Posts Tagged ‘connections’

Flexible Focus #30: The 8 frames of life: Home

by William Reed on December 2, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Considering the number of songs with home lyrics that long for home, are coming home, or are homeward bound, there is something deep in our psyche that tells us there is no place like home.

Home is the 4th in the 8 Frames of Life of the Mandala Chart, Health, Business, Finance, Home, Society, Character, Study, Leisure, and a critical pillar for life-work balance.

Yet, broken homes, dysfunctional families, domestic violence, and broken hearts are pandemic in our society, an outward reflection of an inner conflict.

The Mandala Chart is a comprehensive compass for life, and provides helpful perspectives on themes surrounding our Home.

Ecology in a Möbius Strip

The Möbius Strip is a 3-dimensional seamless strip of paper turned in on itself, with only one surface. A Möbius Strip Video by Robert Krampf shows a simple experiment, in which you can prove to yourself this remarkable phenomenon by drawing an unbroken line on the surface of the Möbius Strip with a crayon, until you return to the same place. He also shows that even when you cut the Möbius Strip down the line which you have just drawn, you still have a single seamless loop. It remains whole even after you cut it in half!

The Möbius Strip has featured and fascinated people since its discovery in ancient times, and is a perennial symbol in topology and popular culture. It is also the shape of the universal recycling symbol.

It represents an energy loop, a self-sustaining energy system, which contains the core principle for making homes, relationships, and families work. James Redfield explores this in depth in his bestselling book The Celestine Prophecy. His exploration of energy dynamics occurs in what he describes as the Fourth Insight, that when humans are cut off from the self-sustaining energy systems of the universe, they compete for energy by psychologically stealing or sponging it from other people. This unconscious competition is the source of all human conflict. Redfield compares humans to broken circles seeking a connection. The healthiest connection is when two broken circles join to form a figure 8, in effect a Möbius Strip.

It could also be a symbol for the ecology of a happy home, in which we are not energy drainers, but energy gainers.

Where do you call home?

In today’s mobile society, the place you call home may not be the place you were born. Traditionally, when people were more tied to territory, the proverbial wisdom was bloom where you are planted. However, the view of the Mandala Chart is based on flexible focus, and is closer to the Zen proverb, be master of the moment (zuisho ni nushi to naru). This means to be at home wherever you are, in your body, where you live, in this time of history, on this earth. A person who is engaged, connected, and skilled at navigation can be at home anywhere.

There is a part of our brain called the hippocampus, which acts as both filter and connector for our long-term memory and spatial navigation in the outside world. London Taxi drivers are famous for their knowledge of streets and spatial navigation, and they have been found to have a larger than average hippocampus, possibly through extensive training and experience in navigation. They know how to find their way home.

Neuroscientists studying depression, dementia, and disorientation have found it associated with atrophy in the hippocampus. James W, Jefferson, M.D., a senior scientist at the Madison Institute of Medicine and a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin Medical School, wrote an article in Geriatric Times called, My Hippocampus is Bigger than Yours, which looks at the hippocampus’ role in memory and depression. He describes the Greek word for hippocampus as a creature with the forequarters of a horse, and the hindquarters of a fish or dolphin, what we know as a seahorse. The hippocampus in the brain was named as the seahorse of the brain because of its remarkable resemblance to a seahorse in shape.

We have referred often in this series to the processes of engagement, connection, and opportunity. The Mandala Chart is a navigational compass to facilitate the process, and the more actively you use it, the more likely you are to engage your hippocampus, keeping it healthy, vital, and alive. Likewise, if you let yourself drift you risk the consequences of an idle hippocampus. Here the folk wisdom applies, use it or lose it!

We are family

Of course a home is nothing without a family. We don’t live in isolation, but rather as interdependent beings, in various kinds of families.

The family for some is a source of love and protection, for others it can be a source of conflict and frustration. In either case, your family has an inestimable effect on the quality of your life. This is why Home is one of the eight fundamental areas of life on the Mandala Chart.

Regardless of your family or lifestyle, things are likely to go better if the members of the family care about and support each other. However, even blood relatives are born with different personalities, and the differences can be a source of delight or of conflict, depending on the degree of understanding and acceptance in the family.

One approach that can facilitate understanding is to look at Temperament and Personality Types. An excellent book on this subject is Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types, and the sequel Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence, by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates.

You can even take the Keirsey Temperament Sorter test online, and gain immediate feedback and insights into your own character and that of others around you. This test looks at the four main temperaments, Guardian, Rational, Idealist, and Artisan, and the supporting materials offer advice on how this affects relationships in families, careers, and schooling. The test has been taken by more than 40 million people, and is used widely by corporations, colleges, coaches, and consultants worldwide. It can give you one perspective that can facilitate understanding and acceptance of our differences. As a reminder of the key points, download the WE ARE FAMILY Mandala.

Personality differences aside, we are connected to each other, in present, past, and future. The message is plain. Just listen to Sister Sledge, We Are Family

Flexible Focus #15: Karma and Connections

by William Reed on August 19, 2010

Karma is a word which has entered the English language, but is often misused to mean fate (as in cause and effect), when the actual meaning of Karma is to act, action, performance. Karma can also be the seeds and the fruits of action.

A useful way of thinking about Karma is the way we inter-act with and re-act to our world. The Mandala Chart gives us some ways in which we can better gauge the process, and work to create good Karma for ourselves and others.

The Yin-Yang symbol shows the interaction of phenomena, and the interplay of opposites which creates our world. The key message is that you reap as you sow. Therefore if we want to achieve positive results, it makes sense to think, speak, and act positively.

This is a challenge. It takes patience and perspective, because you cannot cheat the process. If you are too attached to the results, then you may be tempted to seek shortcuts, and short work produces short results. Attachment is based on inflexible focus. It takes a flexible point of view and to see all sides of a problem, and come up with creative solutions.

Karma, Connections, and Chaos Theory

There is also collective Karma, which is often thought of as collective fate, but more constructively can be interpreted as collective action. Global warming, the skidding economy, religious rivalry, these are issues that have an impact on the very environment we live in. They are so immense that it seems you cannot do much about them as an individual.

Isolated effort against vast forces seems putting a drop in the ocean. However, the good  actions that you perform have a cumulative effect on you and your personal environment, as well as a positive influence on others. You can change, even if the world around you does not.

Moreover, things are connected in ways that are not always obvious. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus (540~480 BC) said that, a hidden connection is stronger than an obvious one.

James Burke, the science historian and creator-host of the popular BBC series Connections, showed throughout the series how things and people which seem totally unrelated are often connected by only a few degrees of separation. Napoleon may seem an odd companion for computers, but Burke traces the path of influence from Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt, to the French soldiers discovery of Middle Eastern carpets, which triggered a fashion boom for such carpets in France, and a new technology for weaving them quickly on a loom that used cards with holes punched in them to block and pass the colored woven strands and control the intricate patterns, which spawned the punch-card tabulator invented for the purpose of automating the US census, which then led to the use of keypunch cards for early computers and data processing, and the rest is history.

Edward Lorenz, father of the Chaos theory and the butterfly effect, as an MIT Meteorologist in 1972 raised the possibility that the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil might trigger a tornado in Texas. While the mathematics may be well beyond the average person, Chaos Theory remains a powerful metaphor for the hidden connections in our world.

How can you apply the Butterfly Effect?

Even when the connections are not obvious, it is possible to take small actions which use the butterfly effect to create good Karma. Here are 8 things which you can do to have a more positive effect.

  1. Don’t make a bad situation worse. How you respond to things can turn the situation around.
  2. Recognize your responsibility. You contribute to and participate in making the situation what it is.
  3. Engage in possibility thinking. Your ideas are a powerful force as a co-creator.
  4. Plant positive seeds. Perform small acts of kindness. Take the extra step.
  5. Engage in powerful rituals. The habits and routines which you perform on a regular basis can build your bank of resources.
  6. Find ways to leverage and multiply. Consider what factors make the biggest difference.
  7. Learn lessons vicariously. You don’t have to repeat other’s mistakes, you can learn from their experience.
  8. Remember that Karma means action. Good Karma is the result of actions in the present, not just consequences from the past.

I have prepared a Mandala Chart for Karma Connections, which you can download as a PDF, and use to develop your own butterfly effect.

Despite our best efforts to remain positive, there are times when Collective Karma or Karmic consequences can bear hard on us. There is a way to remain resilient, and lessen the effects of stress, if you apply a simple principle. The strength of a chain is measured in its weakest link. If you bear the loads of life with narrow and inflexible focus, then eventually your chain will feel the strain and may break. The strength of a net is its power to be flexible, to absorb and distribute the load, and also to cast it off. Think of the resilience and power of a tennis racquet to send the ball with speed and precision.

It all depends on how fully and positively you engage. The Yin-Yang symbol is a symbol for full engagement, resembling two question marks in a reflective embrace. Curiosity is a driving force for flexible focus. You can use this image to constantly search for ways to engage more positively and more powerfully in your life.