The one and only thing that has helped the human race to survive the Ice Age is the ability to adapt. In order to adapt we had to think outside of the box that we had formerly held so dear by way of traditions and accepted practices. This ability to adapt has, for thousands of years, allowed us, as a race, to accomplish unthinkable tasks. From learning how to make fire, to creating hunting tools and travelling to the moon and back, it has been the ability to adapt that has allowed us to experience these things.
That ability to adapt comes from somewhere deep inside. It comes from another motivating force within us, the likes of which is equally abundant as is our need for survival. It comes from a deep desire to expand the self. That desire to expand is what had motivated us to explore and invent, sometimes even inventing things that will help us to explore even more. We would never know what a cell looks like if we did not have the desire to explore what is deeper within the physical being and, as a result of that, invent the microscope in order to see what it was we were looking at.
That desire to expand is what brought us from the lone wolf mentality into the pack mentality, creating family, tribe, community, and eventually society. Many can and will argue the benefits of society vs the drawbacks, and I am one of those people. But the fact of the matter is that we created it out of our need to expand beyond ourselves. We even created religion as a means of not feeling alone in our wondering about what all else is “out there”. This wondering is also what is motivating space probes that will, eventually, lead to manned space flight. The technology simply has to be created in order for the exploration to take place.
What we need most to do, however, is to allow ourselves to expand within ourselves. This will allow us to explore who we truly are as human beings. It will allow us to become more emotionally and psychologically intelligent. We will be able to connect more deeply with one another and thus become more aware of the “tribal consciousness” that exists. This is something that empaths and telepaths have been observing and feeling for thousands of years. It is what makes those abilities abundant within. But we have, as a species, begun to turn our backs on such awareness and, as a result, have turned our backs on each other and even on Nature itself.
Imagine how wonderful it would be to no longer have fear when walking into a forest. Imagine how wonderful it would be to be aware of the communication signals from the trees, plants, animals and birds. This is not something that is “make believe”. It is real and can be felt in very concrete ways. We need to get back to that. I believe that this is the only thing that will save us as a species.
But how do we do that? How do we tell someone who lives in a huge city to “get back to nature”? Well, we can start right where we are. It does not need to be a long and complicated process. It is simply a matter of turning our attention inward instead of being distracted by all the exterior goings on. Paying attention to our breath, for example, and how it feels as it moves in and out of our bodies. This is the first and key step in Zazen meditation techniques. From there we can also listen inwardly to the beating of our own hearts. This has an extremely calming effect, much like what a fetus experiences within the womb. Even if we live in a huge city, that city has green space. Parks and terrariums are usually available. The parks are usually completely free to enter. And by “park” I do not mean a “theme park” with crazy rides and noises. I mean trees and grass and blossoms and birds. Sitting in a park can do wonders for one’s mental and emotional well-being. It is important to go there. Caring for indoor plants in your own home is also an important step. It will not only teach you about botany, it will also connect you to the consciousness of the plant kingdom. Beyond these things, take time to go and visit a national or provincial or state park. Actually get out into the wild of nature. You don’t have to hike or camp if that is not your thing. Simply go there, sit and breathe and feel the consciousness of Nature all around you. If hiking and camping happen to be your thing, go for it. And if they are not, then you may want to give it a go to see what it is like at this point in your life. You never know, you may enjoy it.
As we expand our consciousness, we perform the act of becoming. Becoming what? That is entirely up to you. But you will never get there if you don’t take the first steps of connecting and expanding. Becoming relies upon our willingness to expand our consciousness of who we are and what our interconnections with everything else around us is. I personally feel that spending time in nature helped me to become the gifted person that I am. It also helped me, however, to become a better person in general. It helped me to become more aware of how animals communicate with each other and with us. This has helped me to have much more compassion with my pets throughout my life. It has helped me to be able to read faces and facial expressions, which has made me more emotionally intelligent than many. And it has helped me to be able to listen to the wisdom of the trees and of all of Nature. Those who study science will be soon developing equipment that will allow that communion to occur. I have that equipment inside my own brain. We all do. Most of us have simply not activated it.
Another avenue that allows us to develop these skill sets is listening to music. We all have our particular tastes in music. I am, quite frankly, NOT a country music, metal or opera fan. That does not mean that these styles of music don’t have value. I am sure for many people they do. Just not for me. Although my taste in music varies from those who are fans of country music, metal and opera, we all have in common a love of some form of music. For me the question is, “What does the music do for you inside?” I enjoy music that uplifts me on a deep soul level. Nope…not hymns. Many people automatically connect religious music with “soul” energy. I quite dislike religious music because, for me, it is merely designed to make people think that they are closer to “God” than they really are, and closer than what they are actually putting into action in their lives. What does it for me are things like love songs in the rock genre, nature sounds, a little bit of classical music (but not interfering with the sounds of nature), and tribal music that calms, entrances and celebrates life. Those are what feeds my soul. Although I can tolerate other types of music (for at least the duration of, say, the installation of a tattoo or the duration of my step-son as he goes through the shower listening to his music on his blue tooth speaker) I really do prefer other stuff. Blues, soft jazz, even Cajun music I do enjoy. Rockabilly is cool as well as a genre. These don’t assault my ear drums the way other things do. As you may have guessed, bagpipes are a definite NO from me. If I am feeling like the music is assaulting my ears, then I cannot connect. If I feel that the music is pulling me out of myself (as in so excited that it causes my heart to race and my mind to leave my place of peace within) then it is a no for me. I am sensitive and so even the most “beautiful” operatic high note can cause my teeth to grit and my spine to go stiff. The same can be said for the twang of country music or the screaming of metal. That is just me. That is who I am. But the music that I do enjoy is that which will help me to connect more deeply to myself, to Nature, and to those around me. So listen to whatever music does that for you. It does not have to be at top volume. In fact, even at a soft volume in the background it can have profound effects. Try it out. You may find that you have a renewed love for music and the benefits that it can have for you on a deeply spiritual level. Expand. Try different types of music. See what works best for you. What does it inspire you to become? How does it assist you in becoming a better person? How does it assist you in your observations of the world around you?
Sometimes “expanding” is equated with taking on more responsibilities. Although expansion can be a result of such things, I personally find that it is more likely to happen as I let a number of things go. Simplification of my life is what leads more and more into my personal expansion. As my life becomes more simplified, I am able to put my time and energy into the things that actually are soul food for me. Things like raising a new puppy, or attending a Qi gong class, or gardening. These things are gateways into my inner connection with Nature. And let’s not forget personal relationships that MUST be a part of all of that. Those connections are so important. Although, right now, you are reading this blog and your eyes are on the screen of either your computer or your tablet or you cell phone, where are you at with the person who is in the room with you? That is much more important right here and right now. Attend to that and you will be expanding yourself. When was the last time you told someone you love them? When was the last time you were touched by someone’s hand in a loving way? When was the last time you had a really good hug, or gave one? We all need to connect with others on an emotional and physical level. That is part of being human beings. It is part of our expansion. Allow yourself to experience these things whenever possible. It will lead to deeper connections within as well as deeper connection with others. And this will allow us, as a human race, to evolve in a much more positive manner.