When I first heard the quote by French Jesuit priest Peirre Teilhard de Chardin — “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience” — I recall being very impacted. I could choose to experience my life “from the top down” instead of “from the bottom up,” to be able to observe my human life from the perspective of consciousness.
I began to wonder who I really was, this combination of Spirit and humanity. Who is driving the bus here? Is it meandering down the road, traveling on cruise control, encountering whatever shows up, viewing only from the road? Or is there a chance to step into the driver’s seat and direct this bus, this life of mine, this vehicle of experience, while being on its path, while at the same time getting information, direction and perspective from my Self that sits on top of the mountain and can view the entire road I am traveling?
I decided, “Yes, there was.”
“So, what does it take to do that?” I wondered. Since the age of 17, I’ve said that all one had to do in this lifetime was to know who we are and like it. Little did I know from the sassiness of youth how simple that sounded and how easy it was not! But now had come the time to walk my own talk and get to know who I really was.
As I began this journey of Self-discovery, I felt aware of my human experience, so I searched for my Spirit. I studied with valuable teachers who stretched my mind, opened my heart, and exposed my soul to me. Then I began a transformative meditation technique, Fulfillment Meditation, and I came to view life through the eyes of consciousness, the Observer Self, the One who sees the Big Picture of Being.
That was a fine perspective for a very long time. Then it shifted. I realized I did not know as much about my humanity as I once thought. I only knew my experience within it — not how it really worked. I was trying to drive a bus, but didn’t know its parts or how it functioned, what it did automatically and how much my Spirit could influence and control it. So off I went on my new quest to understand the workings of my human self.
Always having been fascinated by the human mind, I thought our emotional life was “all in our head,” so to speak. Yet, I now realized that all of our human time is spent acting and reacting to stimulus — and I began to wonder what happens within us while that goes on.
Well, here’s what I learned.
When we sense a stimulus in our environment, whether it is someone speaking to us or anything else, our mind and body work together and a chain of events occurs. First, our mind makes a quick assessment of the stimulus and judges how we are to react to it. Do we fight it, run from it, or ignore it? This is a very important decision, as it could mean our survival. Our mind determines this based on our knowledge, previous experiences, values, experiences we’ve learned from others, our family patterns, our culture, etc. This may be accurate to the situation or not, but until we get new information, it’s all we have to go on.
Once the mind decides how to react, it sends a message to the body to prepare for the reaction. A powerful chemical cascade begins through whichever of our two nervous systems is called upon for reaction. Once our body’s chemistry is completely prepared, our mind is informed, we identify these emotional chemicals as a feeling, and we react — whether it is talking back, walking away, or not reacting at all. All of this is done without our awareness or direction, continuing our patterns over and over again, perhaps with new players and in new locations, but the actions and our reactions continue to repeat themselves.
I’ve discovered, through the inspiration of a friend, and guidance from Spirit, that there is so much more, that we have many points in this path where we can make conscious choices on how to act and react, to BE the Spirit having a human experience and be emotionally empowered to bring our lives to greater peace by understanding our humanity more, our default programs, and our body’s chemistry.
As Carl Jung, psychologist, once said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will rule your life and you will call it fate.” So, let me ask you this, “Who do you think you are?”
Jean Wallis is teaching “Getting to Know You! A Course in Emotional Empowerment,” a 30-class course designed to enlighten you on how and why we relate and respond to others and to our own circumstances of life. Call 612.874-1453 for further inquiries or to register, or see more at jeanwallis.com.