Monthly Archives: June 2013

The 3 Principles

I talk about the principles (Mind, Consciousness, Thought) in the articles I write. I didn’t discover them myself. I learned this approach from many people including George Pransky, Keith Blevens, Sandy Krot, Dicken Bettinger, Valda Monroe, Mavis Karn, Jack Pransky, Roger Mills, and others that I’m certain I’m forgetting. The realization of the Principles themselves, however, began with Syd Banks. Syd (who died a few years back) was an ordinary man living and ordinary life on Salt Spring Island off the coast of Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Syd had one of those epiphanic moments that some human beings have that suddenly made everything very clear for him. Syd really saw the nature of reality in a very deep and lasting way. Following that experience, he began talking to others about how the principles of Mind, Consciousness, and Thought are the building blocks of all human experience. The more Syd talked to people about these principles and the more those people began to see the reality of the principles in their own lives, the better they felt. Slowly, word spread and others began to see what Syd* saw and incorporate it in their own lives and work.

In this article, I want to explain my understanding of the principles to hopefully clarify some of the questions I’m getting from readers. Before I do, let me say something about the word ‘principle’ and why it is used here.

A ‘principle’ in this understanding is roughly equivalent to what a scientist might call a ‘law’ – such as the ‘law of gravity’. The word ‘principle’ is used in this understanding to indicate that Mind, Consciousness, and Thought are irreducible. The principles of Mind, Consciousness, and Thought are always at work creating our moment-to-moment experience. These principles are the essential ingredients for all human experience, just as atoms are the essential ingredients of what we know as the physical universe.

The rest of this article is my attempt to explain or describe the principles. Please know that these are my descriptions as I currently understand the principles. There are others who see them at a much deeper level and they might describe them in different ways. I’d encourage you to look at Syd’s website below to get a fuller understanding. Here goes…

Mind
In this understanding, Mind is not what we typically think of when we hear the word ‘mind’. It isn’t referring to our thinking apparatus/brain or whatever the current understanding of ‘the mind’ is.

Instead, Mind is referring to the formless, Universal Intelligence that underlies all creation. This intelligence can be seen in simple, quotidian ways:
– a cut on your arm heals without any intentional effort
– a pumpkin grows from a tiny seed and becomes a pumpkin, not a rose or dandelion
– an ovum and sperm unite and grow into a tremendously complex human being
– vast ecosystems blend and support one another to maintain a nearly infinite variety of life on earth.

Mind is this vast, infinitely deep intelligence that grows our bodies, beats our hearts, and breathes our lungs. There is a lovely and intelligent design that creates, animates, and guides our little life and the seemingly infinite life of the universe.

Consciousness
The principle of Consciousness refers to the capacity to simply know that you are, and to be aware of all of the ‘objects’ that coalesce and dissolve in awareness. Consciousness is the capacity to be aware of life.

Thought
The principle of Thought points to the fact that thinking is happening all the time and takes the form of language and image. All thoughts are either language or image. All thoughts carry feeling with them. Thought-Feeling might be a better way of phrasing it. We don’t experience feeling without thought – they are two sides of the same coin. Feelings are the physical experience of thinking.

How It Works
While Mind powers life, Thought and Consciousness combine to create our moment-to-moment experience of living. Without Thought there can be no ‘flavor’ to experience. Without Consciousness there can be no awareness or knowing of experience. Without Mind, Consciousness and Thought can’t exist – there is no ‘power source’.

It’s An Inside-Out World
Sandy Krot is the first person I ever heard refer to the ‘inside-out nature of life’. I had no idea what she was talking about! My current understanding of what Sandy was attempting to point me towards is that we are always experiencing the effects (feelings) of our thinking moment-to-moment. Our feelings don’t come from our circumstances but from our thinking! We are always and only – EVER – feeling our thinking.

We have been taught to believe that the world ‘out there’ causes how we feel ‘in here’. For example, “my job bums me out” is a version of the outside-in world view. It says that my circumstances (out there) make me feel a certain way (in here). The inside-out view of the world recognizes that it is my thinking about my job that bums me out. The good news is that my thinking is always in flux, always changing without my needing to do anything about it. Seeing that can make a big difference in how we experience our lives.

*You can find a lot more about Syd and purchase his books and talks at http://www.sydneybanks.com.

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Vacation Mind

It’s vacation season and a client recently sent me a photograph while he was in Florida. It included a view of the ocean, a few people playing in the water, sand, his tanned ankles and feet, and closer to the camera, some pages of an article I’d given him to read about the 3 Principles understanding.

When he returned, we laughed about the photo (I was jealous!) and then he told me that he’d gotten ‘so much more’ out of the article when he read it on vacation than the first time he’d read it several weeks ago when I first gave it to him. What’s the difference? Why did the article strike him so much more deeply while he was on vacation than when he was living his usual life here in the corn-and-bean-strewn heartland? Was it the ocean? The sand? The sun? His tan? I’d suggest to you that it was none of those. It was ‘Vacation Mind’.

Anyone who has ever been fortunate enough to take a week-long (or more) vacation might know the feeling: everything just seems to slow down. You relax. You breathe easier. Rushing drops away.

The trick for us is to realize that it isn’t vacation that is causing that wonderful, easy, warm, relaxed feeling that we experience. It has nothing to do with the surf, the sand, the mountains, skiing, great shopping, uninterrupted time with our significant others – it has to do with Thought. Your thinking (hopefully!) takes a vacation, too. Thought on vacation is a lovely thing – it thins-out and slows down; thoughts just don’t feel important. Have you ever had that feeling on vacation where thinking feels like too much effort so you just let your thoughts drop like heavy rocks? That is Vacation Mind at its finest!

So, what is really happening? It’s really pretty simple: when our thoughts settle, there is more room for new thought to ‘get in’. New ideas, new creation, insights into problems at work or at home – all of these can come rushing forward in Vacation Mind. Heck – they can even come rushing forward in the shower because the same dynamic is at work – we are leaving our stale, habitual, old-version-of-life, stuck-in-a-rut thinking alone and that leaves room for the nice, relaxed, easy feeling that always lives just under our thinking to come bubbling to the surface. Aaaahhhhh…

George Pransky, the man who introduced me to this approach, has a great metaphor for what’s happening. Remember when you were a kid and had a fan in your room? Maybe you, like George, would play the game of attempting to throw playing cards through the blades. If you did, you undoubtedly noticed that when the fan was moving at high speed, it was virtually impossible to get a card to go through. But, when you slowed the fan down, more ‘space’ appeared between the blades and your were able to flick some cards through to the other side. When the fan really slowed down – as in on its way to stopping – there was a lot more room and you could get lots of card through.

The very same thing is happening with our thinking all the time. The slower the ‘blades’ of our thinking spin, the more new ideas and insights about life can get through. Those new thoughts and ways of seeing life are always waiting to get through to us – that’s our wisdom and it’s always present. It’s the speed of our thinking that gets in the way. A slow ‘fan’ is Vacation Mind!

So, if our thinking slowing down leads us to Vacation Mind, the obvious question I usually hear from clients is ’what in the world do I need to do to get my thinking to settle (because I want to live in Vacation Mind all the time!)?

Well, I have good news and I have bad news. The bad news is that there is nothing you can do to get your thinking to settle! Aaaarrggghhhh! What?! You’re leading me on a wild goose chase!?

No. While there isn’t anything you can doto get your thinking to settle, the good news is that there is nothing you needto doto get your thinking to settle. Wait, wait – let me finish…

When we leave our thinking alone (stop jumping into the middle of it and thinking more or harder and stop attempting to change, modify, or adjust our thinking) it naturally slows down. Get that? It naturallyslows down! This happens all the time. You have never thought the same thing forever.

Huh? I know that is a little awkward to read (and write!), but it’s telling you that not a single thought you have ever had has lasted forever. All of our thinking changes and fades over time – usually a very short time. I’ll bet that you aren’t thinking the same thoughts right now that you were when you started reading this article.

While it’s completely natural for our thinking to get stirred up, it is just as natural for it to settle down. We drop our thinking all the time – in fact, we don’t drop our thinking at all – our thinking just drops away on its own (thank goodness). And, if you’re one of those people (like me) who is thinking ‘sure, but some thinking just can’t be dropped because it’s too big or too important’, then it might help to realize that’s just a thought, too, and it will fade away like all of the rest of the thinking you’ve ever had.

Consider this. Have you ever seen kids playing in a pool and trying to get the waves on the top of the pool to stop ‘waving’? I have. I saw a little boy trying to ‘push down’ all the waves as they were appearing. You know what happened. The more he walked around trying to push down the waves, the more waves he created. We’d probably laugh if we saw that happening, but we are doing the very same thing in trying to ‘settle’ the ‘waves’ of our own thoughts.

You can see clearly that the little boy just needed to stop everything! He just needed to stay still and the waves would settle on their own. You’d know that he doesn’t need any special ‘wave settling’ techniques; he wouldn’t need to ‘deal with’ all of his ‘past waves’ before the waves would settle down, or ‘work through and process’ his future wave concerns. All he needs to do is…NOTHING!

What you can see from this perspective is that the fastest way to allow the waves to settle is to do absolutely nothingto settle the waves. You know that the natural inclination of waves is to settle on their own. You can see that the ‘natural state’ of the water in the pool is calmness and clarity. The same is true of our own thinking – just under the surface of the waves, our natural state is calmness, clarity, and ease.

The more we allow the waves of our thinking to settle without attempting to do anything to make them settle, the more we find ourselves living in a nice feeling. Our wisdom and guidance is there in that nicer feeling; and it’s the same feeling we might have experienced on vacation. It can be ours anytime we allow our thinking to settle and it doesn’t require sand, surf, sun, or loads of free-time. It just requires awareness to feel when the water is stirred up and willingness to do nothing. Do nothing and drop easily and effortlessly into your own Vacation Mind.

If you are interested in this approach and want to learn how to live in Vacation Mind in the middle of board meetings, screaming kids, bills, and dish-filled sinks, that’s why I’m here. Email me or give me a call to set up a time to talk.

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ReBoot the Story

I had an interesting conversation with a client recently – I’ll call him ‘Joe’. He is a really bright, accomplished man who has everything in the world going for him, except…

Like the rest of us, Joe has his spots that are sticky for him – covered with Velcro – you know, those places where everything sticks and hangs us up? Joe’s Velcro pretty much carpets the area of romantic relationships in his life. He can get very stuck in his thoughts about what a current partner thinks or doesn’t think about him as well as what that person’s actions might mean about him. The last few times I’d seen Joe, he felt upset and was suffering over a relationship. Joe was caught up in a lot of thinking about the relationship: Was it really good for him? Did the other person feel the same about him as he did about her? Why did he continue to put up with the inconsiderate behavior of the other person? Was he addicted to relationships? Was he codependent? How was this related to his unfulfilling relationship with his father? Should he hang around and see if the relationship would work or should he call it quits? Was he doomed to these kinds of mistimed relationships for the rest of his life? Was he the problem?

While the variables might differ (it might not be relationships for you but maybe it’s money or kids or work or sex or meaning or in-laws or, or, or…you get the idea) we can certainly recognize ourselves in the way Joe’s mind continues to spin and bubble. In telling the story of the relationship, Joe was attempting to find an answer. Trying to find an answer to a problem in our usual, habitual thinking is like trying to find your socks in the refrigerator. No matter how hard you look or how many containers you move, it isn’t very likely you’ll find them there.

The reality is that our thinking is usually a mess (more about this in another article!). Imagine that each thought is a tree in a forest. As we walk through the forest looking for the right trail, we keep bumping into more and more trees – after a while, they all begin to look the same. That is equally true for our own thinking. To paraphrase Einstein (badly), looking for a new understanding to an old problem amongst all of our old, habitual thinking – the very thinking that ‘produced’ the ‘problem’ in the first place – is almost always a losing proposition. That is exactly what Joe was doing. And, not only was Joe looking for a new tree amongst all of the ‘old growth’ he was also planting MORE trees and then wondering why he kept running into trees!

A thought occurred to me as I listened. I asked Joe what would happen if I stopped him in the middle of his work (it is very complex, exacting, and detailed) to ask him about this issue? He stopped for a moment and reflected and then said, “I would need to reboot. None of that thinking would be in my awareness at all and I wouldn’t be feeling upset. But, I know that once I started thinking about it, I would have to find where I left off in the story and then reboot and I would start feeling miserable again…Oh my God, this is all a story I’m telling myself and I’m suffering as a result of my own story!? I’m creating my own suffering with all of this!?” To say the light went on is an understatement. Joe had been feeling a good deal of anxiety and suddenly said, “It’s like the movie just ended and the lights have come on. I don’t feel any anxiety right now. It feels like it all just drained out of me!”

What is happening in us 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year from cradle to grave is exactly what Joe realized in that moment. The principle of Thought comes to life via the principle of Consciousness. We mix the two and create our moment-to-moment experience of life. It’s what we’re all always doing – playing a movie in our mind and seeing it as real – that is the nature of the interplay of Thought and Consciousness. Seeing this can save us from a lot of unnecessary suffering.

Does this mean that Joe will never get caught up in his movie about relationships again? Not at all. We all get caught up at times. However, once we have realized it in real time, our natural wisdom takes over. We end up on a learning curve that takes us deeper and deeper into really seeing how our moment-to-moment experience is constructed, and though we might get hoodwinked by the movie now and then, we won’t stay fooled forever.

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Our Relationship to Our Thinking

I know I’ve written this before; still, it bears repeating: we are always thinking and always feeling our moment-to-moment thinking. That is axiomatic – you can’t return to it too much. But, what I want to talk about now is how our RELATIONSHIP to our thinking is really far more important than the contents of our thinking.

Often when I am working with clients I see clearly their ‘caught-ness’ in the content of their thinking. Imagine seeing your thoughts as boxes moving along a conveyor belt. Most of us stop and look in the boxes believing what is inside is important. We pull out whatever the box contains and look at, analyze, judge it. We imagine it means something about us. While doing it we stop the belt from moving, stop anything new from coming our way.

Stopping all boxes (thoughts) and looking inside them doesn’t help us. We get caught in the contents of any box. Whether we judge the content as good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, we stop the flow of other boxes. Believing in the import of the content of boxes (our thoughts) causes us to miss something much more useful: our relationship to boxes (our thinking).

Our ‘relationship’ to boxes means answering the question: do we need to dive into the content of each box to feel better and do better or is it more useful to stand back and let boxes flow by on the conveyor belt? This analogy points out two different relationships to boxes on the conveyor belt.The first approach means investigating and getting hypnotized by the contents of each box. The second approach includes seeing boxes without unpacking them and understanding the nature of the Principle of Thought – neutral, always moving, formless and thereby able to take on any form, infinitely creative, and impersonal.

The analogy reminds me of a few weeks ago when Ami and I cleaned out our basement. Lots of boxes (literally). If we had stopped to investigate all the contents, we would have never finished. We would have unpacked each box, finding an occasional ‘treasure’ (unneeded and unimportant considering we hadn’t seen it for years), or finding moldy, musty junk needing let go. Looking in boxes isn’t bad but can certainly get in the way of clearing space for something new and better. The same holds true of our old, habitual, personal thinking.

When we stop to unpack each thought – those that bother or the pleasant – we believe the content of those thoughts is important. We spend a lot of time looking at contents and talking about how it makes us feel and so innocently keep old, painful thinking in place! Then, we wonder why we continue to feel badly and think we must not have ‘dealt with’ our ‘issues’ yet. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As we learn to change our relationship to our thinking, i.e. become less interested in content and instead allow it to roll past like boxes on a conveyor belt, we naturally gravitate towards better thinking and feeling for our lives. We can trust better-feeling thinking – it moves us towards well-being and wisdom, our Natural State of peace. We don’t need to ‘do’ anything to ‘find’ better thinking. We just leave our thinking alone and wait for better thoughts to arrive on the conveyor belt. Our moment-to-moment feeling let’s us know our current relationship to thought. Feeling at-ease means we stopped unpacking boxes and investigating content. Leave thinking alone and the more we want to leave it alone. We see boxes for what they are: just thoughts – nothing to be afraid of regardless of their content.

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Connection, Intimacy, and Thought

Have you ever been with someone while they were talking with you and realized somewhere in the midst of them speaking that you haven’t heard anything that they said? If so, you’re not alone. I’ve done that more than I care to admit. Whether with a client, a friend, a coworker, or my wife Ami, I’ve had plenty of those “huh? whadja’ say?” moments.

What I’ve begun to see is that those moments destroy intimacy. They eradicate a feeling of connection. We all want a feeling of connection and intimacy in our lives, especially with those we love. I know I do. It’s a big part of what makes my life feel rich and worth living.

What has helped me most in my own life is seeing the connection between my thinking and the feeling of intimacy and connection with people in my life. When I began to see how my own speeded-up, noisy thinking was what covered up the natural connection and good feeling available to me all the time, my thinking began to slow down and ‘thin out’. The contents of my own thinking became far less important. As that has happened, I am naturally more present to the people in my life.

The good news is that feeling connected to and intimate with the people in our life is natural. That feeling is our Natural State. As we become more aware of the fact of our thinking in the moment, we are able to not give it as much attention. It’s like the rumble strips on the side of the road: when we run over them we know we are steering off course. When our thinking gets hurried, frenetic, effortful – we feel the effects of that because we are always feeling our own thinking.

Those uncomfortable, hectic feelings let us know we are steering away from the present moment. The yucky feelings aren’t there to hurt us; they are there to warn us that we are moving away from the moment where intimacy and connection reside. It is that thinking that drops a veil ‘over’ this moment.

As I’ve become more aware of the link between my thinking and the feelings it brings with it, I’ve found that I naturally steer back to the present and my life is so much sweeter ‘here’ than ‘there’!

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