January 3, 2015

The Tao as Movement. ~ Lauryn DeGrado

Bali Tirtha Empul temple

Ah, the muse of creativity, a motivating force that moves us forward and lightens our hearts and minds.

Seeking the muse has long been the aspiration of writers, artists and more. Yet, for some reason, creativity is often fleeting and spontaneous.

Some seek consistency as a method of harnessing these states, yet we also find high points in everyday motion. Leisurely walks, warm showers and meditative states promote a deepening, a ripening that allows creativity to slip in and implant suggestions for a new direction.

You see, in our brain, action and awareness receive the same signal at the same time, yet action often occurs first because what awareness does with the signal is different.

Unless the event is novel, awareness most often ignores the stimulus and allows the motor functions to happen without intervention—we basically live in autopilot mode.

The fastest signals are called reflexes, awareness has zero involvement here.

The next fastest signals are called reactions, actions that are being repeated, nothing new here either so awareness is again out of the picture.

Next we come to responses and it is here that awareness comes online because there is no specific motor response available and action does not occur or occurs in a rather uncoordinated way. This is the experience of freezing up, without a preplanned action we falter. It is also here that reactions are developed and “re-acted” so it is most critical to have awareness engaged at this point to organize or coordinate a response that is satisfying.

Lastly, we have what is commonly called creativity, or more deeply referred to as Gnosis, and some call it the Tao. The purpose of Gnosis is to aid in the realization of our potential and to train our awareness to be more involved in our everyday activities. When awareness takes more responsibility we have the opportunity to reduce the number of unpleasant experiences in our lives and we also make room for more novel experiences. We begin to embrace the mystery that is all around us waiting to be noticed; the Tao can now be received.

Once we reach the point of noticing without judgment, knowing this is a mystery after all, we can begin to experience unintentional actions not as mistakes but as experiences that result in unique and unexpected outcomes.

These novel experiences, which on occasion can be replicated, often brings a spontaneous joy and childlike wonder; awe is available. The joy of a pleasant surprise often results in an increase in vitality and now, we have come full circle, back to the beginning.

This is what is taught in Part ll of, “The Tao Cannot be Spoken, Only Received” and within these lines I hope to inspire each of us to action, to prompt our elusive muse. Using neuroanatomy we can explore how information travels from the body (Enteric Nervous System) via the Vagus nerve, to the personal mind (brain stem and cerebellum) and further on to action (Sensory Motor Cortex) and awareness (Prefrontal Cortex). The goal being to prime conscious awareness so that we have an opportunity to register action before it actually begins, this is one spectacular side effect of mindfulness.

Quickly shifting gears, remember this is a mystery and an exploration mixed into a…

Within each of us there is a hum, a vibration and this vibration can be described as the aliveness of our cells, the body being a community which is represented as organs, cells and atoms.

Whether we feel this hum, this vibratory sensation, depends on the degree of awareness we possess. It also depends on the degree of vitality or life force that the body generates as a result of healthy functioning communities.

Vitality increases creativity and creativity increases vitality, a potentially unending fuel if nurtured and tended to.

The benefit of awareness seeing the novel event signals alone, without judgment of the rightness or wrongness the goodness or badness, is a reduction in noise and a clearer reception for events that need the attention of awareness.

If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold onto. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve. ~ Laozi

This is the gateway to gnostic knowledge, the key that unlocks the gate is fearlessness and therefore the gate is always open to those who choose to enter.

Exploring the unknown can be as simple as noticing a coffee shop that’s been there for years yet you’ve never been inside or even realized it was there—go in, now. It could be a conversation with a stranger on the street or on the subway. And maybe, just maybe it will be a humming, strumming vibe in your chest or belly, how your breath affects that vibe and whether it is irritating or pleasant.

On a trip to Bali, Indonesia I was having dinner with friends when a great discomfort in my belly compelled me to action. I was uncomfortable with the conversation, or so I told myself, and excused myself from the table. In an attempt to relieve my distress I walked out of the café to the street. Not sure what to do, I decided to smoke and ponder a bit. Leaning back on the fence I began a conversation with my pain that went unanswered. So when going in had no benefit, I opened my eyes to the world and realized I was looking at a poster and my eyes were fixed on these words—embrace the mystery.

And so I have, will you?

PS: That mystery turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me, shortly after I returned home I met someone who became my best friend, who saw me as I could be—and now, I write.


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Author: Lauryn DeGrado

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Wikimedia

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