EVOLUTIONARY MANIFESTO 10/2006
The Evolutionary 'Body' of Our Humanity
It is clear that if we are to make the political, economic,
educational, and ecological changes necessary for survival, we must
change the way we see ourselves, each other and the world we live in.
We must find it in ourselves to turn away from competitive and
exploitive social practices to those of cooperation and nurturance.
Because this shift to open-heartedness is essentially a transformation
of consciousness, perhaps the most useful resource we can have would
be a simple and effective tool to put people in their "highest mind"
in the course of daily living. This essay introduces a simple and
elegant process for doing just that -- "Top-Down Yoga."
Top-Down Yoga -- so named because it involves subtle and powerful
exercises "from the neck up" -- activates certain neurological
pathways or what is called the "Social Engagement System." Identified
by Dr. Stephen Porges as the most advanced human brain organization,
the Social Engagement System makes people intelligible to each other
and helps regulate the autonomic nervous system away from excessive
reliance on the mechanisms of arousal and fear. Not only does this
system allow us to "read" the facial expressions and other subtle cues
in human communication but it acts as a gateway to the kinds of deep
meditation and abilities that have long been the province of yogis and
other spiritual adepts. The beauty of Top-Down Yoga is that anyone
can learn to do it and anyone can benefit.
Top-Down Yoga is an important part of an emerging,
scientifically-grounded spirit-based participatory knowledge system.
Its simple movements tap into and strengthen each practitioner's
Social Engagement System, so that we may use our evolving
consciousness to join together to exploit our collective wisdom.
"Harmonic Continuum" celebratory events are a vehicle for integrating
these principles into the culture. They form an open-ended context
for regeneration, celebration, adaptation and evolutionary learning
that can be integrated into daily life. "Oxytocin Salons" can be used
as way-stations to support the emerging connectedness of human being.
Careless and destructive measures are being widely pursued for
short-term economic and political gain, to growing alarm and concern
among thoughtful individuals and leaders around the world. The
wonders of human creativity and innovation are often applied to the
wanton exploitation of resources and the advancement of weaponry.
Such obviously foolish and short-sighted behavior is leading to the
extinction of many species, including homo sapiens. Our collective
activities may even be taking us to a "tipping point" beyond which
global systems may not be recoverable no matter how much effort is
expended. If we are to survive, we must redirect ourselves en masse
towards life-positive ends.
The public is becoming increasingly aware of the destructive choices
being made by business and government. While one need only look at the
news to get an idea of what is happening, recent publications and
films are focusing attention on the damage done by conflicts between
countries and on the extent of our destruction of the environment.
The possibility of shifting toward ecological and social
sustainability is emerging as the dominant issue of our times. The
success of the film, "What the Bleep Do We Know", demonstrates the
passion of millions to understand the relationship between frontier
science, spirituality and social dynamics. The film, "An Inconvenient
Truth", explores the ways our collective consciousness and actions can
play a role in resolving the environmental disasters that are
We have always been capable of envisioning a world in which peace and
satisfaction are the norm for everyone, but such goals remain elusive
in a world where the populace is increasingly entrained to accept and
focus on hostility, animosity, separation and inequality.
Modern science has begun to study consciousness itself in order to
clarify the features of "mind" that are capable of pointing our
collective awareness in beneficial directions. These investigations
are leading to new ways of addressing the common root of the
environmental, spiritual, social, educational, economic and political
Former Canadian ambassador Jim George, in his book, Asking For The
Earth, presents the view that ecological and spiritual crises are two
sides of the same coin. He equates global warming with spiritual
crisis because he sees the underlying cause for the neglect of the
planet is belief in the existence of a dichotomy between "us and them"
that has allowed us to stray from our own best interests. For
significant change to occur, we must transcend the moment in our
collective evolution when apparent individuality and objectivity
emerged to dominate human consciousness. While this development led
to almost unimaginable technological advances, it has also inflicted
misery on many at the hands of a few, even to the brink of mass
extinction. Now is the time for us to use our bodies, minds and
spirits in secure connection with each other to take control of the
This essay describes the beginnings of a remarkably simple strategy
that enables us to confidently envision a far more viable individual,
collective and planetary future.
To aid us in furthering our collective evolution, it may be useful to
recall times when consciousness has undergone dramatic shifts that
have awakened both the public and the institutions to our fundamental
interconnectedness and to our clear potential to embrace harmony. In
his seminal text, The Self-Organizing Universe, Erick Jantsch refers
to a metafluctuation in the 1960's that "rocked the world." It was a
time of grass roots movements: the awakening of awareness about and
concern for the environment, rejection of the war in Vietnam and
advocacy for domestic and international human rights. It was also a
time of novelty. People felt free to explore alternative lifestyles,
live in communes, do mind-expanding drugs and dance to rapidly
evolving music that borrowed tone-scales and rhythms from around the
world. Eastern spirituality and the beginning of the Human Potential
movement provided powerful new guiding images and social norms.
Jantsch saw several basic themes in those dynamic times:
"self-determination, self-organization and self-renewal… the
recognition of a systemic connectedness over space and time of all
natural dynamics…, the logical supremacy of processes over spatial
structures… the role of fluctuation that renders the law of large
numbers invalid and gives a chance to the individual and its creative
Looking back, it is easy to understand why the metafluctuation, which
changed the world in some fairly radical ways, was dampened back into
the existing paradigm. It simply did not have the coherence or
necessary information to carry humanity over the threshold of the
seemingly immutable values and beliefs of the Cartesian paradigm. Now,
almost a half century later, we have the tools and the communication
technologies we lacked in the past. It is up to us to summon the will
to use them.
The Social Engagement System
Dr. Stephen Porges is the director of the Brain-Body Center in the
Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
His Polyvagal Theory asserts a biological basis for social behavior
and proposes intervention strategies to enhance positive human
interaction. It is derived from over 30 years of research on the
relation of the autonomic nervous system to socio-emotional processes.
His new understanding of a third branch of intelligence in the
autonomic nervous system has led to the confirmation of a neurological
basis for what he has termed "The Social Engagement System."
The old model of the autonomic nervous system presents only two
branches, the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. That model has
been shown to be incomplete as it only describes the autonomic
components we share in common with reptiles. A third branch of
intelligence, found in mammals, introduces an autonomic alternative
beyond the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems, one that sparks
and maintains a body-based sense of well-being and the social
functions of mammalian – and human – existence.
The Social Engagement System is a synergistic function of five
cranial nerves that coordinates and integrates head-turning, looking,
listening, vocal communication and facial expression with cardiac
output. Freed to function optimally, the Social Engagement System
works to ground the human experience and expression in love and social
bonding. Dr. Jim Oschman, author of Energy Medicine, the Scientific
Basis and Energy Medicine in Human Performance and Therapeutics,
writing on social engagement behaviors states that "social bonds are
scientifically described as a powerful form of learning regulated by
long-lasting changes in the brain and endocrine system."
http://www.intelligentbody.org.uk/lever.php Dr. Oschman further notes
that social attachment is "hard-wired," as it were, in human being and
cites research positing that it is vital to human health, longevity,
perhaps even to existence itself.
Regulation of cardiac output by the Social Engagement System induces
a positive state of stasis or stillness that conserves precious life
energy and establishes the primacy of the warm-blooded current of
heart "consciousness" as the bodymind's central organizing mechanism.
Thanks to this framework and other developments in the understanding
of the biological underpinnings of human consciousness, we can now
explore a user-friendly and precise method of beneficial
self-regulation called Top-Down Yoga. This innovative tool for
strengthening the Social Engagement System enables people across
social and political divides to overcome the many impediments they
face to peace, economic and ecological viability and personal and
The gentle movements of Top-Down Yoga release constriction at key
anatomical points to free the neuroanatomical structures of the Social
Engagement System to operate at their best. The ensuing chemical
changes translate into a positive and dynamic state of consciousness.
Easy to learn and simple to perform, Top-Down Yoga can be used by
anyone almost anywhere, sitting in a chair, standing or lying down.
Here's how it works: the cranial nerves, identified as a part of the
Social Engagement System, emerge from the brain stem. If the deep
muscles of the neck are chronically tense, the nerves become irritated
and their ability to function as a part of the system diminishes. In
this compromised condition, people commonly experience a lack of
safety and trust and feelings of separation and conflict are easily
aroused. By gently releasing these structures with simple, systematic
movements, the tissues and fluids of the body undergo a physiological
change that fosters a very real sense of security and openness within
the flux of the dynamically emerging universe.
Coordinating the breath with movements designed to activate the deep,
small muscles of the head, neck and spine, uncouples neurological and
chemical patterns associated with fear and hostile arousal.
Working with eye movements disengages the practitioners of Top-Down
Yoga from their habitual patterns of seeing. The ensuing changes in
heart rate and concomitant release of neuropeptides foster not only a
more positive outlook, or how the practioner sees, but an awareness of
the act of seeing itself. The seeing of seeing is a vital step to
self-awareness and the introduction of new choices in behavior.
Top-Down Yoga works to unify the most primitive neurological
organizations of the brainstem with the most evolutionarily advanced
organization of the Social Engagement System. It is an embodiment
practice that encourages the optimal flow of cerebrospinal fluid while
activating the potent neuropeptide "messenger molecules" that
coordinate almost all physiological and emotional processes of the
body at the cellular level.
When the cranial nerves of the Social Engagement System are not
functioning optimally, the nervous system becomes overloaded with
messages from the structures of the reptilian brain, driving the whole
toward dualistic thinking, stress, anxiety, depression and
resignation. An unprecedented number of people world-wide suffer from
these chronic conditions. The upward shift of neurological
organization fostered by Top-Down Yoga transforms these conditions at
their root level, generating an instantaneous shift towards a
body-based feeling of wholeness and freedom and away from the chatter
of lower brain dominance. Most people feel immediately soothed and
calmed. Practiced with regularity, these feeling states become
habitual and self-renewing.
The beauty of Top-Down Yoga is that each person, in the context of
family, office, school, elder care facility, prison or peace
negotiation, can draw upon its benefits to transcend stress, anxiety,
depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome
A new model for evolutionary advancement
"The quiet little movements of Top-Down Yoga automatically shift a
person's primary method of support from thinking to feeling. There's
nothing wrong with thinking but feeling is better for assessing
physical safety and balance. Moreover, a mind relieved of these
preoccupations becomes clearer and more still. I believe that this
shift is one of the goals of most meditative practices, much of
martial arts, yoga and even religion, since it entails the practical
application of relying on a higher power. The good thing is that such
reliance does not really require faith as it makes itself palpably
manifest almost from the get-go. What it does require is the looking
for it. Top-Down Yoga is a pretty damned good place to start.
Not-coincidentally, a sense of unshakeable strength opens the heart.
There's nothing wrong with the world that loving it can't cure,
especially that interior world where we're stuck with our hurts and
diminishments. Choosing invincible receptivity changes everything."
From the Rolfing(r) perspective of Deborah Stucker, Advanced Certified
Rolfer, originator of a Direct Electromagnetic Approach.
Humanity -- whether expressed individually, as a society or as a
species – if chronically stuck in a less-than-optimal autonomic state
that compels competition and divisiveness, simply lacks the resources
of energy, awareness and inspiration necessary to adapt to internal or
We have the potential to come from a position of wholeness and
connection. We can merge without loss of individuality to collaborate
creatively. We are a field-like property of natural light that is the
evolutionary 'body' of humanity.
Top-Down Yoga directly activates the most potent, positive
neurochemistry of human being. The simple movements and postures of
the practice create a novel context from which to explore one's own
experience. Perhaps more invitingly, they also serve to promote the
rest and the equanimity typical of deep meditation. Top-Down Yoga, by
reinforcing the neuroanatomical components of social engagement,
awakens the practitioner to the wisdom of the body and provides access
to our body-based collective wisdom. Perhaps, by using a practice
that binds primordial body-based wisdom together with our highest
collective evolutionary potential, we may, in the words of Dane
Rudhyar, "begin again together."
The Harmonic Continuum
"In order to share these practices with people worldwide -- and
positively impact the entire human "field" on the planet -- Lorin
envisions what he calls the Harmonic Continuum as an ongoing context
for us to fulfill our true "human potential." He has brought together
a team of quantum physicists, biophysicists, somatic educators and
performing artists to design an educational process that unites
sociocultural evolution and entertainment.
Based on the highly-successful and powerful meditations done nearly 20
years ago as part of the Harmonic Convergence, these simple embodiment
practices offer a new way to impact the "morphic field" and the
coherence of human consciousness.
We envision Harmonic Continuum celebratory events, which teach these
new practices in the context of music, comedy and other performance.
In a series of simulcast events, we seek to teach individuals the art
of self-regulation which transforms our dis-ease from the inside-out
and top-down and awakens what is most primary -- "loving love and
being Life in the service of life."
This new "technology" is not part of any "church" or organization such
as TM, or part of some multi-level commercial venture, but an
effective practice that is given to the world to use freely."
Steve Bhaerman, comic performer, d social and political activist,
Swami Beyondananda, www.wakeuplaughing.com
The Harmonic Continuum is conceived as an ever-evolving, ongoing
movement supporting new social applications arising from our emergent,
collective wisdom. The initial inspiration for the idea of Harmonic
Continuum is the promotion of simple practices of self-regulation that
take advantage of our neurological organization for optimal human
potential. Harmonic Continuum ceremonial events, broadcast in
real-time and disseminated all over the globe, would engage their
participants in Top-Down Yoga and bring them together in comedy, music
In an effort to create the world we would like to -- and can --
inhabit, Harmonic Continuum ceremonies will introduce powerful and
coherent messages for collective understanding, adaptation and action.
Ceremonies that awaken the celebratory nature of our collective
humanity provide fresh inspiration and can nurture coherent and
intuitive paths of action. Engaging the Social Engagement System at
the level of the individual calls into play each person's response to
the environment and may, lets us hope, translate into a concerted
effort to save the world politically and ecologically. Please explore
www.ions.org, the website of the Institute for Noetic Sciences and
www.collectivewisdominitiative.org for an understanding of the
expanded role this kind of consciousness can achieve.
As groups enjoy and reinforce the upward shift in their neurological
organization, they will discover how to carry humanity over the
current evolutionary threshold into a viable future.
Dr. Stephen Porges suggested an answer to the question, "What is
love?" "Love," he suggested, "is immobilization without fear."
Oxytocin is a peptide produced in abundance when humans bond, make
love, give birth – truly the "molecule of love." As such, it allows
the body to be immobilized without fear. According to Porges, "it is
part of the feedback system regulating the old unmylenated vagal
system. Oxytocin enables the old immobilization system to be utilized
for a special reason. Immobilization without fear is mediated by a
co-opting of the neural circuit regulating defensive freezing
behaviors through the involvement of oxytocin, a neuropeptide involved
in the formation of social bonds"
Oxytocin's first and strongest role may have been in forging the
mother-infant bond. Subsequently, its ability to influence brain
circuitry may have been used to serve other affiliative purposes that
allowed the formation of alliances and partnerships, thus hastening
the evolution of advanced cognitive skills by playing an essential
role in the evolution of social behavior. Dr. Sue Carter, whose
multidisciplinary research on the physiological factors mediating
mammalian behavior has investigated the behavioral effects of
oxytocin, notes that "we have evolved as social organisms." "The
study of love tells us that we have a biology that allows us to be
good to each other." Top-Down Yoga, by releasing the tensions that
inhibit oxytocin production, automatically reinforces a sense of
safety and trust, the prerequisites to bonding and attachment.
David Brooks' New York Times editorial of Sunday, July 2nd, "Of Human
Bonding", calls on his readers to discover a way to "tap" this most
precious and essential human resource, the "affiliative neuropeptide",
that "helps mammals bond." "Humans who have a higher level of oxytocin
are more likely to trust other people." He notes that these people
"are more resistant to stress and social phobias." Brooks ends with an
appeal to everyone to focus on what we really need to solve our
problems. "The real resource shortage afflicting our country is not
the oil shortage. It is the oxytocin shortage."
Oxytocin Salons are a perfect place to regenerate and enhance genuine
care and concern for others and the earth and allow people to discover
what wisdom they can find in the human collective. Oxytocin Salons
will be a leading innovative social 'technology' in an emerging
paradigm of human evolution.
Oxytocin Salons will provide drop-in classes open to the general
public. The salons will also 'double' as a training center for
Top-Down Yoga and mystery school for refining the self-regulating
processes and exploring the morphic potentials of "collective wisdom."
"A dream is a wish your heart makes" – Walt Disney
We in the nascent Harmonic Continuum envision a present in which
television and film documentaries, dramas, animation and comedies set
fire to our collective imagination and encourage each person's active
participation in new social, environmental, scientific, political and
economic action. The key is access to the openness, freedom and
coherence of simply being. As Illya Prigogine says, "We must seek a
new order through fluctuation."
Erick Jantsch states, "Evolution is basically open. It determines its
own dynamics and direction." If consciousness, life itself, is left
open to create itself dynamically as a form of poetry, each emerging
moment -- as opposed to a straight-forward narrative with its
hierarchies and limitations -- "not only restores strength, but also
creates the possibility of recognizing and bringing into play ever
new… developmental lines."
Embodied openness surely aligns us with our true nature. We can use
our rich, if potentially divisive, neurology to surmount our traumatic
imprints and imposed mechanizations to nurture ourselves and our
environment. Why not embrace the simple techniques to do this now?
Let's start with our house and move towards the White House, to move
ourselves collectively forward towards an ecologically viable future
that offers maximum benefit to all. Let's celebrate our humanity
through the acknowledgement of our own bodies to inspire action