DNA super soup and the I factor.

Posted on September 21, 2011

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The self. 

I tend to forget about how “I” fit into the greater cosmos unless reminded….and reminded usually means when I a wave of change moves through my life, like a breakup or exceedingly bad fight with the Chu. I know. Uncouth of a yogi to say that she is disconnected from the greater cosmos right?

Wrong.

Part of engaging the concept of “Self” is accepting and understanding that the  notion of  “I” is a work in progress and that while being alive is a process of the automatic nervous system, being aware of ones place in the universe is not.  It is a hard thing to wrap one’s mind around (yes I note the irony here), understanding how the self is perceived internally and externally. It takes a conscious effort to connect beyond our experiential realm…or perhaps to disconnect from what we think is real.

For example, I had a friend say this today: There is a world outside of my doorstep.

The statement really resonated with me and I thought that she was talking about this idea of the self as home and the collective as the world beyond.  I got really jazzed about her highlighting this concept AND about me being prescient because OBVIOUSLY I could read and influence her mind…

Not so, sadly.

What she really meant was that there is a physical world beyond the boundaries of her home. She’s been cooped up with the flu for a week and was excited to exit her domicile and go to the store.

Perception.

How we live and interact with the world is relayed through our individual lens of perception. We see only what we can see, right? Humanity has been saddled with the ability to look at the self in relationship “to the other” and this knowledge of our body and mind as a separate entity from this or that person or object has created a world where our otherness dictates existence. We consciously know that we are in our bodies and our bodies are not X, Y or Z. We are individuals existing apart from that there chair or this here table. Right? I am and you are a separate entity stitched from the same DNA super-soup as other humans but done so with your own genetic pattern. With a very specific needle that made us unique… or we could all be the same entity with neural patterns that make us think that we’re different beings ala the Matrix…thinking about it hurts the brain doesn’t it?

But this isn’t that. This isn’t about who we think we are. Or the insolvable question of our own existence. This is about all of those spaces we fail to touch while we exist. The spaces inside as well as the spaces and people beyond us. This post is about an exploration how an ultimate and greater good occurs when we think of the self, who “we” are as a larger part of the whole…as more than an existential dream. This post is about attentiveness.

I know. Considering such things is difficult and at times painful. A lot of questions accompany this sort of analysis. Who am I? Why am I? What is meaning? What is purpose? What is the collective? What is good? Why am I not naturally good? Am I really evil…ad infinitum my friends?

Set all that shit down for a minute. Seriously. Thinking about the details serves no purpose whatsoever in this discussion.

Believe me when I tell you this one thing: There is a world filled with other people beyond your realm of perception and to connect with them, to expand your field of “knowingness” allows for space to consider and breathe in our chaotic world. I love Joseph Campbell and will probably reference him on more than one occasion. JC taught me that a mythic structure ties our world together into a beautiful web of sameness. Carl Jung noted the same thing with his idea of the collective unconscious as an ocean studded with jewels of archetypal connection. Buddha, Gandhi, Tutu, Jesus, Mohamed, Alexander the Great, Yoda…they all say something similar regarding the human condition. We are more than the sum of our parts singularly and collectively.

So.The Self.

Awareness of us, of the body and the mind is an essential aspect of the experience being alive. Awareness encompasses an understanding of the vast net of interconnection that thrums between you and me and every other person on this planet. Some indicate that this occurs at a sub-conscious level, which we fail to know it exists. My less than aware agrees. In fact, my less than aware self doesn’t care about universalism. It cares about what shoes I’m going to wear tomorrow or the zit that just cropped up or what I’m going to eat for dinner. My ego mind would much rather remain rooted in the “I” part of self, the part that shuts down at the thought of …people. The whole of myself, the part that I dig into when I meditate or that I find accessible just before I fall into deep slumber…that part of me recognizes that this interconnectedness is available to us at all times, it simply takes the proper shift in perception to see and use it.

My drive, my goal as a yogi and as a human being is to cultivate an external awareness that allows for the cultivation of a deeper connection to the universe while also leaving space for the days that I just don’t care about my net of connection. I care about cake in my belly or how much Halo Reach I can play in a given day.  How does self-awareness look for you? Is it reaching out and physically connecting to others? Volunteering in a way that shifts your intention, your perception as well as widening your horizons? Is it experiencing the world as a dichotomy and then attempting to slooooowly dissolve the boundaries between the I and the collective? Maybe it is simply recognizing that you and your thoughts are not all there is and making an attempt, large or small, to be conscious of how your life affects and is affected by others. No need for action…you don’t have to shuffle off your mortal coil or become an ascetic or anything. Simply being aware of self is perhaps the most profound step one can take on this journey of the self.

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