Tag: glance

Should Humanity Try to Contact Alien Civilizations?

Some researchers want to use big radio dishes like the 305-meter Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico to announce our presence to intelligent aliens.

Excerpt from space.com
by Mike Wall

Is it time to take the search for intelligent aliens to the next level?
For more than half a century, scientists have been scanning the heavens for signals generated by intelligent alien life. They haven't found anything conclusive yet, so some researchers are advocating adding an element called "active SETI" (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) — not just listening, but also beaming out transmissions of our own designed to catch aliens' eyes.

Active SETI "may just be the approach that lets us make contact with life beyond Earth," Douglas Vakoch, director of interstellar message composition at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, said earlier this month during a panel discussion at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Jose.

Seeking contact

Vakoch envisions using big radio dishes such as the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico to blast powerful, information-laden transmissions at nearby stars, in a series of relatively cheap, small-scale projects.

"Whenever any of the planetary radar folks are doing their asteroid studies, and they have an extra half an hour before or after, there's always a target star readily available that they can shift to without a lot of extra slough time," he said.

The content of any potential active SETI message is a subject of considerable debate. If it were up to astronomer Seth Shostak, Vakoch's SETI Institute colleague, we'd beam the entire Internet out into space.

"It's like sending a lot of hieroglyphics to the 19th century — they [aliens] can figure it out based on the redundancy," Shostak said during the AAAS discussion. "So, I think in terms of messages, we should send everything."

While active SETI could help make humanity's presence known to extrasolar civilizations, the strategy could also aid the more traditional "passive" search for alien intelligence, Shostak added.
"If you're going to run SETI experiments, where you're trying to listen for a putative alien broadcast, it may be very instructive to have to construct a transmitting project," he said. "Because now, you walk a mile in the Klingons' shoes, assuming they have them."

Cause for concern?

But active SETI is a controversial topic. Humanity has been a truly technological civilization for only a few generations; we're less than 60 years removed from launching our first satellite to Earth orbit, for example. So the chances are that any extraterrestrials who pick up our signals would be far more advanced than we are. 

This likelihood makes some researchers nervous, including famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking.

"Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they could reach," Hawking said in 2010 on an episode of "Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking," a TV show that aired on the Discovery Channel. "If so, it makes sense for them to exploit each new planet for material to build more spaceships so they could move on. Who knows what the limits would be?"

Astrophysicist and science fiction author David Brin voiced similar concerns during the AAAS event, saying there's no reason to assume that intelligent aliens would be altruistic.

"This is an area in which discussion is called for," Brin said. "What are the motivations of species that they might carry with them into their advanced forms, that might color their cultures?"

Brin stressed that active SETI shouldn't be done in a piecemeal, ad hoc fashion by small groups of astronomers.

"This is something that should be discussed worldwide, and it should involve our peers in many other specialties, such as history," he said. "The historians would tell us, 'Well, gee, we have some examples of first-contact scenarios between advanced technological civilizations and not-so-advanced technological civilizations.' Gee, how did all of those turn out? Even when they were handled with goodwill, there was still pain."

Out there already

Vakoch and Shostak agreed that international discussion and cooperation are desirable. But Shostak said that achieving any kind of consensus on the topic of active SETI may be difficult. For example, what if polling reveals that 60 percent of people on Earth are in favor of the strategy, while 40 percent are opposed?

"Do we then have license to go ahead and transmit?" Shostak said. "That's the problem, I think, with this whole 'let's have some international discussion' [idea], because I don't know what the decision metric is."

Vakoch and Shostak also said that active SETI isn't as big a leap as it may seem at first glance: Our civilization has been beaming signals out into the universe unintentionally for a century, since the radio was invented.

"The reality is that any civilization that has the ability to travel between the stars can already pick up our accidental radio and TV leakage," Vakoch said. "A civilization just 200 to 300 years more advanced than we are could pick up our leakage radiation at a distance of several hundred light-years. So there are no increased dangers of an alien invasion through active SETI."

But Brin disputed this assertion, saying the so-called "barn door excuse" is a myth.

"It is very difficult for advanced civilizations to have picked us up at our noisiest in the 1980s, when we had all these military radars and these big television antennas," he said.

Shostak countered that a fear of alien invasion, if taken too far, could hamper humanity's expansion throughout the solar system, an effort that will probably require the use of high-powered transmissions between farflung outposts.

"Do you want to hamstring all that activity — not for the weekend, not just shut down the radars next week, or active SETI this year, but shut down humanity forever?" Shostak said. "That's a price I'm not willing to pay."

So the discussion and debate continues — and may continue for quite some time.

"This is the only really important scientific field without any subject matter," Brin said. "It's an area in which opinion rules, and everybody has a very fierce opinion."

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Astronomers search for missing brown dwarf star

Excerpt from sciencerecorder.com

Armed with one of the largest telescopes in the world, the aptly named Very Large Telescope at the ESO Observatory in Chile, astronomers are conducting a search for what they once were certain had to be a brown dwarf star. The only problem is that now the star seems to have vanished without evidence.

What happened? Brown dwarfs, compared to their better known red dwarf counterparts are significantly cooler, dimmer objects which at a glance bear more resemblance to planets than to other stars.

Although they release heat and bear a chemical composition similar to that of the sun, astronomers tend to refer to them as “failed stars,” since they are too small to set off any thermonuclear reactions within their cores. This particular vanishing dwarf was thought to be part of a double-star system, the V471 Tauri, located within the Taurus constellation, only 163 light years from Earth. Within this system, the stars orbit each other in 12 hour intervals, which causes the brightness to diminish every six hours, when one star crosses directly in front of the other. 

However, the timing of this eclipse never happened at an entirely predictable pace, leading the researchers to suspect that a brown dwarf’s gravitational pull was pushing on the stars and causing the lapse – it’s the only thing consistent with the minimal lapsing patterns. With the use of a new powerful camera called SPHERE, they set out to plot out the location of the brown dwarf, but found nothing where they predicted it would be. 

“This is how science works,” said Adam Hardy, the study’s lead author who remains undaunted by the road ahead. The new study was published this week by the journal, Astrophysical Journal Letters. “Observations with new technology can either confirm or, as in this case, disprove earlier ideas.”
Perhaps most intriguing is that while a brown dwarf appears to be hiding from them, the cluster it waxes influence over is among the brightest and largest of deep-sky objects visible in the evening sky.
The binary star system is found in what astronomers call the Hyades cluster, named for the nymphs of Greek mythology who are responsible for the rain.

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Top 6 tips for using ordinary binoculars for stargazing

Excerpt from earthsky.org

Admit it.  You’ve probably got a pair of binoculars lying around your house somewhere. They may be perfect – that’s right, perfect – for beginning stargazing. Follow the links below to learn more about the best deal around for people who want to get acquainted with the night sky: a pair of ordinary binoculars.
1. Binoculars are a better place to start than telescopes
2. Start with a small, easy-to-use size
3. First, view the moon with binoculars.
4. Move on to viewing planets with binoculars.
5. Use your binoculars to explore inside our Milky Way.
6. Use your binoculars to peer beyond the Milky Way.

1. Binoculars are a better place to start than telescopes. The fact is that most people who think they want to buy a telescope would be better off using binoculars for a year or so instead.  That’s because first-time telescope users often find themselves completely confused – and ultimately put off – by the dual tasks of learning the use a complicated piece of equipment (the ‘scope) while at the same time learning to navigate an unknown realm (the night sky).
Beginning stargazers often find that an ordinary pair of binoculars – available from any discount store – can give them the experience they’re looking for.  After all, in astronomy, magnification and light-gathering power let you see more of what’s up there.  Even a moderate form of power, like those provided by a pair of 7×50 binoculars, reveals 7 times as much information as the unaided eye can see.

You also need to know where to look. Many people start with a planisphere as they begin their journey making friends with the stars. You can purchase a planisphere at the EarthSky store. Also consider our Astronomy Kit, which has a booklet on what you can see with your binoculars.

2. Start with a small, easy-to-use size.  Don’t buy a huge pair of binoculars to start with! Unless you mount them on a tripod, they’ll shake and make your view of the heavens shakey, too. The video above – from ExpertVillage – does a good job summing up what you want. And in case you don’t want to watch the video, the answer is that 7X50 binoculars are optimum for budding astronomers.  You can see a lot, and you can hold them steadily enough that jitters don’t spoil your view of the sky.  Plus they’re very useful for daylight pursuits, like birdwatching. If 7X50s are too big for you – or if you want binoculars for a child – try 7X35s.

February 24, 2014 moon with earthshine by Greg Diesel Landscape Photography.
February 24, 2014 moon with earthshine by Greg Diesel Landscape Photography.

3. First, view the moon with binoculars. When you start to stargaze, you’ll want to watch the phase of the moon carefully. If you want to see deep-sky objects inside our Milky Way galaxy – or outside the galaxy – you’ll want to avoid the moon. But the moon itself is a perfect target for beginning astronomers, armed with binoculars. Hint: the best time to observe the moon is in twilight. Then the glare of the moon is not so great, and you’ll see more detail.

You’ll want to start your moon-gazing when the moon is just past new – and visible as a waxing crescent in the western sky after sunset. At such times, you’ll have a beautiful view of earthshine on the moon.  This eerie glow on the moon’s darkened portion is really light reflected from Earth onto the moon’s surface.  Be sure to turn your binoculars on the moon at these times to enhance the view. 
Each month, as the moon goes through its regular phases, you can see the line of sunrise and sunset on the moon progress across the moon’s face. That’s just the line between light and dark on the moon. This line between the day and night sides of the moon is called the terminator line.  The best place to look at the moon from Earth – using your binoculars – is along the terminator line. The sun angle is very low in this twilight zone, just as the sun is low in our sky around earthly twilight.  So, along the terminator on the moon, lunar features cast long shadows in sharp relief.

You can also look in on the gray blotches on the moon called maria, named when early astronomers thought these lunar features were seas.  The maria are not seas, of course, and instead they’re now thought to have formed 3.5 billion years ago when asteroid-sized rocks hit the moon so hard that lava percolated up through cracks in the lunar crust and flooded the impact basins. These lava plains cooled and eventually formed the gray seas we see today.

The white highlands, nestled between the maria, are older terrain pockmarked by thousands of craters that formed over the eons. Some of the larger craters are visible in binoculars. One of them, Tycho, at the six o’clock position on the moon, emanates long swatches of white rays for hundreds of miles over the adjacent highlands. This is material kicked out during the Tycho impact 2.5 million years ago.

View Larger. Photo of Jupiter's moons by Carl Galloway. Thank you Carl! The four major moons of Jupiter - Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto - are easily seen through a low-powered telescope. Click here for a chart of Jupiter's moons
Photo of Jupiter’s moons by Earthsky Facebook friend Carl Galloway. Thank you Carl! The four major moons of Jupiter are called Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. This is a telescopic view, but you can glimpse one, two or more moons through your binoculars, too.

4. Move on to viewing planets with binoculars. Here’s the deal about planets.  They move around, apart from the fixed stars.  They are wanderers, right?

You can use our EarthSky Tonight page to locate planets visible around now.  Notice if any planets are mentioned in the calendar on the Tonight page, and if so click on that day’s link.  On our Tonight page, we feature planets on days when they’re easily identifiable for some reason – for example, when a planet is near the moon.  So our Tonight page calendar can help you come to know the planets, and, as you’re learning to identify them, keep your binoculars very handy. Binoculars will enhance your view of a planet near the moon, for example, or two planets near each other in the twilight sky. They add a lot to the fun!

Below, you’ll find some more simple ideas on how to view planets with your binoculars.

Mercury and Venus. These are both inner planets.  They orbit the sun closer than Earth’s orbit.  And for that reason, both Mercury and Venus show phases as seen from Earth at certain times in their orbit – a few days before or after the planet passes between the sun and Earth.  At such times,  turn your binoculars on Mercury or Venus. Good optical quality helps here, but you should be able to see them in a crescent phase. Tip: Venus is so bright that its glare will overwhelm the view. Try looking in twilight instead of true darkness.

Mars. Mars – the Red Planet – really does look red, and using binoculars will intensify the color of this object (or of any colored star). Mars also moves rapidly in front of the stars, and it’s fun to aim your binoculars in its direction when it’s passing near another bright star or planet.

Jupiter. Now on to the real action!  Jupiter is a great binocular target, even for beginners.   If you are sure to hold your binoculars steadily as you peer at this bright planet,  you should see four bright points of light near it.  These are the Galilean Satellites – four moons gleaned through one of the first telescopes ever made, by the Italian astronomer Galileo. Note how their relative positions change from night to night as each moon moves around Jupiter in its own orbit.

Saturn.Although a small telescope is needed to see Saturn’s rings, you can use your binoculars to see Saturn’s beautiful golden color.  Experienced observers sometimes glimpse Saturn’s largest moon Titan with binoculars.  Also, good-quality high-powered binoculars – mounted on a tripod – will show you that Saturn is not round.  The rings give it an elliptical shape.

Uranus and Neptune. Some planets are squarely binocular and telescope targets. If you’re armed with a finder chart, two of them, Uranus and Neptune, are easy to spot in binoculars. Uranus might even look greenish, thanks to methane in the planet’s atmosphere. Once a year, Uranus is barely bright enough to glimpse with the unaided eye . . . use binoculars to find it first. Distant Neptune will always look like a star, even though it has an atmosphere practically identical to Uranus.

There are still other denizens of the solar system you can capture through binocs. Look for the occasional comet, which appears as a fuzzy blob of light. Then there are the asteroids – fully 12 of them can be followed with binoculars when they are at their brightest. Because an asteroid looks star-like, the secret to confirming its presence is to sketch a star field through which it’s passing. Do this over subsequent nights; the star that changes position relative to the others is our solar system interloper.

Milky Way Galaxy arching over a Joshua tree

Pleiades star cluster, also known as the Seven Sisters
Pleiades star cluster, also known as the Seven Sisters

5. Use your binoculars to explore inside our Milky Way.  Binoculars can introduce you to many members of our home galaxy. A good place to start is with star clusters that are close to Earth. They cover a larger area of the sky than other, more distant clusters usually glimpsed through a telescope.

Beginning each autumn and into the spring, look for a tiny dipper-like cluster of stars called the Pleiades.  The cluster – sometimes also called the Seven Sisters – is noticeable for being small yet distinctively dipper-like. While most people say they see only six stars here with the unaided eye, binoculars reveal many more stars, plus a dainty chain of stars extending off to one side. The Pleiades star cluster is looks big and distinctive because it’s relatively close – about 400 light years from Earth. This dipper-shaped cluster is a true cluster of stars in space.  Its members were born around the same time and are still bound by gravity.  These stars are very young, on the order of 20 million years old, in contrast to the roughly five billion years for our sun.

Stars in a cluster all formed from the same gas cloud. You can also see what the Pleiades might have like in a primordial state, by shifting your gaze to the prominent constellation Orion the Hunter. Look for Orion’s sword stars, just below his prominent belt stars. If the night is crisp and clear, and you’re away from urban streetlight glare, unaided eyes will show that the sword isn’t entirely composed of stars. Binoculars show a steady patch of glowing gas where, right at this moment, a star cluster is being born. It’s called the Orion Nebula. A summertime counterpart is the Lagoon Nebula, in Sagittarius the Archer.

With star factories like the Orion Nebula, we aren’t really seeing the young stars themselves. They are buried deep within the nebula, bathing the gas cloud with ultraviolet radiation and making it glow. In a few tens of thousands of years, stellar winds from these young, energetic stars will blow away their gaseous cocoons to reveal a newly minted star cluster.

Scan along the Milky Way to see still more sights that hint at our home galaxy’s complexity. First, there’s the Milky Way glow itself; just a casual glance through binoculars will reveal that it is still more stars we can’t resolve with our eyes . . . hundreds of thousands of them. Periodically, while scanning, you might sweep past what appears to be blob-like, black voids in the stellar sheen. These are dark, non-glowing pockets of gas and dust that we see silhouetted against the stellar backdrop. This is the stuff of future star and solar systems, just waiting around to coalesce into new suns.

Andromeda Galaxy from Chris Levitan Photography.
Andromeda Galaxy from Chris Levitan Photography.

Many people use the M- or W-shaped constellation Cassiopeia to find the Andromeda Galaxy.  See how the star Schedar points to the galaxy?  Click here to expand image.
Many people use the M- or W-shaped constellation Cassiopeia to find the Andromeda Galaxy. See how the star Schedar points to the galaxy?

6. Use your binoculars to view beyond the Milky Way.  Let’s leap out of our galaxy for the final stop in our binocular tour. Throughout fall and winter, she reigns high in the sky during northern hemisphere autumns and winters: Andromeda the Maiden. Centered in the star pattern is an oval patch of light, readily visible to the unaided eye away from urban lights. Binoculars will show it even better.

It’s a whole other galaxy like our own, shining across the vastness of intergalactic space. Light from the Andromeda Galaxy has traveled so far that it’s taken more than 2 million years to reach us.
Two smaller companions visible through binoculars on a dark, transparent night are the Andromeda Galaxy’s version of our Milky Way’s Magellanic Clouds. These small, orbiting, irregularly-shaped galaxies that will eventually be torn apart by their parent galaxy’s gravity.

Such sights, from lunar wastelands to the glow of a nearby island universe, are all within reach of a pair of handheld optics, really small telescopes in their own right: your binoculars.

John Shibley wrote the original draft of this article, years ago, and we’ve been expanding it and updating it ever since. Thanks, John!
Bottom line: For beginning stargazers, there’s no better tool than an ordinary pair of binoculars. This post tells you why, explains what size to get, and gives you a rundown on some of the coolest binoculars sights out there: the moon, the planets, inside the Milky Way, and beyond. Have fun!

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Asteroid Mining: Not as Crazy as it Sounds

Concept model of the FireFly Design (Image credit: Deep Space Industries / Bryan Versteeg.

Excerpt from geologyforinvestors.com

At first glance it sounds ridiculous. Why would anyone consider mining in space when even the largest Earth-based mining operations seem to have trouble managing costs? After all, mid-grade and marginal deposits seem to have trouble finding any money and the process of moving a project from prospect to mine can take decades and cost hundreds of million of dollars. I’ll be the first to admit that the whole idea of asteroid mining was initially right up there with Star Trek-style transporters and desktop cold fusion, but a few recent events have piqued my curiosity on the subject. Allow me to elaborate.

First, one of the many items that was lost back in October, 2014 when the Antares rocket was destroyed was the Arkyd 3 satellite. Arkyd 3 is a testing platform designed by Planetary Resources, otherwise known as “the asteroid mining company”. Apparently these guys aren’t just doing interviews: There is actual work going on here. A re-built Arkyd 3 is scheduled for launch in about 9 months.
Second, the recent landing of the Philae spacecraft on comet 67P stirred all of our imaginations in a way that was reminiscent of the moon landing, first shuttle launch or first Mars rover. If we can effectively land a bullet on a bullet 500 million miles away from Earth, then the idea of grabbing a near-earth asteroid doesn’t sound nearly as crazy. The economics might still seem crazy, but the technology – not so much.

As it turns out, there are three groups currently working on a long term strategy to gather resources from space. Two are private companies and the third is NASA. All have different approaches, but their end games are largely the same.

What Asteroids? What Resources?

Asteroid miners are seeking out near-earth asteroids. There are over 11,000 known near-earth asteroids which are considered to be left-overs from the formation of the solar system. These bodies can be composed of ice, silicate minerals, carbonaceous minerals and metals.

Ice or water on these bodies is one of the most significant potential resources. Solar panels on spacecraft can provide the power to simply convert water to hydrogen and oxygen for fuel. Considering that it costs from $5,000-25,000+ per kg to ferry items into space, the idea of harvesting resources needed in space doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. In fact, the groups involved are primarily focused on gathering the resources needed for space exploration and development. Gathering resources to send back to earth is a much longer term goal and arguably may never be economic.

Groups Involved

Currently there are two private companies pursuing asteroid mining; Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries. NASA is also involved on several levels and has awarded contracts to several companies including both Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries for studies relating to relating to asteroid redirection.

Deep Space Industries – Fire Fly/DragonFly/Harvestor

Deep Space Industries’ approach includes a series of compact spacecraft known as FireFlies (not to be confused with NASA’s FireFly Cubesat). The company plans to send them on one-way missions to gather information such as size, shape, density and composition of asteroids of interest. Their longer term plan includes the development of a spacecraft known as the “Dragonfly” which will capture asteroids to return for analysis and to test processing methods and the “Harvestors” which will collect material for return to Earth’s orbit. The Harvestor class is meant for full-scale production for initial customers in space from collecting propellant for future space missions, manufacturing materials using extracted metals and radiation shielding. If costs begin to decrease over time they hope to be able to return these extracted commodities back to earth. DSI recently made the news when it partnered with another firm to build Bitcoin satellites as part of a proposed Bitcoin orbital satellite network.


NASA has commissioned a number of studies on the potential for asteroid mining and interactions as part of it’s Early Stage Innovation and Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) directives. The Robotic Asteroid Prospector study determined that water and possibly Platinum Group Metals had the most economic potential for asteroid mining operations and presented some preliminary designed for water extraction.

NASA’s OSIRIS REx spacecraft is designed study the the near-Earth “Bennu” asteroid for more than a year with the primary goal of landing on the asteroid and retrieving a sample for return to Earth. OSIRIS-REx is scheduled for launch in September 2016.
NASA has been also been studying robotic mining for several years and holds annual competition where university students can build a mining robot.

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Aghartha In The Hollow Earth!


The Inner Earth & Realm of Aghartha

Aghartha In The Hollow Earth!

By Dr Joshua David Stone

The biggest cover-up of all time is the fact that there is a civilization of people living in the center of Earth, whose c...

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Wouldn’t wanna be like them…. ;-)

But come to think of it, at one point in time I probably was: tied down by the full catastrophy, never having come to the idea that 'reality' needed the prefix '3D' in order to distinguish it from that other realm. They were sitting in my train this m...

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Birthday Sale misinterpreted

At first glance of Lauren's title today, I figured "Hey, that's a great idea!" Rather than inviting friends over to bring you more stuff you may or may not like, why not have them over to a sort of garage sale where they can acquire stuff ...

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All Is Choice: Finding empowerment

This channeling concerns a group question regarding the well known channeled phrase "All Is Choice".

You may have already noticed in thinking about the statement "All Is Choice" on a big picture, theoretical basis, it is not all that useful in a practical sense.  It can be comforting to have that as a basis or background, but the human mind finds it impossible to maintain a real connection to that idea when also faced with mundane, day to day activities.

In other words, when you pick up your coffee cup to take a sip, it is not that useful to you in that moment to imagine how that small action fits into the overall arc of your life as a projection of a soul. How does taking a sip of coffee serve you in the larger sense?  It's almost impossible to grasp that - and then the question arises: "how does the act of taking a sip of coffee affect me, either positively or negatively, in terms of the overall arc of my life?"   From that moment, from the human perspective, it's almost impossible to tell.

And so for some, a sense of "bullshit" can erupt from this.  The human mind invents reasons to stave away inner chaos.  The concept of "all is choice" can be used to push away feelings and to rationalize acts or feelings about acts in a way that's typically not very useful to a person. An intellectualolder soul can have strong feelings about an act, but step back to intellectualize under an "all is choice" motto in order to be "loving" and deny negative feelings.

While stepping back and becoming part of that larger perspective is part of the old soul experience, there's a not so fine line there. When that stepping back is done to create a denial of what's being felt in the present than that is not particularly useful.

Our suggestion about how any person can view their life in terms of choice in a way that's empowering would be to instead of looking at things at the macro level to look at the micro level and to connect emotion to every moment:

As I pick up my coffee cup to take a sip, what am I feeling?  Am I feeling energized?  Am I feeling frustrated?  Am I feeling hurried because I need to gulp down a whole cup of coffee before I leave for my day?  Am I feeling complacent?  Am I feeling bored?

That's only a small fraction of the kinds of feelings that someone can feel in the simple act of picking up coffee cup to take a sip.  The more you are present and aware of what you feel in a given moment, the more you will feel connected to your own empowerment regarding choice.

Choice within Simple Actions

Let's examine this more.  We will go back to the coffee cup analogy. In that act of picking up the coffee cup, you have all kinds of choices. Perhaps they might be in some ways dependent upon or connected to other factors. If you're in a hurry, then you might pick up the coffee cup in a certain forceful way. If your mind is engaged in something else and you reach out with a fumbling hand because you decide you want a sip of coffee while you're staring at your laptop screen, that's another way of being present in that moment.

A small word of caution: while it is possible to be mindful and aware of what you were feeling in every given moment, that again is not necessarily useful to the human experience. In other words, you can get anal about it: "I'm sitting in a chair.  What am I feeling now?  I'm leaning back a little.  What am I feeling now? I glance out the window.  What I am feeling now? ... "   And you can get caught up, lost in the midst of intellectualizing.  You would be trying to feel instead of allowing the feelings to be present. There's a balance.

Not everyone that we're speaking to can join in what's referred to as an "old soul perspective" of stepping back and becoming distant. And that's okay - it's not necessary in order to feel empowered in your own life or feel good about what's going on in the world.

When we are referring to empowerment in this instance, we mean feeling that you yourself have the ability to make changes in your life as you see fit.  The very first step in that is assessing where you are in a given moment.  This is why we talk about the micro level, or bringing in an element of mindfulness.

The most useful way to apply that concept is when you feel the "big feelings" - when you feel a fair amount of emotion.  That's when you rest in that and simply ask "what am I feeling?" from within your presence - from outside your intellect.  Allow the feeling to be there while you rest in it.

Question:  I recently had an experience where my child was misbehaving and getting very angry, screaming and not listening.  I felt a very strong impulse to spank him until he "behaved", but then I caught myself because I know that is very bad for him.  I guess my own childhood pain came out - I don't know.  But then I got very tense and pushed away the feelings, but I still noticed him being very frightened of me and seemingly feeling threatened.  I guess by stuffing away those violent feelings, I was also being unloving.  This relates to the nature of choice to me - both were fairly automatic.  Either I behave like my parents did to me or I try to repress and do the opposite, but somehow create a similar dynamic.  I didn't feel I had any other choice.

This situation is a moment of big emotion.  The parent, feeling all this welling up inside them, has a moment to create that change from how they themselves were treated as a child. So the parent can assess this, starting with the knowing of "I'm feeling this big emotion."

Realize first that immediate action is not necessary. In other words, following through with that spanking energy is not necessary.  Removing or changing the emotion is not necessary.  If there is a big emotion there then this is a time for the parent to sit with that emotion for a moment without taking action.  Allow it to be there.   The action arises from believing that the emotion can't be there.  It wants to move through and out.  Tensing is another way of saying that the emotion cannot be there - and it also communicates to the child that their own mirroring emotion should not be there.

Again, this is an invitation for the parent to truly be with that emotion without moving into action.  This "action" can be external or internal, such as tensing or rationalizing.  Understand that this moving into action is likely a pattern for that person that came from their own childhood (such as with the pattern of self destruction).  Whether or not they tense themselves and try to try to deter any tendencies that feel negative, or they go ahead and strike the child:  those are two opposites of the same spectrum of non-acceptance.  The trick them would be to simply sit with the emotion and to let it be there without taking action.

Once the parent does that, other perceptions begin to come up: realizations that this is a connection to my own life. Realizations that I don't need to perpetuate this with my child, that there are other choices available now that the need to push an experience away has dissolved.  Emotions are simply energy.  They are an experience.  From our perspective, all emotions are good emotions, as energy itself has no value judgments attached.  But people can feel disempowered by emotions when they have not been encouraged to actually feel them.  Surrendering to the experience of an emotion is a tremendously empowering act.

The child's experience is a little different.  A child is naturally feeling a little bit disempowered, especially in western cultures, because of the physical dynamic that already exists. In other words, they're a small person and surrounded by big people who make the rules, provide the structure and play the "authority figure". There's already an atmosphere of not feeling that they have a choice.  But also within the child is a beautiful invitation to create a sense of choice in the midst of what could feel like a disempowering situation. The choice is about feeling.   The child too has the impulse to take action:  Do I cower and cover my head?   Do I run away?  Do I try to smile to defuse the situation?  Those are all potential actions.  But the child too can simply be with the emotion.

A child naturally does this at a very early age, but in the western culture is largely educated away from this.  This is true in the modern world in many Eastern cultures as well. The role of "parental authority" is a factor in 90% of the cultures around your world now.

We can offer a practical exercise beyond the theoretical which we've already given you that can increase your ability to feel connected to the choices in your own life.  We've already talked about stepping back while feeling and allowing yourself to feel when a big emotion comes up.  Again, that's useful situation by situation as it comes up for you.

In order to assist, provide support and create a pattern of energy movement within you now that can become a foundation for you whenever those big emotions come up so that you can practice what we've already told you, we can offer this.

This exercise is best if done seated and your spine is relatively straight. If you are accustomed to a particular meditation posture this is a good opportunity to take a particular posture but it's not necessary; you can be seated in a chair. 

[We offer the audio recording of this with beautiful background music which you may download to aid you in this exercise.]

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Closing your eyes, take a deep breath and allow it to float out if you.  Take another deep breath, hold it for a moment and allow it too to float out if you.  As you release that breath, imagine your conscious awareness expanding.   Every time you breathe in and breathe out your awareness expands. In other words, rather than being tightly placed inside your head, perhaps, it moves to a space outside yourself. You can start with a space that extends about a foot away from your body.

Just as you breathe out, allow your breath to float into that space about a foot on all sides of your body and allow your awareness to extend to that distance.  It's especially important to bring your awareness up over your head to that distance.

Now you can imagine that your awareness has expanded to a place that's up above and slightly outside of your physical body. This causes you to have the sensation that your movements would be slower, more flowing than you are accustomed to.  You feel wiser, perhaps.

Understand that within the space you may also incorporate all your emotion world by stepping up and back and out just slightly. You have the opportunity to include an awareness of more of yourself than you are accustomed. Yet this is not a  place of overwhelm. This is where you can be with those big emotion's without being overwhelmed by them.

If the idea of choice and empowerment has been particularly troubling to you - in other words if at times in your life you have felt buffeted by the winds of chance - then we would suggest taking a few moments of each day to perform this exercise.  Understand that when those big emotions come up for you this is the place that you can rest in while you are allowing yourself to be present within those emotions. And when we say "be present with" we are not suggesting that you become detached from and intellectual about them.  But we are suggesting that from this space you can see them for what they are. You can allow them into you without creating a need for action.

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