Thursday, May 06, 2010

On Not Being in Control

A  former high official from the Drug Enforcement Agency recently said publicly that the so-called War on Drugs is over, and we lost. He continued, saying that we should just legalize the drugs, standardize them, distribute them through approved outlets and tax them. This would both take the money out of drugs, discourage crime at many levels, and provide safer drugs for those who are addicted.  Apparently, over time, the number of addicts will decline, because although the drugs are cheaper, they are never given away free, which is how many get hooked originally. (This is what is happening in Switzerland, as a result of their policies and laws.)

There's a huge controversy simmering over what to do about illegal immigration. I'm not going to take sides here. However, there is large scale sociological research which shows that stricter enforcement of our borders has made the illegal alien population larger, rather than smaller. Why? Because now, once you get here, you can no longer afford to leave -- you might not get back in to the US again.

The largest economy in the world can neither enforce its drug laws nor control its borders. What can you or I control? Our bodies? Our thoughts? Our emotions? Our actions?

Most of our bodily processes, like digestion, regulation of body temperature, and heart rate, are beneath the level of our conscious awareness. You can breathe consciously, but that takes so much of your attention that you really don't do much else consciously while you're doing it (this is why it's a form of meditation). Digestion is accomplished largely by a community of friendly bacteria, not even strictly by 'us'.

Some say that 80% of our thoughts are habitual and unintentional, that is, out of our control. Over time, you can change deep beliefs, or substitute positive thoughts for negative ones, again, with a fair amount of intention and effort. This is what hypnosis and NLP and certain other healing modalities are for.

Your emotions are caused by a combination of a triggering event (which is out of your control), along with the deep belief structure (also normally out of your control), which create thoughts, which create emotions.

Your actions are under your control -- at least to the degree that you can consciously override all the beliefs, thoughts, and emotions. And to the degree that your actions affect your body, you can control your body.

Let me suggest, then, that control is a pretty outmoded idea, born of the industrial age, in which everything was related to a machine. In a machine, you control the parts, how they fit together, how fast they work.  People became cogs in the great machine, its acolytes. But the entire world as a great machine? An illusion. Perhaps a useful illusion, because it encourages action, which may change things, but still an illusion.

Perhaps being in the flow, or being in alignment, is a better idea. Think of it this way: a dam is the illusion of control; water is the flow of life. Would you rather be the water or the dam? The water will continue to flow, forever. It is powered by the sun, which evaporates water from everywhere, and earth's gravity, which brings that water to earth as rain, which runs downhill. Water will fill up rivers which have been dammed, and flow over the top to the sea. The dam slows them down, perhaps, but doesn't stop them. Eventually, water will wear down the dam.

If you think of yourself as a drop of water, then your goals might be different. You might choose to be in the center of the flow, where it's calmer (there's always turbulence at the edges, because of friction with the sides of the channel). You might want to know where the river is heading, while realizing that you don't control the direction. That might help you get back into the center of the flow, if you're at an edge, where you feel the turbulence. You might choose to enjoy the scenery as you pass, knowing that you can't stay in the same place, can't hold on to the view. You might choose to connect with the other droplets of water, because collectively, we can change the course of the river.