Learn and grow through experiences


April 2016

Why your heart is dark

“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out.” Jeremiah 17:9-10. What a deep and profound truth. This old bible verse deserves to be put into modern world context the ExperienceZone way. 

Life, love and light

Read this universal anaphora as follows: Life is granted to you. You’re born to spend some decades on this planet in your body. To reach what? The light. It stands for your aims in life, mission and ultimately fulfillment. Everlasting happiness or even enlightenment if you will and/or aspire. Being alive is a rather neutral state though. Moving from one state to another, i.e. numb existence to vibrant satisfaction requires energy. As you probably learned in school, it requires effort to transform a substance from one state of aggregation into another (e.g. heat changes H2O from ice to water to steam). Same applies to your states of mind. The form of energy required here is called… you guess it… love.

Love vs. knowledge

Love is the reason we’re born. Your father and mother expressed love in your physical production process. So, essentially love is our natural energetic state. It emerges from our gut as a raw emotion and communicates through our heart in form of various feelings. However, society, church, culture, media and school (or whoever else you want to blame) made us focus on thinking. Consequently, we mutate into heady people throughout life – especially in the “developed world”. This is dangerous, since thinking bears an illusionary certainty that we can explain the universe. In fact, we weren’t, aren’t and won’t ever be able to. The world around us is far too complex to grasp for the human brain, which is powerful yet limited in its capabilities.

The heart reaches further and deeper though (mind its electric field spans almost 5 meters). Its capacities are much larger and its intelligence goes far beyond the one of the brain. It’s fair to state “where the brain ends, the heart just gets started”. Hence I invite you to realign to your energetic roots as a human and claim your birthright of a primarily heart-driven being. Yet be aware that the journey to your heart bears risks. It’s a dark and sometimes dirty one. Introspection can be painful but is valuable and even necessary to come into terms with your past and thus yourself (since you’re a physical manifestation of your experiences). Also, if you decide love to be your driver rather than logos, you’ll step into uncharted territory. Love bears uncertainty but makes you tap deep into your earthly existence. Logos comes with the illusion of predictability plus only scratches the surface of inside experiences. I plea for love, but recommend you to get your heart in shape.

How to strengthen your heart

Your heart is your most important organ – physically, energetically and spiritually. Hence you want to treat it well. Here’s how:

  1. Embrace the concept of oscillation: Zigging and zagging. Our world moves in rhythms. Day and night. Warm and cold. Ebb and flow. We’re part of this earthly theater and thus tied to circadian cycles. Same applies to your heart. It requires regular challenges, such as endurance sports but likes to rest as well. So you want to find a sport, which makes fun and your heart to beat in a healthy range per minute but immediately afterwards dedicate some time to rest.
  2. Come into terms with yourself: Your body stores all experiences energetically. Everything, which happened in your life and you gave meaning to, is captured on a subtle level. Your heart continuously deals with these imprints. Especially whilst you’re sleeping. Dreaming is nothing else than your subconscious processing your past. Your heart plays a key role, as feelings cause the most prevalent and deepest memories. Therefore you want to engage in heart-intelligence exercises plus try supporting techniques, such as prayer, meditation, contemplation, visualization and affirmation to equip your heart for its night-shifts.
  3. Fall in love unconditionally: Love is the most powerful force in the universe. It shines through your heart as the most powerful tool. Love can make you fly high and fall deep. Both are equally important stages of the emotional roller-coaster ride. Consequently, you need to appreciate both without judging them. Many people want the highs without the lows. But you’ll never be able to appreciate the peaks if you haven’t been through the valleys before. Recognize and accept all feelings resulting from the uncontrollable adventure called love.

Outsides attract, insides connect

Why do people find each other? And why do they break up? Apparently there’re internal and external factors driving those decisions. Let’s dive into it the ExperienceZone way.

How we make choices

There’re subtle differences between buying a soft drink and falling in love. However, both are decisions – taken rationally or emotionally. Engaging in human relationships, no matter if it’s a friend or partner, is a highly complex process, which happens subconscious to a large extent. Therefore we want to wrap our minds around it to demystify its rationale and understand ourselves better.

Let me pose a truism here: The more complex a decision, the more likely we take it emotionally. This makes sense as our brain is only able to manage a limited amount of parameters. Of course, we can use frameworks to support decision processes logically. Yet rating potential lovers on a one-to-ten scale and making a choice based on who scored highest, bottom line doesn’t only sound utterly unromantic but also bears the illusion of behavioral predictions. In fact, we’re really bad in forecasting the future when it comes to romances. So let’s drop this thought and put our heart in the driver seat.

It seems like we need to trust our intuition and feelings here, which is totally reasonable given that love as an emotion is the strongest force in the universe and emerges from our gut. Up it moves into our heart and creates derived feelings, such as attraction, compassion and joy. Hence the cheesy advice to listen to our heart rings true.

Why outsides open doors

Vision is our dominant sense. Of course, there’s differences between us. Some are prone to listen, others like to touch, smell or taste things. Yet, most of us are primarily visual beings and our brain thinks in pictures. Memories are stored in mental images and visualization is a powerful tool, which often trumps affirmations (repeating positive beliefs). Observing animals when they’re pea-cocking to make up or fighting to show off proves evidence that dresses and alpha-behavior attracts females – if authentic and backed up properly.

In fact, the beauty and fashion industry play on these evolutionary facts and equip us with the latest make-up and hair trends as well as haute couture to impress our social network – in particular prospective partners. We all want to be acknowledged, recognized and appreciated as to who we are or at least what we represent to the outside world. Attractive appearance creates that first impression in split seconds. That’s the reason why you actually cannot overdress as it impacts not only your perceived status by others but also your self-confidence. “There’s no second chance for a first impression”. This especially applies to dates and includes your overall appearance – from facial expressions, body languages to clothes.

Beware that there’s other unconscious non-visual drivers of appeal, which includes the tone of your voice and your smell though. But let’s go down these rabbit holes in another blog post…

Why insides make you stay

Congrats: You met each other and informally agreed to dive into an adventure called love. This might last for some time – hopefully a lifetime. The quality and length of a relationship depend on many factors. Primary on internal ones. Outside attraction is the door opener. Commonalities and differences propel you into a virtual or vicious circle. The entire joint roller-coaster experience is a function of your similarities, willingness to compromise and emotional stability.

Similarities set the foundation. It determines whether you saw the seed of love on fertile or dead ground. Whereby you and your partner don’t need to be clones of each other, who don’t need to speak at all but communicate telepathically, have the same world views and values as well as engage in exactly the same hobbies. But: You need to have some things in common: Those, which are important to both of you. Healthy differences in fact can complement and thus enrich your lives.

This builds the bridge to the second ingredient: Willingness to compromise. Oh dear, one of my weak-spots in previous relationships. “I don’t like your personality, attitude or habits.” How superficial. Anyway, good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement. Now I know that willingness to compromise is key to a happy life in general and hope you do too.

Last but by no means least is emotional stability. You cannot love someone without fearing to lose her. Love and fear are two expressions on the same emotional scale and alternate depending on your mood and… …stability. Stability comes from knowing yourself and your  mission and aims in life. The more confident you’re, the calmer you behave when the stuff hits the fan. And it will in every relationship…

How to build fulfilling relationships

There’s no one-size-fits-all recipe for a love-pill, which leads to everlasting attraction, a continuous stream of romantic moments and progressive mutual growth. However, there’re some dos and don’ts:

  1. Find a good match: Our modern “developed” world creates the illusion of perfection. You’ve to look like a model, be successful like a superstar and live a happy life until everyone commits suicide upon your death since there’s no reason for them to live on without you. Drop the idea of perfection. Seek for a good match, not the perfect one. Someone who’s flawed but complements you. Otherwise you’ll die alone.
  2. Learn to compromise: This is a skill, not a talent. Latter are overrated anyway. Nurture beats nature always. Genes make up only a quarter of most attributes in life. No excuses. Discipline yourself rather than your partner. But: Define some must-haves. Find someone who embodies them. Then learn to deal with her imperfections exposing along the way.
  3. Learn and grow together: In a relationship, switch into a beginner mindset. Discover the individuality of your partner with curiosity and appreciate it for what is: A mirror to your self and chance to learn from each other. Instead of judging, you want to seek for growth opportunities. Everyone has something to teach you. Just open your eyes, ears and soul.

The beauty of pain

All beings struggle for pleasure and want to avoid pain. Yet is pain really inherently bad or is there something deep and transformative to it, which justifies a second look? Let’s do it the ExperienceZone way.

What pain really is

I’m a huge fan of Osho. An Indian guru who passed away too early. He posed an interesting hypothesis: The only problem is psychological pain. Physical pain is a non-issue, as once it manifests itself, we’re forced to accept it. Here’s an example: You break your arm during sports. Now, you might feel physical pain, which disappears after a while. However, the psychological pain might last, since you are worried not being able to work out soon again or being handicapped at school or work for some time.

This leads us to the second provocative statement: Psychological pain is an intense continuous negative feeling. Feelings are the children of thoughts and emotions. Negative feelings derive from the only negative emotion: Fear. Worries about the future are forward looking thoughts contextualizing fear. Regrets about past events are backward looking thoughts mixed with fear. Do you get my point? The root cause is our mind wandering into the past or present and putting negative meaning onto situations. If we run into a vicious thought cycle fueled by never ending fear, pain emerges.

Why pain is a blessing

Believe me: I learned the lessons below the hard way and still need to remind myself every time when my expectations don’t match reality.

  • Pain makes you find yourself: A recent break-up led to a heartbreak. This type  of pain is somewhat interesting since it relates to another person. Whenever I’m faced with a challenge, I go deep into it, which meant contemplating about the time spent together. After some whiles in those conscious meditative and unconscious dream states, I got increasingly self aware. Self-awareness is not an epiphany moment but construction work. You peel the onion until the naked self lies in front of your mind. Admittedly a disturbing process and discovery for an extrovert like me. Anyway, self-awareness is the necessary prerequisite for self-acceptance, which might be equally difficult to obtain. Full acceptance of my failures and weaknesses as they made me who I am today: A unique yet flawed, a complete yet vulnerable person.
  • Pain makes you change your life: The final stage of the continuum is self-actualization. Once you know who you are, you can change your belief-system based on your natured and nurtured personality. You can give up of all limitations and let go of all restrictions you’ve put on your self because he said or she said. You can fully express yourself and completely align your words and actions to you inner core. You can define your calling, mission or  raison d’etre based on your uniqueness, the portfolio of passions and god-given set of gifts.
  • Pain makes you value pleasure: Everything in our world is relative, i.e. happens on one dimensional scales and is subject to individual perceptions. In fact, there’s no objective reality but only the meaning or quality we give events. Visually we separate brightness and darkness. Yet there wouldn’t be darkness without us knowing what brightness is. It’s just different intensities of light. Hot and cold are tactile perceptions. Yet there would be no experience of hot water if we wouldn’t know how cold one feels like (mind the hands-in-the-bucket-test). It’s just different qualities of temperature. Same applies to pleasure and pain. We only appreciate pleasure if we experienced its counterpart: Pain.

Some words of caution: I don’t urge you to seek pain. There’s good reason why we’re wired to avoid pain. We’re meant to live a happy life. Pleasure doesn’t make you happy though. It only scratches the surface. To become truly fulfilled, you need to look at the dark fruits on the pain tree. You can only harvest those if you step back and change your viewpoint.

How to make pain your ally

Here’re my takeaways and actionable advises after dealing with psychological and physical pain all my life as a human being.

  1. Appreciate it: Welcome pain once it’s there. Pain is your teacher. Open the door. Embrace it. A private mandatory coaching session hosted by the universe is nothing to be ashamed of but a chance to become whole again, learn and eventually grow.
  2. Dive into it: Learn to contemplate or meditate over pain. Listen into yourself. What kind of pain are you feeling? Why are you experiencing it? What does it have to do with your life? Then take full responsibility instead of blaming anyone for “hurting” you.
  3. Draw conclusions: Think about what you want to change. Pain will vanish, yet might return if you don’t transform fundamentally. Stay vulnerable as this attitude bears most learning potential and is the real essence of being alive.

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