The challenge of living into our 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and beyond is to see into the darkness and not be afraid!
I experience the question of our times as being: Since we are mortals all, extravagant in our weaknesses, how can we be inspired, very inspired – today and every day – faced as we are with existential fears, entropy, trapped in time, past wounds, our collective and individual karma and the desire to do what is impossible?
The answer depends on whether we are natural, perfect and designed to savor our experience and thrive or are incomplete, sinful, creatures who must suffer to survive. If the former we live cooperatively, relaxing into expressing that essential perfection. If the latter we are assigned to endlessly crave, add, seek, defend and attack.
“The job of the shaman is to blur all borders and to point toward the horizon, to somehow divert his/her people toward the never-ending, never-failing, manifestation of the mysterious unfolding of truth. Recognizing that in any event, in any moment, and in any place, nothing can be other than the marvelous revelation of the interplay of light.” Gary Z. McGee
This realization has been the transformational moment causing all of our masters and mentors, patriarchs and matriarchs, to experience true freedom and joy beyond comprehension and to then extend tender care, with a worshipping heart, to all beings, beasts and birds, trees and flowers, even rocks and waters.
This realization teaches us, reveals to us, that our daily food and drink, clothes and protections of life, are the very warm flesh and blood, the merciful incarnation of this ever-present living, divine mystery.
Who then can be ungrateful or disrespectful, even to senseless things, as well as to human beings? Even though some may appear to be fools or so-called enemies, we will remember to be expansive, warm and compassionate toward them.
If by chance they should turn against us, abuse and persecute us, we will remember our fearless heart, our path of wisdom, compassion, nonviolence, and skillful means. Before we react, we will consider deeply our personal and collective karma that birthed these conditions and circumstances.
Then, with each moment’s arising flash of our normal feelings, thoughts and breath, we will simultaneously recognize within us a field of pure, expansive awareness, wisdom, compassion and skillful means.” Torei
The more clearly one understands how things endlessly arise and pass away, the more fully we come to realize that the fundamental categories of thought and language are incapable of pinning down the fluid, contingent and sometimes tragic nature of life.
In my tradition one finds the power and self-actualizes by dropping one’s cross. It realizes the only egoless wisdom comes from the body and is achieved by consciously choosing a process like this one:
1. Profoundly let go. Use Radiant Breathing and falling into the natural, until one reaches a state of physical, mental & emotional relaxation – a zero point from which one can literally re-boot one’s system.
2. Recognize and accept that “reality just is what it is” and that savoring it, rather than craving what appears to be missing, tames anxiety and allows us the freedom to act gracefully in accord with the whole without needing to figure it all out, control it, change it or even understand it.
3. Realize nearly every uncomfortable feeling is a messenger from shadow (that which we’ve been convinced to hide, repress or deny about ourself) and that those feelings are driving us to self-sabotage. Habitual feelings and thoughts block us from recognizing our opportunity/responsibility/ability to be empowered in every situation.
4. Recognize that EVERYTHING we want and need is hidden in plain sight and becomes available in due time with patience, gratitude and dis-identification from egoistic desires.
5. Understand that things seem not as they are but show up as a reflection of how we are – which thoughts and feelings we chose to believe. Ideally we choose to focus on thoughts and feelings that direct us toward physical, mental and emotional fitness, connection, expansion, flexibility and resilience.
6. Consistently practice 360° awareness, then focus on what needs to be done and allow the soul’s passion to take effective action in the present moment.
By following this process, we stop being victims of the world and become the world. As the resulting radiant beings we naturally act as empathy, compassion, and love. We become enthusiastic, liberated, independent agents of an interdependent whole. In short: We become present, holistic – able to model and inspire order within the chaos. We begin to recognize within us a field of pure expansive awareness, wisdom, compassion and skillful means.
As Shane Koyczan poetically said, “Rise. As if the sun has taken the day off and hired you as its substitute, leaving behind its lesson plan in a world full of students who can see no practical value in what you are teaching. Teach them anyway. Today’s lesson is the same as every day before it. Because the class has been struggling with this assignment, shine. You must teach this by example. So hand out sunglasses. And do not dim yourself for the sake of their comfort… Remember, some people require more light than others. So make extra.”
The miracle of existence, our awesome embodiment adventure and the objective fact that in many ways circumstances in our world have never been better, is being undermined by a pernicious internal chaos and sense of overwhelm that infects the corporatized world culture. I imagine it as a combination of:
1. Having been convinced life is about commodities rather than communities, competition rather than cooperation – and the resulting materialism, consumerism, narcissism and confusion about how to deal with the fear and discomfort blocking our natural experience of peace, connection and passionate productivity.
2. A pervasive alienation from our natural connection to nature, love, work, soul, joy, freedom our institutions and one another.
3. A media and plutocracy driven fear of impending environmental, terrorist or financial doom which contributes to a sense of victimization, fear, distrust, confusion and self loathing.
We miss the peace of knowing that we are born of the earth and that we are simply one aspect of an ecosystem; and that the other members, the animals and plants . . . are all conscious; and our ignorance and alienation causes suffering.
Instead, we have reduced human experience down to economic terms. We’ve been convinced that our meaning and worth are related to how hard and long we work on behalf of an emotionally oppressive, illusory, economic system.
For a true believer in industrialized capitalism or modern, dogmatic religions – stress is the direct result of being conditioned by this unnatural culture. We believe the grand lie, that there is a hierarchy where some humans are more deserving of opportunity, wealth and even divine love.
I imagine the cultural conundrums alive in our culture are calling out for a profound relaxation “intervention”… a “stress-less” un-doing of our efforts to be exceptional/competitive/brave/stoic in the face of an oppressive stress pandemic… and that once freed of our tension and trying we will naturally return to being connected with nature, our passion, each other and our souls.
This both inspires and requires a deep shift in our ways of feeling and being (ontology) toward the natural, of knowing (epistemology) toward mystery, and of core value frameworks (axiology) toward cooperative community. Once those shift, we will then become quiet, safe and spacious enough inside to show ourselves and one another the sensitivity, respect, playfulness and curiosity we all need to be able to actualize and cooperate – grounded in pleasure and grace.
The Centers for Disease Control reports 90% of doctor visits can be traced back to chronic stress. Alienation, stress, trauma, fear and overwhelm and their symptoms and chronic conditions run rampant in America, and take these all too familiar forms:
Anger and abuse
Back, neck and shoulder pain
Ulcers and other stomach problems
Memory and concentration impairment
Addictions to work, shopping, distractions, drugs
Cirrhosis of the liver
Absenteeism and lost productivity
Immune system deficiency and slower healing
Diseases of aging including, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, certain types of disability, even early death
50% of American adults suffer from one or more of these chronic conditions.
In my judgment, this is the issue of our times. It serves as the root cause for many of the distresses in our culture. Because, just as in individuals, where chronic stress leads to poor judgement, self sabotage, antisocial behavior and all the health conditions listed above – there is a parallel dysfunction happening in and to the culture. In fact, our culture needs a metaphorical time out… An extended vacation communing with nature… More sleep, clean air & water, better nutrition, and a long, loving hug.
I’m served by and promote an antidote to chronic stress I call PleasureStretch – a practice of profound healing through rooted relaxation, a way of shamanic re-membering what is real and then acting gracefully and embodying it passionately. Ask and I will teach it to you.
Coach/Shaman| Journalist/Producer | Yogi/Trainer
Jan Hutchins is a former Mayor of Los Gatos, CA, USA and a long time San Francisco Bay Area television journalist and celebrity. He is currently an executive coach and mentor, Lead Coach of the ManKind Project USA, Mastering the Mature Masculine© Coaching Program and is the co-founder of SocialAgenda Media, a thought leadership consultation business.
Jan’s been a yoga student and teacher for 50 years, covered professional sports for decades and has created a unique exercise system for dealing with the challenges of performing effectively in the modern world. His system teaches you to stop fighting with memories and traumas, break your self-sabotaging habits and create empowered, effectiveness in your personal and business roles.
A Yale graduate (B.A, History), his career has been about transformation and team building. He’s an Emmy award-winning TV journalist, content developer and producer with experience in social media, content marketing, public speaking, business development, government relations and fundraising.
He can help lighten the burdens and stress you carry by accessing your body’s natural wisdom and soon have you living as presence; curious, patient, relaxed and happy.
He’ll teach you to find that flow state where effectiveness arises as grace, focused ease creates productivity and you’ll become your own “body whisperer” – able to heal your aches and pains, handle the challenges of life and even develop an unconditionally loving relationship with yourself and others.
His PleasureStretch Process will:
1. awaken you from self-sabotaging illusions
2. identify and eliminate your blind spots
3. positively reframe your relationship with reality
He’s lived a life of accomplishment (Yale grad, TV celebrity, Mayor of Los Gatos, director for the SF Giants, yoga center owner, professional speaker and life coach) and learned how to thrive rather than strive, balance ease with effort and savor rather than crave.
I’m as healthy a 68 year old as you’ll find and have been mentoring people of all ages for decades.