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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.

Categories
Align Perceiving Alignment

Correct Our (Physical & Digital) Diets

Butch­er Dis­play, 1940

Replace poor dietary habits of processed “junk” foods and “junk” con­tent with a digest of healthy fats to feed our brains along with pos­i­tive nar­ra­tives to feed our souls and imag­i­na­tions.

“I do believe you are what you per­ceive. What comes is bet­ter than what came before.” — The Vel­vet Under­ground, “I Found a Rea­son”, 1970

Diet col­ors our char­ac­ter and shapes our real­i­ty. Between the invis­i­ble lines that con­nect what we eat with how we feel, or between what we think and what we expe­ri­ence, there is the inex­tri­ca­ble influ­ence of our entire phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal diets on how we per­ceive our­selves.

What we decide to put into our bod­ies and minds is a very inti­mate choice. Yet, we are eas­i­ly over­whelmed by innu­tri­tious offer­ings. Glob­al eat­ing trends are in seri­ous need of revi­sion. Around the world, unhealthy eat­ing habits now cause more deaths than tobac­co and high blood pres­sure. An esti­mat­ed 11 mil­lion deaths were attrib­ut­able to unhealthy diets in 2017. The caus­es of these deaths includ­ed 10 mil­lion deaths from heart dis­ease, 913,000 deaths from obe­si­ty-relat­ed can­cers, and near­ly 339,000 deaths from type 2 dia­betes.5 Over-con­sum­ing unwhole­some foods com­pro­mis­es one’s life. The most impor­tant realign­ment we can make in our phys­i­cal diets is to focus on eat­ing health­i­er foods. Whole grains, seeds, legumes, fruits, and veg­eta­bles ben­e­fit car­dio­vas­cu­lar health as well as men­tal health.

Address­ing the cor­re­la­tion between food and mood, a New York Times arti­cle points out how the major­i­ty of Amer­i­cans take in an abun­dance of calo­ries while being mal­nour­ished when it comes to micronu­tri­ents.6 The micronu­tri­ents which are com­mon­ly found in plant-based foods, are vital, nour­ish­ing com­po­nents required to ener­gize and strength­en our brains. Eat­ing more fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles and eat­ing less processed foods is the most imme­di­ate way to bet­ter reg­u­late our moods. A prop­er­ly main­tained, bal­anced phys­i­cal diet has the abil­i­ty to alle­vi­ate depres­sion and anx­i­ety.

The dig­i­tal space is anoth­er area that requires care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion when it comes to what we con­sume. End­less­ly scrolling through con­tent arranged by algo­rithms designed to keep you fur­ther addict­ed to screens will not help improve per­son­al and social cohe­sion.

“Dig­i­tal sab­baths” are the quick­est way to reclaim atten­tion for one­self and one’s mean­ing­ful rela­tion­ships. We don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly think that apps designed to mon­i­tor the use of oth­er apps is as good of an answer to this prob­lem as sim­ply step­ping away from our screens. And, when we return we return to our news and enter­tain­ment, we should strive to inten­tion­al­ly seek out uplift­ing sto­ries and inspir­ing expres­sions of cre­ativ­i­ty to fuel pos­i­tive mind­sets and actions.

We believe that the more mind­ful we are about nour­ish­ing our­selves, the health­i­er our bod­ies, brains, rela­tion­ships, com­mu­ni­ties, and ulti­mate­ly soci­ety will be.

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Align Perceiving Alignment

Human Nature & The Role of Machines

Humans are good at being humans. Machines are good at being machines. Humans being made to per­form tasks like machines erodes human­i­ty. It’s essen­tial that human­i­ty be pri­or­i­tized in all human activ­i­ties.

Franck V., 2018

The the­o­ry of sci­en­tif­ic man­age­ment, as advo­cat­ed by mechan­i­cal engi­neer Fred­er­ick Winslow Tay­lor, gained great pop­u­lar­i­ty around the tail end of the 19th cen­tu­ry. Accord­ing to the the­o­ry, through the appli­ca­tion of sci­en­tif­ic meth­ods and empir­i­cal ver­i­fi­ca­tion, pro­duc­tive effi­cien­cy can be achieved by break­ing down process­es into the most clin­i­cal and pre­cise steps pos­si­ble, there­by elim­i­nat­ing wast­ed motion.7

Labor was still large­ly per­formed man­u­al­ly at the time that this the­o­ry emerged so the move­ment of the body itself was often the sub­ject of scruti­ny. Every dip, step, grasp, and twist was ana­lyzed, and the human capac­i­ty for work was reduced to that of a machine. The quan­tifi­able impli­ca­tions of Taylor’s the­o­ry have exert­ed a great deal of influ­ence on sub­se­quent man­age­ment the­o­ries and have become increas­ing­ly vis­i­ble in labor prac­tices of the present day.

Today’s busi­ness­es, sup­plied with pre­cise track­ing and data min­ing tech­nolo­gies, can cre­ate quan­ti­fied met­rics to assess employ­ee per­for­mance based on their phys­i­cal per­for­mance. Ama­zon is one of the most enthu­si­as­tic adopters of this prac­tice. Their ware­house work­ers remain under the watch­ful eye of their ana­lyt­ic sys­tems at all times. At Ama­zon, if an employ­ee falls behind painstak­ing pro­duc­tiv­i­ty tar­gets, they can be warned, rep­ri­mand­ed, and ulti­mate­ly even fired.8 All this occurs com­plete­ly auto­mat­i­cal­ly, via algo­rithm, with­out the input of a super­vi­sor. This sys­tem exac­er­bates the phys­i­cal strain of main­tain­ing con­tin­u­al opti­mized out­put com­bined with the men­tal stress of per­pet­u­al scruti­ny. One-size-fits-all stan­dard­ized met­rics for employ­ee per­for­mance have dis­as­trous effects for the indi­vid­u­als who keep a com­pa­ny run­ning. The result­ing work con­di­tions form a tox­ic con­coc­tion for these work­ers, and not one con­ducive to sat­is­fac­tion or con­nec­tion with one’s work.

“Ana­log Com­mu­ni­ca­tion”, Natalia Petri

Cor­po­rate pro­duc­tiv­i­ty prac­tices rep­re­sent one area of stan­dard­iza­tion that can be improved for human ben­e­fit. Yet, there’s anoth­er more insid­i­ous sense of stan­dard­iza­tion that has creeped into the lifestyles of peo­ple in devel­oped nations: an indus­tri­al­ly-stan­dard­ized dai­ly cycle of work-eat-enter­tain-sleep. This arti­fi­cial cycle of life pum­mels our bio­log­i­cal clocks with end­less com­pu­ta­tion­al work, processed foods, streams of tele­vi­sion shows to watch, and social media bar­rages, all of which con­tribute to loss of sleep and relat­ed dis­or­ders.9 Step­ping away from indus­tri­al­ized stan­dards of dai­ly rou­tines will do much to improve our con­nec­tion to our own intu­itive wis­dom.

While stan­dard­iza­tion can make for cer­tain effi­cien­cies, we also lose the integri­ty of vari­a­tion and the poten­tial to receive insights that can emerge by devi­at­ing from the norm. We believe in the impor­tance of approach­es that work for effi­ca­cy as much as we believe in the impor­tance of enabling vari­a­tion.

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