The Five Point Method of Transformation
We all know the exasperation that comes when we try to change and find ourselves back where we started.
The sacrifices we made while we were on our diet, the months we went without a cigarette, the toxic relationship we swore would be our last, all come round again to haunt us.
I've been there, full circle, more times than I can count. I remember the anger that would seethe through me, anger at myself while my chest shrunk in pure despair, and I walked around unsure of what to do. In my search to figure out how to truly change my life I discovered that much of the problem lay in the fact I was only working with one or two parts of myself at a time. True change requires the entire individual in all their dynamic glory.
It's easy for the mind to forget this. The mind has a limited attention span and can only focus on a handful of things. In fact this is one of the better ways to create change on a daily basis; make a task list, and make it short, because the mind can't hold too many things at once.
Perhaps this is why the ancients had so many systems that encouraged looking at the individual as so much more than a single, rational person.
Aristotle wrote that humans have at least three souls, the vegetative, the sensitive, the rational. Ancient Chinese beliefs held that a human had two souls, Po and Hun. In ancient Egypt humans were said to have at least five souls, Ba, Ka, Ib, Sheut, and Ren. In Kabbalah we have Nefesh, Ruach, Neshamah, Chayah, Yechida.
Why am I speaking in tongues? Because so much of the despair that we experience when we try to create change in our lives comes from the fact that most westerners see ourselves simply as a single, rational human being. If we mess up it's because we're just "not good enough."
Jung and Freud challenged this with the idea of an unconscious. Freud presented the id, ego, and super ego, while Jung talked about the anima/animus, the ego and self and all the archetypes that lie beneath.
Today in neurology we see that the mind is composed of dozens of specialized regions in the brain that do their best to work in concert with each other but don't always succeed. We are discovering that the human being is a collection of systems. In a way we're discovering what the ancients already knew.
If you want to change your life you need to act as your dynamic self, and you need a model that recognizes the different relationships you have to your body, your mind, the world around you, and the world within.
This is why I present the Five Point Method, as a means to give us a larger model to work on.
In the eastern traditions, the mind is simply an organ; it is not the seat of our identity as we often believe in the west. Instead, the mind is a sense organ, just like an ear, except that instead of hearing vibrations the mind hears thoughts, ideas, experiences.
This is counter to western philosophy where we are the mind, we are our thoughts, ideas, experiences and emotions, rather than observers of these things. Often, when we come to our journey of transformation, it is because we are plagued with strong emotions: depression, anxiety, fear or obsession.
We have these thoughts we can’t get rid of, thoughts of suicide, addiction or depression. We identify with these thoughts. We say, “I am suicidal." "I am depressed." "I am crazy or addicted.” In reality, if we take the most materialistic of explanations, we are a body, with a brain, and that brain sometimes conjures emotions such as depression or anxiety, sensations or behaviors of addiction and mental excitement. These experiences are at their basis a chemical and neurological reaction, limited, and influenced by their physical condition. The sensation of anxiety, of compulsion isn't us, it is a chemical flowing through us. The mind is our door into this world, it is interpreter, observer and ambassador of our vision and our will.
A large part of anyone’s journey of transformation is to develop the organ of mind. First, we have to know what we’re sensing and where it’s coming from. Without the self-awareness that comes from a developed mind, the anxiety of a flat tire, an unpaid bill or visiting our childhood home can all feel the same. They feel like us, being anxious, being in pain. When we develop our minds as organs, we start to sense the different hues of anxiety and where they come from.
We can identify what is simply a sad thought and what is the depression speaking. We can start to tell what is hormonal, psychological, neurological, spiritual or a past pain remembered in our body. Often times it's a little bit of everything.
This is why it is so important to develop our mindfulness through meditation, so that we know what we are working with. In order to gain this state of clarity, we must truly care for and nurture our minds, by taking care of our bodies.
Honor it, care for it, appreciate it. Whether you practice dualism, monism or materialism, the body affects all that we are. Its organs, hormones, and chemicals greatly affect our consciousness, as well as our unconscious body, while the acts we use it for condition our mental states and generate our karma. Even the simple act of breathing is linked to each of the other four points.
The foods you eat, the exercises you do or do not practice, and the habits you reinforce greatly affect your energy, mind, and spirit, not to mention your health. My first step towards healing and transformation had to start here, this is the case for most people. In the west we are becoming more familiar with practices like Yoga and Thai Chi, but not everyone remembers that these practices were establish to strengthen the mind and body so as to further transformation and personal development.
A healthy diet and exercise are crucial to any work of transformation that we can participate in. Whether we are simply working on self-improvement, organization, kicking a habit or an addiction, healing depression or mania, or are going through a spiritual awakening, what we are composed of and do with our bodies is an essential piece in our work.
Spiritual ritual connects us to the Mystery of life. It tells the world around and within us that we are opening up a conversation, that we are ready to use our mindfulness to listen.
The religious traditions around the world have spent millennia developing incredibly complex rituals to do this, but it needn’t be so formulaic. A ritual can be as simple as taking a shower, whispering a prayer and setting the intention that the water cleanse us, wipe away our depression, our anxiety, our ego feeling so small, and open us up to be filled with love and divine will, with the lessons that we are to learn this day.
This is why spiritual practice is so necessary. It yokes our will with the evolution of the unknown, it gives our unconscious room to shape us in the ways we do not yet understand. It makes room within us to find ways to live in harmony. The rituals we perform take the symbolism of an act and weave it into deeper meanings. This acts as a vessel of action that we can place our intentions in, while calling on the Positive Unknown, whether that be God, our unconscious evolution or a guardian, we call on this unknown to work on what we do not yet understand in our transformation process.
When I take my morning shower, I do not know what will happen that day. I do not know where every emotion within me is coming from. Perhaps I sense something about to rise, some sort of twisting in my chest, as my mind feels itself drift. Perhaps my blood sugar is low, maybe I miss a friend, or something a person said the other day is still ringing in my ears. Maybe a year ago something hurt worse, and I don’t consciously remember that today is the anniversary of the act.
When I open up the shower curtains and I pray that the water baptize me, that it wash away all that needs to be released and make room for the good of the day, and I use my mindfulness to receive the other part of the conversation I have initiated, then I make room for the memories of last year to flow in, for the lesson of ego to be realized and that comment to be released. I make room to be aware that my blood sugar is low and I really should eat. I make room for discovering a new day rather than mentally reliving the old.
I can set the intention to reach out to my friend, and I can take in whatever other lessons and energies are being provided by the Unknown for my use in the day to come. By making room for the mystery to work, we make room to understand the different aspects of our experience and to learn what we didn’t know before we opened up.
This is why spiritual ritual is so important. It makes room to grow.
Energy work allows us to keep intuitive tabs on what is happening in our mind and body. Our muscles, bones and flesh are all composed of cells made of molecules, made of atoms, made of energy. These cells then compose organs and systems of the body, releasing hormones, neurotransmitters and legions of chemicals to communicate, regulate and govern other organs, systems and cells. Running throughout all of this is our consciousness, creating little maps of self and experience from the energetic shifts of molecule, cell and organ. Energy work is a way of intuitively experiencing and working with this ocean of shifting chemicals, through the medium of our mind and our physical experience.
Now I must make this clear, energy work is not science, it is experience, and it is subjective. Through the lens of science we know that portions of the brain, certain chemicals and hormones can affect our moods, behaviors and mental abilities. We know that the body is crisscrossed with nerves and neurons, that it is an endlessly complex, interconnected organism, and from this complexity consciousness arises.
Science still leaves a lot of our experience in mystery. Energy work is working with this mystery. Science has shown interesting connections between mind and body, the affects of stress and meditation on the body and the use of imagery while healing from injuries. Through science, each of these has been verified, energy work works with these premises, but it goes further than science has yet verified. In the end it is a subjective relationship with our body, consciousness and experience.
Physically, if we eat junk food, abuse our bodies, fill ourselves with toxic chemicals and never make room for our bodies to grow healthy with exercise, there isn’t much hope for mindfulness or spiritual work. Our bodies, the vessels of this work, are choked and clogged.
However, if we honor our bodies, if we make sure that they are in good working order, then they become porous vessels, capable of taking in the messages of mindfulness and the blessings of spiritual connection.
It is the same with the "Energy Body." In my experience this body is the subjective experience of our chemical and hormonal body. If we load up on junk "energy," emotional horror, drama and gossip, if we stress ourselves out by taking on other people’s worries, or deplete ourselves by overworking, never resting, or not allowing ourselves to take delight in this world, we clog our energetic pathways. Or in another way of expressing it, we mix up all of our chemicals, we manipulate them through our senses or push them too far, draining our resources and alienating ourselves from a healthy mindset and lifestyle.
Rather than watching that ninth horror movie or listening to the third talk show in a row, we could benefit from a simple energy meditation such as sitting, breathing, feeling the flow of life pass through us, then drinking some tea or water and relishing the taste of an orange or a kiwi.
In all these previous points, we are opening ourselves up to the world within and without so that the two can weave together. When we do this we begin to see that they weave a great story and this brings us to mythos, the portion of soul, mythology and our own personal stories.
This is a portion of ourselves that is still very much layered in the divine mystery. In fact, our story is our penetration into that mystery and what we find there.
At the center of this story is our soul. It needn’t be so metaphysical as to have particular properties. The Egyptians believed a person had anywhere from five to seven souls, the Chinese believe in two, the Kabbalists five, and the Christians and Hindus one. A Buddhist may not even believe in the soul, but they can identify the Observer. Jung saw the soul as a part of the psyche. What we can agree on is that the soul is that part of ourselves that affects and is affected by the inner and outer worlds.
This Observer or soul is currently on a stage. It is a part of the stage, but it is a part that is acting uniquely unto itself. The story being woven is an act of mythology. When we keep ourselves open and healthy, we find that we are growing and flourishing. Often times new struggles, trials and obstacles will appear that we need to overcome. Life becomes a journey, a healer’s journey, a hero’s journey. The story of this becomes a mythology, the center actor is the soul, and we are a part of it.
It is important in our journey of transformation to take note of this. We are even now acting out our mythology. A mythological system is filled with symbols that bridge the known and unknown, our journey weaves back and forth between these symbols, between the known and unknown.
If we remember this, we can start to see the shape of the myths we are living out. We can get a feeling for our journey, for the Unknown and how it relates to us. We may not yet understand why some things are happening, but as any good hero after the fact can say, “it is happening for a reason.”
Mythos acts as the story that brings together our mindfulness, energy, spiritual work and body. When we do this, it is the work of the soul that we are performing. In the end, the work, which seems sometimes external, sometimes internal, is really all the same. The five points are one point, the journey from here to there is truly just being, just growing, just healing.
(If you would like to work on any of these, please reach out. We can talk about your goals and how to reach them.)