The underlying purpose of Zenshin Method is to provide a supportive scaffold to expand our range of healthy expression for being alive. Like any good construction scaffold, it is removed as its purpose is served.
This expansion includes all aspects of our experience:
The range of foods we can eat, digest, and assimilate to feel vibrant, energized, optimistic, and hopeful in our bodies.
The range of our physical motion and activity, literally how we walk, jump, move, and exercise
The range of our heart and breathing rates
The range of our thinking, curiosity, and openness to ideas and experiences
The range of our feeling and ability to connect with and understand others, no matter how different they might seem
The range of our availability to new and unknown situations for which we can't predict the outcome
The range of our interests, skills, and willingness to learn more
The range of our ability to adapt as our life circumstances change
The range of our voice, vocal patterns, facial expressions, and laughter
The range of our depth and breadth in our relationships
The range of our lives’ seasons: birth, youth, adulthood, old age, death
Through this expanding range of expression we can enjoy an active, healthy, fulfilled, loving, hopeful, and uplifting life. But such expansion is a matter of increasing our capacity for experience, not simply gobbling up as many individual experiences as possible.
Working With (And Against) Our Brains
Expanding our range sounds simple enough, but our own brains, and the minds arising through them, conspire against us. Designed by nature and billions of years of life learning to preserve itself, our brains at their most basic level are survival reaction generators. They do everything possible to analyze, calculate, predict and control our odds of surviving, based on memories of past experiences, circumstantial information from the senses, and social structures.
When it comes to being open to life's constant unknowns, our brains do everything they can to limit, define, reduce, and collapse the infinite possibilities into predictable patterns and manageable categories. This happens automatically. It is an efficiency we’ve developed to stay alive. And it’s a good thing—if our ancestors had had to learn to survive every single threat from scratch, not one of us would be here today!
This brain patterning also shows up in the stories we tell ourselves. We use stories to explain the limitations in our lives, why we should or should not do things. But we easily forget that stories are also an efficiency we’ve learned to survive, filling in the gaps of everything we cannot possibly know. And like an old pair of shoes worn out only on the outer edge, or car tires that are never rotated, our stories can develop wear patterns from habitual use that eventually define and limit their function. Then they stop keeping us safe and can actually make us sick.
To work within the constant, automatic narrowing of our brains’ survival instincts, we have to be vigilant. We have to keep prying open the shutting doors in our thoughts and feelings, and we have to learn to keep pulling the rug out from under our own certainty whenever we reach a hardened conclusion about "the way life IS".
If we don’t actively challenge our brain’s assertions and assumptions, we can end up acting like a squirrel trying to steal a bite to eat while constantly popping its head up to watch for danger. We are always in survival mode, never able to see what else is around us but potential harm. And when our bodies and minds are in constant fight-or-flight stress, they lose their ability to maintain our health.
The “Knowing Bias”
Unfortunately, in addition to our brains’ natural survival activity, we also absorb a significant amount of memetic negativity and further narrowing of our potential through society and the people around us. It affects us from the day we are born. How many times have we heard adults talk about "getting older" to explain why they can't do something as well anymore? Or maybe someone says, "I've always done it that way" to avoid changing a habit or behavior. Or when we’re uncertain, maybe we've learned to say, "I've tried that once before but it didn’t work," to justify not trying something again or trying something new.
How many times have I used the phrase "I know" to equate my third-hand familiarity of a person, place or idea with the direct and personal experience of it?
Studying the geography of the Rocky Mountains is very different from hiking them.
Hearing about earthquakes on the news is a far cry from having one destroy your city.
Reading about the many documented benefits of meditation is not the same as sitting and meditating.
Learning about a host of “healthy habits” that can be turned on any time you choose is not the same as practicing them daily.
But to our brains, "knowing about" something is a fast track to excluding it from further consideration. Something "known" in this way is quickly filed and forgotten—it disappears from our conscious thought as another efficiency to conserve energy and resources. This is what we call our “Knowing Bias”.
To expand our range of living, our health, and and sense of wellbeing, we have to practice it every day.
Every day, we have to open ourselves to different modes of being, different patterns of thinking, and to being okay with not always “knowing”. It can be uncomfortable, no doubt! It takes constant remembering and catching ourselves whenever we slip. But our learning and growing only take place when we are outside of our comfort zones.
So risk discomfort and do something new. Add a different step to your dance routine. Drive home along a different route. Brush your teeth with your other hand. Have lasagna on pork chop night. Tonight, turn off the screens and tell a story to someone you love.
To begin expanding your range, you only need to activate two words: