This lesson is excerpted from Lightning Path Workbook Two: The Healing.
From these and similar observations, we may generalize and say that the average child in our society generally prefers a safe, orderly, predictable, organized world, which he (sic) can count on, and in which unexpected, unmanageable or other dangerous things do not happen, and in which, in any case, he has all-powerful parents who protect and shield him from harm.1
In the last few chapters, we have examined the LP HEALING framework. This framework provides a template or map which you can use to address the things you need to address in order that you might heal and, subsequently, connect.
The advice we provide here is simple. Get help if you need it. Make sure you create a non-toxic environment where you can heal and connect. Address any addictions (toxic attachments) to substances, activities, people, and so on that you may have developed along the way. Learn to be truthful with yourself and others. Examine any ideology that may keep you from moving forward, and understanding, Finally, work towards satisfaction of your seven essential needs. If you do these things, you will build a solid foundation for the healing and connection work you will do.
Once you have built a solid foundation, what’s next? Keeping in mind the limitations imposed on human society by the current System, the next step is what we might want to call Growth Mode. Growth mode is simply a mode of operation of the physical unit where almost all the organic energy (the energy your body uses to live in the world) is directed not at defending against injury, meeting needs, healing damage, covering up lies, fixing your environment, dealing with toxic attachments, and so on, but rather at at achieving full growth and full human potential, as your physical unit was designed to do.
To understand what growth mode is, consider a flower. If you give a flower all the food and water it needs, if you give it lots of sun, if you protect it from pests, if you do not stomp on it, all the biological energy it has will go into growing into a strong and healthy plant with a beautiful, perfect flower on top.
Obviously, putting a flower into growth mode is what every competent gardener tries to do. In growth mode, the flower can become strong and beautiful because all its energy is directed towards manifesting its full potential. Sometimes it does not work out though. Sometimes, there are problems with the soil. Sometimes, the plant gets too much rain, or too little rain, or whatever. When that happens, the flower goes into what we might call Deficit Mode. We can understand deficit mode as simply what happens to a living organism like a flower when
- it does not get all its needs met or
- you expose the organism to some form of assault.
When either of the above occurs, energy that would normally be directed towards growth becomes redirected. When you do not meet an organisms essential needs, a substantial portion of energy goes towards a struggle to meet those essential needs. A flower needs sunlight to grow. If you do not meet a flower’s need for sunlight, for example, it will wilt and die. If you meet only some of its need for sunlight, if you put a plant under low intensity LED lights that do not provide enough light, it will grow tall and spindly as it desperately reaches to be closer to the light source. It will still be a flower, but it will look weak and distorted. Its root structure will be weak, and its flowers will lack lustre and colour.
Similarly, when you expose an organism to assault, then a substantial portion of its energy goes towards protecting itself from assault, and repairing any damage that occurs. If you put a flower out in your garden and it gets stepped on, it might die. If it does not die, it will take a lot of energy to straighten up and rebound. The energy spent on rebounding is energy not directed towards growth. This redirected energy impacts the final outcome. If you step on a plant once, it might recover without too much difficulty. However, if you step on the plant repeatedly, it may continue to bounce back, but like the flower that didn’t get enough sunlight, it will be much smaller and weaker as a result.
The difference between growth mode and deficit mode should feel pretty straightforward at this point, at least when it comes to flowers and other vegetable life forms. It is a little more complicated, however, when you give life legs and let it move around. This is certainly the case for humans. Humans, like all living things, also have a growth mode and a deficit mode. In humans, growth mode emerges when
- Your body is not wasting energy on defence and repair.
- All your essential needs are satisfied.
If you look back over the content of this workbook, you will see that much of the advice is geared towards putting you into growth mode. Creating a safe environment where you are safe from assault, dealing with your addictions, learning to tell the truth, learning to reject ideology and wrong thought, and learning how to satisfy your own needs is all about creating the conditions whereby you can stop wasting energy on defence, repair, or desperate attempts to meet needs, and start directing your energy towards growth.
Just like a flower, when in growth mode, you devote a large portion of your energy to becoming a strong and beautiful human being. In flowers, this means growing healthy roots, healthy stalks, healthy leaves, and beautiful and colourful petals. In humans, this essentially means developing your mind and body (your physical unit) to its fullest potential, so it is strong and can handle and properly express your own Highest Self.
Of course, the question at this point is, how do you develop your physical unit so that it is strong and so that it can handle and express your Highest Self. It is not rocket science and you already have the answer to that question. To develop your physical unit so that it is strong and can handle and express your own Highest Self, you must meet all your essential needs. Get enough rest. Get enough nutritional food. Protect yourself from assault and violence. Make sure you have a partner or friend group that is supportive, nurturing, loving, and non-violent. Focus on the truth. Make sure you are in environments that support your self-esteem and need for healthy power. Work on alignment. Practice connection.
At this point, it should be all pretty straight forward, except perhaps for the last two items, alignment and connection. While humanity understands, for the most part, how to meet physiological, safety, love, truth, and power needs, the same cannot be said for alignment and connection needs. When it comes to alignment and connection, things can be very confused. This is because alignment and connection needs are what you might think of as “spiritual” needs, and these spiritual needs are typically handled within esoteric and exoteric religious frameworks. As I discuss in my Sociology of Religion class,2 religions tend to be corrupted and confused by environment, politics, personal pathologies, and so the advice they give on alignment and connection, if they give it at all, tends to be wrapped up in the politics and personal pathologies of the leaders, priests, and gurus of the religion. The confusion and corruption can be minor and easy to overcome, or it can so bad that it can be used to incite hatred and even genocide.
We are not going to go into detail about the confusion and corruption that surrounds our collective understanding of alignment and connection here. However, because there is considerable confusion, we do need to spend more than a short chapter on presenting, discussing, and clarifying your needs for alignment and connection, and how to satisfy them. We spend this extra time in LP Workbook Three: Connection. There we introduce the LP Connection Framework.3 The LP Connection Framework, like the LP HEALING Framework, is a collection of focus points that you can use to engage in alignment and connection practice. These focus points are things you can think about, and areas that you can work on, to improve your alignment and connection to your own Highest Consciousness. We are not going to talk about these focus points here; however, we can get you started on this next phase by getting you thinking about alignment practice and connection practice.
Alignment Practice is, like the name implies, practice at achieving alignment. Alignment is, as you already know, the extent to which your physical unit is “synced-up” with your Highest Self. You are in alignment when your physical unit does what your Highest Self wants it do to. You are out of alignment when your physical unit does things, like harm others, that your Highest Self does not want it to do. Alignment practice is the process of moving yourself towards greater alignment with your Highest Self. It is a process of becoming more like who you really are, deep inside.
How do you practice alignment? That is the topic of the next workbook, but basic advice is simple enough. Practice doing what makes you feel good. Avoid what makes you feel shame and guilt. Practice doing what you feel is right. Avoid what makes you feel sick and unhappy. Practice doing what makes you feel joy and bliss. Avoid what makes you angry at yourself and others. It is straight forward enough. If playing guitar gives you joy, play guitar. If working as an accountant gives you joy, work as an accountant. If helping others gives you joy, help others. There are very few absolute rights or wrongs here, although there are some. You should not steal from others, for example. You should not exploit workers. You should never kill other people. You should never tell people lies. In other words, never harm other living beings. Beyond these few basic things, however, follow your joy.
Telling you to practice alignment and saying that an aligned act is one that makes you feel good seems like straightforward advice, but achieving alignment can be a challenge because, frankly, there’s a lot of bad advice out there. This bad advice comes from the usual sources, like priests and gurus, but from some surprising places as well, like marketers and the capitalists they work for. The job of marketers, the job of advertisers, is to get you to do things that you do not want to do, that you should not do, that are often bad for you and others in various always, and that are often out of alignment. Christmas advertising is a great example of this. Christmas is a holiday that is bad for the environment, bad for your mental health, and bad for your families. These days it is a corrupted celebration that for many is about little more than unfettered consumerism, waste, and destruction. As currently practised, the solstice holiday teaches children to be consumers and drives adults mad with stress and anxiety. Christmas, as currently practised, is a disjunctive holiday that has very little to do with human spirituality and aligned action and everything to do with supporting a predatory Capitalist system. However, marketers never display the reality of Christmas; they always display a family fantasy that encourages you to pretend while you are purchasing more and more things. In order to make their clients money, marketers push you to do things and to buy things that are often not in alignment with who you are inside. Marketers are powerful and sophisticated and when we give in to their power, we fail in our alignment practice.
Of course, the point here isn’t to bash Christmas. The point is simply to say, practising alignment can be difficult because there are lots of powerful influences that push you away from your alignment goals. Even if you identify what is right for you, even if you say to yourself “I know I should not celebrate Christmas in an unaligned and disjunctive fashion,” you may still have a hard time because you will experience both internal and external resistance to alignment.
Internal resistance is resistance to alignment that comes from you. There are lots of reasons why you might resist acting in a more unaligned fashion. One such reason is that you have unmet needs and acting out of alignment helps you to meet these needs. What kind of unmet need makes you resist changing Christmas to a more aligned holiday? The need for love is one possibility. Giving presents is a nice thing to do and it generally gets you love and appreciation. If you are not getting enough love and appreciation in your life, or if you did not get enough love and appreciation in your childhood, then Christmas can become a very important time to you because it is one of those times in your year where you get the love and appreciation you crave. Of course, using Christmas gift-giving to satisfy your needs for love and attention is not exactly what Christmas is supposed to be about, but that does not matter. You will not think about the hypocrisy of that because you will be too focused on meeting your unmet needs for love. You will also resist changing Christmas because you will not want to lose the opportunity it provides you to meet your unmet needs.
In addition to internal resistance to alignment, you may also experience external resistance. External resistance is resistance to alignment that comes from outside. We can use the Christmas holiday as an example here once again. If you try to change Christmas into a more sustainable and aligned celebration, you are going to experience a lot of external resistance from parents, siblings, friends, teachers, and so on. Many people are not going to like your critical commentary about Christmas. They are going to try change your mind, or at least shut you up, and probably not in a nice way. You will try to challenge their consumerism, their waste, their gluttony, and they will put you down, ridicule you, and even ostracize you.
Why do you experience external resistance to alignment? Why do people resist? For the same reasons you do. One reason why people might not want to change their Christmas behaviour is because it selfishly meets their needs. Another reason they might resist is for ideological reasons, because they have been thoroughly indoctrinated by marketers and others into believing that consumerism is spiritual. Our family just watched a Christmas show, Klaus. It was a good movie, but it unabashedly propped up gift giving as a psychological and spiritual good. Klaus and similar movies infused gift-giving as the solution to human misunderstandings, grief, loss, and alienation, but it is not. Klaus and similar movies further distort gift-giving by making consumerism the symbol for attachment to your family, and joy. Again, it is not. The distortion is so bad in the end that Christmas becomes about giving and getting the most stuff, and it shows in the struggles, stress, and fighting.
All Christmas movies, and all Christmas advertising, attach spiritual and psychological significance to the giving of gifts. In so doing, they create an ideological framework that says, essentially, that consumerism is a spiritual practice. This makes it very hard to argue against the practice because if you do, you are a scrooge. The ideology of Christmas is a very powerful prop that not only encourages people to defend the consumerist practice, but also gives them the ammunition they need to do it. Everybody who has seen a Christmas Carol knows that nobody wants to be called a scrooge.
Christmas is just one example of the type of internal and external resistance you can get when you try to act in more aligned fashion. The examples could proliferate. Consider the #metoo movement. Women and men who speak out against sexual harassment and toxic culture are working to create more aligned spaces. When they speak out, they experience both internal and external resistance. Internal resistance comes from self-doubt and damage done by the toxic socialization process we all endure. Internal resistance is all the negative and disempowering self-talk we engage in that prevents us from making change. External resistance comes from a patriarchal culture which views sexual assault and violence against others as an entitlement. When you speak out against a toxic culture at work, when you stand up against sexual harassment and assault, you get push back and resistance from those who are guilty of the act themselves, or who have bought into the ideology of patriarchy which excuses this sort of behaviour.
There are lots of different reasons why you might resist acting in a more aligned fashion, and why you might struggle in your alignment practice, and we will talk about this more in LP Workbook Three. At this point, you have enough to think about. When you meet all your less spiritual needs and start your alignment practice, you are going to experience resistance. If you want to make progress forward, you need to be prepared for that.
As noted, when your physical unit goes into growth mode, you start spending more and more of your energy on alignment and connection practice. Alignment is process of syncing yourself up with highest self and alignment practice is the practice of such. If you think of this using an automobile metaphor, alignment is the process of making sure tires are filled, making sure oil is in the car, making sure the tank is filled with gas, making sure coolant is in place, making sure all gears are working properly, etc. What happens when all that work is done? When the car is tuned up and everything is in order, you “make the connection.” You turn the ignition key, start the engine, and give it some power. You press the gas and you go out driving on the road.
Turning on the key and pressing the gas pedal is an apt analogy for connection because this is exactly what you do with your physical unit. When you make a connection with your physical unit, you are turning the ignition key and stepping on the gas. When you do that, you give power to the physical unit.
How do you turn the ignition key of your physical unit? Intent, basically, coupled with some connection practice and, if you are so inclined, connection supplements to help facilitate the connection.
Intent is basically you saying you want to do it. Something like “I want to make a connection with my Highest Self” or “I want to draw Consciousness into the body” will do. If you are more of a visual person, you can facilitate connection using a visualization like Water Glass Visualization.4 To do this visualization, simply imagine water filling a glass. Now imagine that the water glass is your physical body and that the water pouring into the glass is consciousness. This visualization immediately starts the process in a slow and controlled fashion.
For reasons explained in LP Workbook Three, the Water Glass Visualization, or simple intent, works to initiate connection. These are low key processes that give you a soft connection and that work gently over time. If you want to move faster, you can avail yourself of Connection Appliances or even Connection Supplements.
Connection appliances are, like the name suggests, appliances that can help you make a stronger connection. There are several connection appliances you can use. You can use things like mindfulness apps, Tibetan singing bowls, and even archetype cards, like the Triumph of Spirit Archetype System, to help speed up and strengthen the process. There is a list of connection appliances available on the SpiritWiki page.5
For those wanting to speed up the process, connection appliances are often used with various Connection Practices. A connection practice is any practice that helps you make a stronger connection. This practise includes things like cocooning, drumming, fasting, Holotropic Breath Work,6 and so on and so forth. You can find a list of connection practices on the associated SpiritWiki page.7
Finally, if you really want to jump start the healing, growth, and connection process, you can use Connection Supplements. Connection supplements are exactly that, supplements that help you make a stronger connection. These include all sorts of natural substances, like cannabis, psilocybin, etc., which open up pathways in the brain that allow for higher connection. This also includes certain synthetic substances, like LSD for example. We would not include cocaine, heroin, opiates or other such drugs in the same category. You can find a list of connection supplements on the associated SpiritWiki page.8
What happens when you make a connection, either the soft connection you make with simple intent, or the stronger ones you can get when you use connection appliances, practices, and supplements? Consciousness pours in and the body powers up. When that happens, you have to practice. Nobody gets into a car for first time just drives. You have to practice. To practice driving, you usually have a guide, a teacher, in the passenger seat. With your teacher there you press the gas pedal a little bit and drive forward slowly. As you practice, you get a feel for it. You learn to turn corners, you learn to park, you learn to drive safe, and so on and so forth. Learning to drive takes practice.
Like driving a car, learning to be connected also takes practice. The only difference between driving practice and connection practice is that learning to be connected takes a lot more practice and there is a lot more involved.
What does connection practice involve?
That’s complicated and we talk more about it in LP Workbook Three. Here we can say that connection practice is exactly like practising guitar. When you practice guitar, you are doing three things. You are programming your brain, rewiring your neurology, and developing your muscles. When you practice guitar, your brain changes. When you practice guitar, you create new pathways in your brain and these pathways improve your abilities. Your muscle coordination improves, your listening skills improve, and so on. When you practice guitar, your muscles change as well. They strengthen and, coupled with neurological development, fine motor coordination improves. The neurological and muscle development that occurs when practising guitar is the same for every single human skill, from downhill skiing to programming computers to making a connection to your own higher Consciousness. When you practice connection, you are rewiring your brain. Practising connection leads to neurological development, strengthening of your intellectual and spiritual “muscles,” development of your ability to discern, changes in your life habits, and so on and so forth.
Once again, connection practice is a big topic which we will discuss in more detail in Lightning Path Workbook Three. Before moving on to that, here are a few additional things to think about and consider.
Number one, just like a single experience behind the wheel of a car will not make you into a professional race car driver, a single connection experience, or even a dozen, will not make you a guru or avatar no matter how profound your experience. And this goes even if you experienced total enlightenment or Nirvana or whatever. A single practice session does not make you an expert, it only makes you an “initiate.” If you want to be an expert, you have to practice connection.
Number two, connection practice requires discipline. My own personal practice for the past ten years or so has involved getting up every morning, usually around 5:00 a.m., making a connection, and writing. Writing is my way of practising connection. When I write, I take the ideas that come from connection and think about, research, and express them. This process is connection practice. Note, this isn’t just an intellectual process as sometimes. Especially in the early days, I was learning not only to process and integrate the ideas and insights that flowed from connection, but also how to handle the powerful Consciousness that I (that we all) connect to when we open our connections wide.
Of course, you do not have to get up every morning at 5:00 a.m. and practice connection like I do, but you do have to engage in regular, disciplined, practice. Gina, for example, practices connection when she is working with clients. When she works with them, she working a connection that helps her find out who they are, what their strengths and weaknesses are, what it is they need immediately in order to move forward and heal.
Whether you are writing in the morning, practising connection as part of human service, or writing music, or whatever, does not matter, as long as you practice. You can do it during the course of your regular daily life, by taking fifteen-minute “mindfulness breaks” for example, or you can do it during specialized connection sessions, three times a week or so. During connection sessions you would isolate yourself in a cocoon (a safe place where you will not be interrupted) and practice connection, using a connection appliance, practice, or supplement. You will need to explore this. Find a system, a supplement, an appliance, or a practice that works for you and do that.
And keep in mind, the point in these final few words of this workbook is not to provide detailed guidance on connection practice, the point is to say that once you start, it is important to be regular and disciplined about it. Whether that is getting up at five in the morning, taking regular mindful breaks throughout the day, or engaging in regular connection sessions from the safety of your private cocoon does not matter. What matters only is that you engage in regular and disciplined connection practice. If you do not, if you engage in connection practice for a while but stop, or only give it a few minutes here and there, then just like practising guitar, skill development will be slow, and any skills you do develop will degrade every time you stop practising.
Finally, number three, connection practice isn’t an all or nothing sort of affair. Connection practice is a variable process and a learning experience. Sometimes your connection will be weak and gentle, as it is during mindfulness practice. Other times, your connection will be strong and you will get glimpses or even gushes of a powerful cosmic Consciousness “on the other side.” Similarly, the ideas that come to you will differ. Sometimes the ideas and insights will involve personal healing and personal insight. At other times, the ideas and insights will be about the universe, creation, and so on. Sometimes, connection will be joyful and empowering. At other times, connection might make you realize you have done harm to others, and this might lead to incredible pressure to make amends, i.e. atone. It really is a mixed bag and when you start your connection practice, you should be prepared for that.
To summarize, in this unit we have talked about the difference between growth mode and deficit mode. Deficit mode is a mode of operation of the physical unit whereby most of your available energy goes into protecting your physical unit from assault, repairing damage done, and meeting unmet needs. On the other hand, growth mode is a mode of operation whereby most of your energy goes into growth and development. This mode engages naturally when you are not wasting energy on meeting needs, defence, or repair.
What do you spend your energy on when you are in growth mode? Lots of different things. When in growth mode, you are developing your artistic abilities, your intellectual abilities, your bodily strength, and so on. When in growth mode you also, ideally, work on alignment and practice connection.
1Maslow, “A Theory of Human Motivation,” 378.
6Grof and Grof, The Stormy Search for the Self: A Guide to Personal Growth Through Transformational Crises.