Monthly Archives: July 2013

Leave It Alone

There is something far deeper in all of us than our thoughts, emotions, or sensations. Even the word ‘deeper’ doesn’t quite capture it – it is not only deeper but bigger, wider, clearer, wiser, calmer. This ‘something’ is the foundation of everything else that can be experienced and the ‘space’ in which it all takes shape and passes away. It comes before everything else that can be experienced and it stays during and remains after whatever is experienced. The ‘something deeper’ is our Sanity, our Wisdom, our Innate Intelligence.

I use capital letters because I want to distinguish what I’m pointing towards from the typical way we usually conceptualize the words ‘sanity’, ‘wisdom’, and ‘intelligence’. Usually, we define those words in personal ways, as if they say something about us or our personal, little brain. What I’m pointing towards is so much bigger than that. It is available to anyone and everyone who has ever taken form as a human being regardless of ability or disability.

If you’re like me, you’re probably asking ‘so, how do I get to it? What do I have to do to access this Sanity, Wisdom, Innate Intelligence?’ The answer is good news: nothing. We don’t need to do anything to access or ‘live from’ this something because it is what we are. All we need to do is leave our thinking, our emotions, our sensations alone. Do nothing with them. Nothing.

This can be tricky for us because we are taught to ‘manage’ or ‘change’ or ‘replace’ or ‘avoid’ much of our thinking, feelings, and sensations. We learn that there are ‘good’ thoughts/feelings/sensations and ‘bad’ thoughts/feelings/sensations and we attempt to keep the good ones and get rid of the bad ones. It is rare to find a person who learned that it is OK to just let everything be as it is without doing anything to it, for it, from it, or about it. The great secret to living a life of greater peace, compassion, and ease is to leave all of our thinking, feelings, and sensations alone.

What might this look like in daily life?

Just last night, I visited my 91 year-old mother as I do every day. As you can imagine, she takes a lot of medication and needs help managing it. I typically put all of her medications for the week – morning and night – in a pill caddy. This past week, I got off schedule and forgot to do it. Last night, I happened to look at the caddy and realized it was empty. I said, “Mom! I can’t believe I forgot to fill your meds. Why didn’t you tell me!?” She responded in a way that sounded (to me) helpless and needy – she is neither (beyond some physical limitations). My thinking really started racing with ‘why didn’t she tell me?’ and ‘how could I have forgotten?’ and ‘why does she have to act so helpless when she isn’t?’ (and many more thoughts critical of her and myself) and along with it came lots of uncomfortable emotions/sensations that I would describe as mainly irritation, frustration, sadness, and worry. As soon as I felt the discomfort, I did my best to just relax my body and mind and left all of the thinking and sensations alone. I just let them be and rested back in this openness that is completely present even in the midst of the storm of thought and emotion, just as the open, spacious, sky is always present even in the midst of black clouds, driving rain, lightning and thunder. I did NOTHING to, for, from, or about any of the thoughts or feelings. Just like clouds, in time, all of my thoughts and feelings about what had happened – which seemed so solid and real and ‘called for action’ – just dissolved like a fog burns off in the morning sun. All of this happened naturally and effortlessly by doing nothing!

There are only four basic actions we can take with any thought/sensation/emotion:
* grab hold of it and jump into the middle of it – making it seem real
* avoid it (oddly enough, this makes it seem real, too)
* try to change it
* leave it alone and just rest

See that your uncomfortable feelings or racing thoughts are really friendly reminders to leave everything alone for a moment. Do nothing. No matter how intense the feeling or convincing the thinking, leave them alone. I promise you that they will dissolve on their own – dissipate like a puff of smoke in a gentle wind – and you don’t need to do a thing for that to happen. What you will discover is this clear, open space from which you will be able to see clearly the next step that is most compassionate for all involved. Practice leaving your thoughts, emotions, and sensations alone and let me know what you notice.

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How to Access Great Intelligence

There isn’t a lot you need to do to access this great intelligence that runs all of reality because, in fact, we have never been separate from it. It is only our being mesmerized by our own thinking that makes it seem otherwise. All that is needed is to stop. Do nothing for a moment. What happens to thinking? What happens to feeling? What happens to experience in that moment of stopping? Nothing! It just continues on. The nature of thought is to just keep tumbling, bubbling, flowing along. We can’t capture it and fix it in place.

This is good news. Seeing this in our own direct experience reminds us of the impermanence of the world of form (thought, feeling, experience). We see clearly that we have never left the spaciousness that contains all experience in every moment. Regardless of what kind of thinking/feeling experience is arising right now, like every other experience (pleasant or unpleasant) it, too, will amble along and dissolve. All of it just naturally flows on by. Even all of our deeply held beliefs arise and pass away like the rest of reality, the rest of experience.

The constant in us isn’t our thinking or our beliefs or our ideas about ourselves or others or life. The constant is this formless space that is aware of all of it. Even right now, stop for a moment and notice how experience just tumbles on. Isn’t there something present that is watching it? THAT is what we are – that is our Innate Wisdom, our Innate Sanity. I say innate because it has always been there and will never leave. Regardless of how dysfunctional or unhelpful our thinking might become, this Consciousness is always present watching it flow along. It is Consciousness which makes this experience or any experience ‘knowable’. We can rely on that in the midst of all our crazy, upset, hurt and hurtful thinking.

By just stopping and resting for a moment and leaving everything alone, we reconnect with Source. We are always at a fork in the road: do we focus on and rely on this ever-changing flow of thinking or do we rest in and rely on this vast, silent, spacious intelligence that is our Innate Sanity? We choose each moment. You are choosing even now.

Reconnecting with Sanity

In the last post, I talked about the Principles and attempted to define them based on my current understanding. In this post, I want to talk a little about what seeing the Principles at work in our lives can mean for us and how it can help us reconnect with our own sanity and wisdom in real situations in our lives. Along the way, I want to point out some of the stumbling blocks that I’ve experienced in learning this understanding.

First, knowing about the principles doesn’t mean that we will always feel happy. At least, I can say that has not been my experience. We still experience lots of ups and downs. Sometimes our state of mind is up and sometimes it isn’t – we all experience those ups and downs virtually every day. There are some days that are more up than down and some days that are more down than up. We still sometimes feel irritated, bummed, angry, sad, worried, overwhelmed – the full catastrophe.

What it does mean is that we know that life is full of highs and lows and that those experiences are coming to us via our own thinking. We know that events in life aren’t inherently good or bad, happy or sad. We can see that our thinking about the event is what is creating our experience of the event in the moment – moment-to-moment – EVERY moment!

Second, knowing about the principles and seeing them at work doesn’t mean that everything always works out in our favor. Far from it. My bank account is not bursting at the seams, our house lacks curb-appeal, I could stand to lose 15 pounds, I am still bald, and I still drive a 13 year old Eurovan that needs new tires.

What it does mean is that we understand that these external events and things are not creating our experience of life. Our state of mind is creating our experience of life – and as our state of mind varies, so does our experience. When I’m in a good state of mind, I’m grateful for what I have, that my body is still working relatively well, and that my Eurovan still runs and I don’t have a car payment! When I’m in a low state of mind, well…suffice to say I am far less gracious and grateful and I see those events and things very differently.

Third, knowing about the principles and beginning to see them at work in life helps us understand that ALL of our experience is originating in our own thinking. Strong emotion and upset still comes, and sometimes it lasts longer than we prefer. Uncomfortable feelings do not immediately disappear when we experience them just because we know they are being created via Consciousness and Thought.

What it does mean is that we are no longer freaked out by strong emotion. We know where it is coming from and we know there is NOTHING WE NEED TO DO ABOUT IT! That is a very big deal. We don’t need to believe our thinking; and, we don’t need to believe that the strong, uncomfortable feelings are telling us something about our lives! They are telling us something about our state of mind and that’s it! What a relief that has been!

Knowing that all feelings are just feedback about our thinking and that they will settle on their own if we do nothing about them helps us not make (as many) really stupid moves in life attempting to correct/change something or someone ‘out there’ in order to manage the upset we feel ‘in here’. We know that if we just wait the internal, self-correcting mechanism that is standard equipment with every human being will activate and gently guide us back to neutral where we will be able to more clearly see the next sane, healthy step to take.

One of my clients – I’ll call her ‘Jane’ – showed up very agitated about a friendship. She was upset that her friend didn’t really attend to her in the way she attempted to attend to her friend. Her friend had done something that she interpreted as betrayal and she was loaded-for-bear and anxious to let her friend have it! She felt slighted, angry, betrayed, and sad all at the same time. Her thinking was running fast and furious and it was obvious to me that she was in a very low state of mind. I did nothing other than let her talk, and I did my best to not add any fuel to the blaze. Very near the end of the session, I could hear the momentum of her thinking slowing down and her state of mind began to rise bit by bit. She knows about the principles but really didn’t see how they had anything to do with what she was experiencing at that moment.

Suddenly, Jane’s eyes brightened, she looked at me and said, “Wait. This is all my own thinking. I’m feeling upset because of all of this yucky thinking right now! I don’t have any idea what my friend was really thinking when she did that – she may not have been thinking of me at all!” In that instant, she really saw the principles at work creating her own upset. She knew she needed to do nothing to get back to a more balanced state of mind – she was already reconnecting with her own sanity – in fact, she had never lost connection, it had just been covered up by her thinking.

We talked more and Jane understands that she will still want to have a talk with her friend about the situation. But, what a different talk it will be! As a result of understanding the principles at work, she’ll be able to have a heart-to-heart with her friend in a way that will allow both of them to feel heard and understood rather than attacked and defended.

Try it out for yourself. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy and natural it is to reconnect with your own sanity and wisdom. And, if you want help (shameless plug on the way…), please call or email me for an appointment.

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