Trinity: Investigating a New Life Structure

Print This Post Print This Post May 27, 2009 on 9:26 pm | In Awareness, Balance, Consciousness, Creativity, Energy, Failure, Fear, Fulfillment, Integrity, Intent, Love, Power, Purpose, Spiritual, Toltec, Truth | Comments Off on Trinity: Investigating a New Life Structure
Trinity

Trinity

Over the past few months I have been examining and experimenting with the underlying structure of my life.  This investigation took on a new urgency and came to the forefront of my personal development efforts as the result of a ceremony I took part in on Maui, and I have truly been surprised by the depth of the revelations that this investigation has brought to me.  That ceremony involved the creation of an energetic structure very similar to the structure illustrated above – three nested triangular rings, each with a specific function within the structure.  Explaining the entire structure would take me much more than a single article, and in addition I am still working to understand the relationships that form the overall structure; as a result, this article will focus only on the structure of one of the triangular rings (specifically the outer ring) and how this structure has impacted my life.  That outer ring was comprised of three people (including me), each of which embodied one of the elements of the overall structure.  By using this structure as a model for my own life and working to balance the elements within that structure I have made some major shifts both in how I view and how I live my life. 

Since the entire concept of a “life structure” may be a bit fuzzy at the moment, let me begin by describing my previous “default” life structure, which was almost entirely the product of cultural conditioning.  Perhaps by coincidence, but much more likely by design, this life structure also consists of a trinity of life modes.  As I describe this model I think what I mean by the term “life structure” will become much clearer. 

I refer to my previous life structure as the “Success” Structure, and it was comprised of the following three elements: Doing, Getting, and Having.  The basic premises of this life structure are:

  • The goal of life is to by happy
  • In order to be happy you need to be successful
  • Being successful essentially means earning lots of money, but tangentially also includes having status and respect within the general community
  • Doing: You earn money by achieving specific goals in terms of career advancement, which generally entails progressing into positions of increasing responsibility and authority
  • Getting: Earning lots of money in turn allows you to purchase things (houses, cars, boats, champagne) and experiences (vacations, cruises, lessons) that will make you happy
  • Having:In order to remain happy you need maintain the possessions that you have and continue to acquire new things and experiences to fuel your continued growth

I’m sure as you read this you are thinking “How could anyone subscribed to a belief system this shallow?”  Of course, when I was living within this model I would not have articulated this structure as I just did, and I would undoubtedly have denied that this structure defined my life.  In terms of intellect and theory I have never subscribed to this philosophy.  But in terms of how I actually lived . . . I was caught hook, line, and sinker.  And if some of you take an honest look at your own lives – in terms of what you actually do, not what you say you do, or what you mean to do – I think you will find that it is quite easy to slip into a structure that keeps you playing at the shallow end of the pool.

This structure could have just as easily been termed the “Consumer” model of reality, as consumerism – that mighty engine of the world economy – to a large extent supports this model through a vast array of social and cultural assumptions and practices.  Indeed, I have found that it takes amazing vigilance to keep this model from insinuating its way into our lives.  Not only overt advertising, but more insidiously unconscious assumptions such as the need to “earn” value or worth through success and achievement, the equivalence of success and monetary wealth, the linkage between wealth and happiness, the desirability of social status and public admiration, creep in and color our perceptions in ways that are often difficult to detect, but profound in their influence on our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors.  In talking with friends and associates, it is clear that the foundational idea that one must do something of value in order to obtain worth, in order to merit love, is a very pervasive assumption that underlies many of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

The above analysis notwithstanding, I don’t want to paint the picture that this structure above is inherently bad or evil.  Indeed, even after becoming aware of this structure operating in my life, there are many valuable outcomes that I have enjoyed as a result of embracing (albeit unconsciously) this particular worldview.  Champagne, for example, is something that I truly do love!  Seriously, though, the predisposition of this life structure towards Doing – physical activity – is a very positive feature of this approach to life.  No, the “problem” with this structure in my case is not that it is inherently bad or evil; rather it is that this structure is incomplete – lacking in vital elements that allow one to move beyond so-called “success” and “happiness” into the more expansive realms of fulfillment and joy.  Moreover, the core principles that correspond to these three modes of living leave a lot to be desired in terms of capturing the full spectrum of human possibility, given that we are much more than consumers and exchangers of resources:

  • Doing                   Core Principle: Power
  • Getting                Core Principle: Acquisition
  • Having                 Core Principle: Possession

The incompleteness of this structure is what leads to the malaise of the achiever – that nagging sense of “is this all there is?”  That subtle but ever present yearning for a deeper, more expansive meaning to life beyond the mere acquisition and enjoyment of possessions and experiences.  It was precisely that yearning that eventually led me to pursue a spiritual path in an effort to find meaning beyond the confines of my material existence.

The new life structure that I have been experimenting with over the past few months is what I refer to as the “Fulfillment” Structure, which also comprised of  three elements: Being, Doing, and Connecting.  Although this structure shares the common element of Doing, the replacement of Getting and Having with Being and Connecting has a profound impact on the life choices one makes from within this new structure.  Moreover, the core principles that correspond to these elements result in a much different dynamic within which activity occurs – one that is focused more on the “spiritual” values of intrinsic worth and sharing rather than the material values of acquiring and possessing.  Those core principles form the foundation of my new life structure:

  • Being                Core Principle: Truth
  • Doing                Core Principle: Power
  • Connecting        Core Principle: Love

The basic premises of this Fulfillment Life Structure are:

  • There is no specific pre-defined goal to life, in the sense of something to be achieved or some state to be attained.  Rather, our purpose is something that we create.
  • Fulfillment is essentially our natural state – not something to strive for or to achieve.  By balancing the elements that form this life structure that fulfillment is revealed as ever-present. 
  • Being:I am intrinsically valuable and worthy – this is my natural state; there is no need to “earn” love as I am naturally loving and lovable.  At my core I am a manifestation of the Divine, and most (actually all) of the suffering and drama in my life are the result of my failing to recognize this identity.
  • Doing: Once my survival needs have been met, my doing is based on the creative desire to manifest that which I have imagined by bringing it into reality.  This type of doing is done for the intrinsic joy of bringing that which I desire into being, and not as a means to an end.  Although my doing may result in accumulating wealth, that wealth does nothing to increase or decrease my intrinsic value – which is a given.  All that wealth does is provide me with a means to bring more of what I have imagined and desired into being, provided I allow that wealth to flow into and out of my life.
  • Connecting: Connecting with others, my self, and the Divine is my ultimate joy and play – amplifying my experience of life by allowing me to see reflections of my own nature in others while simultaneously amplifying their experience of life by sharing my nature with them.  In this sharing both aspects are enhanced and enlivened, with the resultant outcome being much more than the sum of the individual elements.  In its ultimate expression connecting it is the recognition of the unity of self and other – the reality that there is no other, that we are all simply facets of a divine, inseparable whole.

In experimenting with this life structure I have found a number beneficial outcomes in terms of practical, everyday issues.  First and foremost is a massive reduction in worry, stress, and anxiety.  Because this model operates from the assumption that I am already whole, worthy, valuable, lovable, and divine – in other words that I have already arrived, that there is nothing for me to prove or achieve in order to merit the blessings I experience – there are not many issues for concern so long as my physical well-being is intact.  And even in cases where my physical well-being is compromised (tired or sick), a few moment’s reflection reveals that although there is a desire to restore my level of energy and well-being there is no need for additional stress or frustration which would only serve to further compromise my state.

An even more noticeable change is in the motivation for my doing.  In the Success or Consumer Structure the motivation for much of my doing was based on fear – fear of failure, fear of being found to be inadequate, fear of not living up to my potential, and a whole host of other concerns associated with the underlying assumption that I am not intrinsically whole and worthy.  In the Fulfillment Structure the motivation for Doing is always love – a desire to move towards or realize a desired state of affairs rather than a moving away from an undesirable state of affairs.  In psychological terms the Fulfillment Structure uses the carrot of joy and delight rather than the stick of  fear and control.  The sense of flow that results from this new structure is a pleasure that fills increasingly larger portions of my day.  Ironically, by focusing less on Doing, and spending more time Being (sitting, meditating, day dreaming, resting) and Connecting (in person, by phone or email, through prayer and intuitive perception) my Doing has actually become much more focused and effective.  It turns out that I spent a lot of my time Doing worrying and fretting rather than actually accomplishing anything, and my not-doing has helped to reduce this wasted effort dramatically.

I still have a long way to go in fully exploring this new structure, and indeed I feel I am really just seeing the surface manifestations of a much deeper and fuller structure.  But even that surface glimpse is extremely enticing and exhilarating!  What’s more, this new structure fits in beautifully with the Toltec teachings I have been working with over the past few years.  I am certain that it is not a coincidence that the elements of the Fulfillment Structure also correspond to the three Toltec Masteries:

  • Being                Truth             Mastery of Awareness
  • Doing                Power            Mastery of Transformation
  • Connecting        Love              Mastery of Intent

Back to Basics: Surface Appearances and Structural Integrity

Print This Post Print This Post July 24, 2008 on 7:57 pm | In Creativity, Exercise, Fitness, Health, Integrity, Physical, Spiritual, Truth | Comments Off on Back to Basics: Surface Appearances and Structural Integrity

Enough talking about the process of assimilation and the role of elements such as failure and setbacks in redirecting and informing the creative process – time to dive in and explore a specific example!

It has been several months since I first posted on my intent around manifesting changes in the physical aspect of my being (The Creative Approach to Weight Loss), and as my subsequent posts have intimated much has transpired since then that has caused me to reconsider my original plans.  You may recall that my original intent was to manifest a physique similar to Bruce Lee’s – a physique that I have always admired.  

Just to relieve the tension (I am sure you are sitting at the edge of your seat!) let me confess that I have not manifested that intent yet, and I doubt that anyone is likely to confuse my physique with Bruce’s at the moment!  Indeed, my failure to achieve that goal has precipitated a fundamental re-thinking of my approach towards improving my physical fitness and health.  Given the amount of time that has passed between setting that original intent and this post, not to mention the many unrelated (but significant) events that have transpired, it may be a bit difficult for me to provide a perfectly accurate rendition of the process I have been undergoing but I intend to give it my best shot.

My initial focus when I set out to manifest this change in my physical appearance was on body fat reduction (through diet and aerobic exercise) and upper body muscle development (through weight lifting).  You may recall that I overdid the weight lifting in my initial enthusiasm, and as result spent a couple of weeks out of commission due to back pain.  Although I have been back to normal for quite some time now, that period of limited activity gave me plenty of time to read up on Bruce Lee’s approach to physical development and martial arts training as well as to reconsider my plans for transforming my body.

Perhaps the most concise way to describe my initial approach is that it was an “outside-in” approach, in that my focus was on manifesting the desired end result – a physique that looked like Bruce Lee’s.  As a result of this focus, my effort was on sculpting my body’s appearance by reducing the body fat percentage and by improving my upper body muscular definition.  The focus was on surface appearance – how my body looked – using as “direct” as possible an approach to achieve the desired end state based on what I had directly observed or read about Bruce’s physique.

My intent was to take a direct route from where I was (elevated body fat percentage and poor upper body definition) to my goal, with a minimum concern over the other elements and physical traits that accompanied that physique – flexibility, agility, poise, fluidity, balance, and strength.  As it turns out, that approach was a huge mistake, and no doubt the root cause of the numerous interventions that the universe made to redirect my efforts.

When I first strained my muscles and pretty much ended up flat on my back due to fairly severe lower back pain, I had plenty of time to re-examine both my motives and my strategy for achieving this goal of improving my physique.  One of the first things I did was to re-examine my motives for wanting to change my physique.  Was I the “victim” of a poor self-image or body-image, mindlessly buying into cultural stereotypes of what a male physique should be?  Was the goal I was focused on something genuine within me, something authentic, or was it an unrealistic ideal foisted on me by a culture that celebrates physical beauty and youth at the expense of genuine personal development?

Now as convenient as would be to say that I had mistakenly bought into cultural stereotypes of what the male body should look like, and thereby get myself off the hook for not achieving this goal, that is not the truth.  When I really feel into the truth about my desires it is clear to me that I truly do desire to have a body like Bruce Lee’s (regardless of whether or not it is possible at my age), and that offering a self-justifying argument pointing out the “shallowness” of this desire would simply be a “sour grapes” story: comforting to my ego perhaps, but not the truth. 

However, as I examined what it was about Bruce Lee’s physique that really inspired and excited me it became clear that many of the traits that I had initially considered peripheral – flexibility, strength, speed, poise, balance, and fluidity – were actually central to what I admired about his physique, despite the fact that I had initially marginalized them in favor for making my body look like Bruce Lee’s.  With a little bit of reflection it became clear that I didn’t simply want to look like Bruce Lee – I also wanted to be able to move like him.  Just as I admire the agility, strength, and fluidity of my cats when they move, a large part of my selection of Bruce Lee as the role model for my physical development was tied up in the dynamic qualities of his physique in motion.  So my first two insights were that my goal was at least in a general sense something that I genuinely desired, but that I needed to broaden and deepen that goal by including the dynamic properties of motion as well as the static characteristics of upper body definition and body fat percentage.

Since I was on my back for almost a week, and limited in my mobility and range of motion for several more weeks, I had plenty of time for reading.  To begin with I decided to go straight to the source – Bruce Lee – and spent several days re-reading his Tao of Jeet Kune Do, a classic text that outlines his approach to the martial arts, including a good deal of material on training and physical development.  As I re-introduced myself to this material it became clear that Bruce’s overriding focus was on functionality rather than form, and that whatever qualities his physique and movements exhibited were predicated on effectiveness and functionality rather than appearances or abstract aesthetics.  Interestingly, Bruce wrote this book when he himself was forced to remain flat on his back due to an injury he sustained while performing lower back exercises!

I also consulted John Little’s The Art of Expressing the Human Body which provides an exhaustive review of Bruce Lee’s training and exercise methods, including a huge number of specific training routines that he employed at various phases in his career.  Again, it was clear that Bruce’s emphasis was on functionality and effectiveness, and that the key to achieving these qualities in the martial arts was a strong foundation – core strength and flexibility, balance and agility – and that the beauty of his form and movements flowed from this foundation rather than from a focus on form or appearance itself.

So what appeared to me to be the most direct path to outcome I desired – a physique and physical presence similar to Bruce Lee’s – was in fact way off course according to the very person that had manifested that physical presence!  It took some fairly unpleasant experiences to get me back on course, but in the end the message came through loud and clear. 

And what was that message?  Remember my seemingly tragic encounter with Max, the Bull Boxer, that brought his journey on the Earth to and end?  What was his message for me?  Two words: “dig deeper.”  Indeed.  Look beneath surface appearances to the underlying structure – focus on building that foundation and the physical presence and appearance that you desire will follow as a natural consequence.  Focus on the physical appearance only and you are building a structure without a solid foundation, and therefore a structure without integrity that cannot last.

Since my encounter with Max I have done my best to heed his advice and have dug deeper into the underlying structures that govern my life.  On the physical front, I have most recently turned to a book that really addresses the underlying causes of my back injury in the first place.  That book is The Egoscue Method of Health Through Motion by Pete Egoscue.  The central premise of this book is that a majority of our physical dysfunction and muscular and skeletal pain is the result of our sedentary lifestyle, which robs our body of the range and variety of motion that it needs in order to maintain its structural integrity.  As a result of this lack of motion our bodies lose both strength and flexibility, which in turn causes them to become mis-aligned, such that our load bearing joints no longer support and distribute our weight as they were designed to.  

The goal of the Egoscue method is to restore the structural integrity of our body by performing exercises that allow our muscular and skeletal system to get back into its proper alignment, as illustrated below: 

Structural Integrity - Front View

Structural Integrity - Side View

In assessing my own symptoms of structural misalignment I have discovered that I exhibit two conditions that compromise the structural integrity of my body.  The first of these, known as Condition 1, involves a forward pelvic tilt and arched lower back due to weak calf and thigh muscles and overly strong and inflexible hip flexor muscles.  The second condition, not suprisingly known as Condition 2, involves a rotation of my upper torso as well as a rotation and elevation of my hip.  In order to correct these dysfunctions I am currently undertaking a series of exercises designed to address Condition 2 (which must be addressed and corrected before Condition 1 can be tackled).  From my reading of the book and my own observations, it will probably take me a couple of months to address this issue, after which I can proceed to address my pelvic tilt.

Now there is no doubt that this revised strategy for achieving my physical goal of an improved (and more functional) physique is going to be very challenging.  This program takes me way outside of my comfort zone, as I have never been very diligent in pursuing exercises such as stretching or strength work.  I far prefer aerobic and cardio-vascular exercises that work up a sweat, but Pete Egoscue recommends forgoing a number of these exercises until the postural mis-alignments are corrected.  For example, the Egoscue Method explicitly warns against physical activities such as running and boxing until one’s structural misalignment has been corrected.  Unfortunately running and cardio kickboxing are my two main methods of cardiovascular / aerobic exercise, and forgoing them is going to make it difficult for me to achieve significant weight loss at least in the short term.  Indeed, the only exercises that are recommended given my current lack of structural integrity are cross country skiing and weight lifting! 

Despite the fact that this path does not offer an easy quick fix it is clear to me that this is a much more optimum path for me to follow than my original plan.  So the course that I have now charted is to first build a strong foundation and then expand my range of exercise options after I have achieved true structural integrity and alignment in my body.  While this is not a quick fix I feel confident that this approach will yield far superior long term benefits than my original plan of reducing my body fat percentage and increasing my upper body muscle mass without addressing any of the functional issues in my body.

As I mentioned earlier due to the passage of time it is difficult for me to clearly illustrate how insistent Spirit has been in delivering me messages that have guided me to this path.  From my lower back pain, to my car accident with Max, to finding right books at the right moment, Spirit has been unerring in its guidance.  Indeed, even when I am pursuing seemingly unrelated goals the message has been clear and unequivocal.  Just this past week as part of my spiritual practice I was reading in the gospel of Matthew and came across the following passage:

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.  Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the wind beats against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.  But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds his house on sand.  When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Talk about synchronicity!  So it is back to basics for me – a solid foundation and structural integrity will the bedrock upon which I build my new and improved physique.  Wish me luck!!!

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