Quincy, the Uber driver, was frustrated. His child's mother had needs he didn't understand. The miscommunications and misunderstandings put a lot of strain on the relationship with her and his relationship with his new baby. He was missing out on the important bonding. But there was nothing he could do.
"Just be." Kahnma said, riding in the back of the Uber with her homie Shamekia. They both had decided earlier that day that they were BEists. So they figured they'd share their new religion with Quincy who, clearly, uses his Uber as his own personal therapy-mobile with unsuspecting clients.
"We're BEists," Shamekia added.
"What's a BEist?" Quincy asked as he made the left onto Punchbowl Street. Kahnma giggled,
"Someone who practices BEism." She continued:
"BEism: Consciousness in your BEing with awareness and gratitude for the Breath.
BEist. One who is conscious in their BEing with awareness and gratitude for the Breath.
BEyer: One who BE.
"What do I have to do to be a BEist?" By now, Quincy was open to learning more.
"Just be," Shamekia chimed in. The two women laughed to each other. Suddenly, Quincy was laughing as well. Sure, he had problems, but so did Kahnma and Shamekia. Yet, in this moment, all 3 were laughing and enjoying the ride.
Introduction to BEism
When Kahnma told me about the Uber ride with Quincy and Shamekia, I was like, "Ooh! I want to read more about BEism."
"I just made it up. Look it up to see if there's more about it. Somebody must have written something."
So we googled the word "BEism" and found very little in the way of critical explanations. Kahnma looked at me and said, "Guess we have to create it then," and thus began this process of creating the foundational text for BEism.
How does one write of being? I suppose that if one is a writer, one writes. Whatever happens is what happened. So in the spirit of being conscious in my being with awareness and gratitude for breath, I began writing The Human BEist.
The Human BEist
Humans are spontaneous: a quality that is frequently considered frivolous and offensive in the West. Western pedagogy is centered on breaking things down into their smallest parts, then analyzing the parts. Once analyzed, scientists discover that the parts once considered “smallest” can be broken down into even smaller parts. The atomos pursuit continues until organisms become unstable enough to detonate, which results in various degrees of destruction.
Spontaneity disturbs and contradicts the unidirectional agenda towards controllability of the organism. Spontaneity returns the organism to a natural state, lowers combustibility, decreases predictability, and restores equilibrium.
The West is powered by production and industry. Martyring oneself for the greater good is the highest virtue. This virtue is admired by those who would not martyr themselves, but rather enjoy benefiting from those who make sacrifices on their behalf. The spontaneous BEyer notices the hypocrisy among the rule-makers and becomes frustrated and disillusioned by society. To reconcile dissonant irritation, the BEyer returns to their breath, the place where conscious and unconscious systems meet, rebalancing into homeostasis, and preparing them to gracefully and spontaneously encounter the momentous unknown.
The Human BEist understands that Being is breathing. For this exercise, “being” will be discussed in the context of breathing in order to illuminate the natural connection between the process of metabolizing oxygen and the state of awareness of being alive. We can live up to 60 days without food (as long as there is adequate water intake), 3-4 days without water, and up to 30 minutes without a heartbeat. However, without oxygen, we will last, at most, 6-8 minutes before irreparable brain damage has occurred and 10 minutes before the body dies completely. Based on this widely accepted truth, the BEist recognizes that gratitude for the breath is gratitude for the life. From this foundation, we can do everything. Without it, we can do nothing.
Breath As Being
Hair and nails grow on their own whether we are conscious of it or not. The liver performs its function despite our awareness. The heart beats, even when we forget that we have a heart. Many of the functions within our bodies simply happen naturally, on their own. The respiratory system, however, is unique in that one can breathe consciously or unconsciously, meaning that we can choose to control the depth, speed, and even the biological chambers of our breathing.
If we are breathing, our body is physically alive. When we are asleep or unaware of the act of breathing, our autonomic nervous system takes over and our respiratory system continues to supply oxygen to our body and brain with every inhale while expelling carbon dioxide with every exhale. Breathing consciously is a cheat code for strengthening our ability to BE. Conscious breathing enables us to purposefully anchor our awareness using an automatic bodily function that will only end when we do, guaranteed. Moreover, we know what breathing feels like. When we explore the depths of our respiratory potential, we simply add more anchors to our awareness of being, rendering ourselves powerful and centered in our own unique spontaneity. Then, it doesn’t matter what other people are doing or saying. We are too busy breathing (being) to care.
The Four Breaths of Being
Rest Being does not require cognitive attention or thought. Being at rest is largely unconscious. Even at rest, the human can function well enough to survive by instinct.
Diaphragmatic Being requires the diaphragm to contract. When the diaphragm contracts, the volume of the lung cavity increases, allowing the lungs to expand and acquire more oxygen. This is deep being and is exercised during meditation practices and yoga.
Chest Being requires the contraction of the intercostal muscles between the ribs, but does not involve the diaphragm. Chest being is shallow, usually unconscious, rapid, and limiting. Hyperventilation, which occurs when carbon dioxide is eliminated faster than it can be produced, is the result of extreme chest being, which is often associated with a fear response
Extreme Being involves conscious and active manipulation of being that one may do in an activity like intense exercising or singing. Extreme being requires the engagement of intercostal muscles, the diaphragm, and other accessory muscles (including the neck, thoracic wall, and scalenes). This type of being takes practice and work to prevent injury or overuse.
On Being and Awareness
As the acorn unravels into the oak forest, so does the human’s being. Inexplicable pattens of infinite shapes outline the process from lack of awareness (sleep state) to awareness (woke state). Below is a taxonomy for the curious:
a. Sleep Sleep: The person does not know that they do not know what they do not know. Despite not knowing, they move, unaware of any separation between themselves and the context. There is no pressure or incentive to know, as there is no awareness of not knowing.
b. Woke Sleep: The person becomes aware that they don’t know what they don’t know, which is everything. That’s a lot to process. The awareness of not knowing usually comes about in an unsettling way. The resulting destabilization of awakening to not knowing is so unsettling that the person will do whatever it takes to resolve the discomfort:
Some people become broken by their overwhelming realization of not knowing and “check out” into unsustainable coping mechanisms and addictions.
Some people retreat into denial and settle for a life of ignorance: ignoring the not-knowing. Knowing deep down that the resulting pain of their developmental stagnation is their own doing, deniers of their own ignorance become insecure and project those insecurities onto others. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is full of all the ways that people retreat into various forms of denial.
Nevertheless, some people view their awakening as a challenge. Instead of falling into the defeat of knowing that they don’t know everything and probably will never know lots of things, they open their eyes, look around, recognize that they are a being who exists within a context, become curious about the context, and explore.
Many of us experience various levels of checking out, denial, and curiosity on an almost daily basis, as new information and opportunities to grow are presented to us constantly. It’s up to the individual to decide which mode of being they will practice most regularly.
c. Woke Woke: The person chooses curiosity. The individual exchanges the overwhelm of infinite ignorance for the challenge of being open to the unknown. Breathing through the process, they begin to build oxygenated neuroconnections in their brain that unlock newer neuropathways. The process of disentangling one’s awareness of self from awareness of context is the first step towards identifying that which is most oxygenating. Once the person has recognized their most breathable context, they discover that which they want to dedicate the most energy to learning, doing, and being.
d. Sleep Woke: The individual be so regularly in a state of oxygenated curiosity that learning becomes automatic and unconscious. This can be understood as mastery. Many have suggested that mastery occurs after learning something for so many years or practicing for so many hours. There may be truth to this, but everybody is different and has different goals and ways of being. The level of mastery required for one person may not be that which is required for another to feel the bliss of unconscious deep breath.
The master carves out their own lane and is no longer subject to any context. From the outside, it looks like magic. The discipline required of mastery is not forced because at this point, the master could not be anything else. Nevertheless, the awareness trajectory is infinite and the sovereignty awarded the master must be seasoned with humility and responsibility to prevent the master from destroying the context by believing that she has “arrived.”
Curiosity about the unknown conquers fear of the unknown, but the fear can always return if the master fails to choose curiosity in any moment.
Whether sleep sleep, woke sleep, woke woke, or sleep woke, the person will be until they do not be. Existence has no preference with regards to how the individual chooses to be.
What will become of Quincy, the Uber driver? Will he reconcile the relationship with his child's mother and reconnect with them both? Will she reject him? Will the child grow up with or without a father? Will Quincy meet someone else and start a new family? Will he move to Tibet and become a monk who joins the movement to fight for Tibetan independence from China? No one can know for sure, but as long as he continues to breathe, Quincy's self in the current form will continue to technically be.
©Dr. Cho Dyubeh, 2020. BEist, Human Behavioralist, and Contributor to Kahnma.com