Something inside me has changed. I can’t quite explain it but I can literally feel it in my body, like a burst of energy coursing through my veins. Not a nervous energy, the kind that keeps you up at night, or a negative energy, the kind that sends your thoughts into a tizzy, making you feel like the world is about to end. It’s an exciting, magnetic kind of energy, one I haven’t felt for quite some time. Like something magical is about to happen. It’s vast and bountiful and makes you believe that anything is possible. Like you just want to leap up and jump out of your soul.
It’s been weeks since I last felt this way. In fact, I worried I had lost my mojo forever. I pride myself on being on the glass-half-full side of life, the everlasting optimist, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. But after publishing my last article, my writing abruptly came to a grinding halt. The inspiration that I usually draw from my walks with Teddy or my hikes in the Adirondacks waned. My motivation to do anything – yoga, running, searching for jobs, daydreaming, imagining a brighter future – just stopped. I fell into a – dare I say – depression, a coronavirus slump. So what happened? Why this change now?
Last night, D and I took a walk around the neighborhood to take a first peak at the growing moon. The air was crisp and a sheet of translucent clouds cradled the moon in a pillow of soft, white haze. Within just 20 minutes, the moon had risen from below the treeline to the highest rooftop, levitating in the air in all of its glory as it cast its glow across the evening sky. Even the clouds that had previously floated in the air like a herd of fluffy sheep suddenly seemed to stretch in its direction, as if pulled by an invisible force.
I reflected on the moon, the solar system, and the big great universe we live in, and suddenly I was struck by awe. How little we know about our place in this life, I thought. Our connection to all things space and time, the planets, stars, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy … Energy. That’s exactly it! Isn’t that what we all are? Individual forms of energy, all connected to one great universe? Now, you might consider this a little too kumbaya, but whether you are religious, spiritual, atheist or agnostic, you can’t deny the magic that has brought us here into this lifetime. And that, in itself, is an incredible feat.
As we continued walking, I wondered: would we ever experience a commercial flight to the moon in our lifetime? With the latest state of technology, it certainly didn’t seem impossible. “I secretly think Elon Musk is an alien,” D said. “The level of innovation and technology this man has brought into our world is just unreal.” I smirked as I imagined a big, gooey alien emerging from Elon Musk’s body, shocking the world as they contemplated this newfound revelation. Surprise!
But is it simply a matter of genius and intelligence that some people are just born with? Or is there another explanation, another source of creativity we could possibly explore? How do we get these ‘aha’ moments, the ones that usually occur only rarely, for example in the shower or during a walk in the woods? How can we tap into our higher consciousness more often to discover groundbreaking innovations? Or, perhaps in my case, how can we reclaim our mojo once we’ve lost it?
Interestingly, when you research the etymology of the word ‘mojo,’ (and no, I’m not referring to Austin Powers) you will discover that it means “good luck, charm or skill that seems to come from something magical or supernatural.” Though it may be difficult to trace, researchers believe ‘mojo’ may be related in both form and meaning to “moco’o,” a word for “medicine man” in Fula, a west African language. Other sources suggest it was once associated with a magic charm or spell or amulet, often in the form of a small bag containing magic items worn by adherents of voodoo.
Regardless of its exact meaning, we’ve all used the term to describe a certain, magical je-ne-sais-quoi, which takes our skill, knowledge, insight, and power to the next level, allowing us to get things done. “Our mojo is our source of confidence,” which lets us know that we can be successful. It starts with little wins that gradually build up over time, creating an energy and a force inside of us that can literally move mountains. So how can we generate more of those light bulb moments when we suddenly see the world with different eyes or connect the dots in new ways?
Here’s the secret: We need to learn how to tap into our higher consciousness.
What do I mean by that? “As human beings, we spend most of our lives functioning in states of lower consciousness, where what we are principally concerned with is ourselves, our survival and our own success, narrowly defined.” German philosopher Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) defines lower consciousness as “the animal part of mankind,” driven by the lower, reptilian brain, which includes “basic sensations such as hunger, thirst, pain and pleasure, as well as basic drives and pleasures.” It’s in this level of consciousness, the physical sphere, that most humans spend their lives.
By contrast, higher consciousness is the part of the human being that is capable of transcending those animal instincts. According to Mary O’Malley, author of What’s In the Way IS the Way, higher consciousness is “a state of elevated awareness and perception in which a person has a deeper understanding of the nature of reality, the self, and various spiritual aspects of life that play an important role in one’s personal evolution and psychological development.” In the words of Eckhart Tolle, higher consciousness is “disidentification from thinking.” “It’s those moments in life where your thoughts take a backseat and you exist as a deeper, more conscious being.” Perhaps you are, like me, taking a walk around your neighborhood and admiring the full moon. Or maybe you are looking into your significant other’s eyes (yes, also like me) remembering how you fell in love on your first date. And, for a second, just an instant of a second, the world seems whole. It’s in those rare moments, when the clutter in your mind dissolves and you are fully present, that you have the ability to loosen the hold on your own ego and ascend to a higher consciousness. And that is where creativity and imagination live.
Now, if this explanation seems annoyingly wishy-washy and vague, I get it. But just hear me out:
If we agree that all living beings in this world, including ourselves, are made up of energy (life = energy), then it would stand to argue that, to achieve our greatest potential, we need to enable the flow of energy to move freely. Anything that impedes this natural energy flow would create a blockage, thereby preventing us from achieving our highest potential and possibly also causing us to lose our mojo. Right?
According to O’Malley, “Life is not just a random series of events that happen because you did it right or you did it wrong. Instead, it is an intelligent unfolding that is revealing itself to you all day long, bringing you step-by-step from unconsciousness into a state of higher consciousness.” This journey takes place in six phases:
- Life happens to you.
- Life happens by you.
- Life happens in you.
- Life happens for you.
- Life happens through you.
- Life is you.
The first two phases are about “fixing, changing, resisting, and trying to control Life.” These phases are dominated by your storyteller – your thoughts, your ego, which resists what is there or doesn’t know how to open to life (phase 1). It also yearns for what is not here by telling itself it can manifest anything it desires if only it thinks the right thoughts (phase 2). “Throughout both of these levels of consciousness, there is a veil between you and the living experience of Life because neither phase is about showing up for the creative river of Life.”
The next two phases of higher consciousness are about moving beyond resistance and control. Once you realize that life is happening in you (phase 3), you begin to recognize the power of your storyteller which separates you from life. Rather than trying to change anything, you become curious about what you are experiencing. As you begin to dissociate yourself from your thoughts and open up to life, you realize that you are not a victim but, rather, “Life knows what it is doing and it is for you.”
In the final two phases of higher consciousness, you begin to surrender – letting your guard down and trusting in life’s infinite wisdom. “The more you live the truth that Life is for you, the more you relax into the flow, bringing you the joy of Life moving through you.” Eventually, you come to understand that “Life is you and you are Life!” (Life = energy).
Only openness to life can generate the love, joy – and the creativity and innovation – we are looking for. Most of us, however, live in the first two levels of consciousness. Somewhere along the way, we’ve learned not to trust life, not to trust ourselves. But if we cannot trust life, how can we be open to it? How can we show up for it with our whole selves and experience all of the beauty and magic it has to offer? The only way to move into higher levels of consciousness is to shift our perception, and that starts with dismantling limiting paradigms – stories that have either been told about us or stories we have told ourselves. These stories may have been helpful at one point in our lives but, most often, we have held onto them for so long, we’ve failed to realize they are no longer serving us. Most of us are so caught up in the monkey chatter of our minds that we never venture out of the bubble we have created for ourselves. It is only by calming those thoughts – by finding moments of peace and tranquility – that we can become more present and, as a result, more open to life.
The second way to open up to life is to recognize the inherent wisdom in life. Truth is, life is smarter than we are! “Like most people, we have bought into the arrogance of the human ego that says that it is in charge. Because of this belief in separation, we think our life is just a random series of events that we must mold and shape into what we think they should be.” But that is not so! Life gives us exactly what we need to move to a higher level of consciousness. With it comes a range of human experiences, including happiness and joy – and loss, grief and pain – but if we open ourselves up to each experience, no matter how devastating or difficult it may be, we will be able to witness the full beauty of life – and with it, the creative, magical energy we feel when we are at our best.
So as we each venture through this journey, what can we do to increase those moments of higher consciousness? What can we do to strengthen our mojo? The answer is simple: Don’t overthink it! While our brain plays an important role in our everyday human survival, from basic decision-making to problem-solving and innovating, we need to expand our awareness beyond the simple realities created by our reptilian brain. And that involves, well, taking a break every now and then to allow life’s energy to flow freely: turning off the chit-chatter in our mind to (re)connect with the simple pleasures in life.
Yoga and meditation are two great ways to find peace and tranquility while also caring for our bodies. But if that’s not your vibe and you prefer simpler ways to switch off, I suggest trying the following:
#1. Take a hot bath. Add one cup of epsom salt and one cup of baking soda (yes, baking soda!). Baking soda helps to detoxify and alkalize the body while leaving your skin soft and smooth. Epsom salt eases stress, drawing toxins out of the body and reducing inflammation. Both are great ways to calm the body and mind, reduce tension and promote relaxation.
#2. Go for a hike or a walk in the woods. Studies have shown that spending time in nature is not only a nice-to-have but a must-have: not only can it lower blood pressure and hormone levels, but it can also reduce nervous system arousal (the fight-or-flight responses that leads to stress), enhance immune system function, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and improve mood.
#3. Try your hand at cooking – ayurvedic cooking, that is. Developed in India more than 3,000 years ago, ayurveda is considered one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems. Based on the belief in a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit, its main goal is to promote good health by creating harmony with the universe. Interest in ayurvedic cooking has significantly increased over the years as an antidote to chronic illnesses and a remedy for general health. The overall philosophy? Cook with the best ingredients you have – things that are organic, seasonal, and local, if possible.
And if all else fails … just take a look at the full moon tonight, soak in its magical energy, and remember how lucky you are to be alive.