We are bioengineered with the capacity to be extraordinary, but neurologically configured to be ordinary/sub-ordinary in some areas of our life.
– George Helou, Mind Power Coach and Founder of Empowered for Purpose
Last week I started on a new journey! I am participating in a 7-week personal development program called EP7 – Empowered for Purpose in 7 Steps, and the quote above encapsulates the key message of the first step, Empowered Identity. The aim of this first session was to help us to understand how, biologically, we are a blank canvas and throughout our life we are painting a picture of ourselves and the world around us. This painting isn’t created using brushes, instead it is our thoughts and beliefs based on learnt ideas and past experiences that create the picture which in-turn affects on how we see and experience the future. Parts of our painting could be empowering and other parts disempowering but we lose our true selves in the painting, forgetting that we are actually the blank canvas underneath. We can change those parts of the painting that we feel are holding us back in certain areas of our lives; to understand how we have to learn how our thoughts and our beliefs affect our biology.
First, a bit of history…
The Empowered for Purpose program was created by a personal friend. I first met George Helou at the young and motivated age of 18 when I sought business coaching support for the first of many business ideas. It didn’t take me too long to lose enthusiasm for the idea but what remained was a great connection with an interesting and inspiring person who has always taken the time to share his wisdom. Connecting with George led to many more opportunities to meet and work with other inspiring individuals over the years who all introduced me to new ways of thinking. I always find it really interesting to look back and track all of the events that occurred because of a single person that perhaps may not have happened otherwise. It is impossible to know where we would be if something happened slightly differently in our past but it does make you appreciate how it takes just one thought, idea, action or meeting to spark off a whole new direction in life.
My interest in the profound importance of personal-development began when I was 12 years old reading Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Kid Smart Kid. This book found its way to me through friends of my parents and ever since that book I have devoured many more of Robert’s series and continued to expand my understanding of the supreme power that our thoughts, our language and our beliefs have on our everyday experiences and relationships. The earliest lesson I can remember learning from Robert was the difference between the word ‘problem’ and ‘challenge’. One word seems to stop you dead in your tracks but the other automatically makes you think of ways to overcome an obstacle. It is such a simple little distinction but depending on which of the two words you use to describe a situation you can set yourself up for success or, equally, failure.
Whether you believe you can do a thing, or believe that you can’t, you are right.
– Henry Ford
I would have to say that for the first 10-12 years of personal development my focus and intentions were entirely aimed at making money. I wanted to be rich and the information stored in these pages held the proverbial keys! In more recent years however an interest in spirituality, religion, philosophy, quantum physics and biology has really changed how I see the world and its infinite interactions. I no longer aspire to monetary riches, I instead aspire to learn and experience as much as I can in each moment, a different kind of riches I suppose! The more I learn, and understand, and believe, the more of an impact I feel I can have on the people around me so that they too may also deepen their understanding of their role in this great cosmic game.
So when George offered me a place in his program I saw it as an opportunity to feed off of his passion for personal development and dive deeper in to my own thoughts and beliefs to help identify anything that may be having an undesirable impact in certain areas of my life. Admittedly, in the hours leading up to the first session I started to have that feeling of nervousness, for what reason exactly I can only guess but I have learnt that this feeling means I am moving in the right direction. It means I am moving beyond comfort and in to a place of discovery, or excitement. The last time I remember having that feeling I was in Portugal on the back of a horse, out on a hack. Saskia, the horse’s owner, told me that with the paddock and the other horses now in sight my horse was likely to bolt and suggested that if I didn’t feel safe I should jump off…quick! The butterflies set in, bit of uncertainty, but I took it all as an opportunity to have a new experience; I had never had a horse bolt on me before. It didn’t bolt in the end but at least I didn’t get off!
My thirst for information on the complexities of our universe naturally led me to the weird and wacky world of quantum physics. Quantum physics is the study of the behaviour of the particles that comprise an atom and has done its best to demonstrate that what you think of as solid actually isn’t and what you think is there, could actually be somewhere else! This for me was the first practical bit of evidence that the world around us was pretty much an illusion, and we are the perceivers of said illusion. It gave me a deeper understanding of the power of our thoughts beyond the long-lived self-help ‘always be happy and positive’ philosophy. How we ultimately perceive the world around us can be attributed to our biology and the 100 billion Neurons in our brain that can form an infinite number of neural pathways in the brain. These neural pathways link up concepts, with events, feelings, objects, people etc so that when we hear a certain word, or think of a certain someone, we can instantly jump from the thought, to a past experience, to a feeling in a fraction of a second. These pathways have developed as a result of our past experiences, our ideas and our beliefs and serve as a lens to how we see the future. We predict, and often limit, our future experiences based on our past neuro wiring.
This is pretty heavy stuff! But there’s more!
We have the capacity to re-wire our past conditioning to improve the quality of our future experiences. Through conscious thought, willful determination and some guidance we can disconnect undesirable neuro pathways and make new connections that serve us. As well as the neurons in the brain we have 100 million in the gut and 40,000 in the heart. I don’t know about you but I can certainly recall times when my heart has felt like it has swallowed one of those gob-stoppers or when I have had that feeling in my gut telling me to take a particular action despite my head telling me that it may not be the most sensible decision. That gut feeling is something I have come to really appreciate and respect a great deal more in the last few years while I was travelling in Europe. I often ran with a decision because it just felt right, and then months later when you look back at that moment and the events that have unfolded since you can see that something magical has happened. The power of intuition.
Physiological Effects of Stress
I remember reading a book years ago that touched on the physiological effects of stress on the body’s cells and organs. I had completely forgotten about it until George brought it up. Fortunately for me stress doesn’t play a huge part in my life, the last time stress got the better of me was when a border control officer at Dublin Airport wanted to deport me back to Romania because he deemed I didn’t have enough money to enter the country. After sleeping at Bucharest airport for 8 hours with a Tequila hangover, the hour delay taking off and the 4 hour flight, an un-winnable argument about my resourcefulness and ability to stay in Ireland for 3 months with less that $800 got me a little worked up! He was kind enough to grant me a one month stay in the end which I accepted but my blood was still boiling. This kind of situation serves as a reminder that it only takes a single thought, or objection, to illicit a full on biochemical response, I mean, I was tense, and angry, but I wasn’t in any kind of physical danger but my body believed I was. It probably didn’t help that once he mentioned sending me back to Romania and the stress built up I couldn’t answer any of his questions without a pause and a bit of an uncertain stammer…not the kind response you want to show a guy who can mistake these reactions for intended deceit! My brain had completely shut down in response to the perceived threat. I would be an open book if I did ever try to intentionally deceive someone, especially border control.
This explosion for me is incredibly rare but for most people this kind of stress happens far too frequently, some even live in a constant state of stress. Stress is the bodies response to a perceived threat, physical or otherwise, to prompt and prepare the fight or flight response. This response serves us well when we actually have to face a physical threat where running or fighting may be useful but most of the time the stress response is triggered when someone merely disagrees with an opinion. And this to me is incredibly interesting because if the stress response, a survival instinct, is triggered from a perceived threat to our believed identity, our ideas, opinions, beliefs, then our mind believes that we are fighting for our life. When our body is in the stressed state, the bodies energy, and nutrients is redirected from our organs to our muscles, preparing to run or fight. And like I said above, this is useful if actually faced with a physical threat every now and then but if we are constantly living in stress, our body is constantly denying itself the nutrients it needs for growth leaving us susceptible to illness or disease. This can have a lasting and devastating impact on our health!
This is where I started to gain a whole new set of knowledge! George introduced us to the various brainwave states and their functions as well as providing us with some Brainwave Training audio programs to listen to each day. He described these audio programs as a type of modern meditation which utilises sound to induce a particular brainwave state. They are pretty funky to listen to; they sound almost like a helicopter sitting on the roof going hell-for-leather. Admittedly it does take some effort to actually sit and listen to a 30 minute program but I find that it is getting easier after the first few days. During the program, while focusing on my breathing and releasing any muscle tension, a strange sensation comes over the body and I kind of feel like I am floating, super-relaxed. It is almost undeniable, in my opinion, that the audio programs, if embraced, do have an affect, if not a physiological affect on the neurons in the brain, then at the very minimum taking 30 mins out of your busy day to relax and reset can’t be a bad thing!
George has devised a detailed list of 52 principles that can help us to live more empowered lives.
Empowering Principles are our backbone. The closer we align with these empowering principles, the stronger our purpose, passion and confidence is to navigate through life.
– George Helou
By incorporating these principles in to all areas of our lives they allow us to enjoy a more enriched experience, enjoy more meaningful relationships and have the confidence and the strength to follow your purpose.
I didn’t anticipate this blog post being so long when I started it but it is easy to get carried away excitedly with the information presented in this first session. All of this information really is life changing, but it doesn’t necessarily change what is ‘out’ there, it changes how you respond and perceive the world around you. By having a greater awareness of the potentials and the possibilities existing outside of your programmed neaural pathways you have a greater choice over your experience in each moment. This alternate awareness has the ability to actually transform our physiology, our cells and neurons, to disconnect from limiting, self-sabotaging habits and beliefs and create new, empowered identities that make living our purpose effortless.
Looking forward to session 2…