During collective transformation, those who can mine their inner resources and contribute to others hear the call to service humanity. Honestly, when hasn’t humanity found itself amid a collective transformation in its written history? 

Celebrating Commonalities, Honoring Differences

Within a spiritual community, it is common to encounter many deeply held and differing beliefs. In higher consciousness, identifying and communicating what we share opens a dialogue for establishing neutral ground. Celebrating commonalities creates a pause in the over-thinking and evaluating mindset. It temporarily suspends criticism and can support the body in creating a state of relaxation. Curiosity about others can lead to the potential for joy and laughter over positive shared bonds, and is a sign of spiritual maturity. Laughter is one of the easiest methods to raise frequency — what better state from which to explore different worldviews.  

Unmet Needs

“I believe that all analysis that implies wrongness is basically a tragic expression of unmet needs.”

~ Marshall Rosenberg, author of Nonviolent Communication

In the 4-part video series “The Science and Psychology of Polarization,” filmed by Rebel Wisdom, two pioneers in the field of psychology share how we could utilize the outcomes of their research and experiences to avoid polarization and, instead, create connection. Meeting our own needs first prepares us to meet the needs of others during conversation.

The following are tips for meeting those needs:


1. People who express ideas that differ from yours are not enemies.

Mystical Belief System

A mystical belief system is a flexible belief system. The preternatural mystical experiences reflect universal consciousness that often challenges deeply held beliefs. In both New Age spirituality and western religions, beliefs that light equals good and dark equals bad permeate interpretations of parables. Everything becomes measured and judged by this credence and extends into the collective consciousness through the media and social media. This idea has imbued the western mind for millennia. 

What if there is another way? A middle way where we recognize that many humans operate from a self-perpetuating zero-sum paradigm. When we view others from a lens of compassion that acknowledges a shared experience of programmed beliefs rooted in the survival of the tribe, we create space to suspend judgment of others temporarily.

2. Foster feelings of safety.

Peter Levine is an American clinical psychologist and industry leader in studying and treating trauma. During the interview on Rebel Wisdom, Levine discusses how and with whom to create feelings of safety. He states, “We need to feel safe in the arms of selective people, not everyone.” When we develop a sense of security, we build a foundation that enables mental flexibility and openness. He continues to explain, “We need time together when we feel safe. This will help us grow and digest and learn. It will help us solve problems and be creative. It will help us be bold and be curious.”

3. Adopt a sense of curiosity.

Diverse Ideas Enhance Our Life

When people are accustomed to existing in a chronic state of fight-or-flight, opposing ideas may appear threatening. The aroused brain interprets the person sharing the opposing view as the source of threat. The psyche can interpret this source as an enemy.

During times of personal or collective threat, even those skilled and trained in psychological therapies are susceptible to the effects of an aroused nervous system. Exploring and practicing curiosity about differences when we are relaxed can support us to remember during times of stress that diverse ideas can enhance our lives.   

Learning about differences with others is an opportunity to expand our horizons, develop compassion, and enrich our knowledge base. Intimate connection with other people is a core human need. Instigating conversation with the intention of expansion, empathy, and enrichment can create connection instead of polarization.    

4. Identify when you are in an emotionally triggered state.

A stress response elicits changes in human physiology. It happens to everyone. Symptoms include physical, emotional and mental, and behavioral responses. The specific effects can be unique to each individual and can differ circumstantially for each person. 

In terms of maintaining openness and curiosity, learning to recognize when your body is in stress response is helpful. Humans become less able to listen and understand when their physiology is in a heightened state of arousal. When possible, it can be beneficial to wait to have conversations that elicit conflict until both parties are in a relaxed state. (Levine, ibid)

5. Develop strategies to regulate your stressed physiology.

Polyvagal Theory, developed by Dr. Stephen Porges, expands the human nervous system into 3-parts as regulated by the vagus nerve. He suggests extending our exhale to regulate a stressed-out nervous system. When the nervous system relaxes, we can both accurately interpret facial expressions and identify safe environments. Safe environments are necessary for social engagement and play.

“Curiosity cannot exist when we are in a physiological state of defense.” 

~ Dr. Stephen Porges

6. Seek to see the world from positive, optimistic perspectives.

The practice of gratitude is a simple method for developing optimism and is a gateway to human potential. Practicing gratitude can begin with naming mundane objects that evoke a sense of joy and beauty, such as a flower, a blue sky, or raindrops. 

“In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

~ Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School

7. Find ways to contribute to, learn from, and enrich each other.

Engaging in creativity facilitates grounding, the embodiment of presence, and creating relaxation. The act of creativity fires neurons and creates new and healthy pathways in the brain. New pathways open doors for novel patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving and create innovative problem-solving opportunities. Imagination becomes stimulated and increases the possibility of mental flexibility. Innovation can lead to a desire to contribute and share and gain input from potential collaborators. 


Copyright 2020 Lisa Martin Naimi


Rebel Wisdom: The Science and Psychology of Polarization

Dr. Peter Levine: Polarisation and Trauma

Dr. Stephen Porges: The Neuroscience of Polarisation

Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier