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The sense of self remains a great mystery of consciousness. Subjected to the demands of the world, how do I find my true self? My self is my mind and body. A sense of self is the inward experience and the outward manifestation. Achieve an alignment of mind and body and everything begins to fall in line.

A Sense of SelfBeyond Names and Forms

Where does my body end and my mind begin? Are they not deeply intertwined? Can I not have one without the other? I must understand the interaction between my mind and my body internally and with the external environment.

Between my mind and body, there exists a feedback loop. In this instance, feedback refers to a modification or control signal. Energy and matter flow between my mind and body via biochemical pathways. This flow of control signals informs my behavioral responses. Essentially, the signals themselves are my body — signals are the reality of myself.

What I want. What I believe. What I can do. What I think. What I love, and all that. What I regard as the aim of my life and so forth. It might be too small. It might be that which pins you down.

— Joseph Campbell

Continuing outward then, my body is embedded within an immediate environment. Inside the environment there is another feedback loop connecting me to my surroundings. These feedback loops stack recursively, repeating over and over providing the conceptual layers of reality. A loop is a structure, series, or process, the end of which is connected to the beginning. A feedback loop, then, is feedback operating in both directions.

Stimulus from the environment gives rise to internal changes in my body ⟿ Changes in my body stimulate my mind ⟿ My mind asks changes of my body ⟿ My body is compelled to change the environment ⟿ and the loop begins again.

These feedback loops are the loops of causality in constant flux. Each system vying to reach homeostasis with the next.

It is necessary to use titles and labels in language, there is no way around that. I must reduce complexity in order to communicate. A job title, a gender, a religion, an ideology... the names for these titles and labels are reductionist constraints. They limit perception by informing myself and others about the capacity or behavior of a system.

'Feedback Loops'

I've given a label to my mind. I've given a label to my body. I've given a label to the environment. Yet it is not the labels I am interested in at all. I am interested in the feedback loops that bind them all together into a whole system.

Mental models form a foundation for my cognitive functions, my intuitions and my emotions. When mental models align with the environment and my body, I feel a oneness. Alignment is not a final state of being. I don't become one and retire there. When I become I stop. It is a lifelong activity of helmsmanship. This is dynamic equilibrium. The oneness is pure homeostasis. As the environment, my body and my mind continuously oscillate; all the while I must steer toward re-alignment.

This chapter explores a story of tools and techniques to help me navigate continuous re-alignment. I begin by investigating the obstacles to purpose and priority. Enhance my body and mind with exercise and nutrition. Harness the technological power of biofeedback for real-time, always-on, coaching. I see that all of my life is a meditation and with real mindfulness I can manufacture happiness through daily rituals. I come to know that all of reality is what I see in the mirror of my mental models. I protect and nurture them.

Explore Mind and Body and put the rituals here to work in your life. Equip yourself with tools and techniques to move beyond names and forms. Prepare your mind and body to change your environment with the following chapters of The One Life Catalog.