Considerations for information gathering, sorting, and prioritizing processes
Discernment begins with being able to perceive more honest information about an ecosystem, at the individual level, human to human level, and beyond human level. It is not necessarily about getting a single answer. Informational honesty requires techniques that widen perception, and over time build more intricate navigation systems based on practice and the experience of following different impressions and patterns. Our baseline for this must be “sensory honesty”, where we can plainly track challenging states like pain, fear, and hunger (strong motivators for defensive behaviors) in ourselves as a regular occurrence.
There is no one right way to discern inside of the diverse array of stimuli that our systems are engaging with in any given moment. And because of the many different access needs, fate patterns, and histories of people we find it important to work with a harm reduction model. This usually means relaxing our idealism and acknowledging our limits, while also working collectively toward helping each other have kinder lives.
While there is no one right way to discern, we can say that people fluctuate between states of narrow and wide discernment. Based on training, skill level, and just the flavor of the day, not everyone’s discernment is “equal” or will have equal weight in every context. Part of this training is about having good reference points; what are you referencing or sourcing from as you are taking in information? If you are not referencing something very sobering, like secure attachment to reality, or primordial essence, or a tree/forest/mountain, then your discernment ends up being recycled habit. Fresh water and air cannot get in.
What is one of the most consistent bringers of “fresh water and air”? The contemplative artistic center. Sussing out “right artistic distance” and the appropriate way to relate to the unfolding creative expressions. Discernment here becomes about training your perception and inner capacity to be able to recognize and access infinitely subtle, and infinitely diverse options inside of an artistic moment. Not for the sake of “having more”, or feeling like an expert, but because it brings us closer to the generous force that is behind our artistic spark. We can establish intimacy and easier flow between the pulsations of impulse, following, relaxation, and call and response, as opposed to the energy draining ping pong between extreme freeze (excessive inhibition/analysis paralysis) and discharge (deficient inhibition/low impulse control) .
Just like a little kid learning to do something for the first time, we oscillate between intense hesitation or under-doing, and reactivity/discharge/overdoing. We tend to need to feel the extremes on either end before we can access more precision within those extremes. And as we practice and learn, our internal “maps”, which are hopefully a combination of many aspects of ourselves and our environment, will become more appropriately informed and we will be able to track subtler and subtler thresholds that give us more options, and a sense of vitality and support. If you don’t resonate with “maps”, consider yourself as an instrument that naturally wants to develop; add more strings, change dimensions, tuning, and options for sound. This is not a track toward any narrow idea of perfectionism or beauty, but a responsible participation in reality with integrity based on personal direct experience and environmental guidance.
Stress response/threat response is a dominant spirit inside of many social interactions and artistic processes, to the point that we are now at epidemic levels of stress. Along with that we are also seeing many different forms of coping with and masking that stress, some of which can be incredibly elusive. This makes the development of our internal maps or tuning our instrument very difficult, because there is so much masked terror in the system and confusion about what is actually happening. We can remain in patterns of overwhelm and avoidance for a very long time, hosting energies that can’t quite get what they need to move on in their life cycle or find their right place. In response to this circumstance we ask, “What if you discovered how to play directly with your threat response?” What if you could apply a base of animist secure attachment (which hosts curiosity, relaxation, and intention) to playing with pain, fear, and hunger? For anyone with a resource based energy healing or nondual meditation practice you probably know that this is essentially bringing a part of reality back to its origins, so that it can re-settle into the network of life in a good way. How this looks exactly for each being, in each moment, is where we might start to enjoy ourselves as creators, despite the discomfort.
The direction we are headed is building skilled practitioner/artist groups who can maintain their own energetic integrity and maturity to coordinate around higher organized group dynamics. For project birthing and stewarding, for relational hygiene (conflict work, cultural rehab, addressing inequities and disharmonies in ecosystems both human and non-human) and resource distribution and decision making. Many of us know this is the direction (where we have come from ancestrally, and also what has to be reworked for our current contexts), but there are many traps and pitfalls that communities find themselves in as a result of both modern human-centric entrainment as well as the biological realities of navigating pain and pleasure, aka addiction patterns in humans.
What we have consistently seen in many other containers (including our own) is a strong underestimation of what is required for a traumatized, modernized nervous system to actually change or “heal” in fundamental ways. To find new pathways to better options and skillsets that do not result in more clever ways for the root of the issue to replicate.
There are so many places you can go right now to find space holders who have wonderful gifts and talents, but have not developed animist secure attachment to reality; to change/ambiguity/death, and by implication, life itself. And so they cannot assist others in becoming aware of all the ways we are constantly wiggling away from the subtle and not so subtle transformations and annihilations that occur when we can sit with these truths that come from uncertainty/death/life.
This is a kind of maturity that would have been commonplace across cultures all over the world, and you can still find slightly better examples of this in other places that are less hypnotized by the west. But that is not the situation most of us are in. So we are designing with this possible future in mind, but we are not there yet in any consistent way. We hold these spaces so that we can begin. To create somewhat of a curative/sobering environment where we can “detox” and retrain together.
We are not saying we are perfect at this. We are speaking as people who have experienced significant recovery from insecure attachment and westernized addiction and domination behaviors. Experiencing that kind of recovery and seeing how our clients and participants also mirror that recovery, has inspired much of how we design and how we facilitate. There is no end goal, there is no final depth to be reached. The “detox” and retrain phase is just one part of a largely unpredictable continuation of life revealing itself.
8.23.22 Discernment: Between Sun and Moon Retreat Sept. 2022