Will Arntz, best known for directing the documentary “What the Bleep Do We Know” has teamed up with modern day mystic, poet and visionary leader in the ancient arts of the wisdom traditions Deirdre Hade to write a book called “The (not so) Little Book of Surprises” which offers a way for us to thrive in the changing times in which we live. They are embarking on a media tour dubbed “The Mystic and the Physicist” to share The Tao of Surprise. (They also happen to be married.)
You say we are entering The Age of Surprise, which is an intriguing phrase. What do you mean by that?
Deirdre: Will first came up with the name “The (not so) Little Book of Surprises” after he heard the information I received from the greater reality, which includes archangels, different prophets who have passed over and poets, and also from my own path of mysticism. He said it was so completely surprising. We both realized that no one has really addressed surprise and transformation in the spiritual journey. So we spent the last year studying “surprise.”
Surprise, as in being surprised by life or things that happen in life?
Deirdre: Both. What we discovered is that all awakening, all enlightenment, all transformation, all “ah-has,” all shifts of perception always come as a surprise. No matter how well-equipped a person is, surprise is present because it’s a new experience. And so, what do these surprises do to us? From the mystical side, I realized that when the surprise of transformation happens, there is a doorway to the soul, a doorway to a greater consciousness that opens up immense possibilities. And what if when that happens you had tools to keep the door open longer? To experience an “a-ha” or an experience of oneness. Everyone’s had these experiences, but then they shut back down and we try to figure out how to get back to that place. We knew we had to name “The Age of Surprise” and come up with tools for people to optimize their experience of it, because it has the potential to be the most quantum, electrified, vast time of consciousness ever to have existed or it can be an age where we falter if we don’t embrace it with these tools.
So we shouldn’t be surprised at surprise.
Deirdre: Correct. We should greet it and welcome it. We should have tools to work with it, so that even a painful surprise becomes a gateway for transformation.
What are some of these tools we can use to harness the power of surprise?
Deirdre: The first tool is to begin to become conscious of the number of surprises that happen during the day and then observe the reactions you have to them. When a car pulls in front of you on the freeway and we’re initially afraid, do you go to anger? Clarity? Confusion? Distraction? The first step is really to know thyself.
What is the scientific aspect to this?
Will: When a surprise hits, what happens is the brain produces a ton of dopamine, which increases the neuro-plasticity in the brain. This is the brain’s ability to rewire itself. Normally our neural nets are stuck in certain patterns and habits, but when you all of a sudden have this new neuroplasticity, it’s much easier to rewire the brain. A physiological doorway opens in that moment of surprise where you can rewire your brain very easily.
That sounds like a golden moment of opportunity.
Will: Think about it evolutionarily when surprise happens: it could be you hear a crash in the woods. “Is that a grizzly bear coming for me?” You need to be able to process information very quickly, so you go into an altered state. People talk about being in a car accident and time slows down and almost stops, where two seconds seems like a half a year and your perceptions become 360. With regards to the grizzly bear, you need to know what to do in a fraction of a second. What do you do, climb a tree? Jump in the water? Who knows? You’re thrown into this expanded state biologically where all those factors create a doorway to an expanded awareness.
It sounds like we’re thrown out of our minds in order to access our higher knowledge.
Will: Yes, and our mind shifts from the frontal cortex where the decision making is—where the ego lives—to the center part, the more emotional part of the brain. It’s shifting your awareness right then and there—that’s the change in consciousness, that just happens. In the “Age of Surprise,” we say, “how can we use this?” Deirdre: The reason we want to know how we respond to surprise is because the instinct in surprise is to go into the emotional response and that may not be the wisest choice. So we recently had these massive surprises in the form of hurricanes. “What do you mean we have another hurricane? We just had a hurricane.” Surprises with how world leaders are acting. We thought we’d grown past the possibility of a thermonuclear war. Because these surprises are coming so fast, we’re experiencing an onslaught of stress because we’re just going into the emotional brain: anxiety, stress.
Are we resisting dealing with it?
Deirdre: We are asleep in the fact that these surprises are happening and we are just on automatic response to them and, therefore, losing an opportunity for tremendous growth. With surprise, you can either go into your fear and your flight and live there or you can use a tool to stay conscious and become wise, to experience grace, to experience union with all things, to ignite actions that will be beneficial to you and keep you from being paralyzed. Will: We talk about hurricanes and world leaders acting differently, the upsetting part of surprise, but we have to remember that our body organism and our spirit actually love surprise. In fact, all humor is based on surprise. A punchline is funny because it “whacks” you—you don’t even see it coming. When it “hits” you, you just laugh because that’s the natural response. Laughter increases neuroplasticity, by the way. Look at the surprise birthday party, which is another enjoyable surprise. The body loves it; it gets flooded with dopamine, all the lights get brighter. “Yahoo, I just won the lottery!” That’s part of it, too.
What should people do to be prepared to maximize the surprises they will experience in life?
Deirdre: For the happy surprise, go with it. Really experience it. Then, while you’re experiencing this state of increased neuro-plasticity—when you’re laughing and enjoying it—repeat an inner affirmation. Repeat a sentence that will help you change a pattern in your life. Just say it to yourself because your brain can more easily absorb that new affirmation. This is the moment to capture.
I can see how that would work. What about when a scary or painful surprise happens?
Deirdre: You want to be prepared. In your meditation, have a contemplation where you go deep and ask yourself, “What is my core value? This is who I am. This is what I believe in.” It’s a virtue. “This is me on my best day. How I see the world when I’m really awake.” For me, I came up with a core value of love. But what about on a bad day? “To love no matter what!” I was determined to commit to this and not just float around in my unconscious mind, far away. I wanted this thought to be front-and-center at all times. I could write it down, put it on the refrigerator, say it many times a day. Get it to where it’s running through you all the time.
What happens then?
Deirdre: Two things: your consciousness will shift. Two, when a surprise comes with your new preparedness, instead of going into those emotions and closing down, you’re going to tell yourself to go right up to your core value. When you do that, you automatically access wisdom and access to transformation. Automatically! That’s what we must have now in the “Age of Surprise.” When I access “to love no matter what,” that opens me up to the natural law of Virtue, which is God. That’s when miracles happen, that’s when grace happens, when you rise above the things you can do. That’s when your superpower stuff comes. You have access to it.
Do you have an example of when this worked for you?
Will: Yes, we were at the Seattle Airport recently and everything went wrong. Our TV interview got cancelled, we didn’t have a flight all of a sudden.
Deirdre (laughs): It was a day where everything went wrong.
Will: A day of surprises.
Deirdre: On top of that I had gotten the flu, I felt so horrible, and we’d been traveling. We were tired, and in that moment of all those surprises piling up, one after another, I watched myself begin to go into the old “me,” the way I would ordinarily react, to get angry. And I didn’t. I reminded myself of my core value and I just started repeating my mantra, “love, love, love.” My entire anxiety around this just evaporated.
Will: Not only that, but everyone we interacted with were so nice!
Deirdre: That’s the other thing—they noticed! Because of the neuro-plasticity from saying the mantra, my heart was just so open that every person we met felt like we were their best friend. They were like, “Oh my God, it’s so good to see you!” It was remarkable.