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Tuesday September 21, 2004: Pushing the Limits

         One of the deep needs of any individual is to evolve towards completeness. We do not find our strengths and our limits by doing the same safe and predictable actions day after day.  We have to push to find out what we are capable of accomplishing, to test what is truly of value in our life, to discovering what kind of person we are if challenges strip away social roles and regulations and we must face the unknown with only our inner resources.

         In ancient cultures there was often a rite of passage that tested this inner strength. After this trial the individual was centered within himself or herself and within society. We don't have that. Our society comes along with constant and varying levels of stress, threats to the harmonious flow of one's life that may never reach an intensity requiring physical action or emotional confrontation. We know we are living and doing what is necessary but we may not be able to explain why. We live our lives based on past memories and with anticipation of future events.

        We search the outer world, unable to identify the craving. We turn to entertainment because we can face dangers and the unknown from the safety of our seats. We vicariously resolve conflicts and come out victorious. There is an element of satisfaction in a battle well fought, and completion of a successful defense against a worthy adversary.

       Perhaps we lean towards a second element, found within amusement parks, scary movies, intense sports, or in fact, any activity that pits us against emotions of apprehension or fear.  In those moments we forget the past and the future that dominate our everyday life. When we come out the other side in one piece there is a renewed and heightened sense of being alive and vital that comes from living just in the here and now.  For these brief moments, our own past and future images cannot surround and smother the wonders of being alive.

        How motivating events could be in our lives if we acknowledged the satisfaction and power of living in the here and now. How powerful events could be if we recognized the emotional risk of facing an ultimate threat, of finding within oneself the resources, the perseverance and courage to conquer the unknown. How empowering to strip away the non-essential and discover part of the hero/heroine within us all.

         No, I'm not suggesting we return to physical trials and rites of passage. What worked in older and smaller cultures could hardly be adapted in a uniform ritual to the complex society of today. But we can educate ourselves to understand that driving need to find completeness and meaning. 

          These rites of passage, these trials of fire, in today's world need to take place within oneself.  We need not face a charging grizzly to confront and conquer fear. Confronting the fears and doubts within us will gain us access to the same resources and teach us the same strengths.

         Well, wait....on second thought, does facing a grizzly sound more appealing than trying to drag up something you've struggled to keep repressed? Relax. You can dream away conflicts. Dreams are one of the easiest ways to search for completeness. The social regulator is still in place. Truth will be revealed only to the degree you are ready and able to accept. That's not a bad way to address internal challenges (especially if you learn lucid dreaming). Start off easy by programming yourself before sleep: address small issues that are holding back your development; work your way up to bigger issues.

Posted on Tuesday, September 21, 2004 at 05:15AM by Registered CommenterThe Skeptical Mystic | CommentsPost a Comment

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