Experiments in Ritual and Science


When I was in school, I wanted to be everything: I wanted to be pretty and popular and smart. I wanted to be a complete individual but also felt if people didn't understand me or accept me, or weren't enthusiastic about me and my ideas, then there was some sort of misunderstanding or injustice involved. 

I wanted to be authentically me and also needed universal approval.

I went to school for writing. Reading and writing and music were and are my first love. If you want to write fiction, imagining events as if you are watching them from above is a really beautiful and useful skill. If you are trying to figure out what you want, having that "omniscient" viewpoint as your own is debilitating and confusing (not to mention, prone to false ideas, because, you are after all, not looking at anything from some detached perspective, you are a person with a singular point of view.)

I have recently returned to talk therapy, where I have learned that I'm so in my head that I can easily dissociate from my body when I am not comfortable. (I could write an entire article about how this all coincides with my birth chart, but that's for another day). So l have been practicing being in my body with its sensations and not running away from it when there is discomfort, anxiety, etc. (I want to note that the person who referred me to talk therapy was a very powerful reiki healer, Shannon, or Radical Reiki. I mention this because I believe that it is to our great benefit that we not compartmentalize our spiritual, artistic and scientific faculties or create competition between them.)

This past year I got really into Abraham Hicks, and her clever and straight-forward way of explaining the Law of Attraction. I know there are a lot of people who criticize the law of attraction, and I definitely think there is a danger of washing over difficult subjects, and systemic historical justice when one works with the idea that we are all attracting the energy that we are putting out there, but in general, I very much believe that it is worth asking yourself, what your energy is. And it's not a simple process at all.

So before we get into the criticisms of the Law of Attraction, which generally states that the Universe delivers our reality by matching our energetic vibration, let's suspend our disbelief and really dig into how to find out how to examine your energy.

On an episode of The Unmistakable Creative, I recently heard Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School Srini Pillay, discuss the importance of the subconscious with goal setting. In particular, he discusses money. He talks about the idea that he dislikes that political narrative that the "rich get richer" because it ingrains in our subconscious that having money is something that a bad person does, or that having money is not a noble goal, and that if someone has money, there is some sort of injustice involved. 

I bring this up, not to talk about politics, but to bring up an example of how our cultural subconscious beliefs go so deep, and are absorbed passively from our early childhood in such a way that working with "our energy" is an incredibly long process. For me, I know that before I really learn to work with the law of attraction, I have to examine what it is I think I deserve, why it is that I feel responsible for everyone else's feelings (often putting mine on the back burner) and how to reprogram my own heart to understand that when I receive positive things, that I am not taking them away from anyone. 

I could go on and on about this topic but the most beautiful realizations of this past year for me have been that the spiritual work I have been doing and the scientific inquiry I have around learning the ethics of business, the psychology of worth, the habits of people who live in countries with the longest lifespan, how to make human connection, all point to the very same truths, no matter which lens you decide to put on: that we all very much need to feel like our authentic selves, and that this involves facing that which makes us feel scared and uncomfortable and learning to share and connect with others so that we feel like we aren't sleep walking through life or living in order to avoid fear of the unknown, because let's face it, every single thing we have done that has brought us fulfillment, joy or the nurturing and sharing of our gifts, has been scary, and unknown before we did it. 

Some really interesting easy things I learned in this last year:

  • Gratitude lists work. Training yourself to find positive gifts in your life sets off the happiness circuitry of your brain.
  • Talking to yourself in the second person works! Brendan Burchard and Srini Pillay, both did academic studies where they found that those who address themselves by their first names in self talk, saying, Xenia, you're going to to have a great time sending this newsletter, actually experience positive neural activity and better results from their positive self talk.
  • Gay Hendricks, a renowned psychologist, recently said in an interview (again on The Unmistakable Creative), that when he talks to all of the highest paid, CEO's and asks what is the one thing they all want, it's simply ten minutes to think quietly, and the time to be completely alone to just think.  I mention this because over and over again, from spiritual teachers to behavioral psychologists, ten minutes of meditation is said to make shifts in consciousness and life quality that are profound and long-lasting. If you don't have time to meditate, simply sitting in ten minutes of non-distracted present reflection also causes positive benefits.
  • The Law of Attraction recommends the same technique some psychologists call "Distraction Therapy." If there is a thought you have that recurs, ask yourself, "Is this helpful?" Most worries about subjects you cannot control or about people that ultimately have to handle their own growth challenges, actually aren't helping. If a thought isn't helpful, Gay Hendricks suggests distraction therapy. That means if you are worrying about getting a promotion obsessively and there's nothing you can do to sway it, go outside and take a walk, eat a piece of chocolate, listen to music. Abraham Hicks similarly discusses that if you are worrying about something you can't change and it feels like it's lowering your vibration, to simply not think of it. Whatever that subject is, has attached itself to a negative energy, whether that be lack, unfairness, helplessness or anger. *I say this with a gentle understanding that it won't jive with the activist part of your soul, but I would say, that if it's something you feel you can help with activism, then it doesn't fall under this category. Because calling your senators and giving helps, whereas crying about the state of the world in general, (while I have done it) might not want to be the place you want your heart to land every day for days. 

I will definitely explore more on this topic in the future. If you have read this far, thank you from the bottom of my heart.