Tag Archives: psychology

Becoming the Student, Choosing to Learn (Ctrl+Shift)

“The chief aim of education should be to help the growing soul to draw out that in itself which is best and make it perfect for a noble use.” – Sri Aurobindo

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Learning can sometimes mean putting down a long-held worldview in exchange for a new one. Learning is literally the act of changing your mind.

There are many models in modern psychology and education used to illustrate what we learn and how we learn — how fast or to what degree. According to integral theory, we (our selves and our consciousness) are comprised of various lines of development. Cognitive, moral, aesthetic, emotional, sexual, musical, athletic, spiritual, etc. These lines radiate out from the center of our being in all directions, and we unfold along these lines in stages — stages we can’t force, stages we can’t skip.

We push along into these newer and more inclusive stages when we are good and ready, when we have reached a tipping point between the old way of thinking or knowing and the new way of looking at the world. These new ways of understanding transcend and include the previous stages. They are inclusive of more perspectives, more methods. But we only lean forward into them when we are so tired and frustrated that it seems we have no choices left, and must somehow get “above it all.” We’ve done all there is to do, read all there is to read, met everyone there is to meet, and understood everything there is to know at the current stage.

If change is so necessary and so great, then why does it feel like death? We fear change, and we only surrender to change when we are finally ready to die to ourselves and be born anew from the flames.

Author and New Thought pioneer, H. Emilie Cady wrote in her classic Lessons in Truth, “Be assured, no matter what anyone else says to you or thinks, that the seeming failure does not mean loss of power. It means that you are to let go of the lesser in order that you may grasp the whole in which the lesser is included.”

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The Seven Day Media Cleanse: How and Why?

“Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach his goals, if he is able to think, if he is able to wait, if he is able to fast.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

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INTRODUCTION

It wasn’t even my idea.

It was my seven-year-old daughter, Alchemy, who suggested it.

“Daddy, let’s go a week without watching TV!”

Her mother, Jennifer, and I had just finished our second juice cleanse of the year, and I think Alchemy was just caught up in all the cleansing and fasting and wanted somehow to be a part of it all. She got no argument from us. In fact, we had just been commenting on her ability to lose herself for hours in the ridiculous time-suck that is the “EZ Bake Oven” app on her iPad.

Recognizing the opportunity to break myself of that nasty texting-and-driving habit, I suggested we also incorporate devices and apps (like Facebook and Twitter) into the mix. Since she didn’t have access to these services, she was totally cool with it.

So, here were the fast and not-so-loose ground rules for our Seven Day Media Cleanse:

1) No TV
2) No apps
3) No internet

This meant no Facebook, Twitter, Netflix or Hulu and (voluntarily) included iTunes and streaming audio services (we have a family plan on Apple Music). For seven days, we would listen to vinyl at home and only have work-related access to e-mail and Google Drive.

DAY ONE – SUNDAY

We decided to start on a Sunday, as it seemed like a day we could easily keep ourselves occupied. However, I had forgotten, this wasn’t any normal Sunday. Jen had class all day, and I had the kids.

My morning routine usually consists of me opening my eyes, hopping out of bed, going to the bathroom, then getting back into bed and lying there for at least another half hour scrolling through my Twitter and Facebook feeds. Not so this morning. I got up, saw Jen out the door, made a cup of tea, put on a record, and started getting the kids ready for the day. I always find it easier to leave the house altogether when I have them. If we’re on the go, they can’t get bored, and they can’t make a mess. Do other dads do this?

We had plenty of books and records at the house to last us through the week, but we made a preemptive trip to Daddy Kool and Planet Retro to buy some records missing from our collection just in case (Jellyfish, Local Natives, Public Enemy, Tomahawk). This seemed completely justified and even proactive at the time. In hindsight, I guess I just like to shop for records.

Our dinner routine usually consists of sitting at the coffee table and watching TV while we eat. However, when Jen got home, we had dinner at the dining room table. Something we hadn’t done in a while. I said a short blessing before the meal, and we enjoyed all facing each other, talking and laughing.

DAY TWO – MONDAY

Not being able to listen to music while driving kinda took some getting used to. The car is where I usually listen to the music I want to hear. I listen to entire albums at a time, and I listen to them loud. I most likely look like a fool to other drivers in traffic as I drum on the steering wheel and shred wicked air guitar solos. After I dropped the kids off at school, it was just me, my thoughts and the silence. The silence was deafening. My ears rang and my head throbbed. I talked to myself, and at times even noticed myself yelling – not in anger, just talking loud to fill the emptiness.

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What is Spirituality?

Are you fed up with the argument that people can be more or less “spiritual” than their neighbor?

Are you tired of hearing that someone is becoming “more spiritual” by simply increasing the time they spend on academic study, prayer, yoga, meditation, community service, the contemplation of life’s big questions, or by taking a mindful approach to their daily routines and rituals?

Do you find yourself in the crossfire when people are discussing something they deem to be “spiritual” in nature, only to have one or more of them get frustrated or offended as the conversation veers wildly from ethics to science to morality to psychology to anthropology to philosophy and back?

It’s time we took a long, deep breath and got current with our definitions of spirituality. There are more than a handful, and none of them include words like “subjective,” “personal,” or “different for everybody.” These are real definitions, and it’s our responsibility as mature, literate adults to know them. It’s our duty as parents to teach our children the methods of spiritual intelligence and spiritual literacy. And, we need to start using these definitions explicitly in the real world, appropriately and under the right circumstances — or more people (not just their feelings) will be hurt.

Before we list the five definitions of “spirituality,” we must assume three things are true:

1) States

There are a minimum of four states of consciousness to keep in mind as we talk about spirituality: awake (awareness of gross, physical reality), dreaming (aware of subtle reality but not gross), deep sleep (causal or formless awareness) and non-dual awareness – the ever-present Witnessing consciousness. You can only be in one state of consciousness at a time. For example: you cannot be awake and dreaming simultaneously. The state of non-dual awareness is the state of “peak” spiritual experiences.*

2) Stages

Stages of development unfold in waves. And not every line develops at the same speed. The simplest description is to use three stages: pre-rational, rational and trans-rational. We do not want to confuse the pre-rational with the trans-rational stages. Pre-rational spirituality (young children) is not the same as the trans-rational spirituality of experienced spiritual practitioners. All stages of development are spiritual in that they are capable of spiritual states.

Stages are not equal in their ability to access, hold, and translate states into behaviors. A “peak experience” does not translate into character traits unless we have the overall stage development to hold that consciousness. Peak experiences can increase our appetite for growth and perhaps accelerate it. Yet people can be skillful at obtaining peak experiences (meditation, psychedelics) and NOT be able to consistently translate those moments into what we might call spiritually admirable behaviors. Non-dual moments cannot in and of themselves create loving, peaceful, ethical people.*

For more on stages, see Beck and Cowan’s Spiral Dynamics, The Great Chain of Being, Jean Piaget, Lawrence Kohlberg, et. al

3) Lines

There are multiple lines of human development, including but not limited to: cognitive, moral, emotional, aesthetic, musical, linguistic, bodily-kinesthetic, sexual, spiritual … *

* Types and Quadrants may also be considered, but they’re unnecessary for the basic definitions of “Spirit.” It may also be said that “Spirit” is the ground of all being, in which all states, stages and lines arise.

Assuming that 1, 2 and 3 are true, here then are at least 5 possible definitions of the word “spiritual.” Keep in mind, here is where most people get into trouble, inadvertently confusing a line with a state or stage.

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