What is conscious living doing for us anyway? This is a question I’ve asked numerous times. And I also hear others asking it too. The question seems to reveal a bit of mistrust around the notion that being conscious of what you’re doing, thinking, and saying has the power to change things. There’s some doubt that conscious living can make things better, for you as an individual, and for the world at large. It’s actually a great question to ask. So I’d like to share why answering it is important as far as shoring up your daily dedication to your expanding awareness.
Why Living Consciously Might Matter More Than You Think
The other day, one of my students introduced me to the notion of a trophic cascade. Not only did I not know what that meant, but I hadn’t a clue how it could be relevant to conscious living. But I looked it up anyway and discovered what it means. But before giving you a dry intellectual definition, please watch this 4 1/2 minute video. It explains the notion in a real-life context, specifically how wolves impacted the ecology of Yellowstone National Park. Be aware, the video starts off with the howling of the wolves.
As you can see, changing one thing in an environment can change everything. Although it may take time to witness the differences. I’ve seen it happen thousands of times in my work with individuals and couples. When one person changes how they’re viewing the “problem” unfolding in a relationship, the relationship shifts naturally. Changing just their viewpoint naturally and automatically changes the dynamic. And this changes the environment surrounding it.
Can Your Commitment To Mindfulness Really Change Things?
I promised you the definition of a trophic cascade, so here it is:
Trophic cascade, an ecological phenomenon triggered by the addition or removal of top predators and involving reciprocal changes in the relative populations of predator and prey through a food chain, which often results in dramatic changes in ecosystem structure and nutrient cycling.
Clearly, we humans have a hand in sustaining and/or destroying our ecological system. Our ability to demonstrate conscious awareness is a key factor. But many folks privately share a bit of guilt at the notion. They’re not certain they’re dedicated to really helping the world. They might steer clear of the idea of conscious living because it seems selfish. They may just want to get away from stress and the world that’s causing it. Perhaps not a very laudable motivation. But this trophic cascade notion is saying something completely different.
Let’s acknowledge that humans remain the top predators in our ecology. But since we can’t get rid of humans (and don’t wish to), what is it that you can do to produce a new kind of predator? A predator who is driven by conscious awareness with love and respect for all living things, including the earth itself? Is there such a thing? Perhaps not now. But that doesn’t mean there can’t be in the future. And it is starting with you. Let’s look at how it might happen.
The Power Of Expanding Your Personal Awareness
Let’s keep this simple. A predator is an organism that eats another organism. You most likely do not like being labeled a predator. However, there is no denying our role or placement in the food chains of life. So like it or not, you do have to make your peace with that little objection. But there is good news!!
There’s another type of predation not so objectionable. It’s called mutualism. Mutualism is not lethal to either predator or prey. Rather, it benefits both organisms. One of the very rare examples of this in humans is the relationship with bacteria in the gut. Both you and the bacteria benefit. This type of relationship is based on cooperation rather than competition. It serves both species. So how is that relevant?
Isn’t the desire for the peace that cooperation brings a part of what made you gravitate toward mindfulness, meditation, or some form of spirituality? An overabundance of competition has created an immense imbalance throughout mankind. A new kind of human predator is required. And although you may not like the label, you can still bring forth this predation of mutualism that allows all to benefit, not just other species, but our own as well.
The Paradox Of A Humane Predator
Wouldn’t it be amazing to be representing this new kind of humane predator (a paradox for sure)? Would it deepen your faith that what you’re doing can change your personal world, your environment, and the ecology of the world at large? It could strengthen your practice if every time you sit down to meditate, contemplate, listen to a guided visualization, chant, do your yoga practice with an eye for finding inner peace, or take a conscious breath, you know you’re evoking a sorely needed dimension of humanity. And that dimension could trigger a shift in the ecology of our world – physical, emotional, and mental.
When the honey-hunters of the Yao tribe in Mozambique call for the greater honeyguides, the bird recognizes, understands, and responds to the hunter’s call and leads them to honey in the forest. The honeyguides recognize and respond to the specific sound signals from honey-hunters by flitting from tree to tree and guiding the hunters to the tree with the bee-hive. Hunters take the honey, while the honeyguides relish on the bee-wax.
In like kind, your commitment to developing your presence in the “here and now” sends out different signals that fall on a different part of the brain. And neuroscience indicates that part of the brain could be involved here. It may just be waiting to receive the kind of stimulation necessary to free a mutually beneficial form of symbiosis within the human species. This could be competition and cooperation finally enjoying a mutually fulfilling and balanced relationship.
Conscious Living Impacts The Future Via The Here And Now
It’s curious. We all know that in order to walk and move forward, the next step arises out of the one just taken. One aspect of living consciously is to help you relax with what will come next. In the east, a specific metaphor is used to describe this phenomenon. Can you imagine a blob of sealing wax on the back of a letter, like in the olden days? And remember how people had little instruments to press a shape or design into the wax, like a signature? Then when the wax hardened, the letter could safely begin its journey to the designated recipient.
You can use this analogy to better understand the power of the moment and the role your own conscious awareness plays. In the east, it’s said the next moment is empty of shape and form, like that blob of sealing wax. It’s the shape of the current moment that shapes the next moment. This is just like the instrument used to imprint the blob of sealing wax. Once the wax hardens, the previous moment is closed and the signature of that moment has impacted the shapes of the next moment. In other words, moments are malleable. Conscious living grants you the power to influence how the next moment will take shape and appear. At the very least, this is what makes conscious living worth your time and effort.
Until next time, may you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy.
**Images courtesy of www.Pixabay.com