"Write what you need to read." ~Brene Brown

Friday, September 25, 2020

Eight Universal Cultural Principles

The deep woods awaken that which is deeply spiritual in all of us

Angeles Arrien was a cultural anthropologist, award-winning author, educator, and consultant. She lectured and conducted workshops worldwide, bridging cultural anthropology, psychology, and comparative religions. Her books have been translated into thirteen languages. 

She cited eight principles which are present in over 85% of the world’s cultures. It has been said that the first step in creating agreement is finding common ground. Recently, I discovered my notes from hearing her speak in Portland in March, 1998. I offer these principles as food for thought for us as we strive for peace, and away from devolving into bigoted, violent and dehumanizing culture wars. It's good to know that there is a lot that most of us have in common when it comes to what we value, what heals us, and our sources of inspiration. 

In her introduction to her lecture, she cited three things we could do every day for our spiritual well being (in whatever spiritual form makes sense to your understanding of spirit)
  • Pray. (Set a sacred intention - something you hold as a sincere vow)
  • Give sincere gratitude every day. It is one of the arms of love.
  • Take a life-affirming action every day. (life calling, heartfelt, fostering integrity, an anonymous act of kindness).
And now on to the eight universal principles which the vast majority of humanoid cultures hold in common:

1.      Diet – A healthy diet sustains our good health and well being.  In order for us to feel healthy and to enjoy a sense of well being, we must take care of putting ourselves in order. A healthy diet is four fold in nature and we must not starve ourselves in any one of the four:

Physical – exercise, grooming, bathing

Mental – What are we creating in our minds with our thoughts, with our daydreams? Where do we choose to put our awareness? Daydreams set up the matrix for self-fulfilling prophecies. What we think about we bring about. 

Emotional – How do we tend to our emotional health? Playing or listening to music which can induce a mood, bubble baths, gardening, painting, creating, getting lost in time.

Spiritual – How do I feed my soul? Through meditation, prayer, cultivating practices that focus on the breath and connecting to that which is greater than ourselves (Nature, God, Earth, Energy).


2.     Music – Music that we love provides us with a kinesthetic – visceral experience. Some people experience synesthesia.
We all have power songs that can help us to feel better. Playing instruments or listening to music.
Music ignites memories – connections to people, places, special events.
If you sing, you can tell the truth. When we sing together, we feel a sense of unity. The sound of our own voices singing or chanting can have a positive effect on our immune systems. Rhythmic drumming can also strengthen our immune systems.
- In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions:
When did you stop dancing?
When did you stop singing?
When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?

Where we have stopped dancing, singing, being enchanted by stories, or finding comfort in silence is where we have experienced the loss of soul. Dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence are the four universal healing salves.



3.     Play, laughter, humor, fun  - Norman Cousins wrote a book about his experience using laughter as therapy  for his illness.
“Beware of the man who laughs and his belly does not jiggle. 
That is a dangerous person.” ~ Confucious.
Patch Adams, as a doctor, has taught physicians the importance of connection, humor, and play with patients. 


4.     Love, touch, support systems – The healing power of love is underestimated. We need people in our lives who will acknowledge us and value us as we value them. These are support systems which can be personal and professional. In order to maintain a sense of emotional well being, we need a circle of healing agents in our lives. 
As humans, we are driven to connect. Connection, it has been said, is the opposite of addiction. Infants fail to thrive when they do not establish healthy connections with caregivers who provide us with love, acknowledgment, soothing, a sense of safety and well being.
In western culture we have more pets and stuffed animals providing us with love, touch, support.


5.     Creativity- Feeling needed and valued for creative contribution: Gardening, sewing, painting, sculpting, woodwork. Getting into transcendent time is a sweet comfort.


6.    A belief in the supernatural – Outside or within one’s nature there remains a mystery, a faith.
- Four places in nature where we can go to remember the mystery: 
            Mountain, Desert, Deep woods, Ocean.


 I have a feeling that my boat

                  has struck, down there in the depths,
                  against a great thing
               And nothing happens! 
                    --Nothing happens? 
                  Or has everything happened,
                  and are we standing now, quietly, in the new life? ~
Juan Ramón Jiménez



7.     Environment – Three environments:
Nature  - Being in nature supports our health and well-being. We need at least one hour outdoors every day.
Created environments (feng shui) Equal proportions of straight and curved lines, color, textures, smells, sounds
Inner World – Our own senses of ourselves. Self 


8.    Exercise – It is mood lifting, necessary, and a vital component of cultivating a healthy and well functioning immune system. 

What type of exercise calls for you to do it?

Exercise provides us with a sense of well being. It releases endorphins.

Movement is life! ~ Moshe Feldenkrais 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your thoughtful insights are a valuable part of the conversation. Thank you for contributing!