Rue Anne Hass, M.A.
Working as a counselor/coach, my days are awash with stories that pattern themselves into abundant inspiration about the growth of the human spirit.
Just yesterday I was talking with someone who is trying to write a master’s degree thesis that integrates her experience of working with a South American shaman into a counseling psychology context, without sounding too flaky to her academic review committee. She lamented how hard it was to communicate the value of the quieter and more ancient way of BE-ing and knowing that she had learned with the shaman. She was feeling agitated and irritated by the “DO DO DO” mentality of our culture, especially noting the recent emphasis on “high risk” sports.
I found myself thinking of my husband, who was a good athlete in high school and college, but who had let his body lapse, so to speak, with the pressure of work and family, and the lack of much organized athletic activity for adults. When our older daughter got into soccer several years ago, and then found a real interest and natural ability in the sport, Timothy was seized by soccer himself. Eventually, pacing the sidelines no longer slaked his thirst, and he discovered adult teams. He now plays on three of them, year round (one of his over 40 teams is called “Alive and Kicking”), and coaches a competitive team of 12 year old girls.
He loves soccer. He plays with the same passionate, intense abandon of those people who are drawn to those high risk sports, throwing his body 110% into the action. He finds a joy in playing that he had lost in his life. It is as if his spirit is most fully in his body when he is out there going after the ball, being creative and aware of the whole scene, trusting intuitively that he will be in the right place with the right moves without conscious thought. Unconsciously competent.
He is like a lot of people I work with, who are grown up versions of the children I used to tutor: bright, usually gifted, imaginative, creative, perceptive, sensitive, deeply thoughtful and philosophical with a wise unconscious innocence, sometimes athletic, sometimes artistic. The athletic ones are always moving, and they are irresistibly drawn to the really out there X Games-type sports (X for x-treme), like rock climbing, skate boarding, snowboarding, surfing, always pushing the edge of what is possible for the body to do. I think that is how they can feel most fully present in their bodies.
These people have multi-tasking minds: a gift for thinking on many different levels simultaneously, about many things at once, at lightning speed. They relish instuctions like: “Now, ask your inner mind to generate a shift from the negative image to the positive, ten times more, on multiple levels simultaneously, ten times faster each time.” The old linear ways are too slow and too simple for them.
Imagine putting this kind of out-there, big-picture-sensing, rapid fire intuitive mind into the body of a child and send it to first grade, where it is made to focus narrowly on details. It freezes. It can’t think of or learn the words. In fact, words are way too slow to capture all that rich and complex information in there. Writing is excruciating, because you have to get all that richness to line up sequentially, organized in ideas, then paragraphs, then sentences, then words and finally get it all to come out one letter at a time. This kind of mind can’t be bothered — and literally can’t — slow down long enough to do all this. So the person talks really fast, or not much at all. They write on and on, or not much at all. They get labelled by teachers as “slow,” “learning disabled,” dyslexic.” They grow up thinking that there is something wrong with them, that they are broken, that they are bad.
Much of the work that I feel so drawn to do was designed by this kind of mind. I believe that it is literally a new kind of mind. Years ago, when I first began to work with children who were having trouble in school, I stepped back mentally to wonder, “Hmmm, what is really going on here?” I got the immediate intuitive flash that these children represent human consciousness evolving into a new model, a new kind of beingness. That thought sent me off into years of reading and thinking and exploring, and it eventually led me to the work that I do now. I call it “intuitive mentoring.” It is about learning to trust my own intuition while creating a context in which a person can reawaken the frozen or stuck parts, and transform the life-limiting beliefs that resulted from painful early experiences.
I believe that the human mind is seeking to do a massive “parts integration.” The intuitive, associative, wholeness-sensing functions are actively seeking to RE-UNITE with the logical, analytical differentness-noticing functions to create something that hasn’t been seen before, on this earth, anyway. I think that much of the apparent dissonance and disaster that we see in our institutions of education, science, commerce and government are the result of the dramatic reshuffling that is now taking place in our consciousness as it powers itself into a new dimension. “The force that through the green fuse drives…”
Jean Houston, one of our wise philosophers and teachers, says in The Possible Human:
Our very nature is in transition…. We find ourselves, I believe, in the midst of the most massive shift of perspective that humankind has ever known. The scope of change is calling for patterns and potentials in the human brain that, as far as I know, were never needed before. Knowings that were relegated to the unconscious are becoming conscious, and experiences that belonged to extraordinary reality are becoming ordinary.
My free association leaps to an experience I had in the spiritually oriented community of Findhorn in Scotland where I lived for seven years in the 1970’s. The Findhorn Community is a place on the edge of the North Sea where, since 1962, people from all over the world have been coming to explore and learn and teach about the possibility of living from a reverence for all life.
I went to Findhorn out of the political movement of the time, all the anti-war, pro-liberation, anti-capitalism, pro-feminism, etc. that changed everything forever, although not quite in the ways we had hoped, or as quickly as we thought it should. I felt then that the political movement had a wonderful vision, but there was something missing. I was drawn to spirituality, but I wasn’t someone who had a lot of experience of visions and voices, or meditation, or even astrology. I didn’t know what to believe any more.
After I had been at Findhorn for a time, I landed on a list of people who were willing to spend an evening with the groups of guests who came for weekly stays in the community, to talk about what it was like to live there and about the spiritual principles it was based on. One evening I was launched into an in depth discussion of the place, and I had an odd experience of dissociation — a part of myself suddenly separated off to watch and listen to me talk. It began to muse, “Hey…. she has really learned how to use all those key words and phrases and concepts…. It does sound like she knows what she is talking about…. But wait a minute, I DON’T KNOW IF I ACTUALLY BELIEVE ALL THIS STUFF…. And if I don’t it is really hypocritical to stay here. I had better decide….”
Some time after that I was sitting outside on the grass one afternoon, captivated by the dozens of baby grasshoppers I saw trying out their new legs and wings all around me. I watched, fascinated and inspired as these tiny athletes doggedly climbed up the blades of new spring grass, and reaching the top, launched themselves vigorously into space, only to fall back down to earth. Then they would scramble around, find a new grass blade to climb up, and launch again. I was struck by their bravery, and the innate sense of trust that they seemed to have that the ground would be there when they landed, and that it was a good thing to risk leaping so confidently into the unknown.
After a time, I got up and wandered down to the community grocery shop. As I walked in the door, I noticed a pile of newspapers on the counter by the door, and I was startled to see the headline, in big black letters, “LEAP INTO THE UNKNOWN!”
“Oh. OK. I get it,” I thought to myself. I went off to the sanctuary, where the community came together in the morning and evening to meditate, and sat down in the empty silent space. I didn’t know quite what to do, or exactly who I wanted to address. I just said half aloud, “Well, here I am. I am open and willing. I don’t know what is required of me, but I will do my best to be fully present for it. Use me however you will.” And left to go back into my life, which of course was never the same after that in ways that I could not have predicted.
I could not have imagined the leaps into the unknown that were waiting for me on my path. Life was about to ask me, over the next quarter century or so, to scale seemingly impossible heights, to sail apparently unsupported through thin air, even upside down, to go way beyond what I thought were my limits. I learned to surf monumental life experiences, to dare my body to do the unthinkable, to trust that I was unconsciously competent at being in the right place at the right time with the right moves, and that I had within me all the tools I needed to do what I was given to do.
In some other words, I became a wife, I became a mother, I went through some deep emotional and physical challenges, …. you know…. regular old life challenges. Challenges that are about taking the risk of letting go of what you know, letting go of what is familiar, even if –and especially when — it isn’t working, and bravely opening to finding out who you are underneath all of that. Again and again.
Along the way I learned something of how to BE while I was DOING, and be in my body, and be quiet about it. I learned how to help other people open to this possibility in themselves. And how to help myself. Again and again.
As my daughter (now 20) wrote last year about snowboarding: “They took me down all these really hard runs, double blacks — they were so steep at some parts it was like snowboarding down a wall! But after my initial exclamation of ‘holy shit!’ I actually improved a lot and was able to go down them w/out having to be on my heel edge the whole time. You just have to throw your body down the hill and be confident, or you’ll never improve, that’s what I’ve learned…. It’s kinda scary at first, but so satisfying to feel yourself carving well and sailing smoothly and gracefully down the hill! “
Life is an X Game sport.