This isn’t another article about 50 Shades of Gray.
Although this is not about that, it is about the need for human communion. Communion is the coming together of things, where boundaries and borders flex and adapt. Communion is the space in which we soften the hard outer layer and begin to mold around that which is “other”. We share the same DNA, making each of us far more similar than we are different.
So what is it that causes us to build walls between each other as individuals, as institutions, and as cultures?
In a world in which black-and-white thinking is easy, where different cultures identify with an “us and them” mark of pride, and where individuals think they must compete with each other to get ahead, it is more important than ever to live in the shades of gray between all that is black-and-white.
Current neuroscience is beginning to correlate certain fear-based reaction states, such as when we are in our limbic brains, to a more black-and-white view of the world. In a strict right vs. wrong and us vs. them mentality we may be more likely to allow our sense of threat, danger or fear to solidify our boundaries, making ourselves and our views of the world around us that much more rigid.
As boundaries harden, communion with one another becomes narrowly allocated to those in our closest and safest circles, which can continue to shrink over time.
What is to become of us as our version of what’s acceptable becomes paralyzingly limited? Social cognitive neuroscience is now supporting the concept of the social brain in which social connection, meaningful interactions and relationships, and seeking novelty can greatly enhance our brain’s ability to calm our fight-or-flight response, create new neural maps, and even generate new neurons.
It is through communion that we have the ability to shift our own patterns of limitation and open to an expanded sense of self, community and our own health.
Those that allow themselves to step out of rigid thinking and into new approaches to perception can actually improve their problem-solving skills, stimulate learning neurotransmitters in the brain, and begin to encode or experience life with a greater memory capacity. Those who begin to live in the shades of gray can increase the ease with which they deal with change, the grace with which they navigate unfamiliar experiences, and enhance the sense of adaptability that has enabled us to dominate the planet as a species.
So how do you know which of your boundaries is safe to soften? There is no simple or right answer for this. You can begin exploring this in an easy, manageable and non-threatening way. Here are ten simple suggestions for stepping into the shades of gray.
2. Choose a new hobby you’ve never tried before.
3. Take a different route to work.
4. Replace “but” with “and” when in a confrontational discussion.
5. Join a discussion group online or in person.
6. Replace one of your “no’s” with a “yes”.
7. Listen to a different genre of music for a day.
8. Eat a food you’ve never eaten.
10. Ask someone else to tell you about the things they enjoy.
We already know what our life is like when we hold tight to our stances, opinions, perceptions and choices. Sometimes it’s beneficial, and other times it’s painful. What we don’t know is what opens for us when we step into the mystery and embrace the gray zone where right and wrong become a case by case situation, where good and bad becomes contextual, and us and them shifts into new partnerships, relationships and alliances.
Between the black and white lies the invitation to exploration. The richness of life waits for us in the shades of gray.
Lisa Wimberger is the founder of the Neurosculpting® Institute. She holds a Masters Degree in Education from the University of Stonybrook, NY and a Foundations Certification in NeuroLeadership. She is the author of NEW BELIEFS, NEW BRAIN: Free Yourself from Stress and Fear. Lisa is a neuroplastician running a private healing and psychic practice teaching clients who suffer from stress disorders. Lisa began her meditation practice at age 12. Hit by lightning at age 15, and clinically dead on multiple occasions, Lisa uses her traumatic experience as a vehicle for transformation. Lisa studied Ascension training for four years with Ishaya monks. She completed four years of psychic awareness training, applying the tools of the Berkeley Psychic Institute. Lisa is the Founder of the Trance Personnel Consulting Group and Ripple Effect, LLC. She has created and facilitated leadership trainings for executive teams in Fortune 500 companies, the Colorado Department of Health Care and worked individually with international management. She has created and facilitated Emotional Survival programs for Colorado Law Enforcement Agencies and peer counsel groups. Lisa writes for the Elephant Journal, CopsAlive and partners with the Law Enforcement Survival Institute. Additionally, Lisa’s services are sought on a national level by individuals in law enforcement looking to find a new way to navigate through their stress patterns. Lisa is a public speaker, and has addressed audiences ranging from corporate leaders to FBI and Secret Service. Lisa is a member of the National Center for Crisis Management and ILEETA (International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association). Her mission to share practical and powerful stress management techniques to those in need caused Lisa to develop her Neurosculpting® programs combining neuroscience principles with mindfulness and energetic modalities.
Editor: Carolyn Gilligan