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Align Perceiving Alignment

Align with Intuition

Our bod­ies are con­stant­ly telling us what works and what doesn’t. Con­flict is impor­tant for dri­ving action, but fric­tion can wear down our best parts. Aware­ness of intu­ition can help expe­ri­ences tran­spire more smooth­ly.

The com­par­i­son between instinct and intu­ition breaks down into a mat­ter of rigid­i­ty ver­sus flu­id­i­ty. Where­as instinct is typ­i­cal­ly fixed, intu­ition can shift and turn. Our instincts might tell us that we should help if we see some­one in need. Or to run if we sense dan­ger. Yet, a strange thing about humans is that we’re the only species to have the capac­i­ty to go against our own instinct.1 This capac­i­ty for wires get­ting crossed in the hard­wired appli­ca­tion of instinct can cause a series of prob­lems based on sec­ond-guess­ing infor­ma­tion we receive. As a result, instinct is often not the most reli­able human com­pan­ion. In com­par­i­son, intu­ition goes with the flow and can actu­al­ly get bet­ter with more expe­ri­ence. Intu­ition is quick and sub­con­scious, draw­ing on infor­ma­tion we might not even know we’re per­ceiv­ing to help us make auto­mat­ic deci­sions in our favor.2 For these rea­sons, intu­ition is best suit­ed to be our guid­ing prin­ci­ple.

When faced with a big deci­sion, we should ask our­selves: How does this feel? Our hearts can some­times answer bet­ter than our brains. To that effect, our bod­ies often give us direc­tions for how best to live and what pat­terns we should no longer repeat. It’s incred­i­bly impor­tant we learn how to lis­ten and respond to this built-in advice so we do not miss out on the lessons our bod­ies know to teach us.

Most peo­ple agree that it doesn’t feel good to begin each day with a com­mute cramped in cars or shoved into packed trains. The gift of life is not to be squan­dered by being stuck in traf­fic. Through­out indus­tri­al life, the symp­to­matic aches and pains we feel from repeat­ed, near-mechan­i­cal tasks are mes­sages from our bod­ies telling us we were not meant to oper­ate in this way. We do not need to con­tin­u­al­ly com­pro­mise the bod­ies and minds we are blessed to have. Every­body deserves a bet­ter bal­ance of phys­i­cal and men­tal demands with phys­i­cal and men­tal rest.

We could all do with some more time to recon­nect with our­selves. We still have much to learn about our own inter­nal sys­tems. From a col­lec­tive per­spec­tive, we’re just start­ing to get in touch with lis­ten­ing to our bod­ies. Mind­ful­ness helps us con­nect with our intu­ition. In that slowed down, more inten­tion­al space, we have more room to let our emo­tions dis­si­pate so we can more clear­ly see what feels like the best way for­ward. From kinder­gartens to uni­ver­si­ty research depart­ments, mind­ful­ness is becom­ing a new stan­dard prac­tice for influ­enc­ing our behav­ioral pat­terns, cre­at­ing fur­ther pos­i­tive impli­ca­tions for soci­ety.

“Quin­ta Essen­tia”, Lean­hart Thurneiss­er, 1574
“Plan of the Brain”, Dr Ale­sha Sivartha, 1898
Excerpt from “Chi­rol­gia, or the Nat­ur­al Lan­guage of the Hand”, John Bul­w­er

Inte­ro­cep­tion is the sense used to bet­ter under­stand your body’s inter­nal state.3 Most of us are sur­pris­ing­ly inept at describ­ing what’s going on inside our own bod­ies. It’s even hard­er to sim­ply find a com­mon lan­guage to explain dis­com­fort. This predica­ment makes it dif­fi­cult for a doc­tor to under­stand exact­ly what a patient’s body requires in the short amount of time allot­ted between the two peo­ple. Nurs­es typ­i­cal­ly have a bet­ter sense of how to help patients because they inter­act with them to a greater degree and there­fore get to know their patients bet­ter. If the med­ical com­mu­ni­ty on the whole were to devel­op a greater focus on the human­i­ty of the patient, and if simul­ta­ne­ous­ly all peo­ple were more encour­aged to speak about how they feel, then we could sig­nif­i­cant­ly help address chal­lenges of com­mu­ni­ca­tion going for­ward in health­care prac­tices.

The more we can gain knowl­edge about our bodies—and what they might be telling us through sen­sa­tions as polar as plea­sure and pain—the more we’ll under­stand how to heal more effi­cient­ly. The more knowl­edge every­one has, the more we can learn from one anoth­er as well (rather than sole­ly on text books and spe­cial­ists). These ultra-sys­tem­atized modes of learn­ing form just one part of the larg­er process of shar­ing knowl­edge about the mys­ter­ies of the body. We must con­tin­ue to con­cen­trate on sup­port­ing holis­tic approach­es for our health.

In Amer­i­ca, one of the mon­e­tar­i­ly rich­est coun­tries on Earth, the health­care sys­tem is designed to cre­ate prof­it rather than care for the sick. This arrange­ment has a dis­mal effect for peo­ple in need of care. In the U.S. more mon­ey is spent per capi­ta on health­care than any oth­er nation, and yet the coun­try still has one of the worst health sys­tems in the devel­oped world. This inef­fi­cien­cy is alarm­ing.

How can we not afford to have health­care for all? Sim­i­lar­ly, how can we afford not to have pro­posed leg­is­la­tion like a Green New Deal, which is designed to con­front cli­mate change while at the same time ensur­ing pro­grams like uni­ver­sal child­care, and dig­ni­fied wages for health­care work­ers? Leg­isla­tive ideas like these are crit­i­cal for a sus­tain­able future. We have to direct our inten­tions, ini­tia­tives, and activ­i­ties toward tak­ing com­pre­hen­sive care of our­selves and the plan­et that sus­tains us.

The path to a bet­ter future is inscribed with­in each one of us. As Joseph Camp­bell said, “Fol­low your bliss.” Your heart knows that when ener­gies are aligned an idea can bet­ter spark cre­ative action. Our heads are not the only parts of our body with a brain, our hearts and guts each have a brain of their own. We have pro­cess­ing sys­tems all through­out our phys­i­cal forms. As a result, our inter­nal sen­sa­tions and intu­itions can some­times be our best advo­cates. The more we can get in touch with these sen­sa­tions, the more we access intu­ition, the more we will place our­selves in ben­e­fi­cial sit­u­a­tions.

“Phys­i­cal Train­ing for Busi­ness­men”, Har­rie Irv­ing Han­cock, 1917
Hand paint­ed images of Bud­dha
Categories
Align Perceiving Alignment

Breathe, Stretch, Adjust

When imbal­ance occurs, we feel it quick­ly. The impact of our repet­i­tive tasks can take a toll. Resist con­fine­ment and allow soli­tary expan­sion…

Liv­ing away from truth is harm­ful for mind and body alike. A truth we are well served to keep in mind is that humans are col­lab­o­ra­tive crea­tures. And in order to work well with oth­ers, we first need to take care of our­selves. By giv­ing our­selves appro­pri­ate time to be alone, to access our thoughts and feel­ings, we are able to expand our self-aware­ness and become bet­ter pre­pared to engage with oth­ers.

Sim­ple actions to sup­port well­be­ing can help heal wounds and expe­ri­ences of dis­con­nec­tion. Iso­la­tion, lethar­gy, and neg­a­tiv­i­ty are well treat­ed by exer­cise, eat­ing well, and speak­ing with oth­ers. The cru­el irony is that the worse one feels, the more one retreats away from oth­ers and into the depths of depres­sion. Yet, this ten­den­cy can be more read­i­ly coun­tered with increased aware­ness of one’s thoughts and emo­tions, com­bined with a focus on shared pur­pose and heal­ing.

There are myr­i­ad ways to feel cen­tered. Every one of us gets to choose what feels right. There’s visu­al­iza­tion, in which you imag­ine your­self like a tree, your trunk grow­ing from the ground, roots spread­ing deep below the sur­face of ground­wa­ter, and every oth­er nitro­gen-rich nutri­ent sus­tain­ing cre­ative growth. Play­ing sports or tak­ing on ath­let­ic chal­lenges is anoth­er way to become present in the moment and gen­er­ate increased aware­ness. Surf­ing requires patience, bal­ance, and one­ness with the wave. There’s no short­age of activ­i­ties that pro­mote align­ment.

Right this moment, you might choose to take a break from read­ing and use that time to reflect silent­ly. Or med­i­tate. A deep inhale, accom­pa­nied by a mantra of love, kind­ness, and pos­i­tiv­i­ty, awak­ens the soul, fol­lowed by a slow exhale that releas­es all that you no longer need, what­ev­er no longer serves. The next breath of oxy­gen you draw in will fill your lungs, heart, brain…and cre­ate a pos­i­tive effect on the mind.

There’s much to be gained in acknowl­edg­ing grat­i­tude for this life. When we feel our­selves suf­fer­ing through the ham­ster wheel of repet­i­tive com­pu­ta­tion­al chores, it helps to pause. Go out­side, absorb some sun­light, breathe oxy­gen from trees, reach into the sky. Jump up and feel your body recon­nect with the ground when you land, the earth beneath your feet. Take a cou­ple deep breaths when things feel heavy. Take a moment for your­self, wher­ev­er that leads. At night, see if you can find the first star to appear in the sky. Or regard the glow of the moon. Sub­merge your­self in a body of water, a riv­er, a lake, the ocean. Or sim­ply take a sip of water. The ele­men­tal forces of nature can reju­ve­nate. They can help us under­stand the rela­tion our bod­ies have to what the ancient Greek’s referred to as Gaia, or Moth­er Earth. Rev­el in the endur­ing and evolv­ing rela­tion­ship between your­self and every­thing else in exis­tence.

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