Sustainability and Coherence
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” (Mahatma Gandhi)
My intention for this month had been to write about spring and the awakening of dormant energies, ending with an invitation to extend the “Live Your Moksha” Challenge in a personal way through the 3rd annual Community Spring Cleanse. With all of the recent world events, however, I would like to take this opportunity to share a few thoughts on sustainability, chaos, and coherence.
There is no doubt that massive movements of energy are happening all around the world. We have most recently seen the obvious evidence of this movement in Japan and Libya, but its effects are also visible in the broader spectrum of environment, politics, and economics. With such a strong movement of energy, it’s not surprising that people are feeling the effects in a very personal way. For some there may be a specific call to action, a desire to evoke sustainable change. Others may be forced to examine aspects of their psyche and lifestyle which are no longer sustainable. Some of us have been personally touched by tragic events, and certainly we are all capable of extending ourselves in compassion to those whose lives have been so suddenly altered. Forces of nature have been active, and so have forces of man. As this energy moves, some of us may be pushed to deal with personal upheaval in our own lives and some of us may be inspired to creative action. Many of us are being confronted with aspects of our lives that are not sustainable, and in this confrontation we may be asked to face our fears and come to awareness of things we might otherwise choose to ignore. Perhaps that which is not sustainable is being brought to our attention so that we can do something about it. We have a choice: we can gracefully and consciously move with the energy of change, or we can resist it.
As part of the call to sustainable living, we may be asked to let go of the familiar and step into an experience of chaos and unpredictability. This can be frightening not only because of what a situation entails, but also because we as humans tend to feel safe in our ability to predict.
If we can predict, we can manage and maintain a sense of control. Our ability to predict helps us feel safe and it helps us feel powerful. We invest much energy into the things that make us feel safe and we become attached to them. However, chaos is by its very nature unpredictable. Probabilities become irrelevant and a quantum field of possibility opens up— this is the nature of chaos. Yet there is still an active force within the chaos, and an active force within the quantum field. This force is both subtle and powerful. It has a strong organizing effect, and I believe that we can consciously align with this force by intentionally creating a state of coherence.
Coherence is a psycho-physiologic state of wellbeing. Your body, mind, and spirit are aligned in a healthy and harmonious way. Some people experience coherence when they are in love, or “in the zone” or in a creative flow. Each of us has a unique personal experience of coherence, and we know it when we’re in it. We feel good, we feel balanced, we feel energized, we feel capable, and we feel alive. We are conscious, open-hearted and engaged with the world around us. Words like loving-kindness, compassion, freedom, peace, energy, connection, and bliss describe our experience. In naturopathic philosophy, this state of coherence is synonymous with the “vis medicatrix naturae,” or healing power of nature. It recognizes that there is an innate life force, a creative energy that animates every atom in existence. When we consciously bring ourselves to a state of coherence, we open up the flow of this life force energy and allow it to have an organizing effect in our lives.
So with this all in mind, I have chosen to experience events of the last month as a call to consciousness. The emotional experience of each individual influences the energy that affects us all, and when we create coherence for ourselves it not only benefits us but the collective as well. This makes it of utmost importance, then, that we remember how to be in an unpredictable experience and still maintain awareness of our connection to life-force energy. Rather than becoming disorganized and feeling lost, can we focus on creating coherence and sustainability? In a big way, this asks us to take our yoga practice off our mats and into our lives. Can we be grounded, mindful, and centered? Can we be present, connected with our breath and listening to our bodies? Can we tolerate discomfort without losing focus? Can we maintain awareness of our connection to prana and life-force energy? Can we use this connection to maintain coherence in the face of uncertainty? Can we maintain a practice of nurturing our connection to self in a healthy and harmonious way? In a literal sense, we must embody that which we wish for.