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One Sided Relationships

posted Jan 23, 2010, 10:17 PM by Darwin Stephenson

Dear Darwin:

Please tell me, what would you say to someone who is constantly taking all you have, not returning it, asking for more, and it happens all over again all the time. I want to help this girl and i do! all the time! but she doesn't want to help HERSELF! what do i do?????? I'm getting so tired of getting taken advantage of. I need to go do some yoga. please help me!


Hi Stephanie:

I can empathize with your situation as this is a very common issue with interpersonal relationships. When we put ourselves in a position to regularly help others, often times we encounter people that are attracted to our willingness to give. This isn't to say that these people are purposely trying to take advantage of us, but rather that they've developed a repeating pattern of drawing energy from others.

The first thing we should always do in these situations is to have compassion for the other person. A person in balance wouldn't operate in this manner and thus we can immediately recognize that they're out of balance. Thus, without balance, they're unable to attain the strength and energy necessary to objectively see their behavior or chart a course of change. Nobody wants to be in a situation of continually needing help from others and by approaching resolution through compassion we can engage the person with love.

We've all met people like this in our lives and our Minds have fabricated lots of different stories about why these people are the way they are. But what we should recognize is that their behavior is the result of a number of factors rather than a single factor. Our logical Minds love to come up with patterns and no doubt we've discovered part of their reason for acting this way. But there is always much more to the story than meets the eye.

The bottom line is that they are not thriving and, through their relationship with you, they're able to derive a bit more energy into their life. When this is communal, this exchange of life force energy is both healthy and central to being human. However, when this energy is flowing primarily in one direction, it can be unhealthy for everyone. Unfortunately, these "energy suckers" are often unaware of their unbalanced ways and thus talking to them about the problem rarely resolves the situation.

Instead, we should take our lay-psychologist hats off and instead envision the relationship as a back and forth, flowing of energy. I know this sounds like fluffy, metaphysical jargon but hear me out. For starters, let's describe ourselves, not in the way that voice in our head describes, but rather as we truly are:

"You are the collective consciousness that radiates from the connections between your Body, Spirit, and Mind." - Inspiration Divine, p 22.

Thus, instead of simply being a physical manifestation of that voice in your head, you're actually the active combination of the Body, Spirit and Mind. If you look closely at this sentence, you'll see that you are the "connections" between the Body, Spirit and Mind:
  • You're not your Body, because you'll continue to exist after your dead and buried.
  • You're not your Mind, as you're more than just that voice in your head.
  • You're also not simply your Spirit, as your Body and Mind play an active, participatory role in your life.
In essence, you are both the connections and the individual entities at the same time.

As we imagine sensations, feelings and thoughts flowing between the Body, Spirit and Mind we can visualize these communications as pure energy. A thought originates in the Mind, which causes the Body to act and the Spirit to react. In a healthy and balanced individual, this natural flow of energy exists in effortless harmony. As you can see, keeping ourselves in balance is key to living an enlightened life.

Now visualize two people in a harmonious relationship. Rather than the sensations, feelings and thoughts flowing within the individual, they are shared and exchanged between the two. This ebb and flow of energy is central to being human and our social nature is by Divine intent. We are called to love one another and unite all of Humanity. Thus when we interact with one another we share much more than sensations, feelings and thoughts...we exchange energy with one another.

However, when we encounter someone who is out of balance they tend to take more energy than they give. Most people tend to avoid people like this because they find these people to be draining, exhausting and even depressing. In the cosmic exchange of energy, these people are living off of the energy of others.

There have been times in our lives when we too have operated like this. We all have unfortunate times in our lives when we need the helping hand of another. Each of us can recall a time in our lives when we needed help and our friends and/or family were there for us. Our nature is to help one another and during these times of imbalance in our lives we sincerely appreciate those that give without expectation of return.

But some people unknowingly become stuck in this way of living their lives. Through years and years of repeating this same pattern in their lives, they've developed a dependency on other people to help, guide and even rescue them. Often these people have trouble maintaining long term relationships with friends and family as they have become accustomed to seeing people through the eyes of what they can do for them. They live in a world of expectation and thus are missing the communal blessings of balanced relationships.

Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do” Luke 23:24

Unaware of their imbalanced ways, these people are not conscious to the damage they're causing in their relationships or of the balanced life they could be living. And because they've developed deep, repeating patterns (ruts) in their mental approach to life, talking to them about this situation is rarely effective. The reason is that they're living their lives entirely within the logical constructs of their Minds. Thus when you talk to them, they're only hearing you through the isolated consciousness of their Minds.

To effect change, they must move to a more balanced approach to life where the Body, Spirit and Mind are all participating in the conversation. Again, remember you can't convince them of this by talking to them about it. Without the lines of communication flowing between their Body, Spirit and Mind, your words will simply be logically referenced against their pre-existing construct of life. In this construct of life, you are a source of energy. And if you're not going to supply them with the energy they need to thrive, they're not going to continue the relationship. Hence, why talking to an unbalanced person about balance rarely works out.

Therefore, to help someone who has developed this approach to life, we must do two things:
  1. Set Healthy Boundaries - to protect oneself in this exchange, we should establish healthy boundaries when we are of sound Body, Spirit and Mind (e.g. when we're calm, rather than reacting to a situation). We seek boundaries that allow us to help the person, but also have defined limits. Although you'll likely be ignored, you should communicate these boundaries to the other person and stick to them.
  2. Engage their Body, Spirit and Mind - it is impossible for the connections between the Body, Spirit and Mind to be severed, but they can become atrophied like a muscle that hasn't been used for years. We can help the other person turn this around by inviting the other person to join us in activities that nourish the Body, Spirit and Mind. For example, going to the gym together, taking a meditation class together or joining a reading club.
As more energy begins to flow into their life via their own Spirit, they'll naturally move away from being dependent on others for this life force energy. When these connections begin to blossom, they'll be opening up to their true self. As a good friend, you'll be there to guide them along the way and help them over the small bumps in the road. Through modeling a balanced life, they'll slowly find ways to regain balance in their own life.

In every relationship, we play the role of Father, Mother or Child. People who drain energy from others have become stuck in a child phase rather than developing. Helpless to recognize that their gestation period has passed, they're insuring that they remain in this phase of life by refusing to stand on their own two feet. What they don't realize is that we regularly cycle through the phases of Father, Mother and Child in our lives and this means that someone needs them to play the role of Father or Mother in their life. By not progressing with their own development, someone else in their life is struggling. Someone else is unable to move onto their next phase in life, because this person isn't evolving. By helping them find balance and the flow of God's life force energy in their life, we not only help this person but also the people who need them.

We live in a cause and effect world where we want simple and definitive solutions to our problems. Instead of working towards a solution, our Western Minds crave absolutes and instant fixes (hence the predominance of anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications on the market). We usually like to tackle a problem head on and confront it with brute force. However, this is an un-compassionate approach to someone who is struggling with imbalance in their life. Without communications and energy flowing through their Body, Spirit and Mind, their lives are hard, difficult and a struggle. We seek to truly help them by guiding them to a place of balance where energy flows through them, rather than to them.

Before I close, I must add that I love the fact that you answered your own question. In final line, you said you needed to take a yoga class. And as yoga is the balance of the Body, Spirit and were already on the path to the answer of your own question.


Darwin Stephenson

Managing Anxiety

posted Jan 23, 2010, 10:16 PM by Darwin Stephenson

Hi Darwin:

It would be great to hear your advice on managing anxiety.


Hi Mandy,

I'm not sure why, but I feel like I should start my reply off by saying thanks. My life is very much dedicated to helping others and thus when that connection is made I'm grateful.

So let me start off by explaining that I'm not a big believer in our medical establishment's approach to treating depression or anxiety. I'm not against medication, but I believe our society has been dealt a dis-service in these drugs being positioned for long term care. Many people don't see results from anti-anxiety medication and my belief is that this is because they don't treat the root cause of anxiety.

My position on medication is that it should be used to help you get the clarity of mind and presence to deal with the root cause. If you're having frequent panic attacks then it would be difficult to work on the root cause. Thus if taking anti-anxiety medication provides you with the peace of mind to focus then that's great. But thinking that there is something wrong with you and that you need a drug to make you "normal" for the rest of your life...that sounds crazy to me.

I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on T.V. So please do anything I recommend without talking with your therapist of physician first. ;)

The good news is that I'm not trying to sell you any herbs, miracle techniques or anything else that costs $19.95.

The difficult news is that I have a completely different view on why we experience anxiety and depression. My wife has struggled with anxiety for the last several years and my approach has helped her.

Before we get to "what to do" we must first establish "what we are." Most people walk around believing that they are that voice in their head. Lots of new age people like to talk about "that voice" but few explain what we're supposed to do with it. So too a lot of people talk about changing our thoughts, focusing on the positive and lots of other mind tricks to change that voice in our head into something different. I think that's a huge waste of time.

I'm not sure if you're familiar with this concept, but if you're asking yourself, "What voice?" then it's that voice that you're having a conversation with about not having a voice in your head. But since you're dealing with anxiety, I think I can safely assume you know what voice I'm talking about. ;)

That voice isn't "you" but it is part of you. That voice is the internal dialogue of your Mind. As your Mind considers thousands of choices throughout the day, it considers each and every option. And with each option it "thinks" about the probable outcome, benefits and detriments. The internal dialogue that you're hearing is your Mind considering all the potential options. And listening to that dialogue can be a bit disturbing sometimes because our Mind considers both the sane and insane options in its review of all possible options.

And that's actually a good thing. You wouldn't want it any other way because you want your Mind to consider all the possibilities and make the right choice. Clearly your Mind is doing a great job with a nearly perfect track record of making good decisions. Sure, it makes the wrong choice once in a while, but considering the billions that it got right...statistically your Mind is doing an awesome job.

The point is that your Mind has a job to do (mainly to keep you alive) and thus there isn't anything wrong, broken or disabled about it. It doesn't have faulty wiring, a bad hormone dispenser or a broken controller. The one problem it does have is that it is an egomaniac. It wants all the attention and it doesn't trust anyone else to be in charge of you.

But you're more than just a Mind. You also have a physical Body that makes thousands of decisions every day to keep you alive. For example, your heart has over 40,000 embedded neurons (brain cells) that enable it to operate as its own intrinsic nervous system. With every beat of our heart, an electro-magnetic field is generated that is 5,000 times stronger than the field produced by our brain. This field is so powerful that it can be detected by electro-magnetic sensors over eight feet away from the Body.

And what is the purpose of the electro-magnetic field generated by the heart? It is one of four ways our heart communicates with the brain (The four ways that the heart communicates with the brain is through neurological impulses, biochemically via hormones, biophysically via pressure waves and energetically via the electro-magnetic field it generates).

Thus you are both a Mind and a Body. They communicate back and forth to function in the world and to keep you alive. When they are in balance, they work fluidly together.

But you're more than a Mind and the actions it commands your Body to do. In some way, you also have a Spiritual side to you. Thus instead of thinking of ourselves as a physical manifestation of that voice in our head, we should be conceptualizing ourselves as a Body, Spirit and Mind.

You've probably heard these terms discussed by thousands of new age practitioners. And when they're freaked out about mentioning God, they'll drop the Spirit and refer to us as the Body-Mind. But these are more than cute descriptions about our human nature, they actually represent what we are.

And thus you can think of yourself as the combination of your Body, Spirit and Mind. This is the part of the message where you might think I'm going to tell you to find Jesus, read the Bible and find a local church. Those are all great things, but that's not my point. And I personally don't think any of those things will eliminate anxiety in your life. You can pray until the cows come home and you'll still be dealing with anxiety.

Instead I'd like you to think of yourself as both the connections and the three parts of you as one. Thus your Mind is one part of you, but so too you have a Body that is a major component of the overall Mandy. But Mandy's Spirit is also a major component of you. You're all three combined.

But most of society operates as if they're only the Mind. They live a mental existence where their entire lives are lived according to the logical ways of the Mind. And as that relates to making decisions to keep us alive or driving on the freeway, that's great. But there are many things in life that can't be reduced to turning left or right, choosing right from wrong or making the best of a situation.

So the first step to alleviating anxiety is to bring one's self into a place of balance. Now I don't know how much you want to eliminate anxiety from your life, but if you're anything like my wife you would do almost anything to never have another panic attack, racing heartbeat or restless night. In fact, you might even want it out of your life so much that you'll take medications that have potential side effects that are really, really, really dangerous.

And like I said before, in the Spirit of obtaining peace of Mind and presence, that's fine. But my prescription for alleviating anxiety is designed to rid it from your life forever, rather than masking it to shut down your brain. But it takes work and requires more effort than taking a pill. It requires balance.

To conceptualize balance, imagine energy flowing throughout this new concept of Mandy. You are the combination of your Body, Spirit and Mind and the communications that flow between each part of you run along a meridian of energy. This is the part of the discussion where you might think I'm going to recommend you see an acupuncturist. But that too is not my point.

Instead of yourself, imagine this energy flowing between the three parts of someone that is perfectly in balance. Their Body, Spirit and Mind are working in harmony and each part of them is regularly nourished and cared for. There is no blockage, restriction or containment of this energy. Each part of them takes the energy it needs, puts it to use and allows it to continue flowing.

Instead of yourself, now imagine someone that is horribly out of balance. They spend their entire existence "in their heads," deny their Body exercise and have no spiritual connection to their own Spirit. Despite the connective bonds being incapable of being severed, these connections have atrophied like a muscle that hasn't been used in years.

As energy flows into this person, it is funneled to the Mind where it spins out of control. Overwhelmed with too much energy, the thoughts of this person accelerate and the consideration of every possible thought becomes magnified. Simple considerations become blown out of proportion simply because this energy is overwhelming the system.

With too much energy being funneled into the Mind, the excess energy spills over into the Body where this person directs it to their area of greatest need. For most people this is the heart, which symbolizes their longing for love, connection and to unite humanity. But with too much energy being held in the heart, it starts to suffer and reacts by racing with palpitations and aches.

Does that sound like anxiety?

Thus when people talk about treating anxiety through exercise, healthy eating, loving relationships and a connection to faith... they're on the right track. But our goal isn't simply to burn off this energy by directing it into other parts of our self. Our goal is to harmonize and bring the system into balance.

Balance is really hard when we don't know "what" to balance. Work, home, career, kids, parents, friends, housework, investments, personal time, exercise, (this list can go on forever).

But all we really need to do is balance our Body, Spirit and Mind. Every person is different in this regard, so there is no single prescription to bring these three parts of Mandy into balance. But you can start by asking yourself these three questions at the end of each workday:
  1. What have I done today to nurture my Body?
  2. What have I done today to nurture my Spirit?
  3. What have I done today to nurture my Mind?
If the answer to any of these is "nothing" then you know what you need to do that evening. The nurturing doesn't need to be huge. You don't have to run 5-miles a day to nurture the Body. Start with a healthy dinner and a walk around the block.

So too nurturing the Spirit doesn't require that you meditate every night or spend every waking moment at your house of worship. Starting with a short meditation or attending a prayer group is great start.

The Mind is the hardest to nurture because we already live a mental existence. To nurture the Mind is to expose it to a new experience. This can be as simple as taking a random topic, entering it into Google and clicking the "I'm feeling lucky" button. You can then learn whatever comes up.

Unfortunately all of what I've just shared with you is simply a prescription for just about anyone. Not specifically for someone that is dealing with anxiety. For anxiety, we actually need to investigate why you're getting so much of this energy in your life.

Remember the depiction above where your Mind is getting all this energy channeled to it without an outlet? In this, we need to ask ourselves why are we receiving all of this energy?

The answer comes from an understanding how the Body, Spirit and Mind communicate with one another. In my book Inspiration Divine, I go into explaining this in much greater detail, but I'll cut it short here and just explain that the Body talks to the Spirit, the Spirit talks to the Mind, and the Mind talks to the Body. If you draw this as a triangle with arrows showing the flow of communication you'll see how this is a closed loop.

The point here is that your Spirit is communicating and transmitting energy to your Mind. Your connection to your Spirit may be weak, but the connection is there and energy flows along that connection none the less. While your Mind and Body are constrained to the physical limits of your Body, your Spirit is not constrained an exists outside of the confines of your Body. Thus your Spirit is directly connected to God and the Spirits of other beings.

And thus we can see that our Spirit is not constrained by the logical thoughts of our Mind nor does it care about the physical limitations of our Body. Whereas the Mind cares about the logical reasons of "why," our Spirit only focuses on choosing love, uniting Humanity and expanding God's presence. So too your Spirit is not constrained by a temporal Universe (time based) and knows where you need to be in the future.

So imagine your Spirit living outside of the confines of your Body and Mind with a complete understanding of what is best for Mandy. And to help you accomplish your hopes and dreams, your Spirit is transmitting to you all the energy you need.

Now imagine yourself in balance. Each part of you is nourished on a regular basis and you're living your life in complete harmony with your Body, Spirit and Mind. You're in tune with your Spirit's communications and you take the energy provided to you and put it to work in the world (as it was intended). The energy flowing through you spreads to others as you choose love, unite Humanity and expand God's presence in the Universe (by creating that which didn't exist before).

Or your one of millions of people on the planet with a malfunctioning nervous system that needs pharmaceutical drugs to be "normal." I just can't accept this philosophy.

There are no quick fixes as the prescription here is more of a practice than a pill. As we struggle to deal with anxiety in our lives, we can look to ways that we can use this energy to unite humanity. My wife has established a relationship with a local women's shelter and when she gets her anxiety attacks she stops by to give them a hand. The point is by helping others we provide this life force energy an outlet in the world rather than bottling it up inside of us.

I know I've shared a lot with you here and it's a lot to digest. I hope I've provided you with a different way to view anxiety and a method for alleviating it. I personally believe that people that experience anxiety are those that are called to do great things in this world. Your Spirit is trying to get your attention by turning up the volume. We may not know now to listen, but by bringing ourselves into balance we begin to speak this language and make a difference in the world.

I truly hope you find peace and inspiration. If you're interested in this approach, I post quotes and inspirations daily on my Facebook Author Page.



Staying Present in Crisis

posted Jan 23, 2010, 10:16 PM by Darwin Stephenson

R. Clark asks: "How does one not allow their life circumstance when in crisis to overtake being present, thus reverting back to ego."

I believe this is a question that we all struggle with regardless of background, religious beliefs or state of enlightenment. You can imagine a Christian acting out in anger and later reflecting that their behavior wasn't "very Christian." Or Wayne Dyer screaming when he discovered he had cancer after a lifetime in dedication to others. In these moments of crisis, we often find ourselves reverting to our egoic ways.

Society has taught us that we are "wrong" in these outbursts when we react in ways that are not in line with our desired state of being. As such, we're shielded from those moments when a Rabbi learns his brother has been murdered or when someone runs over Eckhart Tolle's toe in the grocery store. Because they don't share that side of their lives with the public, we incorrectly assume that they're different from us. Because they always seem to be in a state of peace, we want to believe that they live this way 24/7. As a result, we hold up our Spiritual leaders as being perfect in this regard and masters of avoiding such detours with the ego.

I recently commented on the Awakenings radio program that I want to meet the enlightened Mom in the grocery store when her kids are pulling her hair out. We mistakenly hold enlightenment to be a state that is obtained when we disconnect from life and live in the proverbial cave. Locked away from the troubles of everyday life, staying in the present moment is easy. But we don't live in a cave and we're no strangers to conflict. As a result, we find that the Spiritual tools we've been given don't work so well in times of crisis.

Meditation is the tool most often given by many Spiritual teachers for life management and I too have struggled to apply this technique in times of crisis. When you meditate in a cave for ten years I would expect you to be at peace. But when your heart is broken, you're suffering with illness or you're staring down the wrong end of a gun, the ability to drop into a meditative state is elusive for most of Humanity.

The answer we seek is "in life" rather than in "the tools." In our pursuit of life management tools, we've gotten the tools mixed up with the way we should live our lives. Thus meditation is prescribed as a tool, when it is actually the result of living our lives in harmony.

Let me explain:

Many people struggle with meditation because they mistakenly believe that the voice in their head should be silent during meditation. In an attempt to silence their voice, they work really hard at meditation, try different styles of meditation and eventually become frustrated with their inability to meditate. At the same time, hundreds of millions of Christians and Jews find themselves in a state of peace when they pray. Clearly the voice in their head is active when they pray and yet when we approach meditation we expect the voice to be silent. Both are seeking the same state of peace through two entirely different approaches to that voice in our head.

And just like one scoffs at the criminal who takes up prayer on their deathbed, we too should reconsider our approach to meditation as a tool. Thus instead of meditation being a tool for cultivating peace in the present moment, the way we live our life prepares us to find peace in meditation.

In our Western society, we desire instant fixes and solutions to our problems. We envision ourselves climbing up the mountain to ask the guru to tell us the meaning of life. Armed with this newfound knowledge, we will climb back down the mountain and live our lives in peace.

But wait! If the guru has the answer we seek, then why does he spend his life meditating on the mountain? If we can obtain this meaning of life answer within our Minds, why is it that the guru chooses not to engage in life? Could it be that the guru has found one path to enlightenment and that path requires disconnecting from life?

As such, we can imagine ourselves sitting in front of the guru but being unwilling to accept his answer. "Mr. Guru, I'm looking for tools that I can use out there in the real world."

Ignoring our plea, we find the answers commonly cited but rarely applied in the real world of people we know:

  • live in the present moment
  • don't feed the pain body
  • meditate
  • think happy thoughts
  • don't think negative thoughts
  • pray
  • don't sin
  • believe
  • attract that which you seek

I'm sure you could add a few more philosophies to this list. And in listing these concepts, I don't mean to say that they don't work or that they're not true. My point in listing them is to illuminate the elephant in the room that they're not working in our daily lives. It isn't that we're not good at applying them, the simple truth is that they only reveal part of the truth. And while they do reflect the truth in part, we seek a much more universal answer to our question.

But the guru shakes his head and thinks, "You don't get it." And we, lost in our ways of living our lives, don't want to get it. We want to take the red pill and make everything different. We believe that there is inherently something wrong with us and if we could just figure out what that is...all would be good. We want to believe the illusion that is our life because we see the illusion in others. We want what they have, but we want it in our life.

And thus we have a dichotomy for Spiritual teachers. Do you tell them what they want to hear or do you tell them the truth? One thing is for sure, if you want to sell self-help products then it is financially beneficial to tell people what they want to hear. Because the peace they seek will require change and no one is going to pay $12.95 for a book that tells them that they need to change. Don't believe me? Take a look at the universal message of self-help gurus. They're no dummies.

But I'm not selling this message for $12.95 (actually this is free). And so I'm going to go out on a limb to answer the question. I can't promise you that you'll like the answer, but I will promise you that it will work in your real life. And the reason I can do this is that I'm liberated from a relationship with you based on money. Priests and Ministers have to pass the plate every Sunday service. Self Help gurus have to sell books, DVDs and access to their websites. Thus because this is free, I'm actually empowered to share with you the truth that will set you free (sorry, I couldn't resist).

To begin, you have to reach beyond the partial truths that you've been given. The first of these universal concepts is that there is not anything wrong with you. The entire concept that you're broken, flawed or incapable of being good is not true. It very much appeals to our logical Minds and that voice in our head. Our Minds love to divide everything into right vs. wrong, good vs. bad and divine vs. evil. We've taken this concept so far that we've extended it not only to ourselves, but to practically every aspect of our self. In the game of "I'm not good enough," the Mind reigns supreme in judgment.

I'm not disconnected from reality in saying this. I understand that you sometimes make poor judgments, choose incorrectly and often do things that you later regret. But instead of applying these actions as being part of "you" instead think of them as what they really are: actions

Yes, in the game of life we make mistakes and our actions are not always aligned with who we want to be. But, in judging ourselves, we find that things don't get any better. We have been judging ourselves and others since we were little kids and this way of living hasn't served us very well. But we live in a society that lives and breathes judgement so we mistakenly believe that it is the only way. Thus the second of these universal concepts is that we can live our lives without judgment. This isn't to say that you cannot make decisions, but rather that judgment does you no good.

The third universal concept is the definition of what you are. You've spent your entire life believing that you're that voice in your head and the actions it calls your Body to do. A lot of teachers have helped people displace this egoic frame of Mind, but not replaced it with a definition that we can relate to in our daily lives. Thus we find it really cathartic to discover we're not that voice in our head, but on Monday morning we're right back being that voice in our head.

And that is the crux of the problem and the answer to Mr. Clark's question. We are not that voice in our head, but instead we are the collective consciousness of our Body, Spirit and Mind. In this temporal world, this is the existence in which we live. Outside of the boundaries of time, we are our immortal Spirit but in this lifetime we experience life in the collective consciousness of our Body, Spirit and Mind.

This is key because our present mindset has us believing that we're all Mind. So we're actually introducing two additional, intelligent components of us into the mix. As you can imagine, the voice in our head doesn't like this. In fact, it has become quite accustomed to running the show. Giving over any balance of power to the Body and the Spirit seems risky to the Mind. Thus it likes to convince you that these other parts of you aren't really there at all.

And thus we go through life making decisions that are entirely logical. Even when we make illogical (e.g. emotional) decisions, there was a thinking process that occurred. In the vast array of choices, our Mind considered the available options and chose one. And therein lies the problem: available information

As we go through life, our Mind makes gazillions of decisions every day to keep us alive, make it through the day and make the best of our time on the planet. Given enough information and time, there is not a single decision that your Mind cannot make. The problem is that there is often not enough information or we don't have enough time to "think clearly."

You've seen it in your own life. "If I would've known then what I know now..."

But our Spirit is not limited by these same logical constructs. Our Spirit is connected to God, the Spirits of others and collective consciousness. Furthermore, our Spirit isn't confined to the temporal world in which we live. Thus our Spirit not only has access to a vast amount of information to draw upon, but it actually knows your past, present and future because it doesn't live in our temporal Universe. This isn't deterministic or implying that your life is already planned out. Rather your Spirit knows what is best for you and what/where/why/when you need to be in the future.

So while we may seek the guru's answer as to how we can be present in the moment of crisis rather than succumbing to our ego, the real path to the life we seek is to live our lives in harmony with our Body, Spirit and Mind. That isn't a mantra or a meditation but rather a way of living one's life. The beauty of this approach to living is that you can experience it without living on a mountain top or meditating in a cave.

To find this life, we must begin connecting to our Body, Spirit and Mind in our every day lives. We can be mindful of this practice by asking ourselves these three questions towards the end of our day:

  1. What have I done today to nurture my Body?
  2. What have I done today to nurture my Spirit?
  3. What have I done today to nurture my Mind?

If the answer to any of these is "nothing" then you know what you need to do that evening. And if you can live your life in this way, you'll find that in your moments of crisis that your entire being (Body, Spirit and Mind) will participate in guiding you rather than the egoic nature of your Mind.

Improving the World

posted Jan 23, 2010, 10:15 PM by Darwin Stephenson

André Larsson asks "What we (human kind) can do to improve the world in a more effective way and unite us?"

André, this is a tough question that we all struggle with throughout our lives. At the time of this posting, countless people are suffering in Haiti and the death toll is estimated to exceed 100,000. As we go through our daily lives, this tragic event is a stark reminder of the pain and suffering that take place on a daily basis around the world.

We wonder what we can do to make the world a better place when we seem so small, so far away and unable to see how we can influence lasting change. Our lives are filled with struggles of our own and there hardly seems enough time in the day to keep our own head above water, let alone enough to bring about world peace.

This question we face is not difficult because there is a lack of answers. There are thousands of strategies that have been employed throughout history and stories of our greatest leaders provide glimpses into the influence one soul can have on the world. Political leaders, religious voices and even prisoners have made a marked change on humanity.

But despite these accomplishments, we look at the world and find ourselves disappointed that more has not been accomplished. Anger, fear and hate pervade our society in ways that we hoped would've been extinguished by now. Jealousy, rage and discrimination have survived like an unbeatable virus. Persecution, abuse and judgment seem to be alive and well in both the world's community and our local neighborhoods.

And so your question is a good one. What are we to do? How do we make the world a better place and unite humanity?

Nations and groups have tried to show people a better way.
Religious leaders have preached of the divine life.
Individuals have given their time and their lives to fight for peace.

And yet, despite great gains, the struggle survives. But so too does our desire and hope to persevere. We know that a better way is available to the human race and we can almost taste how attainable this harmonious life is for us all. The beauty of a world infused with peace, love and joy is on the tip of our tongue. But just like a memory that just can't be recalled, we feel it but struggle to make it a reality. We just don't understand how we can make a difference.

The world we live in reinforces an approach to change that can only come about through momentous force, incredible shifts and miraculous accomplishments. Great men and women are heralded for their incredible achievements and the changes they introduced to us all. But while these stories inspire us, so too they reinforce the concept that change comes through herculean efforts.

But we're late for work and the kids have to be at soccer practice at 3:15. And so we conclude that the change that the world needs will have to come from someone else because we're too busy, not capable and not even sure where to begin.

Herein lies the key to the answer. The power of nuclear energy came about from understanding the fundamental properties of the electron. When we see the devastating damage caused by dropping a nuclear bomb or the size and complexity of a nuclear power plant, we forget that the properties of a single electron are what enable this unimaginable power. And while the effort to discover the secrets of the electron were nothing short of herculean, it was in the mind of a single physicist that the final answer emerged.

OK, so we're not physicists and we're not trying to scientifically solve the world's problems. But what this analogy brings up for us is that change happens on very small levels. It spreads like a virus through our networks and reaches into the lives of people that we don't even know.

For example, my last post on Staying Present in Crisis was forwarded to a writer in Iran who is translating it into Persian to be published in an Iranian Yoga Journal. From there someone will read that article and apply the principles in their life. Unknown to that person, they will handle a personal crisis with love and inspire someone who witnesses how they handled the situation. And that person... One thought continues to circle the world.

But this is only one known example of this chain of events. Starting with Mr. Clark posting his question, this one packet of information is circulating in ways that I not only cannot imagine but also I will probably never be made aware.

And so that is the problem that is keeping change from happening on a global scale. Without an awareness of the impact of our actions, we incorrectly conclude that they didn't make a difference in the world. So we stop trying.

But we're perpetuating a lie when we judge our actions in this way. Instead we should be steadfast in our efforts to make the world a better place. But not in herculean efforts to make marked change, but rather in small, meaningful ways in our own lives.

We can do this on a daily basis by asking ourselves these three questions when we ponder what choice to make in life. Whenever you're wondering what you should do or are about to do something, ask yourself:

Of the choices before me, which one:

A. Chooses love
B. Unites humanity
C. Expands God's presence

The opposite of this would be a choice that isn't loving, divides humanity and constrains God's presence.

We begin this change in our own homes. We should first bring peace and healing into our family. The global change we seek can only come from within. Just like the tiny electron, great power can come about through these little, tiny changes.


posted Jan 23, 2010, 10:14 PM by Darwin Stephenson

Dave Berman asks "How do you reconcile acceptance of what is with a drive to make the world a better place?"

You've asked a question which is big enough to support a thesis length explanation. But let's not put off the tough questions and jump into this one with both feet!

Like most really tough questions, the answer is surprisingly simple but understanding the foundation of the answer can be complex. Thus in order to accept the answer we must first explore the full breadth of your question.

The first part of your question deals with acceptance. You phrased it in an eloquent way in saying, "accepting what is."

As simple as this sounds, this is incredibly difficult for us to do. In order to fully grasp the power of acceptance, we must come face to face with the grim reality of the potential horrors of humanity. When we can look into the eyes of someone who has suffered the worse crimes against humanity and offer them a path to acceptance, then we have fully embraced acceptance. For those that has suffered torture, rape and murder, there is an incredible shift that must occur before they can find acceptance.

The first step to acceptance comes through forgiveness. We often think of forgiveness as something that we do for the other person, but it is actually something that we do for ourselves. We can best understand this in situations where we have not forgiven someone. Upon closely looking at the reality of the situation, we find that the other person has moved on and is no longer troubled by the incident. In fact, many times they have convinced themselves to forget the incident all together and truly walk the earth with a clear conscious.

And as much as this troubles us, it pails in comparison to the pain, anger and hatred that we carry around in our hearts when we refuse to, or have convinced ourselves that we cannot, forgive. The victim wakes every morning with anguish in their heart and relives the horror of their past each night when their head rests on the pillow. No amount of mental or logical discourse can dislodge the pain they carry around in their hearts every second of the day.

And so it is the victim that suffers without forgiveness. It is their heart that releases pain when they forgive.

It is important to distinguish between forgiveness and forgetting. One does not have to forget in order to forgive. In fact, as a species we adapt because we can remember painful situations so that we can avoid them in the future. This ability to avoid pain, the second time, extends to our friends and family as we protect them from experiencing our personal tragedies. And so by forgiving, we retain the memory of our past, but release the emotional pain that we carry around.

The second step to acceptance comes through peace. By grasping the reality of our situation without distorting the truth to fit our view of the world, we approach the world "as it is" instead of "how we pretend it is." Please note that this is not "how it was" or "how it will be." By accepting reality in the present moment, we understand the truth of now. And by approaching the reality of the situation through our own eyes and devoid of judgment, we can see the situation with fresh eyes. In the reality of the present moment, we can see clearly without fooling ourselves. As my favorite yoga teacher say's, "We can learn to be comfortable in discomfort."

For example, when I first joined Facebook I extended friend requests to everyone I went to high school and college with. Twenty years after those college years, here is the response I got back from someone I knew in college:

Have to admit I wasn't quite sure whether to accept your invitation; had good memories of you when we worked together, but was split by less pleasant ones of your big steroid-inflated buddy head-butting me at a party, catapulting water-balloons through dorm windows, etc...

Clearly my buddies in college owe this guy an apology. But what he doesn't know is that my big steroid-inflated buddy is now a Christian Minister that has dedicated his life to building a religious community and helping impoverished families in Mexico. In the past, my friend clearly wasn't nice to this guy, but "now" he's a wonderful human being.

We seek an understanding of our personal reality. Not the reality of the media, not the reality of our society, not the reality of our colleagues, not the reality of our friends and not the reality of our family. Accepting "what is" in the now requires that you only interpret the situation based on 'your' personal experience in the present moment.

The third step to acceptance is love. Not only a love for others but a love for God, a love for life, a love for our planet and a love for ourselves. But most importantly, this is a filter by which we choose to approach our path to acceptance. In our every action, we think to ourselves, "Is there a more loving way I could approach this situation?"

By approaching our lives through the filter of love, we are choosing our future. You might think of this as the opposite of acceptance because we think of acceptance in terms of accepting what cannot be changed. In that view of acceptance, we believe that we cannot change the world, we cannot change the hearts of men, we cannot change people's actions half-way around the world and we cannot change the past. But I would argue that this view of acceptance is giving up. When we accept that we have no power, we are acting in weakness instead of strength. We are simply getting out of the way.

Instead, we want to approach acceptance with forgiveness, peace and love. We do this in an active sense to play a big role in the world. We do not accept hatred, anger and violence. Instead we accept that by forgiving our trespassers, by finding peace in the reality of our situations and approaching a solution through love that we will make a difference in the world.

So too when we approach acceptance in this manner we bridge the temporal limitations of our universe. When we carry around pain in our hearts, we end up with repeating cycles in our lives. The same situations keep happening in our lives over and over again. You've heard these cycles in the stories of your friends:

I can't find a boyfriend, because I can't trust men.
I can't get a good job, because I don't have the right education.
I can't spend time with my parents, because we always fight about .

But so too these stories cause us to approach new relationships in an untrusting manner, to not apply for jobs that have educational requirements and to go into our parent's home expecting a fight. And then we're not surprised when the same thing happens again. In this approach to life, we make our past our future.

But when we approach acceptance through forgiveness, peace and love we actually change time. By forgiving people in our past, we let go of the pain that we bring into the present moment. By accepting people for who they're being right now, we experience them without the baggage of our past. And when we approach every situation with love, we choose a future that won't be constrained by our past. We can actually break through the boundaries of time and chart a new future.

Thus the answer to your question is, "We make the world a better place through acceptance. And when we approach acceptance with forgiveness, peace and love... we make the the world a better place."


Darwin Stephenson

This question was asked by Dave Berman who operates the blog and Facebook Fan Page called "Manifest Positivity." His advocacy journalism is a public service for peaceful revolution, coming from a place of love, practicing presence and pronoia.

Mindfulness Meditation

posted Jan 23, 2010, 10:12 PM by Darwin Stephenson

Zoe Baker asks, "Darwin, what do you know about Mindfulness Meditation?"

Hi Zoe:

So there are areas that I "know" and other areas that I'm "exploring." Meditation is certainly one of those areas that I'm actively exploring and it is a big part of my practice. And like most things, I have a different perspective on meditation than mainstream teachers.

To begin, I firmly believe that our society has meditation all backwards. We think that one does meditation to bring the rest of their life into a peaceful state. Instead, I think of a peaceful life as something we do to enhance our meditation practice. Which begs the question, "If my life was already peaceful, why would I meditate?"

Many people struggle with meditation because of the false expectation that in meditation they're supposed to instantly sit down, stop their thoughts and check out. I think that the reason we believe in this false expectation is that we seek a peaceful state in the present moment. Even if we've never visited this state, we inherently know how peaceful it would be. And we all desire a state of peace in our lives.

But our experience is often quite different than this ideal state. Our thoughts ramble, our body fidgets and we find ourselves focusing on everything but the state of 'nothing' that we seek. But here is where we unravel the crux of the problem: fear of nothing

Have you ever experienced nothing? No stimulus what-so-ever? The absence of thoughts, emotions, and sensations (no light, no sound, no taste, no smells and no sensory touch). Unless you've participated in a psychology test where you've been placed in a sensory deprivation environment, chances are you've never experienced nothing.

Nothing is actually really hard to experience. When I was in college, one of my college professors invited me to participate in one of these sensory deprivation experiments. Whittier College isn't a power house of science, so our deprivation environment was actually a storeroom adjacent to one of the lecture halls. And as I recall, there were two other students in the room with me so the noise of them stirring and breathing entered sound into the equation. But, even so, it was an interesting dreamlike experience.

Fast forward ten years and in support of my book, Inspiration Divine, I'm giving inspiration workshops where we guide the students through four states of being:

  1. Joy/Happiness
  2. Nothing
  3. Sadness/Despair
  4. Union (bringing everything and everyone together)

The students don't know that they're being taken through these experiences in a particular order for a reason. And to be honest, we stumbled into this amazing discovery.

In the joy/happiness experience, we have the students focus their attention on a photograph of theirs that connects them to happiness, joy or any positive memory. We then put on happy music, rub a vibrant essential oil into their hands, give them a bite of an organic orange wedge and move them into a joy evoking physical activity (e.g. specific yoga poses or NIA dance moves).

After joy/happiness, we go through the same experience but absent of the stimulation described above. There is no music, no added smells, no added tastes, no movement as the students lie on their back to experience a Pranayama inspired breathing technique. It's not completely nothing, but after turning up the volume in the first experience, it feels like nothing.

Unlike that thoughtless meditative state we seek, this state of nothing doesn't quiet the voice in your head. In fact, the voice in your head is hyperactive during this experience. If you think you're critical in every day life, your voice in your head becomes hyper-critical during this phase of the workshop. And the reason it is so activated during this phase is that this accentuated state of nothing feels like death.

This deathlike state I'm referring to is not a morbid feeling. It isn't that you feel lifeless during "nothing," but rather that you experience what it is like to not experience emotions, arousal, sound, sight, flavor, smells and sensory touch. By first turning up the volume in the joy/happiness experience, the lack of emotional feelings and sensations in the nothing experience brings the student into a simulated experience of nothingness.

But that's not what's interesting. What's interesting is the transformational breakthroughs students report having in the next experience of sadness/despair. One would think that engaging the most tragic moments in one's life would be very difficult for students. After all, many people spend years in therapy to delicately deal with the tragedies of their life. But something about going through "nothing" opens up a new way to experience sadness and despair for the student.

Our workshop students have reported being able to face the sadness in their lives for the first time ever. Lisa Gray, Marriage and Family Therapist, describes the Inspiration Workshop in this way:

With the right tools in a safe environment, experiencing sensations, feelings and thoughts can help us see our shadow self. Seeing can then become accepting and accepting can then become understanding with compassion. The Inspiration Workshop enables each student to experience an entire range of sensations, feelings and thoughts in a safe and supportive environment. In this experiential context, the student finds a healthy container for the self to unfold and be embraced with compassion.

So why do sensations, feelings and thoughts have the power to transform us? As we go through life on a regular basis, our lives are filled sensations, feelings and thoughts. And yet we don't have breakthroughs and transformational experiences all the time. How is it that these everyday aspects of life become powerful tools for change in an experiential context? And what does this have to do with meditation?

The reason sensations, feelings and thoughts are powerful is because they are the languages spoken by Body, Spirit and Mind. The Body communicates via sensations, the Spirit via feelings and the Mind via thoughts. When we conceptualize our "self" as the collective consciousness of our Body, Spirit and Mind (rather than a physical manifestation of that voice in our head), we experience a more connected sense of being. Instead of ignoring our Body and finding it difficult to connect to our Spirit, we find that these languages become pathways to an enlightened life.

OK, let's visualize the meditative experience. We sit down in a meditative posture, attempt to still the Body and quiet the Mind. We focus on our breath and this initially helps us distract the voice in our head as we connect to the air entering and leaving our lungs. One can almost feel the heart slow down as a sense of peace enters the room.

And then something in our Body feels uncomfortable; we adjust. We notice our posture is beginning to slouch forward; we straighten. And then that first thought floats into our consciousness like a breeze blowing through a tree; we ignore the thought and return to our breathing. But another thought floats in and we try to ignore it too.

So when we conceptualize our self as a physical manifestation of that voice in our head, we tend to find fault in this experience. We feel frustrated that we were not able to sit still and quiet our mind. And thus we seek out techniques that will aid us in this quest. And there are lots of techniques that can help with this experience.

But when we conceptualize our self as the collective consciousness of our Body, Spirit and Mind, we find a different experience. And we also have a completely different reason for meditating.

Have you ever heard the expression "a hammer looking for a nail?" It is a phrase that describes the downside of a "one size fits all" mentality or the risk of applying a favored approach to every problem. Hammers work great for nails, but not so good for screws. And so too, many spiritual teachers seem to recommend meditation as a tool for any life problem. It is the big hammer in their toolbox.

When we conceptualize our self as a collective Body, Spirit and Mind we can move into a nurturing approach to life. Instead of simply experiencing life as it comes at us and faulting ourselves for our reactions, we can instead nurture these three separate, but collective, parts of us as a means to live in harmony. At the close of every day, we can ask ourselves these three questions:

  1. What have I done today to nurture my Body?
  2. What have I done today to nurture my Spirit?
  3. What have I done today to nurture my Mind?

And when the answer to any one of these questions is "nothing," it becomes clear what we need to do in order to return to a state of balance. We know what part of us needs nurturing. But when is meditating the right nurturing activity? What part of us is nurtured when we meditate?

Can you imagine working out while your baby was crying next to you? Even if you don't have children, imagine yourself running on a treadmill while your baby lies crying in a cradle next to you. As much as your Body might need exercise, you couldn't do it. You couldn't nurture your Body while your child cries out to you.

When we meditate, we bring the Body and Mind to a state of peace. The Body is still and the Mind is calm. Or at least, that's what we're striving to do. And in this view, we can see that meditation is something we do to nurture the Spirit.

A lot of people don't like to think of the Spirit as something that could ever need nurturing. In this cosmic view of God and our Spirit, the Spirit is a stable, unwavering, permanently blissful part of us. It cannot be damaged, hurt or destroyed. And while I agree, please try to conceptualize a person that lived their entire life devoid of engaging their Spiritual side. Born into a non-spiritual family and raised in a non-spiritual community, this person goes through every stage of life with no concept or connection to God or their Spiritual side. They experience great tragedy in their life and find life to be a struggle.

Now imagine this same person born into a faith filled family and raised in a healthy religious community. As they go through each phase of life, they have a strong connection to both God and their Spiritual side. They regularly spend time with their religious community and devote a part of their life to making a difference in other people. They too have struggles in their life, but find God by their side each step along the way.

In comparing and contrasting the Spiritual experience of these two paths of life, we can visualize that in both scenarios the Spirit survives and is not damaged. But in one life the Spirit is nourished and thrives through playing an active role in the person's life. So we don't look at nurturing the Spirit as providing it life support, but rather taking care of the Spirit like we take care of the Body.

So just like you might carve out a half hour of your day to run on the treadmill, we look for opportunities to take care of our Spirit. We do this in one of two ways:

  1. Expressing our Spirit.
  2. Nurturing our Spirit.

How to express one's Spirit is a whole other discussion (covered in Inspiration Divine). However, nurturing our Spirit is something that can be done through meditation because in this experience we bring the Body and Mind into a calm state. The babies next to the treadmill are peacefully sleeping so the Spirit can be nourished.

"OK, that's great, but how do I still the Body and quiet the Mind during meditation so the Spirit can be nourished?"

As I mentioned above, there are a variety of techniques that one can employ during meditation. But more importantly, it is what we do when we're not meditating that has the greatest influence on this experience. How we live our lives is the means by which we bring our Body and Mind into a peaceful state during meditation.

When we're meditating and we experience our Body fidgeting or our Mind rambling, we can view them as crying infants. Instead of finding fault in their communications, we can have empathy for them like we would a crying baby. "I need nurturing too," they cry out to us.

"Don't worry, I will nurture you too," should be our response. But right now your sibling needs our care and compassion. "Shhh, it will be OK."

Recognizing that sensations, feeling and thoughts are the languages of the Body, Spirit and Mind helps us focus the meditative experience. For example, in the weekly meditation class I teach at my local yoga studio we are experimenting with walking meditations and incorporating music, tastes, smells and sensory experiences. And rather than these things distracting the meditative experience, my students report that they've experienced an even deeper sense of peace.

I know this hasn't been a simple explanation of how I approach meditation. But I hope it provides you some clues as to how you can embrace your own practice.

Our Personality vs. Spirit

posted Nov 3, 2009, 2:14 PM by Darwin Stephenson

Dear Darwin,

Does your book cover the concept of the duality between our personalities and our spirits? Do you feel that in order for our souls to evolve, we first must experience tension between our spirit and our personalities; and then from there discover resolution? and then and only then will our souls evolve. Is it the tension that causes growth?

I would love your thoughts on this concept.



As I understand the question, you're distinguishing a conflict between one's personality and their Spirit. I frame this as a "conflict" because, if there were no conflict, then the perception of a duality between the two wouldn't exist (e.g. the personality and Spirit in harmony).

I wanted to be clear on what we define as a personality so I did a quick Wikipedia lookup to find this definition:

Personality can be defined as a dynamic and organized set of characteristics possessed by a person that uniquely influences his or her cognitions, motivations, and behaviors in various situations (1).

Simply stated, one's personality is the makeup of their Mind that guides them through daily life. As such, one's personality comes from a variety of sources such as individual life experiences, generational uniqueness, cultural background, etc. Essentially this is the sum of our learned experiences that result in our actions.

In isolation, the singularity of this conscious experience is the personality of our Mind. Thus we deduce when someone is eccentric or shy that it is their personality that governs their makeup. And because this "personality" comes from years of molding and refinement, we find our personalities to be rather distinguishable. And in trying to sort out where we fit in the world, we categorize ourselves and others into personality types. I'm gregarious, you're shy and she is hot blooded.

We often question our actions and conclude that we are "the way we are" because of our personalities. You might conclude, "I'm just that way and there is nothing I can do about it."

But in connecting to our Spiritual nature, we find that we aspire to be more than the confines of our Mind's approach to life. We regret screaming at someone or not speaking up when we should have. And thus we have this conflict between our Mind's ways and our Spirit's aspirations.

I grew up in Wyoming and I distinctly remember an elementary school field trip we took out to the Oregon trail. The trail had been so heavily trafficked that the wagon wheels cut deep ruts into the sandstone hills of central Wyoming. The ruts were so deep that once the wagon entered, it was impossible to deviate from the rut. With four wheels passing through these steep cuts in the stone, there was only one way in and one way out.

This is how I like to think of our Mind's ways of acting. Those patterns of behavior in our life are so ingrained in our psyche that it becomes almost impossible to change direction. We've acted and re-acted the same way so many times that we often find ourselves going through the same patterns of behavior time and time again. And this is despite our aspiration to act differently.

However I think it is a mistake to convince ourselves that our Mind's personalities are unchangeable like the wagon wheel ruts of the Oregon Trail. These stringent patterns of behavior are simply the result of living a physical existence whereby we allow our Minds to govern our existence. Instead we should aspire to lead a life governed by the harmony of our Body, Spirit and Mind working as a team.

Making this shift from a physical existence to a Spiritual existence is the meaning of mankind's evolution. And hence we all face the question as to how we can invoke this desirable change in our lives. Attempting to answer this question are countless books, gurus and 10 step programs outlining the path to getting out from under our Mind's control.

But entwined in this approach is a fatal flaw. God designed you with a Mind for a reason. Certainly God is capable of creating life without inherent flaws and limitations. My point being that there would have to be a purpose of creating life with a Mind that is inherently flawed. And thus I'm not a fan of any approach that begins by making your Mind out to be the enemy of something that is to be overcome.

Instead we should embark on a journey through life that includes our Body, Spirit and Mind in this transformational process. Our mentally isolated ways are a living example of how not to approach life, but there are countless ways each of us can approach a life in union with the Body, Spirit and Mind.

For example, think of one aspect of your personality that you would like to change. Then list all of the reasons why this personality trait is not good for you and all of the reasons why this personality trait is good for you. For example if you're shy, you miss out on getting noticed, but so too you notice things because you're observing from the anonymity of the crowd. Or if you're hot tempered, you regret yelling at your kids, but you're also quick to stand up for someone that is being abused. There are good and not so good aspects to every part of us.

The personality trait may be the sandstone rut, but your Spirit is the wagon wheel itself. By looking at our personalities in this way we can consider if we're investing energy into the rut or the wagon wheel (Mind or Spirit). If we're investing energy into the rut, then it should come as no surprise that our lives continue to go in the same direction. Instead we can focus on investing energy into our Spirit to free ourselves from the constraints of our Mind.

This is surely not a quick fix or something that can be achieved by repeating a trendy aphorism everyday (e.g. live in present). But by focusing our nurturing energy into a more balanced investment across our Body, Spirit and Mind, we can start to remove the ruts (e.g. conflict) between our Mind and Spirit. I hope my perspective was helpful. Keep those questions coming, together we can change the world.



1. Ryckman, R. (2004). Theories of Personality. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.

Depression and Enlightenment

posted Aug 17, 2009, 5:05 PM by Darwin Stephenson

Originally posted by Jason on the Discussion Boards in the Inspiration Divine Fan Page:

What did the Inspiration Work mean to me? In all honesty, I nearly canceled the morning of the workshop. Afterward, I was extremely grateful I hadn't.

For nearly my entire life, I have dealt with depression and the spectrum of effects that arise from it. From pre-pubescence through early adulthood I assumed it was an integral part of me. Eventually I realized that was not the case, but did not have the strategies, know-how, or life experience to effectively reverse the mentality. For the last few years, I have actively addressed my depression, gaining knowledge of it, coming to know it and ultimately working toward completely overcoming its effects. I think of it as being cyclical or wave-like. Finding enjoyment in "navigating the seas" has been quintessential to growing out of depression. Learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, as is taught in yoga, has sparked the fires of this growth.

I was not in a good head-space the weekend of the Inspiration Workshop. In fact, I did not have a "negative" photo because nothing I saw was making me feel worse than what I already felt. Really I was at a low somewhere in the mental sea. Giving myself the gift of showing up for the Inspiration Workshop at this time allowed me to realize that as long as you continue to show up, and do the work, you will reap the rewards. This is true even when, or perhaps especially when, things seem at the worst or most impassible.

Enlightenment, or as I'm coming to understand it, bringing together my ego and my subtle body/energy is not a fun or easy task. The age-old adage that nothing worthwhile is easy has never been more true. This difficulty marrying ego and existence I consider the lingering echo of depression, something which with time is getting more and more quiet and less and less distinguishable from a vague memory of an uninteresting event.

The Inspiration Workshop to me was proof positive that no matter how hard life may seem, one need only stay present and grounded to overcome anything. Staying grounded in the physical moment is both highly crucial to well-being and amazingly easy with the proper training and technique.

Inspiration Workshop provides an experience and a tool with which to achieve and sustain, for lack of a more appropriate description, enlightenment. Being asked to feel very fully on an emotional level, and subsequently engage in yoga, which is feeling on a physical level, stimulates a bond between feeling and movement/breath. A powerful experience, to be sure.

Therapist's Perspective

posted Aug 17, 2009, 5:02 PM by Darwin Stephenson

Originally posted by Lisa in the Discussion Boards on the Darwin Stephenson Inspiration Divine Fan Page:

From a therapists perspective, one of the biggest problems we create for ourselves is how we avoid emotional trauma. On the path to healing, these methods for avoiding the pain in our lives can sometimes become hurdles rather than enablers for survival. With the right tools in a safe environment, experiencing sensations, feelings and thoughts can help us see our shadow self. Seeing can then become accepting and accepting can then become understanding with compassion.

The Inspiration Workshop enables each student to experience an entire range of sensations, feelings and thoughts in a safe and supportive environment. In this experiential context, the student finds a healthy container for the self to unfold and be embraced with compassion.

Having experienced the Inspiration Workshop myself, I can personally attest to the healing that it can provide.

Lisa Gray
Marriage and Family Therapist

Sharing Myself

posted Aug 17, 2009, 2:50 PM by Darwin Stephenson   [ updated Aug 17, 2009, 3:28 PM ]

Message from Darwin

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