Howling at the moon is an analogy for describing clear and heart-centered communication established with yourself first and then extended to another.
Am I standing on my head or does the world just seem upside down? There was yet another school shooting in the USA, this time in Florida.
~ Sending love to all those impacted and suffering.
It is Valentine’s Day 2018, a hallmark date for love and romance. Many believe the roots of the February holiday originated with the Pagan ritual and Roman pastoral festival Lupercalia, named for the fertility she-wolf, Lupa, who nursed Romulus and Remus of Rome. What does the wolf have to teach us about love and living? Or do I have it upside down? Just six months ago, after the Las Vegas shooting, the mainstream media called out the white privilege of the ‘Lone Wolf’ shooter as a labeled shadow archetype. Wolves are a common motif in the mythologies of people from the northern hemisphere. Stories of the big bad wolf, werewolves linked with lunacy, and wolves being associated with witchcraft are commonplace in European folklore. With this legacy, it doesn’t surprise me that a shooter would be called a wolf. Thought to be dangerous creatures to humans and livestock, wolves were hunted and killed by ranchers in the US until their numbers plummeted to a mere fifty wild wolves. Fortunately, due to conservation and wolf reintroduction efforts by people like Jim and Jamie Dutcher, who tackle these negative myths, the current day population is in the thousands.
However dark the tales of wolves are told, there are other more revered stories, especially of native peoples. In North America for instance, many tribes revere the wolf as the creator of the Earth. In either case the wolf has been portrayed as a powerful creature. There is much wolf lore to consider as we explore the human psyche, because the tales we tell reference our own journeys.
I personally think wolves have something compelling to teach us about heart connections and reintegration in a world so plagued by oppression and violence. I think we all need to be a lone wolf for a period, to explore our inner world and find our voice, our power. However, the key element is reintegration back into the pack after this exploration and empowerment. It seems that we have a problem in society: an epidemic of isolated lone wolf archetypes that never connect and reintegrate into the pack. They get stuck in the heart of darkness. Before I introduce wolf medicine and healing from the heart, I’ll first tell a story about disconnection.
In May of 1999, a gunman opened fire at Heritage High School in Conyers, GA, USA. At the time I was working for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. I was on an errand in my borrowed Law Enforcement Vehicle, which gave me access to enter the blockaded area, even though I told the officer on duty I’d be fine turning around. Inevitably, I saw the emergency vehicles and media vans on site. As an empath, I sensed the state of crises and chaos. I felt secondary trauma, meaning I experienced minor shock thinking about and feeling the first-hand trauma of those who witnessed the shooting. I went back to work that day a bit shook up and shared the experience with my colleagues. I will never forget the response of one of my coworkers. Having already heard the story on the local news, he had his opinion ready. Without any sympathetic acknowledgment to my emotional state, he fired-off his disgust, snarling, “All Buddhists and Atheists should be removed from our country, that is what caused this shooting.” I was in such a fragile state that I couldn’t respond to his ridiculous remark. I just ignored him and went home overwhelmed by all the hate, judgment and violence in the world. This example is merely one of many stories of compounded ill-treatment and misplaced blame I’ve witnessed as a healer and life coach.
Over the years I’ve been engaged in conversations and actions to create a stronger sense of community around learning how to communicate about, heal from and respond to trauma, crises, and assault. In general, those of us in Western society are not trained to deal with our hurts, nor are we taught to deal with the emotional injuries of others. In a TEDMED talk, Nadine Harris speaks about childhood trauma and shares that even the former President of the American Academy of Pediatrics proclaims, “adverse childhood experiences (trauma) are the single greatest unaddressed public health threat facing our nation.” All too often our mental and physical injuries define us and others as fixed conditions, with fixed causality. It is easy to blame the perceived perpetrators of our own or someone else’s suffering. The alleged assault compounds when we use language laced with oppression, as we label and identify with perceived conditions, learned as societal norms, based on race, sex, class, ableism, or even founded on the biased assumptions we make about the motivations of others. We often do this unconsciously.
Language significantly impacts our day-to-day lives. Communication is a wand, a weapon, and a wheelbarrow, among other instruments that shape our reality. Dr. Habib Sadeghi says, “Words are potent tools that we can use to uplift our energy and improve our lives, though we’re often not conscious of the words we speak and read.” This article serves as a collection of diverse tools and considerations for mindfully shifting our language towards a clearer communication style that creates more harmony and connection. My research, though comprehensive in breadth, is meant to catalyze for further consideration in depth. We can succeed at these mindful transformations while also stacking functions by healing the wounds of our soul’s journey and being accountable to our emotional responses to reality. Don Miguel Ruiz says, “Your word is the power that you have to create.” It is critical to own our responsibility for this creative energy.
Our thoughts and words are seeds planted in the garden of our consciousness. If these seeds contain judgment, worry, blame, hate or pain, then toxins will spread. Thich Nhat Hanh says, “a lot of our thinking is caught up in dwelling on the past, trying to control the future, generating misperceptions, and worrying about what others are thinking.” When taking a peaceful step beyond the power of manifestation, mindful communication dramatically benefits the collective consciousness. I read Thich’s book on The Art of Communication, which focuses on how mindful communication can ease suffering in the world. He explains how reconciliation and the alleviation of pain from within, are possible through mindfulness. Conscious and clear communication becomes magnified when we bring compassion into our communities. Serendipitously, communication and communities share the same Latin root meaning, to share.
Into the Heart of Darkness
Before we share in connecting with and healing as a community, I think it’s essential that we go on a solo journey into the heart of darkness. Some may call this shadow work. Carl Jung defined the shadow self as the unconscious mind. We have access to various forms of internal reflection to work with the shadow. During a standing movement shadow work meditation, as I was contemplating my purpose and power within community engagement, two wolves came up and stood at my side overlooking a vast field. As the wolves sat their hind legs onto the earth, my entire being became anchored on a passage of self-love, a renewed commitment to holding space for the healing of our planet, and a knowingness that the path forward was an interconnected journey that began within my heart. Once I accepted this mission, the field transformed into a picture of me standing with other healers spread out geometrically over Washington D.C. The energy of a pack of wolves calmly observing their territory, forming an image of a unified whole, was an overlay on the capital of the United States.
Native American and Celtic customs regard wolf medicine as a way to find one’s inner knowing and intuition. The wolf is the teacher, friend, pathfinder, path keeper, and guardian of old knowledge. Across the world, the wolf symbolizes loyalty, diplomacy, self-confidence, and a balance between harmony and discipline, freedom and community, and instinct and intelligence. The wolf knows its boundaries yet understands intricate networks, complex order, and cooperation. The wolf pack has a stable social structure, yet the individual wolf is very much a free spirit. The wolf is a symbol of fierce loyalty to family and community, while at the same time wild individualism, as wolves do not give up their unique identity to the pack. Wolves go out of their way to avoid conflict and serve as spiritual mediators. The wolf represents a balance of resolving struggles within the self and community, and harmony between solidarity and the social path. A scientist might be aghast at my ascribing emotions and mythology to a wolf or other animal, but I’m not a scientist. Therefore, I’ll happily indulge in sharing the cultural traditions of lore, mythology and my own wildness.
To understand the self, I think it’s imperative to be the lone wolf for a short period of time. The lone wolf ventures undeterred by the beliefs and views of others to learn about the workings of the inner self, while gathering the power and strength needed to face and embrace our deepest fears. Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes uses powerful stories as innate cultural wisdom and metaphor for helping the divine feminine get back in touch with her lost natural self. She says that the wild woman engages within each of us: “Within every woman, there lives a powerful force. Filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing.”
Kevin Costner called his acclaimed film Dances with Wolves a journey movie, about a man seeking the frontier and the unknown, as a lone wolf himself. He goes to the edge to be a part of something civilized and ends up facing his shadows and the collective shadows of the human psyche. His loneliness, disconnect, and disappointment in his military post turns his attention inwards, where he finds himself. After a period of going wild, similar to the main character in the book The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, he awakens to his true self and also profoundly reconnects with people and nature. This reintegration and connection back into an ecological and social context is critical to the health of the lone wolf and their place in society. Both Costner and Conrad take a look at the journey of self-discovery in response to humanity’s fragmented and tormented isolated individualism set within the constructs of colonialism. Both also critique the notion of being ‘civilized’ with its disconnect from nature and community, while addressing issues of racism and the conquest of nature by the ‘state’ in a way comparable to Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience.
There are two relevant points of disconnection in our current day society. They are equally responsible for and linked to the same problem of ecological and social discord. The first is the overly civilized and socially conditioned selves that fear the lone wolf within while living a mediocre tamed existence dependent on societal norms and manipulated and limited by them. This self-shuns wildness. The other disconnect is the feral isolated schizophrenic self-lost in the darkness. There are many layers of this in society. One is the apparent angry shooter from the opening scene. He who is taking out his sense of disconnection on society by murdering others. Another type is the person who refuses to interact with the community and lives in isolation due to fear. Finally, there’s the isolated part of ourselves that occasionally feels lost in the darkness. Society provides little assistance for reintegrating these pack members when they are fragmented.
When we trace our ancestry back, we are all native to this planet and the wild, rustic individual. We can simultaneously connect to all life, despite our domestication. It’s imperative that we learn how to integrate, embrace and embody the lone wolf within ourselves, so we can heal our own hearts and then share a howl with the pack, calling the other fragmented lone wolves lost in the darkness home. A healthy individual is both a self-empowered being and an integral part of the pack.
The wolf and its medicine symbolizes the socially and ecologically connected part of ourselves. The concepts of running and dancing with wolves dignify the wildness and wholeness within us. We need to step momentarily away from the pack to find this self-love and confidence and then emerge as the most actualized self, stepping back into becoming a productive, contributing member of the team and as a co-evolutionary of consciousness on the planet.
The Heart of the Matter
How does the lone wolf continue to go within, while successfully merging back with the pack? For those of you familiar with the yogic chakra system, the heart is in the center chakra and serves as the connection between self and the collective consciousness. The wolf remains present with this compounded context as it moves the energy up to the fifth throat chakra and higher mind, as it communicates with the pack. I’ll name it the heart’s howl.
Some scientists call the heart a mini-brain, with its 40,000 sensory neurons communicating information to the brain from the heart via the nervous system, heart hormones, blood pressure waves, and electromagnetic fields. The heart sends more information and energy to the rest of the body than any other organ, even the brain. This activated pathway means that we can learn, remember, and make decisions independent of the brain. Joel Kahn, MD. says, “The heart emits an electrical field 60 times greater in amplitude than the activity in the brain and an electromagnetic field 5,000 times stronger that of the brain.” This field can be measured everywhere in and even several feet outside the body.
Dr. Kahn also says, “The electrical activity of the heart and the brain can be guided into a synchronous electrical rhythm easily measured and displayed by simply focusing on positive and loving emotions emanating from the heart. This state of organ ‘coherence’ associates with improved higher level functioning, lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, and improved immune system function.” The loving relationship we have with ourselves dramatically impacts this coherence, and that relationship hinges on how we communicate, aka ‘think.’
Howling at the moon is an analogy for describing clear and heart-centered communication established with yourself first and then extended to another. The howl is the spirit of the wolf unleashed in its divine expression. A reverence and celebration for life, even those most haunting aspects of the human psyche, our shadows. The moon represents the energy of the night (full integration of self, our emotional sphere, and the shadows) and the reflection of the soul via the heart.
Water, like the moon, is also a metaphor for similar mirrors. Carl Jung considered water a symbol of the unconscious. We can link these reflections of unconsciousness, shadow work, our emotions, the moon and water through Chinese Medicine and the Taoist view of feminine Yin energy. In the Tao of communication, Yin energy is related to receiving (listening) and the receptivity of language. The Japanese scientist, Masaru Emoto performed experiments on how energy receives and is affected by words, by freezing water and looking at crystals under a microscope. Emoto contained clean water into vials labeled with negative phrases like “fear” or “I hate you”. After a day, the water froze into misshapen clumps instead of typical snowflake crystals. In contrast, Emoto similarly placed labels that said things like “Peace” or “I Love You,” on containers of polluted water, and after the same timeframe, they produced beautiful crystals. Emoto’s experiments proved that the energy generated by positive or negative words changed the physical structure of an object.
Considering that the human brain and heart are made up of 73% water, it’s understandable, then, that the vibration of negative words impacts every cell. Ancient scriptures tell us that the power of the tongue wields life and death. Deepak Chopra, a medical doctor and alternative health expert, says, “Language creates reality. Words have power. Speak always to create joy.” We can create joy by speaking with and from our hearts.
Loving Yourself with All Your Heart
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere” — The Buddha.
There are many famous sayings associated with caring for yourself before you care for others. They range from ‘love yourself first,’ or the more modern version ‘put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you assist others.’ They all distill down to: you are essential and to help others, you must first help and be yourself.
There are also sayings that we are our own worst enemy. Many of us, myself included, are or have been in abusive relationships with ourselves. We are incredibly self-critical as we berate and chastise the minutiae of our choices. It’s a confusing relationship. On the one hand, we are taught not to be selfish, so we get stuck in a worldview where helping others seems more altruistic than helping ourselves. On the other hand, we are tough on ourselves because it prepares us for the harsh reality of the world, so we harbor a prepper mentality of the mind. ‘They are going to hurt me, so I may as well practice.’ Ready… set… “you suck.” Our fragmented consumer society perpetuates a false connection between self-love viewed as happiness on the one hand, and a plethora of external fulfillment, on the other, preserving an endless sea of insecurities by our intolerable limitations to fulfill our own needs. We cannot buy self-love, no matter how much it’s blasted on TV.
Loving yourself means that you are your own trusted best friend, mentor, healer, and confidant. This means to love yourself even more than the other best friend, the dog! Try enjoying yourself, all of yourself, and be willing to feel pain and face shadows (especially those inner obstacles and injuries). Try taking responsibility for your feelings and communicate lovingly and honestly with yourself about these feelings. To do this, it’s essential to begin with having a relationship with your heart, or with what some may call your higher self.
Susan Smalley, Ph.D. says, “It’s hard to look prejudice in the face — especially in yourself — and particularly in a cultural climate of intolerance for weakness or error of any sort.” We can look at our shadows, and understand how we communicate with ourselves to heal relationships and the planet. We can stop the self-limiting communication that imprisons us and blocks us from being our highest selves. Once we learn to communicate with ourselves lovingly, then we can gain that same skill with others. Excellent communication will determine happiness as much as poor communication will create misery.
I read multiple articles on self-love by authors such as Deepak Chopra and Margaret Paul. I decided to fit some of their self-love tips into Dr. Gary Chapman’s famous book, the Five Languages of Love. Chapman has some useful tips on being in a loving relationship but doesn’t address the relationship with self, as far as I am aware. Joyce Marter shares Chapman’s work with the reflection on self-love as part of the psycho-spiritual journey. Below are Chapman’s five types of love to highlight how we can nourish various forms of self-appreciation.
Words of Affirmation — Learn to respect yourself. Offer words of encouragement and support. Empathize with and seek to understand all the facets of yourself. Use non-violent communication when you think. Joyce includes journaling, daily affirmations, and mantras.
Quality Time — Set aside time to connect with your heart and to ask it questions. Move into a space of learning and loving. Practice the love you aspire to receive. Engage in shadow work to identify false beliefs to take the time to deal with old wounds. Joyce includes setting time aside each day for meditation, leisure, exercise, and proper sleep.
Gift Giving — Give yourself the gift of forgiving the past and accepting where you are now. Give yourself the gift of healthy relationships. Celebrate your successes and accomplishments. Joyce includes buying things that you love and investing in your education.
Acts of Service — Create self-care routines to nourish your relationship with your heart. Joyce includes specific self-love tips like healthy meals, keep the house clean, and grooming yourself to be beautiful.
Touch — Learn how to touch your own body gently and how to caress your internal landscape and consciousness with loving attention. Joyce includes giving yourself a spa day, taking a hot bath, stretching with some yoga.
These are just examples. Each of us have our own needs and preferences. Learning how to generate self-love creates a lot of personal trust in finding and practicing how to meet your own needs. Kevin Wood says, “In utilizing your heart you open an entirely new stream of possibility into your life. By making decisions with your heart wide open, you develop the trust muscle. In doing this, a new source of self-love and trust emerges where there was only emptiness before.” Creating a relationship with yourself can feel like learning a new language. Accept that it may be challenging at first, as you fill this void. If you start small and move forward slowly, celebrating each step, then over time trust will develop. Through observing and interacting with the heart, you’ll uncover a new toolkit that allows the heart to help guide your path in life. You’ll learn to think with the heart — that inner place of calm, peacefulness, free of the three parasites of pressure, paranoia or pain, which add to internal oppression and self-loathing.
Wolves are excellent teachers for claiming this sense of self. Wolves and dogs share a common ancestry. I was the leader of a pack of five dogs for almost a decade. Their dog-alities and independence were strongly evident and endearing, yet they also certainly had their ranking system and team comradery. I have a diploma in Wildlife Management and studied a bit of primate observation in college, and animal tracking courses with Jon Young’s Eight Shields Institute. From this collective training and by having domesticated companions and farm animals for most of my life, I feel reasonably tuned in to animal behavior. I can say with all sincerity that these dogs taught me about love and loving myself. They also showed me about loyalty, integrity, acceptance, and forgiveness. My pack of pups eventually died of old age. It is in honor of them that I found and choose wolf medicine for these teachings.
If you have ever been a friend of a dog, you may have noticed that they are very understanding and I would say even compassionate. Some naysayers may state that dogs are unable to hold thoughts in their awareness, meaning they forget. I have seen my dog companions remember people and places after years of separation. Wolves are similar.
Let’s connect the story. Self-love leads to compassion, and vice-a-versa. When we find love for the darkness within, we generate compassion for more readily respecting and understanding the suffering of others. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches that a spiritual path requires suffering. He says, “We need suffering because it teaches us about compassion.” He explains that until we know and respect our pain, it will fester. If we understand the nature of suffering, the path and cessation become clear as fear begins to be alleviated. Understanding this, in turn, creates happiness.
In his book The Art of Communication, Thich Nhat Hanh explains that by knowing the nature and roots of suffering, we can shift our communication to a desire to understand ourselves, instead of trying to prove ourselves, to feel better. When we have compassion for ourselves, we know the suffering of the world. When we practice communicating internally, we learn to listen deeply. The anxiety of needing to be heard, understood and appreciated diminishes. We accept that we all want to be recognized and understand the relative truth.
When I align with my heart, through compassion, and with love, I become clear, and I see this in others, like sparkling water. The communication is pure. There can be layers of consciousness, as in poetry, driven by the presence of the heart, not ego manipulation. There’s no language of oppression. The words are meant to convey the highest message with the least amount of effort, or the least amount of potential triggers. It embraces compassionate, non-violent and mindful communication, and adds an emphasis on the vibration of being pellucid, understandable, explicit, and transparent.
Pellucidity, by Yaima
The yellow lilly paints the morning dew,
and the cold nights leave me with nothing to do
for the dream I’ve awakened begins with you
and the wild bird sings about dancing with the truth.
This is the story about the climb
the venture that drew a simple line
into the forest and under the rocks
where I could sit with my deepest thought
The patterns we weave here on the earth
and a clear mind to see them for myself
Clear communication can also be comparable to clean energy, meaning, aligning energy to a source of power that does no perceived or intended harm. This statement is not definitive, as I don’t wish to judge harm from help. Rather than defining good or bad, clean energy has to do with using the least amount of energy to create the most significant yield manifested. If we can release the conflict of the mind, we can move beyond dualities. The ego is the games that the mind plays. Stop struggling with yourself. Success and fulfillment come with clear intent.
One of my meditation teachers, Kristin Panek, recently said, “The Universe supports action, not lethargy. We are here to express and create, to push against gravity. We need effort in the outer world and surrender in the inner world.” With clear communication and thought, we can understand our motivation, and act or manifest using clean energy, unburdened by the mind or our pain body. The ego will always be present, so it’s a matter of becoming aware of when it is there and accepting it being there. Eventually conflict ceases as the energy stops getting lost. So it’s not about shunning or condoning the internal dialogue, it’s more about looking at it as an observer, and not taking it personally.
Communication is a refined and creative expression. Jim Rohn talks about building this skill. He says, “… communicating is an art. When we’re attempting to get our message out to others, it’s as though we start with a giant blank canvas and we then begin to paint a picture, any picture we desire. Now, most people assume that when painting a picture, they have only a few basic brushes at their disposal. But the advanced artist knows there are many tools available to create their masterpiece, and they use each to their advantage. The same is true with communication. There are many tools available to you as you communicate; you just have to be aware of them and then use them purposefully. The better you become at using these tools, the better you’ll be at communicating.” The best place for practicing this art form is by refining your thoughts.
Wolves are very direct with their communication. They use tools of vocalizations, body language, the chemistry of scent and some say visualizations (projected images). Jim and Jamie Dutcher, founders of Living With Wolves, share that, “wolves communicate clearly to express their emotional wants and needs, and also to keep the family functioning together as one.” Again linking dogs and wolves to convey examples of these lessons, I’ll quickly tell a story about my dog Monk and a pup Panda.
Monk was my most independent, wandering and streetwise dog. Ironically I found him as a pup himself on the side of the same road where this story takes place four years later. We lived in the woods with a half mile driveway. For years Monk would chase my car down to the county road. Though I tried to stop him regularly, I never really worried about him getting hit by a car. Fortunately, my other four dogs stayed put at the house. Then came Panda. Another stray who wandered onto the farm and into the mix. Panda was just a pup. One day he followed Monk to the road. I was in such a hurry, late for a meeting, that I wishfully hoped that Monk would take Panda home. I still struggle with some regret. Sweet Panda died that day. Later that week Monk continued to chase my car. Several times I got out and yelled at him, quite aggressively. On the third day, I stopped my car, closed my eyes and sent him a single image in my mind of Panda’s body on the road. I then sent forgiveness and love in an image of me sitting with Monk at the house. He never followed my car again. This story is one of my best examples of being simple, creative, clear and communicating from the heart, even about something laced with shadows. Darkness, when embraced, seeds light and understanding.
The Art of Choosing Clean Words
The specifics of a wolf packs language and their hierarchical yet integrated structure of a family group are not comparable to our complex society. Nor do we know if wolves socially condition pack members. The wolf analogy works well as a metaphor for the biological data collected on how many young wolves leave their pack to find themselves and their place to reintegrate, and how wolves maintain their independence within social structures. By using this analogy, I am by no means suggesting that we adopt pack dynamics in our attempts to create healthy relationships. We can leave that to the wolves without sacrifice. Therefore, we’re going to take a segway from our animal allies and hone in on human words, language, and societal conditioning in these next few sections.
Let’s begin with something we learn as kids. “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is an untruth. Remember Masaru Emoto’s water experiment? Further science demonstrates that verbal insults and abuse affect emotions and actions. In Mark Baer’s article, The Power of Words, he shares an example of how scientists have found that just hearing sentences about seniors “led research subjects to walk more slowly. In other research, individuals read words of ‘loving kindness’ showed increases in self-compassion, improved mood, and reduced anxiety.”
According to prevailing theories of sociolinguistics, language shapes reality and can cause healing or suffering by guiding thoughts and behaviors. We often use words with limiting beliefs and desires. We say things like, “I hate my…,” “I’m so…,” “I’m horrible at remembering…,” “I don’t ever…,” “I’m terrible at…,” “if only I were…,” or “If only I could…,” basically “I’m so awkward. I’m not enough, and I don’t fit in.” It’s important to be honest, even vulnerable about personal strengths and limitations, however, avoid using words that box and fix the self into destructive and limiting patterns. “I always,” “I never,” or “I can’t” are examples of unconscious self-limiting patterns that bring negative energy vibrations and affects well being on a physical level.
The brain believes what you tell it over and over. It becomes a pattern. Thoughts become self-truths and get stored in the unconscious mind. Dr. Sadeghi says, “Some of us are in the habit of using the same negative words over and over again. The problem is that the more we hear, read, or speak a word or phrase, the more power it has over us.” He continues that memory storage occurs because the “brain uses repetition to learn, searching for patterns and consistency as a way to make sense of the world around us.” Repetition is the most potent tool to imprint something into our minds and keep it there. Learning becomes part of the shadow self, meaning, our unconsciousness. This storing of knowledge is helpful when that shadow is related to the tools for us to be a master at our work, as we can‘t possibly keep all of the details of our labor at the forefront of our brain. But it’s not ideal when those unconscious bits keep us imprisoned or blocked.
Dr. Sadeghi explains the Illusion of Truth Effect as follows: any statement we read, see, or regularly speak is seen as more valid than the ones we are exposed to only occasionally. The information gets stored as truth in our unconsciousness, and to access it we need to deconstruct and recondition that pathway in our brains. Dr. Sadeghi says, “Amazingly, it makes no difference whether the information is true or false. The only thing that matters is how often we’re exposed to it. Research from the University of California at Santa Barbara shows that a weak message repeated twice becomes more valid than a strong word heard only once. Even one repetition has the power to change our minds.” It’s important to identify the negative patterns that are repeated on a default setting, reverse them with new clean language and validate them with purposefulness.
With our health and wellbeing at stake, it’s time to shift focus from a fixed and negative worldview to a growth mindset that incorporates proactive positivity. We can change from a predicting and controlling outlook to one of receiving and releasing. People with a fixed mindset believe their qualities are set traits and believe talent creates success without effort. Jamie Lawrence explains, “Those who have a fixed mindset and fail at something often feel they can’t complete their task because improvement of innate qualities is not possible.” Fixed mindsets also usually get stuck on and attached to outcomes that are right or wrong. They try to predict and control situations to steer results in a direction that is allegedly evident. While they may be able to take advantage of opportunities or take risks, they are bound to moving in a direction toward fixed outcomes. They may overlook life lessons because of their fixation on the end game.
People with a growth mindset believe their necessary abilities can develop through persistence and effort. These open-minded thinkers embrace learning and do not fear failure. They are more open to experience what emerges along the path of life, and see growth as an opportunity to explore and expand their awareness. They receive and release experiences without being fixated on specific outcomes, as they care more about the journey than the destination. They maintain a high capacity to manifest learning, change, and growth.
A fixed mindset views all of our pieces, including our heart and brain, as unchangeable, separate organs or functions, yet a Buddhist or Ayurveda physician would not view the heart or any body part this way. When you go into a doctor’s office, and they ask you about your symptoms, how many of them want to hear about your relationships with others or yourself? Not many. A growth mindset sees the world as interconnected, ever-changing, ever emerging parts.
To shift more into this growth mindset, learn to omit words like “always,” “never,” “impossible,” “should,” “could,” “can’t,” “I am, or I am not,” and “I’m sorry” from your vocabulary. For example, instead of saying, “I’m not good at this,” say “what am I able to do?” Instead of saying, “I can’t-do this,” say “I can learn.” Instead of “I’m sorry,” say “I understand how my actions affected you, and I will change.”
Power of Manifestation
More evidence that words create momentum. Dr. Hyder Zahed quotes Yehuda Berg who says, “Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively with words of despair.” Be careful what you wish for as it may come true if a small amount of action is applied. We need to be conscious of what we wish to manifest. Pao Chang says, “Manifesting your desires is not as easy as focusing your awareness toward something…” as wishes will not magically appear without doing any work. To learn how to manifest your thoughts into reality efficiently, he says, “you need to understand what thought is and learn how the thought manifestation process works.”
Everything is energy. The more I do shadow work, the more I’ve come to accept that emotion is energy in motion, and it attracts like energy, through momentum. Chang explains how thought is a subtle and powerful conscious energy; “it is considered one of the core active substances of Creation. It is one of the most basic processes used for manifesting energy into matter. One of the most critical aspects of thought is that it has the potential of thinking within and upon itself.” Each thought we have created an energy flow within and around our physical being. This energy attracts its likeness. So if you’re thinking negative thoughts, it will draw negativity, and likewise for positive ideas that will attract positivity. Each thought activates your energy, and your energy creates your experiences.
To open up the valve for manifestation, the first thing we need to do is understand the magic of language. The second is that we need to shift from predicting and controlling to receiving and releasing. Magic is power and momentum, and the rest is about surrendering to the dance. Don Miguel Ruiz says, “Your word is pure magic… For years we have received the gossip and spells from the words of others, but also from the way we use our word with ourselves.” We must begin to understand what the word is and what the word does.
Don Miguel in his book The Four Agreements, says, “If you understand the first agreement, be impeccable with your word; you begin to see all the changes that can happen in your life. Changes first in the way you deal with yourself, and later in the way you deal with other people, especially those you love the most.” The even more important part, though, is the act of letting go. The process of receiving what is, and releasing what is not, is a mastery. It includes releasing identification and becoming the witness self. The witness enables you to harness the opportunities presented as gifts in each moment. In summary, balancing our intention and integrity with surrendering, fuels our ability to manifest.
Following are six communication tips I created to ACCESS this manifestation power.
*Note — In writing on communication, I had my share of anxieties. The inner voice of “is this good enough?” crept into my psyche. I’m facing this by admitting my vulnerability. I accept that I am ‘enough’ to use my own writing as an example.
Activate — Instead of using passive tense and voice, get active!
- The entire article was limited by the authors choice of words — Passive
- The authors choice of words energized the article — Active
And when describing an action, apply powerful verbs that are in motion.
- To create the article, she chose powerful verbs.
- She created engaging content by activating powerful verbs.
Compel — Create a list of compelling words — like determination, resilience, persistence, engaging, activating, synchronizing, etc. Choose your power words and use them often.
Commit — Have integrity with your own words. If your words mean very little, then the universe will not take your words seriously. Avoid using the words sort of, like and kind of. Don’t be wish-washy. You can share and change your opinions with confidence. Trust yourself. This sentiment goes for the Universe within too. Believing in yourself is important. Practice having integrity so in a moment of adversity you can trust yourself.
Express — Instead of using simple inexpressive words such as, things, or good, get more descriptive and dynamic. Use your words to manifest the details of what you want to create!
- She did a good job on writing an article. She shared some things related to communicating well.
- She succeeded in writing a compelling and descriptive article. She shared practical tips and direct examples for significantly improving communication.
Specify — Instead of using generalizations, get specific! Tell the Universe what, when, where and how many.
- A goal for the article is to share tips on communication. I want to offer opportunities and integration of the content for the reader.
- A goal for the article is to provide examples of how to communicate clearly and compassionately. I aim to enhance the learning opportunities and integration of the content for the reader by offering at least three models and practical examples of communication within step-by-step processes.
Solve — As life happens, and problems arise, keep a proactive attitude and look for solutions. No matter what arises, there is a solution, though it may be a compromise.
When we access the power of manifestation, it’s often compared to being in the present, or what many call the flow state. This potential brings us full circle back to being aligned with and connected to our wildness. Wolf energy. With loving compassion, heart-fueled clarity, clean words, and the power to manifest our desires; it’s time to return to the pack. One of the first essential steps is understanding power dynamics.
Understanding the Language of Oppression
English, as a colonizing language, perpetuates privileges because of its roots in worldviews related to a fixed mindset within domination and subordination of power dynamics. Researcher Xoài Phạm explains how the English language perpetuates “the gender binary, for example. In other languages, binary pronouns may not exist. The rules of English rigidly build on the concept of gender as only male-and-female” and are not sympathetic to the LGBT community.
English is the principal language of academia, science, and commerce, reinforcing institutionalized oppression. Classism thrives in fluent English. The normalized words of middle-class white people are considered proper, but they were made up just like all other forms of English. Pham says, “Sometimes, English is even the primary language in so-called progressive spaces, particularly in continents that dominate the world, like in North America and Europe.”
Writer Willow Morrigan looks at social institutions as they often exert control over discourse and thoughts by attempting to control the language — mainly, through choice and definitions of words, such as “illegal alien” when talking about undocumented immigrants. We can identify the opinions of political institutions and the media on immigration issues by looking at their choices of words. Morrigan says, “By controlling the words that describe a subculture, the media can control the public attitudes and in return, political discourse. Ultimately, this leads to legislation and administrative policy that would be hostile to specific subcultures.”
Morrigan also says, “While it is tempting to laugh all this off as ‘political correctness’ to not offend sensitive people who cannot handle the freedom of speech, the truth is it’s a lot more serious. Using a non-oppressive language has little to do with being overly sensitive or even ‘being polite’ but has everything to do with whether we as people and society allow certain kinds of harmful and inflammatory rhetoric against certain people — and thus tolerating oppressive and violent treatment against them whether by the popular culture, by the governmental institutions, or by the economic systems.”
Language justice cannot be accomplished without resource redistribution because there are always disparities in who is allowed access to resources. We also need to consider that language is a privilege in and of itself. The act of communicating (getting your message out) and gaining communication skills, or any self-improvement studies for that matter, are all privileges.
Not everyone has equal access to or time for new ways of thinking. For example, some people are proud racists, and then other people may genuinely not identify as racist, yet unknowingly use an oppressive operating system, perpetuating in many cases this internalized or institutionalized oppression. I generated these example levels of engagement in accessing/shifting the operating system(s) that are impacted by privilege. Note that one person can be more than one level or shift levels, depending on the circumstance.
- Dependents — Ignorant that operating systems exist.
- Defenders — Justify, uphold or defend the operating system because they’ve been convinced to believe it’s either the only system or the right system, a common worldview of authoritarianism that pits one operating system against another.
- Survivors — Stuck in survival mode and do not have time to learn more, understand more, or care.
- Adapters — May not approve of the operating system, yet they don’t have access to learning what other options exist. They accept or adapt as best as possible.
- Side Liners — Aware but too apathetic or overwhelmed to do anything.
- Rebels — Blames current dominant operating system for causing oppression. Resists or rebels against that system.
- Enquirers — Aware and investigating proactive options.
- Experimenters — Aware and actively installing a new system by engaging externally.
- Innovators — Aware and actively installing a new system by engaging internally.
By noting these sample levels, we can observe them in ourselves and others, creating an opportunity for enhanced connection, understanding and compassion. Just because someone communicates with oppressive language doesn’t mean that it is their intention or desire. Balance patience with diligence.
Removing Oppressive Language
During a time where fascism is on the rise, we need to practice non-confrontational language more than ever. Words mean something and ideas have consequences. Americans especially often fill the air with words without pausing and considering their implications. Dr. Hyder Zahed says that many people “give voice to any passing feeling, thought or impression they have. They randomly dump the contents of their mind without regard to the significance of what they are saying. When we talk about trivial matters as in gossiping about others, our attention wastes away on trivialities.”
Oppressive language has become a seamless and deeply embedded part of our everyday experience. It’s so ingrained in our institutions that it can be difficult for some people even to notice. Harsh language is any word that uses an identity or an identifier of belonging to a specific group (class, race, sexuality, ability, gender, etc.) as a harmful or undesirable quality, or that take away one’s choice. The latter is evident in the ongoing barrage of media propaganda, and it’s onslaught of micro oppressions. Morrigan says, “As long as we carelessly throw around words like ‘mental case’ we dehumanize… (even unintentionally, as repeated uses of words ultimately leave mental imprints on the way how we think and behave) those who are developmentally disabled or experience mental illnesses.”
As long as we make jokes about someone being a “bum” (even if we aren’t referring to anyone who is experiencing homelessness), we express our assent to the systemic violence waged daily against those who, due to extreme poverty or lack of social support, live without homes. As long as we allow our children to insult their classmates by saying “it’s so gay,” we are upholding the legacy of homophobia. People need to understand the consequences of their words and match their values with meticulous communication. A stepping stone is to avoid words such as stupid, retarded, crazy, insane, maniac, sociopath, madhouse, nuts, moron, lame, fag, gay, gyp, ghetto, fat, deaf, and blind.
These are very hot examples. Oppression can be much more subtle. Our choice of words, if not directly oppressive, can also be limiting: it can keep us stuck in normalized worldviews and social conditions that perpetuate our dependence on systems that aren’t serving our best interests, or keep us imprisoned in patterns of self-limiting beliefs.
Suggested Action: Come up with a list of harsh or limiting words that you use and identify replacement words.
Other less visible forms of oppression are rampant in society such as gaslighting. This attack means that we interrupt someone who’s sharing their experience to convince them that they are wrong or even “crazy” for thinking or feeling the way that they do. This interruption happens on an ongoing basis and in some cases can get extremely forceful. Mild doses of gaslighting happen whenever we share our voice with strong definitive language — absolutism. We ensnare the impression that we are right, and even if it’s not our intention, we are saying everyone else is wrong. When we tell someone how they feel or use “you” language, we are risking imposing our worldview and perspective on someone, instead of giving them space and freedom to have their own experience.
Avoid using language to label or disable. There’s no correct answer or definitive truth. Don’t speak for or about other people. Own your feelings, instead of projecting them onto others. Use clean language — don’t fill it with feeling. If someone shares a story, don’t say “oh that’s good” or “that sounds terrible,” because you will presupposition your feelings onto others.
Be aware of the Judge. The judge, victim, perpetrator, and martyr are all of a similar vibration — shades of The Judge. Sometimes they try to disguise themselves as intuition or observation. The Judge exists in duality, setting up dichotomies such as good and bad, and too much or not enough. It identifies with right or wrong, and through this attachment, it triggers the activation of an emotion. Emotion is just energy in motion. When The Judge is present, it has already established a pattern of identification. The emotion becomes the defining truth, and then attachment takes hold, or the pain body gets activated. When this happens, our perception of reality gets distorted, and we often default to functioning with an oppressive or limiting operating system.
The difference between The Judge and The Observer (your witness self) is, first, attachment or identification with duality, and secondly a triggered emotion. The Observer can have discernment, and have a preference, make a choice, or even notice a feeling — yet there’s no clinging or identification. There’s just receiving-acceptance-releasing.
Here’s a snapshot of 1-minute mind chatter. The Observer is ever-present, yet is only in the driver seat in the final moment.
– “Blah blah blah” (judge)
– ‘oh shit errr, I’m totally a judgmental ass right now’ (perpetrator)
– ‘you’re better than this; you need to get your head straight’ (martyr)
– ‘great now I’m judging myself. I can’t win’ (victim)
– ‘ah, see now you’re playing the victim, you can do better, you just need to…. meep meep meep’ (martyr pretending to be observer and guide)
– ‘ahhh! All of you shut up, get out of here, you’re driving me nuts. I don’t need your sorry advice. I just need to be’ (victim pretending to be diligent warrior, eradicating the Judge)
– fuming in silence — agitation spiked (pain body nearly activated)
– emotional stewing about to set in –
– deep breath — eye roll
– miscellaneous cursing — growls to self
– ‘ok, ok! Geez!’
– shake it out — reset
– a sigh of relief ‘finally.’
– mini inner whimper — still trying to reset
– deep breath — reset
– smile to self (followed by a hint of pride)
– deep breath — reset ‘clear, clear, clear.’
– deep breath — reset
– deep breath
– ‘fascinating’ (observer)
The Observer might have activated sooner by saying ‘hey’ to The Judge. The Observer can honor and even neutrally poke at The Judge. That didn’t happen. Instead, I began identifying with duality. My emotions engaged in a way that I was holding them instead of noting and releasing.
To nip this pattern and change direction, once the Observer becomes present, state the observation, note the feeling, and if you have time and attention, assess the root of the pattern, or how you are projecting, and discern a new path forward. If you don’t have time, perhaps run through this quick process later or at the end of the day. Many of our judgments are projections of what we see or fear within our self-identity. Be sure that you’re able to move through this process without attaching to the emotions that may accompany the story.
Here are some additional actions we can take that support shifting to a new operating system:
- Be humble
- Don’t speak in absolute truths — especially about the abstract. Instead, give examples of what you see.
- Keep your Judge outside of the conversation, and continually double check to see if the Judge crept back into the party. Practice witnessing as the Observer.
- Know your perception may be partial
- Speak so it will be well received
- Tell your truth, using “I” statements
- Make suggestions with “we” references. If using “you,” I suggest sticking to suggestions.
- Don’t exaggerate
- Don’t double talk
- Use practical and appropriate language (applicable to each person)
- Don’t use violence, condemning, abusive, humiliating, judgmental, discriminatory, bullying, or gaslighting language.
How to Become a Healer and Leader of the Pack?
We have come full circle. I began this story by emphasizing how important it is to, for a period, to become the lone wolf. I’ve provided suggestions on how to recognize and recondition your beliefs, thoughts, and language, to step more fully into claiming your wild wolfness. Now it’s time to declare this independence with these tools and simultaneously reintegrate back into the pack. I believe in shared leadership, where each member expresses their power through authenticity. For wolves that might mean accepting your place as Alpha, Beta or Omega. For us, we can diversify our expressions of leadership. Deepak Chopra says, “Becoming a leader is the most crucial choice we can make. The decision to step out of the darkness and into the light. We have never needed enlightened leaders as much as we do right now. Surely this refrain has been heard throughout the ages. In the second decade of the 21st-century humankind poses a terrible threat to its existence as we blindly tear great holes into the fabric of our environment. We can no longer turn to government, no matter how well-meaning. We need to be leaders to direct our own lives and learn how to interact with others.”
Understand your role as a leader. Power can corrupt or serve. The best leaders encourage everyone to become masters at their strengths. Instead of silent obedience, passive-aggressive acquiescence, or active rebellion, move towards strategic engagement. Leaders are willing to look at the shadows of being a leader. Leaders deal with emotions for the good of the group. No emotional outbursts. If they happen, they make amends. Be responsible. Be diligent about releasing emotion in private. You don’t need to be perfect, just accountable. Give people space to change.
Dr. Hyder Zahed, “Considering the ‘powerful force’ of the words we utter, we must discipline ourselves to speak in a way that conveys respect, gentleness, and humility.” And he quotes Blaise Pascal, “Kind words do not cost much. They accomplish much.”
Steps for Healers and Leaders
- Incorporate shadows and darkness by facing suffering and stop struggling against yourself. Meditate to reach the center of your awareness, the witness self.
- Have a stable and consistent relationship with your heart. Surround yourself with uplifting words. Go on a no negativity diet — Stop self-criticism and self-deprecation, stop gossiping — don’t talk unless you intend to bring healing or joy. Keep listening to your inner voice. Remain centered and peaceful.
- Cultivate compassion — Understand that you are often bumping into other people’s sensitivities and suffering. Admit to assumptions and personal beliefs — Know that when other people are speaking, they may bring up past experiences and feelings that can cloud your ability to hear.
- Practice clear and clean communication — Engage mindfully. Stay strong enough to find your way back to yourself when you get lost. Keep calm so you can make decisions. Turn all communication into an opportunity to practice mindful communication. Learn to have clear intentions.
- Exercise the power of manifestation
- Acknowledge oppression
Tool Kit for Effective and Clear Communication
- Create safe spaces
- Activate your listening
- Practice engaging speaking
- Learn to ask appropriate questions
- Incorporate feedback
- Learn tools for participatory decision making and design
- Learn effective tools for community engagement
Here’s an activity sheet that I am creating with tips and practices for effective and clear communication. It’s a work in progress.
Honoring the Process and Healing the Pack
Here’s an excerpt from the Dutchers’ Living With the Wolves, “On no occasion are the social bonds of wolves more clear than during a pack rally. A rally occurs when the pack howls together in chorus. It is a call to assembly, a territorial claim, a declaration of solidarity, and a celebration of being alive and being together.”
This article has been a journey into the heart of darkness. I’ve attempted to share how important it is to embrace the shadows and wildness within as the lone wolf to learn to love yourself while breaking free of social conditions and the oppressive operating systems. From this place of authenticity, you return to the ‘wolf’ pack as a contributing and compassionate member, and even leader in society. I provided a collection of various tools and considerations for mindfully shifting our language towards a more clear and explicit communication style that creates more harmony, connection and power of manifestation to alleviate oppression.
I hope that you’re walking away from this article with a fresh perspective on how language impacts our perception of reality and our relationships, and can even lead to violence and oppression. There are plenty of potent communication tools that we can use to uplift our energy and improve our lives. We can create a healthier relationship with our own heart centers and connect with others from that core of energy.
We can succeed at this by practicing and utilizing the specific tools outlined in this article, while also stacking functions by healing the wounds of our soul’s journey and being accountable to our emotional responses to reality. Conscious and clear communication becomes magnified when we seed compassion into our minds and communities. Wolf energy teaches us to start by planting and practicing healing within ourselves and then merging our medicine with the pack. Taking intervals of time to go within to face those inner voices, and shadows is an ongoing practice. Be the lone wolf for a period, take the time to heal, to find your way, and then always reintegrate.
Here’s a final sweet excerpt from the Living With Wolves organization, “For three weeks after Kamots, the alpha of the Sawtooth Pack died, a single wolf was heard howling in the night. While the Dutchers never knew who it was, from their experience living with these wolves, they always believed it was his brother Lakota, the omega.” Though Lakota was the omega, Kamots cared for him and often walked with Lakota. Kamots helped his brother integrate when they were released into the wild. It was the younger wolves who tried to rile Lakota. Despite his position, he remained true to himself. Lakota was the playful trickster of the pack. Though his tricks sometimes got him in a heap of trouble with his siblings, he would continually come back to play another day.
Closing Affirmation: I love myself. I trust myself. I do not need approval to be me. I’m accountable to my own authenticity, agency and the impact of my actions. I am compassionate and considerate. I help guide others in finding their self love. Happy Valentine’s Day — HEART HOWL!!!