In last month’s Conservation Conversation, we explored how we could learn to “de-clutter” our priorities and manage our lives according to our own values. This is something we can do both individually and together. In this conversation, we discuss recent research on how to manage our wayward brains to help simplify our lives and explore what can happen if we work on this together. Let’s see what we might accomplish as we make conscious choices, together in community, as a way to work toward living on Earth in harmony and joy.
Reflections by Susan B. Eirich
“The Holy Fool is the most dangerous person on earth because s/he is willing to break from convention to take an action that is inspired from within.” – Joseph Campbell
“Each of us was put here in this time and this place to personally decide the fare of human-kind. Did you think you were put here for something less?” Chief Arvol Looking Horse
Having just come back from a wellness conference, I shared some of what we have learned about rewiring and helping us manage our wayward brains. One of the ways is toggling back and forth between two brain networks to get us out of negative thoughts and patterns (immensely useful!). Some others are journaling (integrates both sides of the brain) and using humor (breaks patterns). OK – so how do we help seven billion of us do this and make saner decisions about how to live with ourselves, each other and the Earth?
A major delight of these conversations is the wide range of sensitive, penetrating observations people share. Not that the intelligence is unexpected! Rather, it is the many insights from unexpected angles that is so enriching.
Zoe shared that, “Nature grounds me; technology brings me out of my self.” She talked about how being on the internet sends us into a trance and out of our body, and the consequent importance of grounding ourselves regularly. Wendy noted that we are moving away from where we all came from, with technology and multiple distractions, losing our roots. And I would add, thus losing access to one of our main sources of deep happiness and joy.
Molly commented that we as humans are very easily entrained, and if we don’t see that the internet is a trance-inducing media right off the bat and catch its impact on us, then we are in it. A wonderful counterforce to that is that, “we can entrain just as easily with a tree, and we have sovereignty over which one we choose.” If more and more of us spend more and more time in a trance as the world disintegrates around us, this is a rather important topic to explore.
Wendy talked about the importance of inviting nature in and reclaiming our own inner wildness; that the wildness that we carry is our salvation.
Jennifer made the pithy observation, “There is a lot of trance around.” She noted that we are easily entrained and need to learn not to be taken advantage of by those who want to control us. Recognizing that we get stuck in patterns, she offered ways she tries to help break out of them, from walking the dog in a different area, to rearranging the furniture to change the flow of their living space. She suggested that changing physical patterns helps to change thought patterns–changes the neural pathways, as she put it. She also uses flower essences to help ground herself spiritually and emotionally, as another way to bring her back to herself.
It is just fascinating that we instinctively recognize the problems our brain wiring can bring, and make attempts to deal with it. But it is a huge problem, individually and societally–both how our brains are wired and easily hijacked, and the immense forces arraigned against basic sanity. (Sanity is defined here as seeing the consequences of our actions–short- and long-term–for ourselves, others, and the systems we depend upon for life.)
A major point, from Gitte, was the crucial importance of the fact that we CAN rewire ourselves. We have progressed from the conventional wisdom that we can’t change our brains, and especially as we age, to we can. Awareness of this possibility is enormously empowering. It changes everything. It literally can change the course of our future and the future of Life on Earth. Not to mention making us much happier. Not only can we rewire ourselves, we then have energy freed to access the brilliant, imaginative, hopeful, creative aspects of the gift we have been given.
She mentioned that we have a choice about how to experience things–that we can choose in these difficult times to remember that there is love as well. This also helps us deal with the empathic distress we feel at all the suffering around us. She repeated that where we go emotionally, what part of our brain we activate, is a choice, and the positive choice we make serves as a model for others. We can help strengthen one another.
Jennifer gave her response to the question of how we change as a society, and interact with all our relations with whom we are so deeply connected. She said that personal transformation is the way to ultimately affect change; even if we can’t quantify it, the impact is real. We can’t solve our problems with the same consciousness that created them, and by raising our consciousness we can access different solutions.
The upshot of the conversation is that there is something we can do–something powerful and transformative, to change the trajectory we are on—but it will take each of us doing our part, working on our own brains. And helping each other as well, which is what these conversations are for.
For those of you reading this,please join us and share your own insights! We need all the human wisdom we can get, and wisdom you may have gained from the animals and the trees and all of nature.