How Big is Your Mystery Box?

Written by Philip Walter on Nov 7 at 6:12 pm in iSPIRITself, weMINDculture

J.J. Abrams, the mystery box, and the secret to personal development

Photo borrowed from the ether

I was recently turned on to J.J. Abrams’ talk at TED.com about the appeal of mystery. He is of course the creative genius behind such enormously popular projects as Alias, Lost and the movie, Cloverfield. If you have 18 minutes to spare, you’ll thank yourself for following this link and checking it out.

My favorite moment is when Abrams busts out the Mystery Box, an intriguing little item from his childhood that has somehow remained unopened to this day, and declares, “Mystery is the catalyst for imagination.” His basic premise is that the unopened box, the Mystery Box, is a symbol for human potential, and that the result of potentiality is spontaneous, creative expression. He relates this in a very entertaining way to his work in TV and film, and I find that it relates also to my work in integral fitness coaching and flow recovery.

I sometimes refer to this work as flow un-covery, because what we do is not so much finding something outside ourselves as it is uncovering the Truth within ourselves. One of my mentors, the original flow coach, Scott Sonnon, remarks in his book, Prasara Yoga: Flow Beyond Thought, that flow is our natural state, our Essential Nature. It is what remains once we “burn away the slag that is our fears.” (p. 59)

So where do these fears come from? And what do they accomplish?

They are actually a natural byproduct of being human. You see, the human condition is to be simultaneously God and a worm, a dirty, fleshy pile of squirming Divinity. As Kierkegaard points out, “we are a synthesis of the soulish and the bodily.” Our apparent mortality shakes us to the core because we can see our Divine Nature. We know we are made in the Image of God, yet we are doomed to die and return to dust. Everything around us will one day fall away and there is nothing we can do about it. This is the fundamental human anxiety, and in the face of this crippling fear, our natural reaction is often to limit our possibilities, to break the world down into increasingly smaller, more manageable pieces until there is no longer any room to maneuver. We long for a “sure thing,” for something we can count on, and this often leads us to grab onto things we really don’t like, things we know are harmful or counterproductive.

If our True Nature, however, is Creative Spirit and Limitless Possibility, the more we strip away these fears, the more we expand the boundaries of our own Mystery Box, the more we uncover our natural flow. By opening ourselves to the Great Mystery of Unbound Flow, we encourage creativity and spontaneity. Since our entire lives are built around the ego-game, this is often experienced as what Ernest Becker calls in his book, The Denial of Death, a “difficult and excruciatingly painful, all-or-nothing process of psychological rebirth,” but it is essential to finding true happiness.

Even in the face of this, I encourage you not to lose heart. My upcoming book, The Brickhouse Bodymind Blueprint, is a comprehensive manual of practical strategies for expanding and exploring your Mystery Box, physically, emotionally and spiritually. My humble hope is that it can make this journey less difficult for you. Working on this project has opened up a whole new world of possibilities in my own life, even as it has taken my attention away from this blog. With any luck, it should be ready for print by the end of the year, so if you want to be among the first to be alerted to its availability, subscribe to the blog either via e-mail or rss reader.

In the mean time, if you live in the Little Rock area and are interested in expanding the possibilities available to you, I can help. Check out my training page or e-mail me today at Philip at BrickhouseBodymind dot com so we can set up your FREE initial consultation. As a certified Prasara Yoga Instructor and Fitness Trainer, I will work with you to develop a sustainable, effective program for weight loss, muscle gain, and general physical flow recovery. As an experienced student of life, I can also offer advice for dealing with stress, improving personal relationships, and getting in touch with your True Self.

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