On the 3 Fundamental Needs We All Have

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There has been a lot of science lately – e.g. Rick Hanson, PhD – behind the development of the three brains that human beings have. That’s right: Not one brain but three!

The oldest and least evolved part of the brain is the reptilian brain. It is responsible for the fight/flight/freeze response and is about survival.

The second evolved brain is the mammalian brain, which is all about touch and relationship.

The last part of the brain to evolve is related to our sense of who we are in the grand scheme of things. It is about the unique contribution only we can make.

What these three brains tell us is that all people have three fundamental needs that have to be addressed:

  1. Security
  2. Connection
  3. Meaning

How are we fulfilling these needs in our own lives and the lives of those around us?

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On Opening to Life

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There is a heartbeat to every relationship, a rhythm that lets us know whether or not we are in tune with Life. When the heart beats close, we have become disconnected from the present moment. We are thinking about what could have been, or we’re thinking about what should happen. We’re not being with the other person.

And yet, like a beating heart, it eventually and inevitably opens back up. The heart of the relationship opens up naturally and effortless to what is right in front of us. That life for which we have been hoping and praying… It’s right in front of us. We just had to stop long enough to just be in it.

Where in my life have I closed my heart to Life? Where in my life can I open up to the Love that is already within me and all around me?

Living in an Interconnected Universe

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In the Buddhist tradition, there is a beautiful metaphor called “Indra’s net.” Indra, the Vedic/Hindu god of the heavens, has hanging above his home a net that stretches to the edges of the Universe. The net connects all things of the Universe. It is like a spiderweb. And when one strikes a part of the spiderweb, the entire spiderweb vibrates.

Such is the Universe in which we live. It is an interconnected Universe. When one part of the multidimensional web is struck, the entire web vibrates.

When one person makes the journey towards the fullest expression of who they are and only as they could be, the entire Universe begins to shift.

From suejames.com

If you’re digging some of the wisdom I’ve shared in this blog post, I invite you to access your personal connection to the Universe with my Jumpstart Your New Year” e-booklet and meditation audios. ($9 through January 31st; normally $18)

On Embracing “I Don’t Know”

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In my post, “On Welcoming the Unknown,” I reflected on how uncertainty is actually a good thing because it means we are treading into territory in which we have yet to inflict a preconceived notion or conditioned response. But when I’m in in the heat of the moment, … when my emotions get the best of me, and the fear of looking stupid and ashamed that I don’t know and don’t have an answer come up, … how does this realization benefit me?

The other half of “I don’t know” is “… but I do know that the answer that I need is already out there and I just to need stay open and engaged.” “I don’t know” is an act of faith in our ability to stay connected to Source. It is declaring that I, in my limited human being have gotten to the edge of what I can do, and I am now trusting Life to guide me to the other side of this.

Be quick to say “I don’t know” because in the vacuum created by my not knowing, Life will fill it with the answer.

On Opening Up to the Higher Self

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One of my favorite stories from Greek mythology is the Titanomachy, i.e. the war between the Titans and the Olympian gods led by Zeus. The Titans, for me, represent a more primal, baser aspect of who we are. It is the force of instinct, the unfathomable strength of Atlas holding up the weight of the world. The Olympian gods are our connection to the Higher Self, the self that has perspective and reason. Interpreted this way, the War of the Titans is the war between the ego and the enlightened self.

The tricky thing is that even the Olympian gods fell prey to their own vanities, in similar ways that the Titans did, believing that the gods did not need anyone else but themselves. Much of Greek mythology tells of the symbiotic relationship between the gods and human beings.

This mythology is a great reminder that, left to my own devices, I can become self-absorbed and dark in my own egoic thoughts. Closing myself off from the world means I’m closing myself off from a higher realm of thoughts and perspectives that might make a difference for me. It is only when there is interplay between my human existence and the higher self that my human existence sees new light.

How am I opening my human self up to my Higher Self?


The Trick to Feeling Alive

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I was telling Jon in a video message to him yesterday that everything felt alive because of the amazing warmth and sunshine the Bay Area received from the mini-heat wave hitting us right now. When I finished that message, I reflected on the powerful work of Brene’ Brown in her book, The Gift of Imperfection. I thought about how she said that we cannot be emotionally selective: When we close ourselves off to pain, we also close ourselves off to joy and all the good things of life.

This is the fundamental challenge of human being: Embracing the fullness of our humanity requires that we accept it all, not just the stuff that makes us feel good. To truly feel alive, we must be with the anger, sadness, and fear, as much as with the peace, connectedness, and love.

All the Way Down

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I’m sad. I miss Jon immensely. I didn’t think that we could get so used to each other in the ten days that he came to visit. Yet, here I am looking at the apartment devoid of his belongings, … and I miss him already. … To put things in perspective, I am deeply grateful that I have him as a partner with whom I have already experienced such growth. So being apart isn’t about something missing from my life; rather, it is about the deep knowing that I share something special and sacred with someone for whom I have grown to have the utmost respect. …

As I sit with this sadness, then, all there is to do is to breathe. And as I breathe, I notice that it occurs regardless of any effort on my part. I follow this breath all the way down, and I remember that this breath is connected to the breath of Life that breathes all things.