In a cynical age that constantly drowns us with information and conditions us to be mistrustful, the majority of us harbor a deep-seated yearning for more meaning and connection. Why is that? And how can we be truly fulfilled?
If you feel dissatisfied with your life and helpless to make a change, you are not alone. Many people struggle to make sense of the world and find true purpose. Two decades ago, these same feelings drove Jonni Pollard to seek out a better way of being in the world. A master teacher in India introduced him to ancient Vedic practices that changed Jonni’s life forever; the anxiety that had tormented him for so many years was finally replaced by a deep sense of purpose and fulfillment. Now an expert meditation teacher, Jonni’s mission is to share the knowledge and techniques he has learned to help anyone reclaim their power to live a meaningful and fulfilling life. The most foundational of these lessons is what Jonni calls “the Golden Sequence.”
In The Golden Sequence, Jonni shares these eye-opening teachings with readers from all walks of life in the hopes that more people will be able to build happier, more authentic lives. A global leader in the field of meditation and mindfulness, Jonni’s programs have already helped more than 250,000 people across the world.
This book is a response to the greatest need of our time—reclaiming the power of our humanity. Through his genuine, essential lessons, Jonni presents a powerful case that the current global crisis we are experiencing is rooted in our disconnection from our true purpose and responsibility of belonging.
Rediscover your authentic human nature, learn how to reclaim it as your greatest power, and find fulfillment through seeing the difference you can make in the world.
|Publisher:||BenBella Books, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)|
About the Author
Jonni Pollard is best known for bringing meditation to the mainstream through his organization, 1 Giant Mind and its Learn to Meditate smartphone app. As one of the top rated meditation apps, 1 Giant Mind has taught hundreds of thousands of people worldwide how to meditate for free. He is also recognized for leading mass meditations at some of the world’s biggest lifestyle events and festivals (Wanderlust, Lightning in a Bottle, The Big Quiet). Jonni also teaches private meditation and personal development for entrepreneurs, CEOs, celebrities, political leaders and wellness experts across yoga and meditation. Born and raised in Australia, Jonni also has lived in Los Angeles and India, and now currently resides in New York City.
Read an Excerpt
THE HEART OF OUR CRISIS
Our world is in a precarious state. We are witnessing today humanitarian, environmental, and social crises that stem from the ever-increasing dehumanization in our rapidly changing world. By dehumanization, I mean the reckless compromise or straight-up ignoring of what we as humans need to be well and flourish as a species in harmony with our natural world — all in the name of profit and greed. And although this cauldron has been bubbling for a while, now it really feels like it's about to hit a boiling point, spill over the edge, and make a big old mess.
The signals of crisis are clear as day: violent regime changes, raging wars, and the displacement of millions of people; crashing economies, corrupt governments, and corporations; environmental depletion and the degradation of vast natural lands and resources; mass rallies and protests all over the world, not to mention the global mental health crisis. It can feel like we are hopelessly sitting on the sideline watching it all unfold. This, in my opinion, is the greatest misconception of humanity.
This book sets out to make a powerful case for humanity's innate power to effect change in the world through our instinct to love. Connecting with this instinct is the most powerful and important response possible to our current human crisis — a crisis we all play a role in and carry equal responsibility to address, because the primary problems we face on earth right now are human created. If you feel a desire to significantly contribute to our world's challenges, you must first reclaim your power to overcome fear and learn to embody the deeper truth of your humanity.
The Golden Sequence technique is a practical way of cultivating our power to become the change we individually and collectively need right now. It teaches us, step by step, how to let go of our conditioned defenses and connect with a deeper power of love and wisdom that is always inside us. Only then will we have the intelligence and confidence to reinvent the way we live to cultivate greater connection, growth, and belonging — the key ingredients for lasting fulfillment.
In my teaching practice, before students can connect with their deeper nature of love in a stable way and experience lasting fulfillment, they must confront the reality of their suffering, hold themselves accountable for their part in it, and be willing to move into it in order to move beyond it. When we learn to surrender into our suffering and accept our feelings, the suffering ceases and what we are left with is less pain and deep insight about how to free ourselves of our pain completely. Only by recognizing what traps us in suffering can we free ourselves from it.
At the core of this crisis is a socially ingrained ignorance and denial of the immense responsibility we have for each other, the earth, and ourselves, and of our power to contribute to the world in a way that sustainably supports the good of all.
In Western society and culture, we are more connected to each other than ever through social media and mobile communication, yet we feel increasingly disconnected and isolated. Even though we have all this wonderful technology and software to automate and streamline so many things that used to take days and even months to accomplish, we are working harder and longer than ever before. We are more stressed, exhausted, and overwhelmed than ever. Stress-related anxiety, depression, and ill health are rampant.
Our capacity to adapt to the relentless demand to keep up is rapidly waning, as that demand has a radically negative impact on our bodies and minds. We are witnessing a mass stress-induced burnout of our nervous systems, immune systems, and overall cognitive function. The struggle that this pressure of life creates has so distorted our perspective of reality that we struggle to find real connection and meaning in and for our lives.
To add to this already very challenging situation, we are drowning in marketing, whose sorcery of deception leads us to believe that we aren't enough as we are and that we must have things we don't need. We are coerced through divisiveness into dangerously extreme polarities and entrenched in blame and victimhood. And we have become stuck in the belief that the world's big problems are all too big and too hard to do anything about. We are so completely overwhelmed by the pressure of modern living, so preoccupied just with coping, that we often feel incapable of doing anything about any of the problems we see, even in our personal lives. This state is commonly referred to as survival mode.
Survival mode is our automatic biological response to a threat to our lives, an acute stress response often referred to as fight or flight. On a biological level, the pressure of our environment tells us we are in danger and we need to be constantly on guard. Being on guard means living defensively rather than proactively, limiting our capacity to meaningfully consider the needs of the world we have an inherent responsibility to. As a result, we become dangerously disconnected from our ability to be a solution and instead become part of the problem — contributors to the pressure and instability in our lives and the lives of others, and therefore the world.
As I will continually explore throughout this book, the foundational reality that defines our humanity is that we all belong to each other and that we are imbued with a powerful instinct to care for one another as we would ourselves. Becoming disconnected from the reality of our responsibility to one another leads us to also become disconnected from ourselves, and from our ability to love ourselves. In the absence of that self-love, we feel a deep primal sadness and anxiety.
Often, spending time with ourselves to make sense of sadness and worry can be terrifying, overwhelming, and feel like a futile exercise. When we are trapped in survival mode, feeling this deep abstract sadness causes us to become defensively reactive, and our self-awareness becomes like a blunt instrument that finds difficulty penetrating the vulnerable layers of our hearts. And so, feeling defeated, we seek ways to distract ourselves from the reality of what we are experiencing.
DISTRACTING OURSELVES TO DEATH
You only have to turn on the TV to see the results of our mass-scale distraction seeking. The market for distraction is booming, and our culture has become all about it. When teaching my students to become aware of this habit to distract themselves from confronting their reality, I break the most common distraction mechanisms down into two categories:
TWO COMMON DISTRACTION MECHANISMS
Escapism is the relentless pursuit of pleasure through devices of external, and often instant, gratification. This gratification can momentarily suppress the fear, anxiety, and pain we feel, particularly when that fear, anxiety, and pain comes from a belief that we don't have the capacity to meet the challenges of our lives. Our lack of confidence and capability stem from our disconnection from the deeper truth of our power as human beings.
These devices of instant gratification are generally not very good for us, as they tend to suppress our sensitivity to our needs and the needs of others in the present moment. Our methods of escapism are varied. Some binge on food, alcohol, drugs, sex, porn, TV, exercise, gambling, social media, or shopping. Others overwork to avoid life outside of it, or obsess over the way they look or ways to become more famous. The list goes on and on. The common theme is that all forms of escapism attempt to use things outside us to either fill a void inside or soothe our internal feelings of being overwhelmed and inadequate, without addressing the cause.
The second way we distract ourselves is through blame. Blame is an attempt to quell our pain and anxiety, when we can't escape them anymore, by putting the responsibility for the way we feel on something outside ourselves.
When we cast blame, we take action, but without taking responsibility for our power to reconcile our pain. We are saying something in the outside world needs to change before we can give ourselves permission to take responsibility and therefore free ourselves from it. Despite our desire to resolve our pain and anxiety, when blame is dominating our thoughts, feelings, and behavior, we feel trapped and unable to move on or grow.
Both these reactive states are normal defense mechanisms that manifest as a result of feeling threatened by the unrelenting demands of life. When we feel threatened, we feel unsafe — unsafe to connect with our vulnerability and address the cause of our anxiety and pain. As most of us know, distracting ourselves from the building pressure in our lives doesn't get rid of that pressure. It only delays our inevitable confrontation with it. In the meantime, the pressure builds to the point that it triggers a crisis.
CRISIS MISMANAGEMENT 101
When we hear the word "crisis," we generally imagine a calamity or catastrophe, but a crisis doesn't need to be a negative and destructive upheaval. Crisis is actually a neutral term describing an inevitable point of change when a current mode of operating is no longer sustainable. A crisis is a very natural and important inflection point in any process of change. What makes it good or bad is how we engage with it.
When we can detect an impending crisis, we are able to respond to it with acceptance that the way we have behaved in the past is no longer serving us now and must be changed. When we embrace the inevitability of change as a natural and normal way of life, and courageously step into the unknown, we have a remarkable ability to grow through crisis.
However, this is not usually the way things go. Because we are so often in a state of feeling overwhelmed, we tend to ignore an impending crisis until it beats us over the head so hard that we are forced to confront it. It's only when a crisis hits us hard enough to exacerbate our sense of being overwhelmed that we react (rather than proactively cooperate with the change) with fear, panic, and defensiveness. This almost always results in looking for someone or something to blame for our woes. This is crisis mismanagement 101.
For us to grow through any crisis, we must, as a priority, investigate the role we have played in ignoring and perpetuating whatever no-longer-sustainable old way of thinking and behaving contributed to the crisis. Then we must take responsibility for inventing a new way of thinking and behaving that better supports us feeling safe and well.
There are so many whose personal and social crises have roots in systemic oppression and discrimination, and trying to take responsibility for the ignorance of others seems preposterous and unjust. What we can take responsibility for, in these situations, is ourselves. When confronting any crisis of oppression and discrimination, we must be fully armed with the power of our loving hearts, as it is only through love that we are truly free.
Throughout this book, I'll share stories about my students' experiences applying the knowledge in this book and how, through the Golden Sequence technique, they were able to transform their own crises into the most important moments of empowerment in their lives.
Now that we have acknowledged that it is our sense of being overwhelmed that is causing our current crisis, and how the pressure of our world causes us to feel threatened by it, in the next chapter I want to dive a little deeper into how we got to this crisis point in the first place — and in doing so reveal a pathway forward to reclaiming our power.CHAPTER 2
THE WISDOM IN OUR BODIES
About ten to twelve thousand years ago, humanity discovered how to grow fruits, vegetables, and nuts, and how to breed animals for meat, milk, and eggs. We called this "agriculture," and this was the beginning of life as we know it today. But for about 1.8 million years before this extraordinary evolutionary leap forward, humans were hunters and gatherers, and our lives were very different.
As hunter-gatherers, we lived in small tribes of about twenty to forty people. Our spirituality was our sense of belonging to the web of life. We lived with the deepest reverence for all things in nature, animate and inanimate, which supported balance and harmony within us and in our relationship with nature. We shared the tasks of foraging for fruits, nuts, and plants, and of course hunting any animal we could kill for food. We were dependent not just on ourselves and our immediate family for survival, but on the entire tribe.
Within our small tribes, each of us had a specific role that contributed to the tribe, and how well we fulfilled that role determined whether the tribe flourished. We lived in relative isolation from other tribes and contact with strangers was a rare event.
Here is a snapshot of tribal life as hunter-gatherers:
Connection to and reverence for the sacredness of all life was central to the tribe.
The tribe's survival was our common vision and reason for living. It gave us a powerful sense of responsibility of belonging to the tribe as well as a strong sense of shared purpose.
We had very clear roles in the tribe that gave us a strong sense of individual purpose.
Close relationships were at the heart of tribal life.
Our status in the hierarchy was determined by what we contributed to the tribe as a whole.
We were led by wise elders who earned their status based on what they had contributed to the tribe in their lifetimes.
The tribe's success was dependent on cooperation and collaboration.
Our existence revolved around our understanding and deep connection to the cycles of nature.
Being banished from the tribe likely resulted in death.
That humans could live the same way for 1.8 million years can seem inconceivable to us, especially considering the dizzying speed with which we have advanced in the last hundred years. However, this long, slow evolution of our species is the missing link for understanding what we need to do to emerge from our current crisis.
Put simply, the way we live now doesn't match our biological predispositions. On a genetic level, very little about us has changed in the last twelve thousand years. From a biological perspective, we are still very much the huntergatherers that we were for over 1,800 millennia. Yet today over half of the world's 7.5 billion people live in major population centers where we are completely removed from anything resembling tribal life.
We are designed to live in small tribes and spend our days deeply connected to nature, hunting, and gathering food. We are hardwired to find our purpose in serving the needs of the whole tribe, and to forge deep and meaningful connections and alliances to ensure the tribe's survival and social stability. And while environmentally, materially, technologically, and socially we may have evolved beyond the need for hunting, gathering, and belonging to a tribe for our survival, biologically ... we have not. We are still genetically hardwired for tribal life and the lifestyle and values that come with it.
So what does this all mean?
There is a scientific term that explains much of why we humans are struggling with modern life. That term is evolutionary mismatch, also known as the mismatch theory or evolutionary trap, and it describes what happens when an organism or species is forced to live in an environment that they have not biologically adapted to. In evolutionary mismatch, evolved traits that were once advantageous become maladaptive owing to unusually rapid changes in the environment. As a result of this evolutionary mismatch, members of a species experience physical and psychological distress that eventually leads to illness, disease, and dysfunction. In the worst cases, evolutionary mismatch results in extinction. The more extreme the change of environment is, the more difficult it becomes for a species to adapt to it.
Our modern life is almost the complete opposite of the kind of life we are designed for:
We no longer live in tribes. We live in societies with millions of others, yet we are isolated from one another.
We are disconnected from nature and see it as an endless resource for our exploitation.
We don't need to belong to a tribe in order to survive.
We lack a clear sense of an individual and common purpose to serve our tribe.
Status is measured not by what we contribute to society but by how much we acquire and how many people know about it.
Our leaders are not elected based on their wisdom, nor what they have contributed to society.
We see more strangers in a few minutes of a day than we would have in an entire lifetime as hunter-gatherers.
Success is dependent on competition rather than cooperation, collaboration, and belonging.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Golden Sequence"
Copyright © 2018 Hey Little Buddy, LLC.
Excerpted by permission of BenBella Books, Inc..
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Table of Contents
IntroductionChapter 1: The Heart of Our CrisisChapter 2: The Wisdom in Our BodiesChapter 3: The Four Golden InsightsChapter 4: Life Is Sacred: The First Golden InsightChapter 5: Love Is Our Nature: The Second Golden InsightChapter 6: Wisdom Is Our Power: The Third Golden InsightChapter 7: The Twelve Ways of WisdomChapter 8: Fulfillment Is Our Purpose: The Fourth Golden InsightChapter 9: The Greatest Threat to FulfillmentChapter 10: The Golden Sequence TechniqueChapter 11: How Can I Be of Service in This Moment?
AcknowledgmentsAbout the Author