Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ask the Universe for Help in Finding Your Bliss

So I was reading the New York Times today, and an article in the Science section caught my eye. It was titled thusly: "A World of Eloquence in an Upturned Palm." So I clicked on it, and lo, the article describes how it might be possible that the upturned hand, the "Gimme" gesture, as the author refers to it, might be one of the earliest universal signals and possibly even a precursor to language.

From the article (italics mine):

"That simple gesture, the upturned palm, is one of the oldest and most widely understood signals in the world. It’s activated by neural circuits inherited from ancient reptiles that abased themselves before larger animals. Chimps and other apes, notably humans, adapted it to ask not just for food, but also for more abstract forms of help, creating a new kind of signal that some researchers believe was the origin of human language.

If that’s true, if human eloquence can be traced from a primal message signifying “Gimme,” I’m not sure what conclusion to draw about our species. Maybe that we are inherently social creatures who survived and prevailed against mightier animals by learning to enlist the cooperation of others. Or maybe just that, in our heart of hearts, we are all slackers."

Even though I have my share of lazy days, I am not of the opinion that we are fundamentally slackers. I prefer to subscribe to the idea that we simply cannot go it alone--to do so means extinction--both as an individual and as a species.

In other words, we need help. And as Stuart Smalley would say, that's OK. In fact, it's more than OK to ask for help. It's essential, it's smart, it's the only way to survive.

Have you ever seen that show Survivorman? Basically he goes it alone in some remote, god-forsaken extreme environment, to prove something (I guess) about his skills as a survivalist. He is the cameraman, audio guy, everything. No one is there. I can't tell you how convinced I am after watching his shows that humans are fundamentally social and gregarious people, and that while many of us (me included) enjoy being alone for long stretches of time, not only is extreme self-reliance not ideal, it's downright unsafe. Physically or mentally. This guy comes close to croaking on at least half of the shows I've seen.

So what does all this mean as you try to find your bliss? Ask for help. Not just from people, but from the universe. (And now you're asking, what does that hippie-talk mean to me?) Put a call out to the universe by setting an intention. I do this in yoga, but you can do it in whatever faith or meditative practice feels right for you.

  1. Get quiet. Find a quiet place--a yoga studio, your room when no one's around, church, a walk in the woods. Find some quiet where you can hear yourself think, and there are no distractions.
  2. Once you have your quiet, be still. Stop moving. Breathe deeply. Allow yourself to be comfortable not moving, not having to go anywhere. You are where you are, that is it.
  3. Talking to yourself (yes, that's OK too) silently or out loud, admit that you need help. Raise your palms in the ancient, upturned plea, if that physical gesture reinforces what you're doing and why. Or, kneel down in submission to the largeness of the world, the grand, inscrutable awesomeness that is life, and our miracle of existence. If you're someone with a science background, as I am, this can be difficult. (Cold, impersonal universe, bunch of rocks, bags of meat, etc., grumble grumble--trust me, I've been there.) But just admit that the universe is larger than you, and that you, personally, don't have all the answers. This level of humility is very important to be comfortable with and to accept.
  4. Tell the universe that you don't know what you want exactly. Or maybe you do, but you're not sure how to get there. You're confused, you feel overwhelmed. You don't know how to find your center, because if you did, you wouldn't be at this point, dammit.
  5. Now, just listen. Stay there. Be open to whatever you hear, or if you hear nothing, or feel nothing, acknowledge that it may take time, that maybe where you need to start is with patience. You may not know what you're doing there, and you may hear nothing, and if that's the case, tell yourself that you will be open to answers, signs, unsolicited advice. You will be ready when answers come your way.
  6. Repeat as necessary.
This is where you start. At least this is where you start if you're where I was when I began my journey, crying every day, sick to my stomach all the time, lost, confused, desperate for change. This is where you start when you have no idea where to go next. You admit you need help, and then you ask the universe to guide you.

You would be amazed at what a shift this can initiate. When you become open to help, you suddenly find that it's all around you, waiting for you to take advantage of it.

Once again, from my man Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth:
Bill Moyers: Do you ever have this sense when you are following your bliss, as I have at moments, of being helped by hidden hands?

Joseph Campbell: All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as the result of invisible hands coming all the time--namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin ot meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.
Couldn't agree more. It's happened in my own life, and it will happen for you. So go ahead, start talking to the universe!


Anonymous said...

Nice post.

Anonymous said...

Dear Tiffany,
Thank you for your very ENLIGHTENING post! I have to tell you that I am in currently in NEED of URGENT guidance from the Universe as well! I hope that I can get some advice promptly, since I am experiencing the same symptoms that you had described in your post. NOT PRETTY!! Ha! Ha! Thanks again and happy Sunday!!