Tag Archives: thinking

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.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,