Tag Archives: beliefs

Love Or Fear? The Motivation Equation

Where is the fear? And how can love diffuse it?  These are the questions inherent in almost all motivational challenges. By developing a deeper understanding of the fundamental relationship of love and fear and how they function in the human organism, we learn to graciously navigate emotionally charged thought processes and volatile perceptual boundaries, thus inviting profound shifts of perspective in real time.

The Primal Elements

Love and fear are elemental forces we are born with and experience throughout our lifetimes, yet they defy absolute comprehension. Behavioral philosophies and psychological theories of the mind commonly consider love and fear as the primary emotions of the reptilian brain, with all other emotions being secondary. Physiologically, love and fear are tied to our survival instinct and the release of the stress (fear) hormones adrenaline and cortisol, and their anti-stress (love) hormonal counterpart, oxytocin. On a mental, emotional and physical basis, love connects us—within ourselves, to each other, and to the world around us—while fear separates us.

Consequently, love and fear are also the primal factors of motivation. Love is the impetus for connecting to our world so that we develop and thrive, while fear compels separation as a means of protection for ourselves and our loved ones. Comprehending this innate relationship of love and fear as the motivational foundation of human behavior offers a tangible context for resolving conflict and inspiring transformation, both individually and collectively.

In our innovative programs and practices at Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery, we actively enjoin our clients in the mindful process of identifying separating behavior (fearful actions and/or reactions based on perceived threats) and responding with connecting behavior (caring gestures and acts of compassion). This serves as an effective strategy for breaking down complex issues into workable pieces that can be addressed in the moment, and empowers change as individuals, teams and organizations realize how compassion is the potent connective tissue in their internal and external relationships. We call this dynamic cognitive empathy, which is an important component of a larger skill-set known as emotional intelligence.

Excavating Maslow’s Pyramid

Any credible discussion of the psychology of motivation requires consideration of Abraham Maslow and his motivational theory based on human needs. So let’s examine Maslow’s infamous hierarchy of needs, which is archetypically depicted as levels within a pyramid.

Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs Criticized

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs Is More About Self-Actualization Than Motivation

Maslow proposed his hierarchy of needs in a paper entitled “A Theory of Human Motivation,” which was published in 1943. The concepts have provided a framework for the psychology of motivation and have been widely utilized to conceptualize policy and practice in the social sciences and in business. The precept is that human behavior is motivated by the satisfaction or frustration of needs, which are arranged in a predominant hierarchy from physiological, to safety, to social, to esteem, to self-actualization.

Yet Maslow’s theory has its share of criticisms, the most significant of which are the limited scope of his research sample and the subjective methodology used in formulating the characteristics of “self-actualization.” The study was conducted by analyzing the biographies and writings of eighteen people, most of whom were highly educated white males. The subjects included Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, William James, Aldous Huxley, Gandhi, and Beethoven, as well as students from the top 1% of college populations. Although the study did include extraordinary women like Eleanor Roosevelt and Mother Teresa, they comprised a small percentage of his sample. Thus, the validity of Maslow’s theory is questionable as to females, as well as individuals from lower social classes and varying ethnicities. It is also relevant to note that Maslow did not include children in his study.

The empirical and theoretical criticisms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs contemplate the following:

  • Cultural relativity and universalism
  • The validity and ordering of the original categories of needs
  • The lack of defined and measured variables throughout the model

Contemporary research by Tay & Diener (2011) tested Maslow’s theory by analyzing the data of 60,865 participants from 123 countries, representing every major region of the world. The survey was conducted from 2005 to 2010. The results of the study support the view that universal human needs appear to exist regardless of cultural differences. However, the ordering of the needs within the hierarchy was incorrect (see SimplyPsychology.org article here). While this and other research refute the existence of the original need categories and question the directional hierarchy that Maslow proposed, these studies do support the existence of lower and higher level needs, along with gratification and deprivation as motivators of self-actualization.

Motivation Is Human Connection

“None of Maslow’s needs can be met without social connection.”    ~ Pamela Rutledge, Ph.D., M.B.A.

In her astute Psychology Today article: ‘Social Networks, What Maslow Misses,’ Dr. Pamela Rutledge takes issue with the widespread assumption represented by the pyramid: that human connection is NOT a primary need or instinct, but occurs instead as an upward climb from food and shelter. She points out the collaborative effort required for basic hunting, gathering and protection from the elements, and illuminates how the drivers of social connection are intimately interwoven into our basic survival, even in a world shifting with technology.

Purely on the basis of definition, a persuasive argument exists that motivation and self-actualization are not one in the same. And, as you can see, a rigorous unearthing of Maslow’s pyramid uncovers a framework that is clearly about self-actualization—the process of systematically meeting human needs. In fact, one might even conclude that a better title for Maslow’s 1943 paper would have been “A Theory Of Human Self-Actualization.”

Our Wonder Years

A rational mind would consider food, water and shelter more urgent requirements than affection and nurturing. The mature individual would deem safety a priority over compassionate interaction. And pragmatic adults would agree that security in maintaining these basic necessities is more important than self-esteem and the sense of belonging.

Yet as infants, wrapped in swaddling clothes and safely cuddled in loving arms, nursing at our mother’s breast and having all our fundamental needs met for us, the opposites all hold true. Common sense, supported by thousands of research studies on childhood development, tells us that at this stage of life, when sentience is rapidly developing both psychologically and physiologically, love and esteem needs are primary—not a third or fourth tier priority.

Motivation And Formative Relationships

As infants and children, we acquire our vast repertoire of skills by studying the faces, voices and actions of others, beginning with our parents and primary caregivers.

The importance of early childhood development has been acknowledged by economists, behavioral scientists, educators, neuroscientists and biologists. Our formative years effect how we grow and develop through adolescence and into adult life. The most powerful external influence on all aspects of our development, resilience and adaptability to life’s challenges, is the quality of love we receive from our parents and primary caregivers.

Our formative attachment relationships determine our physiological functioning, cognitive perception and emotional awareness, development of language skills, and understanding of ourselves, others, and the unfolding world around us. The varying forms of separation anxiety experienced by all children, which can endure or recur throughout childhood, demonstrate both our innate understanding of the need for love, and our instinctive fear at the prospect of being separated from those who provide it to us.

The fundamental physiological need for emotional interaction with those who love and care for us is how motivation awakens in our lives. Love drives our desire to connect, learn and develop. When circumstances challenge our bonds to these relationships, we sometimes experience fearful reactions that we must learn to cope with. When these critical attachment relationships are non-existent or nominal, or if they are significantly compromised or severed during our childhood journey, traumatic developmental, emotional and psycho-social consequences can result—all of which are rooted in a deep and abiding fear of not receiving the love we need.

Connecting Or Separating?

Motivation is a quickening of inner awareness and self-possession based upon two factors: the drive to fulfill our basic need for love and all that we associate with it, and the experience of fear—the circumstances, situations and people we perceive as threats to that love, or to our own safety and survival. Cognition, curiosity, comprehension, exploration, discovery, affection, and affinity are among the developmental aspects of our formative years, and are all connecting behaviors primarily associated with love. Apprehension, worry, indecision, anger, aggression and aloofness are among the common childhood separating behaviors associated with fear.

Yet the primary emotions of love and fear are also conceptual in nature and as we learn more about how they influence our world, we manifest additional behaviors that reflect the broader spectrum of secondary emotions related to them. This brief Slideshare illustrates how love and fear function as powerful forces of motivation in our everyday lives, and reminds us that we can alter our perspective by being mindful and choosing compassion and empathy.

Our lives are filled with transition. Events both expected and unexpected impact our day to day functioning, self-esteem and sense of purpose. Growth and adaptation in a fluid and fast-paced world of technological, economic, political and personal challenges are prerequisites to our health, happiness and survival. The catalyst in how we respond to the trials and tribulations posed by these largely externalized factors, is motivation—an internalized, somatic phenomenon that is greatly influenced by our developmental associations with love and fear—and which, throughout life, continues to be shaped and impelled by our social interactions.

“Motivation kinetically embodies the desires, ambitions, revelations and trepidations that both consciously and subconsciously order our lives.”

Understanding the intrinsic relationship of love and fear helps us identify the underlying motivational factors in ourselves and others. We recognize separating behaviors that result from falsely perceived threats, and distinguish them from comportment rooted in deeper-seated fears. We also embrace the unifying force of love. By mindfully connecting with caring gestures, acts of kindness and compassion, and critical attending, we discover that fearful reactions can be mitigated and diffused. This is how practicing cognitive empathy negates the limiting aspects of fear and inspires us to address larger connective issues and fulfill needs that ultimately define actualized people—individually, collectively and organizationally.

 

©2016 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery. All Rights Reserved.


Cathexis Logo Pic MemeCathexis Therapeutic Imagery specializes in innovative approaches to workplace wellness, mindfulness training, and personal development. Via private coaching, presentations, workshops, training events, and our partnership in the unique online wellness community Your Wellness Room—used by Kaiser Permanente, EFactor and other notable companies—our nationally recognized programs and practices help people and organizations make positive changes. Please call for a free consultation at (818) 512-4371 or contact us via email.

 

Healthy Body Image & The Inner Child

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Acknowledging and nurturing the inner child is critical to achieving a healthy body image. The framework of this relationship determines the degree to which our mind and body are connected . . . or disconnected.

Positive body image is more than merely how we see ourselves physically. It’s how we feel about our physical appearance. And more specifically, the ways in which liking our appearance differs from disliking our appearance, and how this translates to our relationship with ourselves and the world.

Genetic inheritance influences our bone structure, body size, shape, and weight. Consequently, we are all different. At the same time, the equation for weight and body mass is the same for everyone: the calories we intake each day versus the calories we burn. Yet if everyone ate the same and did the same amount of exercise for a whole year, we would not all look the same in the end. This has to do with body type and metabolic rate. And the fact is that liking one’s body, or disliking it, is not all about appearance. People of all shapes and sizes, even some with incredible physiques, suffer from negative body image.

The Silver Screen

The media is a powerful influencer in the body image scenario because it propagates cultural images and sells advertising space. Of course, this drives the movie and television industry, as well as industries such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food, and yes . . . diet and exercise. In fact, weight loss and exercising products are particularly notorious for proliferating body image stereotypes.

Here are some relevant statistics:

  • More than 80% of Americans watch television an average of three hours each day
  • Children engage in increasing amounts of media use fueled by internet access through phones and laptops
  • Eight to eighteen year-olds are engaged with some form of media about seven and one-half hours per day

Even animated cartoons and children’s videos commonly emphasize the importance of being physically attractive. It is also relative to note that although sexually objectified images of females in advertising are most likely to appear in men’s magazines, the second most common source of such images are advertisements in teen magazines directed at adolescent girls. The sexual objectification of men— which is less frowned upon socially and receives far less negative attention, but is nonetheless impactful on influencing body image—is also popular in advertising and media portrayal.

While this is merely the tip of the iceberg, what we know is that body image is primarily formed during our upbringing and is heavily influenced by media. Of course, there are other factors that affect body image which can occur at any time in life, such as sexual harassment or assault, bullying or body shaming, and any of the many forms of discrimination that occur based on appearance. But what does that really mean on a deeper level? How do body image and the focus on being attractive effect our perception of ourselves and our individual reality?

Mirror Mirror On The Wall

Body Image Mirror Mirror

Physical beauty is a powerful and influential imagery paradigm in our media-driven culture, one in which hearts, minds and dollars are deeply invested.

The concept of physical beauty is core to body image, yet it is a perception that can be false or ambiguous. Indeed, physical beauty is a highly subjective, cultural, equivocal, ever-changing, and historically trend-influenced phenomenon. Enhancement of physical beauty can be purchased in many forms. Physical beauty can be marketed, packaged and sold in dizzying numbers of ways. Physical beauty can be a mask and it can be masked. Physical beauty—vague, mercurial and moody—is even more difficult to define than love.

We abide externalized standards for physical beauty despite a deeper wisdom of diversity and empathy that considers it shallow and superficial, something which only goes ‘skin-deep.’ Some innate part of us knows physical beauty is only so relevant in the greater scheme of things; we understand that it is not the same as physical attraction, yet we still allow it to affect our perceptions of ourselves and others. Thus, if our life experiences, whether based on genetics, lifestyle choices, past traumas or a combination thereof, have led to negative body image based upon this volatile concept of physical beauty—if our self-esteem suffers because we have ‘bought-in’ to the idea that we do not meet socially accepted standards of physical beauty that serve as a prerequisite to love and acceptance—we are harboring false or ambiguous perceptions of ourselves which need to be reconciled.

What Love Has To Do With It

Negative body image is a manifestation of fear—fear that we will not receive the love and acceptance we need—fear that we are unworthy of love because of how we look. This fear reaction occurs on a primal, instinctive level which, in psychological terms, is commonly referred to as a trauma of the inner child. Negative body image underlies addictions, eating disorders and other self-destructive habits, and is rooted in a subconscious disconnection of the mind and body.

Thought processes, behavior patterns and lifestyle choices can emerge that reinforce this negative body image. These often include poor eating habits, lack of physical activity, and a general disregard of accepted wisdom on achieving and maintaining good health. Choosing to be unconcerned about such things is a manifestation of the mind/body disconnect.

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Denial of troubled emotions empowers the inner child to take possession of our personality at times, to hijack our ‘adult’ decision making process.

A common way we compensate for this underlying fear of being unlovable is with food. Eating can be thought of as self-love because it stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain—it makes us feel good­—yet this can become a deceptive form of self-abuse and inner conflict, as we realize on a deeper level that that we are mistreating ourselves. Physical activity, particularly exercising, can serve as an uncomfortable reminder of this dysfunction; in order to appease this inner conflict, many adopt attitudes such as: “I don’t like my body anyway, so I don’t really care.”

Suffering from negative body image means we exist in a stasis of emotional apprehension and apathy; that we have adapted and become comfortable with a way of life which may include unhealthy lifestyle choices impelled by a subconscious fear of being unloved. In order to move ahead, we must begin utilizing deliberate acts of self-discovery, such as mindfulness training and practice, to recognize and alter these psychological, physiological and behavioral dynamics. Perhaps the most critical element in this process is learning to acknowledge and nurture a conscious relationship with our inner child.

The Inner Child

The concept of the inner child is traceable to Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and more recently, Eric Berne, among others. It is a basic principle used in therapeutic applications and 12 step recovery approaches. The idea of the inner child is well-known and accepted in popular psychology because it makes sense; it resonates with people. The concept commonly arises in the context of healing the psyche—of the inner child being wounded, stifled or otherwise emotionally compromised. Yet whether or not injury to the psyche has actually occurred and to what degree, there are many fundamental and holistic reasons to embrace our innate, childlike nature.

“A torn jacket is soon mended, but hard words bruise the heart of a child.”      ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Even if one is raised in the ‘best of families’ under the most ‘normal’ of circumstances, it is possible for a parent to have a challenged moment and say something like: “You’ll never amount to anything.” After all, parents are human and far from infallible. Yet statements like this, which undermine a child’s conviction that the parent loves and believes in them, can cause developmental setbacks that carry into adulthood. It is also common for parents to have expectations of children that either go unfulfilled or to which children grudgingly conform; this erodes self-esteem and creates the feeling of wanting to ‘leave childhood behind.’

Children in dysfunctional, impoverished, or circumstantially challenged families often take on adult roles such as cooking and cleaning instead of playing with friends. They may care for siblings or ill parents instead of having free time to simply be a kid. And sometimes, in more dire situations, a child may become hyper-vigilant to the emotional state of their parents or other adults in the household in order to protect themselves or siblings from neglect or abuse.

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In attempting to leave our child-like self behind, we become emotionally attached to the past. We diminish spontaneity and the joy of cherishing each moment with awe and wonder.

The inner child is deeply affected by the sense of being unloved, or unlovable, or both; this perception can readily transfer to poor self-esteem and negative body image. Experiences such as bullying, physical abuse, psychological abuse, abandonment, and physical or sexual assault are the kinds of events that engender shame, guilt, rage and resentment, and can radically traumatize the inner child. Any experience of being physically or psychologically violated, even when it happens in adulthood, can create this trauma.

The mind/body disconnect occurs when we endeavor to avoid, deny, or set aside feelings associated with troubling events such as these. The inner child is the part of the psyche where emotion is experienced, so when we try to block out fear, anger, shame, rage, resentment, guilt, sorrow, and disappointment, we also inhibit feelings of joy, love, happiness, compassion, empathy, and contentment. As well, we create negative associations and emotional attachments to the past that define us as victims, which is an identity the inner child experiences as being left behind or exiled. By attempting to protect ourselves from unwanted reminders of our trauma, we project fear into new situations that confuses our perceptions and divides our attention between the past and present. This phenomenon is known as emotional looping and is a symptom of what psychology calls “arrested development.”

Broken Crayons

Love and fear are the primal elements of human motivation. Love is the connecting force upon which we thrive. Fear is the dividing force that protects us from threats. Owning shame based on negative body image catalyzes fear founded upon an inaccurately perceived threat, which polarizes our love energy and creates a disconnect within ourselves and with the world around us.

In whatever ways the events of our lives have shaped us, we can only accept our fate and embrace our misfortunes as opportunities. While we cannot forget the past, it is important to acknowledge that change occurs in the present. This is why mindfulness training and the practice of mindfulness meditation have been a successful medium of transformation for so many people. By developing the self-possession and connective consciousness to actually be present with what is happening in the moment, we leave behind knee-jerk, defensive reactions sourced in the past and experience the freedom to reclaim our child-like trust and wonder.

colorful artistic crayons

It is only natural for some of our crayons to get broken along the way; in fact, we sometimes break them ourselves. But that does not mean the days of coloring vibrant meaning and purpose into our lives are behind us. Even with an entire box of broken crayons, we are capable or recreating ourselves.

It is this life force and energy of love—love that diffuses fear and invites empathy and self-possession—which is the foundation upon which healthy body image and a positive inner child relationship resides. Here lies the motivation of physical activity, the preparation and partaking of nutritious food, the sacred acts of caring and nurturing, and the exuberant, child-like outlook that stimulates and invigorates us. Indeed, this loving connectivity is how we pick up the broken crayons of our lives and carefully put them back into their precious boxes. 

©2016 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery. All Rights Reserved.


Cathexis Logo Pic MemeCathexis Therapeutic Imagery specializes in innovative approaches to workplace wellness, mindfulness training, and personal development. Via private coaching, presentations, workshops, training events, and our partnership in the unique online wellness community Your Wellness Room—used by Kaiser Permanente, EFactor and other notable companies—our nationally recognized programs and practices help people and organizations make positive changes. Please call for a free consultation at (818) 512-4371 orcontact us via email.

Cynicism: When Fear Has Become Hubris

Cynicism & Skepticism

Those who identify themselves as ‘cynics’ and ‘skeptics’ commonly affect an aloof intellectualism and take pride in their cleverness and humor. Yet such posturing often serves as denial of an underlying fearfulness, especially of those enigmatic aspects of reality that defy logical explanation.

Skepticism is the application of reason and critical thinking to determine validity; it is the process of finding a supported conclusion. Cynicism is the awareness that people can be deceptive, untrustworthy and motivated purely by self-interest. Being both open-minded and critical when evaluating information, and adequately scrutinizing the qualifications and character of the individuals who present it to us, are healthy and useful applications of skepticism and cynicism.

Yet all too often there is an attitude of hostility attached to the skeptical viewpoint, a presumption of the worst in people and an unwillingness to consider ideas and concepts that defy convention or transcend the tried and true. There is also an element of insecurity familiar to the cynic, an anxious and easily threatened disposition that is quick to judge and hides behind highbrow comments and polarizing witticisms. And sadly, a certain amount of pride and self-satisfaction are common to this derisive and emotionally detached demeanor.

Fear Is The Elephant In The Room

Our training programs at Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery include teaching both private and corporate clients mindfulness and emotional intelligence through the incorporation of trance states such as meditation, hypnosis and therapeutic imagery. Thousands of studies conducted by hundreds of independent researchers have demonstrated the benefits of meditation and hypnosis in reducing stress, managing emotional reactivity, improving focus and concentration, strengthening immune system function, and treating an array of medical and mental health related conditions. (The findings of these and other peer reviewed research studies are available in my article: A Review Of The Significant Research On Hypnosis, Meditation & Trance States.) 

The evidence is overwhelming and, in fact, mindfulness meditation is being widely used in business to facilitate healthy and productive environments and positive workplace culture. Elephant In The RoomNonetheless, there are still many skeptics who assign a degree of “woo woo” to the practice of trance state healing techniques and the idea of mind over matter, or expansion of consciousness beyond mere thought. This speaks to fear; specifically, fear of loss of control in individuals who prefer the left-brained functionality and structure of analyzing and processing information. Yet this kind of cynicism also represents a quagmire of unbelief that exists in the world of human potential, a dismissive sentiment which undermines the value of holistic health practices and the spiritual aspects of self-actualization.

“Proof” is the vernacular of the cynic. Science speaks in terms of “evidence.” And the materialist view of reality—the assumption that the physical processes of the universe exist beyond subjective perception—has not been substantiated by mathematics or empirical observation. In fact, reality is known only through sensory interaction, the way our mind relates to light, sound, smell, touch and taste.

The core of emotional intelligence is understanding love and fear as the fundamental elements of human motivation. Love connects and fear divides. Pessimism, sarcasm and skepticism are rooted in fear because they ultimately express limitation and separation. And cynicism—the unhealthy compensation for fear that manifests as haughty and disparaging points of view—represents a cowardice of compassion, curiosity and unity.

Expanded Consciousness

Ours is not a world of absolutes. Developing the ability to recognize and fully trust our powers of perception, to realize deeper wisdom and enlightenment, to experience profound insight and fulfill our journey of purpose, are ultimately endeavors of spiritual self-discovery.

Expanded consciousness involves opening up to the sacred bond of creation and inviting divinity in its many enigmatic forms—these are functions of inclusion rather than exclusion, of being liberated from constrained convictions, of embracing infinite possibility rather than limited proof—and of connecting instead of dividing, both within ourselves and to the living universe.

©2016 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery. All Rights Reserved.


Cathexis Logo Pic MemeCathexis Therapeutic Imagery specializes in innovative approaches to workplace wellness, mindfulness training, and personal development. Via private coaching, presentations, workshops, training events, and our partnership in the unique online wellness community Your Wellness Room—used by Kaiser Permanente, EFactor and other notable companies—our nationally recognized programs and practices help people and organizations make positive changes. Please call for a free consultation at (818) 512-4371 orcontact us via email.

Every Day Is Earth Day

Unity Consciousness

There is growing acceptance in the Western scientific community of the ancient idea of a unified energy field that links all of creation in an ethereal bond, an innate consciousness. In his book, A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking calls this phenomenon the Mind of God. Many other scientists and researchers refer to it as Nature’s Mind, Unity Consciousness, or the Quantum Hologram (see Greg Braden article, Oneness & The Quantum Hologram, here).

“The universe is a unity. Every material thing is in all things. All things come from all, and all is in all things.”    ~John Toland

The navigation of consciousness transcends the boundaries mapped by a pantheon of great human minds, reaching ever outward into this sensory holograph that is creation’s enduring mystery. The connection of all living things, the cosmic equation—the whole of life within every part, and every part within the whole—manifests in our perception of reality as multiple dimensions that elude absolute comprehension and definition. We can see, touch, hear, smell and taste the universe around us, yet these images are shifting perspectives of an even greater fabric and texture, an interwoven awareness we have merely glimpsed through the eyes of science, physics, eastern medicine, psychology, mysticism, and spirituality.

The ‘angle of light’ shed by our specific viewpoint and the various ‘interference patterns’ of our own attitudes and beliefs, serve as vectors of discernment that create the basis for this concept of reality as a holographic image (see M.S. Benford Journal of Theoretics study here). And the function of our mind, body and spirit, the magnetic and vibratory energy of the human aura interacting with the vast energy of the universe, is a critical variable in how the world ultimately presents itself to us, affecting how we perceive and experience our individual realities.

The power of individual perspective greatly influences the enigma of reality and its various dimensions and levels. Our attitudes and beliefs, our emotional intelligence, comprise the filters with which we process incoming information, while also sending coherent emotional impulses to the heart, the electro-magnetic dynamo of the human organism. The heart then transmits this energy, the magnetic force and vibration of our convictions about ourselves and the world—which can be photographed and measured as the seven levels of the human aura—out into the universe. In turn, the unified energy field (see John Hagelin, Ph.D. video on quantum physics and consciousness here), our connection on an atomic, molecular, and biological level to every other living thing, responds by attracting like frequencies of energy. This is how our consciousness, individually and collectively, fashions the quantum hologram, or what we perceive and experience as ‘reality.’

unity consciousnessMay we acknowledge that every day is earth day and reflect upon our unity consciousness, our treasured connection to the skies and forests, the oceans and waterways, the mountains and deserts, to the eternal womb of wild nature and all its magnificent creatures. The earth itself is surrounded by a geomagnetic field, an aura, a source of conscious energy to which we are all linked. Let us embrace and celebrate the sanctity of this interwoven force, the manifest bounty of our planet and its collective spirit . . . the Mind of God.

©2016 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht., Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery

Light Of Winter

Winter Solstice

A WINTER SOLSTICE MEDITATION

(Note: The following article is from a presentation on MIndfulness Meditation given during the Winter Solstice service at Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church in Canoga Park, California, on December 20, 2015.) 

In this article and accompanying meditation (see the link below), we celebrate Winter Solstice in a very special way, as we join in mind, body & spirit to invite reborn light into the fertile depths of our individual and collective souls. We shall contemplate and explore the seeded darkness of our inner being; the transcendent mystery of midwinter and its promise of renewal wrought by the pale sun and cold earth; the ancient, echoed wisdom woven by countless seasons into bone and sinew and sense. We shall partake in the interconnected sentience of our living, breathing and enigmatically conscious universe. At this revered confluence of endings and beginnings, this holiest of all seasons beneath the turning of the Celestial Wheel, let us rejoice in ambient communion with the resplendent wonder of the sun’s rebirth in our hearts, and create a cradle of spirituality from which to draw inspiration.

Mindfulness

My practice includes teaching both private and corporate clients mindfulness meditation. There have been thousands of studies conducted by hundreds of independent researchers demonstrating the benefits of mindfulness meditation in reducing stress, managing emotional reactivity, improving focus and concentration, strengthening immune system function, and treating an array of medical and mental health related conditions. It is being widely used in business to facilitate healthy and productive environments and positive workplace culture. There are still skeptics, however, many of whom assign a degree “woo-woo” to the practice of meditation. Having meditated daily for nearly 40 years, I can tell you first hand that whatever woo-woo that occurs is not in the meditation itself, but rather in the experience of higher conscious. We shall consider this phenomenon in relationship to Winter Solstice a bit further, both conceptually and experientially.

I invite you to take a deep breath. Match your inhale to your exhale. Now repeat this deep, measured breathing and focus your attention on it. Notice the air moving. Touch your thumbs and fingertips together; wiggle your toes. Observe yourself in relation to the space around you. Just be present with yourself . . . in this moment. Let go of all resistance, expectation and judgment. Simply allow yourself to experience the here and now.

     “Still yourself. Listen. Breathe.”

This is what is known as a mindfulness moment. The Zen of mindfulness, the bone and sinew of it, the essence of being truly present, is momentarily absolving oneself of intentional thought. And the most effective way to learn the art of mindfulness is through mindfulness meditation, which is a western, non-sectarian, research-based form of meditation derived from the ancient Buddhist practice known as Insight Meditation.

MindfulnessMindfulness meditation develops the skill of paying attention to our internal and external experiences with acceptance, patience, and compassion. The idea of enlightenment, of shifting and expanding perception beyond the realm of human intelligence, is grounded in this subtle and remarkable discipline of inviting a pure awareness that diffuses the habituation of fearful thoughts, emotions and behaviors. In mindfulness meditation, one of the oldest and most venerated practices for exploring the ineffable dimensions of consciousness, the seeded darkness of our inner being, has come of age.

Unity Consciousness

But let’s set aside ancient wisdom for a moment. Instead, let’s use modern science to embrace this old world perspective of the interconnected sentience of our living, breathing and enigmatically conscious universe. I quote Neil deGrasse Tyson, popular astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space:

“The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth.  And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe.”

According to quantum physics theory, beneath molecules, atoms, subatomic particles, and quarks lies a singular unified field of energy, an intelligence from which all forces and particles emerge, a ‘conscious’ structural matrix that exists everywhere in the universe. This energy field is considered ‘conscious’ or ‘intelligent’ because it encompasses the basic behavior of all things within the functioning laws of nature. The scientific community calls this concept unified field theory, or unity consciousness. In his book, A Brief History of Time, Stephan Hawking refers to the phenomenon of unity consciousness as “the mind of God.”

This consciousness, or organic sentience, is foundationally influenced by the interconnection of the Sun and Earth, a transmission of galactic energy communicated through light and vibrational wave frequencies along the infinite electromagnetic spectrum (radio, microwave, infrared, visual, ultraviolet, x-ray, and gamma rays); much of which we cannot see or feel.

In his book, ‘The Social Conquest of Earth,’ pre-eminent Harvard biologist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner E.O. Wilson sets forth a stunningly vivid and succinct description of the limited aperture through which human biology allows us to perceive our world.

Unity Consciousness

The migration patterns of birds are a primary example of the ability of animals to sense electromagnetic fields

What is most fascinating and relevant about this account is not that technology can reveal realities to which we are insensate—colors we don’t see, sounds we don’t hear, energy fields we don’t sense—what is most compelling is that all of these are perceivable to biology, just not human biology. It is established biological fact that animals see colors we can’t see; hear sounds we can’t hear; feel vibrations we can’t feel; and sense electromagnetic fields.

All living things are comprised of energy that radiates an aura, a “bio-electromagnetic field,” which results from electrical impulses generated by the movement of electrons around the nucleus of our cells. The human aura includes physical, emotional, and mental/spiritual aspects, and represents this chemical, biological, and atomical connection to the living universe. Research utilizing infrared and Kirlian photography has demonstrated that meditation intensifies or “charges” this aura, which enhances its interactivity with the geomagnetic energy fields of the earth and the cosmos.

From this scientific perspective then, is it such a leap to conceive of creation’s wonder, the transcendent mystery, perhaps even divinity itself, as this conscious matrix of unified energy that surrounds and connects all living things? And is this conception not distinctly akin to what Unitarian Universalism calls “the Interconnected Web of Life?”

Winter Solstice

Winter solstice is the time to honor the transcendent mystery—the wonder of the seeded darkness and the beauty of light reborn. Celebrations of longer days to come and the turning of nature’s seasonal wheel have been common throughout cultures and history. Winter solstice is the promise of patient wisdom beneath the turning stars, a time to embrace the rebirth of the sun with great hope and compassion in our hearts.

Pagan author T. Thorn Coyle wrote that the solstice is:

” . . . a chance to still ourselves inside, to behold the glory of the cosmos, and to take a breath with the Sacred.”

For many people, the Winter Solstice season marks the only occasion all year they set foot in a house of worship. Indeed, midwinter’s confluence of endings and beginnings—the night of greatest darkness and the sun reborn in hope—stirs a searching of the soul’s belonging. It is a time of coming together in fellowship, of setting aside enmities and ideologies, of observing rites and rituals that allow us to glimpse the spiritual cradle of life’s miracle. It is a time of gratitude and wonder, of compassion and grace, of peace and goodwill.

I invite you to join me for a few minutes of Mindfulness Meditation, as we contemplate . . .

Light Of Winter

Winter Solstice Meditation

Light Of Winter Meditation

(click on the link, close your eyes, and enjoy the meditation)

©2015 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery. All Rights Reserved.

Shawn picture-52

Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht.

Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery specializes in innovative approaches to workplace wellness, mindfulness training, and personal development. Via private coaching, presentations, workshops, training events, and our partnership in the unique online wellness community Your Wellness Room—used by Kaiser Permanente, EFactor and other notable companies—our nationally recognized programs and practices help people and organizations make positive changes. Please call for a free consultation at (818) 512-4371 or contact us via email. 

The Law of Attraction

Law Of Attraction

The Secret Science Of Thoughts & Beliefs: How We Connect Our Divine Heart

Our reality is not subjective, but rather “collective.” The same can be said of consciousness. We are, in fact, subject to the thoughts, acts, desires, and ambitions of others, all of which are part of the enigmatic and ubiquitous energy of the universe and the powers of nature, whose mysteries and properties are perhaps not capable of entirely being understood. The modern interpretation of the Law of Attraction merely proposes that our thoughts, words, and attitudes, and of course, our actions, can affect, fashion, shape and influence the outcomes we desire, as opposed to “creating” them. Yet consider the effect of teaching every child in the world to meditate by the age of nine. Would that not likely precipitate world peace within a generation? So then collectively, at least, we can indeed create reality.

The Divine Heart

The Law of Attraction teaches us to set aside negative and prejudicial attitudes, to cast out doubts and fears, to let go of anger and resentment, to shun blame and victimization and embrace tolerance, forgiveness, and the decision of responsibility—to relinquish anything that weighs us down, instead visualizing on positives and focusing our thoughts, words, ideas, dreams and desires on that which serves our success and happiness—then committing a degree of faith in how the universe responds in delivering it to us. In so doing, we ‘get out of our own way’ and become increasingly connected with our personal power and by extension, the powerful electro-magnetic force or ‘energy’ of creation, the interwoven spirit and unity consciousness of all living things. Our hearts, which generate 60 times the electro-magnetic amplitude of brain waves (see Institute of HeartMath article here), become unencumbered, and are thus able to draw, to attract, not just the reality we desire, but that which was truly meant for us. We allow fulfillment of the purpose for which the mystical web of life brought us into being; hence, we attract a deeper discovery of ourselves in the process, as the wisdom of our experiences reveals a new and profound awareness.

Staying Connected 

If our actions and thought processes are not motivated by divinity, then we must ask ourselves what are they motivated by? If we are not conspiring to realize our higher purpose, then what are we conspiring to? If we are not committed to galvanizing our strength, power and vision to create a better reality for ourselves and each other, then what are we committed to?

44614345_sThe Law of Attraction is akin to the blessed metaphor and universal language of music, where countless sacred harmonies, ethereal and beautiful and inspiring beyond measure, are achieved simply by listening to and embellishing the melody. The world is ever filled with that which would distract us from our deeper calling, yet if we but discipline ourselves to connect our divine heart, to stay tuned-in to the secret science of our thoughts and beliefs, we may still discover the many inspirited voices and unsung choruses in this, our shared song of life.

©2012 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht.& Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery