Where Synchronicity & Magic Happen by Peter Metzner


Where Synchronicity & Magic Happen 

By Peter Metzner

I once heard at a Symposium that:  “Genius is focused passion” .

To grow, to develop and become the best at your “art”  is a meaningful calling.  Joseph Campbell writes:  “Art is the making of things well.  The aim of Art is the perfection of the object”. “If you follow your bliss, you will always have your bliss money or not. If you follow money you may lose it and you will have nothing”  (J. Campbell Reflections on the Art of Living” p. 39)

Ideally, to successfully innovate; we need to feel passionate about and love what we do. We also need to feel our work – our “art” is beneficial to others.    That is the rocket fuel that can propel us to new heights.

What keeps teams or people from performing optimally?

Sadly only 30 percent of employees in America feel engaged at work, according to a 2013 report by Gallup.  For many work is a depleting, dispiriting experience, and in may ways, it’s getting worse.  Demand for our time is increasingly exceeding our capacity — draining us of the energy we need to bring our skill and talent fully to life. “Increased competitiveness and a leaner, post-recession work force add to the pressures. The rise of digital technology is perhaps the biggest influence, exposing us to an unprecedented flood of information and requests that we feel compelled to read and respond to at all hours of the day and night”.  (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/01/opinion/sunday/why-you-hate-work.)

To maintain engagement it is important to have enough rest and renewal. Over work, stress and a lack of capacity leads to burnout.  Interpersonal conflict, unaware leadership and not feeling valued or appreciated add to the malaise that causes disengagement, lack of commitment and turnover.

When people and teams feel connected to a shared vision and mission that is inspiring and larger than themselves,  positive energy and appropriate actions result.    When relationships are trusting and safe enough to give and receive feedback and engage in constructive conflict;  everyone becomes “smarter” than anyone one.  Kurt Lewin –  PhD,  a Harvard psychologist found that “When we are  in a supportive environment we are better equipped to deal with the complexities of our working lives”

As times change, technology advances, new applications and opportunities will emerge. Yet, we need to always keep the timeless qualities that make us “successful” and feel fulfilled. Excitement, energy,  common purpose and dedication  come from feeling, that we are doing what we do best and are challenged to better in the service of “something” larger and beneficial to others.

“When completely caught up in something, you become oblivious to the things around you, or to the passage of time.  It is this absorption in what you are doing that frees your unconscious and releases your creative imaginations”.   Rollo May, The Courage to Create

This is the place where synchronicity and “magic”  happens.

 

 

 

 

 

Waking Up From the Trance by Peter Metzner


We are bombarded daily with messages from advertisers, the media, shows, movies, the news,  our families, work, friends, school, churches and  politicians to name a few.  Neuroscience has found that our brain is more active when we are asleep then when we are watching TV.  (Unless we are very selective about what we watch.)   Without being aware, we internalize these messages  thrust-ed upon us every day.   Advertisers use sophisticated classical conditioning techniques to make us mindlessly want things we  don’t need.  As a society, we have been conditioned to be materialistic and view success as having lots of money and “things”.     We see images of what the ideal woman should be, what success looks like, what we should drive and how we should think.    Based on our selection of news programs, our political affiliation or religious orientation as well as our self image,   we automatically seek out information that confirms and conforms to our beliefs.

In his ground breaking book ” What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why you Should do The Opposite, David Desolvo writes:  ” The brain doesn’t merely prefer certainty over ambiguity – it craves it!”  Our need to be right is actually a need to feel right!’   Neurologist Robert Burton calls this a certainty bias which skews our thinking.    Since our brains crave certainty,  we become anxious or threatened  if our world view, religious or political beliefs are challenged.  Even despite compelling evidence to the contrary.  (Disalvo)  Thus differing view points, cultures, religions and ways of living are threatening to many.   Think about it;  if my way of thinking or believing  is right, good and the only way – your way must be wrong.  So if I am good then you must be bad or evil and I should fight evil.. Right?  Or?…

It is easy to see how  religion can be a source of conflict rather than a force  towards healing .  It not that any particular religion is the problem.  It is simply our brains!      Kenneth Wilber, one of the great current thinkers of our time states moral development falls into three distinct stages.  It is all about me (egocentric)  to it is all about us (ethnocentric)  to it is about all of us. (world centric)  This parallels  Kohlberg’s three levels of moral development.  pre conventional to conventional to post conventional.    According to Wilber, 70% of the world population is ethnocentric.  Which means I see and accept the world through the lenses of my tribe, culture, religion,  country, political belief etc.

With  ethno centric populations being  70%  and numerous countries  owning weapons of mass destruction, controlling vast amounts of the worlds resources,  consuming  significant amounts of these limited resources, and polluting significant amounts –  it doesn’t take an Einstein to see the trouble we are headed towards!

In order for there to be peace, sustainability and a shared common humanity;  a critical mass of  people need to reach the third stage of moral development.  (Its about all of us ) Carl Jung was asked if there was hope for the world  and his answer:   “There is – if enough people do their inner work”.    It is up to each of us individually to wake up from the collective trance and realize that there is only one human race and we are all a part of it.  As Desmund Tutu says-  ‘We are all family”.    Jung and depth psychologists realized that on a soul level we are all connected.   This supports Jesus’ teaching that what you do to the least of us you do to the rest of us.   Einstein reasoned that that this feeling separate from each other is an illusion.   From an energy standpoint as well  – we are all connected.

Jung believed that Neurosis is being or having to be someone you are not.  This is the imprisonment of  having to conform to external definitions of who or what you should be.   Shakespeare wrote the “most confining prisons are the ones that we don’t know that we are in”.  Psychological health and emotional well being is to  live authentically. This is “to see with your own own eyes and to feel with your own heart”  (Einstein)

To “wake up” and develop awareness and mastery, is to  step outside of your emotional field”.  (Daniel Starr)   To do this;  is to over-ride our conditioning.    Awareness is the foundation for growth, healing and taking responsibility for our lives.  With awareness we have choices.  The cost of staying unaware is to  be on automatic pilot and living a life that is not authentically and genuinely ours.   When we stay stuck with self limiting beliefs like we are not good enough, deserving,  we can’t make a difference etc..,  the names, the places, the people may change in our lives, but we repeat patterns with similar outcomes.  As we become more aware, we have more choices  and can live more intentionally and creatively.

So how does one  wake up from a conditioned, neurotic life?

According to Starr and the wisdom traditions,  the first step is to become an observer, or witness, to daily moment-to-moment experiences.  Once we can observe an emotion or a belief and not identify with it we are less likely to be managed or driven by it.   This is an important step towards self mastery.  Awareness helps us  learn to manage or regulate emotions rather than be driven by them.

It is important to observe without making judgment.  Self judgement and being self critical entrap you in your emotional soup. Self-awareness enhances self mastery by letting us see or witness our repetitive patterns.  This allows us to intentionally choose  our direction and experience .    Self-mastery helps us be more  effective in our work or vocation as well as other areas of our lives.

Emotions are states of mind, and we are always experiencing some state of mind, so we are always feeling an  emotion – whether we are conscious of it or not.   There is a relationship between thoughts and emotions.   With each thought, there is an emotional trigger or an emotional association. We think about something,  then comes an emotional association, and this, sparks another thought with its emotional “baggage”.   The process continues as the emotions resonate or fuel each other and increase in intensity.  We have all experienced being upset or angry about something (or someone) and by continually thinking of the situation, we become increasingly agitated.  This  called “awfulizing”.  We can awfulize or “catastrophize” about anything:  fellow workers, managers, clients, policy, finances, relationships, family, self-esteem, and so on.   The patterns are very similar.  Being aware of this,  makes it is fairly simple to master.

The most important part of self-mastery is awareness, (Starr)  so when you start to notice the awfulizing, reward yourself for experiencing this.  You are then associating a positive emotion with the act of becoming aware.  This is a lot more beneficial then getting upset about awfulizing again.

When  we experience negative emotions,  it is usually because we are experiencing something in our environment or our mind that is not in harmony with what we want.   Think about this being an opportunity to discover what we do want.   The starting point is first  knowing what we do not want.  The steps are simple:

1)      Reward yourself for becoming aware of your awfulizing, or negative emotional state.

2)      Notice what it is that you do not want, and ask yourself “If that is what I don’t want, then what is it that I do want?”

3)      Consider what you want and imagine, feel, experience what it would be like to have what you do want.

This third step is very important, for you are now choosing an emotional state, and developing self-mastery.  (Again, which is better, being in a negative state, or choosing a positive one?)  With this exercise we “shift”, from conditioned patterns to more  effective and productive emotional states which allows us to better handle stressors and frustrations.

Making this shift, requires waking up to what is happening to you in the present, and by choice or intention, consciously turning your attention from what you do not want to what you do want.   Wherever you put your awareness, that will expand.  According to William James considered by many the father of psychology – we become what we think about.  Neuroscience has shown that by thinking regularly of the virtues and strengths we want to adopt – that our brains actually start to rewire synapses which helps us embody these qualities.

Happiness is a by – product of  having purpose, meaning, healthy supportive relationships and feeling like we are making a difference.   Psychological maturity comes from knowing who we are, being responsible for our behaviors knowing our strengths and weaknesses accepting and loving ourselves thus being able to accept and love others. (Marian Williamson)   Affluence in the fullest sense is knowing what matters, going for what is truly important and meaningful and feeling or having a sense of being connected to something larger than ourselves.  We each have a summons to living our own lives and to wake up from the trance.

The world needs you.

Suggested readings:

What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do The Opposite,  David Disalvo 

The Essential  Ken Wilber; An Introductory Reader 

The Middle Passage From Misery to Meaning in Midlife;  James Hollis

The Profile of a Killer: Stress By Peter Metzner


In our last posting we talked about how each personality “type”  typically responds to it stress, and inadvertently stresses and triggers others.   In following up as to how stress can impact our professional and personal relationships;  this posting, will look at:

  • What stress actually is.
  • Sources of stress.
  • How stress impacts health

   Stress

As Americans we are five percent of the world’s population but we consume 65 percent of the world’s psychotropic drugs, tranquilizers and mood enhancers*.  None of these will “cure” stress or anxiety and each has potentially toxic side effects as well as  addictive potential.   We seem to be a population under a tremendous amount of stress and collective malaise.

Our bodies respond to stressful situations by releasing hormones, such as adrenalin and cortisol, which immediately increase our  heart rate and energy level.  In the short-term, these stress hormones help us adapt and survive an unexpected threat.  Like a dog snarling at us or a car suddenly swerving in our lane.  Our arms and legs get a burst of  energy,  our hearts beat faster, blood pressure increases and  everything that’s not essential for survival gets turned off, such as digestion, growth, healing and reproduction,”  Temporarily we think more clearly, and certain aspects of learning and memory are enhanced.  All of this helps us respond  if…  it is an immediate and short-term physical stress-or —a real one.” **

The problem is;  non-life-threatening stressors, like worrying about money, the economy, your job or trying to please your boss, also trigger the release of adrenalin and other stress hormones, which, over time, have devastating and life threatening  consequences to your health.  Negative emotions like anger adversely impact health as well.  In his ground breaking book,  Anger Kills, psychologist Redford Williams found that hostile, angry and driven individuals (The type A profile) are more likely to get heart attacks; often fatal.  These individuals (as we have seen in our last posting) typically trigger stress in others.   Bad bosses  (Unaware, driven, dominant and hostile)  have been shown  to be a significant risk factor in triggering heart attacks and other stress related disorders in the work place.

Our brains can not tell the difference between a real threat or an imagined threat.    Imagining or perceiving a threat  also triggers our fight or flight response.   In this case,  FEAR becomes an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real.   Robert Sapolsksy, a leading neuro- scientist and foremost authority on stress  states:   “If you turn on the stress response chronically for purely psychological reasons, you increase your risk of adult onset diabetes and high blood pressure. If you’re chronically shutting down the digestive system, there’s a bunch of gastrointestinal disorders you’re more at risk for as well.”   Studies show that long-term stress  suppresses the immune system, making you more susceptible to infectious diseases,  can  shut down reproduction by causing erectile dysfunction and disrupting menstrual cycles.  If you are chronically stressed, all sorts of aspects of brain function are impaired such as creativity and problem solving.  Research also shows “stress to be a smoking gun in early onset of Alzheimer’s and senile dementia”.  (Singh- Kalsa)  Neurons in the parts of the brain relating to learning, memory and judgment don’t function well under chronic  stress and have been shown to die off.

The bottom line is:   For whatever reason, if you are chronically stressed,  like so many of us in these uncertain times,  you are more at risk for heart disease and many of the other leading causes of death in our Westernized life.”  (Sapolsky)   My next posting will highlight practical ways to effectively manage stress, cultivate calmness, and cope more effectively with the complexities of life.  Stay tuned!

In the meantime, breath deeply; (at least three times)  this helps by  oxygenating the brain,  “flushing” out stress hormones and  allows you to better respond versus reacting.  Reacting tends to keeps us stuck in the situation we are resisting.   Remember; “we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are”.    (Anais Nin)

 Resources and References

*Richard Wolf, PhD;   Sun Magazine Feb. 2012 “Capitalism and its Discontents -What Went Wrong”  

** Robert SapolskyPH.D Stress the Portrait of a Killer, National Geographic, DVD

Anger Kills: Seventeen Strategies for Controlling the Hostility That Can Harm Your Health;   Redford Williams MD, Virginia Williams, PH.D

Brain Longevity: The Breakthrough Medical Program That Improves Your Mind and Memory , Dharma Singh Kalsa, MD & Cameron Stauth