No One Above Me, No One Below Me

“Except You—Yeah, You’re definitely below me.”

You and I are are sharing a physical experience on a very physical dimension. Although we’ve been told that every physical component of this reality—from furniture to bodies to walls—is 99% empty space, if you punch someone in the face, with any luck, you’re going to leave a mark. Our hands don’t simply go through walls and faces, and our food doesn’t magically convert into ether once we’ve consumed it. We are used to dealing with the mass, the weight, of this physical reality. We play by the rules of this world: we put in physical work for physical pay, we execute physical actions for physical results, and we think in terms that relate back to what we can feel, see, smell, taste, and hear with our five, very physical senses. The drawback of this approach to life is that we tend to judge things based exclusively on their mass. We observe their physical manifestation, and then decide who is worth more based on several definitive factors:

 

  • their gender (are they a threat to me/opportunity for me?)
  • their race (are they excessively different than me?)
  • their age (do they have more or less experience than me?)
  • their looks (are they more attractive than me?)
  • their weight (are they healthier/fitter than me?)
  • their occupation (are they more productive/meaningful to society than me?)
  • their socioeconomic status (are they richer/more successful than me?)
  • their education (are they more intelligent than me?)
  • their family (are they more fruitful than me?)
  • their religion (do they agree with my opinions about what is real and true?)
  • their politics (see above)

Once we have assessed (judged) someone about whether they rank above, equal, or below us in any of these categories, we then formulate our interaction strategy. This is different for everyone—for example, some individuals are desperately seeking the approval of the rich, hoping that somehow they’ll be inducted into their ranks. These people are likely to seek out, support, and side with the wealthy. Other individuals resent the rich, considering them the scum of the earth, and treat them accordingly. This is one small example, but it can be applied to just about every factor above: people are okay with some differences if associating with that difference will benefit them, and they are resistant to other differences if they believe it will lower their current position. This hierarchical mindset, with deep roots in theology, capitalism, and segregation, presents success like a ladder, where certain levels (and consequently, groups of human beings) simply must be stepped on or over to reach the top, or at the very least, maintain current standing.

Hierarchical thinking is anchored on a few basic principles, but the main overarching theme is difference. Human beings at their most primitive, egoic level—which we are still operating on today—know themselves to be separate from everyone and everything else, by virtue of their mass. Put simply, the physical distance between us has proven sufficient to convince us that we are not connected. Because of this, every human being becomes an island unto themselves. Our egoic nature then crafts every thought in relation to themself as separate from others, leaving those thoughts tainted with gradients of judgement and comparison. This type of mental monologue directly correlates with the social media boom, which facilitates judgement and capitalizes on comparison and has almost single-handedly led to the disappearance of common ground in religion, politics, and even reality.

By continuing to overemphasize self-concept in the virtual world, modern social binaries have been pushed to extremes in the physical world. Nuance and grey areas of interconnection have evaporated in the context of political and social conversations; in their place has emerged an ever-growing echo-chamber of confirmation bias and carefully crafted belief-reinforcing advertisements and propaganda. The physical world is now designed to keep human beings trapped exactly where they are, burning old, overused electrical impulses into set neural pathways, atrophying the brain, and suppressing humankind’s spiritual and infinite nature.

How can we expect to have a conversation now?

As science has shown us, we are not actually islands unto ourselves. What “we” are, what our bodies are, are dancing atoms, occupying space merely by virtue of speed, light, and quantum fields. The same ingredients that make us dense and “real” make up everything else, and the variation in appearance that we perceive physically is merely the result of differences in speed and frequency—light and sound.

Big PicturE: We’re INVALIDATING Each Other on the basis of light and sound

If we, as a species, ever want to have an actual conversation again, a few key realizations need to light up on our dashboard. In fact, these realizations may be mission critical if we ever hope to move beyond survival into THRIVAL—individually and collectively, as one can’t occur without the other.

01

We Are All Equal

Your vibrations of light and sound are not superior or inferior to anyone else’s. This means that all opinions are correct, all truths are valid, and all individual experience is real. We tend to favor some opinions over others based on our personal bias, but our personal bias does not a superior opinion make. Instead, it simply separates you from other human beings, cheating you of the chance to develop your own neural plasticity and increase your own emotional intelligence by learning something new and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.

02

Within Each Person is A unique Universe

You may have arrived at this point under the impression that you should stop noticing physical differences in peoplethank goodness you kept reading. Physical differences exist for a reason—they represent non-physical variations in light and sound. Pretend that this entire planet is a complex orchestral  piece of music that never ends. The more instruments included, the more dynamic, rich, and beautiful the music is—the more harmonies, the more movement, the more goosebumps it evokes. Every individual on this planet is like THEIR OWN INSTRUMENT, making THEIR OWN SOUND and constructing their OWN SEQUENCE OF NOTES. To tell a Tuba that it needs become a Tambourine is, well, not only a hopeless endeavor, but a cruel one. The Tuba has a sound all it’s own—a story, a matrix, a meaning, a specialty. It is a universe unto itself, one with infinite creative possibilities and capabilities.  To ask it to be anything other than a Tuba is simply not the place of the Tambourine. Moreover, a Tambourine can only understand the world through a Tambourine’s eyes—it truly has no concept of what it’s like to be a Tuba. The only one who has the ability to guide that Tuba is the conductor, who has a direct line to that Tuba that you do not have. In fact, only the conductor can communicate with the Tuba. All that you can do is play your song the best you can, finding a complimentary note to form a harmony with the Tuba’s song, and ensuring your rhythm never falters—that is the equivalent of offering unconditional love to the self and others.

03

YOUR TRUTH IS WRONG

To everyone else but you. Let it go.

People can be brainwashed, but that is not instilling them with truth. People can be raised on a religion, but that does not guarantee that it ever actually resonates with them. People can be indoctrinated into a cult or a political club, but that doesn’t mean they’re there for any other reason than coercion or club benefits.

The only person who knows their own heart is, well—them. People must discover things in their own time, in their own way. No matter how compelling you are, how much “good sense” you make, or how much you care for their immortal soul, you simply cannot move someone’s heart.

So stop forcing you truth. It’s okay to let go. Get this: you can be the only one who believes in your truth and it is STILL VALID. You are your own universe, and you make the rules—for you. You don’t need vast numbers of people to believe what you believe simply to reassure you of what you “know.” If you know it, you simply live it. Trust that your overflow of joy, kindness, and love will be the best witness of your truth to others.

04

This Is All A Game

I know, I know. Try telling that to someone who is suffering—it’s the age-old comeback!

And you know what, you’re right. “Game” is the wrong word. “Game” is a word of the old paradigm—it insinuates that it’s possible to “win” or “lose” in the experience of life. This insinuation is in direct contradiction with the universe’s message, which we see in nature and all around us in every day—in suffering and in joy—if you are having a conscious experience, then you are winning. Every aspect of this experience is various gradients of “winning,” none greater or lesser than the other.

It’s hard to realize this when things seem to be crumbling all around you. It’s nearly impossible to realize this when you feel you are being denied things that you desire. But can you think back to a moment of ecstasy? I’m willing to wager you’ve had one or two. When you’re flooded with the peace that comes with surrender to the present moment (which we tend to only allow in moments of joy), you suddenly know exactly what life is about—living.

It’s about the black AND the white. It’s about joy AND sorrow. It’s about Republicans AND Democrats. It’s about every extreme and everything in between. It’s about refining your instrument. It’s about being the best song that you can possibly be.

We tend to take things awfully seriously in this world. Everything is a matter of life or death. But it’s never been about life or death. It’s been about life AND death. They play together in every moment. Death is in the moments you choose to separate yourself from the Divine by denying the truths within your heart and in the hearts of your fellow humankind. Life is in the moments that you choose to unite, surrender, and allow the power of the Divine to validate and heal you and those around you.

We haven’t perfected it yet, and that’s okay.

We’re here to learn, and that’s precisely what we’re doing. You can’t mess it up.

So wrap yourself up in a little grace and love—reach out to your supports, take time to nourish and care for yourself—and as you heal on your path, you will begin to effortlessly find common ground, compassion, and empathy in your interactions with others.

Endless love to you, Divine I-Am.

🤍

Author – Amanda Dollinger

 

 

The institution of religion provides an excellent example of the dividing effects of belief systems, no matter how well-intentioned their origin.

 

Beginning With Religion


Once upon a time, humanity fell from a place where we saw the Divine everywhere—in everyone and everything—to a place where we only saw our differences. 

What immediately followed? Shame, and enmity toward all of that which was unlike us. For an innumerable length of time, this has been the condition of humankind—wary, and distrusting of “the other.”

Some traditions call this the fall of man. Others refer to it as the deceit of “maya,” which translates to the “great illusion.”

All cultures have a way of describing that fateful moment in time: the departure from unity with all; a shift so massive that it changed the destiny of humankind forever.

The original intention of religion was to dissolve this separation.

Religion, in its purest form, seeks to foster true spiritual practice that eventually reunites the devotee with God. 

In its best-intentioned interpretation, religions all over the world instruct followers to dispel the illusion of separation from God in every way they can, urging them to realize that God is everywhere and in everyone. All ancient religions state that God is in every living being, permeating every space, dwelling in every heart. Indeed, any true believer would be more inclined toward unity than separation, based on those values.

Additionally, becoming One with God is a surprisingly similar process across all religions. To do so, one must make the conscious choice to stop dwelling in “illusion” and “separation” and instead, recognize the overwhelming presence of The Great Spirit and surrender to it.

Sadly, the day human beings handed over their inner guidance system to their leaders, the true objective of religion was obscured. 

Instead of functioning as a personal, intimate compass toward The Divine, leaders realized that religion could be best utilized to manipulate the masses for the acquisition of further material power and control. Religion quickly became a tool to create division amongst humankind—often wiping out entire cultures and groups of people who chose not to bend over and accept it—and in doing so, became the very antithesis of its original objective.

It should be noted…

The institution of religion provides an excellent example of the dividing effects of belief systems, no matter how well-intentioned their origin.

 

Here are some examples of common belief systems today, all ripe with the potential to divide humanity:

 

  • Subscribing to any religion
  • Subscribing to any political party or ideology
  • Any set worldview
  • The acceptance of common stereotypes
  • Acceptance of a media or conspiracy theory narrative

Beliefs shape our reality.

We subscribe to them because they reassure us that things can be explained: that there is a reason for peoples’ behaviors, a reason for the unfolding of world events, and a truth that condones our own motives and actions. Most of us use our beliefs to justify our lifestyles—sometimes excusing us for what others might call underperformance, at other times, explaining why we must do so much.

The interesting thing is, our belief systems are for one person, and one person only—ourselves.

Oftentimes, our beliefs don’t make sense to others. They are so individualized, so crafted by experience, that they live in perfect cohesion only in our minds. Indeed, if you’ve ever objectively observed the way others live, it is frequently in contradiction to their own belief system. The same can be said of us, and although it is uncomfortable to examine the contradictions within ourselves, an honest evaluation can leave us sitting with glaring inconsistencies.

Additionally, beliefs can never be forced on the unwilling.

No matter how strongly we believe something, we cannot convince anyone else of it. Just as someone else can’t shake our foundational beliefs, we cannot shake someone else’s—and yet, so many of us devote our lives to correcting, informing, and foisting our personal truth on others.

Why do we do this?

There are many psychological explanations for this phenomenon of trying to thrust our doctrine on others. 

For some, it is caused by deep-seated insecurity. Because we don’t truly believe (but want to so badly), we feel compelled to recruit as many others as possible into our truth and strengthen the collective perception of reality. When many people believe the same thing, our confidence is increased.

For others, we believe in something so deeply that it can be the only truth. We cannot tolerate the possibility that it is inaccurate, as this would cause our entire worldview, and consequently our reality, to crumble. Many of us have based every decision we’ve ever made—including the hard and painful ones that involved sacrifice, self-denial, and repression—on our belief systems. Can you see, then, how desperately we must protect these hard-fought realities?

 

 

Thus Unfolds the Division

With a world of humans clinging to their different individual realities, it is no surprise that our need for belief-validation is so high. We are constantly evaluating the beliefs of others, quietly determining whether or not associating with them will be good for the reality we’ve crafted. When we encounter those who won’t accept our narrative, we separate ourselves from them literally or figuratively: with physical space, or with a mental flag that diminishes the value of their perspective in our mind.

Even when we aren’t outwardly showing it, many of us are silently scoffing at the beliefs of others, rising higher and higher on our internal podiums, cementing a wall of self-made doctrine more and more thickly around ourselves. Eventually, this wall becomes so thick that we can’t even relate to others anymore—and then we wonder why we’re lonely.

How This Relates to Current Events

The world doesn’t realize just how insidious the limiting and dividing effects of beliefs are.

There’s the obvious: the danger of believing wholeheartedly in stereotypes, or of believing in radical and violence-promoting propaganda—even the danger of falling into the media or conspiracy theory narratives; two extremes which create a massive black and white chasm around the grey area that really holds objective truth.

Then there’s the far-less obvious, where our beliefs actually limit us the most: unconsciously. How many of us consciously realize that we have been interacting with a whole group of people in a specific way—women, for example—based on our experiences with one person…our mother? How many of us unconsciously withdraw our trust from a whole group of people because of an interaction with one microcosmic part of that group, which could never accurately represent the whole?

And most insidiously—how many of us unconsciously distance ourselves from others who don’t share our beliefs because we don’t want to put forth the energy required to convince them that they’re wrong—or at the very least, convince ourselves?

 

 

A Surprisingly Simple Solution

At first, it seems almost heinous to consider the possibility that we can be deeply connected to people we don’t agree with—even recognizing them as good people. As a society that has been conditioned to reject “the other”, this is a jolting prospect.

It has been instilled in us—primarily through fundamentalist religious values—that associating with those of differing beliefs is dangerous, and that it will dilute our own conviction.

When we step back and realize the ways in which religion has been utilized to control the masses, however, we can contextually confirm that this is merely a divisive ploy. While the original texts of most religions advise a firm connection to other believers, they loudly advocate the ultimate goal of living as an example of the faith, a lifestyle most powerful when—you guessed it—one lives among those of differing belief systems. When people restrict themselves to only interacting with those of the same beliefs, a cult is created—the unbalancing effects of which often result in severe psychological damage.

It’s healthy to interact with people of different beliefs, but only when we have decided that those beliefs do not threaten our own.

We have gone to war with other human beings because we reject the ideas in their head, and this has caused us to reject the body, soul, and creative potential of that individual. We reject the whole of them—their infinite nature—because we are afraid of a part of them, a finite thought, which is all a belief is. A thought trapped in time.

Think back on the things you know. What do you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt? Knowing is different than belief, and is not to be taken lightly. You cannot “know” your belief, you can only know what you know. 

You know that you love the taste of a certain food. You know that getting a little sun and fresh air makes you feel stronger. You know that certain spiritual rituals bring you harmony and joy. These are examples of things you know. They can never be taken from you. Rely on that which you know—not believe—to guide you.

Everything else is just extra.

The Medicine

Stop taking your beliefs so seriously. If they can divide you from another human being, they have already failed you. 

Let them die.

Yes, your current reality may crumble. But what was so great about it, anyway? If it has ever caused you to live in fear; if it has ever made you hold someone at arm’s length, or look down your nose at another infinite being, then it never served you.

Human beings yearn for connection. Above all else, they desire to be validated: seen, heard, and loved for exactly who they are. There is no difference between us. There is no divide here. Irrespective of all else, this is what we desire. All other aims are just secondary, and are roundabout ways of meeting that very need.

So why take the long route? Why play all the games? Why try to match everything by its similarity? A painting can never be created that way. A piece of music can never be made that way. Do you want to be one lonely note, or do you want to be the whole scale? Do you want to be one letter, or do you want to be the alphabet? Do you want to be one instrument, or do you want to be the orchestra?

The thing that is keeping you from wholeness, from connection to the Divine, is you. If you want to see perfection everywhere, then start seeing it. If you want to feel The Great Spirit everywhere, then start feeling it. If you want to know God, then start knowing God. Not believing—knowing.

Let the externalization of your truth die. Beliefs create a limited version of reality. They ask you to invest in something outside of yourself, to keep something that someone else has created alive. A finite thought, trapped in time, demanding your energy to survive.

But you are infinite. Ever-changing. Ever-growing. Ever-learning. Pure, unlimited potential. 

Ever-consistent in your inconsistency.

Own it. Love it. Be free.

And have a great life.

 

 

 

“Human beings yearn for connection. Above all else, they desire to be validated: seen, heard, and loved for exactly who they are. There is no difference between us. There is no divide here. Irrespective of all else, this is what we desire. All other aims are just secondary, and are roundabout ways of meeting that very need.”

 

 

Amanda Dollinger

Author

A Metaphor As Old As Time


No transformation story is more famous. Across pop culture, anytime someone has desired to recognize an incredible transformation, they reference the caterpillar turning into the butterfly. It’s easy to understand, it’s classic, it’s common, and for these reasons and more, it has become sorrowfully simple to dismiss this example as, well—old. When an example becomes rote and overused, we often fail to give it the individuated attention it deserves to fully comprehend the richness of the idea. We assume that we already “got it” because we’ve heard it so many dang times. The Caterpillar to Butterfly transformation, as you will soon discover, is one such story—nevertheless, it is abundant in its wisdom, nuanced in its intricacy, and absolutely timeless. Let us allow it to remind us of the complexity of change and growth, as well as its great reward.

 

 

A Peek Inside The Journey

Do you remember the Painted-Lady Butterfly Migration of 2019? If you lived in Southern California or thereabouts, you might have experienced the once-in-a-lifetime sight of hundreds of thousands of butterflies, migrating north-west to Oregon, Washington, and even as far as Alaska. Enormous kaleidoscopes of butterflies were spotted flying down the street, fluttering above cars on the freeway, and floating through neighborhoods. People stepped out of their homes to marvel at the vision of color, admiring as butterflies bobbed across the breeze on the way to their summer home. What many people didn’t realize is that most of those butterflies wouldn’t make it to their ultimate destination—Spring-migrating butterflies often live just a few short weeks, which is not nearly enough time to fly the up-to 3000 mile journey to their Summer and Fall resting place. This resting place—a butterfly’s paradise—is only reached by their offspring, or in some cases, their offspring’s offspring. Nevertheless, the butterfly cheerfully bobs along in the breeze, reproduces, and leaves behind the promise of their future: the caterpillar.

The Caterpillar

To look at a caterpillar is to see—well—not a butterfly.

Anatomically, the two couldn’t be more different. The caterpillar is chunky, slow-moving, ground-bound, and interested primarily in one thing: lazy pleasure.

The butterfly is (wingspan aside) small, lithe, lightweight, and fast-moving. The butterfly contains a fully-formed compass within it, as well as two biological clocks: one that monitors the time of day, and one that monitors the time of year. What is the butterfly’s mission? Joyful pleasure! Like it’s former incarnation, the caterpillar, butterflies love to eat, but in their butterfly form they’ve graduated to the nectar of flowers, rather than petals and leaves.

Spiritually speaking, there is much to be gleaned from the caterpillar. It does what it can, no more, no less, and doubtfully feels any guilt for this. It inches across leaves and plants and eats itself into a sleep-like coma several times a day. It dwells in comfort, nestled in nature, often safe beneath the protective print that warns off predators from trying to sample its body for lunch. The caterpillar is, without effort, relentlessly itself. It likely does not have any conscious awareness of the transformation ahead, nor of the abilities to come—it simply exists to meet its most fundamental needs, and does so perfectly. Could you ever look at a caterpillar and criticize it for being what it is? Never! It is yet another perfect piece of nature, carrying out its existence to the best of its ability, unaware of what lies ahead.

to be the caterpillar is an honor, to be the butterfly is a gift

Until now, we have been the caterpillar.

Consider your life prior to the pattern interrupt that has recently shifted the entire globe in the first few months of 2020. You were, perhaps, at the highest point of your life to date. Your basic needs were probably met, you were comfortable, you had a routine. Like the caterpillar, you were treading familiar ground, perhaps with some goals and aspirations, but none that were too far out of the scope of your daily experience. For example, a caterpillar might strive to consume an entire plant by the end of the week—these are caterpillar goals. Similarly, upon reflection of our own lives, our goals were “realistic” in that they were grounded in the known: nab the job we’d been angling for, complete the project we’ve been working on, meet the partner we’ve been yearning for. A caterpillar doesn’t look up at the sky and say, “and now, I’m gonna fly to Mexico!” This is with good reason—the caterpillar doesn’t have the tools to do this—in fact, failure is guaranteed. It simply isn’t in the caterpillar’s consciousness to dream up such a goal based on the experiences it has had so far.

Enter the Chrysalis

When the caterpillar enters that chrysalis, now infinite possibilities begin to arise. Aside from a few essential organs and the respiratory system (note the eternal importance of the breath), the caterpillar completely liquifies itself in that cocoon, trading a life of grounded familiarity for the possibility of unlimited heights (quite literally).

This is death for the caterpillar: the only thing that survives are cells that once comprised another creature entirely, and even they no longer remotely resemble what they once formed.

We haven’t been able to ask the caterpillar if the transformation into butterfly is a painful one, but as human beings reflecting on the pain of our own mini deaths (changes), it may be safe to assume that it is.

For those of us who have been rocked by change since the rising coronavirus pandemic and the resulting global quarantine, we have been ushered into the chrysalis rather abruptly. Our transformation has been physical, emotional, and mental, brought on by external changes so severe that they triggered internal changes. Our consciousness has been rocked, our physiology has been altered, and our lifestyles have been flipped upside down.

 

Who we used to be has died.

 

What comes next?

Rebirth

On the outside, you may or may not look vastly different than you did just a few weeks or months ago.

Inside, however, you have undergone an undeniable spiritual transformation—unescapable, if you live on Planet Earth.

You’ve exited the chrysalis, and you’re still with us on this physical plane.

You’ve been reborn.

It’s natural to feel disoriented right now. You may not realize at this point the full extent of what you’ve lost—or what you’ve gained. It can take a butterfly hours (which in the span of its lifetime is quite significant) for its wings to dry and for it to instinctively take flight. This is not the time to judge yourself for not flying yet—this is the time to let your wings dry.

Eventually, in your own time, you will begin to realize who you have become, and what you have survived. The grieving for your caterpillar life will draw to a natural close, and you will begin to forge butterfly dreams.

The beauty of a great change is the new ways of thinking that open to you. While a caterpillar doesn’t dream of jumping off a leaf and flying to Mexico, a butterfly does, and it is by engaging in those dreams that the butterfly pollinates and helps to feed 1/3 of the human race.

When the time is right—and you’ll know, you won’t have to force it—you will begin to dream bigger—think higher—love harder. You will honor other caterpillars, for you have been where they are, and flock with other butterflies, because you realize you are one of them now. You will be able to travel longer distances, soar to higher heights, and savor the sweet nectar of life.

This is the gift of becoming the butterfly.

You will receive the gift of transformation many times in your life—of becoming a bigger and brighter butterfly (or moth, if you prefer!) each time. Embrace these little deaths. Each one blesses you with a rebirth; a moment to reinvent and renew all that you once defined yourself to be, expanding your experience and broadening your wisdom and knowledge beyond what you previously imagined. This metamorphosis is the essence of spiritual growth—the ultimate purpose for your life.

May you live it with joy and passion,

knowing that death is not an ending

but the beginning of something greater!

💚

“The beauty of a great change is the new ways of thinking that open to you. While a caterpillar doesn’t dream of jumping off a leaf and flying to Mexico, a butterfly does—and by engaging in those dreams, the butterfly pollinates and helps to feed 1/3 of the human race.”

 

 

 

 

 

Author

Amanda Dollinger

“If you’re afraid of something, that means that it will change your life. If you don’t feel anything about it, then it’s just more of the same. Take the leap, burst through your fear—its time to soar to new heights.”

“It all happened so fast.”

Feels like the blink of an eye, doesn’t it? Just yesterday, your biggest challenge was deciding what to eat for dinner. Today, it’s deciding whether to take your money out of the stock market—hoping that you can find groceries when you finally muster the energy to battle the crowds—and hoping that you can get another job if you’re forced to forfeit the one you currently have.

Most people aren’t constantly anticipating a global catastrophe, and that’s usually a good thing. From a psychological standpoint, it’s typically considered healthiest to apply one’s mental energies to the here and now, with only a “general,” all-purpose sort of preparedness plan in place for when things go “wrong.” So, what happened here? We were all approaching our lives “normally” when the coronavirus panic began to kick up in the periphery of our collective vision. Most of us have a community comprised of immediate friends and family we can rely on, and that hasn’t changed. Still more relevant, the great majority of us have lived through collective moments of tragedy and panic before—so why does this one feel different?

What about this particular event is causing us to feel suffocated, isolated, hopeless, and lost? And why is there a particularly undeniable feeling of grief in the air? Our minds reassure us that nothing tangible (in our immediate experience and vicinity) has been lost, and yet our hearts are in agony; fluttering with anxiety, weighed down with despondency.


With limited resources and an outside world that appears to be rapidly disappearing, we are left in a sort of stalemate—with ourselves.

Ways that we grieve everyday, 

often without even realizing it:

 

  • When something we want to purchase is out of stock
  • When a plan we were looking forward to is rescheduled or cancelled
  • When we are delayed or late to meeting a deadline or event time
  • When the dynamic of a relationship ends or changes
  • When someone we love drastically changes their physical appearance
  • When someone we sought to impress expresses disappointment in us
  • When we do not achieve a goal in the time or way we hoped to

“I feel like I’m dying.”

One common emotion that we are all facing right now is grief. For many of us, milestone events or experiences have been cancelled. Travel plans, festival dates, and summer siestas have all been postponed. Even small things like date-nights and intimate get-togethers are suddenly no longer allowed.

The things that we’ve spent time looking forward to, fantasizing about—the future pleasures that we use to get through our present-moment mundanity—have been snatched away, and with them, our sense of identity.

We must take a moment to honor ourselves and validate something very real: what we are grieving is perfectly legitimate.

We are grieving the death of ourselves; what we have built our entire mental software upon—we are grieving our identity. Those of us who are not grieving have not yet experienced a loss of identity: the things that they hold fast to and rely on to define themselves are still fully intact, and in some cases, the changes we are experiencing as a collective may be bringing them more comfort and identification than ever. For individuals who do not find intrinsic meaning in solitude and single-person (or limited-person) activities, however, this grief process is incredibly intense and necessary.


At another time, it will be appropriate to expound upon the incredibly damaging way that our culture uses activities, promises of the future, and echoes of the past to craft individual identity. For now, let us examine what it is we’ve lost, and how we can grieve honestly and healthfully.

 

  1. We use our activities to define ourselves and create purpose in our lives. When these activities are stripped away from us, our purpose is stripped away from us. Who are we if we are not our occupation? Who are we if we are no longer able to spend time engaging in or preparing for the activities that we have allowed to define us? The answer is, we don’t know, and this realization can create a crisis of identity that leaves us feeling unsure of ourselves, our values, and our role in society.
    • We are grieving the self that gains meaning through specific social roles and activities. We are grieving a sense of meaning that gives us purpose.
  2. Without realizing it, we use our future plans to distract ourselves from what we perceive to be a very boring and meaningless present moment. If we were to apply a statistic to this habit, it might be fair to say that we spend 90% of our time fantasizing about the way we’re going to spend 10% of our time. As previously mentioned, this is a deeply ingrained cultural habit, and something to be reworked when the time is right. For now, move forward with a keen awareness of this habit, and know this: 
    • We are grieving the fact that our future is now uncertain. We are being forced to face our present self without distraction.
  3. It hurts to change our brains—truly. We have formed neural pathways in our brains by living lives of habit and routine, and for many of us, that routine is being wildly disrupted right now. As a result, our brains are being forced to create new neural pathways, which can be difficult and even akin to a physical pain sensation if we aren’t accustomed to regularly changing and challenging ourselves. Change, as frequently explored in this space, is a form of death. So, in a very real way, we are feeling emotions that are associated with death at this time.
    • We are grieving the death of our old habits and routines, as we knew them—habits and routines that provided us with relationships, interaction, and connection.

Stepping into peace

Armed with a greater understanding of why we are experiencing such a keen sense of loss at this time,  here are four ways you can step into greater peace as your daily experience continues to unfold:

four ways to step into greater peace

04

Remember Your values

In your values is where your true identity lays. What do you stand for? Do you believe that people should be loved and accepted for who they are? Do you believe that certain standards should be upheld when interacting with others? Do you feel a calling to stand up for those who do not have a voice for themselves, like children and animals? Make a mental list of your values and decide how you can implement them into your new version of life—this will create tremendous meaning in your daily experience.

03

Befriend uncertainty

We tend to forget this when life unfolds the same way every day, but the truth is, every day is rife with uncertainty. Change can happen at any moment, and whether we define that change as “good” or “bad” is totally up to us. Oftentimes, change presents itself initially as a negative, and then transforms into something that benefits us. Don’t judge the potential for change—befriend it. In uncertainty lies incredible possibility.

02

Find pleasure in the present moment

Much of our time is spent escaping from the present moment in our mind, especially when life is following its normal, uninterrupted routine. A pattern interrupt like the one we are currently experiencing is the perfect way to learn to live in the present moment. Use this time to get to know your environment in a new, and if possible, pleasurable way. Limit your electronic distractions and instead dive deeply into the sensations of the five senses. If you undertake an activity, devote your intention to it to the exclusion of all else. This practice of present-moment awareness is extremely meditative.

01

Forgive yourself

You don’t need to have all the answers. You don’t need to fix everything. You don’t need to make sure everyone is okay. Forgive yourself for putting such strict expectations on yourself, and instead, allow yourself to be completely and utterly human and imperfect right now. When it comes to our emotional well-being, we all rely on the same resource—ourselves—to express what we’re feeling and ask for help when we need it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help during this time: look to those who are thriving and who have something to give and allow them to guide you, rather than struggling to give from an empty cup.

You have all you need right now.

May you experience all aspects of life and death courageously,

aware of the infinite strength within you!

🖤

 

 

Author

Amanda Dollinger

“Your ego will die at the end of this life—it is inevitable. An awakened being knows this and allows their ego to die long before that.”

Anticipation and fear of coronavirus has turned cities across the world into little ‘ghost towns,’ driving people into their homes where they stockpile hand sanitizer and paper towels.

Coronavirus Triggers Our Fear of Death

At first glance, the threat of the Coronavirus pandemic seems to be caused by the obvious, survival-based sentiment we all share—“I don’t want to get SICK and SUFFER—or die!” Additionally, we fear for those we care about: “I don’t want people I know and love to suffer or die.

We must honor this fear. If we examine it honestly, it becomes apparent that it is ever-present and constantly nagging (pre-dating coronavirus), but is rarely audible in contrast to the layers and layers of dialogue occurring in the more superficial layers of our mind. With the help of Coronavirus, this fear is not in the background anymore—it’s loud and clear! Let’s honor this precious opportunity to engage with a part of ourselves that is typically buried deep under distractions. Thank you, coronavirus!

Aww, That’s sweet. Now How do I stop worrying?

actually, what if I don’t want to stop worrying? Everyone else is worrying…I need to stay cautious and informed. I need to know what’s going on. I need to protect myself.

First, don’t bully yourself for “giving in” to fear by worrying. Fear is our natural, biological reflex to the unknown, and you’re right—it’s impractical to expect yourself to suddenly feel differently about something, even if you’ve just been given new information. If we could just a flip a switch and change our feelings, we’d all be calm and collected right now. Rather than expect that from ourselves unrealistically, let’s simply lean away from the direction of panic and lean toward the direction of peace.

I’ll show you how.

Leaning.

It doesn’t require us to fall over, it merely asks that we shift our stance by A nearly imperceptible degree.

Our constructed personality (commonly referred to as our “ego”) is the product of our culture, our experiences, and our genetic makeup. It is constantly plagued by the worry of its own destruction; this is its natural state and not something to be concerned by. If you find that you are in a crisis of anxiety, this simply means that the ego is concerned for its preservation and well-being. This is the root of all worry, and it occurs when we’ve turned the volume of the ego up louder than the volume of our true essence. The ego is particularly resistant to Death Medicine, because any change threatens its familiar patterns. The ego wants to LIVE. To HAVE. To DOMINATE. That’s okay. It’s natural. We must simply disassociate from the ego and realize that it does not comprise the whole of who we are.

For the purpose of this exercise, consciously acknowledge that your ego is your inner child, not the entirety of your being. Even though it is a very intelligent and socially adept child, it is, nonetheless, a child—and a frightened one, at that!

To soothe it, we must remind it of the following universal truths.

05

Initial shock will always subside

One of the ways that coronavirus has paralyzed the consciousness of the public is by being newunknown, and SUDDEN. Seemingly coming from nowhere, it has appeared and brought with it a cloud of confusion, conflicting information, and fear mongering (a favorite money-making practice of the media!).

Fortunately, initial shock will always subside. What manifests as unknowndangerous, and unexpected inevitably becomes known, controlled, and anticipated. That is the nature of this universe: every extreme will become its opposite, in time.

04

No one can force you to act

It’s so deliciously easy to be swept up in the chaos of the group. When everyone acts, something inside of us LURCHES impulsively to be included in the moment; in the movement.

But no one is forcing you to act, nor can they ever. Be safe in the knowledge that, truly, you have all the time you need. Irrespective of the pressures you feel from society, your environment, your coworkers, your family, or even your country. Your autonomy is your own.

If you’re unsure of what to do (Should I travel? Should I lock myself in my home? Should I buy Costco out of its entire supply of toilet paper?) and are feeling strong pressures from the media and your community, take a moment to remember your autonomy and decide based on what feels safest to YOU. It is easy to outsource our intuition, but equally easy to reconnect to it at will.

03

You have clarity of mind right now

Whether coronavirus has touched (or is touching) you personally, or someone near you, you still have complete presence of mind now.

If you are able to read and understand these words, your cognitive ability is such that you have everything you need to be well. Future or past events are of no concern at this time, they are irrelevant until they have arrived.

You may use your current presence of mind to execute a to-do list that is absolutely relevant to the moment, if you must. If your to-do list is completed for the time being, the best thing you can do is use your mental clarity to engage in a personally meaningful occupation: something creative that you enjoy is ideal!

Revel in the knowledge that you can create and enjoy your life moment-by-moment—you do not owe the past or the future anything.

02

You are structurally and contextually supported

Fear has a fantastic way of making us feel completely and utterly alone. This is not the case, however. Aside from the entire, infinite universe residing within you at every moment, you also have many external resources that exist for the very purpose of supporting and serving YOU. To access them, all you need do is ask.

Structurally, your government, your healthcare system, your laws, your local officials, and your city are all working full-time for your benefit.

Contextually, your family, your friends, your neighbors, support groups, and members of your church or culture are simply waiting to assist in any way they can. You may even find support in inanimate resources, like books and blogs.

The key is that you ask. Even if it’s just verbalizing the words “I need help” out loud to an empty room. It is everywhere, waiting to be noticed.

01

Change creates growth

We can get caught up in the existential crisis of “why are we here?” on another day—today, let’s assume that it’s for the purpose of growth. In nature, everything grows. Uninhibited, it is likely that nature would cover the earth in lush, unchecked wilderness, until the planet itself morphed into something totally OTHER than what we know today.

The same is true for the nature within us.

Life is an uninhibited force that exists inside of us, balanced by the force of Death, which coexists quietly beside it. Every time Life throws a curveball at us, we are allowed to call forth the power of Death and adapt (grow) by making a change. This change made to our mindset, our belief system, and our lifestyle, then makes room for more life to spring up within us. It’s a powerful cycle designed to push us toward our infinite nature—a realization that is the direct product of death and change.

So, fear not. Death, in all forms, is naught but another beginning—a doorway that is opening to let more life through.

When standing apart from the ego’s grip, we can know, truly and deeply, that there is no such thing as a bad outcome. In fact, the “worse” an outcome appears to look, the greater the resulting growth will be when we survive it. Think back to any obstacle you have overcome in your life and know this to be true. And if we don’t survive it? If we slip into the wild unknown with nothing to hold on to but our beautiful, infinite, creative soul?

Well!

That might just be the beginning of the greatest adventure of all.

Peace, joy, and love unto you,

&

May you approach life and death in equal stride! 🖤