It is a fact of life that as a platform for consciousness, the physical body, the Physical Unit as I like to say, is limited. It needs at least eight hours of sleep a day to function and regenerate and it cannot handle extremely high levels of consciousness without straining itself and stressing the wider environment. It is also a fact of life that as a manifestation device, your physical unit is also limited. Even in the most spiritually empowered states, your body has limited amounts of energy and limited amounts of attention. Things take time; things take attention. You cannot be all things; you cannot do all things. You have to make choices. You have to prioritize. Whatever it is you do, whether it raising children, maintaining a family, building a career, growing a garden, playing music, or pursuing spiritual attainment, if you are serious about “moving forward,” you must take into account your limitations. If you want to survive and thrive, if you want to awaken, activate, and ascend, you have to make choices.
I have found that if I want to have a healthy and happy family, if I want to be a competent, professional, and effective professor/spiritual teacher, I have to prioritize these things. In the context of these priorities, and the necessary self care that I must do every day (like eat, sleep, exercise), I do not have much time left for other things. I want my children to be happy and safe. I want my family to function and be stable. I want to be husband, father, professor and spiritual teacher. I have to recognize and honour the limitations of my physical unit. I have to prioritize. I must make, sometimes hard, choices. This may sound harsh, especially to those who come to you to take, and who will use guilt, shame and other tactics to make you open to their nefarious invasions, but there is no other way to proceed. Your physical body has limitations and you must honour these limitations. Otherwise, there will be consequences. If you ignore your physical limitations in an effort to do to many things, or please too many people, your body and your mind will deteriorate over the medium to long term. Not only that, but anything you try to do, like raising a family or developing a career, will suffer as a result. You will burn out, you will deteriorate, you will die. It is a harsh truth, but it is the truth nevertheless.
If a spiritual teacher doesn’t talk about the importance of right environment, or teaches you to ignore it, they don’t have a foundation in advanced spiritual practice. Family life and career are not the only things impacted by the limitations of your physical body. Spirituality is as well. I have found, for example, that if I want to be able attain and maintain higher levels of Consciousness in the body I have to honour the realities, limitations, and needs of my physical body. I have to eat right, I have to exercise, and I have to rest. Not only that, but I have to create an environment where my body/mind is protected from all forms of psychological, emotional, physical, and spiritual assault. For reasons I enumerate elsewhere, violent and toxic environments are incompatible with higher levels of Consciousness and more advanced levels of spiritual attainment. If I want to advance spiritually, I need, we all need, an environment that is free of stress, chaos, and violence. I call this Right Environment and it is absolutely essential because while you and I can attain higher levels of consciousness quite easily without eating right, exercising, resting, and establishing right environment, without external assistance, neither you nor I can maintain them for very long unless we have established right environment. And really, that’s the goal. The goal of spirituality is not a one off mystical glimpse or short periods of transcendence boosted by meditative or entheogen practice. The goal is consistent and persistence existence in states of higher Consciousness, Realization, and Connection. If I want to attain that goal, I have to establish right environment.
The advice I give here seems sensible enough, and I would like to think that most people reading these words would think it exceedingly wise to prioritize, protect, and establish right environment. Unfortunately, implementing a state of existence that honours your physical limitations and spiritual priorities can be quite difficult. Intention and unintentional distractions, demands from those who are parasitically dependent on your energies, and violence from those threatened by your progress (spouses, bosses, even politicians), can come hard and fast. It is possible to “deal” with the distractions, demands, and abuse, but if you expose yourself to toxicity and violence, emotional, psychological, spiritual, and physical damage accrues no matter how “tough” and “strong” you think you might be. If your goal is spiritual attainment, you are far better off eliminating toxicity as far as is possible. The question at this point becomes, how?
Obviously eliminating toxicity and violence from your personal environment can be a major challenge. We, as a planet, are trained to live in toxicity and violence. Our spiritualities teach violence (good beats up on evil), or justice system models violence (punishment is just another word for violence/assault), our entertainment systems shove incredible violence and abuse in our face, our political systems are driven by violent confrontation, and our parents and teachers regularly apply psychological, emotional, and even physical violence to get us to do what they want. It is a sad but true statement that violence is a pervasive and normalized aspect of our existence on this planet.
Unfortunately, I cannot even go into detail in this short article about the process of eliminating violence and toxicity in your environment. The point here is to make you aware of the issue so you can begin to think about, and actuate changes that are required if you wish to pursue advanced spiritual practice. Eliminating toxicity in your life can be as easy as leaving a sexual partner, or it can be as challenging as a family intervention, or overthrowing a violent and undemocratic political regime. I leave the details up to you. I can say three general things however that might get you pointed in the right direction.
First of all, honestly assess your environments. Get a picture of how toxic they really are. I have designed a simple survey, the “How Toxic is my World” survey, which you can use to assess your home, work, school, and social environments for toxicity. For your reference, I view a Toxicity Score (TS) over 20, especially in your home environment, as a major obstacle to spiritual advancement.
Second, intend and visualize. As I explain in great detail at the foundation level of study, intent and visualization are the necessary first steps towards changing your environment. It is not the only step by any means, because in addition to intending and visualizing you also need to take action (see step three below), but they are still important. Intent and visualize set the direction and charge the process.
In the context of establishing right environment, I recommend boundary visualizations and empowerment mantras.
Boundary visualizations are visualizations designed to provide spiritual protection for you and yours. Boundary visualizations discourage toxic people from entering your private spaces. I simply visualize a white bubble around myself, my wife, and my children.Empowerment mantras are statements like “I take my power back” or “I reclaim my power.” Reciting an empowerment mantra helps draw energy and set direction. For more mantras and visualizations, visit this link.
Third, take action. Any effort to establish an environment that honours your limitations and is conducive towards spiritual advancement requires that you take action. You can sit, intend, and attract all you want, but if you don’t get up off your proverbial ass and do something, nothing will change. What sorts of actions you take depend on your life situation and what needs to be done. If you are single and live alone it is much easier to create a safe and calm environment. On the other hand, if you live in a large family, changing the way everybody does things might take major effort. And of course, if you live in a country where everybody is fighting and hating… well, you get the idea. The actions you take could be easier or harder. It all just depends. Still, you have to do it. And not only for the sake of spiritual advancement. As research is clearly showing, toxic environments are bad for your mental, emotional, and physical health. You just can’t stay healthy or move forward if you brew in a toxic stew.
As for my and family, I can tell you what we have done. We have instituted a no abuse rule. Nobody in the house is allowed to assault, abuse, give dirty looks to, or otherwise send shade in any way. Our definition of abuse and assault is liberal. Even a mild look or a mean tone in voice is considered a violent assault and is challenged right away. In addition to the no abuse rule, we have strict boundaries around who we let in to the home sanctuary. Nobody gets in who is not respectful, considerate, empathic, and concerns. Nobody gets in who is violent in any way. We keep the toxic world away at all times. We do not compromise on this. I, my wife, and my children need a safe, quiet, calm, and protected space to develop, grow, and mature.The result is a home environment with unique and rarefied energies. Clients regularly comment on how different the “energy” is. Of course, we’re not perfect by any means and we have fights just like everybody else. But they don’t happen often and when they do, accountability, respect, and the reestablishment of care and concern is the primary goal.
In conclusion, I’d just like to say that establishing not toxic home environment (establishing right environment) may be a challenge, but you have to do it. If you can’t establish it in your entire home space right away, try establishing smaller cocoon like spaces within your home environment. A closed bedroom door, a basement hot bath, a quiet nook outside can all function as temporary safe spaces. If not even this is possible, then boundaries are not respected and you may need to seek professional assistance. Don’t balk at this. Remember, your physical unit has limits and needs. If you don’t honor the needs and limitations, if you don’t create an environment conducive to health and spirituality, you won’t make any progress forward.
Art by Hermann Nitsch