Oh to be a woman in this world… Men have dropped the ball so unfathomably for so long but doesn’t it hurt as much when women are so cruel and dismissive to each other? After 4000 years of extreme patriarchy, brothers not taking care of sisters has been a horrendous given, with catastrophic consequences including the subjugation and crushing of the feminine in both genders. History, and our current societies, sadly showcase what the absence of the divine feminine in men has produced. What is less obvious, but as important, are the results of the subjugation of the feminine within women.
It seems unlikely that men, in general, will lead the charge in fostering the evolution of humanity. So, there is a massive opportunity for women to take leadership positions, to steer humanity in a more empathetic and conscious direction. That requires sisters to take care of sisters, to embrace the beauty and power of the divine feminine, to not fall prey to the unconscious allures of ultra-masculinity masquerading as feminine power.
Fighting unconsciousness only begets unconsciousness. Unconsciousness is transmuted by compassion and non-judgment, as long as we proceed with the understanding that unconsciousness is not purposeful. It is not evil. It is just massively confused, which leads to fear and lashing out.
Fortunately, the cliche that ‘love conquers all’ is true. When we lead boldly with the heart, and learn to flow through the resistance that comes back our way, and still exude the gentle confidence that comes with being heart-centered… Well, if you haven’t tried this, consider giving it a go. Treat it like an empathetic game. Give your full attention to the recipient of the accompaniment you are offering. Hold them in their place of uncertainty, the unnerving place that is stoking their deep feelings of trauma, betrayal, neglect. Without a word show them that you feel where they are at and everything is okay. Notice their response. It might be subtle. It might be obvious.
It is the change that comes when we cease to be slaves to our generational and life-long patterns. When we become conscious of those deeeeep-seated patterns, we are free to choose to be the loving souls we desperately want to be. When we give the fruits of this revelatory way of being to others, especially those who expect the ‘business as usual’ from you… Well, that can effect serious change.
During my recent Vision Quest something that had been building for quite some time – my entire life really – came into focus regarding Empathy Rising. Regarding life in general. Heart First. What does this mean to me?
Under the yolk of 3000 years of extreme patriarchy, bolstered by three hundred years of the Age of Reason, there has been an almost exclusive emphasis on the mind as the primary arbiter of life. The heart, the intuition, the realm of the feminine, has been marginalized, even vilified. We are now in the midst of the next major human evolution – the re-integration, and exultation, of the heart.
As with many of us, my feelings, my heart had to be banished to a netherworld when I was young – in order to survive. In the last few years I have finally found the path back to my heart. It has been an arduous journey slogging my way through the maze, dazed and confused. Angry.
I eventually exited the maze only to come face to face with my wall, in all its dauntingness. It is quite the thing to behold. Confirmation that there is indeed an actual wall. My wall has been my faithful companion through it all. Over time, since the wall had to remain in place, it seamlessly integrated into who I was – becoming largely indistinguishable from me. Embedded, as if it belongs and always has.
The wall is there to protect the heart. It’s a hard black shell that surrounds the heart. As I imagine it, maybe it’s also had black spikes protruding in all directions. Sometimes, as with an optical illusion, it’s as if they’re not there. The shell appears smooth, if largely impenetrable. And sometimes the spikes appear out of nowhere like a medieval weapon ready to impail.
Our defense is often indiscriminate, like chemo-therapy. Everything is a potential threat so the safest course of action is to just annihilate it all – just in case – including allegedly ‘good’ things that, let’s be honest, are just going to disappoint again aren’t they? Betrayal again.
So, the shell keeps bad things out. And doesn’t let the good things in. Ever vigilant. On guard. Yet, the more excessively we protect heart, the more we extinguish its flames. We’re so pre-occupied with maintaining this defense that the shell has forgotten why it was placed there in the first place. To protect the heart so it can be safe, so it can shine, so it can enlighten. Because the heart is the most precious part of each us. It is the holder of ultimate joy, wisdom and understanding.
If we need research to confirm this for us when can turn to ground-breaking research done by the HearthMath Institute (warning: there are a couple of potentially disturbing images in the video). Studies reveal that “the information comes through the heart first. The heart then sends a different signal to the brain (which we can measure), then you have a brain response, and then a body response” at which point it becomes a conscious experience.
In other words, replicated research has shown that the heart knows, and directs, our mental and physical responses – about five seconds before the thing has even happened.
So, what does that mean for a species whose collective heart-connections are severely compromised? It means we have limited access to the most important information available to make sense of our lives – and to connect with each other. The result of this millennia of imbalance between the mind and the heart is the dysfunction we see all around us – and within ourselves.
Fortunately, it also means there is a clear path ahead for those with the courage and perseverance to directly engage with the heart. To work to dissolve the wall that keeps us from being who we are, personally and as a species. To live a heart-centered existence.
Empathy is usually said to mean putting yourself in someone else’s shoes; in considering other first. But deep empathy begins with the self. The more connected we are to our own hearts, the more empathetic we can be, within and without.
So, Heart First my Sisters and Brothers.
To my dear empathyrising community. After a year and a half of communicating and building this network I’m going to take a few months off to tend to some things. I will return to take things to the next level. I will because it has been a heartwarming pleasure to connect with everyone, energetically and via the written word.
You have all been a part of the latest leg of my healing journey. Your openness and beauty have helped me to confirm and feel how many lovely people are out there; as with me, imperfect to be sure, yet filled with a strong desire for personal and global evolution and peace.
Having been a harshly judgmental person, my next level of maturation has arrived in strong part due to my engaging with you, including those who have dipped in to take exception to what I’ve presented (eg) in my Trump article. Indeed, it has been especially in communicating with the defensive and aggressive folks that I have learned the most about myself and others. It’s not an easy mirror to look into because that is who I have been.
With social media there is the theoretical opportunity for space to: (1) let things percolate before responding; to always seek out a compassionate response, regardless of what is coming your way; (2) to appreciate that there are a heck of a lot of traumatized people out there trying to make heads or tails of this existence; (3) to know and feel that the most effective path to healing, for ourselves and others, is to return personal attacks with compassion and the assumption that people’s opinions and ideas are genuine and heartfelt, regardless of our judgments.
In October of last year I had a seminal experience on Facebook that was a massive aha moment for me. I was engaging with a lady regarding Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Her first response was filled with many capitalized words and a plethora of exclamation marks. Where in the past I would invariably have matched her aggression in response, instead I was respectful and kind. In her follow-up response, she toned things down but was still very defensive. Her fear and frustration regarding the polarization that was happening in the US was palpable. Fortunately, I recognized that her aggression was not personal and I was able to take care of her in that place. Here is an excerpt of her final response to me:
“I am interested in your opinions and ideas and want to follow as you pursue your study. I like to challenge myself, though you might not know it from my comments, and want to be challenged to determine what new things I can learn to become more engaged in a broader discussion. Again, I know that a defensive response is indicative of something important to know about oneself…”
My mind was blown when I received her response. It was a revelation for me. The end result confirmed for me how I should always be communicating on social media – and in person. Of course, it’s when we are triggered in person, and how we respond in the moment, when we really know how deep our healing and consciousness actually is. I’m still working on that, and will be for the rest of my life. Nevertheless, at least in my case, I can say that it gets better and easier, which is a relief and a celebration.
Through the prism of empathyrising I have been charged with being the best available me. After all, what a hollow name empathyrising would be if I allowed my shallow, narcissistic, justified self to steer the ship? I am continually working to engage with the world at all times embodying the empathyrising ethos.
Thank you all again. Take care of yourselves and each other. I’ll be back soon. Maybe with some videos. Eeks!
“I had been divorced for five years when I saw a billboard with the dire message: ‘Nothing makes up for failure in the family.’
My immediate reaction was to start an argument with the billboard evangelist, to defend myself and the multitude of my fellow divorcés who had broken up families for what we considered the best of reasons. ‘That’s asinine! What a guilt trip! A good divorce is better for the kids than a bad marriage. And, besides that, my kids are living with me and I am ‘making up’ their loss to them. And, and, and…’ Not until I had exhausted my self-defense did I simmer down and let the full weight of the proposition sink in and think about it in a calm manner.
It has now been 12 years since I saw the billboard. My daughter and son from my first marriage are grown and lovely. I am remarried and I have a 10 year old daughter. After considerable meditation on the matter, I have come to believe that the message of the billboard is both true and prophetic. In watching my children struggle with the hurts and discontinuities that are the inevitable result of the irreconcilable differences between their parents, I have learned what many men learn only after divorce.
There is nothing more precious than our children.
In the quiet hours of the night, when I add up the accomplishments of my life in which i take justifiable pride – a dozen books, thousands of lectures and seminars, a farm built by hand, a prize here, an honor there – I know that three that rank above all others are named Lael, Gifford and Jessamyn.
In the degrees to which I have loved, nurtured and enjoyed them, I honor myself. In the degrees to which I have injured them by being unavailable to them because of my obsessive preoccupation with myself or my profession, I have failed as a father and as a man.”
Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man