I turned 30 over the weekend so I thought I’d share a few lessons I’ve learned along the way, none of which I learned in school.
2. Suffering and pain can be powerful motivators, learn to use them to use as a wake-up call. Suppressing the “bad stuff” with pills or surgery is to cut off part of life itself.
3. Your brain didn’t evolve to keep you happy, it evolved to keep you alive.
4. Chronic stress is toxic. In fact, it is the scourge of the 21st century and is killing us all. Don’t learn to “manage” it; understand it, use it when you need it, but eliminate the rest of it.
5. What happens when we are young, even before conception and birth, programs how we perceive ourselves and the world, deeply influencing our health. It can be undone but it takes intense practice to deny your programming.
6. Awareness is our most important asset. Modern life has settled us into some kind of fugue state but the ability to wake up to our own compulsions, patterns, and issues is true freedom.
7. Most people don’t really care about what I (or anyone else) is doing, they are busy worrying about their own issues and image. So do what you know to be the right thing.
8. People who have been hurt end up hurting others. So don’t be so quick to blame someone without first understanding their history.
9. I don’t think free will exists, but it’s hard not to want it to sometimes.
10. Balance in any given moment is rarely possible for high achievers.But high and low intensity should average out over time. Don’t wait until later to take care of yourself.
11. The strategies we learn to keep us afloat in times of struggle are often our biggest barriers to success later on. I had to learn to keep my mouth shut during school and my training to not ‘rock the boat’. Unlearning this habit has been hard but necessary. “What got you here won’t get you there”.
12. Social media can be a source of inspiration for me; and an even greater source of depression.
13. Being heavily Type A is seriously bad for your health.
14. Repressing your emotions is even worse for your health.
15. Being able to feel true anger is a powerful skill. Most of what we think of as anger (acting out, getting tense, yelling) is actually just fear of anger.
16. Keeping a journal has been the most reliable source of clarity for me. The more notes I take, the happier and clearer I am.
17. Healing yourself is the only way to help others heal. Putting aside my own ego, understanding my own preconceptions and pain has been a difficult but necessary journey and has exponentially grown my ability to help others. And you don’t have to be a practitioner to appreciate this. Self-healing is the best way to be a better parent, partner, or coworker as well.
18. Trauma is the underlying cause of much disease and disorder as far ranging as high blood pressure and heart disease to autoimmunity and chronic pain. In fact, I think it has an important role in nearly all chronic illness.
19. Embrace silence and stillness. Some of the greatest moments are the pauses. Meditation is simply capturing the internal silence out of the noise. This should be taught in school — along with real skills like moving, playing, and problem-solving.
20. Each child should be taught what their emotions and feelings mean and how to feel them without judgement or shame. Emotional intelligence is true intelligence.
21. Western conventional medicine is totally screwed up and often makes problems worse.
22. Marriage is awesome. I think everyone should be in a long-term relationship because it is a teacher of presence and selflessness. Don’t settle, but relationships are only great because we make them great.
23. I grew up on a farm. Sometimes I hated it. But now I think everyone should experience it and I miss it dearly.
24. Corporate food will make you sick, fat, and eventually dead. If you didn’t grow it or kill it yourself, start doing that. Or buy it directly from someone who did. If everyone respected their food sources we’d have a much healthier society.
25. If you have something you feel could help another person, you have a responsibility to share it with the world. Who cares if you are dismissed? Most great ideas are lampooned at first. This is something that I struggle with so often. But it’s not about me. If I help one person wake up to their true self, it’s worth the risk of sharing something.
26. The past and the future are phantoms. I have wasted so much time worrying about that which is outside of any possible control — the future and the past. Trust you can handle whatever comes your way when it comes and not a moment sooner.
27. Live by principles, not methods. This is the opposite of what is taught in school and the internet. Understand function over form.
28. Keeping up with egos is soul-suicide. Do what you feel is right in your gut and live with authenticity. After all, you have to live with your choices why not make ones that feel right in your being.
29. It’s better to feel guilty about saying no than resentment for saying yes. Resentment is an insidious form of dis-ease.
30. We are a part of nature and the more we poison and destroy our environment, the more we poison and destroy ourselves. Will we learn before it’s too late?
I’ll end with my favorite quote from Lao Tzu:
“The sage does not collect precious things.
He does not hold on to ideas.
He brings men back to what they have lost.”
With point #1 you make the observation that mind is body and body is mind. I’ve always liked what the philosopher Mark Johnson wrote regarding the body “We can think and imagine only through our bodies.” But I think you’re mistaken when you equate “mind” or “consciousness” with our thoughts or thinking, when they’re not necessarily the same thing. In order to think, we need to be conscious, but consciousness is not necessarily thinking. In point #6 you introduce “awareness”, part of which is self-awareness, which seems to me to be an elaboration on consciousness, or certainly a key part of consciousness. Again, awareness is not thinking, but could perhaps be described as a heightened state of sensing.
The problem is that many of us think far too much, and we become lost in our thoughts and identify with our thoughts. But we are not our thoughts. Our thoughts are transitory and can be destabilizing and unsettling. The rise of technology has hastened the process of body alienation, but the body is real, solid, and tangible, and can be our salvation. Because the body continues to be devalued, and because many people hate their bodies, many have lost faith in the body as a way to interact with the world. So Mark Johnson’s comment above becomes particularly relevant simply because our connection to our own bodies has been lost or severely eroded, which I imagine is a big problem in your profession.
Thanks for commenting. So I am not equating mind with consciousness and certainly not with thinking. Rather, I am saying that thoughts have a physiological signature just as any other brain activity and that too many people are lost in thought which affects their physiology. I agree wholly with your comment that consciousness is not thinking. In fact, I believe that much of ‘thinking’ is actually subconscious, some of which drifts into consciousness at which point we think we just thought that thought. But that was a subconscious process of which we become aware.
And we are definitely not our thoughts! Totally agree with all you have said. The body is a portal into a higher level of consciousness rather than just a vessel that carries the brain around. We don’t ‘have’ bodies, we ‘are’ bodies! And thru a deeper realization of our internal milieu I believe we can find salvation by opening ourselves to the “good” and the “bad” things we feel in our bodies.
I’ll write more deeply on this subject in the future, and I look forward to your thoughts!
Thanks for sharing these insights. Each carries so much power.
Awareness is in fact, the key to discovery and change. This is a lesson that I learned this year as well.
Your work over the past two years has not only inspired me to search deeper myself (and within myself), but provide me with new perspectives with which to view my existence.
Also – is your birthday on the 18th?
Thank you for the kind words, that is incredibly pleasing for me to read!
My birthday is Dec. 16th actually. Yours on the 18th?
“15. Being able to feel true anger is a powerful skill. Most of what we think of as anger (acting out, getting tense, yelling) is actually just fear of anger.”
Can you please expand on this? I’ve kicked it around in my head, and discussed it with my (far more emotionally intelligent) partner. But neither of us are sure what you mean.
Hi Pat, thanks for the comment. So anger is an emotion and it serves a purpose: it’s a biological response to feeling some form of threat or injustice directed towards us. However, when we’re little we’re often taught against being angry because it has a negative energy associated with it. And it threatens the child’s attachment with their caregivers (‘if I show negative behaviors I may not be helped by my parents’). So the child acts out in bursts of rage as a defense against the anxiety that one feels at being threatened which only reinforces this fear. However, to truly feel anger “is a physiologic experience without acting out.” (Referencing When the Body Says No by Gabor Mate here). It courses through us with a subsequent release in tension. But most people are not emotionally mature enough to handle that increase in energy and it scares them so they act out in fear of what they feel, in an attempt to discharge that fear.
I hope that helps, it’s a complex topic. I suggest checking out Dr. Mate’s book as it discusses this much more aptly than I.