Elisabeth

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About Elisabeth

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  1. Conscious politics
    Actualized.org Video Summaries!
    Conscious politics - Part I (detailed, some places almost transcript, small parts left out)
    prerequisites: (conceptual) understanding of non-duality, Spiral dynamics, self-deception, survival, collective ego, devilry (What is the devil, The mechanics of evil), how ideology works, relativity & relativism, systems thinking, Love. 
    Politics & government is thoroughly self-deceptive, both politicians and voters. 
    He'll be talking about republicans&democrats, but conservativism vs. liberalism is a global topic. 
    Why deal with politics, and not just one's own spirituality?
    The world's problems can't be solved by turning inwards. There are individual problems, but also collective problems. One way to contribute to collective problems is denying them or trying to reduce them to individual problems (as many spiritual schools do).
    There are lessons to be taken from the Absolute to the relative, but not in a simplistic way. Don't create a duality between spirituality and politics.
    A well-structured society helps in raising consciousness. If you want to be a bodhisattva and help enlighten the whole world, you'll not be able to do it one person at a time. If most people put their hands away from politics, the least conscious end up leading us. 
    By doing nothing, the status quo (unconscious politics) prevails. Selfishness, fear, exploitation. 
    Spiritual schools (Buddhism, Christianity, Advaita, ...) which emerged thousands of years ago are not good enough to solve today's problems. The don't understand ecology, system's thinking, modern psychology. 
    The problems with today's politics
    We are returning back to the Athens, where citizenship, philosophy, psychology, morals and ethics, politics were all integrated, and from great thinking, political advances emerged. Theory informs your practice. Today, the theory is insufficient, so practice is all wrong. 
    First problem: Selfishness, bias, ideology, immediately corrupts this discussion. We get into culture wars. Distraction. We need to create enough elevation to open ourselves up to something new, above both sides. Beyond left and right. But the problem is, the sides are not equally evolved,  the right is usually less conscious - so for the person on the right, Leo might seem leftist, but he's trying to get above. Any view you have is limited and highly partial. Politics and government are a matter of life and death, so devilry takes over.
    Second problem: Government is taken for granted. We do not appreciate, how far society has evolved, precisely because politics works so well. You can go about your life and be safe, use roads, subway, electricity, the internet... and not think of politics. This is not seeing what the government does for us. The government is a technology. A thousand years ago democracy seemed insane. Free speach, fair judical system, separation of church and state, religoust freedom, minority rights, the right to protest, a social safety net, diplomacy, environmental protection, police and accountable representatives, ... is all advanced social technology, radical in their time, someone had to think of them and then fight for them.
    The government has to govern on a completely different scale than a company. Hundreds of millions of people sometimes. Somehow, life in the 21st century is amazing compared to previous. 
    What has the government done for you?
    Protects from opression, enslavement and genocide !!! Also prevents internal oppression (exploitation, scam, cults, mafia, corporate oppression etc.) Ensures property rights. There are no property rights unless they are invented and protected.  Court systems. Peaceful means to resolve conflict - otherwise people go for each other's throats. Prevents torture and cruel punishment.  Police, firefighters, riot control, investigating all kinds of crimes, prison, natural disaster relief, emergency health care, ... Infrastructure: Water, transport, sewage systems, post office, ... Public education and universities. People used to be illiterate.  Grants, loans, subsidies. Poverty help. Insurance. Pollution regulation. Standards of living. National parks, protected natural areas. Minority rights Vaccines and disease prevention.  Research and development, space exploration, preservation of historical artefacts (imagine a pyramid owned by a shady corporation) Statistical data Food regulation and meat inspections. Meat used to be terribly dirty.  Banking regulation, currency enforcement, market protection, accountability for business Satellites, allocation of radio bandwidth Peace&arms treaties, diplomacy Foster homes, adoption services. Prevention of proliferation of nuclear weapons. Imagine corporations having them.  Certification and accreditation. Critique of stage orange (and libertarianism):
    Some of this the private sector can do (like space exploration), some of this it can't (protection about enslavement, uncorrupt police, ...). If given the chance to do so, the private sector will enslave you, you are going to be part of one emerging largest corporation, and you'll not have a vote in it. Human nature. Corporation today only have a selfish motivation, and are not accountable to anyone. Too powerful corporations are anti-democratic, because they can have more power than a government, but the employees have no say. 
    For SD stage orange, freedom is taken as an ideology. Libertarianism is a fantasy. The "free market" leads to enslavement. There was never a truly free market anyway, they are always manipulated by someone and propped up by power-play and aggression. There is no "non-violence principle" - it has to be ensured with aggression. That's what government is. Individualism is also a fantasy, even apes don't survive as individuals. Being able to talk about how we're all individuals today is a result of collective development. You're part of the entire colony. 
    Other problems with SD stage orange: 
    Doesn't see collective problems. It assumes anyone can take more responsibility for their lives. There's a sense of entitlement, that both winners and losers deserve what they have. This ignores systemic problems at work. They are about maximizing profit and economic growth. Never-ending economic growth won't happen and won't solve our problems, in fact economic growth makes them worth. Materialism and anti-spirituality Toxic masculinity and minimizing femininity and feminine values Me, me, me, my own survival at all costs. Survival of the fittest.  What is government? Why does it exist?
    Simplistic version: Government is a human invention. In the animal kingdom there are no rules. Anything that you can do to ensure survival is fair play. It's brutal. The government is here to protect us from that.
    More detailed: A lion has to hunt every day. Humans accumulate resources. (Meat, houses, tools, weapons, corn!) Humans live in tribes. Short term, conquering a neighbouring tribe and stealing their resources is the best strategy for a human tribe. But a few years later, a stronger tribe conquers us. And then an even stronger tribe ... Think of a greek city-state. In ancient times killing all the men, raping women and enslaving them and their children was the standard. Understand that that is freedom! It's gang warfare. The most powerful ends up conquering everybody else. People don't like it.
    That's why people unified under (quite brutal) governments at first. To protect them against even greater brutality of enslavement, murder and genocide. If you don't unify, you'll be enslaved. Morals were not evolved yet at the time. It was the brutality of the animal kingdom. That is what freedom means. 
    Freedom is not an absolute good from the human perspective. True freedom is: I am allowed to do whatever I want, you are allowed to do whatever you want, and there are no rules. Freedom is something we need protection against. Therefore we accept limitation for the sake of fairness and peace. We need some set of basic rules. 
    But how do you get a diverse set of people with different languages, and values and ethnicity to agree on the same rules? People by default don't know that it's wrong to murder and scam and rape, because that's survival. It's a very serious problem. Appreciate the depth of the problem that government solves - this is our most remarkable technology. 
    Freedom is counterintuitive: 1) It seems like a great thing, but we have to limit it, 2) This seems negative, but united people can do much more than individuals or small groups, so counterintuitively by giving up some freedom we get new freedoms. (Like building airplanes and flying freely all around the world!, or watching youtube )
    Community vs. individualism
    We need community for practical reasons. But also, we are built for it. It feels good, gives us a sense of purpose. There are tradeoffs between individualism and collectivism, these need to be dynamically balanced. 
    Society is a "holon". It's being a part and a whole simultaneously. My hand is a part of my body, my cells are parts of my hand, they are autonomous, but can't function without all the other parts. My hand needs my teeth and my heart and my brain. Human beings are also "holons", parts of society. 
    It's not all about individuals. At each level of reality, many units together are more than the sum of its parts. Groups of people have emergent properties. You can't reduce society. Governments are not only responsible for managing people, but also groups of people, and collective ego's. And of course, society itself is a giant collective ego. You can see this is getting complicated, and none of this is reflected by usual political analysis. 
    Fundamentally reality is dividing itself and finding ways to reunite with itself, on all levels. Mankind has started off as a united group of people somewhere in Africa, until it wondered of and divided into tribes and nations, and these clashed with each other, and eventually started to bleed into each other to a point where it's untenable to stick to one tribe. We are recognizing that we are a global species. If you deny and resist that, it leads to war etc. ... the proper way is to unite. Until mankind starts colonizing other planets, and divides again, then reunites again ...
    An arc to human history: More equality and consciousness, less brutality and enslavement, greater complexity, greater freedom, greater unity (in the very long run). 
    What is politics and government really about?
    First of all, individual and collective survival. Survival is relative to an identity. Whatever you identify as is what needs to be survived. Identity is central to politics! It's not just right vs. left, everybody is playing identity politics, all the time. Collective identity being just as important as the individual on. 
    Low consciousness = you are not conscious of your own selfishness. (America isn't conscious of how it's selfish as a nation.) Selfishness is karma. It becomes it's own worst enemy. In practice, selfishness has repercussions, it's quit tit for tat. Relationships need to be quite even. 
    Politics is about
    Distribution of power and resources. Not just Marxists, everyone is redistributing power and resources! Every corporation lobbies their government. That's business, that's life, that's survival. But there are better and worse  Reduction of brutality and oppression. Creating a fair playing field. At least it should be about - and is in the long term.  Creating infrastructure and systems. That allow for greater complexity, greater freedom.  Community. Not just pragmatism. You can participate with others (in a festival, singing the national anthem, football, a religious gathering...) Evolution, and the emergence of higher holons.  Creating a consensus, amongst millions of people with different survival agendas. Not everyone can be satisfied, but there are some decisions, which benefit most. Seeking a consensus. But we also have debates, culture wars, actual war... it's about changing the culture in such a way which benefits you and your tribe. There's no objective "best", no objective right and wrong. We're making it up as we go.  ... Government must be inclusive
    Government must be inclusive, in a manner that other organizations don't have to be, which makes it much more difficult. Government is the highest structure we have developed. If I have a hippie commune, and someone troublemaker makes it in, we can kick him out. It's fine. The whole society doesn't have that option. It has to deal with the poor, the sick, the addicts, the crazy, the insane, the psychopaths and sociopaths, criminals, religious fanatics, terrorists... you can't exclude them. No other country will take them  You need to integrate them, and develop infrastructure to deal with them.
    You can't just say fuck them, because then while you're sleeping in your comfy bed next to your comfy wife one of these poor mentally deranged people will break into your house and kill you. Wouldn't it be better if we found ways to solve these problems in a humane way, give them treatment, help, so they stop being harmful to themselves and the rest of society? Because hopeless people who have no nothing to loose and feel like nobody cares for them are those who will go into a school and shoot your children. Take fringe cases seriously. 
    Likewise for other governments and countries. The poorest, least developed countries in the world have serious pathologies - you can't ignore them. These may be people who feel so oppressed that they get on an airplane and .. 9/11. It's smarter to integrate. Because happy people don't crash into buildings or start wars. 
    So these kinds of isolationist policies where you build walls and jails and ignore don't work. 
    Government is uniquely difficult
    because it must work for all people. You can't take your high-IQ or billionaire elite and build your own country. Because people have so many different worldviews and survival agendas.   Most people don't understand, what's going on. They are to desperate to pay bills and survive to think about philosophy. The government must be pragmatic because these issues are life and death issues. In a lot of countries, billions of people deal with famine, poverty, slavery, drugs, abusive relationships, exploitation by their bosses, toxic pollution, genocide... (So put away your culture wars.) No human knows what the best design it for government. It's natural selection, but we are consciously participating in the evolution. This is a big responsibility. 
    **
    Thought experiment: Imagine you can be born as whoever. You can also pick your government.
    But, there is a caveat. You know that after this life, you will also incarnate as everybody else. Now, what kind of government do you want?
    **
    What keeps people from having an objective sense of fairness is their own bias. A person born rich will never think they're going to be born in Africa, or exploited by some corporation who pays a slave wage, or as a young girl sold for prostitution because he's so locked into his own persona. He blocks all the suffering of the other people in the world out of his mind. But if you know you're gonna be all the people, you want a fair government which doesn't oppress anybody.
    The trick with conscious politics is stepping out of our own egoic survival agenda. 
    The true aim of government should be to elevate consciousness and love. 
    This is what everybody wants. This is what life is about. Government should be creating a healthy ecosystem for raising the consciousness of all people. 
    This is being easily dismissed. But if you don't know your aim, you can't reach it. Because if government is not designed for high consciousness values, it's by default being designed by devilry. Selfishness and greed. 
    I'm not talking about creating a theocracy! (pre-trans fallacy)
    Can you do that? Yes! That's what we've been doing all throughout evolution, it just has a lot of degrees. 
    The entire reality is moving towards consciousness and love. Reality is an infinitely expanding love fractal. 
    We can be aligned with the force of evolution, or against it. Create beautiful societies, or go extinct. The choice is ours. 
    I'm talking about expanding our circle of concerns towards all beings. 
    We need to have infrastructure which helps all people meet their basic needs, so that they can spend the rest of their lives raising consciousness. The more conscious all of your neighbours are, the better neighbours, coworkers and citizens they will be, the better inventions they will create, the more responsible they will be...
    Government taxes people, a large pool of money is created, but then people (entire professions) leach off the system. But that doesn't prove government is bad. What you want is not a small government, you want a great uncorrupt effective government. You can't get rid of taxation, that's a fantasy. Solution is to end the self-dealing by becoming more engaged and holding people more responsible. Propper way to end government corruption is by getting educated and engaged as a voter. Don't undermine the government by privatising everything... there's no accountability with corporations. The government's purpose needs to be the well-being of human beings, not profit. 
    The biggest problem of most government is white-collar crime, lobbying, subsidies to companies who don't need them, the revolving door... 
    Starting a new organization won't help. We already have a massive organization called the government. We have to keep evolving it. Our best bet is engaged citizenry. 

  2. Amazing communication advice
    Need some advice on communication.
    In an online course Cynthia Bourgeault had a couple of years ago there was a pretty high standard put forth in the forum there. I found myself breaking that standard time and again. It made me see myself a little better. It was not a very comfortable feeling,,,,,
    Anyway, this was the standard-
    The word "respect" literally means "to look twice," and respect is at the core of this fourth Obligolnian striving. Today, after beginning your morning with a period of meditation, I invite you to look at the systems in which you are embedded with intentional respect. Rather than moving too quickly to criticize and judge, you can exercise respect by practicing conscious speech. Before rushing to respond, stop, ground, take a couple of conscious breaths, then ask yourself these four questions:
    Does it need to be said?
    Does it need to be said now?
    Is it my place to say it?
    Can it be said with kindness?
    Allow these four precepts to guide your conscious speech today and see what changes you can detect in your relations with the world, both inwardly and outwardly.

  3. Shamanic Breathing Mega-Thread
    Shamanic Breathing Mega-Thread
    Holotropic breathwork #3
    I took another seminar (or rather, a few days retreat) with two holotropic breathwork sessions. These sessions are 3 hours, but the intense breathing happens in the beginning and on an "as needed" basis, mostly the last hour or so I already relax. 
    This time I really felt that what was happening was an altered state of consciousness, more than just bodily sensations going on. In the first session, there was not much explicit content, but in the first half, I could really let go, feel the freedom to let my body move as it pleases. The body moved mostly by itself, and I laughed wildly. I'm trying to remember and take away this sense of absolute freedom.  In the second half the feeling of being really safe and nurtured came along, I felt like a baby (I imagine). Yet there was some dark undertone, although I felt wonderful, the state didn't equate with the freedom I experienced before. I drew that after breathing as a baby surrounded by light-blue-greenish heaven, yet instead of the umbilical chord it has a chain (expressing dependence or conditional love perhaps). 
    The second session was even more interesting. As I felt myself reaching an altered state, I remembered that one of my intentions was to try and see if I could get to the no self, so I asked myself "who is it, who has the intention get beyond all intentions?" I didn't get any profound insight, but again it felt like stuff started to happen by itself. It took just a few moments until a physical process started, very similar to my previous HB seminar: coughing mucus from the bottom of my lungs and purging deep old pain. At first I was just watching the process, in a weird state where I knew that this was happening with MY body and that there was despair going on in the body, but I really felt a sense of wonder, even wellness. Then, slowly, I re-engaged with what was happening, as I concentrated on helping the purging with more intense breathing. It was mostly physical with little imagination, but at some point, the image of an unwanted child came up. (I felt this unwanted child is my mother <= It's called transpersonal psychology for a reason )  The facilitators came to do bodywork with me. I had probably an hour-long "fight" with the facilitator pressing against my back, then at some point I was exhausted and the process slowed down and stopped. I had a beautiful meditation-relaxation for the rest of the session.
    I feel sensitive after the seminar, plenty of rest is needed.  Sometimes nauseated. But mostly really good. It's a relief for sure. 
    I think the method fits me extraordinarily well. 

  4. Starting a self-actualization peer support group
    Starting a self-actualization peer support group
    One of my friends sais he's had an enlightenment experience. Now that's inspiring. I don't think our group meetings have contributed (we're nowhere near), but it's so fascinating to hear about peoples' journeys. 
    What we do is meet (as regularly as possible) every two weeks for a whole evening (19-23). I find it important to start with a practice that helps everyone disengage from the struggles of the day, so we do a short 15-30min exercise of pranayama, meditation, movement or whatever else, the goal is really just to get all these academics and programmers out of their heads into the body. I usually ask how everyone is after the exercise, especially if it's a new one. Then, people are hungry so we have some food.
    We usually do a round of sharing about our personal lives, people's advances in personal development and the problems they face, or whatever they want to share with the group. If discussing is allowed (i.e. on his time, a person can take feedback and answer more questions from other members of the group), it can be very illuminating, but will likely take the whole evening. If there's no moderator, discussions can grow out of hand trying to "figure out" one situation for an hour. However, one or two experiences like that and people understand it's undesirable. A short version of the sharing round is with a "talking stick", only the person who has the talking stick speaks (or remains silent enjoying the moment, if he wishes), the only reaction to what was shared is a "thank you" when the stick is passed on. A medium way to do it is with one person moderating the discussion or being the only one to ask questions. The advantage of having a moderator is that, he can encourage people to look at how they feel about stuff they are sharing, or help them get to the main point, if necessary - but it's not an easy role and makes the circle less egalitarian. The parameters of the circle have to be given in the beginning, it's very hard to influence how it's going halfway through.
    It's important that the atmosphere of the circle is friendly, welcoming, accepting of differences. People severely miss a place to share and connect from the heart in their daily lives. (Or is it because I chose somewhat lonely people for the group in the first place? I don't know.) It works for us - I'm not sure what to do if it doesn't work in some group. I think setting and communicating the intention to share without judging is important. 
    When there's an idea, less attention is given to talking, and there's another exercise(s), small or big. 
    Not everyone comes to every meeting, which is ok. But it's much better if people want to come at least semi-regularly. After 10 meetups, increasingly personal topics are discussed, and the group can do slightly more advanced stuff. This means, incorporating someone new becomes more difficult.
    I'm times and again amazed, how well the group receives new stuff. I thought at first inexperienced people might be weirded out by yoga exercises, free dance, constellations, rituals. Turns out everyone joins in just fine. We're going slowly though. Last time, we tried Osho's shaking meditation (my bf is leading this one, I don't have the experience) for half the time it's supposed to take, just because we were not sure what effect it would have on everyone. We're going for the full-length next time. 
    What I'm a little unsure about is the interpersonal relationships bit. I'm aware that therapeutic groups usually don't include partners, are time-limited, etc., and this setting is there for a reason. I'm aware though that not everyone necessarily likes everyone & on the contrary, I'm not looking forward to any possible love affairs :). But so far ... to me it feels like my friendships are growing strong and we're getting the best out of it.
    As people learned "how it works" and also as there are multiple strong personalities, I feel less and less like a leader of the group. I'm learning to accept directions I didn't quite envision
    I hope we can also make an afternoon event soon so that @bejapuskas can come and see us too  How's your scout group going?  

  5. 2nd seminar
    Shamanic Breathing Mega-Thread
    I did my second holotropic breathwork seminar last week. It was a four day group "retreat" with two 3 hour sessions (again, it's not required that one breathes non-stop), plus sitting through two other sessions watching another person, which can also let some stuff loose, plus sauna, some relaxation exercises, and sharing with the group. (As a side note, this was like the most "green" group of people I've been part of so far.)
    My first seminar, nearly two months ago, from hindsight seems to have had a slight but undeniable effect on my confidence and overall approach to life. So I decided I could trust the method.
    I went into this seminar with an intention to breath through some really dark emotional pain I've been living with for basically my whole life, that I feel almost physically in my chest. Heavy shit that I have been able to look at in psychotherapy, but found no way to change it. At the seminar I finally got the tool, the space and incredible support to do this work - once my process started there were a facilitator and my sitter doing bodywork with me for a full hour or two. I really had no idea about time, I was coughing and fighting and screaming and crying, and breathing intensely anytime I felt the emotions mellowing out. I got both insights into the nature of my pain, and partial relief. It seems I've purged some family grief, while other bits are not yet quite clear. The painful feeling in my chest changed slightly in it's nature (and it may continue to change more during integration) - this is an incredible result for me, because I had been watching it for years prior and it seemed unchanging and unchangeable.
    I'm so glad I made space for this, and I'm sure I couldn't have done this alone anytime soon. I think I also got lucky with the people leading the seminar. because they were willing to give me so much attention, although there was a room full of other people. (Hint: The most expensive seminar is not necessarily the one organized with most love.)
    Hearing people's stories was also incredibly interesting. Not everyone was working with emotions/body sensations. A lot of people get full blown visions/stories during their sessions, someone being a dragon or an eagle, someone else having to watch his kids die, someone talking to a spiritual guide etc. There were also two people spontaneously falling into self-inquiry. It's a versatile method indeed, and although intentions sometimes guide the process (like in my case), you can never really know what will emerge.

  6. LP-thinking out loud
    LP - thinking out loud, tips wellcome
    Tl;dr: Just the bolded parts. 
    So I'm in that awkward place in life where I'm doing a PhD on a subject I don't care about all that much and I'm trying to figure out if I should quit or not. I'm 28.
    In high-school, I did math-competitions and was a guide at an observatory in my free time. I wasn't the best at either but I'd say it was still my authentic passion.  I'm pretty sure that if I took the life-purpose course back then I would have gotten theoretical physics (or astronomy or math) as my LP, and that's what I ended up studying. 
    My studies were not a smooth ride. I wasn't able to handle the amount of work university demanded, in my first year I was diagnosed with depression, I took a year longer to complete my bachelor's and a further half a year longer to complete my master's. At bachelor's I was average, at master's, I was way below average. I did my master thesis in general relativity, which was pretty cool, but I realized that a) there's no possibility for application whatsoever, and b) I'm not as good as to be able to push through the tough subjects all the way to the frontiers of today's theoretical development, i.e. I'm not gonna quantize gravity or understand the early universe. It's a field for the chosen few and there are hundreds or thousands of people in the world who are better equipped to work at it than me. 
    So for my phd I switched one tier lower. I'm doing quantum theory of transport, meaning I'm computing current flowing through real small components, meaning some of my research might possibly come true in the next generations of supercomputers. Possibly. It's not completely uninteresting, but it's not extremely meaningful to me either. I'm hyper-specializing of course as I have to. But more importantly, I'm experiencing massive amounts of resistance of a kind I can't beat. It's partly due to resisting working a de-facto office job. I have real trouble maintaining any kind of daily routine. Partly I also resist studying the new and hard stuff. I still have to do some exams, I have real trouble making myself study for them. I already experienced this kind of resistance during my master's. 
    Also, throughout university, my values and my understanding of myself shifted big time. Introspection and working with emotions, relationships, connection and understanding between people became important to me. To be fair maybe they always were, but since I'm from a very 'rational' family I had no idea how to deal with any of it or how important area of life that was for me. 
    Doing physics today feels dry, although I can still deeply appreciate the geometric-like beauty and simplicity of a good model of reality. I really do care for that, but in practice, it's getting lost in the mathematical formalism, or I'm not in touch with it because I have to fiddle with some damn computer technicality. I hate numerical computing and it's not getting better. I rather like the part where I actually get to play around with pencil, paper and equations, but only if it's relatively easy stuff where I can actually make some progress fast. It also feels like maybe my interest in physics has been already satisfied to it's fullest, as I realized it doesn't have all the answers about how reality works and there are other fields of human knowledge too. 
    So I think I'd like to quit, but I don't really know what else would suit me better. Sometimes I think I should do something entirely different, more people focused.  Sometimes I think maybe I've just missed my field of physics, or my style of work. I realize it's hard to do science and not compare yourself and feel like shit - the best of the best are always right in your face.
    So I'm at this 'bringing it all together' stage of the life-purpose course where people usually post their values and stuff and get told to think for themselves, and I'm going to post it nevertheless. 
    Values: 
    Passion - doing the things I love (unfortunately they seem to change every few years, which is what got me to this place),  Connection - sharing all kinds of intimacy among human beings, Growth - conscioust improvement of abilities and gaining new experience (somewhat afraid of the last bit, hehe), Authentic self-expression (could be called honesty and openness) - not hiding, making place for every part of myself in my life.  Signature strengths:
    Judgement, critical thinking and open-mindedness (the ability to analyze, obviously) Capacity to love and be loved (this is my ability to form strong intimate relationships, although hardly with anyone) Forgiveness and mercy (the ability to be non-judgemental and give people a second chance actually came out as my strongest asset on the test, I was really surprised, but it's totally true) The virtue I want to build my career around: Truth, closely followed by love and simplicity 
    My greatest struggle: Depression (not yet totally overcome, not comfortable dealing with it in others), entering a polyamorous relationship (that's a much more positive struggle, it was hard a fuck but I'm having a pretty firm grip of the field now)
    My zone of genius: I identified three abilities of mine 
    thinking, analyzing and finding interconnections meeting people where they are without judgement, sometimes even resolving conflict communicating concepts clearly and concisely (this post doesn't look like it, lol, but that's my confusion not something I understand) I don't think any of them is particularly unique, but for sure with every one of those I'm in the top one or two percent of people. I wonder if they could be combined into something that's powerful and unique . 
    The impact: Well, that one is real tricky. After being stuck for several months, I wrote down: Making discoveries, deepening understanding and communicating ideas that make people's lives better in profound ways. I'd really like to discover or understand and communicate something that makes a real difference, OR promote understanding among people and make a difference that way. But I also have an alternative (admittedly influenced by all I'm going through ), which is: Helping young people to find themselves sooner. 
    When I did the exercise about giving a speech, my message was: There is always more to the world than you think there is. 
    So as you can see, the scientist is in there, but it's not all there is, so I feel like a huge chunk of my personality has been left out with my career choice. I spent a lot of my free time on a forum dedicated to polyamory, first for my personal problems but later because I really enjoy giving advice there - it takes all of my best abilities: analyzing the situation and picking an important aspect, meeting people where they are and concise communication, while being 'safe' through the distance. So I was thinking if I should switch paths entirely and become some kind of alternative relationship coach, or if I should try to make a difference in social science since these ideas seem to be more needed nowadays than the technical stuff. But it also doesn't feel quite right.
    Understanding is the common denominator here. I care about understanding.
    Anyway, going through this process is frustrating. If anyone has read all the way through, ideas welcome.

  7. Holotropic breathwork seminar report
    Shamanic Breathing Mega-Thread
    Holotropic breathwork seminar 
    Went to one 5 days ago. There are some differences in the approach of the facilitator (trained by Grof) and Leo's technique, so I'm gonna write a bit those differences and a bit about my experience. 
    So first, the breathing instructions. According to the facilitator there are two main possible strategies for breathing: either deep breathing with your full breath, which suffices to be done for a very short time for effects to show (~2 minutes), or breathing moderatelly without the pauses between breaths, which needs to be done for a longer period (~20minutes, that would be what Leo is doing). No recommended way of breathing (ie chest or belly). Everyone gets to choose their own strategy. The objective is to breathe intensely until something starts to happen in your body, then go with the process - which can be done even without breathing (recommended for better concentration), start breathing again if the process is slowing down - no need to breathe intensely for 2,5 hours straigth. 
    The music was pretty loud and rythmic, and supposed to guide people through the process a bit. First very dynamic upbeat to help you breath intensely and get into the energy, than still intense but slower and more gentle carrying you away (at one point I noticed an angel-like choir, 7th chackra energy song), than getting more earthly
    There was an iportant element of setting an intention for the ritual. In the morning we shared what specific topic we wanted to work on in our lives. It's recommended to set your intention beforehand, but once you start breathing, don't think about it and let go of expectations. "The arrow is already flying."
    Bodywork. The facilitators are helping people through their process with gentle (or not so gentle) touch, letting you press against their hands if you need to press against something. A lot of people reported after breathing that this was incredibly helpful. It's also a safety-net you've got on the seminar, that they will come around and help you if you get stuck somewhere (like, in a paralysis) and don't know your way back. 
    Drawing right after your breathing session (you get color pencils and a paper with a faint circle to draw a "mandala" or whatever into it, you don't even have to get up to get it), and the subsequent sharing, helps anchor your experience. 
    My breathing experience
    I set an intention to understand the topic of certainty/incertainty, and even before I started breathing an insight came that it's actually about trust and self-trust. 
    I chose breathing intensely in short bursts in the first dynamic phase. I wasn't lying down most times either, rather sitting, standing on all four or moving my body around to help me breathe and honor the rather intense energies in my body (I had some tension and frustration in the days prior, also the music just made me wanna move). I had no real cramps though my forearms were getting stiff. I was letting myself get carried away and move however my body wanted me to, but I was fully there. 
    At one point, and I don't remember the crossover, my body simply shut down and went into a deep relaxation. I was lying on my back and the thumb and index finger on my left hand formed a circle (no conscious intention there). My body went into sleep paralysis, and my mind was slow. (Reminds me of yoga-nidra.) First I got some fragments of 'mundane' thoughts like the noise you get in meditation from the stuff you think about all day, then the mind got a little more focused and I remembered my intention. I didn't do anything with it, I just remembered it, and it felt like it was sinking in. The whole 'sleep' state felt really regenerating - like deep healing forces within the body and the psyche were allowed to take over. I don't know how long I was in that state, maybe 10 - 30 minutes, then I started slowly to wake up. 
    When I moved, the helpers came around with body work, and I had a huge emotional release. I remember one first pressing against my shoulders, than holding my head and rocking it gently (I imagine it really could have reminded the body of being a baby which can't hold it's head yet), and another providing pressure against my legs. I was holding my belly and pressing with my legs and expressing all the tension inside me, I knew I was doing it and could stop if needed and at the same time I still wasn't quite there, still half in sleep-trance, not fully "me" doing it. And at one point I screamed intensely and it was like deep pain and desperation was leaving my belly (while at the same time the rest of the body just felt well and safe). This was a profound release that wouldn't have happened without bodywork. 
    Then I kind of woke up already and went to the toilet (with a person helping me a bit, because the floor made sudden swings from right to left ), got back and spend some more time breathing and resting. (I had the need to lie on my belly.) Then the facilitator came around to ask how I feel and I got my mandala. 
    The aftermath:
    I slept for 12 hours that night, and I have more need for sleep and relaxation. Relaxation feels really healing when I do it. I'm more sensitive (I have to be careful with sensory overload), but generally calm and in a good mood. I have had little anxiety since the seminar. And I think something deep regarding my intention of certainty/self-trust might have shifted slightly. It's still too early to judge if there are any permanent shifts. (The facilitator said the process is running usually for another two weeks.)
    Conclusion:
    The seminar is totally worth it. Breathing at home is great, but you can let go of control more fully at the seminar and they are able to facilitate emotional releases with bodywork. 
    The technique felt safe to me, for me as I am today, although it's advanced in the sense that people who are very afraid of their own emotions (as I was a few years ago) could run into trouble. 
    Intention is important, so is trusting the healing forces inside you to do their work.