It seems every week we hear about a terrorist attack somewhere in our world (including home grown terrorists), or see news clips on active shooters in public places. How do these acts of violence make you feel? Does it bring up fear and anxiousness inside of you about what is happening and where our world may be heading? Does it bring up concern about going any place where there are lots of people like malls, schools, sporting events, concerts, etc.?
It looks like terrorism is getting stronger, overtaking Life’s every day events all over the world. It also looks like more and more people are taking to guns and explosives to solve their problems. But what would happen inside of you if, rather than being afraid, you held to the possibility that this wave of violence is a part of a major healing on our planet? I would like to explore with you an empowering way to be with the chaos. Before we explore this together, it is important to say that I don’t think any of us really know what is going on here. Life is too vast and complex for that. But it is useful to frame what is happening in a way that brings more heart, more spaciousness, and even more trust into the process.
To do this, it is helpful to explore what I call a ‘big picture’ view. This is about standing back and seeing that life is a constantly evolving, constantly moving, and constantly changing process. If we stand back far enough we can see that this is true for our planet. It was once just a ball of gas and dust, made out of atoms that were once a part of other stars. Over the eons the creativity of Life took this stardust and made everything you see now – oceans, mountains, flowers, giraffes, icebergs and you. Over and over again in the unfolding of Life on this planet, it went through phases and there was always chaos as one phase was ending and a new was being born. I believe we are in the middle of the chaos of an evolutionary shift.
The best way to understand what is happening right now is through the story of the butterfly told by Evolutionary Biologist and Futurist, Elisabet Sahtouris, Ph.D. The caterpillar is a destructive animal relative to its size. It can mow down the branch of a tree in one day. It eventually goes into a cocoon and becomes goo, and out of this goo begins to appear what are called imaginal cells. This is the beginning of what is to become the butterfly, but the goo always kills the first wave of imaginal cells! The old in any evolutionary shift always fights to stay in control, but this causes the imaginal cells to come together. In the community of imaginal cells, the urge of the new is stronger than the pull of the old, and out comes this magnificent creature, the butterfly. The butterfly is not a “taker” like the caterpillar; it is a “giver.” It pollinates and gives beauty to the world. It also has a bigger view of Life than the caterpillar. Just think about the Monarch butterflies that travel all the way from Canada to Mexico and back every single year. These truly amazing creatures were once destructive caterpillars!
For the first time in the unfolding of our planet, the shift in evolution is happening inside the human mind. It is the movement from the fear-based mind (the caterpillar) to the connecting, healing heart mind (the butterfly). It is important to remember that science is now revealing that the heart is our main brain. How would you feel if you opened to the possibility that the rising of the new in this time of chaos is the awakening of our wise, collective hearts?
If you look at history (or the evening news), you will see what it has been like to have the conditioned, fear-based mind in control, creating so much war, hatred, competition, fear, destruction, loss and despair. It likes/dislikes; it thinks in terms of good/bad, right/wrong. When it feels threatened, it attacks and defends. Out of this old mind comes all of the struggles that you see happening in your life and on the planet as a whole. The new mind that is grounded in the heart is inclusive rather than exclusive. It isn’t a doormat. It can even be very fierce as it responds to situations in new and creative ways rather than just reacting. And it knows how to listen and open to what is happening rather than attacking and defending. It is kind, compassionate, empathetic and caring. It knows we are all together on a tiny planet that is floating through vast oceans of space and it is essential that we discover how to listen to one another and communicate in a way that is empowering for everyone.
You, like most people, have probably lived a good deal of your life in the old kind of mind. If you doubt that, remember a time when you were in conflict with a friend or loved one and you will see this kind of mind in all of its glory. But it’s not just during confrontations that you see it; it is there with you all day long, liking and disliking yourself, thinking that you are better than and the next moment thinking you are less than. It is secretly afraid, impatient, judgmental, resistant, and often easily irritated. But you also have access to this new kind of mind. You know the joy of gratitude, the ease of acceptance, the peace of spaciousness, the nourishment of kindness, the power of allowing, the healing of appreciation.
In this evolutionary shift, human beings have a choice: we can choose to be with what is going on with the old kind of mind (fear, anger, despair and judgment) or we can choose to relate to it through our wise hearts. Every time you recognize and unhook from the old mind inside of you without judging it, and every time you come back to your true home in your heart, your presence in the world makes a difference. As Mother Teresa once said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” As you live more and more from your heart, like when you are irritated in rush hour traffic, impatient while standing in an endless line at the post office, or upset during a ridiculously long meeting at work, how you are with these moments in your life matters. It may not seem like much, but I ask you, which drop of water was not essential in the creation of the oceans?
So I invite you to consider that what looks like a catastrophe is actually a healing in progress. Hold with me that out of this chaos our hearts will be awakened as more and more of us can live from a place beyond fear and hatred. And, if you can, be willing to hold space for all terrorists who cause heartache, destruction and death in the world. What happened in their lives to cause them to be caught in extreme self-righteousness and hatred? Can you be courageous enough to bring them into your hearts too? As more and more of us can respond to the challenges of our lives through the wisdom of our hearts rather than the reactiveness of our minds, it will make a difference in the unfolding of our planet.
Mary O’Malley is an author, counselor and awakening mentor who resides in Kirkland, Washington. In the early 1970’s, a powerful awakening led Mary to begin changing her relationship with her challenges, freeing her from a lifelong struggle with darkness. For over 30 years, Mary has been helping others heal their fears, anxieties, shame and confusion. Her latest book, What’s In the Way IS the Way, is a guide for transforming struggle into the peace and joy that is our birthright. Eckhart Tolle says, “Thank you Mary, for your contribution to the evolution of human consciousness.” www.whatsinthewayistheway.com