J. Randall Stewart
06- Our Soul Center of Being
Updated: May 17, 2020
I’ll be honest. I really struggled with which center to start with. Each is important, but there is also an order to each, a hierarchy of how each works with the other. The proper order of how our three Centers of Being are meant to work is Spirit, Soul, then Body. What I mean is that our spirit has the highest, or more dominant place in our being, then the soul, and then the body. This doesn't mean that any one is more important than the other. It has to do with function. Our bodies are the least permanent part of ourselves. It is also the neediest, and least equipped to bring fulfillment. Because of this, the body center must not be dominant Center of Being. But neither can we just forget or neglect it. As New Testament spiritual teacher Paul once said, sometimes the weakest part of our bodies requires the most attention. That’s also why the body does, in fact, often usurp the majority of our focus, if we’re not intentionally giving time and space for the other two. Because our body center is the most fragile, it should get the most attention, but least amount of control. This, I think, is why we need to understand the function of the soul first, because it is the most effected and influenced by the other two. That is, indeed, it’s primary function.
The function of the soul - the heart and mind, or our conscious self - is like that of a microphone and speaker. The soul is like the sound-system of our being. Through it come many messages from the body and spirit, and a lot of data from our three Knowing Centers, which we'll get to later. It is the place where things register and get stored, but not the source, and that’s important. When we live too much just from our souls, we can begin to assume that everything we feel and think is true, right, good, and healthy. But it’s not hard to see that this is far from the truth. There are many things you feel or think which simply do not bear out to be true. Sometimes, acting impulsively on our thoughts and feelings can have dire consequences. We've all experienced the consequence of bad decisions, based on rash thoughts and emotions, and seen in retrospect the benefit of being able to wait and process those things before we act on them. You are not your feelings. You are not your thoughts. And if that is true, then we must also acknowledge that who we are is something more than our thoughts and feelings, even something beyond them. The truth is, your thoughts and feelings do not come from your thoughts and feelings. That may sound simple, but I think that’s rather profound. What you feel is a response. What you think is stimulated from elsewhere. The source of feelings and thought comes from another place, from the body or spirit. If the soul is the sound-system of our being, then the body and spirit are the things speaking through it. But not just our body or spirit. The energy of other people’s bodies and spirits can also register through our soul-sound-system. Why is this important? I wish you could really get this. It was a major shift in my understanding and daily life, when I began to put this truth into practice. What it has allowed me to do, practically, is to begin to question all my thoughts and emotions, instead of just accepting and acting upon them. It gave me space to pause and consider the source of what I thought and felt, and that gave me the space to do a whole lot of things differently. It allowed me to become a lot less reactionary towards circumstances and people, and lot more thoughtful in how I approached everything. And becoming more thoughtful has a lot to do with contemplation. Hey, I’ve gotta keep working that in! Anyway, I hope you can begin to see the importance of understanding the soul as the sound-system of our being?
Let’s take a moment and back up a bit, concerning this idea of our thoughts and emotions coming from elsewhere. I lived most of my life without understanding this, and it’s not something I figured out on my own, by myself. It wasn’t until my thoughts and emotions became toxic and problematic that I began to look at them differently. In truth, I was forced to begin to see things differently, because I had to. In the year of recovery following my three-day panic attack, especially in the first few months, I had a lot of experiences where my thoughts and emotions were painfully and pointedly disturbed. There were many times my thoughts and emotions were spinning out of control. As a result, I had to seriously confront the idea that these two things constituted something through which I had control of my life. But mostly, that’s how we view our soul, or conscious self. It is by this self that we think we are engaging, and moving forward in the world. We literally think and feel our way through life. This is often what we say. “I can do whatever I feel like,” or “don’t tell me what to think.” We think we can think for ourselves, because we think our thoughts are something we control, and something we use to control our situations, circumstances, and direction in life. Our constant mantra is, “what do I think about this or that.” We literally do not realize that our thoughts and emotions work backwards from how we try to use them. We think we use them to determine direction and outcomes. We think they are the cause instead of the effect. But that is not true. I admit, this can be a hard truth to swallow. You may simply not believe me. But I’m asking you to give it some thought, and time. Sit with it for a while, and consider this idea as you move through your day. To do this, I’ll share with you how I now interact with my thoughts and emotions, as a result of the recovery I’ve been through.
When I think or feel something now, I ask this series of questions. 1. Where is this coming from? 2. What does it mean? 3. What should I do about it? Each question naturally flows into the next. When I understand where a thought or feeling is coming from, then I know better what it means, which helps me realize what to do about it. In the process of this practice, I’ve come to realize two important things about what goes on in my conscious self. The first is that not everything I think or feel is the truth, and the second is that not everything I think or feel comes from me. I don’t think it’s a big stretch to believe this, especially in our thinking. We recognize readily that our thinking has been influenced by others. We are often taught what to think and how to think. But at the heart of all this is the idea that we think solely for ourselves. Don’t get me wrong. We do have our own thoughts and emotions. But they are so often mixed in with so many other thoughts and emotions coming from other places. What other places, you ask? As I've already said, there is our other Centers of Being. Do you realize that your body is speaking to your heart and mind? We know, even on a hormonal level that this is true. The body effects the mind and vice versa. The term psychosomatic is one way this happens. We can literally affect our physical state by our mental thinking. This is true because the mind affects the body, and the body affects the mind. Each has access to the other. When you feel hungry, where is that coming from? It could be the stomach, but it could also be the mind. There is a much more fluid exchange between all our centers than we might realize. Sometimes I might actually feel sad or angry because I simply haven’t eaten, and my body is low on energy. Our emotions, thoughts, spirit, and physical body all work together to produce how we think and feel. What registers in our conscious self, or our soul, always comes from elsewhere. What I’m trying to hammer down is the idea that our thinking and feeling is a responsive effect. The cause is always deeper down. The soul is like the computer monitor which registers things, but does not originate them. That’s because even our emotional and intellectual intelligence (our EQ and IQ) come from somewhere else.
Did you know you have three centers of intelligence? I've already mentioned these, as the three Centers of Knowing. This is another one of those concepts we’ll delve into more later, but it bears a mention here first, because it speaks to the reality that the soul is simply just registering things coming from other places. Our three Centers of Knowing are Head, Heart, and Body (sometimes called our gut). That’s right. Each of these has their own center of intelligence. I realize this may sound strange, but it’s true. What this also gets at is that our mind and heart is something other than our thoughts and feelings. Our thoughts and feelings constitute our Soul center, our mind and heart are actually two of the three Centers of Knowing. I know this is a lot of new information. But it helps us begin to sift through what we’re thinking and feeling, and why. Perhaps if we make this practical, it will help begin to clear things up. What’s going on when I feel afraid? Well, the first question is, “where is this coming from?” Is it coming from my body knowing, my heart knowing, or my mind knowing? We can actually get pretty good at perceiving this, when we begin to pay attention. I was working in a house a few years back, doing a three-week bathroom remodel. The customers had this skittish dog that barked at me constantly whenever we crossed paths. I noticed right away that this made me feel afraid. But I also quickly noticed that this fear was only in my body. I actually had no fearful thoughts or emotions in conjunction with this feeling. It was literally my body telling me, “hey, this is freaking me out.” My body did this mostly through a physical, visceral fear that registered in bodily sensations. Here, as in most cases, my body EQ and IQ were in play, working together. They were both sending my soul center a message. That message was, “Watch out, this could be dangerous.” But as soon as I realized the source of the message, I was able to do two things that helped change the situation. First, I was able to keep that body fear from seeping into my thoughts and emotions. Being physically afraid, I did not magnify it by also becoming mentally and emotionally afraid. I stopped it in my body. Second, I was able to use my spiritual discernment to understand where the fear was coming from. It was coming from the dog. The source of the fear, coming through my body, was dogs fear of me. My body was registering it, and then translating it to my conscious self so I could understand and do something about it. Then, in answer to the last question “what should I do about it,” I responded to the dog’s fear with empathy. I began to communicate to the dog (through a calm and kind demeanor) the message; “hey, I know how you feel, and that’s okay, but I actually care about you.” And you know what, after a few days the dog did a complete turnaround. I actually became his friend. From then on, when he saw me, instead of defensive barking he sought my affection. He realized that I was there, not to hurt him, but to love him. All this happened because I was able to discern 1. Where things were coming from, 2. What they meant, and 3. What to do about it. I knew the right thing to do, in that situation, because I understood how my three Centers of Knowing worked with my three centers of Being. Keep in mind, all this has taken years of learning and practice. It’s not a parlor trick. It’s actually the ability to understand myself, my own energy, and the energy of the world around me. On some level we all experience and understand this. But many times we just act and react to all this energy mindlessly. Part of the journey of personal transformation is getting in tune with this energy; being more aware of it, and understanding how it works and how to work with it.
I know I’m introducing a lot of overlapping concepts here. I hope it’s not too much. I also hope you can stay with me long enough to let all this begin to sink in. It won’t come over night. It’s gonna take time. But trust me, I’m gonna keep coming back to these ideas over and over, so there’s lots of opportunity for them to begin to make sense. But also keep in mind that the best way they will begin to make sense is when you start paying attention to how all this works in your everyday life. If it is true, then it will begin to be evident in your life. Don’t take my word for it. But I hope you keep walking with me as we keep exploring these ideas. There’s a lot more to say about the Soul Center as our conscious self, but that will become clearer as we discuss the other two Centers of Being, the body and the spirit.