Essential Principles, Practices and Panaceas, A – Z: Evolution

evolution haiku

Without Psychological Evolution there cannot be any form of revolution. The self is constantly changing. Be involved, be evolved, be revolutionised as lucent and fresh as the new wave hitting at the shore. Become the Sea of Changes. It starts from within. Grigoris Deoudis

Evolution is a processthe origin of the word  process being: fact of being carried on, a journey, continuation, development…, a going forward, advance, progress, continuous series of actions meant to accomplish some result. What evolution is not is an end result.

Bill Hicks got it right when he said:

Folks, it’s time to evolve. That’s why we’re troubled. You know why our institutions are failing us, the church, the state, everything’s failing? It’s because, um – they’re no longer relevant. We’re supposed to keep evolving. Evolution did not end with us growing opposable thumbs. You do know that, right

To evolve is to develop gradually by natural process (Oxford English Dictionary); psychological evolution is, for me, about ascending Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and moving towards self-actualisation.

Psychological evolution is the principle underpinning Essential Coaching Inc. I’m passionate about personal transformation and fulfilment of potential. What are we here for if not to grow, blossom and be all that we can be?

A fundamental psychological transformation concerns healing and integrating the neurotic/unhealthy/wounded ego and befriending our shadow – which contains untapped potential, not just those aspects of ourselves that we do not care to admit to, much less accept.

Think about a behaviour or character trait in someone that irritates you; then consider how you might also possess that same characteristic. If the thought makes you bristle, there’s a good chance that trait is lurking in your shadow, clamouring to be recognised.

Perfectionism is a sure sign that the dark side of your shadow has the upper hand. I know people who become angry at the slightest criticism; nobody likes to think that they have any faults, but if you find yourself constantly on the defensive then perhaps it’s time to look inside to see what needs to be reconciled.

I don’t see how anyone can ever be truly happy unless they are prepared to undertake this work. If there are aspects of yourself that you disown, then you are denying your own humanity. Think about that.

What stands in the way for many of us is shame – that it’s not okay to be human, that is, to be fallible. I believe that until sufficient numbers of people address this problem, we will keep failing, to the detriment of some more than others.

Idris Shah claimed that we all have limitless potential for both self-development and self-destruction – our rejected shadows hold us back, drag us down, whether or not we realise it. In this way we fit Idris Shah’s description of a human being who is clinically alive and yet, despite all appearances, spiritually dead.

It takes courage to look unflinchingly into your psyche, to concede that within you is a range of human attributes, from the worst to the best. That is what living from your essence entails – fully immersing yourself in the human experience and condition.

Acknowledging that you’re imperfect doesn’t mean that you have to act in accordance with what you perceive as your undesirable traits.

A wise teacher of mine once said that nobody is all good, and nobody is all bad; there’s always room for improvement, which is why I’ll leave you to ponder Jonas Salk’s words:

When things get bad enough, then something happens to correct the course. And it’s for that reason that I speak about evolution as an error-making and an error-correcting process. And if we can be ever so much better – ever so much slightly better – at error correcting than at error making, then we’ll make it.

Essential Principles, Practices and Panaceas, A – Z: Consciousness

consciousness haiku

The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness. Lao Tzu

Consciousness, says Wikipedia, is the state or quality [my italics] of awareness, or, of being aware of an external object or something within oneself.

Consciousness of our physical environment is often restricted by the distractions of 21st century living; cognitive distortions have an impact on our minds and emotions that falsify our perception of the world.

I believe we are at a fork in the road where we have to make a choice between what human rights activist Natan Sharansky calls ‘fear society’ and ‘free society’, each built on opposing qualities of consciousness. Describing her understanding of these states of consciousness, Naomi Wolf suggests that:

  • The consciousness derived of oppression is despairing, fatalistic, and fearful of inquiry. It is mistrustful of the self and forced to trust external authority. It is premised on a dearth of self-respect. It is cramped.
  • In contrast, the consciousness of freedom is one of expansiveness, trust of the self, and hope. It is a consciousness of limitless inquiry. It builds up in a citizen a wealth of self-respect.

Which of the two definitions above would you say best fits the society you live in?

Consider the headlines and lead stories in the mainstream media; do they promote fear or hope? Clearly there are situations in the world that give grave cause for concern, however, accusations have been made that these are presented in a way designed to browbeat the masses. Information circulates on the internet that calls into question the motive and integrity of the moguls who profit from broadcasting alarming stories that, for example, result in fear for some of travelling on public transport with Muslims.

Jung said that:

There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular.   

It occurs to me that the more of us that seek enlightenment and bring peace into our beings, the better the chance of bringing peace into the world.

It took a life-shattering event for me to ‘face my own soul’; from what I have heard this is a common occurrence. When you have faced your mortality because of life-threatening illness, or when you’ve endured such extreme trauma that life as you knew it no longer exists, you have nothing to lose; you are prepared to do whatever is necessary  to make sense of your experience, to find meaning (if you want to not just survive but thrive). You have to go inwards; in this way, abnormal experiences can facilitate the elevation of your consciousness.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who coined the term ‘flow; being in the zone’, says that control of consciousness determines the quality of life. I can attest to that because pre-involvement with a paranoid schizophrenic with psychotic tendencies my consciousness was, arguably, constricted. I only discovered this, however, as a result of the post-traumatic growth that has definitely seen it expand.

I can’t say that my quest has been undemanding; however it has been ultimately satisfying. I’d even go so far as to challenge Jung’s assertion that bringing your shadow into the light is unpleasant (although the neurotic/wounded/inflated aspects of your ego like to make you squirm!); I’ve had to navigate tricky terrain at times but the consciousness of freedom I have attained, and its attendant self-trust and contentment, has been worth every strenuous step.

Hegel said that the history of the world is none other than the progress of the consciousness of freedom. How our history will be written is in our own hands; it’s up to us to ensure that our essence rather than our ego determines what our legacy will be.