Have you heard the parable of the seeker who wanders the world, endlessly pursuing illusory treasure, only to return home and find it hidden right there, in their own home?
I remember puzzling over that story the first time I encountered it. I was in my early twenties, young enough to still have visions of Treasure Island, pirates, and chests of glittering jewels and gold doubloons spilling out, an X marking the spot of where to dig on the disintegrating paper map. I sort of understood the metaphor that what we’re looking for is within, but I had some vague sense the story was about finding money, or rubies, or something else I didn’t understand.
Over the decades, I’ve had a slow dawning of understanding what the parable was trying to illuminate: that the very best of what life has to offer is something I–and every human being– really can access right now. This moment. With nary a shovel in sight.
Our happiness is built from our real, authentic selves shining through our lives, being seen, known, valued. You might have other descriptors for this part of you – maybe you call it your best self, or your spirit, or soul, or even your divinity.
This most precious part of us can seem impossible to uncover. Our days can pass where our personas (the parts expressed from Reactive Brain) seem to be all there is of us. In fact, sometimes when I bring up the possibility of discovering and expressing essence, I’m met with blank stares of incomprehension, or else a downcast look from someone who might go on to say, “ah, I don’t have that. That’s for other people.”
How does one find essence? Where is the map??
Welllll…. Here it is:
See how this works? All the states Below the Line (Reactive Brain) are our bodies’ automatical shift into when we perceive a threat to our survival.
These are our defenses, our personas, our immediate reactions programmed into us so we have a way to navigate through the world in bodies. That quick jerk on the steering wheel to avoid another car, or the jump back out of oncoming traffic–those reactions are why you’re still here, alive, able to read this.
But look Above the Line–you’ve been there too, right? Neutrality, Acceptance, Appreciation, Love, Joy, Peace–whenever you are in one of those levels of consciousness, YOU ARE IN ESSENCE.
That’s the real you. Truly.
That is your authentic nature, the you you came into a body to actually express.
Being able to sort out my own experience into Reactive Brain and Creative Brain has helped me reduce my reactivity, and cultivate those states of my true, creative, essential nature. Just knowing that all of those levels exist has given me a very reliable path out of my own suffering into what life truly has to offer.
Because now I know that living Above the Line allows me to find glittering, priceless treasure everywhere I look:
- In the eyes of my beloved,
- the joy in my dogs leaping around,
- the light in the eyes of the checkout person in the store,
- the raucous laughter of our leadership team,
- the miraculous shifts my courageous clients step into in life
3 STEPS FOR DIGGING FOR YOUR OWN TREASURE
1) Look at the Inner Map: Where are you spending most of your time?
2) Take steps to reduce your time in Reactive Brain:
- Commit to noticing when you’re in Reactive Brain, and then implementing Shift moves until you’re not: breathing, moving, playing, laughing, dancing, resting… anything that metabolizes stress chemicals so you can come back to your normal, non-stressed state.
- Notice when you’re telling stories from Below the Line (Shame, Guilt, Despair, Sadness, Frozen Fear, Agitated Fear, Anger, Pride).
- Wonder if you’d be willing to tell a new story with equal plot development and detail. If you are, switch those stories out mid-sentence (or go back and retell a new, more expanded story).
3) Cultivate Creative Brain, that is, your essence:
- Commit to daily practices that support your expanded self.
- shifting from Narrow to Open
- moving your body regularly,
- being in nature,
- gratitude and appreciation practices will all nourish and strengthen your ability to generate and savor states from Above the Line.
- Tune into the aspects of our world that support Above the Line states.
- Stories that inspire you,
- music that enlivens your spirit,
- prayers or readings that open your heart; We are in an unprecedented era of immediate access to tremendous wisdom from across the planet, if you’re willing to partake.
- Give yourself time and space to follow your creative impulses. Remember that creativity isn’t just about being an artist, it’s really you consciously expressing your own you-ness. When you react, you’re in the grip of a million years of survival instinct.
When you decide to just be, act, or even speak or write or sing from those states Above the Line, you’re expressing your highest self.
And–we treasure you for it.
I once believed that if I’m my biggest self, that somehow diminishes you–or vice versa. Now I know that my supporting you to be your very best, most expanded self amplifies my own creativity exponentially. So my intention is to surround myself with folks who joyfully express their true essence!