Between Personal and Universal Ethics

In October this year I was invited to present a paper to the IFPE (International Forum for Psychoanalytic Education) – I was part of a panel discussion and my paper was called: “Is That Me I See… In You.”  It was a fantastic group to be part of for the conference consisting of wonderfully educated people doing fantastic work all over!

For me this was a very timely invitation after the recent completion with the School of Awakening 6-month program with Eckhart Tolle and Kim Eng.

I thought I’d share my abstract here and then elaborate on a few ideas just below. Hope you enjoy this post!

Abstract:

The progressive development of the ego which needs differentiation from others to identify itself has created increasing separation among individuals, communities and countries. This has created man-made personal borders, community borders and environmental borders. As individuals become more determined (ego-mind driven) about this need for differentiation, community and countries do the same – the macrocosm reflecting the microcosm.  If we are mindfully-aware, we can see that a dramatic breakdown/dissolution of ego often occurs in times of personal, political or environmental disaster. In this window of opportunity we find that people suddenly see the deeper aspects of similarities between humans from the human spirit that is shaken awake and, temporarily at least, free from the ego through such a time. Today, individuals can take a mindful approach to daily experience rather than a reactionary offence/defence of the ego-mind to start appreciating the oneness of all things. From an energetic perspective, our thoughts, words and actions all make a difference in the larger collective consciousness. This means that each person can be uniquely-individual but that honouring the deeper similarities of the human spirit will bring us closer together than the conscious and unconscious borders we are creating. Unconscious actions create separation whereas every great work – whether in politics, art, music, theatre or health has focused on creation though conscious action/inspiration.  And the best creations through all of these areas have honoured unity over separation, understanding over judgment. This paper focuses on the tremendous opportunity that each individual has in creating personal, professional and worldwide transcending of the self-limiting creation of borders. And all from the comfort of wherever each person is right now.

The purpose of this presentation was to discuss how on a human level we all have the basics for everything from loving, kind and generous thoughts, words and actions, to the other extreme of angry, destructive and harmful thoughts, words and actions. It was also to discuss the possible transformation from “human level” functioning as discussed by even well-known psychologist Abraham Maslow many years ago as what he called a place called “Self-Transcendence” which is not discussed much in literature.  Most know about the level of Self Actualization, but getting beyond the human-self perspective (which would be the Self-Transcendent place Maslow mentioned) is the place that mystics, saints, yogis, and sages through the centuries have described in various ways.

This place always acts from a place of love and compassion. It is what we may call our Highest Self, God/Christ Consciousness or Source. And although it takes some re-training to remind us of this place within us (often clouded by human ego tendencies of feeling better than or less than others) it’s within each of us.  I hope you are inspired to mindfully work to create this place of centred thoughts, words and actions. Therein truly, does lie peace.

Wishing you peace during this holiday season and always!

Kindly,

Hanifa

 

Vibrational Energy

 

Have you heard or do you know that everything in our lives is made up of energy particles that vibrate at particular frequencies?  I remember learning this first during my 4th year Neuropsychology degree at the U of A. It was while I was taking a course in Physics (not my favourite, but necessary for my graduation). It was the only physics course that would fit into my schedule and it was a 3-hour night course! And it was about the history of physics! Can’t say I was looking forward to it. And what a surprise for me to end up REALLY enjoying it!! We learned everything from Babylonian numerology to Quantum Physics! Then during my time at McMaster’s Health Sciences, I was chosen by the one Professor who took on one student per year to teach Therapeutic Touch to. Now, my quantum physics learning had taught me there was a science behind the effect of intention in everything, and Therapeutic Touch is an energetic medicine (like acupuncture but more similar to reiki as it does not require touching people for the effects). And it involves using intention for healing. Well, I was chosen as the student this Professor took on as I was very confident that I would be able to dis-prove that Therapeutic Touch worked or was effective. I could not prove this. And let me let you know that I truly tried. I wanted to honestly take on this task so after I learned how to use Therapeutic Touch, I found every possible non-believer in energy-medicine to try this out on. One of my roommates had Lupus and had caught a terrible cold just before a graduation ceremony (I believe for her boyfriend at the time) – and normally she would be unable to do anything requiring exertion for weeks if she caught a cold so she was a perfect skeptic! And… she went to that graduation the next day feeling much better (almost 100% to both of our surprise). Of course that had to be a coincidence right?

So I worked with patients going through high-risk pregnancies as I was studying in a hospital setting at the time. I found patients that I didn’t know being rushed into delivery rooms in critical times and I rushed to ask permission for trying Therapeutic Touch on them… they all said yes to my surprise – more like “do anything!” So I did. And then I’d escape, happily figuring I could prove it did not help because they all went through their baby deliveries – some much earlier than ideal. And yet, each one of those ladies found a way to find me in the days and weeks ahead to thank me for my help. They’d say they didn’t know what I did but they felt it somehow helped them! So my paper from the experience of my course and personal research from 6 months for my Professor was titled: Therapeutic Touch and Quantum Physics – same results using different language.

And now I think of vibrations and energy all the time! Our vibrations really do create our perceived reality. We see colour based on a vibrational wave form, we hear sounds because of vibrations, and we live a life which contains our own living vibration. Our thoughts, words and actions are all vibrations. The super-exciting thing is that we can actually use our vibrations by Conscious choice – by the vibration we hold or express. When we are on a high-vibration, our energy is lighter, more carefree, content/joyful and loving.  When we are in a lower-vibration we feel heavier, sad/disheartened, worried, anxious or angry. And whatever our vibration, we will receive energies that match our frequencies. So when we want to feel lighter energy around us, we can take the Conscious decision to find a way to raise our internal energy. Of course, when someone is sad/angry/disappointed this may seem like an almost-impossible task. Yet it is possible. You can look to nature, your favourite pet(s), a favourite song, art, dancing or another activity to pull you into a higher vibration even for only a few minutes at a time. Soon, you will feel like doing more – because it feels good – and better than the heavier energy. This lighter energy will start attracting other lighter energies to you – whether in the form of people or experiences. And this is worth the effort!

Now I want to make sure you don’t think of forced smiles or listening to your favourite music while your mind is working through troubles/worries is “raising your vibration” because in reality, that is truly not Consciously raising your vibration. This may seem nice for others to see as they may feel you are in a good place – and this makes both sides feel better superficially. To get the honest and deeper experience and benefits – make sure your intention and thoughts truly match your goal (raising your vibration).

And who do I see having some of the biggest challenges?/opportunities to do this? People who have gone through recent losses – might be job, health, relationship, home – or all of the above. I am also seeing mid-life as a stage of time that I see more and more people experiencing a noticeable shift in personal energies. I suspect this is due to the accumulation of various life experiences by this stage of life.  I find mid-life (I know most think of this as over 55 years of age, but I feel it matches people even in their late 30s or 40s) is a time that many are especially effected by heavier energies as many feel they were expecting their lives to be stable and smooth by this time, yet many experience a bit of an “existential” crisis. Divorces and other relationship losses have become very common in this age group too which often adds another layer of uncertainty. And then we come back to energy and vibration.

No matter what age… it’s the same strategy. Shift your energy to shift your life experience. And then get ready for magic to happen!

Who knew that my Physics course would start such an amazing awareness in my life. Of course, we all understand what we need to, only when we are truly ready to do so. So far, in my personal life experiences, I can easily see that this energetic principle is really true!

Remember that the only constant in life is change – knowing this vibrational energy “secret” will increase your vitality and resilience through every possible life experience. Now – trust, and try it for yourself! Raise your vibration!

More energy-revitalizing tips to come. Wishing you a high vibrational holiday season!

Kindly,

Hanifa

The Transformational Power of Opportunities (often disguised as challenges!)

Do you know that opportunities are around us daily? Sometimes it’s as simple as holding a door or an elevator for someone who is 10 feet away. And sometimes it’s about transforming your own and/or another’s life (likely both) through a meaningful interaction, discussion or other action.

Often, in the time of what is perceived as a challenge (e.g. difficult experience – often with a partner or a colleague) we are so caught up in the difficulty that we are unable (or unwilling) to see the opportunity for self or mutual growth and development. I like to focus on self growth as it’s the only area that I believe we have an opportunity for Conscious development. If the goal is to change the other, there will likely be some disappointment in the process – if not at that time, then at a later time. A person does not improve because it’s your goal to get them there – each person improves when it’s a sincere and personal goal.

When we focus on our own improvement, the first step is to step back from any perceived challenge and ask: “What do I need to learn from this?” This is a humble approach which is not often the first response to difficulty. Try taking this step – some people benefit from taking a conscious breath, others by removing themselves from the area of concern to “clear their minds.” That breath or space opens up an opportunity for compassionate understanding of our own and others’ needs. This in turn opens an opportunity for a calm space from which positive actions can flow.

People are layered by the life experiences, thoughts, feelings and actions of their own, as well as the present and historical others in their lives. Working through these layers to uncover the core of oneself is critical to bring out our best. This can be done through counselling, introspection, self-reflection, journalling, and/or meditation. Retraining our minds through useful tools to see the many options we always have at hand to work through uneasy times is most important. Yet, the ego-mind will often want to return to a place of “not-enough” or “not willing” to do this work. Many feel they do not have enough resources (whether the time, strength, calmness, commitment or, most commonly – financial resources) to do this. So when would there be enough? Often the unconscious-mind will feel it’s just around the corner as soon as “X” is achieved. This is most definitely an illusion and if you have not discovered it yet, I suspect life circumstances will show you in the time that it is right for you.

If you have a different Awareness, however, you will see that this time now is as good as any to understand and improve yourself to bring to you the joys that you rightfully deserve (as do the people around you) – for the life purpose you have come to live.

When this Awareness is touched by your sincere efforts at self-improvement, you will find yourself aligned with your true and genuine purpose and will begin to bring to you opportunities and success in the ways that are most meaningful for you.

You are worth this!

I suggest you take at least 15minutes per day to meditate/pray/journal/reflect with the intention of being open to the guidance that will come your way. And then do work on self-improvement in any way you can – in some organized and systematic way. Working with a personal mentor/health professional/coach can be incredibly valuable too – so reach out for the tools you need!

These are the tools for self-transformation that I feel truly change “challenges” into the opportunities you have been seeking!

Wishing you beautiful transformational experiences ahead!

Kindly,

Hanifa

A Hopeful Future Ahead – for individuals, communities, businesses and organizations!

Recently I have been going through lots of new brain research. As some of you know, my original BSc focused on the brain (neuropsychology) and today I see so much research showing how old ideas of meditation and “new” mindfulness has shown benefits for everything from Alzheimer’s disease (especially prevention/management), to developing healthy minds in children, and to healing emotional traumas! And all of this is linked to measurable increases in joy and happiness of participants in each group!

Can you imagine the job satisfaction, productivity and overall contentment in life this can bring to individuals, communities and organizations? It is incredible. Now I like the good old-fashioned process of sitting or lying down quietly to do this, but yogis and spiritual teachers have shown for ages that this can be a regular practice of how one lives life in every moment (I’m working on it for myself!).  And I have to acknowledge that there are “apps” for this process too through technological advancement – it’s just not my chosen tool at this time.  I believe that different tools are useful for different people and each person can look for what works best for themselves.

I also have seen and experienced the benefits of meditating in groups and I have seen that it truly does create a force greater than what an individual can achieve alone. I learned this first with my first small group experience (in the 90’s?!) at a Naturopathic healing centre in British Columbia and recently experienced it through a retreat with Eckhart Tolle and Kim Eng which had small and large group opportunities. There is strength in numbers.

What I want to make sure you know through this post is that the research has finally caught up with the mass movement towards Conscious Awakening. People are starting to take seriously our unconscious and almost robotic actions of “getting through the day” and/or onto the next task – and noticing that this process may be less important than the addition of even just 15 minutes of meditative practice daily. In that space, I believe an opening is created that allows for creative, loving and kind-hearted actions through our days. People are now doing this more and research is also becoming more abundant about the benefits! And this indicates to me, that there are hopeful days ahead for us all. Do try to fill your own Awareness of this detail rather than getting lost in worries/anxieties about events outside of your ability to change in a practical way at this moment. You are here. Now. What you do with this moment is everything.

I am sending healing energy and positive wishes for anyone going through any suffering today. May you feel lifted from knowing there is a hopeful future ahead and that you are part of it!

Kindly,

Hanifa

Communication

During my first degree work I took a couple of Occupational Therapy courses and one was about communication styles in relationships. The content of this book stays with me today (loved that course and was a great instructor!) so I thought I’d share the 4 styles of communication discussed:

  1. Small Talk: We all know this one – the “cocktail party” conversation, the simple communication used to fill uncomfortable silences, new meetings, etc. Often there is no real connection between people with this formality of politeness but it can be fun for the moment with a lightness and low levels of real-seriousness to the communication.
  2. Control Talk: Two styles were discussed here – Aggressive and Passive – the goal is clear – control. The aggressive type is angry, blaming, criticizing, while the passive style is just that – passive. Often this is the person who refuses to communicate or walks away or just doesn’t verbally respond and may even have a calm face. The passive style was described as the more-controlling as when a person does not communicate, there is no opportunity to share thoughts/feelings to come to shared understandings. And that is the ultimate control.
  3. Search Talk: this is a style that is filled with questions with a desire to understand. This is used when a person is truly trying to understand the experience or thoughts/feelings of another. This style does not seek to resolve any dispute but purely to understand the perspective of another. This can be useful but not a great guide for any conflict resolution in relationships.
  4. Straight Talk: This was actually the title of the book. This style can include search talk, but then follows with a mutual sharing of thoughts/feelings/experience to understand the needs of each communicator without blame/judgment – and clear expression and sharing of personal perspectives without a need to change the other’s. It is a fantastic option of healthy communication that allows expression and open (one may say loving) acceptance of another’s experience. This is easiest to do when both parties in the relationship are permitted to speak from their hearts with a sense of being heard and valued by the other.

Of course the language describing such communication styles can change over time, but the essence of healthy communication has certainly remained the same. Listening is very important, followed by healthy responses of love and validation. These are the most important components for both sides to show each other to create or build healthy and loving relationships. And then action steps to resolve differences with some compassion for each side’s expressed needs.

From my experience, I know that Listening becomes less and Control Talk becomes much higher in relationships that are facing challenges. Combining this decades-old University learning with current Mindfulness and Spiritual learning, I feel the best first step for people noticing less-easy communication in their relationship – is to first simply, stop. Breathe. Reassess just your own response (although your mind will likely want to criticize the other’s words/actions) – see if your response is helpful or not-helpful to the situation/communication. If you choose not to speak, wait for a time (relatively soon) when you have both cooled your minds and then do speak about the matter. Kindly. And if you were speaking loudly – come back later to speak softly. And Kindly. Remember the true loving energies that drew you together – now be the best of that energy yourself. If the other is not there – you be there. This is known as “Holding Presence” for the other… often their energy will change for the better too. You just have to know that the moment is just an opportunity for one or both of you to get back to the best of yourselves. Be there. You can do it and you will never regret being the best of yourself. Be the best of you and learn what you need to learn for healthy movement forward for both of you.

Wishing you healthy communication with all those that you love!

Kindly,

Hanifa

Seeing value

Do you see the value of things around you? Well first, one must decide and understand what one values. I believe our core values are largely the same – honesty, integrity, love, compassion, and even enthusiasm in our individual work/tasks.

Since I feel our thoughts, words and actions are constantly shared with the world around us, I believe it is not only useful to ourselves but also every person that our energy touches to be mindful about the energy we “put out there.”

In what has been called our “blame and shame” collective culture, we are much more likely to hear (or say) words like “I’m upset because this happened to me; this person did this to me; the weather is like this; my home is like this; my family is like this; my finances are like this…” You can see where I’m going. How many of us share “I feel good/great because… I did this; this person did this for me; the sun is shining; I smiled/someone smiled at me; I am safe….”

We can see that MANY good things happen in each of our days. And if we acknowledge/share these blessings (with ourselves and also with others) we can start shaping the energy of our world.

Take the time to appreciate what is good – right NOW.

I have always remembered this quote that reminds me how we can see each moment:

“Two people stare out of the same bars – one sees the mud; the other the stars.”

See the stars my friends… they are always there and we can direct our attention and focus to them! Wishing you a beautiful day ahead!

Kindly,

Hanifa

Conscious evolution

What is Consciousness? According to Wikipedia (and directly quoted here)”

Consciousness is the state or quality of sentience or awareness of internal or external existence.[1][2] It has been defined variously in terms of qualiasubjectivity, the ability to experience or to feelwakefulness, having a sense of selfhood or soul, the claim that “there is something that it is like” to ‘have’ or ‘be’ it, and the executive control system of the mind.[3] Despite the difficulty in definition, many philosophers believe that there is a broadly shared underlying intuition about what consciousness is.[4] According to Max Velmans and Susan Schneider, “Anything that we are aware of at a given moment forms part of our consciousness, making conscious experience at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives.”[5]

Western philosophers since the time of Descartes and Locke have struggled to comprehend the nature of consciousness and how it fits into a larger picture of the world. These issues remain central to both continental and analytic philosophy, in phenomenology and the philosophy of mind, respectively. Some basic questions include: whether consciousness is the same kind of thing as matter; whether it may ever be possible for computing machines like computers or robots to be conscious; how consciousness relates to language; how consciousness as Being relates to the world of experience; the role of the self in experience; whether individual thought is possible at all; and whether the concept is fundamentally coherent.

Recently, consciousness has also become a significant topic of interdisciplinary research in cognitive science, involving fields such as psychologylinguistics, anthropology,[6] neuropsychology and neuroscience. The primary focus is on understanding what it means biologically and psychologically for information to be present in consciousness—that is, on determining the neural and psychological correlates of consciousness. The majority of experimental studies assess consciousness in humans by asking subjects for a verbal report of their experiences (e.g., “tell me if you notice anything when I do this”). Issues of interest include phenomena such as subliminal perceptionblindsightdenial of impairment, and altered states of consciousness produced by alcohol and other drugs, or spiritual or meditative techniques.

What I find even more interesting is understanding the Collective Unconscious thoughts, words and actions that many of us can take in as “normal” and acceptable. And many go with this flow without giving much thought to it. As I become more and more mindfully-aware, I find myself thinking and meditating on this more regularly. Why are people drawn to difficult/unhappy thoughts, words and behaviours so easily? Like the news, fear-provoking movies (I hear the Joker movie opened to a record audience for October); dark concepts and dark themes are becoming more prevalent in our T.V. programming (I heard on the radio as I haven’t watched T.V. for years). Many peoples’ workdays have become longer, busier and less joy-filled; our spare time is limited and often filled with long to-do lists. And many people fill a weekend with running errands not possible to finish on weekdays, and then start the cycle all over again on Monday! Some call it the “rat race” – I believe this is the Collective Unconscious. We worry more, celebrate less; and the Collective Ego is loving every bit of this drama.

So what if we say no to drama? Stop thinking about it, watching it like a deer in the headlights, talking about all that we are unhappy about and start living the joyful life that is coexisting right along with all of the not-easy experiences within us and around us? I am a strong believer in sharing the not-easy experiences to understand the messages from them and learn from them, but let’s not forget the good too – and there’s always something good… we are breathing, many of us are living a life that many others can only dream of. If you are a person who can enjoy a sunrise/sunset, the smell of apple pie, the comfort of a good night’s sleep, fresh air, a beautiful song, laughing with a dear friend… you are someone who knows how to enjoy the important things. So let’s take a breath, assess the good and the not-so good, shake off the not-so-good after expressing it like dust off a shirt found in the attic (it will not help you to keep that dust!), and truly focus on the gift of life. Right here. Right now. Lots to be grateful for.

It came to mind today that one of the first articles I ever wrote after I graduated was about “Hurry Sickness” in our society. Things haven’t changed much. I can even see how I was outside of this “game” when I first moved to Toronto, then became very much part of the same sickness, and now I am happily recovering from that unconscious space. Wait a minute… it’s been longer… meditative reflection reminded me that I did start University at a very early age in Alberta, and before that I was a driven “show-and-tell” presenter in grade schooling days in Ontario!!! Lots of retraining has certainly been happening NOW!! Amazing that I had comfortably forgotten how young I was when I began such a pattern! We need space and time to recognize that we can each fall into these patterns. Only Consciously removing ourselves from this repetitive cycle (at least mentally) – can help us see with clarity how easy it is to follow the masses (while still feeling a step ahead!).

Mindful practices and Meditation have truly helped me be Present to what I care most about. Compassion, Integrity and Honest Communication. Ahh… and that’s my communication for today 🙂

Wishing you a Conscious week ahead!

Kindly,

Hanifa

by Hanifa Menen, BSc (Neuropsychology); former ND (now retired after 21 years of practice!) – helping people become empowered through the integration of Eastern Philosophy, Mindfulness-based Training and Energetic Rebalancing