Sovereignty and the Art of Being Human
What is sovereignty and how to achieve it?
It’s a curious feature of being human that we tend to take ourselves—in whatever state we happen to be in at any given time—to be:
in more or less full possession of our ourselves,
armed with the majority of the knowledge we need in order to make complete sense of our situation, and
largely masters of our fragile destinies.
Despite all the evidence which suggests that this basic stance of ours is deeply misguided, nevertheless we carry ourselves through life as if it were the only sensible attitude.
And at a deep level it actually is.
Fundamentally, we are sovereign beings.
But on a everyday level our default attitude is only a distorted echo of the deep truth of our essential sovereignty.
How to move from the echo into the depths? How to more fully embody our essential sovereignty in our everyday lives?
Here are some thoughts which hopefully point the way forwards.
What is Sovereignty?
Contrary to popular notions on the subject, sovereignty is not about having power over other people, nor about gaining the absolute freedom to act without regard for how others are affected.
It is much more humble than these adolescent distortions, which seek only to compensate for the inherent vulnerability of being human by the negation of our interdependence.
True sovereignty is based upon a profound sensitivity and compassion.
Sovereignty is primarily a function of relationship: our relationship with ourselves, and our relationship with our world.
We can define sovereignty as the capacity to take full responsibility for ourselves in relation to the whole. It is the ability to make decisions and to act on them from a place of deep self-knowledge and self-mastery, rather than from conditioning and reactivity.
The entire art of being human is to acquire and embody such knowledge and mastery.
From where most of us are at the moment, having given so much of our power away from childhood onwards and having for the most part been taught neither the value of true sovereignty nor how to attain it, the conscious journey of becoming a sovereign human being is vitally important.
This journey is the process of becoming present to the reality of our lives and our authentic possibilities, and learning to live in that reality from a place of connection to who we truly are.
Only through this process are we able to properly ‘show-up’: to ourselves, to our gifts, to our partners and families, to our communities, and to our planet.
The process of regaining sovereignty begins with the recognition that no one can really tell us who we are nor dictate to us how to relate to the world. It is up to us discover these things for ourselves.
This is quite a revolution, however, because whether we know it or not we have had these things dictated to us from our earliest years all the way through to the present.
Do you have a direct relationship with the core of your being? Is there a clear channel between that core and your everyday life? Unless you've done a whole lot of spiritual work already, the answer to those questions is probably no.
Even now the pervasive media and constructed social narratives are reaching into our deep selves throughout the day, cleverly bypassing or simply overwhelming our psychological defences to implant in us an engineered sense of who we are, what we should want, how we should be in the world.
But deep down our core being remains intact. And we can learn to access that core being, to experience ourselves and our world in an authentic way.
As we do so, we increasingly become our own supreme power and authority.
It is entirely up to each of us to claim that power, to discover for ourselves who we truly are and how we most authentically relate. No-one is going to hand this to us on a silver platter. We must do the work ourselves.
For this we must become willing to bear the responsibility of living as a fully conscious agent. This is, these days especially, quite a burden.
And yet the alternative is a life of conformity to whatever pseudo-sovereign powers have had the drop on us and usurped our sovereignty to serve their own ends.
Three Aspects of Sovereignty
To understand sovereignty better we can look at it as having three aspects:
1. Sensitivity: the quality of being open to the reality of our inner and outer world, of being able to be present to what is there within or in front of us; neither ignoring nor filtering or distorting it out of recognition. This is the basic pre-condition of relating in general, and as such is fundamental to the relational art of sovereignty. Only someone who has freed themselves from their conditioning to some extent and created space around their experience of themselves and their world can be present to what is there in this way.
2. Understanding: the ability to make sense of what is being perceived through the quality of our sensitivity, to receive things within their appropriate conceptual or relational context. Whereas sensitivity is mostly a passive aspect of sovereignty — the ability to take-in cleanly — understanding is more active, the placing of what is received into a relevant framework, allowing it to be assessed and processed accordingly. Only with a well-developed understanding based upon a degree of self-knowledge and the sound judgement born of this can we begin to make sense of our world authentically.
3. Action: the capacity to translate understanding and vision into effective movement, to effect change in the world, to create in form and relate positively to others. Elegant action is founded upon sensitivity and understanding combined with self-mastery, allowing us to create and relate with precision from a clear intention that is our own and not some subtly implanted foreign agenda, and to do so while encountering minimal internal and external resistance.
These three aspects together —receptivity, sense-making, and action— make up the basic structure of being human. When they are cultivated individually and as a whole then sovereignty develops. We become responsible for ourselves in relation to the world we find ourselves in.
Three Skills for Cultivating Sovereignty
So how to go about cultivating sovereignty? Well, there are three core skills at the heart of the process.
The first is awareness.
How present am I in this moment? How connected am I to my core being? Do I know that I exist as a conscious agent with the capacity for choice? Am I able to be with what is going on within me and without, or am I lost in stories and commentaries about it, hijacked by my previous conditioning? How relevant are my current feelings to what is actually happening right now? Am I comfortable or stressed, empowered or overwhelmed? Are there spaces between my breaths and my thoughts, or are they looping? Am I responding to what is going on, or reacting? Am I creating in alignment with my deep intention, or are my actions not really my own but instead serving someone else’s agenda? What is my degree of sovereignty right now?
Whatever our answers to these kinds of questions from moment to moment, being aware of them as questions and getting in the habit of asking them is critical.
Being aware of where we really are from moment to moment is the basis of cultivating sovereignty. Having awareness around our own experience, internal and external, creates the space within which to claim responsibility for what is going on for us and how we choose to relate to it.
It also makes possible the second core skill in cultivating sovereignty: self-adjustment.
Once we have developed some sensitivity to what sovereignty is, and started to become more aware of our present state of sovereignty or otherwise, we can work on increasing the amount of time we spend in sovereignty.
This requires us to develop the art of self-care.
Our wellbeing at physical, emotional, mental and energetic levels is key to our sovereignty. First we should be looking at healing whatever chronic issues we are carrying. Then, with sensitivity to our own authentic needs, we can look at adjusting our day-to day environments and activities to optimise for our wellbeing.
Basic things like nutrition, sleep and exercise affect us greatly. Likewise the quality of our relationships and the media/information we expose ourselves too. More advanced practices such as meditation and deep conscious breathing are powerful, but we do need to be very gentle with ourselves in this too. As Mary Oliver beautifully puts it:
“You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.”
Understand that it’s a gradual process and that self-compassion is the fundamental quality in self-care. There is no space for harshness in this. Discipline, yes, but based in kindness and the willingness to know and love ourselves at the deepest levels.
Which brings us to the third skill: regaining our sovereignty when we have lost it.
This is the place where real mastery is developed, for it blends together awareness and self-care into an ongoing dance of sovereignty in the midst of the challenges and potential triggers of daily life.
Really this is only an extension and refinement of self-care, and must be approached with similar or even greater levels of sensitivity and self-compassion.
Of course we are going to lose our sovereignty again and again. We are going to revert to dissociation, reactivity, disconnection, overwhelm, being hi-jacked. But we can learn to notice more and more quickly when when this has happened and then return more and more gracefully to our centre and our ability to relate in presence and in alignment with our deepest values.
This is an ongoing process, but with practice and support we can gradually master sovereignty and live our lives increasingly from deep authenticity.
Finding Support on the Journey of Sovereignty
We are social beings and sovereignty is itself relational, so the best support on this journey is relationship — particularly with those who have themselves cultivated a high degree of sovereignty in their own being.
As more and more people choose to claim their sovereignty there is increasingly more of such support available. From teachers to coaches and mentors to friends and members of our wider social networks, there are many opportunities to seek out and connect with others on a similar conscious journey.
There is also increasing more sophisticated knowledge available about self-care, as well as abundant wellbeing practices, therapies, products and systems on offer.
It is a very rich space, the world of conscious growth and wellbeing.
The situation is, however, complex. Unless we are careful and clear it is easy to get lost in this rich space, to give our power away to this teacher or that system, to grasp at this practice or that product as a quick fix for instant sovereignty.
The key to staying clear and safe is first and foremost to develop a strong and loving relationship with your core being, the essence of who you really are. This being is intrinsically established in sovereignty and is the greatest support you can give to yourself, the foundation from which to explore and wisely choose amongst the abundance of external support available.
I've created a simple process to support you on this journey of developing a strong connection to your core being...
The Core Being Process — 5 Steps to Sovereignty
The sovereignty process I teach is called The Core Being Process.
At the heart of this process is the belief that as human beings we are, in our essence, already fully sovereign beings. Our journey is simply to re-connect with that essence and to live fully from that connection.
I teach this process in 5 steps.
The first step I call Softening. This step focuses on developing a deep and compassionate relationship with yourself. This includes increasing self-awareness; re-connecting with the felt sense of your inner core being; letting go of the past and your limiting beliefs based on past experiences; and taking the harshness out of life — particularly out of how you view yourself.
The next step is Clearing & Cleansing. This step takes you through more targeted release of physical, mental, emotional and energetic blocks, deepening the work of softening. Also, this step involves opening the pathway between the head and the heart, re-balancing the two so that neither the rational and practical nor the emotional and intuitive part of you dominates the other.
The next step is Slowing Down. Here you will be guided on a journey to become more sensitive to life on an energetic level. This includes deepening your sensitivity to your own energy; to the energy of nature; and to the energy of all situations you find yourself in. With practice and development using the simple techniques of this step, it becomes possible to connect fully and witness the energy of everything as it emanates from Source.
Step four is Practical Application. This step is about bringing everything you have learned so far from the previous steps fully into your life and human relationships. It's about embodying Source Energy in your day to day, and living fully from a place of self-sovereignty. It is the ongoing process of developing mastery, fine-tuning self-care and becoming ninja at regaining sovereignty quickly and smoothly when you have lost it.
And the final step is going Beyond The Conceptual. The culmination of the Core Being Process invites and guides you to drop deep into the heart and from there to open to the higher vibrational frequencies pouring into the earth at this time, to connect to The Bigger Picture beyond the grand historical narratives of civilisation.
The whole process seeks to help you develop both the three aspects of sovereignty — sensitivity, understanding and action — and the three skills for cultivating sovereignty — awareness, self-adjustment, and regaining sovereignty — as described above.
Never has it been more important for large numbers of us to step fully into our power and responsibility than it is right now, to master the art of being human and show up here on earth in true sovereignty.