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This article was published 19/9/2011 (3041 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
"What a man can be, he must be," said psychologist Abraham Maslow.
Yet the average person is "a full human being with dampened and inhibited powers and capacities." To become self-actualized, Maslow said, we need two things: inner exploration and action.
Donald Gordon Carty, 55, spent three decades on the former pursuit — amassing a storehouse of theoretical knowledge about the art and science of change — before he got around to actually applying it.
The one-time Winnipegger, who recently moved back here from Atlanta, Ga., had been working as a management consultant for several high-profile companies, where his job was "basically changing behaviour." Never mind that he was mired in his own addictions all the while.
Carty also helped businesses restructure after downsizing, and he can still recall the "hollow" feeling of ordering plants to fill the space left by 120 laid-off office workers — a feeling, among many, that he numbed with alcohol.
Although he met the conventional definition of success, "I was not living my passion," says Carty, who subsequently found himself in and out of rehab, even homeless at one point. "Eventually, my whole ideal self was completely destroyed."
Today, he's using his knowledge and hard-earned experience to help other people awaken to the unexamined beliefs, habits and stories that are preventing them from being the fullest expression of themselves.
And he's doing that with a little help from the movies — albeit not your standard Hollywood fare.
Next month, Carty is launching the Awaken Cinema Circle in Winnipeg. The eight-week series, which he previously ran in Atlanta and in his hometown of Oromocto, N.B., uses inspirational and spiritual films as a springboard for group discussions, teachings and exercises designed to help participants create a new vision for their life.
"There comes a time when it is necessary to re-examine our beliefs, reframe our possibilities and refire our minds," he writes in the promotional material for his "human potential and transformation forums."
Some might call that time a mid-life crisis, where "Is this all there is?" becomes a nagging inner refrain. Maslow would describe it as seeking self-actualization, the highest point on his pyramid-shaped hierarchy of human needs.
As Carty can attest, there's no better motivation for change than having the life you thought you were supposed to want crumble around you.
"We all have to come to a point where we become broken, or at least feel broken," says the grandfather of eight, who moved to Winnipeg to care for his elderly mother and a brother facing myriad health issues.
That's when real transformation occurs, he says, "when the pain of not changing becomes greater than the pain of changing." Anything else is just an act of willpower, says Carty, which only represents a fraction of our power.
He uses the analogy of an iceberg: Only about one-tenth is visible above water. And while it may appear as if the iceberg is being carried along by prevailing winds and surface currents, if we look closely, we can actually see it moving into the wind, seemingly against the laws of aerodynamics. We can only understand, Carty says, when we realize that the greater part of the iceberg is located beneath the surface and is being carried along by unseen (or unconscious) forces and currents.
Carty calls them "mental models" — any belief or expectation we have, usually as a result of our conditioning, about the way the world works — and he says we have hundreds of them related to everything from what job we should get to how to find a date.
His job, as facilitator of the Awaken circles, is to help participants expose their mental models. And in that effort, he'll be aided by 57 philosophers, spiritual leaders, teachers, scientists and psychologists.
"I have borrowed freely from giants in the fields of human potential, personal transformation and spiritual and personal growth, from different times and different traditions," says Carty. "What I have done is taken away what has been tested and developed over millennia and stripped it of religious and cultural baggage and adapted it so it's accessible to everyone."
Weekly sessions will run two-and-a-half hours, and at least that much time will be needed to complete assignment and exercises outside class. Carty will be holding a free two-hour introductory session at a date to be announced.
For more information on the Awaken Cinema Circle series, go to www.winnipeg.awakenforums.com or phone 926-8629.
HERE are some of the films being used in the Awaken Cinema Circle, Carty's eight-week transformative learning series:
What the Bleep Do We Know: Amanda, a divorced photographer, finds herself in a fantastic Alice in Wonderland experience when her daily, uninspired life literally begins to unravel, revealing the cellular, molecular and even quantum worlds that lie beneath. Guided by a Greek chorus of leading scientists and mystics, she finds that if reality itself is not questionable, her notion of it certainly is. (The Internet Movie Database)
You Can Heal Your Life: Documentary about the life and work of inspirational author and self-help publishing guru Louise Hay, the woman who popularized "affirmations." Luminaries in the fields of self-help and spirituality, including Wayne Dyer and Doreen Virtue, join Hay in sharing insights about success, happiness and the myriad ways people can heal their own lives.
Living Deeply: The world-famous Institute of Noetic Sciences draws from more than 30 years of research into the power of potential of human consciousness to bring the art and science of transformation off the mountaintop and out of the ivory tower. Leaders from a range of the world's religious and spiritual teachers offer transformative practices and exercises.
The Moses Code: Produced by Drew Heriot, director of The Secret, the film contends that Moses was given a "code of creation" — an innate spiritual ability to create miracles wherever we go — by God. The movie suggests spiritual and emotional uses for this ability rather than the material ones implied by The Secret.
The Five People You Meet in Heaven: After dying in an accident, Eddie, a war veteran and maintenance man, awakens in the afterlife and encounters five people who help him understand the meaning of his earthly existence.
One: The Movie: An independent documentary about the meaning of life, where Michigan filmmakers ask 20 big questions — including "Why is there poverty and suffering in the world?" and "What happens to you after you die?" — of religious and spiritual teachers, as well as artists, authors, atheists and people on the street. Explores contemporary issues of war, terrorism, peace, social responsibility and environmental issues.