For many of us, there is a point within us where we separate into an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality. Perhaps this happens based on your address or school district? Perhaps it’s based on fitness level? Perhaps observing other cultures? Perhaps while watching the news? Perhaps some animals you call family, and others you consume? Perhaps it’s based on your social circles? Perhaps based on your sexual preferences? Perhaps it’s through your environmental habits? Perhaps it’s your political leanings? At some point, we separate ourselves with the idea that we are creating a stronger sense of belonging among those more like us.
I recently co-hosted a seminar with a colleague who is a recognized animal behaviorist and owner of a canine training facility. In this seminar we linked individual human self-beliefs directly to the individual’s dog training challenges. Recognizing that if, for example, you are uncomfortable setting goals for yourself, out of fear of failing, that that leniency is likely being passed through the leash to your canine companion. This may show itself as a dog appearing to not fully complete their agility obstacles, but rather allowing the distractions from outside of the ring to capture their focus. It was a wonderful class, full of open participants, eager to investigate deeper within themselves for the sake of their dog’s skill set and happiness. If asked: How were you allowed to learn as a child? Then recognizing these childhood experiences were directly shaping how you currently expect, or allow, your dog to learn. It was beautiful watching people unfold throughout the seminar; willing to ask themselves these intense questions in order to better their dogs’ lives. I see this as minimizing the ‘us’ and ‘them’ factor, by not only asking more of ourselves, but investigating more; even if it uncovers some deeper truths that prove in need of new tools to allow us to process through them.
I think of enlightened beings, who live in the beauty of universal oneness; looking upon all other humans, animals, and the planet, with love, value, and equality. In my heart, I long to believe that this is what we all truly strive for, but I also know that it takes genuine effort to uncover the truths within ourselves that keep us from living in this internal sanctuary; where we guide our actions, not by the external environment around us, but rather from the stillness within.
Obviously, the first crucial step is recognizing when our mind drops into that ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality; when we separate ourselves, or others, from the whole of life. The magic word that comes to mind, to serve as a magnifying glass for this pattern of thinking, is ‘should.’ How things should be. How others should behave. How we’re supposed to be. How we’re allowed to be. How others should look. What love is supposed to look like. How we are supposed to worship. What we are supposed to wear. These types of thoughts are all a reflection of internal beliefs, and none of them are actually true. There is no such thing as ‘should,’ because we all have different beliefs shaping our reality.
I watched a fascinating documentary on Netflix regarding our intuition; “Inn Saei: The Power of Intuition.” In the documentary, Malidoma Patrice Some, a West African elder states: “Nature is actually the silent witness of intuition. Nature speaks in all kinds of languages. Nature is interested in the inner eye; the inner ear; the inner capacity to make sense out of something which external consciousness might consider chaotic. Without nature, I don’t know how we can revive our intuition.” It’s such a powerful statement as we look upon our Western world and how loud and fast it strives to be; causing us to constantly be sorting through endless stimulations, unable to hear our deeper voice, or intuition. I believe it is through the intuition, the soul, the deeper self, that we offer our most vulnerable selves and create true connections with the world around us. Without awareness of your intuition, it is very easy to live in the world of ‘should,’ and continue to separate ourselves with an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality.
I encourage you to find a place in nature where you can sit quietly, just listening. No thinking, no agenda – just be. This is how we will open ourselves to a life greater than our egos, our minds, and our beliefs.