Episode 18 – Connection Within, Evolves a Spaciousness, Calm and Peace – My Conversation With Brad Clarke

Connection with self, other and All That Is

From Computer Sciences to Biological Sciences at Deakin University

Brad welcome to the Heart of Connection podcast.  It is wonderful to have an opportunity to have a conversation with you about what the heart of connection means for you. The idea is to have a free-flowing conversation on the heart connection means – how do connect yourself at a heart level to others and all that is, whatever that might mean you.  By way of starting would you mind introducing yourself?

[00:00:47] Thanks Mark it’s great to be with you.  I am Brad Clarke.   I have a management consulting firm called Better Communities Consulting.

I am a Geelong raised product.  My story is quite unusual I suppose.  I came out of high school really one of those kids who didn’t have an idea of where I was headed.  Not sure of what I wanted to do and I stumbled into Deakin University into a computer science degree.  That did not last long as I managed to move across to biological sciences and completed my degree after four years.  My working life started after the degree at Werribee zoo for about 10 years. That was a great experience and I learned a lot about the world and how the world works from a biological point of view. I became really passionate about environmental conservation and that sort of stuff.

Duke Of Edinburgh’s Award Led to Youth Working

[00:01:51] Towards the end of that time I was invited to spend some time in Nepal and do some work chasing arachnids around the Himalayas which was a really fascinating time and whilst on that project I got to work with some young people who were completing the Duke of Edinburgh’s award.

[00:02:11] When I came back to Australia and about to start a young family I decided to change vocations and become a youth worker.  Back then 20 years ago you didn’t really need any qualifications to be a youth worker.  You just had to have some intent and commitment to having a go. So whilst I made some mistakes in that world, I very quickly through effort and perhaps also attrition ended up in a senior management role.  But the system took its toll as I think it does on a lot of care workers.  It was about the same time that I started to feel something was not quite right.

It didn’t feel right – something needed to change: My Healing Start

I had a young family, a house, a mortgage with the picket fence all that sort of stuff but I felt that something was it wasn’t quite right.  I didn’t have the language around what it was, just a feeling of not being right and of course I met with you about 10 or 12 years ago.  I think that started me on a journey of discovery and of healing. And I’m at a place now where after a long journey and I think that journey doesn’t have a destination. It’s a bit like the old Monkey Magic TV series from the 80s, I just think the journey is what it’s all about.

Now In Place to Talk About What Heart of Connection Means To Me

[00:03:45] I’m at a place now where I can talk about heart and heart of connection. I am in a fairly comfortable position on where that is and what it is and what it means to me.  I’m really keen to share my story and what it means as a male to be playing in the sandpit (Symbols and Sand-play Therapy) so to speak, where there is a degree of perhaps uncertainty and vulnerability. But that’s where I’m at at the moment mate.

[00:04:12] For men, is there a difference for men and our journey around the heart of connection?

[00:04:21] I think we’re enculturated to believe that we shouldn’t be playing this in this space. You know whether you come through as a traditional Aussie boy pathway or otherwise, I think we were told that emotions and vulnerability are not to be shown, shouldn’t be shown and shouldn’t be part of our makeup. Now perhaps that’s changing.

Inauthentic Façade of Masculinity?

[00:04:49] What is the cost of this socialization for us men?

[00:04:50] I think the cost is what we’re seeing today with lots of men my age and older and perhaps even younger, walking around the streets clinically diagnosed with depression, anxiety or just a loss in their sense of self.  Who am I?  What do I stand for?  I think it comes at a great cost and the energy to hold that to maintain that is extraordinary. We’re all exhausted as a result of maintaining this inauthentic facade of masculinity.

[00:05:23] In therapy sessions I call that inauthentic facade – as the cartoon image of Lion King.  The alpha male type energy, which for most men is really hard to keep the façade up.  It takes a lot of energy and has a cost as it dissociates us from our vulnerability. Early in our lives we were vulnerable human emotional beings at 5 years old – then rigid masculine conditioning “I’ll give you something to cry about boy” – we had to shut it (emotions) down, and as a result of that we have we closed our hearts off and not learned the experiential language of our emotions and the deeper connections.

The Protective Shell

[00:06:03] Sure. I thought about this knowing I was coming in to chat with you. I was thinking about the metaphor of a turtle. The exo-skeleton around the turtle and its protective role gathers layered strength over our journey.  When we are a young turtle your shell is fairly soft and fairly fit. Over the journey you add more layers of lacquer to the shell then it becomes increasingly strong and protective.  This is what it is designed to do but at some point, it becomes so cumbersome, so heavy you can no longer swim and you sink like a stone. It’s actually what is designed to protect you becomes effectively your worst enemy and our downfall.

[00:06:55] How do you get through that and how do you connect to yourself past that shell?

[00:07:02] Awareness is the starting point.  I think before we get to that road back or pathway back to where we’ve come from, simply having the ability to understand it – that’s where you are, is really amazing. And I remember working with you and with others at that moment where I really realized how what was instinctively protective, is actually not.  It’s actually had a counterintuitive impact on my life and you see it all the time out there in the big bad world.

The Experience of Connection a Spacious Love

[00:07:45] What’s it like to connect?

[00:07:50] It’s a really interesting question. You know do you talk about love? Loves an interesting one I think.  The concept of love in itself is a fascinating one to talk about. I think love is really judgmental.  Love in the way that I think society thinks about love, e.g., I love you or I hate you you’re whatever you know.  When you get beyond that love, which is not I don’t think is real love. When you find real love, you actually find it about love yourself, not love for somebody else. For me, it’s around peace but it’s more than peace it’s actually a space that’s really hard to describe.

But if I’m truly connected to myself, I get this feeling of space and spaciousness, a calmness. It’s really unusual. It is a really hard feeling to narrate. I suppose I’d describe it as just spaciousness and calmness.

[00:09:16] Is it free-flowing?

[00:09:17] Yeah maybe that’s it where there is an energetic flow you have. .

A connection of Love Brings a Spaciousness in the Mind

When you have that flow what do you notice happens to your mind?

[00:09:29] Well I think that’s where you create that spaciousness, that freedom of spaciousness so you’re not having this internal dialogue between the heart and the head. You know, t’s a battle for power between the dark side and the rebellion. And there is that internal struggle I think between your head and your heart. Your heart saying, I need to be loved and your head is analyzing. If you’re not in that space and you’re in this other space of connection to Self, there’s quietness and there’s space and there’s just flow. The word acceptance is the word that I think for me resonates. When I’m in that space I accept – I don’t analyze it as I don’t need to.

[00:10:17] Does that save energy?

[00:10:20] Absolutely it does. It energizes not just saves me.

A Difference ~ Men Connecting and Harming Women and Each Other

[00:10:25] How would life be different for us men if more of us were able to evolve into what you’ve just described?

[00:10:34] Probably less likely to shoot each other. Well, we see it. I mean I know we can laugh about that but we can see it on any given day just turn on the news at 6 o’clock and spend 15 minutes looking at what’s going on.  We saw a great example of it last weekend after the footy with those two young guys.  Now that alcohol and testosterone whatever plus this other stuff that we’re talking about this disconnection to authentic self means that we’ve got guys doing stupid ridiculous stuff like punching each other up.  Society to some degree is increasingly its understanding that it’s not acceptable.  It is not going to necessarily go away until we have a different conversation or the next conversation beyond what where we’ve got here right now.

[00:11:28] Are we afraid to connect to each other?

[00:11:31] Well yeah absolutely although on a meaningful level there is a risk in it. There’s risk in the real world. Risk of judgment, the risk of failure whatever it is, there is a risk.

Taking Connection into Organisations through my Management Consultancy Work

[00:11:45] When you have that energetic freedom, that energetic flow of connection to Self, how does that then translate and flow on to others?

[00:12:00] This is a space I’m trying to move into in my management consultancy work.  It is showing and demonstrating vulnerability and through vulnerability can come strength. And then through that, you can be really impactful. Whether you’re a team leader or a manager or a CEO or whatever it is. I’m sorry I forgot what the question was now.

[00:12:27] When you got that free-flowing energy of connection to Self, how does that then resonate in your connection to others?  What’s the process, what’s the experiential process for you and the other person(s)?

[00:12:48] Right. If you’ve got it. So that again this is some of the stuff that I’ve been playing within a professional space but if you’ve got that really sound relationship with self, you’re able to have a higher level of awareness and it’s some of that Daniel Goleman’s emotional intelligence stuff if you’re able to have an understanding of what you’re feeling and then respond to that feeling appropriately. Others will then pick up on that and you know you’ll able to be able to develop much more authentic relationships. They’ll be at much higher levels of rapport and authenticity in relationships where if there isn’t, that I think there’s instability in relationships and default to mistrust or distrust which we see in organizations all over the place. People get along but there is that inherent underline of mistrust we think there’s something else going on.

Do Corporations Have A Heart of Connection?

[00:13:53] Do corporations need to develop more heart of connection?

[00:13:57] I think some are trying. Yes but then there are others who are still stuck back in the good old days or bad old days. Yes. In a word, I think they do it.

[00:14:11] When you have that connection to others you know there’s the free-flowing between two or three people or the intimate connection. What’s that feel like?  What’s that sense like?  Is there a merging of souls, is there a merging of love, is there a merging of an energy? What do you how do you hard to put into words sometimes?

[00:14:40] It really is hard to get into words. Yeah. So I think it’s. I don’t even like the word think in the context because it’s not about thinking and it’s not necessarily about feeling either.  It is something in the middle or it’s something different or beyond thinking and feeling and it just comes back to perhaps that that description that I used before.

When you connect to self you have that feeling of calmness and a free flow of energy and I think that can happen in a relationship with others. You get a free flow of energy.  There is a sense of calm calmness. And maybe that is love. Maybe that’s what the real definition of love should be because it’s not conditional.

A Sense of Self has Stripped away in Connection to Others

[00:15:32] What do you experience happens to your sense of self in that connection to others in that free flow?

[00:15:45] I think it strips away a lot of that. It’s painted if you like.  You know it is shed the skin of the nonsense and you can be vulnerable – you can you can be exposed if you like for who and what you really are and what we really are is very primal and primitive it’s very base.

So at one level, there’s the vulnerability of the exposure when the sense of self is stripped away. In that free-flowing energy you describe it for me, there seems to be a power in that as well?

[00:16:28] There is an infinite power because there’s no ceiling. There’s nothing there’s no shell.  There is no turtle shell blocking anything you know.  It just can go anywhere that it wants to and needs to go. I think that’s a really beautiful space and that’s a space that we either don’t get to experience or when we do it feels so uncomfortable it feels. Perhaps even a little scary that we stop it.

Anchoring Back Into Self Connection

[00:16:58] How do you come back to it?

[00:17:05] It’s a really that’s a really challenging question and I think a lot of men in particular will have an experience of what we’re talking about and then we’ll back off from it and perhaps there is a part of that masculine ego thing that kicks in. Perhaps it is just that it’s too scary, it’s too fearful whether it be based on trauma or just our preconditioned state of masculinity.

I think there has to be a degree of commitment to self.  There has to be a commitment to walk through and take the journey and see what is on the other side. Even if sometimes, it is a little uncomfortable in it.

An Energetic Dropping into the Power Essence of Self

[00:17:50] I was just watching you before as we are sharing this conversation we’re connecting. I’m just watching your energy and your eyes lit up you light up when you talk about the power of it. And I wonder if that power is there a gift, a beautiful gift to self and to others, it’s like you go beyond yourself.

[00:18:14] Yeah yeah yeah yeah.

[00:18:16] And how do we, what’s our anchor point back to how do we remind our self that I am not in there connecting?

[00:18:21] For me my gift to myself is that this probably sounds a little, well I shouldn’t even say that I think I’ve grown up you know. That’s the gift to me and I’ll let go of a lot of the old stuff that was holding me back.  Have I arrived at the destination well no, because I already believe there is no destination?  It’s infinitely large where we can take you and how far we can grow. So if you’re willing to do the work you know we see it all the time and one of my frustrations that I need to let go of is I get frustrated with seeing the world and that the world doesn’t want to move but the world will do what the world will do I have control over me. So my gift to myself is to do this work and experience the benefits of that which is freedom – freedom to just be me.

[00:19:31] In other conversations when we’re talking about the evolvement you can evolve within yourself and reach that point. People talk about the connection to it’s greater than self, greater than others and it goes into it into the infinity, into beyond, to all that is. What are those moments like for you when you hit those aahha moments?

My Deep Connection to Self Brings Calms and Nurturing Universal Energy

[00:20:03] I don’t have fireworks and you know I don’t have that sort of experience it’s quite the opposite. It’s quite calm. For me, it’s quite soft and it quite nurturing. Perhaps even though maternalistic it just feels like you’re being held in that space really gently.

[00:20:34] What’s holding, may I ask what’s holding you in that space. What is or how would you describe the. Is it a universal energy?

[00:20:41] I think so. I think that’s where you know before I describe the spaciousness of it. I think you’re just being held by universal energy in a really gentle safe space with no borders around you. There’s nothing there’s just this soft gentle energy holding you and you just you just sit in it and it’s just that there’s no judgment there’s no need there’s just you think that the few times that you get to experience it it’s just a really nice space.

Coming Back To Self

[00:21:16] Do you have a technique or process or a strategy on how to come back to that space within yourself.

[00:21:23] It’s really important for me that I was going to say I’d be vigilant but it’s almost the opposite of vigilance, it’s awareness of opportunities to do it.  When I find myself either being judgmental of self or the judgmental of others or in that space where I’m masticating overstuff that I have no control over.

If I can find that that moment to flick a switch to bring myself back and say here’s an opportunity here’s the opportunity to go into something that’s different that I’m still learning and find a space that’s disconnected from all the nonsense that not in that head analyzation that’s a word, nor is it in that heart need. It is something in the middle of just acceptance and just being present to self, that connection to Self.  I think that’s really what you got to be able to latch onto it.

[00:22:30] How do you remind, what is your signpost to coming back to this spaciousness?  How do you know you’re needing to return back or are you disconnected?  Are you out of your body or are you more in your head than your heart?

The Old Mind Tape Player Running is The Key

[00:22:47] I start running the old tapes you know to plug in the old the old tape in a way it goes to some of the old dialogue, some of the old structures, some of the old feelings come back.  So I just step outside and look back on yourself and know that’s where you are again – nowhere near where I was 10 or 15 years ago. It’s the recognizing and then saying okay, that’s nice. Well okay, thank you. Thanks for that little reminder.

[00:23:26] When you recognize it and get a little reminder, are you bringing a loving kindness, a different energy to to the old or to the you that was the old tape?

[00:23:39] Absolutely, that’s the game it’s just technology that’s what happened in the past and then making almost a conscious decision not to analyse, not to judge and just be okay with it. And just I guess, you hold yourself in that in that space for a little while to say it’s okay. You’re right that you had those thoughts its okay that you have those experiences. Now it’s time to let go of that.

 Letting go of old tapes is the Healing & Accepting Vulnerability

[00:24:08] And that’s healing?

[00:24:08] That’s Healing for me that’s what works for me and that’s where I find that space that spaciousness in the calmness, that quietness of connection to Self. Just allowing yourself to be okay with the mistakes you made or whatever it is, whatever experiences you’ve had that’s okay.

[00:24:32] So it’s accepting the vulnerability is accepting the space?

[00:24:36] Absolutely right. Absolutely right and not belting yourself around because of it.

[00:24:44] I wonder whether for men. We do belt ourselves. We’re taught to belt ourselves around for our misgivings, our vulnerabilities instead of accepting them. Someone highlights in a pub our flaws or looks at us the wrong way –  we then, shamed by that. And so therefore the shame-rage cycle kicks in and it’s on for young and oh right. The reptilian brain kicks in.

[00:25:13] Yeah absolutely.

[00:25:16] It’s amazing to experience it and to watch it and see how it all plays out.  Shame is such a horrible part of our psyche. And the more we can have conversations that sidestep around shame take the conversation to the next level whatever that next stage is. Depression is a good example. So we are talking about depression. That’s great. But what comes next – what’s the next stage in the evolution of moving on from depression. Okay. Bill, down the street, says or famous footballer says I’ve got depression. Okay great. We’re creating awareness but – what’s next.  We want to start to create a new conversation around moving on from depression and moving on from shame or whatever it is that’s holding us back as men.

Reconnecting to Calm Spaciousness Shame and Depression Dissolve

[00:26:17] When you move in to reconnect to that spaciousness. What happens to depression, what happens to you shame?

[00:26:25] It doesn’t exist.  It simply doesn’t exist. It’s not there. The shame and the depression are in the head and heart space and in this wrestle in the world about who has control in this other space in this connection to Self. There is no, there is none of that. There’s no shame, there’s no depression that’s just me, in all my in all my vulnerability.

The Spirit and Soul that is beyond the head and heart?

[00:26:56] Is it the spirit you that is beyond the head and heart?

[00:27:00] Yeah you could call it that. You call that soul spirit. Yeah, perhaps that’s what it is. Maybe just a label at all maybe just it is what it is.

[00:27:13] It is really hard to put words to these conversations.  I’m noticing it is hard to encapsulate a cognitive language to this energy, to these feelings, these states of being. It is very times. It is the more we do – is that the next step. Is it is it more experiential than a thought thing?

[00:27:45] I believe the very nature of it is experiential, as opposed to a thought thing or a feeling thing because they’re both judgmental.  I think that’s my feeling. Thoughts are judgmental or feelings that judgmental and they work off each other. I’m not sure if that’s making sense it makes sense to me because that’s the space that how I framed it up. But you’re right I think the more we can encourage men to go beyond. The acknowledgement and the awareness and then experiencing what it’s like to move beyond that.

[00:28:30] I’m sort of wondering whether we men need to walk through the wounds of the vulnerability to go deeper into ourselves?  The wounds are so locked off, from five years old. We’ve avoided it by learning to be in the rational, logical egotistical mind.  Whatever the case may be and we’re missing a realm – that spacious this realm we’re not connected intimate spacious realm of our self.

[00:29:02] It is hard to forgive yourself for something you’ve yet to acknowledge and create awareness of. We need to say it to forgive you first – got to say yes this exists, energetically it exists.

[00:29:23] What happens to your body when you’re in that spaciousness? What’s it like inside your body. You describe this how your body feels at a cellular level?

[00:29:37] That’s a really…..ahhh

Literally Dropping Energetically Into the Spaciousness

[00:29:38] Did your body just drop into it then? Yeah, it did. It just came through. Yeah. Well done. Thanks.

[00:29:53] I think what you just saw energetically, is exactly what happens, you do drop in. It’s tangible for me. I can really feel it when I do it I like that. This is not voodoo magic, this is just you know it’s actually just taking some time and space to connect to what’s going on.  That’s what they say you know. But there’s no trickery there’s no anger. It’s just being present and then letting energetically see what happens.

[00:30:28] In some of the conversations when we touch on that space, it’s like I’ve asked, is that a sense of enlightenment and a glimpse a fleeting glimpse of that for a want of a word. And how would it be if we could string more of those moments that you just experience together. How would life be different for you? How would your connections be?

[00:30:56] That is a really difficult question to ask and difficult question to answer.  It is difficult because the world goes on. You know, we’ve still got kids who need to be fed. We’ve still got mortgages that need to be paid and there are real-world pressures. But I think where we need to get to is where we’re able to manage the real world but still have those moments be them a millisecond or whatever.

Practicing our mill-second glimpses of enlightenment in our busyness

[00:31:35] If we were to take and become more practiced at those milli seconds how would that then change our parenting, our roles in our working life and into the system?

[00:31:54] That’s a great question. Surely if you’re doing this well, well whatever well means. Surely it has an osmotic effect. You know your kids are so intuitive from a very early age if if you’re stressed if you’re having relationship problems your children pick up on it energetically and intuitively if that’s the case it surely is the case that if your well if you’re connected to self you are then by extension connected to them which they will then pick up on and it’s the same with work colleagues, friends, peers whatever. If you’re in a space that is genuine and authentic and connected people will see it feel it experience it and all organically and osmotically. Hopefully, some of that stuff passes on.

[00:32:53] The flow on effect. There’s a Zen quote which, I don’t want to keep repeating it. The Zen quoters chop wood, carry water pre-enlightenment chop wood, carry water post-englightenment. Is that the osmotic process element?

[00:33:16] Is there a message that you would like to share for other men and other women that emaybe listening – the process to you. What is the step for you to do the advice to them or the encouragement you might want to give them to for too deepen their heart of connection to themselves and others?

[00:33:41] This work does not mean you need to disconnect from being a man. It doesn’t mean you have to let go of your masculinity or your femininity for that matter. I think we have both. It means you connect with self and still be masculine and as feminine as you want to and as you know if I want to go to the footy on a Saturday and yell abuse at umpires so be it if I want to go out into the bush in howl at the moon and go fishing and do all that stuff I can still do it. If I want to sit down and draw or just spend time with myself I can do it. You know this work is not about losing something it’s actually getting back what is what you’re born with and what is inherently yours. I think that’s the message.

[00:34:35] That’s beautiful well done. Thanks. Brad thank you for this lovely opportunity to converse with you and that’s wonderful to talk more with men and open the conversation I think it’s a conversation that we men really do need to start having. Great thanks Mark.

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