Inhabit: Your Trust

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Ryan and Corey take a deep dive into the wicked problem of social trust, looking at this meta-crisis through each of the four quadrants while suggesting some key practices and perspectives within each quadrant that can help us restore our trust in each other, in our institutions, in ourselves, and in the grand evolutionary unfolding itself.

Great program on social trust, thank you; some supplementary thoughts on the topic of trust in general, speaking most specifically to trust-within-the-self.

Trust is so foundational to relationship and interrelationships–to life itself–that developmental psychologist Erik Erikson made “trust vs. mistrust” the first stage of life in his stages of psychosocial development. According to Erikson, individuals learn and establish the ability to trust during the first 18 months of life through relationship with the main caregiver. If successful, “hope” is made possible in life; if unsuccessful, fear to one degree or another rules (although further development of course can counteract at least some of this, and also, some would point to past lives as being relevant to trust vs mistrust.) Mistrust, the term Erikson used, is usually understood as a general sense of unease, whereas distrust is usually based on experience or on what one considers reliable information. Regardless, both mean a lack of trust, and it is possible that both are seeded very early in life.

Trust is so important that also, at least one spiritual-philosophical system, Taoism, places it up front and center with its teachings on the flow of nature and humans flowing with the nature of things, rather than resisting or forcing. (There are many great You Tube videos by Alan Watts on the topic of trust, for anyone interested, most in the context of Taoism.)

Etymologically, the word ‘trust’ derives from language meaning confidence, protection, help, support–seconding the idea that trust is society’s immune system as spoken of in this Inhabit episode. Trust is also akin to the Danish word ‘trost,’ meaning “comfort.” When I think of how trust feels in my own bodymind, comfort is a good description. To be “in comfort” or comfortable or comforted, and perhaps also, to give comfort to another, can stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain, which increases blood flow to the frontal cortex (some say by as much as 10%), elevates one’s state of consciousness and well-being, and creates better emotional health.

(Sidebar: who says we don’t grow through pleasure? One of my pet peeves is the pervasive and stubborn belief that we primarily grow through pain and not pleasure, when pain, whether physical or psychic, is actually a contraction. One can of course make lemonade out of lemons, but there is a choice involved, and, following the choice to use pain as a driver of growth usually comes expansion, and growth happens within that expansion of consciousness, it seems to me. Pleasure starts with expansion. And of course, pleasure overdone can lead to contraction of consciousness; both can lead into the other–the yin/yang of it all. But I for one would like to hear more equal-time sloganeering for “we grow through pleasure”–rather than pleasure being relegated to the backwoods of numbing-out, indulgence, or hedonism. How might the world be different if we valued and taught that pleasure is a growth-inducer as much as we do pain?)

Another important function of trust is to help us navigate the polarity of abandon (as in letting go) and control. Most of us have probably at one time or another participated in those blindfolded trust walks, or the trust exercise of falling backwards, allowing another to “catch” us. While exercises in trusting, they also are lessons in being able to let go some control and “abandon” ourselves to another or to ‘fate,’ what have you.

Surrender, whether in sexual intimacy or spiritual practice, is also a part of this; to be able to give oneself up, yield, let go, submit, surrender,–trust is a necessary ingredient. I always liked psychologist/Zen meditation teacher Jack Kornfield’s definition of surrender: to embrace the truth of what is. “What is” in this sentence can mean a lot of different things, from society-in-breakdown/evolutionary regression, to Oneness or Spirit to fill-in-the-blank. Surrender in this sense doesn’t mean inaction; it is more akin to letting go and letting go attachments, whether to the separate-self sense or ideas or outcomes or iron-fisted control, whatever.

Another practice I would add to those suggested in this program for developing/increasing or working with trust is the hatha yoga Savasana (corpse) posture. Some teachers and practitioners say it is the most difficult asana and also the one providing the most “bang for the buck;” it’s an excellent practice, I think, for developing the ability and becoming comfortable with letting go, trusting, surrendering.

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