Quit Trying to Save the World and Save Yourself
When I was writing my book Being Single, With Cancer I interviewed a number of single cancer survivors, many of whom had started organizations to serve populations of people like themselves in some way. I was talking with a social worker one day who pointed out to me that most of the organizations we were most familiar with serving the young adult cancer community had been started by single people. Wow! I was shocked I hadn’t realized that before.
Many of us have a desire to contribute in a significant way, to do our part in “saving the world.” Getting cancer three times helped me realize a pattern of putting everyone and everything ahead of myself. I thought if I could just serve enough, help enough, contribute enough, I would make the world a better place and receive more love, recognition, acknowledgement that would in turn make me feel better about myself.
I LOVE that those single survivors used their experience to impact others in a positive way. That is what I did myself by writing my book and forming Solo Survivors to support other singles who are struggling with something challenging, including cancer. But I also know that all the external focus won’t bring us what we really desire – deep peace and well-being. THAT is an inside job.
We have been conditioned to believe that focusing on ourselves is selfish. I completely believed this for such a long time. Whenever I took some time for myself, or chose to watch TV instead of volunteering, read a book instead of reaching out to help a friend who was hurting, I felt badly about myself. I could never do enough, never serve enough, never give enough, and all that focus on the ways in which I was lacking or falling short just left me deflated. It led me to teach a five-week telecourse on Being Enough.
It was only when I began putting myself first, recognizing my own needs and taking better care of me that I could also more joyfully show up for others. I will never stop serving, contributing, and connecting - it is among my greatest joys. But I will no longer do so to a place of depletion, or with a sense of resentment because there was never enough time for me, or my service wasn’t reciprocated. Because I only show up now when I absolutely want to and with the greatest sense of joy, I don’t need anything in return and I don’t feel burned out or resentful.
A few years ago, I read about a 1983 study that measured the effect of meditation by a small group of people on deaths during war, and found a significant drop in deaths (as well as other crime rates) during these periods. This principle is being used more and more currently as well. You can read about various efforts here and here and here. Hearing about these experiments was the first time I saw the potential value to others of MY peace of mind. Is it possible that the wider world can be affected by a small group or even an individual achieving a higher state of being?
Turns out, the answer is a resounding YES! There have been numerous scientific studies conducted about this phenomenon as well. One occurred at an event I just happened to attend (though I didn’t know about it until later). At Burning Man in 2012 and 2013 random number generators were set up at various points around Black Rock City and there was a huge spike (i.e. not random) during the big event of the week – the burning of the man, when the collective consciousness of the community was all focused on one thing. You can read more about this and what it means here.
The science of kinesiology has also measured the energetic vibration of the scale of human emotions and charted it from 0-1000, according to David Hawkins, M.D., PhD. Shame and guilt calibrate between 20-50, love at 500, peace around 600 and enlightenment from 700-1000. The energetic vibration of almost anything can be measured using this methodology (commonly called muscle-testing) from publications (The Course in Miracles measures 600) to individuals.
“Dr. Hawkins points out that the two greatest spiritual growth barriers seem to be at level 200 and 500. Two hundred, the level of courage, represents a profound shift from destructive and harmful behavior to life-promoting and [connected] lifestyles; everything below 200 makes one go weak using kinesiology. Currently, approximately 78% of the world’s population is below this significant level.
The destructive capacity of this majority drags down all of mankind without the counterbalancing effect of the 22% above 200. Because the scale of consciousness is logarithmic, each incremental point represents a giant leap in power. As such, one person calibrated at 600 counterbalances the negativity of 10 million people below 200.
The second great barrier is level 500, or Love. Love in this context is a way of being in the world. According to Dr. Hawkins, the reason the level of love is so difficult to achieve is because our ego is so rooted in the physical domain as opposed to the spiritual domain, which emerges at 500.