“One world is dying,
and another is being born.
Let’s tend to both of them with compassion.”
In recent times we have suddenly found ourselves immersed in an ocean of uncertainty, flooded by feelings of vulnerability, confined to “sheltering in place,” physical distancing or social isolation, while at the same time many of our familiar escape routes from the usual irritations and frustrations of ordinary daily life to distraction and incessant busy-ness, have been cut off or reduced. As a result, many of us have not been able to avoid coming face to face with the persistent and sometimes terrifying presence of our “inner enemies” parading back and forth through the narrow corridors of our minds.
We are clearly in a time of crisis and disruption. The global CV-19 ordeal has provided countless dangers and opportunities—as the Chinese character for “crisis” implies. Yet, while this may be one of the most significant global crises we have seen in our lifetimes it will likely not be the last. The lessons we learn now and the strengths we develop, will serve as our wisest investments for the future.
As many of us are seeing for ourselves in such potent and dangerous times, our minds can become our greatest ally or our most dreaded enemy. In times of crisis our skill in managing our minds, or lack thereof, can either liberate and guide us in ways that are beneficial to ourselves and others, or debilitate and destroy us and those we are with.
When we were invited to develop the once secret Jedi Warrior Training Program for the U.S. Special Forces, our charter was to teach teams of the most technically sophisticated and well-equipped warriors to “recognize and befriend their inner enemies and stop the war inside.” One of the primary axioms of this intensive six-month full-time immersion training program was, “You can only manage what you monitor.” Jedi Warrior grew out of our work with the U.S. Army’s legendary “First Earth Battalion” task-force which envisioned how a new generation of soldiers equipped with extra-ordinary skills and the ethics of warrior monks would become an earth-stewarding force-for-good to help people throughout the world in times of crisis in the 21st century. While this inspiring vision was greatly influential, its full potential has yet to be fully realized within the military. The noble spirit of this work lives on and these notes are meant in part to enlist you in this noble endeavor
While in decades past, disciplines of personal mastery such as martial arts, meditation, and mindfulness may have been primarily for elite teams or the privileged few, in times of crisis like these, traditions of deep transformational learning are essential for everyone seeking to maintain their health, sanity, and care for others in order to survive and flourish.
If we hadn’t signed up for the “how to dance with your inner demons” class before now, this would certainly be a good time to learn! While learning to recognize, embrace, befriend, and renegotiate how we dance with the often overwhelming, frightening or dominating forces of our minds can be humbling, as we observe, investigate, and experiment with uncertainty, anxiety, frustration, self-judgement, loathing, boredom, ad infinitum, we will certainly learn some helpful new moves and discover new dimensions of freedom, creative options, and compassionate regard that are ennobling and helpful for ourselves and for all those other “my-selves” within the field of our influence – which is potentially vast in this age of speed of light social media. Learning to tap the wealth of our inner resources of courage, confidence, skill, wisdom, and compassion helps us to recognize and befriend, harness, transform, or redirect the powerful forces masquerading as the gremlins of our minds. This learning is also essential for developing the inner science and wisdom training that few people have had the good fortune or motivation to seek out previously.
When confronted with the tremendous challenges of leading her people in direct actions to stop the powerful tar sands oil pipeline interests from coming into and polluting the Salish Sea near Vancouver, Amy George, daughter of the great Chief Dan George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in British Columbia, inspired her people saying, “it’s time for us to warrior up!” To us this means to muster the courage, commitment, and discipline required to dedicate ourselves to developing greater capacity by learning vital new skills necessary to face and embrace the waves of change to come, while standing strong and maintaining our commitment to the highest values that we hold to be true.