Life hacking your destiny–the Avatar’s guide to ‘LifeBending’
I want to share with you one of my heroes. Someone that so powerfully embodies that amazing trifecta of humanness, innocence and enlightenment: Aang, the Avatar and Last Airbender.
If you don’t know about Aang and his animated adventures, here’s the short ‘n sweet:
Why am I focusing on Aang in this article? Aang is the archetype of the (Super)Hero’s Journey, showing us how to overcome great odds and hardship to become the person we truly desire to be–even though he too at times experiences fear, confusion and powerlessness.
I use the example of Aang to help you understand how to ‘LifeBend’: how to grab hold of your power and hack your own destiny.
Life hacking your destiny requires you to understand and reclaim your personal ‘leverage points’. These are the parts of your experience where you have real agency, real choice, real freedom.
How can you tell if you aren’t using your personal leverage points? You spend a lot of time and energy trying to manipulate others and circumstances, instead of becoming more masterful with yourself.
Without understanding and reclaiming these points, you will always feel at odds or at war with your life; you will feel that struggle–not ease–is the way life is. You will be exhausted, frustrated and disconnected from your own life.
If you have ever felt these things, don’t feel ashamed; this is where we all have to start. Take a deep breath, gather your strength, and read on to reclaim your in-born ability to LifeBend. Use the 5 principles below to powerfully move from victim to visionary.
1. Be a True Student
Sometimes we believe that being a good student means that we focus on a teacher; that we work hard to gain knowledge, gain information, gain something we currently lack.
And it is true enough that along the path of self-development, we may have a teacher in the traditional sense, and we may often gain information or techniques.
But, the leverage point I am speaking of is different: a true student in this sense is humble, open, curious and listening. For in our curious humility, we are able to catch glimpses of ourself as they reflect back from the world around us; we are able to see, understand and integrate aspects of ourself that we have not yet fully understood or accepted.
Aang learns many important lessons from two most profound, yet nontraditional teachers: his sworn enemy and his true love.
From Zuko–his nemisis throughout the first two seasons–Aang eventually learns the crucial lesson that all beings are a mixture of qualities, that each of us is at times conflicted, and that we can end up acting in ways that don’t actually reflect our truest self. And ultimately, he learns that all beings have good in them trying to find a way to emerge.
From Katara–his intimate interest–Aang learns a very subtle and paradoxical lesson: in order to love ever more deeply and be more effective as an agent of love in the world, he must face his deepest fears, and, he must let go of unhelpful attachments. He learns that letting go and deepening his ability to love are one and the same.
So fellow Hero, I invite and encourage you to realize yourself as a true student–open, listening, curious, finding your true teachers all around.
2. Learn from the rhythms and examples of the natural world
Something that I love about the show’s world is the origin of the bending arts. Humans first learned how to bend the various elements by observing, appreciating and mimicking phenomenal forces that naturally displayed bending.
•EarthBenders learned from the magical tunnel-burrowing of badger-moles
• WaterBenders learned learned from the moon’s ability to push and pull the tides
• AirBenders learned from the flying bison that made their homes in the high mountain crags
• And FireBenders learned from the ancient twin dragons (as seen below)
In essence, the LifeBending lesson here is that the laws of change and transformation are being displayed around us all the time. When we observe with curiosity and attention, we start to learn how to make use of these same laws–we learn how to flow with natural order.
And though I haven’t yet learned to manipulate water with my mind, there are many arts and sciences that take their wisdom cues from the natural world–to their great gain. To mention a few:
• Systems Theory
• Quantum Mechanics/Superstring Theory
• Wikipedia and the Basic Wiki Structure
• Fractal Artwork
• Chaos Math and Modeling
• Cymatics (link needed)
So, fellow LifeBender, keep your eyes peeled, your ears keen, and your attention sharp–learn the secrets of power, flow and transformation that are on display throughout the natural world.
3. Acknowledge and integrate your weaknesses
If you want to truly help others, to hold space, support healing and catalyze positive transformation, you must be able to look at the painful circumstances of the world without flinching or losing your center.
Doing this well requires that you have made peace with your own personal struggles and weaknesses. It means being able to acknowledge that you too are human and in process, and that you are able to hold non-judgmental understanding for these imperfections.
This is powerfully exemplified for Aang in the episode entitled ‘Bitter Work’. Aang is struggling to learn EarthBending, which is the polar opposite of AirBending–his most natural ability.
AirBending is all about agility, redirection and de-escalation. EarthBending on the other hand, is grounded in stability, endurance and head-on decisiveness. Let’s just say that Aang has a very hard time with EarthBending at first; luckily, his EarthBending teacher is direct and unrelenting (as exemplified below).
No matter how good we are at certain things, there will always be some quality or ability that humbles us. The point here is not so much about trying to eradicate your weaknesses (which can actually be an expression of self-rejection), but rather about acknowledging aspects of yourself that are not strongly developed and integrating this information in a loving way into your personal development approach.
So use self-observation to become more aware of your weaknesses, and use this information to create an even more rich and finely tuned approach to your unique path of personal development.
4. Be playful, curious, childlike, and above all, laugh a lot
We all know that playing is, well, fun.
Laughing is enjoyable, games are great, and humor is (generally) a good thing. But when it comes to LifeBending, there is a more important reason for all this.
When we are weighed down by self-imposed seriousness, when we become rigid and overly self-important, we are unable to bend and move with situation and circumstance.
Point of view becomes cemented and opinion intractable.
We get stuck in only one way of seeing and behaving, and because our universe is built on change, this ‘stuckness’ is unhelpful and generally very painful.
By cultivating a deliberate attitude and approach of play, our points of view and behavioral possibilities become more malleable–thus, life hacking. When we play, we are giving ourselves permission to try things out from different angles.
Because of this, the meaning we give to situations becomes unfixed, which allows the actual experience of reality to have more give and flexibility. In short, when you become more playful, so does the world you experience.
Aang is nothing if not childlike, playful and quite mischievous. Throughout all his hardships, Aang never loses his attitude of playfulness. This gives him a great resiliency in the face of challenge and even temporary defeat (and a special weapon in facing the very unplayful forces of evil, as seen below).
Through watching Aang’s maturation into the hero he is destined to be, we the viewers realize that facing real challenges and taking responsibility does not mean giving up playfulness and childlikeness. In fact, the two truly go hand in hand.
So hero, recall your playfulness, remember your open-minded curiosity, and above all, lovingly laugh at yourself.
5. Discover your life purpose and activate your potential
This final point rests on one important truth–you have a unique gift to bring into this world–actually many unique gifts! You have a very real and very powerful mission for being here.
If you’ve read this far, I am willing to believe that you already know this about yourself, at least to some degree.
And in this way, you share something in common with Aang–a life purpose that must be pursued.
In one of the most powerful episodes of the whole saga, Aang travels to find an ancient master–Guru Pathik. This powerful guru has the ability to teach Aang how to access and wield his greatest inner powers–called the ‘Avatar State’.
Aligning with actual traditions of yoga, shamanism and self-realization, Guru Pathik explains that to have full conscious access of the Avatar State, Aang must awaken and balance each facet of his potential:
You must gain balance within yourself before you can bring balance to the world.
Whenever we commit to actualizing our unique life-purpose (call it destiny if you wish), we must recognize that this process requires us to bring as much of our potential to the surface as possible.
Physical strength, insight, excitement, focus, creativity, persistence, forgiveness, courage, calm, health, empathy…all facets of you have a part to play in realizing your biggest gifts.
In Aang’s case, Guru Pathik guided him to understand these facets through the ancient energy science of the 7 Chakras. Don’t worry, you don’t have to believe anything non-physical here to get the point.
These 7 major Chakras correspond to major nerve plexus/endocrine glands in the body (for example, pancreas/solar plexus). It is enough to understand that this confluence of endocrine and central nervous systems creates powerful ‘control points’ or points of leverage for conscious change and achievement.
The League offers various technologies to learn how to understand and control these unique leverage points, including the Power-Up Guides (link needed).
Video below of Aang opening his 6th Chakra (Pituitary/Cortex)
So, what does this mean for you in your mastery of personal LifeBending?
1. Become sensitive to the definitive urges and inspirations in your life (life purpose)
2. Recognize the many unique strengths and talents you carry
3. Create a holistic lifestyle approach that develops and balances these various physical, psychological and emotional strengths
4. Learn how to use these qualities in a consciously concerted way when pursuing your life purposes
You too can be the Avatar!
1. What are some of your current ‘non-traditional’ teachers, and what are you learning from them?
2. What are some of the lessons you have gleaned from observing the natural world, and what results have you experienced through following them?
3. What are your personal weak points, and how are you working to integrate them into your life?
4. How are you incorporating play into your daily life, and what results are you experiencing?
5. How are you balancing all the various strengths and talents in your life, and what long-term life purposes are these qualities helping you to actualize?
I’ve had so much fun writing this blog for you; I hope you have had a lot of fun reading it, and I truly hope that you have even more fun implementing these 5 points more fully into your life.
Go forth and bend on!
Eka, aka SuperSpark
PS I leave you with an amazing music video montage of the series set to the second movement of Beethoven’s 7th symphony. Epic.
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