I love the way we can accomplish almost anything we want to online these days.
I know I’m dating myself when I say that, given the generations of humans alive today, for whom that has always been true. But I’m an old enough dog to appreciate that there is so much less need to drive around and do things in person, and so much less time spent waiting on hold on the phone. I can pay bills, book travel, order lunch, check my bank account, and even buy groceries! Just one thing stands between me and my ability to accomplish all of that with ease and flow - PASSWORDS!
The more online convenience I want, the more accounts I need to create, each one with its own unique password with no fewer than 8 characters, including one upper and one lower case letter, one number and one special character! As I strive to create a password that is both easy to remember and indecipherable, my skills are graded by a progress bar from strong to medium to a-kindergartener-could- figure-this-out. I’ve even had my most valiant efforts flat out rejected by a gloating piece of software lurking behind my screen.
Not to be discouraged, I try again until I succeed, paying no attention to the voice in the back of my head saying, “Don’t get too attached to this one, Robbie. In six months, you will have to change it!”
Without passwords, bad things could happen!
And so it is that, as I seek to create more ease and flow, I come instead to a state of mind called Narrow Focus (see Lester Fehmi, Open Focus Brain ). Exactly the opposite of what I wanted. Why do we need all these passwords anyway? Because without them, Bad Things Could Happen! Anyone could gain access to our private information, credit card numbers or grocery lists! The more I focus on this, the more disconnected I feel from my fellow humans, and the further I drift away from what really matters to me about life.
Empowerment comes from connection.
If it’s true that passwords are a part of quotidian life in our culture, this is an even deeper truth. Everything is one. Everything is connected. All of us humans are part of one living being, and separateness is an illusion. Try taking a deep breath and savoring each of those words. As I do that, I find that my state of mind is immediately improved. I can feel a sense of wellbeing flowing through me from head to toe. It’s that same sense of wellbeing that comes when I stand outside and realize that I am one, not only with my fellow humans, but with all of nature, and with all of the unseen sources of support that are with me every day.
This is much more than an ideology or belief system.
The experience of this connection is a source of power for us. It acts like a kind of rocket fuel that can launch us into a higher level of consciousness. And that is good for us! It’s good for our health and the enjoyment of our lives, and it’s good for the world, when there can be one less person walking around in fear. But with all of the reminders that surround us every day, that we must keep our PINs covered, and change our passwords, it can take real discipline and practice to step out of Narrow Focus and into connection.
I know that, in talking about passwords, I’ve purposely chosen a fairly small and commonplace example to illustrate my point. There are much bigger issues confronting us in our communities, and in the world. The good news is that the empowerment that comes from connection is scalable. It can equip us to deal not only with pesky passwords, but with the most intractable problems we face in our time.
It is not simply a way of thinking. It is a source of transformation for our way of being in the world.
My invitation to myself and all of us the next time we are prompted to change a password, or the next time we read an alarming headline in the news, is to not simply remind ourselves that we are connected, but to breathe deeply into an experience of the empowerment that comes from knowing it is true.
Robbie is the facilitator of the Shamanc Studies Program at the Boulder Center for Conscious Community. Click here to see the schedule of workshops.