As part of my training I hiked up a fast moving stream up in the high Craggy Mountains near Asheville to sit in the fast moving water. While submerged I suddenly understood how it all links together, the one word which can encompass the myriad parts that make up a holistic life, that have created the being I am today. The Sacred and Magical. the Dry and Pragmatic. The Arts and Creativity. the Business and Service. The Health and Nutrition. The Physical Mastery and Body Intelligence. the Emotional and Mental Maturity. The Child-like Wonder and Reaction Time. The Music. The Adventure. The deep dark Shadow work. The Courage. The Vulnerability.
The list goes on and on. It as been a long goal of mine to discover how to effectively share the importance of all of these things and how they all work together, change each other to make a beautiful, holistic life. And in that moment, submerged a word came that tied them all together.
It has ran through my head like a mantra since, suddenly streamlining the process through which I can share all of these.
The book is one and it is almost ready.
Videos and Podcasts are another.
And of course, retreats and workshop events with the occasional seminar.
Branding forthcoming, if only to give cohesion to that which is converging.
Today, while seeing some American responses to Muslims, my heart ached. It ached, not for the injustice of such a stance, but for the force which feeds it. Seeds of fear are planted intentionally by media and governments every day. Little seeds, here and there, mentions of this terror group, that murder, of violence. Seeds of honor and glamor, of courage and bravery are attributed to the legal bastions of violence, our military. These seeds are planted deep in the psyche of those who stare at the flashing lights of the television screen, with no idea how deeply it shapes their very experience of the world, of each other. These seeds become the gut wrenching fear and anger I hear welling from the masses. It is this very fear that makes people easy to control. It convinces people to give up their rights; to submit to less for the promise of safety. That promise is never given for free, never given from compassion. It is offered with the heaviest price tag of them all. It costs millions of lives, the world’s precious resources and is its greatest polluter. The military industrial complex grows larger and yet people are feeling less and less secure every day. A few men, the most lost of them all, grow fat and rich from the sown seeds of fear. It is through this fear that they derive the power to drive the fate of nations like cattle for the slaughter.
The pain in my heart is for these unwitting supplicants of fear and anger. They have been slowly, consistently molded to entrench themselves in these emotions, justifying them through the words that have been drilled into their heads through media. They feel validated in their support of militaristic legal violence through the equally powerful myth of patriotism. My heart aches for these people and the inhuman experiment that has been wrought upon them.
However I have seen the seeds of hope sown directly into the barren soil of this desecrated cultural milieu. I have seen them take root and grow. They are powerful and vigorous and produce fruit that tastes of safety, understanding, compassion and interconnection. It is with this heart ache of both empathy for the lost and hope for the ever increasing number of those who are found that I wrote this yesterday, a mantra or prayer that feels more important now than ever;
“May power derived from seeding and manipulating fear dissolve from our world, and power born of compassion and understanding flourish.”
Even those poor, loveless souls who prey upon the fear and hate that they seed, stuffing their pockets with military contracts and oily trade deals. Sociopathic, beyond the bounds of any reasonable reflection of humanity. These people derive power from seeding and manipulating the fear, pain and hatred of others. The power they derive can determine the fate of nations and send millions zealously to their deaths in order to build this power. What they do not understand is that the power they wield is not as strong as they might think.
This kind of power is weak. It is founded on unnatural principles. Weak principles that do not stand the test of species survival. That do not stand the test of spirit, of connection to something greater. of feeling, viscerally the interconnectedness of every living thing on this planet and how we function as a single organism. This is our natural power, derived from our intimate experience of connection to each other and to all things. Humans killing other humans is an unfathomable monstrosity from the perspective of our true power. The power that requires such horror in the world is weak. It is built upon a foundation that cannot and will not sustain this species as a part of this planet.
With practice and experience in the wild world we begin to unlock our natural, latent abilities. We unlock our latent understanding, wisdom and natural efficaciousness. The painful struggle of modern life falls away. From outside of its grip it appears as an incomprehensible nightmare, a hamster wheel of self destruction that robs us of our vital, essential truth. This truth is that we are stewards of the Earth, the creative and curious, the exploratory expression of life. We are meant to collaborate with the natural world to create a reality far more powerful and advanced then the modern world. Our technology, our culture, are bare, arid reflections of the prestige, power and possibility that we inherently contain.
If only you comprehended for a minute how powerful you truly are. The capabilities and possibilities built in to your incredible human body. The creative force that is your mind and spirit. With even a fraction of this awareness such power as that which today moves nations and machines of war would fall away like dust, forgotten before it had even blown away.
And so I beseech you. Search within and find the truth of who you are, of what you are. Do not dismiss these words. We have reached a crux moment as a species. Either we heed the call of our essential humanity or we continue to allow a weakness disguised as power to control how we behave and think. A weakness we can dispel through a choice. A choice to become a part of the holistic organism that is Earth, to revel in the wondrous complexity of our interconnectedness, and to unleash the irresistible force of our true power that grows from this foundation.
Every day, more and more people are waking up to their true power. Every day the weakness disguised as power loses more of its grip on humanity. This seed of hope has a foundation of millions of individuals waking up to their power. Already people are accessing abilities that defy standard science and breach the threshold of the miraculous. We are out there, we are growing exponentially. It is not simply a seed of hope, it is a rapidly growing community that is awakening to its purpose and vitality.
The only question remains; will you plant this seed of hope in your life or wither fear, anger and violence? The choice is yours and the time is now.
There are people all over the world living to ages well beyond 100 years. The oldest are pressing further and further beyond this age.
What is interesting to note are those places that contain the highest concentration of these individuals.
What is it about those people, their environment and lifestyle that help them to achieve a longer life.
That is exactly the research that has been done by Dan Buettner and National geographic, yielding our knowledge of the world’s ‘Blue Zones’ where the most long-lived people dwell.
The world’s Blue Zones are as follows:
the Ogliastra region of Sardinia
Loma Linda, California;
Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
So what accounts for the high percentage of centurions in these places? They are scattered across the globe and encompass many different cultures and socio-economic situations. What Buettner and his team discovered was that there were indeed lifestyle choices shared by members of each community. Some were surprising.
1. Move Naturally
Office chairs, driving, stiff=soled shoes and a general state of sedentary lethargy has left western human bodies twisted and out of balance. Those who live in the Blue Zones tend to move as nature intended and often. The combination of regular exercise and correct posture and body alignment leads to healthy and longer lives.
2. Know your Purpose
Having a clear directive when you awaken in the morning is said to add seven years to your life when compared to those who do not. This does not mean waking up resigned to work that makes you miserable. Cultivate your talents and passions and share them with the world in a powerful and intentional way.
3. Down Shift
Stress and diet yields chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation yields a treasure trove of illness, disease and pain. One of the greatest ways to prevent chronic inflammation, besides diet, is to get plenty of sleep, take naps and lots of space to meditate, pray, or otherwise quiet your mind.
4. 80% Rule
I like to eat. I learned in my family that the slow eater doesn’t get seconds. This, however leads to overfilling the stomach and overloading our digestive system. This results in poor assimilation of nutrients and poor elimination of wastes. When we eat slow we give our body time to register fullness. However across the blue zones there is another piece. While eating slowly and chewing food completely we eat, on average, 20% less food. We gain more nutrition with less waste to process. Long lived people tend to eat a large breakfast and a small dinner, maximizing their sleep without the extra need for heavy digestion.
5. Plant Slant
Sustainably speaking we can only afford to eat about 2oz of meat a week, per person. Luckily that is just the amount that is eaten (or less) by the longest lived people on the planet. A diet of fruit, nuts and leafy greens makes up most of their food intake..
6. Wine at 5
Drinkers live longer than non-drinkers? Research would tend to agree that this is true. This does not mean getting wasted every day, or ever, really. The benefit is present only in small quantities.Two glasses of wine, preferably eaten during a meal of veggies, will serve you best. I recommend local metheglin (herbal) mead as a powerful alternative that delivers medicine and nutrition to boot.
7. Family First
Family is our greatest teacher and, according to this research, a powerful component of our longevity. Cultivating close ties with relatives, healthy relationships with kids and spouse is a sure way to live a longer, healthier life.
A personal spiritual practice is a wonderful thing and will certainly lead to a happier healthier life. The blue zone people also belong to a spiritual community. Whether a Buddhist center, Christian, Jewish, Islam, or any other community dedicated to celebrating the mysteries and the magic, having a spiritual community is a crucial part of the blue zone alchemy.
9. Right Tribe
I once heard an old saying that you could look at the ten people closest to you and see a clearer reflection of yourself than your own personal idea of who you are. This adage has stuck with me and helped me to cultivate a life where I am surrounded by people who inspire me. Loyalty to people who bring you down only hinders your ability to be effectual and happy. Create space from those who spread dis-ease and find the tribe of people who inspire you most. These people will keep you active, healthy and inspired.
The Blue Zone research gives us an interesting perspective into the lives of those who live the longest on this planet. Studying the places where the highest concentrations of these people live has yielded a simple strategy similar to the one I have outlined in my book ‘Unleash Your Creative Genius’. In the book, however I do not focus on longevity in terms of how many years you live. To me it seems like more years is a natural consequence of opening to creativity and physical vitality. What stands out about these practices is that they increase the quality of the moments you have, right now. They create more unique and memorable experiences which translate to a greater number of unique memories in any given moment. Relative to memory you literally experience more time in one day than someone who is caught in a behavior loop that repeats every day and blends together.
So while Blue Zone research confirms many of the practices I outline in my book, I am still going to search for the longevity of this moment right now through the unique experiences I can create. Extra years will be a welcome bonus, not the goal.
It has been trammeled, beaten, clear cut, dammed and slaughtered.
And yet it still lives. In certain oasis’s it thrives.
Where water runs free and ancient trees still live.
And yet, even in the most destitute and compromised corners of this planet it lives.
Magic is resilient. Magic is not some auxiliary force, it is a way of describing life itself.
It is the state of things when we silent our neurotic minds and place our bare feet on the earth.
When we begin to hear the whispering of the breeze and the lament of the trees.
When we feel the water rushing over our bodies and feel the interruptions of that flow hundreds of miles downstream.
When we know that each being is vitally important, and a part of ourselves.
Greed and exploitation are sad realities. They do not anger me.
For anyone who can trade the biodiversity of this beautiful world for something as shallow as money is sick, lost.
I weep for these tortured souls. Every bit of life they take in the name of greed is further killing their wild spirit.
Their power and vitality becomes buried deeper and deeper by the psychopathic warden of their minds.
And they exploit more. Feverishly they strive for power. And they find a form of it. However it is power corrupted and incapable of satisfying even their most basic needs. And so look at those who exploit, the ‘rich and powerful’. Their skin sags upon their frames. The light in their eyes is buried so deep as to appear nonexistent. Their faces do not naturally conform to smiles, to the physical expressions of light and joy. I do not feel anger towards these beings. I feel a grief, an immense sadness.
My friends, I make a request of you. From the depth of my heart and for the love of this planet, sitting on the knife edge of life and death, I urge you to take a radical and courageous step out your day to day lives.
Go into the wild. Take off your shoes. Drop low to the Earth, move silently. Open your ears, open your eyes and most important of all, open your imagination. It is the key to our true sanity. It is the key to unlocking the sickness of unchecked pragmatism, a cage to the wild spirit. Invoke your hunter/stalker. Millions of years of hunting/stalking has not been lost on you.
Drop low, open your eyes and silent your mind. Listen and feel, let the sensations speak to your body. Ignore the mind at first, it will strive to put each experience into that cage, it will strive to keep you there. Let your imagination run wild. You need do nothing else. Bring warm things, place yourself in the wild woods alone for a night. Feel the vulnerability. Within it lies a strength you may have never known you had. This strength is your true power. It is the power that can truly cancel out the madness that has prevailed for so many generations. This, my friends, is the gateway to magic. To worlds within worlds that remain untapped by most people today.
If you feel the call to take such a step and need support ask me. I am here to help guide those who are ready into a deeper expression of their true power. I also recommend Bill Plotkin’s Animas Valley Institute for those who want a different avenue to this experience. I also recommend his books.
One final question, for those who resonate with this message.
If not now, when? There will always be more work to be done, more responsibilities to keep us distracted. Until we connect to our true power, our spiritual adulthood and our true potential, all that work we are doing is only a fraction of the potency it can be. For true leverage as a force of something inspiring and powerful on this planet we must drop what we are doing long enough to give ourselves the gift of ourselves, fully present and empowered.
It is clear now, more than ever that we are at an environmental threshold the likes we have never seen.
Prominent scientists have come out saying that we are now, unquestionably, in an epochal Mass Extinction. One of the species least likely to survive it? Humanity.
Current measures for sustainable energy are inspiring but just aren’t cutting it. By current projections it will cost many trillions of dollars and take two decades to switch off fossil fuels.
And fossil fuel use isn’t even the worst cause of environmental degradation right now.
Many people try to be ‘environmentally conscious’ through short showers, composting, recycling and carpooling. While helpful these practices a just a drop in the bucket of our culture’s real daily consumption problem.
Fortunately, with a growing population approaching 8 billion, we have achieved a moment of a perfect necessary opportunity.
In order to be a true environmentalist, without hypocrisy under the population and environmental pressures we are presented with right now there is only one choice:
The single most important decision we can make in regards to saving the world is to stop or at least significantly reduce eating animal products.
Scroll down further for facts on why this is true.
Seriously, every political battle, social justice reform and sustainable cause pales in comparison to this one massive necessity.
It isn’t a moral issue. It is the pure scientific fact of maintaining life on this planet.
There is no greater way a person can reduce their personal impact than stopping eating meat. Unlike the sustainable energy reforms which will cost trillions of dollars and take decades to implement this costs nothing and can be implemented today.
I live one of the healthiest lifestyles possible. I have incredible amounts of energy and wake up invigorated and revitalized every day. I climb mountains, perform acrobatics, slackline and adventure race. I also eat next to no animal products ever. They are completely unnecessary for the greatest health imaginable.
So a diet that makes people healthier and happier is also the single most important choice we can make to save the world?
Seems like a no-brainer, right?
Here are the facts:
18% of all Greenhouse gases come from Animal Agriculture. All transportation combined equals 13%.
Live stock and byproducts of livestock account for 51% of CO2 emissions on the planet
Methane and NO2 are hundreds of times more destructive than CO2 and livestock produce the highest sources of these as well
While fracking uses 70-140 Billion gallons of water a year, livestock agriculture uses a staggering 34-76 Trillion gallons annually!
An average Californian is responsible for the consumption of 1500 gallons of water a day.
One pound of beef consumes 2500 gallons of water in its production.
A person who does not eat animal products produces 50% less CO2, uses 1/11 of the oil. 1/13 of the water and 1/18 of the land of a consumer of animal products
The list goes on. (see links below for more info!)
So taking short showers, fixing that leaky faucet and similar measures are trivial in comparison to stoping eating meat.
Regardless of what else you do in the world, with a population of 7.3 billion and rising there is no sustainable way for everyone to eat meat except on very rare occasions.
Like I said, it is no longer a moral issue. It is not about ethics. It is pure, unadulterated science. The number one cause of rainforest destruction, global warming, species loss, and everything that is killing this planet right now is animal agriculture.
In some ways this is good news. All you have to do, in order to make the greatest impact, is to stop eating meat and dairy. It costs nothing, it will save you money, and make you healthier to boot.
Good thing there is a plethora of information out there about the incredible and complete vegan diet. If you do not believe you can THRIVE on this diet than you are not doing your research. Here are some of my favorite examples of people who push the threshold every day without the use of animal products.
Peter Ragnar is older than most of our great grandparents and yet, somehow younger than us at the same time! He is a true inspiration.
Do the research. I used to respect people’s meat eating habits. Just because I know I do not need meat does not mean everyone needs to change their diets too… except, actually they do. Literally, time is running out.
Infographic from the Great documentary on this subject: Cowspiracy. *All numbered facts above compiled from peer reviewed articles by Cowspiracy as well*
By now it is national news that Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens, owners of Waking Life Coffee have done some pretty fucked up things. For those who do not know the backstory you can learn everything you need to know here.
Naturally, Asheville residents are outraged. Apologies are not being accepted outright. This thriving Asheville business is destroyed overnight, and the prospects for a new location dismantled as well. All of this is well and good.
The response thus far has been apt; these men need their lives to crumble around them. National media has picked up this one. The severity should be complete.
And yet, who will be there ready to pick them back up?
We live in a society that is ready to tear anyone to shreds who displays social illness such as the misogynistic vomit of these two. However, as furiously as we can tear these two apart, we have lost the threads of compassion that allow us to eventually build them back up again.
We have lost our faith that people can change, grow and learn. This misogynistic illness is a part of a much bigger social illness in our society.
Yes these men have lost their trust. They have lost their career.
Do we just extricate them from Asheville? Do we as a community dump these two men on some other community elsewhere in the country? Or are we better than that?
In a world where so much of humanity is confronted with so much atrocity, it is each community’s responsibility to not only hold its members responsible for their actions, but to give them a chance to prove themselves, to change. Some of the biggest assholes can become some of the most invaluable and supportive leaders if shown enough compassion.
To those who are ready to tear them apart and throw them to the curb I have some news to break to you:
We are all in this together.
While these gentlemen need to have the world torn out from under them in a big and powerful way they also need to be lifted back up.
I see the outrage. I see the disgust. But I see very little of the balance necessary to be a healthy, strong and balanced community. I see an opportunity.
If we simply extricate these men and wipe our hands clean of them then we have done ourselves a disservice. We have lost an opportunity to function, holistically as a community. We have become the angry mob and have given our essential humanity over to blind rage to the loss of our true power.
My question is this. How do we rise up as a community to show that we are truly strong? We don’t need to be saints to understand that compassion is the ultimate path to a healthy vibrant world. If we do not balance rage with compassion then we are no better than the rest.
I believe in you Asheville, not only to take a stand against such disgusting behavior but to show the world that we can support each other at the same time.
Everyday we are bombarded with news from around the world. Many of our biggest news providers thrive off of violence and fear. Many of those who reject the mass media view still rail against the injustices in our world. It can seem that no matter where you turn something to fear or fight is presented.
However in a world of a million atrocities there are simultaneously billions of acts of magic.
Billions of daily acts of kindness, of service. Billions of smiles and Billions of people living life the best they can.
So in a world that is overwhelmingly good why do we tend to focus on the things that aren’t?
For one, we know that it can be better. We can live more sustainably, more peacefully. We can live in a world that no longer allows the exploitation of peoples by a power hungry minority.
However, if we dwell on the atrocity, the injustice of all of this then we have missed the mark in a big way. We have lost an opportunity to be the most effective and integral human beings we can possibly be. In a world of a billion acts of magic, we have given our power over to the very things we wish to change. This is explicable through Neuroscience.
Our brains have synapses that grow (synaptogenesis) die (synaptic pruning) and are otherwise malleable (synaptic plasticity). Whatever we put our minds on we literally strengthen in our brain through the firing of synapses. If you believe the world a place of atrocities, you will see them everywhere. Every article you read, every interaction you have will somehow reinforce this opinion and hardwire the synapses that feed those thoughts and emotions. Likewise if you see a billion miracles everyday, every interaction you have and everything you read will likewise reinforce that as well.
The only problem is that a majority of those creating news and consuming it fall into the first camp. They create media and consume media that further hardwires their synapses in a way that makes plasticity difficult.
Want to know how malleable your brain is? Try looking at your body. How flexible are you? The brain, like any muscle, is directly connected to the body. If your body is stiff and chronically painful, chances are your mind is as well.
However, this is always, ALWAYS subject to change.
It is a simple science. We literally can fake it until we make it. In fact, that is one of the most important things you can do. If you are plagued by a reality (and trust me it will be real in every way for you!) that contains mistrust, fear, anger at the state of the world, etc. you MUST begin to change your story. Stories, after all, are all we have. We may justify some stories as truth and dismiss others, but in the end we have stories we tell ourselves about the way the world works, and these hardwire into brain a very specific experience of the world around us.
For example, there is the growing crisis in the environment. There are big corporations who continue to exploit resources and seem to have too much power for their own good. By changing our focus we are not ignoring the reality of this. We are changing our relationship to it.
Rather than dwelling on the atrocity I move immediately, without hesitation, to my own actions. What am I doing to change this pattern in my own life? Is this an issue that I am going to put energy into changing? If so, railing against a powerful force such as this in anger is ineffective and absurd. How often have you seen angry and radical opposition work? If instead I come from a place of invigoration and clarity, I have a leverage the angry and suppressed do not. A malleable, healthy brain and body is the best vehicle for innovation. It is the best vehicle for creative problem solving and leadership. It is the greatest strategy and provides the most leverage for exacting any amount of change on any system.
Really let that sink in.
No matter what system you want to change, a malleable, healthy and happy mind and body will provide you the greatest leverage.
So where does the justification for anger at injustice go? It goes down the tubes. It is a poor strategy, wears down the mind, stresses out the body, making the person relatively ineffectual in comparison to the healthy alternative.
So I engage environmental crisis with enthusiasm and vigor. I draw people together to raise money for local environmental causes. I help to inspire others to greatness, to put their vital life energy into tangible projects that make a difference. We write grants, write letters to politicians, and help our local political body to move in directions that feel good. We move towards healthier, happier, better. We exude it, we cannot help but attract it to us. In the same way where the environmental crisis could inspire pain, anger, helplessness, and other emotions that chip away at our minds and body, we engage it with a proactive spirit that inspires us and inspires others. We become agents of effectual change.
I will focus on the billions of beautiful things happening on this planet. For every atrocity that exists there are numerous beautiful things happening as we speak to transform it. The world is evolving and amazing things are happening every day.
Do not get left in the dust.
My Creative Integration practice, as outlined in my forthcoming book ‘Unleash Your Creative Genius’ is designed to help you take back your power, and become a more effective agent of change and innovation in whatever field you desire. After all, this is not just a natural birthright, it is a responsibility. A responsibility to ourselves and our planet.
Anger at atrocity is not bad, it is just a first step. In the world of leveraging change it is adolescent. It must grow to invigorated enthusiasm before it can truly begin to make a difference.
I like air conditioning on hot days. I like refrigerators for keeping my food fresh. I like hot showers and my state-of-the-art music studio.
I revel in being lost amongst the plants and trees, moving on all four limbs. The feeling of the stone under hand as I pivot my hips through the air and land my feet silently on another rock in front of me. I revel in the keen intensity of my vision, my hearing, my sense of smell. Entire worlds are painted by my senses that reveal jewels hidden from sight but plain to those who know how to sense them. I feel a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose. I feel my legitimate place in the wild world. My heart beams and I draw upon a wellspring of creative potential that is unrivaled in the domesticated world.
The connection to my wild self is a relationship like any other. It requires effort, communication, growing pains, and commitment. It also provides clear doorways to entire realms of possibility that do not exist for those who never initiate themselves into their wild birthright.
I have spent the last weekend with men from around the country going through powerful initiations to reawaken the wildman in each of them. Reclaiming the Wildman, as it is called, is a powerful tool, a necessary step in our Creative Integration. Whether man or woman, there exists a deep, primal self that must be fed.
Many people fear their wild selves. Wildness has become synonymous with ‘uncontrolled’, ‘aggressive’, ‘unruly’ and even ‘dangerous’. This, however, is only applicable to the Wounded Wild, the Suppressed Wild.
Wild is calm. Wild is focused. Wild in purposeful.
Our wild self is the gatekeeper to our wisdom, emotional maturity, physical grace and focus. Indeed, this wild, primal part of our being is the key to all goals our heart truly desires through art, business, family and beyond.
In a world where the wild spirit is so feared and buried in the hearts of nearly everyone, having an intimate connection to your wild self is powerful leverage. It is apparent even when you don a suit and tie. It exists in your posture, a gleam in your eye. It exists in a way that impacts those around you even if they do not understand why.
And this is what we perhaps fear the most. Once we unleash our wild spirit we shall not tame it again. We will yearn for the wild places, for the scents, sights and sounds, the feel of stone and wood. We will crave the silence and stillness from which our true power is derived. We will no longer be able to attend to business as usual.
And yet we will thrive in business. We will thrive in our domesticated lives. We will know that we are free and wild, truly, beyond all the e-mails we answer and phone calls we take.
I suppose that is why I write this. It is to encourage you.
You are alive, now.
Do you want to truly feel what it is like to live?
Come join me in the wilderness or go solo. Leave your domesticated world behind. Revel in discomfort until your relationship to comfort changes. Revel in the wild darkness until your fear of the dark inside of you dwindles.
The time is now. Do not waste another precious day of life without your wild depths integrated within.
“Be prepared to be goofy. Revel in experiences that would once have left you embarrassed or abashed. The most confident people I know are all goofy to some degree or another. Everyone is, as far as I can tell, when they let their untrammeled Creative Genius shine. Being goofy is a sign of playfulness, of greeting life’s experiences with lighthearted enthusiasm rather then morose stoicism. It is often in unconventional behavior that people can begin to break the ice of a lifetime of debilitating seriousness.”
Here is an an entire chapter excerpt from my forthcoming book ‘Unleash Your Creative Genius’. Please enjoy and share! If you would like to receive more free educational posts and videos like my Facebook Page Here and sign up for my free educational e-mail below;
Imagination is a skill as innate as breathing to humans. It is something that we are all born with in abundance. The wild and wonderful worlds of children’s imaginations are universal. For a child, anything can be real and the most seemingly mundane realities can become grand adventures. How often do we see young kids find some secret joy and wonder in some object or place that would otherwise seem mundane?
Kids also have a sponge-like ability to learn new things quickly. As with the imagination, it is a common belief that this naturally fades as we grow older. This ability to learn and grow with sponge-like ease and the depth of our imaginative, world bending powers are completely related.
It is a devastating misunderstanding that imagination naturally fades as we grow older. Imagination is designed to change and grow in scope and utility when it is used properly. All the same, it is common reality that imagination dwindles as we grow older and with it our ability to learn new tricks.
This is caused by many factors of our cultural upbringing. The drive towards specialization quickly and steadily replaces wonder and imagination in children with the responsibilities of school, life and eventually career. Career and responsibility were never meant to replace imagination, however, and in an ideal situation they can benefit from its presence in our lives.
After working with children around the world for many years, it has become apparent that young children in every culture are practically the same regardless of social background. If you place a group of young children together from across different cultures and economic realities, they will begin to play in moments as children do, with no cognizance of the barriers or pragmatic issues that press upon adults and even older children. It is in the process of cultural conditioning that the imagination wanes and the mind becomes completely preoccupied by the pragmatic needs of life and career.
Few, if any, are spared the hard-wiring of cultural conditioning. Even hyper-creative artists, musicians and performers become far more pragmatic and focused as they grow into adulthood; having lost much of their uninhibited imagination.
The hardwiring and focusing of parts of our experience is powerful and necessary. If we remained in the abstract world of children our whole lives we would not be able to engage in more complex behaviors available to us as adults. When hardwired pragmatism exists in place of rather then complimentary to our imagination it becomes unfounded and unhealthy. Imagination, when allowed to grow along side our adult responsibilities, is one of the most important tools we have.
Imagination is paramount to innovation, problem solving and effective learning. A mind that does not effectively utilize the imagination is handicapped in it’s ability to grow and change. Fortunately, imagination follows the same proven principles of any skill’s growth.With exercise it will not only reawaken, it will eventually grow and in time, flourish.
One of the most important goals of this work is to reinvigorate the imagination to begin to function normally.
So why is the imagination so important?
Elisa Tartaglia and the Laboratory of Psychophysics at Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) performed an experiment where they tested perceptual learning; which is the learning that occurs in our minds through visualization of a stimulus or activity. Over thousands of tests they used images and sounds with consistencies and abnormalities to train the brain in speed of recognizing those abnormalities. Their findings, which were published in Current Biology, show that exercising a specific behavior in our mind can teach similarly as exercising a behavior in real life. In the study the conclude that perceptual learning is foundational and potentially the most important form of learning we have.
The implications of perceptual learning are widespread. Simply thinking about something you want to improve in your life is actually akin to doing it; it helps strengthen and expand the neural connectors governing proficiency in that particular skill.
When we consider imagination as a far more complex and advanced form of thought, we can see the potential to exponentiate perceptual learning. Rather then just thinking about something we want to learn we imagine it to full realization.
What’s the difference?
Say you are practicing free throw shots in basketball. You have heard that thinking regularly about successful free throw shots does in fact have a positive benefit on your actual free throw, so you give it a try. You think about your posture and form, you think about the perfect arc of the ball; the mental clarity so that you don’t choke at the line. It has been shown that this will effectively activate and exercise the same neural centers that are employed while actually standing at the free throw line.
What if we could take this one step further?
Imagination, in it’s fully active and healthy state, is a full sensory experience. Now you are there; you hear the echo of your footsteps on the court against the walls of the arena. You see the colors of the court, your blurred reflection in the glossy varnish. Maybe there is a crowd? You decide.
Either way you are keenly aware of the empty seats and the faint odor of spilled drinks and food that never truly leaves. Or you see the crowd, the myriad of faces and colors, hear the constant drone and murmur of their voices. You feel the subtle bumpy texture of the basketball, you smell the rubber. You feel its weight in your fingers, feel the resistance it creates with every dribble as your hands receive it again and again.You feel the tinge of nervous excitement that always comes before you step up to the line, the feel of the socks at your ankles and shoes on your feet, and you feel that practiced calm overtake you at the perfect moment.
The sweat is beading on your forehead and the heated effort of the game is in your breath and body. You feel your muscles twitch as you aim, eyes fixed on the net, and shoot. You see that perfect arc you have practiced thousands of times and of course the ball plummets through the hoop with only the smallest whoosh of the net.
Imagination has brought you here in a lucid and realistic way. You have used your power of imagination, far beyond mere visualization, to bring all of your senses into the experience. You are training the basic neural pathways associated with the mental action as well as the entirety of those pathways that are engaged in the full experience of standing there at the line.
Likewise you have just exercised your imagination well beyond the level experienced by most adults in our culture. Each time you practice this technique, the detail will become richer and more vibrant. With practice the difference between learning from action and from imagination will diminish.
Once we understand that this principle can be applied to anything and everything we do in life, then the real opportunity begins to unfold. This is where the fun begins.
What do you want to do?
Where do you want to go and what do you want to see?
What do you want to create?
Try imagining yourself doing it. Remember to move beyond simply visualizing it, bring all senses into the mix. It may take some time and energy to naturally feel all the senses integrated into the scene. You may have to visualize first, then go back and feel the sensations, then once again smell the smells, hear the sounds, etc. Eventually, as the skill deepens into our Habitus, we will form an image that contains all of these automatically. Over time that image will feel more and more real and will form with increased clarity and detail. This greater clarity and detail allows for greater precision in the learning process.
This becomes habitus, something that is automatic and natural in our day to day lives. Rather then the standard model of thinking that we are inadvertently taught by the people around us, we automatically enter into this advanced form of imaginative learning.
We increase our likelihood for success, increase the speed of our development of skill and keep synapses growing and healthy through our mental process alone. This is a serious upgrade to normal thinking.
Normal thinkers think in words, more advanced thinkers will visualize; the Creative Genius imagines in full lucid detail.
The freedom that is derived from this practice is limitless.
Pragmatic and Abstract Imagination
Within our imagination we can exercise and play with “pragmatic imagination” and “abstract imagination”. Both are important and both provide different opportunities for growth.
Pragmatic imagination is like our example of the free throw. You imagine things as they would be in your real life, even if all the factors are perfectly executed and represent an ‘unrealistic’ ideal.The idea here is that you imagine something that you would like to do and imagine yourself doing it as well as it can be done. This will directly exercise the parts of your brain governing these skills.Do you want to play complex rhythms or instrumental pieces? Really imagine, with all senses included, that perfect performance.Imagine how your fingers feel as they precisely hit every note.
I have found an interesting correlation between a physical limit and my ability to fully imagine myself surpass it. For example, I push my edge by tapping out a new polyrhythm that is difficult to coordinate in my fingers. I can feel the mental strain just to imagine myself tapping out this rhythm flawlessly. It feels nearly identical to the strain of actually trying to tap it out in real life. In these moments I can distinctly feel the coordination growing that will allow me to actualize it. As with all things, a rhythm that once gave me struggle becomes effortless with time. If something is presenting a challenge in real life, try vivid imagination and see how this helps you to learn more rapidly.
Abstract imagination is allowing yourself to be anything, do anything, and go anywhere. This exercises your capacity to innovate and problem solve with creativity. It can be incredibly fun and liberating. Do you want to fly? Or perhaps you want to create a world of your very own to return to whenever you like? There is no limit to abstract imagination, and the benefits to our creativity are vast.
The exercises in this book are perfect practice points to start building your imagination.
Here is an exercise to integrate into any and all other exercises in this book or anything you want to improve in your life.
Before practicing or engaging in any exercise;
1)Imagine the exercise in full before partaking in it. Pay attention to integrating all the senses; visualize, hear, smell, touch and feel the emotions of what it will be like to do this exercise in reality.
2) Write down a sentence or two for each sense as you experienced it in your imagination.
3) Perform the given exercise, making a mental note of similarities and differences in your projection and the real thing.
4) Under the same columns, write your actual experience.
5) Repeat often and notice how the experience changes.Have your projections become more detailed, more clear?Do the senses integrate more easily?Have the discrepancies between imagined and reality begun to diminish?
With this upgrade to the quality of our mental projections, we find incredible amounts of freedom through creativity and innovation at our fingertips.
The techniques and knowledge here have come from many years of experiential practice with imagination and physical application of the imagined. This method will help to unleash the creative mind that allows you to see opportunities that wouldn’t of registered before. Entire worlds of possibility open each and every moment.
In such a state there is no possible room for the boring or the mundane. Menial tasks become a creative dance, and free time becomes an invigorating joy rather then a vegetative withdrawal. When the imagination is nourished and regularly stimulated it becomes less and less appealing to remain passively entertained. The worlds of your imagination are far more complete and respond to your wishes and desires.
The techniques and wisdom in this book act as wonderful signposts and can easily become a part of your day to day life. With a healthy imagination you are equally empowered to discover your own unique tools that boost your own pathway to greatness. As your relationship with your imagination grows you will discover creative life enhancing tools specifically for you and a unique perspective from which to inspire others.
Now imagine a world where harnessing the imagination is second nature for the people within it. It is a world of Creative Genius. Feel, see, smell and hear that world.
I imagine myself in a village that is bright, green and healthy. (How big is the village? What kind of terrain is it built on? What surrounds it?) The artistic aesthetic once again reigns and the drab architecture of the last century is slowly replaced with more inspiring, creative and sustainable homes. (What do those homes look like, how are they different from modern architecture? What materials are they built from? What shapes do they take? How are they organized with each other?) As I walk across a grassy path through the town I notice one of the last drab, commercial buildings being slowly picked apart piece by piece. A new community center will be built in its place to match the artistic aesthetic of the rest of the village. Along the path at my feet are gardens of wild food and medicine plants growing vigorously in the healthy, loamy soil. (What kinds of plants, what do they look like, smell like?) The feeling of the soft grass under my bare feet is relaxing, drawing me into an almost meditative state as I slowly walk towards town. My ears are greeted by the sounds of birds (Which birds, can you pick out their individual calls? Can you hear the individual calls overlapped upon each other?) singing in the treetops overhead. In the distance I can hear a female voice singing and the sound of guitars, a violin and flute. (Can you visualize the players? What are they wearing? What do they look like? How are they situated to play?) Every once and a while I hear a cheer from a crowd surrounding them and can imagine the dancing that must be happening. (How big is the crowd? What are they wearing, how are they dancing?) I take a deep breath of the air which is clean and pristine and invigorating. The smell of the flowers, the grass and the deep earthy loam intermingle with the smells of fresh baked breads and food from the village.(What kinds of food? Can you pick out the different smells separately and imagine them co-mingled?)
The basis of this scene is not difficult to imagine. Pockets of this very thing exist scattered across the globe. You may have encountered bits and pieces of it in different places and different times in your life. The key in this exercise is to imagine your own set of ideals for a place you call home. It is an image you can return to again and again, building detail and complexity like a masterpiece of art.
As the myriad insanities of generations begin to heal we will see shifts in the world around us to places of greater artistic beauty and natural aesthetic. We each have the opportunity to create our own personal expressions of this in our own lives. It all begins with a healthy relationship to our imagination.
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from my forthcoming book, ‘Unleash Your Creative Genius’. I will be posting more content regularly to my Facebook page: