of a stretch. Anyone who is familiar with the Martial Arts will probably have heard stories about smaller and – perceptibly – weaker individuals defeating larger or younger opponents. Martial Arts are heavily based in the concept I refer to as Energy – in Chinese based martial arts, the root is ‘chi’ or ‘qi’ which means breath, but is essentially synonymous with my use of energy (If you read last week’s installment, I mentioned that Tai-Chi was my entry point in discovering and practicing with my energy). In the Japanese tradition this translates to ‘ki’ as in Hap-ki-do or Ai-ki-do.

When the energy body and the physical body are in harmony and allowed to move without the logical mind interfering, truly amazing things can happen. I vote this as another one in the ‘similarity’ category.

Next week we’ll compare Energy and The Force on telekinesis, levitation, hypnosis, and mind control. Although all of the ‘powers’ we tackled this week seem to be similarities, next week we’ll find some differences. As a reminder, the purpose of this post and all others in this series is to intellectually compare Energy with The Force, not to imply that these two are the same thing.

What is ‘Energy’? – Part 2 – My Journey

In last week’s installment we introduced the concept of Energy and focused on a high-level comparison of Energy and the Star Wars concept of The Force. This week I want to take a step back and cover this topic on a more personal level because it is my own personal experience of Energy that has driven my desire to understand it, explore it, and share about it.

Twenty years ago, I had my very first awakening to this energy that connects us all.

Barely seventeen, I attended a Tai-Chi workshop run by one of my high school English teachers. She instructed us to rub our hands together to generate some heat (and presumably electricity) and hold them a few inches apart facing palm to palm.

We were then instructed to move our hands towards and away from each other to see if we could ‘feel’ anything. I gasped as I felt the air thicken between my palms into a substance like magnetic taffy. Other gasps in the room suggested that I wasn’t the only one having an otherworldly experience. What was this?

I went home and spent hours just playing with this substance. Could I feel it without rubbing my hands together? What happened if I hovered the palms of my hands over other parts of my body? Could I stretch it to be ‘bigger’ or condense it? Little did I know that I had awakened to a whole new way to experience my own existence that would permeate the rest of my life thus far.

The next day I went to school and excitedly approached my fellow students from the Tai-Chi class. To my dismay, each one I spoke with insisted that they hadn’t felt anything. Disheartened and thrown into doubt, I began to question what I had felt. Had it all been my imagination?

My initial enthusiasm and desire to share gave way to a quiet, individual exploration – the most dangerous kind. When I got home that evening I again spent hours ‘playing’ with ‘my chi.’   I practiced ‘sharing energy’ with select, trusted friends always focusing on deepening my awareness of how the energy moved and changed.

Although my friends said that they could feel it too when we shared energy, they didn’t seem to have nearly the same drive to understand it that I did. I felt confused, weird, and alone. It’s difficult to fathom this experience today because we are all so tapped into the internet that it’s fairly easy to find other people or sources of information wherever our interests lie. But in 1995 & 1996 the internet was still in a very raw state and only starting to seep into home use.

The summer of my eighteenth year my heart chakra ‘opened’ or ‘tore’ or something. Of course, at the time, I had no idea what was happening to me. I didn’t even know what a chakra was.

On the recommendation of my English teacher I picked up the book Hands of Light by Barbara Ann Brennan. The book was both exciting and disheartening. Exciting because the work validated my own experience (at least I wasn’t totally crazy). Disheartening because her location in New York seemed a ‘world away’ to a high-school student in Chicago.

Playing With Fire

Based on a section where the author discusses the energy of plants, I decided to try ‘sharing energy’ with some plants. My hope was that they would grow better with the addition of my energy into their field – or, if not that, that maybe I would feel more ‘connected’ to the natural world.

Growing up, there were always plants around. My mother was always growing things. In our breezeway, I found a table full of potential energy-sharing subjects. I chose one larger (but still easy to carry) houseplant and then a smaller plant among a dozen of the same kind obviously waiting to be transplanted.

Late at night, before bed, I took each plant individually (of the two) to my room and sat on the floor sharing energy with the plant for fifteen minutes. I then returned each plant to exactly the space on the table where I found it. I did this every night for about a week, but after not seeing any dramatic changes or results within those days I lost interest a little bit and stopped for a few days.

One day, shortly after I had stopped my energy ‘experiments,’ my mom came down into the basement, obviously distracted. “Two of my plants died” she started, “And it’s the weirdest thing. They’re not dried out or yellow from too much water. There is no sign of a disease, and they were fine a few days ago.  They’re still perfectly green, but brittle like husks – it’s as if whatever made them alive is just ‘gone.’ There are at least a dozen other plants on that table, but none of the other plants were affected. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

As she spoke, I felt a growing dread and I raced up the stairs. In my heart I already knew which two plants it would be. Sure enough, as I looked at the two plants I had been sharing energy with so recently, I could see what my mom meant. I had never seen anything like it either. If I had to describe them, I would say it was like the plants had been ‘flash frozen’ except they weren’t cold and it was the height of summer.

To be fair, it could have just been an incredible coincidence. My home could hardly be equated with ‘lab conditions.’ But the timing and effects were highly suspicious. Two other incidents that happened roughly around the same time cemented my concern that I was ‘messing’ with something I didn’t understand at the risk of potentially disastrous consequences.

We use the expression ‘playing with fire’ for a reason. All the energy forces we know of are similar in this regard – indispensable in a small or moderate quantity, but highly destructive in vast and uncontrollable quantities; like a wildfire, flood, or hurricane. This is not to say that my energy is vast, but I certainly couldn’t control it and it may have seemed quite vast to a houseplant. I decided to stop experimenting.

Where to go From There

Despite my departure from actively ‘practicing’ with my energy, I continued to meditate and I continued to have energy-related experiences. I had psychic flashes where I suddenly ‘knew’ things I shouldn’t know. I started spontaneously ‘manifesting’ or ‘co-creating’ – meaning, I suddenly and unexpectedly started getting whatever I asked for, even silly things.

One of the oddest, my junior year in college I had a surreal experience when I was working in a warehouse as part of a summer job. I was standing next to a bunch of wooden pallets which were stacked to near shoulder-height. Another worker approached me quickly with a stack full of pallets piled high. Behind me was the drop-off for the loading dock. I was about to be crushed by the pallets and there was nowhere to go!

I remember moving. I remember lifting one leg and making a twisting movement and putting my foot down and lifting the other leg and twisting. I know it happened fast, so fast that the motion was a blur, even for me. But I remember the movement, kinesthetically. My next full conscious moment I was on the opposite side of the pallet stack. My co-worker looked at me and said, “How did you….?” And then he freaked out yelling, “Did anybody else just see that?”

I started to explain, to show him how I had done it, but when I tried to lift my leg the way I remembered doing, there was no way I could have gotten it high enough to get even my leg over the pallets, nevermind the rest of my body. I was struck silent and confused, I had no idea how I got from one side of all those pallets to the other with the loading dock drop-off right behind me (there was nowhere to step where I had thought I put my foot down.)

That was just one of the dozens of ‘energy’ experiences I have accumulated over the last twenty years. I know I am not alone. There is a relatively silent contingent of people out there who have had experiences just like mine, maybe the experiences are not exactly the same mechanically, but they are the same fundamentally.   One of the important things to take away from this story is that every person I ‘shared’ energy with could also feel that energy. This is a capacity we all have if we’re interested in pursuing it.

My hope is that sharing this part of my story has communicated that – when I talk about Energy on the blog it comes from what has been a deeply personal, tumultuous experience for me. I am constantly grappling with this concept; vacillating between skepticism and devoted faith, struggling to understand it without becoming so attached to the idea that I hang my whole identity on it.

I believe that the Universe is made up of Energy, that that energy is connected, and that the direction and flow of that energy is open to influence not as a result of reading or studying some new-age theory, but because that has been my personal experience in the last twenty years; over and over again.

How does this  Energy I refer to on the blog compare to the concept of The Force in the George Lucas Star Wars universe? Next week we’ll start a side-by-side comparison between the powers exhibited by Star Wars’ characters and the phenomenon that I have experienced with Energy.