If you are over the age of fifty and you read articles on PsychCentral, you may be ready for a new approach to finding satisfaction and happiness.
During the past thirty years, I’ve counseled hundreds of people. The work has been satisfying, mostly, but when I step back and look at the progress people have made, I believe they could have done better. Or, maybe more accurately, I could have done better.
Searching for a new approach
So, about two years ago I took a break, stepped back, and rethought my approach to working with people. As a result of that process, I created a new model. The model itself is straightforward. I have identified three different levels of consciousness: safety, heart, and spaciousness. The vast majority of therapy and coaching is geared to help people live better lives at the level of safety consciousness.
Safety consciousness makes perfect sense for people when they are younger, in their teens, twenties, thirties, and sometimes in their forties. Safety consciousness focuses on helping people increase their sense of security by having better boundaries, communication skills, time management, goals and objectives, navigating career decisions, and relationships.
I’m a champion of safety consciousness. I believe as Maslow made clear that we need to develop skills at one level before we are able to advance to another level of development. Maslow also pointed out that during times of stress we often revert to lower levels of development—and I think we see a lot of this in the current Trump era because many people are feeling less secure with the coarseness of the conversation.
Is it time to try something else?
At a certain point in our lives, and I’m suggesting that for most people this occurs somewhere around the time we turn fifty, we have likely developed a good degree of skills for living in safety consciousness, for making ourselves feel reasonably safe, having a degree of financial stability, and a reasonable sense of self.
Even so, we often feel like something is missing. We’ve done a lot of work on ourselves, grown up, achieved many things . . . so, what is it that’s missing? I believe the answer is that we’ve done about all we can do living in safety consciousness and now it’s time to elevate our level of consciousness to what I’m calling heart consciousness.
Heart consciousness offers a reprieve from the overwhelming demands of our fast-paced culture, eliminates the tendency we have to compare ourselves to other people, escapes the sense that “I have to do more, be better, fulfill my potential . . . “
A different measuring stick
Simply put, heart consciousness is an entirely different way of being in the world. It fosters appreciation, gratitude, presence, acceptance, and love. In heart consciousness, we use a completely different measuring stick. We shift our language. We activate different brain circuits. And as a result, we begin to experience a depth of satisfaction that isn’t possible to experience when we live in safety consciousness. We can experience comfort in safety consciousness, but it’s never long-lived. It’s momentary, just a brief respite before the next demand or concern arises within us.
By the way, I’m not suggesting we can live entirely in heart consciousness, but I am suggesting that we can live much more of the time in heart consciousness—especially for those of us who are in the fifth and sixth decades of our lives, and beyond. Especially beyond, because as we get older, if we don’t learn to shift into heart consciousness, followed by spacious consciousness, we will experience increased existential anxiety—driven by concerns about our aging bodies and eventual demise. When we shift into spacious consciousness, those concerns are no longer relevant because with each change in our level of consciousness we change our measuring sticks and our relationship to time and spirit.
As a result of my understanding and experience working with different levels of consciousness— in my life and with my clients—I have shifted the way I live and the way I work. In the past ten months, I have been introducing more and more people to this new model by way of a simple 21-day online course. This is not a commercial venture, although I do accept donations. This is my new passion, introducing professionals and laypeople alike to a new process in which we free ourselves from the limitations of living in safety consciousness.
If you feel like something is missing, or you are scared with the current state of affairs, or trying too hard, exhausting yourself— this 21-day course will provide you with a new approach to life. And if you want to fully immerse yourself in this new approach, contact me about the weeklong retreat we hold every winter.