The Practices of Personal Awakening for Collective Transformation
Zoetic: adjective zo·et·ic \zōˈetik\
- of or relating to life : living, vita
It is universally understood, at least in an intuitive sense, that human beings are a trinity unto themselves: Mind, body & spirit. This is referred to in many self-help settings as well as spiritual disciplines and even the soft-sciences of psychology and consciousness studies.
What isn’t well understood is the interplay between these distinctly individual and self-evidently conjoined parts of the being. There is a fair bit of conjecture and even some hard science as too how our physical health plays into the psychological well-being of an individual. It is arguable that entire ‘religious disciplines focus on the root to the spiritual self through means of physiological manifestation: yoga or meditative practices for instance.
However, because the observational data of the connection and distinction between mind, body & spirit move from empirical evidence to ‘woo-woo’, the relationship is left undefined and even questionable. I contend that we live in an age where the empirical and the woo-woo are quickly blending through a manifold of emerging scientific study and a significant uptick in personal practice of Zoetic arts: That is the art of manifesting life through individual and collective practices.
Studies are rapidly emerging on the scene that demonstrate this power. The synthesis work done by Shawn Achor in his book The Happiness Advantage, he demonstrates the science behind a positive outlook on life and the correlating effects on an individual’s psychological and physiological self. The 2008 Harvard study by Dr. David R. Hamilton, PhD looked at the Relaxation Response found in meditation, tai chi and repetitive prayer and documented the affects it had on human DNA. The HeartMath Institute’s study of the hearts electromagnetic field and the ability to put one’s self into a state of coherence in order enhance personal performance and manage stress: Stress being recently correlated with inflammation within the body and a leading causes of death in the US.
Juxtapose that work with the massive popularization of yogic and sutra practices across North America. According to the latest study from the Yoga Journal, the number of individual practicing yoga in the US has risen 20% from 2008 to 2012: From 15.8 million self-identified practitioners to 20.4 million. 44.8% of whom identified themselves as beginners. However, even as an introduction to practices, that number is remarkable.
The context for its remark-ability exist in the ancient roots of the yogic practices as a means of achieving balance between the mind, body and spirit and as a method of achieving meditative states through physical manifestation: Breath work, yogic poses and the movement of blood through the body. Thought to have been developed beyond the period of Vedic record keeping; the practice was adopted by both the Hindu and Buddhist religions and only very recently westernized.
We also find ourselves in a time where our food responsiveness is on the rise. As the prospect of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) increasingly infiltrate our food systems and awareness campaigns gain momentum; average citizens have begun to take the matter of personal nutrition into their own hands. The Organic Trade Association reports 2015 sales exceeding $39 billion with a steady rise in consumption of organic goods over non-organic since 2008.
When taken together, with the number of people that these practices are reaching, not only in the US but globally, it can easily be called an awakening: But an awakening to what?
Though many might argue with this answer; I’m not sure it matters. It has become my personal practice to seek the right questions rather than seek the right answers. In doing so, I’ve discovered that seeking ‘the questions’ open one to the realm of possibilities whereas seeking ‘the answer’ close one off towards desiring certainty; and nothing is certain in this world.
Therefore, we are left to look at the values of such an awakening and determine our bias based on the evidenced of the fruit it might bear. If people are growing in their awareness of personal health, the benefits of physical exercise, the either conscious or unconscious effects of yoga on personal well-being and becoming empowered towards the benefit of managing their own food intake and production – then I would say the value-outcomes are fairly positive.
As an exercise in comparison, let’s look at the available opposite behaviors and their value-outcomes: As an example – fast or poor food choices, excessive alcohol use, excessive media intake, a lack of physical exercise and an absents of any sort of spiritual practice or disciple that merits tangible physiological results or spiritual growth. These behaviors are not difficult to identify in our world. We only need to look within ourselves and there isn’t a single individual in our western world that cannot identify with one of these behaviors and its negative effects on the well-being.
This is where the Zoetic Methods emerged from. Zoetics is acknowledgement and assembly of the variety of emerging personal practices that have historical precedence & modern relevance for creating transformation and ongoing awakening in individuals. I contend that without any need for the creation of a new system of belief, faith or religion – the tools exist to better ourselves and thereby, our world today. These tools can be gleaned and learned from a variety of sources globally and historically. These are sources that do not demand a conversion of faith or a rebirth of religion. Your belief systems can stay intact but your interconnectedness to others through empathetic learning of these methods can weave a unification around the world.
The Zoetic Methods: Practices for the enhancement and acknowledgement of the life that dwells within all of us; are tangible and simple. They only require you to be willing and to begin. These are the 12 disciplines of the Zoetic Method:
The Inward Disciplines
- Meditation: True meditative practices are not a psychological trick but a practice of grace in the face of distraction. Meditation centers the true-self by eliminating the noise of the egoic mind and connecting with the silent-voice of self: the I Am within each of us.
- Fasting: Thousands of religions and cultures throughout history have practices fasting as a means of creating discipline within the body and build spiritual resilience. Contrary to modern understanding of the practice, fasting is about confronting our attachments rather than controlling our habits.
- Positive Perspective: Cultivating a mental constitution of thankfulness, appreciation and positive perspectives as the foundational mental model one works from is essential to building emotional and spiritual endurance. Adversity is only a moment away. Approaching these inevitable circumstances with a thankful being can change everything.
- Prayerful Intention: Prayer is understood in many overt forms in our world. The Christian faith utilizes it as a their primary context for connection with God. Muslims define prayer in a steady sacrament that takes place 5 times daily. Whatever one’s practice maybe around prayer, it is always done with intention. Zoetic practices intercessory prayer on behalf of others through intentional connection to source, higher power or God.
The Outward Disciplines
- Yogic Practices: Yoga is an ongoing personal journey that unified, strengthens and balances the body mind and spirit. It is a powerful tool that can be utilized by anyone regardless of their current physiological condition, injury or ability. It is more than physical exercise or flexibility; it is about intentionally moving energy, breath & blood through the body.
- Vedic Prana: Breathing: an automatic reflex of the body to bring oxygen into the blood and carbon dioxide out. It’s something we don’t think much about but our bodies innate intelligence does; and yet it is a physiological response that is completely within our control. We can hold our own breath or breathe deeply depending on our intention. Learning to work with this ability under all emotional circumstances can provide great power and awareness to a skilled user of Prana (breath).
- Physical Exercise: It goes without saying, physical exercise is good for you. No further study is needed to prove this point to us. Developing a physical personal practices is imperative in order to maximize one’s ability to stay strong and flexible as we age as well as avoid or heal well from injury. It’s also no small contributor to the reduction of stress.
- Study: Most American’s finish grades K – 12 with roughly 5.7% the populations continuing on to higher education. Frankly, this is putting a massive intellectual strain on us as a population. Cultivating a personal value of continued study is vital towards one’s personal growth as a human being and without it, we find ourselves dumbed down and manipulated by influences and authorities on all sides. That is not the basis for a free thinking society. Reading, questioning our perspectives and personal journaling are key to understand this discipline.
The Collective Disciplines
- Permaculture & Community Farming: Permaculture is an integrated and holistic design system which provides for human needs while increasing ecosystem health. It is a cultivated perspective and practice for how to interact with the environment around us and can be studied and practiced by anyone: From those with acreage to those with a window box. It changes the way we view the natural world and our place in it and our nutritional health.
- Herbalism Studies: The art of wildcraft is rooted in the understanding that human beings are of the natural world and the natural world is full of sentient life that is constantly communicating with us. It is humanity that is failing in receive the message. There is an abundance of medicine, nourishment and tools that heal our bodies and consciousness growing outside our doorstep.
- Community of Practice: For many, this is a familiar concept. Our churches, community centers, yoga studios and gyms are often places where we build a community of practice. It is inherently human to create community where we gather. It is important that our communities be ingrained with the intentions for the improvement of our human consciousness and the health of our natural world in which we embedded our communities within: This is the inward and outward evidence of a community of practice.
- Collective Intention: This is the extension of all the inward and outward disciplines collectively. It asks the question – where are we going as a species? – and it acknowledges that the power to set that course if fully within our individual grasp. We do not have to agree with the cultural perspectives or development of others. We only need to agree that we are all one human entity and we must make our way through life obeying a single universal law: Do No Harm.
I have developed an ever-emerging belief system out my foundational faith that conveys to me we are not different in any way from each other but the same being. Every human on this planet exists within the dual form of human consciousness that is both from the individual perspective and from the collective: We are one humanity informing the universe from behind individual eyes.
I propel a hopefulness outward to every being on this planet with these 12 disciplines of the Zoetic Order: For life begets life and death is only a passage back to source. May we come to learn this to be true.