Our vision respects our embodiment. It acknowledges the human tendency to get caught up in the most complex neurofiring patterns of thought and lose touch with our foundations in the body.
The vision that guides our approach to harnessing the power of awareness is based on 5 simple principles:
- Simplicity is at the core of reality therefore, the principles guiding our transformation and the practices are simple!
- Complexity is the natural appearance of reality therefore, sophistication in knowledge, practice and experience as we navigate reality’s infinitely creative displays is essential.
- Although the principles and practices are easy, it is difficult to maintain the orientation towards being. To take the path of practice is not easy.
- Simplicity requires us to learn to get out of our own way to undo and unknow rather than hoard more knowledge.
- Our brain creates an hourglass phenomenon with regards to two fundamental human realities. We experience most of life in a direct, embodied and mostly unconscious way as our organism processes its vastly creative, infinitely varied, chaotic and unnameable energy flow unmediated by concepts. This is by far the most important kind of ‘knowing’. A small portion of this experiential substrate gets sifted through, simplified, categorized and conceptualized by the brain’s higher cognitive functions. Much of the original immediacy and richness of unfettered life unfolding is lost in the cognitive realm of stories we tell. Instead, this substitute conceptual world opens up a completely new realm of conceptual knowledge responsible for human civilization. This essential conceptual knowing, although secondary, is highly generative in its own right. These two experiential realities, the bedrock of direct, unmediated experience in the present moment and its sky-like extension into the indirect conceptual world of time-bound stories, need to be consciously connected if we want health. First we have our life, and life is the bedrock from which conceptual civilization emerges. Without living from the truth of this bedrock, we cannot possibly move towards health and liberation in civilization. Our ‘body forest’ is the place of inspiration and authority guiding our progress as we need to extricate ourselves from the tyrannical clutches of the thinking mind, and put thinking into its right context of being the emissary to its master, the body.
To successfully abide by these 5 principles, our vision encompasses 5 aspects. Our students are reminded of these principles at all times, in order to keep the big picture of this vision alive as they learn to freely navigate the natural complexity of reality and discover its fundamental simplicity:
- Our tool is attention: Through concentration and clarity of attentional focus we readjust the radius, the direction and the domain of our consciousness, gradually arriving at awareness itself as a way of being differently rather than doing anything differently.
- The attitude with which we use our tool of attention is COAL (acronym by D. Siegel): Curiosity, Openness, Acceptance and Love this can be summarized as equanimity.
- Our guiding authority is the body. Like a forest, home to the creative potential of new life, the body is the source, the origin of life and our resource for wisdom. The body has its reasons that reason cannot know.
- Our procedure is the dialogue between knowing and unknowing. We learn to put knowledge in the service of the vastness of the unknown, so that we can harness the healing power of reality, not fill the emptiness of the unknown with knowledge.
- Our orientation is kept on track with several navigational maps:
- The 3 principles of non-posture: Relaxation, alignment and adjustment
- The 3 energy realms of attention: Somatic, conceptual and emotional (gradient force)
- The 6 means of investigation (breath, movement, stopping, story, study and service)
- The 5 levels of brain processing (somatic, brainstem, limbic, cortical and social)
- The 3 aspects of energy and information flow (mind, brain and relations) (Interpersonal Neurobiology)
- The 9 domains of integration (consciousness, bilateral, vertical, memory, narrative, state, interpersonal, temporal and transpirational) (Interpersonal Neurobiology).
- Context and complexity of phenomena and emptiness.
- The 2 mirror aspects of the One reality: Objective and subjective experience.
- Cessation of suffering and exaltation of happiness (freedom, love and confidence).
- The 8 healthy mind disciplines (time in, time out/down time, play time, sleep time, physical time, focus time, connecting time, eating time) (adapted from David Rock & Daniel Siegel, ‘The Healthy Mind Platter’)