The Gift Of Grace – Clytee Mills

I took care of my husband Roger for several years as he died of cancer. What might sound like a challenging experience actually taught me a great deal about grace. One day after his passing, it occurred to me that I had experienced more beautiful feelings during the last two weeks of my husband’s life than during the two weeks of our honeymoon. How could that be?  

Those who have studied with the late Sydney Banks often say, “We are being taken care of.” I wondered if my experience of well-being was an example of that. I realized, yes, I was taken care of during those years of Roger’s illness. For me, “being taken care of” is what I mean by grace. A presence or consciousness that seemed stronger and deeper than my personal efforts or my personal will guided and comforted me no matter what was happening. I am deeply grateful for that experience. My ability to open myself to this experience was encouraged by my understanding of the Three Principles as taught by Sydney Banks.  

In The Inside-Out Revolution, Michael Neill notes the benefits of a Three Principles understanding:
"Almost without fail, they’ve [people who have studied the Three Principles] found deep reserves of resilience and creativity that have allowed them to handle these difficult circumstances with a level of ease and grace they would previously never have imagined possible." (p. xxiv)

Grace can be defined (or contemplated) in several ways. The dictionary definition is simple, effortless elegance or refinement of movement as in a ballet dancer. The Christian tradition speaks of the free, unmerited favor of God as seen in salvation or a bestowal of blessings. The deeply stirring hymn, “Amazing Grace,” speaks to this experience. 

I wish to talk about grace from a personal, psycho-spiritual experience, which can be called wisdom, innate mental health, or our true Self. 

Jane Tucker in her lovely booklet, Insight Inspirations--Message of Hope, describes grace: “We all have moments when everything seems to ‘Click.’ At these times, things happen effortlessly, and it feels as if we are being carried along through life, above the trials and annoyances that might otherwise disturb us.” St John of the Cross in “What is Grace” (Love Poems from God, translated by Daniel Ladinsky, p.321) describes grace as “All that happens”. He also describes grace as whatever is “best for your development and that is every situation in your life.” 

Dr William Pettit tells a poignant story: A little boy is being taught to drive by his beloved grandfather. He sits in his grandfather’s lap turning the steering wheel. The grandfather notices they are about to run into a pole so he starts guiding the steering wheel, too. How would the grandson experience turning the wheel -- harder or easier? I see this story as illustrating that even when life feels or looks difficult, there is guidance from within and opportunities to learn.  

When I look back on the one and a half years of my husband’s illness, I am amazed at how Roger and I managed. Today, if I read an article about grief and end-of-life care, I become anxious in a way that did not occur when I was in the situation. When I was able to let go of trying to do things right, of using will power or determination to fix, change or resist circumstances, I naturally fell back into grace in spite of myself. It felt like an undeserved blessing and gift.

There is tremendous strength when loving and serving someone else is primary. Being in service kept me in the moment and allowed me to forget myself. Being with Roger was like being in a different world because he was in total acceptance of whatever was happening. He wasn’t struggling against the illness or “fighting” death. As he put it, “It is what it is.” He let go of thoughts, became still, and truly listened. This turned him inward to a natural state of compassion, kindness, and wisdom. He was thoughtful of others, generous, and gave us a thumbs up when we asked if it was okay to be playful and laugh! He maintained a sense of humor even in the last week of his life.  

Jane Tucker writes, “In truth, this gift of grace is always with us, always available to us. It comes when we are in tune with our own wisdom; when we are not trying to control anything in life, but rather allowing the beautiful rhythms of life to unfold around us. We only ‘fall out’ of this state when our own thinking distracts us from it.”  

Why Great Players Don’t Make Great Coaches

Note: This week’s article may seem like it’s geared to athletic coaches, but its implications are widespread. Plus, if after reading the article you’re looking for a “how to” (i.e., how to get to clarity), let my words sit and come back to them later. If that doesn’t help, you know where to find me.

Garret

 

It’s often assumed that just because a person was a great athlete he or she will make a great coach. Yet, how many great players turned great coach can you name off the top of your head? I’m probably missing a few, but at the moment I can’t name one. I can, however, name some great players who tried their hand at coaching only to struggle: Wayne Gretzky, Magic Johnson, Mike Singletary, Yogi Berra—and the list goes on.

But why? Why doesn’t inspiring play lead to inspiring coaching? And what can we learn from this surprising trend?

At the crux of the explanation is a misunderstanding: It’s common for great athletes who become coaches to mistake their past behavior as the source of their success. So they try to teach their players the methods that seemed to work for them. What’s overlooked, though, is the clarity of mind that spawned the success in the first place.

For example, Wayne Gretzky demonstrated amazing anticipation during his hockey playing career—he was often five steps ahead of the competition. But this is not because he deliberately skated to specific spots on the ice. It’s because he played with such a clear head that this happened instinctively. That’s why telling his players where to go and what to do didn’t pay dividends for Gretzky. No one can teach instinct.

This brings up another error frequently made by the once-great player who tries his or her hand at coaching: They attempt to impart advice as opposed to bringing out their players’ inherent talent and free will. Suggesting certain ways to visualize, stay positive, hit a golf ball, or throw a baseball not only leads to poor performance, it can also lead to injury. When coaches fill players’ heads with dos and don’ts based on their personal experience you can expect more of both.

The bottom line is that both outstanding play and outstanding coaching are the byproduct of clarity. From clarity, answers are easily found and adjustments come naturally. If a once-great player doesn’t grasp this fundamental principle, he or she will continue to believe it was specific behaviors that fueled past achievements. This is an illusion—held in place by one’s thinking—that explains why many coaches are unbending and set in their ways.

Again, providing behavioral advice clutters the minds of the players that a coach serves. Never can a person find clarity, or excellence on or off the field, by strategically adding thought.

Anybody Can Do the Splits: Mind Over Matter – George Pransky

A trusted physical therapist once told me that anybody under a general anesthesia can do the splits and other body contortions usually restricted to yogis. You can take an anesthetized person’s body and twist it any which way you want even though that person might normally not even be able to touch their toes. 
The discrepancy between the conscious person’s flexibility and the anesthetized person’s flexibility illustrates to me the power of thought. The anesthesia simply takes the limitations of conscious thought off the table and lets the natural thought processes inform the body. This discrepancy also reminded me of what little understanding we have about how thought limits us as it poses as "reality". It had previously seemed certain to me that the flexibility limitations of my body had to do with past body abuses, the anatomy of my muscles, and, of course, genetics. I would add to that list the nature of my exercise program and the fact of my aging. My last choice would have been my thoughts, until I was told the startling fact that the original flexibility of my body is still there, but for my thinking.
This depiction of thought got me wondering, "What else out there seems absolutely real and is just a figment of my imagination, like body inflexibility”? It did something to me to see how wrong I was about the "fact" of my physical flexibility limits. It humbled me and made me suspicious that my thoughts were hoodwinking me into believing things that wouldn't be true, but for my thinking in the moment. There's something uplifting about considering that things might be much different than how they appear. It's inspiring to think that there is much more potential to be actualized than what appears before our eyes right now.

From Chapter 2 of The Path of No Resistance

Thank you for all the encouraging and constructive feedback as I continue to post excerpts from my upcoming book (fall 2014). What’s below is from the end of chapter 2: “A One-way System: Inside-Out.”

Keep the comments coming!

Garret

 

Stop Looking Outside—Twelve Real Reasons Why You Feel Low

Amazing and sometimes uncanny possibilities begin to open up once we recognize the powerless complexion of circumstance. Readily, the perpetual field expands, and we find ourselves a few steps ahead of the competition. The reason that President Obama is such a good debater is the same reason that Roger Federer often tracks down a tennis ball out of nowhere, and the same reason that Bobby Flay seems to sniff out optimum restaurant locations that others neglect: To them, external influences don’t amount to much. These three live life from the inside-out. They are consistent. They are conscious. They are resilient.

What this means is that the same gift rests within you. Yes, intellect and life experiences do combine to meld personality. But there’s nothing personal about the thought-feeling connection. It works alike for everyone. A circumstance can’t make us feel a certain way because a circumstance-feeling connection does not exist.

If you’re up for it right now, answer these (loaded) questions for me: When you watch an intense or emotional movie, do you fight the experience? Or does your thinking get silent and you embrace the ride? Well, your life is no different. If at this point you now see, even a little bit, that all experience is created from the inside-out—I promise, you’re on your way.

To sum up chapter 2, the following list provides twelve short examples of the inside-out paradigm and how it relates to the rest of this book. Here’s why, at times, you (President Obama, Federer, and Flay, too) have trouble shaking an unhappy, vague, or insecure mindset. What to do about these mindsets—as you’ll see coming up—that’s the easy part.

  1. You forget that errant thoughts are normal; thus, you try to change your thoughts.
  2. You accept your errant thoughts as real; thus, you try to change your thoughts.
  3. You focus on what you’re thinking about, not the fact that you think.
  4. You try to fix troublesome life situations from a temporarily low psychological perspective.
  5. You jump from one external fix or coping mechanism to another.
  6. You use your intellect to search for answers, when answers are found via insight (from within).
  7. You fight your experiences, when you should be having experiences.
  8. You attribute your feelings to your circumstances, when they’re purely the result of your thinking.
  9. You use your feelings as a life-indicator, when they’re only a thinking-indicator (more on this in chapter 3).
  10. You overlook the fact that problems aren’t the cause of your lows; they’re a symptom of them.
  11. You are convinced that experience creates state of mind, when state of mind creates experience.
  12. You believe that willpower (battling through your lows) is the appropriate and commendable response. However, knowing that the human mind is designed to return to clarity on its own is the only response that fosters your innate functioning and consciousness.

There’s another thing, prior to chapter 3, which I want to repeat: Believing in the moment that your circumstances have the power to make you feel a certain way (outside-in) is normal, so don’t panic when this occurs. It’s simply the byproduct of living in a world of form. Nevertheless, knowing that your feelings, in truth, come from your thinking (inside-out) is what allows you to navigate proficiently through this world of form.

Here’s a final example, also from the sports world, of navigating through this world of form—or of inside-out versus outside-in. At the end of the 2012 NFL season, I heard current football analyst and one-time New York Giants quarterback, Phil Simms, talk on WFAN radio in New York about the changing weather patterns in the New York area. Simms said that back when he played (1980–1993), the winds were so bad in Giants Stadium that he made the deliberate decision to lower his personal expectations since it was so difficult to throw the ball.

Yet to Simms’s surprise, when he interviewed current Giants quarterback and two-time Super Bowl MVP, Eli Manning, and asked him about the difficult winds in New York, Manning didn’t know what Simms was taking about. According to Manning, “I’ve never played a home game when the wind was a problem, not ever.”

Simms is a good analyst, and, if my memory serves me correctly, he was a durable player. But in this case, he’s looking outside to the weather—a circumstance—to explain his feelings, experience, and perceptions. Manning knows, intuitively, that doing so is a mistake.

As we continue to peel away the half-truths about what determines resilience, remember: At this very moment, every single person alive, including you, is searching for a secure feeling. But, like Simms, when you don’t feel secure, you’re also prone to making the innocent but caustic error of looking outside to explain the reason. Excuses then overwork your intellect, making you feel and perform worse.

Rather, the missing link between your circumstances and a secure feeling is always found in your thinking. Not in what you think. Just knowing that your reality is formed from the inside-out, via your thinking, is what allows the mind’s immune system to bring you back to assurance and faith.

In my many years of working with people, and writing and speaking about why human beings feel what we feel and do what we do, my succinct conclusion is that outside-in is a perilous entity. Explanations and solutions cannot be found in form. So when you look outside, you manufacture, validate, and perpetuate problems that don’t really exist. If you keep looking that way (in your desire to make sense of things and feel better), there’s no end to the distorted perceptions plus mayhem that might occur. Sports are one thing, but we could fill a book citing tumultuous real-life examples of this.

Sadly, most of us have it backwards. Outside-in is not how it works. Since long before William James, there’s been a misalignment between how people think they experience life, and what’s really happening behind the scenes in their heads. My aim in this book is to straighten out that misalignment.

We’ve made some progress, but let’s keep going.

Throwing the Knuckleball – Jacqueline O’Doherty

This past week, my husband and I saw the movie Knuckleball. This documentary follows the careers of R.A. Dickey and Tim Wakefield, both professional baseball players, both knuckleball pitchers.

It occurred to me that the knuckleball just might be another useful metaphor for the inside-out truth we live in.

For those of you who, like me, know very little about baseball, the knuckleball is a pitch in which the ball is thrown in a very counter-intuitive way. The pitcher's knuckles or finger tips grip the ball and release it directly from the hand, minimizing spin, and causing the ball to look like it's pretty much defying the laws of physics.

A properly thrown knuckleball is disorienting to the batter because it flies much slower than other pitches, and can flutter or change direction in mid-flight, even just as it's about to cross the plate.

The science behind this is fascinating! Once it leaves the hand of the pitcher, the lack of spin causes the stitching of the ball to inter-play with the air current around it, making it move very unpredictably, and yet accurately enough to fool a batter into swinging at it. …And it’s the most effective pitch in baseball.

What does this have to do with the 3 Principles? Well, to throw this kind of pitch requires not only skill, but a certain level of faith in the "invisible." While other pitchers work on having greater control of the result or the flight of the ball, the knuckleballer works on releasing the ball and having the air resistance 10, 20, 50 feet away from him do the rest.

So many times when I work on a project or communicate with others, I find myself trying to control the outer circumstances, the outcome, or the way it will be received by others… when really the best thing I can do is make sure I’m free from my insecure thinking and connected to my Source as I release it.

The knuckleball shows how the most counter-intuitive of actions can create the most remarkable results. And it's another example of how working with the invisible can create something so great you just might think you defied the laws of physics...but really you've just defied your personal, habitual thinking about what you previously thought was possible...

As the movie ends, you hear Tim Wakefield's voice say, "Once it leaves your hand, it's up to the world what it's gonna do."

I want to be more like a knuckleball pitcher.                        

Weekly wisdom: what does having faith mean?

Having faith means?“From George Pransky I learned that having faith does not mean something will work out for us the way we want; having faith means we will be okay no matter how it all works out“.

“Often I forget this is true. I forget all is in perfect order. I forget it’s all a perfect unfolding, no matter what happens. But once in a while I remember, and when I do I feel comfort again. I feel a deep richness about life. Because I know “stuck” is an illusion. We’re only as stuck as we think we are. That’s a mind-blowing statement, at least to me.”

[From Jack Pransky's book: "Somebody should have told us"– Page 137]

The post Weekly wisdom: what does having faith mean? appeared first on Center for Inside-Out Understanding.

Another Excerpt From The Path of No Resistance

I hope you enjoy the following excerpt from the end of chapter 5 of my upcoming book. Any questions or comments, reach out.

Garret

 

The Relevance of Love

Picture this: Yours truly standing in front of a professional hockey or football team and suggesting that love is the key to great performance. And as the players look at me like I’m some kind of fruitcake, I declare that this particularly applies to loving their opponents. For sure, some of the gazes and responses I’ve gotten over the years have been suspect. But no matter, I’m certain it’s true. Plus, talking about love wakes the players up to the fact that they’re about to hear something different—I’ve got their attention, so off we go.

Even subscribers to my articles or newsletter sometimes comment that they’d rather read about performance, or resilience, than love and our other surprising sources of strength. Touchy-feely sentiments, they might say, aren’t usually associated with success. They don’t know me very well. I’m not after usual. I’m after truth.

That’s why, before we turn our attention to chapter 6, I want to make sure that no stone’s left unturned. So just in case love remains superfluous, consider what follows as the Cliff Notes version of chapter 5:

To me, if you want to consistently perform your best, love and our other surprising sources of strength are crucial because they don’t require deliberate thought. They’re the byproduct of consciousness. When a person uncovers a high level of consciousness, insights flow, and answers—including how to stay ahead of the competition—become obvious. By contrast, when a person exists at a low level of consciousness, the intellect gets overworked, and answers slip away.

The purpose of this chapter about love, then, is simple: to turn you inward toward your most potent psychological disposition, and not outward toward willpower, disrespect, or following someone else’s thought-based system or techniques. All of which divorce you from your own intuition. Go back to what I said about performers at their finest moments: They don’t think—they’re free; they don’t work—they feel. To them, everything is seen as an asset or opportunity.

Now that sounds like love to me.

And if you’re not at your best, and not immersed in love? No grounds for alarm.

Struggles only persist when we search outside for causes and cures. The path that we’re on points away from anything that saps our instincts by adding thought to our pursuit of excellence.

To be candid, this chapter was by far the most intricate one to write. Talking this extensively about love (and hate, too) was a diversion of sorts for me. But it was necessary. At the end of the day, knowing why we seem to fall in and out of love with life, or with our partners, or even our children is the ultimate liberation. We feel our own thinking—not things, events, or people. This wisdom removes any chance of making molehills into mountains. It frees and makes simple.

Syd Banks once unwaveringly claimed, “The only thing that’s real in life is love. Everything else is an illusion brought about by our thinking.” Nothing could ring more true.

Also, I can’t speak for you. But, for me, understanding that it works like this for all of us clarifies the actions and suffering of others. It prevents me from judging. Don’t forget: We can only help someone when we’re clear and lack judgment. The frailty of the human condition—that we think—explains everything.

In this chapter, I hope you’ve seen, too, that some of the standard beliefs about competition, relationships, caring, and parenting just might be missing the mark. Most importantly, though, perhaps love is a broader potion than we ever imagined. Love, it turns out, is universal.

So, where is this book taking you from here? We’ll look back a little in chapter 6, but mainly full steam ahead. We turn next to the ample possibilities along the path of no resistance—for one and all.

UPDATE ON JACK PRANSKY EUROPEAN THREE PRINCIPLES TOUR FEBRUARY 28, 2014 THROUGH MAY 5, 2014

As you may know by now, I am going on a European Three Principles Tour. I posted my prospective itinerary a month or two ago, but now it has been updated and is nearly finalized. If anyone in any of the countries listed would like to attend any of the events or arrange for any private coaching, I have now provided email contact information. I am looking forward to this immensely.

Tour itinerary

  1. Friday, February 28, Fly from Boston to London Heathrow
  2. Saturday, March 1, arrive in Heathrow to Colchester, Space for Connection weekend
  3. Monday, March 3, Colchester, England*, Sue Pankewicz  sue@principledwellbeing.com
  4. Thursday, March 6, Paris, France, Karen Raimbault   kraimbault@gmail.com
  5. Sunday, March 9, Brussels, Belgium*, Veronique Pivetta veroniquepivetta@gmail.com
  6. Monday, March 10, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Jos Wielink, jos@joswielink.com
  7. Wednesday, March 12, Soroe, Denmark*, Mette Louise Holland, provinsen@gmail.com
  8. Friday, March 14, Copenhagen*, Lise Dandanell      lise@dandanell.com
  9. Sunday, March 16, Stockholm, Sweden*, Elisabeth Karlehav  leadership@3pstateofmind.com
  10. Monday/Tues, March 17, Lund, Frederik Kinnman  fredrikkinnman@gmail.com
  11. Thursday, March 20, Ratzeburg, Germany*, Andrea Wolansky  andreawolansky@gmx.de
  12. Saturday, March 22, Berlin*, Katja Symonds      katja.symons@gmail.com
  13. Thursday, March 27, Zurich, Switzerland*, Tammy Furey  tammy@fureycoaching.com
  14. Saturday, March 29, Geneva, Anthony Davis      anthony@headstuff.eu
  15. Tuesday, April 1, Milan, Italy* (also Padova and Bologna), Monica Fava  info@errekappa.net
  16. Friday, April 5, Catania, Sicily*, Peppe Longo        giuseppelongoparis@yahoo.it
  17. Wednesday, April 9, Javea, Spain, Amanda O’Shea    amandaserendipity@live.co.uk
  18. by Thursday, April 10, Albir, Spain, continued EPT,  Sheela Masand  sheela@sheelamasand.com
  19. by Tuesday, April 15, Santiago de la Ribera, Katja Symonds  katja.symons@gmail.com
  20. Wednesday, April 16, Malaga, Antonio Lopez     sirio@editorialsirio.com
  21. Thursday, April 17, Porto/Braga, Portugal*, Nuno Arrais narrais@gmail.com
  22. Wednesday, April 23, Huddersfield, England, Victoria Green  vicstar@btinternet.com
  23. Saturday, April 26, Glasgow, Scotland*, Christian McNeil  christian.mcneill@icloud.com
  24. Sunday/Mon April 27, ?, Scotland, Don MacNaughton  macnaughtond@gmail.com
  25. Tuesday, April 29, North Yorkshire, England, Julian Freeman julian@starsofwellbeing.com
  26. Wednesday, April 30, Brighton*, Tony Fieldler (evening)       tony77@ntlworld.com
  27. Thursday, May 1   “* (day)
  28. Friday, May 2, St. Albans*, Chantal Burns   chantal@starconsultancy.com
  29. Saturday/Sun May 3, North London, Russell Davis  & Kirsty Hanly (private coaching) russell@russell-davis.co.uk  kirsty.hanly@gmail.com
  30. Sunday, May 4, London, Tikun* (5:30, Rudi) (8pm-10pm) Terry Rubenstein terry@tikun.co.uk
  31. Monday, May 5, Heathrow (Shirley Scott)                 Fly back to US (leave 3:30 PM; arrive 5:40 PM)

* = public presentations. [Note: In other places, private coaching may still be possible]

The post UPDATE ON JACK PRANSKY EUROPEAN THREE PRINCIPLES TOUR FEBRUARY 28, 2014 THROUGH MAY 5, 2014 appeared first on Center for Inside-Out Understanding.