By Ami Chen Mills-Naïm Most of us hate to be wrong. Being wrong seems like some kind of weakness. It’s embarrassing to be proven wrong. We thought we were so right, convinced we were! And then some new fact, or piece of information punctures our self-righteous bubble. From my view,[…]
Sally Wyse shares her story of transformation. She had an addiction to alcohol for years and lost her job, friends and family because of it. Through insight on hearing about the Three Principles, she has turned that around and is no longer an alcoholic. Listen to Sally as she shares candidly.
My first glimpse of the potential and possibility of the Three Principles understanding was during the Nepal earthquakes in 2015. In the midst of a volatile, uncertain time I found an inner source of resilience, resourcefulness and ease.
I’d only begun my explorations a few months before that by watching videos from the Three Principles Conference in London. When I found myself shaken and afraid, I realized this was going to be a defining moment- I was going to find out whether people are the victims of circumstance or whether we really do have freedom in any situation like these teachers were saying.
What I found was that my internal life of feelings and experience was independent of the external happenings in my life.
During those weeks after the earthquake I found my internal state could fluctuate between optimism and fear even if nothing changed on the outside- it was still Day 7 after the earthquake, aftershocks were still coming, the future was still uncertain and the enormous task of relief and rebuilding remained the same; yet my feelings about the earthquake, my life and the future could vary wildly from moment to moment.
That showed me the freedom we each have internally to experience life differently.
Since then, it seems to me the richness of that insight into the nature of how we human beings create our experience has continued to deepen and unfold. My sense of ease and light-heartedness has increased as has my optimism about life.
Grateful for the gifts and practical value this has brought into my life and work, I’ve begun to take this understanding into businesses, non-profits, communities and schools.
Convinced that people have untapped potential to resolve every challenge they face, I’ve started to reach out to a broader community of change makers across Asia and have begun the conversation of how we can better understand and resolve some of the biggest challenges in the region.
For anybody curious, interested or passionate about how this understanding can affect change in individuals, organizations and communities, you can reach me at
When I try and remember how life was before I came across The Principles, I think my fundamental belief was: “Life is difficult, but how we think about it can make a difference – and we have to work at that in order to counteract the hardships out there.”
I studied (and taught) Tai Chi so that I could interact with life with as much ease and grace as possible – trying to remain centred amidst inevitable stresses. I studied and practiced Tibetan Buddhism because its teachers seemed to have all the answers to life’s mysteries. These studies helped to maintain a positive attitude in the midst of challenges, but in addition, I wanted something which would help me interact with life in a more practical, day-to-day way. I thought I had found what I was looking for in NLP, where I developed new cognitive strategies, uncovered and transformed core limiting beliefs, and particularly loved working at ‘identity-level’ change – change which transformed how I fundamentally perceived myself and how I operated in the world.
All of these studies/practices were of huge benefit. But there was always the underlying notion that I needed to work harder… in order to develop myself more and to get better at dealing with life. “I should practice more than I do…” or “I need to go on another training that will give me more skills/understanding.”
In 2001, after several years of struggling with a ‘lack of life purpose’ and feeling seriously depressed about how stressful life was, I developed a sclerosis on the spinal chord – a health issue that has symptoms of mild Multiple Sclerosis. From when I was age three, I had watched my mother live with, and finally die from, MS. So, when I received the diagnosis with the word “sclerosis” in it, there was some charge attached to it – as you might imagine.
My ‘self-development’ had taught me to watch out for the kind of thinking which believed I might be following in my mother’s footsteps, and to watch out for making meaning out of the diagnosis. Generally, I ‘managed my state of mind’ pretty well. I also practiced a type of healing qigong – another tool that helped me manage my physical and mental state. But, much of the time I felt very stuck – and couldn’t see a way forward… “life’s difficulties” were getting the better of me. I was doing doggy-paddle out in the ocean and Life’s waves were getting bigger!
In 2012, I came across The Three Principles via Michael Neil’s “Coaching from the Inside Out” online course. I thought I would be learning new techniques for learning to be a better coach, or perhaps some new self-development tips that I could apply to help me deal with life with new strategies I hadn’t yet come across. I wasn’t expecting to have my life-view turned inside out, or my whole reality brought into question! Some days after listening to the audio recordings, I saw the enormous truth that we can only ever have a psychological experience of the world. The world itself does not gives us experience – rather, I saw that my experience was being created from Thought, moment to moment. And by its nature, Thought can change.
In the moments after that first insight, all those periods of my life where I had felt truly stuck, at the mercy of outside circumstances, came rushing to mind and I saw how I had, in reality, been a victim of my own thinking – the ‘outside’ couldn’t have made me feel that way… it was not possible. In fact, I had never actually known what was really “out there”, because I could only ever experience it via the power of my own thinking. To know that all of my life’s challenges up to that point were not as they had appeared… was pretty humbling! At the same time, I was astounded that I had never been shown this understanding before. I had such a sense of the potential available to us in every moment – in an instant the future was suddenly available again.
In that first year came many new insights – some big, some small – into how Thought created my moods, my perspective, and my sense of self. I often felt truly happy for no reason, and saw that happiness wasn’t something that needed to be gained or worked towards – rather it was the default state when there was less on my mind. I saw the benefits of doing less thinking or analysis as it applied to my physical health as well. I was greatly impacted by a video with Marilyn Wendler (http://www.threeprinciplesmovies.com/painmarilyn/ http://www.threeprinciplesmovies.com/pain-marilyn/ ) who had caught on to the separation between physical sensation and wellbeing, and I too started seeing how my physical downturns (or worsening of symptoms) didn’t have to automatically mean anything – I didn’t have to feel down and depressed whenever my body was exhausted. My body always recovered quicker by itself if I didn’t start thinking the worst or fearing for the future.
Now, in my day to day life, seeing the truth that my physical circumstance does not dictate my feeling (my mood, or my spirits), has been the foundation for a new contentment and ease in life. I didn’t have to go looking for it, or work harder to deserve it – it was there built-in to the mechanism of how the mind and body work together. And I am so grateful for being shown this mechanism by the teachers of this understanding – especially of course Syd Banks for being able to articulate what he saw.
As someone who has spent a lot of time being conscious (mindful) of physical sensation, I now see that the mind comes before the body – even though it doesn’t look that way. For quite a long time, I’d had quite a fear of flying, and on the last time I flew to Greece, there was a lot of ‘very scary turbulence’. I was very mindful of each and every sensation in my body being created by the movement of the plane, and didn’t like what I felt! Then, a phrase came to mind that I had heard Keith Blevens say: “We cannot be made to feel anything we don’t think.” Hearing a phrase like that in such moments, calls my understanding into question – part of me responded with “Yeah, right – the plane is definitely making me feel frightened!” But at the same time, I knew enough to trust that Keith wasn’t just saying that as a ‘good idea’, so I kept exploring the links between the fear, the turbulence and the sensations… trying to see the truth of the mechanism. And there it was…
…The plane was not causing the fear; the sensations were not causing the fear. It wasn’t possible for fear to be created from the outside – because fear itself is thought! It’s thought giving meaning to sensation, not the other way round. That was a beautiful moment. Once again I was shown the awesome power of Thought. And at the same time, I felt powerful… something I had been afraid of for so long, no longer could have the power I had given it.
In just over three years, I have seen so much by way of this understanding; and the beauty is that there is so much more – there’s no end to what can be seen. If I was to revisit my previous ‘world view’, it would now go something like: “Life is Life. Our thinking, moment to moment, creates our experience of it – and we don’t have to work at changing that, because it’s possible to see that all hardships aren’t actually out there in the first place.”
Bill Pettit: I headed up an adolescent unit in a state hospital in North-West Iowa for just under two years, and it was a 30 bed unit with ages eight to 18 – it had 12 female beds and 18 male beds. And you have to burn some bridges you know, in order to get into the state hospital system. But I agree totally with you (Sue) that we’re much more alike than we are separate and what really hit me which I knew already, is the saying, “People do not care what you know, until they know that you care.” If that’s true of everybody, which I think it is, it’s especially true of adolescents. They’ve had so many people innocently telling them what to do and which way they should look and putting all kinds of directives and shoulds, on them, and it hasn’t worked out very well, and so to have somebody who truly cares and also sees the health in them – they’re more than open to that, they really want that.
I think you brought up a great point about the difference between, it’s a huge point, you saw the difference between the way you were with your daughter at the beginning and the way you were with the young people that you worked with. And we so easily have been told, or bought into that being invested in the outcome is part of caring and it’s not. And I think when we get invested – you know you were obviously at some level much more invested in the outcome with your daughter and your wisdom guided you to see that that was getting in the way for the love that you have for her. Am I saying that correctly?
Sue Pankiewicz: Yes, absolutely.
Bill Pettit: Whereas with the other young people that you worked with, it doesn’t mean that you didn’t care deeply for them but you were able to not be invested. I’ve had a number of patients tell me, less so as the years have gone by, I think because I’ve become less invested in the outcomes. And that sounds funny, I’ve had a number of patients years ago say, “The day that you quit being invested in me getting better, allowed me to get better… because your ego was no longer tied up in whether I got better or not. You weren’t going to see yourself as a failure or as a great psychiatrist because I got better or didn’t. You were just present, giving the love and sharing the Principles as deeply as you could, and you trusted that whatever would happen from that would be enough, whether it was today, whether it was six months from now or whether it was a year from now.”
And I literally had a patient one time, who, when I left Florida in 1990 and went to the state hospital where I was supposed to have a Three Principles program that the funding got cut from in 1990, but about a year or 14 months after I left, (she had been badly injured in an accident, had chronic back pain and severe depression), about 14 months after I left Florida, she woke up one morning and she had a very profound insight about the Principles. And she circled the date on the calendar and waited one full year before she wrote me a letter because she wanted to make sure that it was real (chuckling) – isn’t that something? I mean, it happened 14 months after I left and then she waited a year and she wrote me this wonderful letter which I have, this wonderful four or five page thing and it’s in poetry and she talks about her short trips to hell. Even now, with her thinking, she’ll take a short trip but it is a short trip. When she starts feeling the heat she turns back around! (SM & SP chuckling in background) And goes back home, you know. And I thought that was very powerful, the point being, to the degree that we trust Mind, and we trust the innate health in people and that spark of divinity, then we no longer have to be invested in the outcome. We just give what we have as purely and as lovingly as we can and it takes the burden off. It frees up the joy of sharing. Because there isn’t the burden of expectation.
Sue Pankiewicz: It’s essentially impossible to find that joy if you’re looking for it… you know, when you start looking for it, you’ve already got an idea of what it will be like and then you start thinking, “well what’s getting in the way?” and you start working on that. Well, the minute you step back *boing*! (Bill chuckling) And you know I laugh – I just think back now and have even more thoughts coming about – I just kept thinking I was the one with the knowledge, I was the one with the wisdom, I was the one that could direct this recovery, and you know, I was pretty… I think to myself, “what tolerance she had of this woman, this mother, who would come along and say all this stuff to her!” Literally I couldn’t hear her, but she said to me one day – we were joking and I was apologizing because the last time I had seen her, I had been very critical about something, I can’t remember what it was, and I said, “Oh I’m just so sorry. I never want to say anything critical, I want to come along and just be have a lovely time.” And she said, “Mum, it’s alright, I just put it into a joke, I just say to myself, “mothers make the worst guests because they’re the ones who’ll tell you what they really think.” So she turned it round in her wisdom to say, “It’s not personal, it’s my Mum! She’s doing the best she can.” You know, I’m kind of awed by that because it strips me back, it shuts me up, it knocks me down to being who I really am below all this nonsense about, you know, initially the “failed parent,” the shame of it… you know, maybe it takes a while for us to be able to see all that absolute nonsense that we’ve been carrying around that looked really true and real.
Jack Pransky: We would encourage everyone who is running any kind of program applying the 3 Principles understanding to what helps people improve their mental health to use this inventory that measures 3 Principles understanding and those insights into thought recognition and inner health via a clear mind that we were talking about earlier. Along with some other accepted measures of improved mental health we can build up a body of evidence using the same kind of scale that will eventually be able to make a huge difference in people’s lives. I just wanted to throw that in as an encouragement.
Tom Kelly: Absolutely, and if people are not sure what instruments to use because they may vary and probably will vary depending on the population you are training, please feel free to contact me (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). If I think Jack can help I will try to persuade him after I hear from whoever contacts me since he is so busy.
The other thing is if anybody knows of any other people in academia who are involved with the Principles who may be interested in joining with Jack and I and others on doing more research, I can’t tell you how much fun it was to be able to interact with Jack on this and with others. The problem is in order to do this right, in my opinion, at least up to this point, at this point now we have the instruments so somebody who doesn’t even know about the Principles could actually do a study using our instruments. But up until this point, it was necessary to have people who understood the Principles and also had some understanding of research. Those 2 were very important and I’m privileged and I know Jack, Linda Ramus and Judy Sedgeman are too, to be 4 people who have had somewhat decent amount of both of those.
You can find the 3Pi posted on the Three Principles Movies site: http://www.threeprinciplesmovies.com/resources/research/
Turning yourself inside out may sound funny, weird even. You might be perplexed not knowing what it means. Or, seeing the deeper dimension of meaning could create a real “Buddha” belly laugh! There are endless possibilities. That’s the point.
The Principles of Mind, Consciousness, and Thought (as uncovered by the extraordinary insights of Sydney Banks) are pointers to a different and better way of seeing life because they are simple and give us relief of trying so hard to figure out all the variables. In other words, the deeper I understand life from the inside out via the Principles, the higher states of conscious awareness I experience, and the easier my life is….well, most of the time. But like yesterday, I had a real emotional melt down in a fit of road rage at “an idiot driver” (just my opinion of course).
The difference was I was watching myself lose it. I knew my fit of rage would eventually pass. I just couldn’t stop myself in the moment. I had “touched the hot iron” so to speak and I knew I would have to cool down. So, I did my best to do no harm to anyone else, except maybe myself by screaming like a maniac alone in my car. Huffing and puffing and wearing myself out for a few minutes. I could actually see my thoughts as they went from rage to confusion to sheepishness and, yes, a bit of shame for being even worse than the supposed offensive driver.
You might say my wisdom and common sense went to sleep. And in my sleep I had a nightmare. But even in the nightmare I was a lucid dreamer to some extent because I was the observer of the dream. I couldn’t even believe it was really me acting in such a negative way because I knew it wasn’t real. It was an illusion of my thinking. My stubborn ego got in the way, and so I suffered.
Afterwards, I realized that I had been way outside of myself caught up in the world of form. And the paradox link, if you will, was thought. My thinking went down the tubes… temporarily. And my consciousness literally “dumbed down”. But only to a conscious state of being a hot head knowing she was being a hot head. The difference is magnificent. In my “heart of hearts” I knew “I” had lost it, that it wasn’t really the driver “doing it” to me, I saw the process if you will. And because of that I was able to get through it without much damage except a few minutes of high blood pressure and bad hormones pumping through my veins (not a good idea in excess). But It’s quite amazing to me that we as human beings can use these simple Principles in such a profound way to explain, well, anything! They give us such rich ground to stand on, that we can walk through life with more ease and security, knowing the paradoxical nature of life.
Possibly the best part is….I didn’t hang onto the negative aftermath. I was able to let it go and not add it to a bag of bad memories, self-doubt, or insecurity. It was simply over and I carried a learning forward, which I am now sharing with you.
So the next time you “loose it” see if you can stop, breath, and turn yourself inside out.
Patricia A Toth
When I first became involved in my own “movement” toward spiritual and mental freedom, toward innate well-being, I learned with some elation that the external “things,” or circumstances upon which (or in which) I had placed my well-being were actually not capable of providing well-being! So, for me, in my[…]
There’s a film that we’ve just published fairly recently, this Summer, called “Kyra’s Story.” It’s on the Three Principles Movies website. And when you see Kyra, she looks an absolutely delightful child, and she absolutely is. But her mum phoned me to say… and this was at the last school that I was working at, and her mum phoned me to say, “Look I think she’s turning into a psychopath here and can I get some child and adult mental health involvement.”
And I said, “Well, that takes ages. Why don’t you come in and talk to me for a bit, and let me just talk to you about this understanding.”
So mum was quite interested and then Kyra came in and started talking to me and she was a very insightful little girl. I mean this was a little girl that was using foul language to other children; she was hitting out at other children; we were getting lots of complaints on a daily basis from other children and their parents.
And yet there’s a little girl sitting there, 9 years old, saying to me, “Well look, I know I’m being horrible to people but I go home and I think, “Oh I’m going to be different.” And then I come in the next morning and everybody treats me the same and I get really angry.”
So we started talking about our thoughts and our feelings and this little girl just perked up and you saw her just come alive. And we used a little snow globe which I had in the office, and she sort of shook that up and I’m saying to her, “You know what, that’s a bit like our thinking really, that when we get all agitated and we get cross, it’s like you’re shaking that snow globe and it’s really, really absolutely thick with the snow in it. And yet you stand the snow globe down, and you just sit back for a little while, and it all settles, and you get some clarity.”
And she loved that and hooked onto that and so that whole sense of, if she could let things calm down a little, then she would get greater clarity about what to do and how to be. And it changed things for her absolutely dramatically, and she became then a very popular child in the school. And yet she actually was the bully. I mean there’s several people said that in the film but her mum felt quite uncomfortable, this was in one of the first cuts of it, and so mum asked us to remove it. And we said, you know, we’d remove anything she didn’t feel comfortable with and that we wanted to use this as a story that might be helpful to others. So that bit got taken out but that was what she was being called. And yet that changed things for her and she’s become a really helpful child; she’s helping others; now she’s sharing the understanding with other children. And I think, just going back to the last bit that Ami said about starting small – even as small as that, that can start to make a huge difference within that school community.
We had one session at the school with parents. And this is just an hour and a half session one evening and after we had a nice meal. And about an hour into the session, this one woman just kind of made a side comment, or side gesture really, and it was like “Wow!” And of course we all kind of stopped and looked at her and asked her, “What was the thought that came across your mind just then?”
And she said, “I just realized something – I just realized that my child can have a bad day just like me.”
And for that person to have understood that it wasn’t her responsibility to make her child have a good day; that it wasn’t her responsibility to train the child or to enforce a process for her to live better and enjoy life; that it was ok for her four year old daughter to just have a bad day, and all she needed to do was just love her. And that was so transformative for everyone in the room to see that.
Well, the end result of that sort of story was that within about two months, that woman volunteered and became the President of the PTA. And when she did that, she became the first parent in the school to become President of the PTA.
The school is 100% free and reduced lunch, which is a way of saying, in the States here anyway, that all of the families who have children in that school are living in basic level of poverty; that they actually qualify for assistance for food that they can get at the school. So very few parents would even come to a PTA meeting, let alone see the value of participating in the school. But for her to first see that her child could have a bad day and have that translate into, “I can not only love my child, I can love the teachers, and the school, and the other children, and share what I can with them,” – that was a huge transformation.
So it can happen in any minute, any time, any day, but those are just a couple of examples from my experience that I think are telling for how quickly the Principles can be transformative. As Syd said, “We’re always just one thought away.”