In September 2001, I was 37 and married with two children—both girls, a six-year-old and a two-year-old. We lived at parks, swimming pools, and, when it was too hot, the kids section of the Barnes and Noble. I was busy creating a grand life for some lucky kids who were going to get the childhood they deserved (I hope you hear some absurdity here).
The morning of 9/11, I had just returned from dropping off the children at school and was stepping out of the shower when I saw that the first WTC had a substantial hole in it. By 10 am in Houston, I was headed back to their schools to pick them up. I was stuck in gridlock, watching the skyline for rogue aircraft, when Dan Rather came on my easy listening station to say that the Pentagon had been attacked as well.
In less than three hours, the world changed from a normal September morning to war. I was in shock, but I “felt fine.” We all made it home safely. A few days later, my world ended. My delusional state, fueled by the stories I told myself about my world, ceased for good.
The girls and I headed to the grocery store on our normal run—ride the fiberglass pony out front, spend 30 minutes in the cereal aisle, and hopefully get some ingredients for supper. After I parked and began the “pre-departure from the minivan sequence,” the tiniest voice in the car asked me, “What about this building, Mama?”
I asked, “What, honey?” What she finally asked, in toddler speak, was, “Are the bad people going to fly a plane into this building while we are in there and blow us off the face of the Earth, Mama?” The terrorists were in her head at two and a half years old.
There is no parent manual, college curriculum, or Hollywood movie that can prepare you for that moment when you feel the exquisite pain of your body awakening from profound powerlessness. We call it rage. I was certain the terrorists had stolen my children’s childhoods. It felt like they had just killed them. It felt like I wanted to die. I felt like I now wanted to attack! It was insanely powerful, and I’m truly surprised it didn’t end up killing me.
The pains of the body are wildly unpredictable and irrational—at least, that’s how we feel when we live semiconsciously. The exquisite pain of rage pushed against a spiritual blockage that helped unearth my own self-denial. It forced me to get help, too. This is what spiritual blockages feel like when they awaken. I define spiritual blockages as ideas that we refuse to look at anymore. They are usually caused by corrupted ideas from childhood and pain lurks near them. They are manifestations of mind–body chaos that form over many years, growing (festering) the longer we live without addressing them.
All emotional responses to spiritual blockages are signs of healing combined with resistance to healing—both happen at the same time. This is why they feel painful. They are markers of a shift within. Emotional responses are the manifestation of the inner struggle of whether to stay in self-denial or to allow knowing—consciousness. Emotional responses are ultimately designed to move you into consciousness, where there is no pain or resistance to knowing. There is simply bliss.
Emotional pain is not power itself; the pain is the manifestation of the mind–body blockages of power. Rage is the most powerful emotion I’ve experienced. When we feel emotional unrest or pain and we choose self-denial, we then need our mind to justify the feelings. The mind makes up more stories of powerlessness for us and then involves itself in making plans because of the powerless feelings that are the hallmarks of self-denial. Many times rage turns to moral outrage before we can process our emotions.
Call some Senators, buy some extra food. I’ve done both of these, myself. Get some pepper spray, maybe learn karate. Guns. Extra batteries. Many times, we will self-medicate, compensate, and simply continue to hate trying to keep the feelings down, constantly containing them and rationalizing them. Mainly, we continue the illusion that we are fine and that we can keep the world from harming our families and our perfect children.
Three weeks ago, I launched my website on the day of another mass shooting on a college campus in America. Another one. As I was preparing this blog, another shooting on a college campus. A second in a week’s time. In the same week, I also endured two personal emails from my child’s college with the words “FBI,” “alert,” “terrorist,” and “threats” in them.
The world into which our children were born is one where people fly planes into buildings with the intent to kill and destroy. These events are not things we could explain away as stunts in a movie or stories in a fictional book. Our children were born into a world under attack. Our highly sanitized, collective response to the terrorist attacks has been to kill in order to protect the children—to attack back.
The destabilization of society from the events of 9/11 has had profound spiritual and psychological effects on the way we parent and interact with one another. No community institution is safe, because of our inherent feelings of powerlessness and the subsequent desire to attack and destroy so that we can, ironically, feel safer.
We have witnessed the categorical attacks on every form of traditional, institutional power as a response to our powerless feelings. We continue to endure attacks in schools, from colleges down to the schools whose children still need assistance putting on their tiny shoes.
We’ve endured attacks on religious institutions. Claim a religion at a party and watch people’s faces shift before your eyes. For our government leaders, we’ve engineered a special hell called a 24-hour news cycle to destroy them before the world. If you’re a “top one-percenter,” you and your corporations are simply evil. And God help you if you’re a Kardashian.
Get a gun. Drone strike. Sanitize, as if we can Purell the world like we clean our hands.
I’ve felt it. We just want it to stop. It feels completely justified in the moment. Yet, we are continuing the cycle of self-denial and pain. We are going in circles. This is a very familiar and very different terror than in 2001. It is Ground Zero 2015.
The spiritual practice for any form of spiritual unrest or emotion is to do nothing when you feel powerless (except seek professional help for any form of pain) until you know what you are doing is not perpetuating pain for yourself or others. .
If you can master this, you will feel worthy of the abundance you’re given.
When you find yourself feeling as if there’s nothing you can do, or there’s nothing left to do, you will know exactly what to do. Within the profoundly powerless thoughts are the elegant clues to something you’re already seeking, yet in many ways blocking: Zero State, the enlightened state.
When we become emotionally unstable, we have a choice to further perpetuate harm or to heal. It is what we do and don’t do in these moments that will map the trajectory of our lives. These are the profound moments that can return us to Zero State if we so choose.
The spiritual practice out of these endless perpetual cycles of chaos and attack is to allow all the feelings that arise from emotional unrest and then refuse to aim them at someone. This is the exact moment, the instant we birth consciousness: Zero. Delusions unravel, divine comprehension returns—we return to our home state, our normal state, Zero.
The emphasis here is to find a healthy outlet for the feelings so that the mind does not make plans around the discomfort or become alienating. I needed lots of help with this. I encourage you to get every kind of support you can along these lines if you feel out of emotional control.
Do nothing—until you know what to do.
This will be the last thing you want to do. It’s not a coincidence that the word “emotion” has “motion” in it. When we have spiritual blockages, the awakening of spirit combined with the spiritual blockages feels like pressure to move. Doing nothing is really about giving yourself permission not to know until you know. And you’re allowed to move!
I call this process walking benevolently. It is the walk to consciousness, where we learn to walk the Earth without creating pain for self or others. This is really hard at first, and ironically, it is the only thing we are ever trying to do. We are benevolent beings. Self-hate magnifies when we harm.
The day of the recent Oregon mass shooting, once again, I thought I was fine. I picked up my child from school and tried to hug her (compensating). She knew there was a problem—I destabilized her. Mom’s upset. I sprinkled anxiety on her from a hug. I found myself throwing daggers to my husband for not using the remote control fast enough—then erupted because he was using closed captions (who does this?). I was clearly destabilized by the shooting event and aimed it in destabilizing ways at my small world.
These moments happened before I was aware of my internal discomfort. It was only after the events that I could see what was going on. I have school-age children. To hear of other people’s children being killed and traumatized at school is like looking at the sun. Even a glimpse of this feels like it can destroy you. Yet we have to look at this stuff because it is already destroying us. We can climb out of our reactivity when we practice. We can make amends if need be. We will learn to forgive.
Healing from the feelings of powerlessness is about recognizing these Ground Zero moments. Every uncomfortable moment is an opportunity to heal and ascend—become conscious again. There is a trajectory-changing posture that we unearth through this practice, because we see exactly what has been done, feel exactly what has been done and refuse to aim it at anyone else. It is the most powerful posture in the universe—IT IS SPECTACULAR. It is the Divine Posture, Zero.
As you can see from my example, if we do not address our spiritual blockages, the unrest and attacks will seep into our world like butter melts into a biscuit. We actually create and perpetuate the exact opposite thing we want for ourselves, destabilizing our children and loved ones in an attempt to take care of them.
We will heal the wounds of yesterday by participating in seven billion tiny moments as a collective when we choose to heal our own unique mind–body state, one moment at a time in our own homes (or with lots of help from support systems far and wide). This is how we end all forms of attacks on the world. The moment we really look at our pain and choose no harm, we will literally do nothing and understand we are changing the world. It will feel as if we just saved the world. Clarity and a calm you scarcely remember return. This is the bigger place within you that you’ve not opened in a while. This is transcendence.
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