Tag Archives: george pransky

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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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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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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Give Your Thinking Away

We can all be unnecessarily attached to the form the Principle of Thought takes as our personal thinking. That sounds a little awkward, I know. The reason I phrase it like that is because it has been important for me to see the Principle of Thought as neutral and formless. Even worse, right? Let me explain.

The Principle of Thought (as in Mind, Consciousness, Thought) is itself formless. In other words, the Principle of Thought has no form itself. An analogy might be water. Water in its liquid state has no real form other than the form of the container that it is in. If water is in the old Kool-Aid pitcher that many of us grew up seeing on TV, then it is ‘Kool-Aid pitcher’ shaped. If water is in a shallow, wide vase then that is its shape. Water in a pond takes on the shape of the hollow that makes the pond. When water is blown about by air and other water currents, it might take the shape of a wave or bubbles or a whirlpool.

You get the idea. Water (at least within the limits of this analogy) is formless. As a result of its ‘formlessness’, water can take on absolutely any form at all. Water is both form and formless at the very same time. Its quality of formlessness enables it to take on any form (shape); and it can be absolutely any shape (form) because its nature is formless.

So, when I wrote in the opening paragraph of this article that we can be ‘unnecessarily attached’ to the form our personal thinking takes, I am saying that the formless Principle of Thought is what is taking form as our personal thinking. Think about it! Just kidding. Don’t think (too much) about it.

What I have discovered is that when I intentionally think (personal thought) too much about anything, I can easily become very attached to that thinking. That is just the nature of the human experience. We have lots of thinking and we can become very attached to it.

Because Thought is formless, our personal thinking can and does come in all kinds of shapes and sizes: opinion, analysis, argument, belief, poetry, conversation, MORE HERE…and we tend to ‘hoard’ our thinking – especially when we are in a low state of mind. That just happens to be the worst time to attempt to hold on to our thinking and the worst kind of thinking to hold on to! It’s like keeping the garbage in the house and then wondering why the house smells.

Attempting to hold on to our thinking is never a good idea. In my experience, attempting to hold onto any of my thinking creates a kind of tension in my body that is not pleasant. In trying to hold onto the good thinking or push away the unpleasant thinking, we end up creating a kind of ‘knot’ that doesn’t feel good. In reality, there is no ‘knot’ at all – it’s still just our thinking – but attempting to ‘grip’ our personal thinking just feels rotten.

So, what to do? NOTHING!

Because the Principle of Thought is formless, its nature is simply to flow through us taking on a million different shapes in any single day. By just allowing Thought to flow (which it does anyway!), both the pleasant and the unpleasant tend not to hang around long. What we are left with is a sense of ease and spaciousness regardless of the form our personal thinking is taking at any moment.

We can trust that the formless Principle of Thought will always continue to flow through us creating infinite shapes and sizes and colors and textures of experience. We only get into trouble when we attempt to hold onto or push away the form Thought is taking in an moment (and this includes how we happen to feel in the moment – thought and feeling are inseparable…might as well call it ‘thoughtfeeling’). Most of our suffering comes from attempting to capture a particular wave or eddy or swirl of foam – all shapes of Thought – and keep it as it is or, conversely, push it away.

What does this look like in daily life? Think about any particular opinion you might HOLD (even our language gives it away, no?). There is nothing wrong with having an opinion. The problem comes when we HOLD the opinion and in so doing attempt to freeze it into a particular shape. Then we hold the opinion against other opinions and we start thinking that we have to defend its particular shape and form. That’s when things get unpleasant: arguing, analyzing, pushing and shoving intellectually (pushing our personal thinking against the personal thinking of another).

If we understand the nature of Thought, if we begin to see in real life that the Principle of Thought is always creating an infinite variety of forms, we will see that our opinions naturally and effortlessly change and evolve. Just like a river continues to flow and take on an infinite variety of shapes and movements, so the Principle of Thought takes on an infinite variety of shapes and movements as thinking that occurs in the moment.

By ‘giving our thinking away’ – seeing it for what it is in the moment and letting it move through us easily and naturally – we have the experience of ease and creativity in our life. The really good news is that this is exactly how the system is set up: the Principles of Mind, Consciousness, and Thought are always producing a new experience, a new moment, and there is nothing we need to do to make that happen. We can’t really even get in the way of that occurring because even the experience of ‘getting in the way of the flow’ is itself a part of the infinite movement and creativity of Mind, Consciousness, and Thought. We can rest; and, by simply resting the formless will continue to create new form always realigning us with a greater Wisdom no matter what the current circumstances in our lives.

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The Magic Card for Couples

I usually provide this on a pocket-sized card format to couples I’m seeing. They use it to stay pointed in the right direction between our meetings. I hope you find it useful. 

The Magic Card for Couples

-You are always feeling your thinking in the moment; you aren’t feeling ‘the relationship’.
-Your feelings are feedback about your state of mind in the moment; they are not feedback about the state of your relationship or about your partner.
-If you are in a low mood, that is exactly the WRONG time to have a ‘heart to heart’ talk or ‘make a point’ – have important talks when you are in a good mood/good state of mind
-When you are in a low mood, don’t trust your thinking about the relationship or your partner; don’t make decisions about anything from a low state of mind.
-When your partner is in a low mood keep what they say in perspective – remember it is coming from their low mood and is not the ‘truth’ about what they ‘really’ think and feel.
-You don’t need to do anything about a low mood; leave it alone and it will pass like storm clouds blow through the sky.
-Thinking changes on its own and it changes a lot all day, every day; just understanding that can make a huge difference in your relationship.
-If you think your partner is the problem, you are completely missing the point; if you look inside to your own thinking, you are on the right track.
-When you see problems in the relationship as coming from ‘out there’ you will tend to stay stuck longer; when you see your experience as coming from ‘in here’ you’ll tend to see solutions sooner.
-Low morale in the relationship isn’t caused by problems – problems are caused by low morale; and morale is 100% caused by our moment to moment thinking/state of mind.
-The way you see the relationship is ‘made up’ inside of you – it isn’t The Truth – and your thinking about the relationship and, therefore, how you see it will change on its own
-We all live in a world of thinking and it changes on its own – leave your thinking alone (especially your low-mood thinking) and it will change.
-In a low mood, ‘relationship problems’ appear; in a better mood we simply look at ‘portraits of circumstance’.
-You are the common denominator in all problems that you perceive – puzzling, huh?
-Quit trying to change your partner in any way at all.
-All human beings have their ups and downs in relationships – having trouble doesn’t have to ‘mean’ anything about your partner or your relationship.
-Appreciation and trust are possibilities just as real as problems
-Despite what it may look like, your partner wants to be a good mate just as much as you do.

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What’s the Point?

The point of this blog is to share my understanding of the 3 Principles (Mind, Consciousness, Thought) as discovered by the late Syd Banks. My experience of understanding the action of the principles in my own life has been a significant help to me. My intention is to write about my experience and the experiences of my clients in coming to understand how the 3 Principles are always at work creating our moment-to-moment experience of life. Seeing the Principles at work in our lives can help us rediscover our own innate wisdom and sense of knowing that will guide us to a greater sense of purpose, satisfaction, effectiveness, and joy in our families, work, relationships – in every aspect of our lives.

I hope you find this useful.

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