The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.
~ Albert Einstein
Can you believe that Albert Einstein said this more than sixty years ago? He actively resisted the norms and conventions of the times the moment he set foot in school and was not at all the studious, respected, and nerdy scientist I'd imagined him to be.
Albert was a rebel, a brave, renaissance man with plenty of flaws and imperfections, and a passionate trailblazer who was way ahead of his time. In Genius, the fascinating National Geographic series of his life, his equally brilliant wife, Mileva, greatly influenced his thinking but as a woman living in suffocating, early-twentieth century patriarchal Europe, never received the recognition she deserved.
None of Mileva's struggles sounded foreign, but much to my surprise, her life's circumstances and fate resonated less with me than Albert's inner conflict at this juncture in my life. This was a big thing for me to realize, especially as an immigrant and woman of color. We spend so much time examining the glass cages and ceilings that still oppress us that we often don't realize how far we've come. By the time we do, we've run out of mental space, bandwidth, energy, and time to optimally mine our greatest resource: our intuitive mind and creative resilience. Without meaning to, we may end up undermining our own potential.
Given our intergenerational history of oppression, we can't imagine breaking free from our social cages without all hell breaking lose. It's hard to trust that we'll be able to handle whatever happens and that discovering our potential in chaos unchains our soul's purpose. Even Albert endured significant pushback that at times made his life a living nightmare. He was early in his career ostracized, kicked out of the home, ridiculed, misunderstood, judged, and accused of being foolishly preoccupied with off-beat "indulgences" and not invested enough in the advancement of his career and the sciences.
His wife, Mileva, who was restricted to childcare and homemaking—which were the areas she was least skilled and interested in—could only dream of getting to tackle such luxurious problems: questioning institutionalized rigidity and sexism within the educational system, having time and energy to pursue intuitive inklings and curiosities, taking risks and making new discoveries of value instead of seeking peer approval, professional accolades, and lavish compensation.
After getting absorbed in these episodes, I now want, more than anything, to honor and thank all the women like her whose creativity and brilliance were squashed into oblivion. Through their trials and tribulations, they made it possible for me and all of us women to stand on their shoulders despite wading chin deep in quicksand and hardly able to stand up themselves. I realize that so many of our concerns and hang-ups as women and minorities of all shades and colors today are often complicated and intensified by unresolved psychological trauma more so than any real danger or threat to our physical safety. We still experience the ruffling of feathers as life and death dilemmas (and they still are in certain cases, but not all) because social acceptance and approval have historically been so closely linked to our survival.
It's time for us to quantum leap from these self-imposed limitations and reclaim our true power and creative resilience. We can and need to divert the destructive madness and bubbles of terror that the looney tunes in our country and world are trying to trap us into. Tonight's potent Super New Moon falls in the air sign of Gemini and can help us to explore our thoughts and reprogram them differently in this new cycle that will be followed up by another super new moon in June.
What kind of thinking needs an overhaul? Conventional knowledge and wisdom states that we are at the mercy of our ancestors' genes and flight fight freeze response that's hardwired in our amygdala, well-known as our brain's "fear center." Because of this, we've been taught to believe that we have no choice but to be fearful and anxious about life's many uncertainties and pitfalls.
However, this notion of a fear center may be simplistic and incomplete.
"A more accurate view, say William Cunningham of Ohio State and Tobias Brosch of NYU, is that the amygdala appraises the world much more broadly, looking not just for threats but for anything that might be important to furthering one's goals and motivations. Fearsome stimuli might indeed be relevant-almost certainly are-but so too might unusual, interesting, ambiguous and even positive stimuli, depending on the person and the situation. In short, uncertainty is more arousing than what's familiar."
It appears that these brain researchers are also ready to make a quantum leap to help us live in accordance with our more nuanced and complex human mind. Their research is challenging mainstream, culture-bound beliefs about ourselves and our true potential. Can you imagine feeling confident and empowered by the idea of having more choices and options beside feeling afraid and anxious, even in uncertain and precarious situations?
I gathered first-hand evidence of this possibility twenty years ago at Awarradam, a Maroon village deep in the jungle of Suriname. The villagers were surrounded by all kinds of life threatening danger, similar to what we imagine our ancestors to face on a daily basis. However, they were amused by our existential anxiety, and didn't understand the concerns that we, Westernized Surinamese people who were living in the capital, Holland, or the US, had about piranhas, crocodiles, poisonous frogs, snakes, and river rapids.
They believed that we have no control over the mysterious time of our death. That was not in our hands and not something to spend valuable energy thinking about. Also, they didn't get how being afraid would help us. The last thing you'd want to do if concerned about being attacked by a wild animal is emanate fear or aggression. The more calm and optimally alert you remain, the greater the chances of not causing a stir, protecting yourself, or escaping unharmed.
The theory that our current neurosis and modern-day anxiety is the overactive and adaptive residual of our ancestral survival instincts in life-threatening situations has some holes. This is what I think is really going on. From a metaphysical perspective, you can think of anxiety and depression as stemming from our modern-day "spiritual crisis." Rather than paying attention to guidance from our inner mystic—our wise, soulful voice—, we let our inner critic—our overprotective, logical mind—run the show.
Most quick-fix anxiety treatments don't get the job done because they don't target the heart of the problem—our deep disconnection from our true nature and the larger mystery within and around us. When we deeply listen to and honor our self and our souls, our entire being and body relaxes and feels taken care of. We increase our level of trust in ourselves, in others, and in the Universe, and co-create a reality that's rooted in abundance, inner peace, and love rather than in scarcity, constant threat, and fear.
Loraine Van Tuyl, PhD, CHT, holistic psychologist, shamanic healer, Depth Hypnosis practitioner, and author, is happiest when exploring how the natural world relates to our true nature in healing sessions, on the page, and in her journeys and dreams. She has guided visionaries, educators, holistic healers, and master- and doctoral-level psychotherapists from the Native American Health Center, the UC Berkeley Counseling Center, the Space Clearing Society of the Sacred Stream, and at her private practice, the Sacred Healing Well, where she seamlessly weaves modern psychotherapeutic and ancient practices into her holistic approach. Her creative outlets these days involve providing culturally-sensitive mental health resources to the Healing the Waters Within online community in service of Standing Rock Water Protectors and designing Learning to Be (a) Well retreats for nature wisdom keepers to complement her debut memoir, Amazon Wisdom Keeper: A Psychologist's Memoir of Spiritual Awakening (October, 2017).
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