Have we alignment?
When we drive a stake into the ground with a sledgehammer, we do not tap it sideways, push or pull at it, we align the direction of our powerful swing squarely on to the head of the stake, any force out of line with this, is not just a waste but a hindrance. That is how simple we want our lives to be, our energy working in corporation and agreement with the path we wish to follow. However life energy is leaky, it is like trying to carry water with your hand, it constantly wants to flow without regard for your intentions, but do not worry as we are awash with energy, there is more energy in a single atom than we would need for entire lifetime. It is almost incomprehensible the amount of energy in the entire universe and it is waiting for us to tap into it through our connection to source, whether you believe in it or not, there is always more energy inside you, you just have to allow yourself to connect and have alignment to it.
The very publicly declared intention of Navy Marine Seal training course and in particular the design of “hell week” is to find the people who are able to access their inner resources and energy, when by any objective standard their external energy has been completely exhausted. The military might use the term, inner strength or resolve, instead of connection to inner source, however they recognise it when they see it and they value it so highly that they consider it acceptable for two thirds of their recruits to wash out or ring the bell during training. And why do they consider it so important, because it is the ability to carry on, to finish the mission even when you are going beyond your trained strength, it is the ability to endure what other people cannot, and they are able to endure because they have a connection to a greater source of energy than themselves, their inner source and strength is in alignment with their mission of finishing their training.
Of course the idea of Marines dropping and doing twenty minutes of sitting meditation, probably sounds ridiculous, despite it being one of the most effective teaching tools for inner strength, it does not mean they do not already do a lot of mental training. The whole of basic training is about breaking down the internal self to rebuild it in the model of the soldier, standing guard is about stillness and awareness, physical training teaches them to be present in their bodies, discipline and respectfulness of rank generates order within the organisation. They increase recruits effectiveness by training inner discipline, they teach recruits to think about their reactions and then changes them to form new habits.
This all strangely parallels the training of monks, their general might be Buddha, but they respect him in the same way, they give up their individuality for something external and outside them, the sense of oneness and having the same mission, they train their bodies and minds for discipline, and they give themselves to the organisation and something greater than them. Whatever your opinion about the military is, there is no doubt that they are an organisation that knows what it purposes and then aligns their every action with it, and whether it succeeds or fails is not just testable but knowable and it has consequences. In war it only matters what works which produces a ruthless efficiency and survival of the fittest, when it comes to what is effective in personal development.
Whilst everyone might not want to enlist into the army (the bad food and having to do what people tell you part never appealed to me) that does not mean it is not worth considering what they do and why they do it. If you need to drop any repulsion at the purpose or the methods that they use, it is worth keeping in mind that they are the most aligned organisation that the world has ever produced through the process of “natural selection”, and that the primary tool every army uses is the individual soldier. Armies are better when the individual soldiers are better or more effective whilst at the same time working towards a common understandable goal. There is a real interest and competitive advantage in armies being at the cutting edge of human improvement as humans are their most important asset.
The first stage of basic training is the stripping away of individual wants and needs, the original minimalists. It takes away virtually every item that you own and replaces them with a uniform and standard kit which is the same as every other recruit, it takes away the illusion that you are an individual and then goes further, they deprive you of sleep, they exhaust your body with stamina and strength training, they give a standard diet and take away your control of when you eat. Every minute and hour of your day is programmed, you have no free time and no privacy, you are never alone, you become part of the unit and you recognise that there is something greater than you. In the case of the army, it is the mission, whether it is the greater mission of protecting the nation, or the mission orders that are assigned to you and it is always implied that it is part of that greater mission, that your actions today are in alignment with that greater mission.
That is what make the training worthwhile, when it is for a reason, when it is in alignment with the mission, as individual will have to find our own reasons to invest in our training or personal development, you will only do minimalism if there is a reason to, if it serves your mission, and the same goes for becoming a healthy and happy person, financially independent, a better craftspersons, more skilled, or more understanding. You first need a mission, a purpose that makes the training meaningful to you, the immortal reason to get out of bed.
As all these lessons can be learnt and enacted to some degree in your own life, whilst the military have a very clear mission and that clarity is the appeal for some people. In your own life circumstances for your actions to align with your purpose you must know what it is, if it is easier just decide what your purpose is for the next five years do so, and you can relieve a lot of pressure by giving yourself the freedom to change your mind later. Please consider what brings you joy and fulfilment, what have you already done that does so, even if it is a childhood joy, ask the question of your inner voice and keep on asking the question until you get an answer that sounds at least reasonable but ideally one that sparks joy. It is always worth chasing a sparkle of joy rather than the most sensible idea in the world, that is how you get writers rather than accountants (who are probably the most sensible people in the world). It is worth asking how you spend a perfect normal day, the little details are so important, a day without an extra hot flat white is always poorer for its absence.
It is always possible to find meaning in any job or activity you just have to look, and purpose really is the way we tell the story of who we are, but only affects what we do in the sense of giving our lives alignment, because it helps to make sense of our lives, when we no longer have to just survive, when that is no longer an achievement (which it was for our entire history until the peace and prosperity of the last eighty years), that is when the story of purpose begins to matter, it is in fact a sign of progress that we have a choice in our purpose when previously the only purpose was survival. However that does not make it an insignificant problem, it might be a luxury problem, but it is the most important one we have, as we are fundamentally growing beings of consciousness, we are designed to grow with purpose, to fulfil our purpose and when we are no longer sure what our purposes, we no longer have the drive for that growth and without growth we stop being. If you are looking for the simplest and fundamental form of purpose, it is having alignment with your inner growing being of consciousness, that is what needs to be constantly satisfied, and we are fortunate to be creatures of many flaws, we are gloriously imperfect, so much so there is effectively an infinite amount growth available to us.
Life is suppose to flow, in many ways we just have to get out the way, stop efforting and struggling against the tide, and instead turn downstream, and use the natural flow of energy throughout lives. The body is extremely effective in communicating whether it is in a high or low energy mood, and wherever you want to turn your boat, you simply turn towards whatever will raise your energy just by little bit, whether that is meditating or reading a book for ten minutes, it does not matter, the point is to be in one moment after another, to raise your energy a little bit in each of those moments, you do not have to go from napping to running in a split second, it is enough just to stand up sometimes.
That is the simple guide available to you, is almost like watching the speedometer on your car, you can watch your energy levels rise and fall during the day and decide whether you want to accelerate or brake. And in ideal world, you will naturally do the things that requires high-energy at the moments when you have high-energy, and you will know what to do to bring you joy when you have low energy. It is the most natural thing in the world that energy would ebb and flow, you do not want high-energy when you are in your night-time routine, it would not help you and indeed be a hindrance. You just want to create a life where your activities match the energy you have, and you are prepared for each energy level you experience during the day, and you will certainly experience the full spectrum every day. You could be someone who is really good at purposefulness when they have high-energy, but if all you feel is frustration and boredom when you have low energy, and you are guaranteed that you are going to experience low energy everyday, you are going to be unhappy everyday, and if you never make use of your high-energy, you are going to feel like you have no purpose and frustrated. We ultimately have to be good in all weathers, as we experienced the full seasons of our emotional lives every day, and that is perhaps one the most important thing to be in alignment with, those peaks and toughs of our natural energy cycle and it is ultimately how we grow as a being of consciousness. That is when our lives have our full energy in alignment and in line behind us in every moment, and that occurs when we are able to manage our changing cycle of energy.