By Jim Leonard
Freedom is precious. You and I are fortunate in being able to take our freedom for granted most of the time. Our government does not usually intrude too badly into our lives. War, poverty and disease generally spare us. Bosses and spouses rarely go too far in imposing their will upon us, and then a growl usually suffices to restore equilibrium. We don’t often think about defending our freedom, yet we stand prepared to defend ourselves should our freedom become threatened.
Such a time is now upon us. We must take decisive action, or everything we hold dear may be lost. A sinister force has been growing and we’ve reached the turning point. It’s time to say, “Too much is enough!”
A revolution is needed. But not a revolution of guns and bombs. They are of no use in this rebellion.
The time is now to take a stand against the negative conditioning with which we have been bombarded throughout our lives. Whether we admit it or not, this conditioning has bored deeply into us, affecting our minds and spirits, corrupting our relationships and our self-expression.
Negative conditioning comes in many forms. Television and movies program us to believe that violence solves problems. Advertisers constantly hit us with the message that aging is something shameful, something to be feared, resisted and concealed. For centuries, religions have demanded that we inhibit our sexual energy, threatening eternal damnation to keep us in line. Our politicians have contrived absurdly complex laws specifying ever increasing punishments unless we comply with their vision of correct conduct. Even our well-meaning parents used rewards and punishments to make us conform.
We come to believe that almost everyone wants something from us, as we are constantly manipulated through fear, guilt, anger and discomfort. Sometimes the intention behind the control is honorable, like laws against drunk driving. Other times avarice, selfishness, and dominance are at the root. Either way, when people, companies, or government agencies seek to control us, they do so by stimulating an unpleasant feeling in us and then exploiting that feeling for leverage. This constant negative conditioning reduces our ability to relax, trust life, and love unconditionally. We become unable to creatively express our uniqueness in the world.
Because of modern technology, our need to remedy this problem has become urgent. Technology not only gives manipulative people greater access to us, it also multiplies the effects of a massive accumulation of negativity in society. Unless we do something effective about the problem of negative conditioning, the resulting war and environmental degradation may ruin our planet.
We will not win this battle by exerting control over television networks and advertisers. (Only a portion of our negative conditioning comes from them anyway.) When we try to control others we increase the problem. Although it is surely a good idea to support libertarian reforms and a reduction of television violence, what we really need is change at a more subtle level.
We must recognize that our problems ultimately do not come from abusive parents, hypnotic TV advertising, or other people, no matter what they do. Just because institutions and individuals are trying to control us does not mean we have to go along.
Every form of manipulative conditioning works by convincing us that we cannot be happy or loving except when some artificial conditions are met. Advertisers want us to believe that we won’t be happy—or sexy—unless we purchase a fancier car, a better smelling deodorant, or the trendiest pair of jeans. The government and the media work together to reduce our compassion for whole foreign populations when they think it’s politically expedient to prepare us for war.
We are conditioned not to enjoy life except under certain circumstances. For example, most of us learned that it is alright to enjoy feelings of success but not alright to enjoy feelings of “failure”. When we were small we simply did what we enjoyed and enjoyed what we did. But to control us, people taught us not to enjoy ourselves unless we met certain external standards for success. We learned to enjoy our feelings only when authority figures approved.
Resistance is not the answer. Hating the ones who strive to control us only increases our hatred. That very hatred can be exploited to further control us. There is, in fact, only one effective way to free ourselves from the effects of all this negative conditioning: we must choose love. Specifically, we must choose to love those people, situations and feelings that we do not love now. We must reclaim our natural ability to love unconditionally and to enjoy life without reservation.
For example, once we become willing to enjoy the feeling of guilt, to enjoy the energy in our bodies no matter what, even when it takes the form of “guilt,” then from that point on, no one can ever use guilt to manipulate us. Life is a miracle. To exist, to have a present moment at all, is astonishing. We pause too seldom to reflect on this. We do not need any special circumstances to experience our existence as miraculous. The ecstasy of existence itself is available to everyone in each moment, independent of circumstances or situation. Even hospice workers report people finding the joy of existence in the midst of pain and death. The time has come for us to reclaim our birthright of enjoying every moment of our lives, free from the limitations of negative conditioning.
To restore our ability to enjoy and love every aspect of life, we must transcend our own minds. The mind thrives on duality. Trying to use the mind to overcome dualistic conditioning is like trying to reduce nuclear radiation by blowing up nuclear power plants. Using better mental tricks will not keep our minds from tricking us. What we need is to increase the focus we place on our feelings and on our hearts.
Fortunately there is an excellent way to free ourselves from the psychospiritual residue of all this negative conditioning: focusing in detail on our feelings and simply enjoying them as much as possible.
When a “negative” feeling is explored in detail and loved in totality, it transforms — the energy remains but the negativity disappears. The transformations go something like this: anger, when loved, turns into determination; sadness, explored and enjoyed, becomes gratitude; fear, when felt in detail and embraced as positive energy, turns out to be presence and alertness.
When all feelings are allowed and appreciated, the experience of their energy is the experience of unconditional love. We cannot love unconditionally as long as there are any emotions that we do not enjoy. Trying to love on the condition that no one does anything to activate unwanted emotions is not love at all, but a kind of bargaining.
This healing process does not come about by trying to feel gratitude when sadness comes up, or trying to experience determination when we feel anger. It means allowing the sadness and anger — totally.
To allow ourselves to have our emotions does not mean we act them out by raging or dumping on people. Emotional healing does not come about through expressing every emotion, although appropriate expression of emotion — sharing ourselves as we are — is essential for healthy relationships. All emotional healing comes about by embracing reality.
Every decision to make something wrong — to insist that something should be other than the way it actually is — withdraws us from reality. By embracing our feelings about something, exactly as they are, we bring ourselves one step closer to our goal, total awareness and total love.
Because the conditioning not to enjoy our feelings is so strong, and because we have learned so many bad habits for keeping our feelings suppressed, most of us find it useful to relearn how to enjoy feelings. The concentrated skill of enjoying all feelings in the body is called Vivation. Vivation Professionals are trained facilitators of a specific process for cleansing the mind, body and spirit of negative conditioning. Vivation allows us to embrace feelings at a very deep level within ourselves.
A Vivation session is for the soul what taking a bath is for the body. In a typical session, you learn skills for staying focused on feelings for an extended period of time, and for finding pleasure where there seemed to be discomfort. Applying these skills allows your mind to rest, while your body takes charge of the session. To have a Vivation session is to be endowed with magical healing powers and then to go on a healing mission within the depths of your own being. The Vivation coach is with you the entire time, Viving also, guiding the session with wisdom acquired by making many such journeys before.
Jim Leonard was the originator of the Vivation process. During his life he conducted more than 45,000 Vivation sessions in 22 countries.