Welcome to Part 1 of the introduction to
Inner Connections – Wisdom for Life Decisions – a 5 part short program. The program will teach you how to gain access to positive brain states that will help you connect with your inner wisdom, to be:
- At peace with yourself
- At peace with others
- At peace with God
(This Part 1 of the introduction is somewhat self indulgent, so if you prefer to hear more about the program directly please click the link through to Part 2 here: The Workings of Peace as a State of Being).
While I am sometimes criticised for it, I don’t usually write about God or spiritual matters.
Today I want to share a little more of my personal story on this:
I was raised a Christian but left the church as a teenager. I had received ‘the calling’ to become a minister, but the church I was raised in did not allow women to become ministers or even teach religious subjects.
Confused and at odds with what was happening to me, I set out on my own, leaving my family and church community to live in the city. Led by my conscience (and other dubious inner guidance) I began following my own line of research and study.
This was a very lonely and difficult time for me. I was studying (and a very good student) but feeling compelled to follow my conscience (and logic) I found similar limitations in the school system that I had found in church.
To succeed in these institutions seemed more about remembering ‘facts’ as they were handed down by my teachers or leaders in authority rather than ask questions or look for the truth. This did not sit well with my natural curiosity and hunger for true knowledge and wisdom that could stand up to questions and scrutiny.
The answer I found to my dilemma back then was to leave the academic world (as I had left the church community) and study to become a sound engineer and graphic artist.
These subjects were more empirical in nature and finally I could learn without my curiosity and conscience [and need for answers that made sense to me logically] getting in the way of my education.
My academic interests and religious ‘calling’ were still with me however and later in my life I began to see that rather than minister, my calling was really as a kind of ‘lay professor’.
You see while I still enjoy a rich spiritual life, and some religious practice, the truth is that Steve and my ‘ministry’ is not faith but science based.
I am explaining this because sometimes I am admonished that I should not apologise when I present religious or spiritual content here. I object to this criticism and today I want to share why.
I would say that while religious folk are often blamed for being narrow minded (which they certainly can be sometimes), in general I have found them more open to considering science based work than non believers are in considering anything that contains religious or spiritual content.
As I feel it essential that everyone who needs our help also feels welcome here, we do all we can to present our message in a way that won’t alienate our audience in any way. This is why we don’t talk about our own religious beliefs and usually I will apologise and give an explanation if we do.
I am explaining this now because prayer will be the central inner state we explore in this program and I want to challenge my non religious fans to stick in with me on this. If religion offends you I hope you can trust I will keep mostly to my usual topics of neuroscience, emotional intelligence, psychology, etc., and certainly hope I will never preach (beyond these fields)!
Religious or not, I am confident everyone can gain something from the insights I want to offer in this series. If you do not believe in God or prayer I hope you can consider the characters of Divine Mother and Father I will present in this series as mental concepts that will provide you with a positive experience in lateral thinking.
This short program is composed of 5 chapters on positive inner states including:
These are all states of mind we can access at will with some practice.
They are ways of using your ‘inner resources’ that will improve your choices, planning and problem solving in ways that will help bring peace into your life.
First off however I want to deal with contemplation. It is not listed above and I would even suggest it is the enemy of using our inner resources wisely.
(Update: I have been informed that some religious teachings center on contemplation as a highly positive brain state. If you are familiar with this I would suggest you consider what I call contemplation here something more like fantasising and what you call contemplation I might call reflection).
Most people have heard the Lord’s Prayer, which close to the beginning says, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
The concept of divine will being done in our lives is not merely a religious or spiritual idea. At some point most of us come to understand that in one way or another we are not the highest authority in our lives.
We are none of us at the top of the hierarchy!
In a world full of corruption and cynicism, faith that the power ‘at the top’ is truly benevolent may seem naive, but has been shown to do positive things for a person’s life and state of mind.
So whether you consider God in a tradition sense or instead perhaps as your unconscious mind, collective consciousness, mother nature, or some other higher authority, one way or another I would like you to find a way that feels okay with you to consider the ideas I am presenting here.
Because when we contemplate what it is that we will do with our day tomorrow, most of the time, religious or not, the best we are doing is making an attempt at prophesy.
Worse, despite all the data we now have access to and our logical abilities, the fact remains, and has been proven many times by research, that while we might be able to control some of the events in our lives, nearly all of us are hopeless at knowing how these plans are likely to make us feel.
This has recently been described by brain science theorists as our brain being a ‘faulty simulator’. If you are interested there is a science based TED talk on this here;
This is important, because most of this program will be about how to resolve this internal conflict and connect with your true inner wisdom.
I would suggest that rather than our brain being faulty, perhaps somewhere along the line we lost the instruction manual and became separated from our ancestral parents that could have instructed us how to use it better. This might be a good metaphor for those of you reading who do not believe in God. You may want to consider my references to the divine as us reclaiming a connection with that lost mother and father.
Contemplation is how most of us use our brain and advertisers just love it. They tell us “Stop and think how it will feel riding down the street in this brand new convertible [I want to sell you] with the wind in your hair. Just imagine how all of your friends in the street will envy you!”
But hang on a minute! Didn’t we just learn that our brain is totally hopeless at doing things like this with any accuracy?
The result is that many of us end up buying things we don’t need and can’t afford and instead of these things making us more confident and popular, we end up miserable and worried slaves to our credit card repayments.
So while prayer is not the first inner state we will learn about in this program, it is the place we need to start here in this intro. “Thy will be done,” is about learning to resist our impulse to contemplate (fantasise) and instead access the wisdom that our loving and benevolent parents (God) I mentioned previously would share with us about our current plans if we went to them for guidance.
In this reference contemplation is ‘Our Will’, and, ‘Thy Will’ that higher vantage point.
‘Our Will’, is when our desires and plans push ahead without thought or concern for the wellbeing of those around us. ‘Our Will’, is when we put unrealistic expectations on others. ‘Our Will’, is when we only seek feedback from our peers and marginalise and dehumanise people our plans might hurt.
‘Our Will’, is when we push ahead with our plans, failing to see that most of what we plan just makes us unhappy.
All of this is to be expected from humans who have been encouraged to spend a large part of their time in contemplation. Instead, for a long time now I have been working on reverse engineering all the great data available to us in the social sciences to date to come up with “a system” to help access better decision making.
Understanding the limitation of ‘Our Will’, does not mean we must surrender and allow ‘Thy Will’, blind authority over our lives.
Instead what I am suggesting is that the view point of God (or our divine and benevolent parents) is always available to us if we learn how to access this ‘inner state’.
Just as we hope our children will sometimes ask for our perspective on their lives and consider our point of view, this same wise choice of action is available to us all if we learn how to pray.
But how do we know, when considered in the solitude of our inner environment, that this perspective is genuine? How do we know we are not tricking ourselves and inventing God’s voice in our mind to rationalise behaviour which is really ‘Our Will’ and not a higher perspective at all?
This is tricky but once you have mastered accessing the 5 inner states I offer in this program to connect with your inner wisdom, I trust you will feel more confident about this in yourself.
Introduction Part 2 – The Workings of Peace as a State of Being