Bypassing My Brain: Interview with David Owens and Carol Haggerty Reardon [PART 1]
I interviewed David Owens and Carol Haggerty Reardon as they were preparing for the November 21st workshop entitled “Step Your Game Up”. Both senior students at the Institute for Hermetic Philosophy, they were kind enough to divulge some ”inside information” and perspectives about the kind of exercises they will share at the workshop, and on the inner work they do on themselves.
Junod: When we talk about consciousness, people sometimes think of concepts and intangible ideas that take time to grasp. Can you talk a bit about some of the practical benefits of doing these types of consciousness-raising exercises?
David: Sure. I am someone who can be prone to anxiety and rushing especially living NY with such a fast past and constant bombardment of stimuli. Being connected with myself internally allows me to dictate the pace and speed of how I want to execute my day as opposed to letting the outside make that dictation. Even when stressful circumstances arise, and they do, I am still connected to myself and don’t have the emotional highs and lows and hence loss of energy, and don’t suffer being on an emotional pendulum. I am calm, even keeled, and I use less energy, I make decisions from a better place and at the end of the day I am not exhausted.
Carol: I will add that it allows me to observe more quickly when I am affected emotionally or energetically by something outside of me or within me, like a judgment or negative emotion, or stressful situation. I am now more sensitive to an energetic or emotional shift in my body and instead of identifying with it and having it define me, I observe that “something just shifted what is going on inside of me”, and I can take a step back and observe how mechanically my emotions have been triggered. This helps me see again and again that certain emotions are triggered when I thought I had already processed them. The more I do this exercise, the more natural it is to dismantle negative emotions with no judgment and without being defined by them.
Junod: In trying to do these daily exercises, what kinds of challenges, if any, do you find popping up again and again?
Carol: My challenge is my brain that wants to be in charge by bombarding me with different thoughts and tell me things to distract me, or how I should be doing the exercise, or that I don’t have time to do the exercise right now... Anything to distract me from doing the exercise at that moment. That is my biggest obstacle.
David: Similar to Carol, it is constantly fighting the distraction that my brain will provide. My to do list for the day, that I have to eat, make calls, that I have to take a shower. My brain can even make me forget that I have to connect to my body, forget that I have an internal world that is not on external world time. For example, if I am running late for an appointment, I can easily get upset and blame the subway system or schedules - whereas when I connect, it leads to a positive attitude and I find a way to make the situation better.
Carol: As an example, when I sat on the deck this morning to do an exercise, I was having a very positive experience, but I realized what I was doing was admiring the beautiful fall foliage -I was admiring the sun glinting off the yellow leaves. Now I realized I was feeling positive, but my energy was going outside of me. I was enjoying the experience but that type of exercise doesn’t give me the same energy as when I put my attention inside; into my eyes, into my body, lungs, and into my breath. So instead of admonishing myself or listening to the part that wanted to judge how I was doing it, I simply shifted my attention and brought the beauty I was seeing, inside myself, and continued the exercise.
Junod: Wouldn’t some say that looking at the trees admiring the beauty nature, wouldn’t that help you be calm inside as well?
Carol: They could, however, if our attention is not focused within, we won’t receive the same benefit. I may have felt calm, but my brain was the part processing what I was seeing, instead of my being. What I want is to create an alive energetic connection that helps me to grow. If I am only focused on the outside beauty of the day, and not directing my attention inside, I won’t have the same level of real energy for myself.
David: For me, the trick no matter what environment I am in, to be like I am looking at nature. If I am in the subway doing it, its like I am in nature because I am connected to myself. But always looking at nature from the inside out as opposed to from the outside in.