Tag Archives: peace

Personal Thought or Mind?

We usually walk around imagining that our moment-to-moment experience of life is the result of situations and people around us:
* I’m irritated because that guy cut me off in traffic
* I’m cranky because I have to go to work early
* I’m bummed because my boyfriend or girlfriend wants to end our relationship
* I’m lonely because I’m not in a relationship
* I’m worried because my retirement account is shrinking

The Three Principles understanding of human experience tells us to look in a different direction. This perspective says that we are always living in the feeling of our own thinking. This is really important to grok: moment-to-moment, we are experiencing our thinking ABOUT what is happening, not what is happening. This is our personal thought system talking and it rarely leads us in a helpful, peaceful direction.

We can only be listening to one thing at a time: we are either listening to our personal thought system or we are listening beyond our personal thoughts to the deeper wisdom that comes from Mind – the formless, infinitely creative Source.

How do we know to which we are listening? By the feeling that we are experiencing in the moment. If we are feeling excited or agitated or irritable or cranky or bummed or worried or fearful -or any permutation of any of these – then we are listening to our pea-brain (as my teacher, Keith Blevins calls it), personal thought system. If we are feeling a sense of ease and peace, then we are plugged into a deeper source of wisdom that we can trust. We are always listening to one or the other.

Just notice the feeling you’re in right now – it will tell you whether you can trust your own thinking in this moment. If the feeling is off – do nothing. Wait. Leave your thinking alone and you’ll find that a nicer feeling returns and with it will come a wiser, more peaceful perspective that will provide guidance for this moment now. There is nothing other-worldly about it. No bells or whistles – but a sense of peace that is worth its weight in gold. Try for yourself.

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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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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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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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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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