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Archive for March, 2010

Ancestry.com and NBC have partnered on a new TV program – “Who Do You Think You Are?” – that puts tracing family roots in the living rooms of families everywhere in a way that not even Alex Haley’s “Roots” could have.

Using a worldwide network of genealogists, the world’s largest online resource for starting your family tree, and the latest in genetics research, some interesting surprises have emerged for the celebrity’s on the show researching their own family trees. But none would be more surprising than if they were able to go back a mere fifty generations. Now, with new tools like DNA research, this is not only possible but would turn what we think we know about race into an illusion.

Leading geneticists have long known that the family trees of all of us, of whatever origin or color, meet and actually merge into one inclusive family tree for the entire human race. All humanity has the same family tree; no human being (of any background) is less closely related to any other human being than approximately 50th cousins, and most of us are a lot closer than that!

And our DNA tells us that all 7 billion of us alive today are the descendents of ancestors who set out from central Africa some 70,000 years ago (that’s 2000 generations ago) on a long migration that spanned the Earth; one that has continued right up to the present, with many new waves of forced migration across oceans.

The Lakota principle of Mitakuye Oyasin (We are all related) takes these findings beyond human beings to include the interrelatedness of all forms of life. What it all comes down to is that we all belong to the same human family – we are one species, one human community. It is an illusion that there are “races.” In all our diversity, all of us are related, each of us is unique. It may just be that telling our life stories is a way to weave the thread that will yet connect the human family.

A 27th way to review your life story – In what ways have you discovered your relatedness to others who you would not have thought of as part of your family tree? Think about your experiences that have connected you in meaningful, deep, and lasting ways to others beyond your “blood” relations. What was this experience like for you? What did it tell you about yourself that was new to you? What did it tell you about your real family tree? What did it tell you about how we are more alike than we are different? Share this story here for others to benefit from.

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The personal, or what we think is unique to us, is also what connects us to all human beings. No matter how personal we think telling our own life story is, we are also telling, at the same time, a universal story. In telling the very personal things of our life experience, we are also sharing what is common to us all.

Sometimes, we may not even be aware when we are making that shift from the personal to the transpersonal. One way to recognize this shift is to become familiar with the ageless motifs and archetypes that make up all the world’s sacred stories, myths, and folk tales. One example of universal archetypes, or themes shared by all humanity, is the pattern of renewal and transformation in life. This pattern is most noticeable in nature, what we observe all around us all the time. With the coming of spring, we witness an annual renewal.

In our own lives, too, what we may think of as a very personal experience of renewal, or moving beyond a hurdle, suddenly allowing us to experience a new perspective, is really one of the most universal of all experiences. This experience consists of one of the most common patterns pervading all of creation. It also offers a clear set of guideposts for us to follow along the path of our spiritual development. From our personal, or what we think may be unique, experience, we can recognize a universal pattern (beginning-muddle-resolution). This not only makes the personal transpersonal, it gives us even more reason to act upon the natural inclination to tell and pass on our life story to others. Turning the personal into the transpersonal clarifies even more for us how the truly universal takes place through everyday life experiences, identifying an organic pattern of transformation in our lives.

A 26th way to review your life story – Think of a time in your life when you were surprised to find that something you thought was a very personal experience was actually quite universal. How did you discover the universality of this experience? What new information or understanding did this give you of yourself or your world? Reflect on this for awhile, then put your thoughts into a story that tells how and why the personal became the transpersonal for you.

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Telling our life stories may be the most important way we have of giving our lives meaning, healing those parts of our lives that may need it, making peace with ourselves, and gaining the deeper, broader perspective on life that they can give us. Through telling our life story we can experience release, recovery, resolution, or renewal, and, maybe most importantly, recognition of our connection to the world.

Knowing our own life story well helps us to know much more than just ourselves. We are only the beginning of what we come to know through our life story. Second, it also helps us to know all the others in our life better, what they mean to us, who they are, and what all of our connections to others, and to the world, ultimately mean to us. Third, it helps us to understand the mystery of life even more than we may have thought we knew it. We become much more intimate with the big questions of life we have struggled with and have come to understand better. And finally, it helps us get to know the universe around us better than we had before. As we remember our journey through life, we get to know even more how our life fits into the larger whole we are also part of.

A 25th way to review your life story – These four realms we get to know better through knowing our life story can be thought of as the psychological, the social, the spiritual, and the cosmological realms. Which one draws you the most right now to explore in a little more depth? Pick one of these realms that you have gotten to know better through remembering or telling your life story, and reflect upon what it is that you have gained in understanding this domain of your life much more clearly. How did getting to know this area of your life enrich you or your appreciation of life as a whole? After you have had time to put your thoughts together around this, share your story with us here of how knowing your life story broadened your knowledge of the world around you and your connection to it.

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Telling your life story has the power to connect you to your soul. You and your soul are the wings to elevating your life. Authentic, honest life storytelling stirs the soul, awakens its inherent qualities – like awe, love, unity, contentment, joy, and wonderment – and renews your life.

The important thing in reviewing your life story is to remember that out of the conflicts of life come its resolutions. And it is life’s resolutions that allow us to soar in realms we had never seen before. The particular circumstances of our lives may not matter as much as how we see them. A change of perception can come at any time we are ready to accept what has happened to us as okay and providing some meaning and purpose to our lives. Anyway, the only thing we can change about our past is the way we look at it.

This reminds me of the bumper sticker, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” That’s because the ability to find new or deeper meaning in our lives, no matter what has happened, can be the creative response that enables us to understand the flow of our lives, be accepting of it, and to truly experience transcendence and transformation.

A 24th way to review your life story – Think about the particular or unique circumstances of your life, those things without which you would not be who you are today. Are you comfortable or happy with these circumstances you have been given? If so, tell a short story of how and why you are grateful for the hand you have been dealt in this life. If not, this can be your opportunity to explore how you might be able to shift your perspective, rather than trying to go back and change anything about what you do have or who you are, and thereby see through a different lens the life you have lived. Can you find a new or deeper purpose or meaning in what did happen in your life? If so, take time to reflect on this change of perception, and when you are ready share this story with us here.

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