Right and Wrong: Painful Thoughts

Many of my clients are intensely engaged in a fruitless, frustrating effort to prove others wrong, or to get others to say or do what they expect. They come in angry and resentful because these people are “ruining” their life or “making” them miserable. They hang their happiness on getting what they think they “need” from people they who have “let them down”.

When”, I always ask them, “is the last time you complied with an angry, accusatory person who insisted that you do or say something?”

The usual response is, “Huh?” That is usually followed, “But you don’t understand. I’m right.”

Of course, in the state of mind we happen to be in, we all think we’re right. And, there’s the rub. Unless we know that “right” is our own thought, we are doomed to righteous indignation and seeking the company only of people who agree with us while demanding satisfaction from those who don’t.

Here’s an example. I was talking to someone who had gotten through a bitter divorce and arrived, painfully, at a shared custody agreement with her ex-husband regarding their young teenager. He started giving the teenager a tremendous amount of freedom, lots of money, and every material thing the teenager asked for. She was attempting to set boundaries, limit spending money and encourage her teenager to work for things that felt important. It wasn’t long before the teenager was playing one off against the other, and manifesting a lot of negative behaviors. So the mother demanded that the whole family go to counseling.

After one session, the counselor told her, “Well, of course, you’re right, but he’s not going to do anything you ask him to do. He feels if he supported your parenting style and helped you, it would be doing something for you, and he doesn’t want to do anything for you. He can’t stand you. So I think you have to work with things as they are, or maybe try to renegotiate your custody agreement.” The woman was devastated. She wanted an answer about how to create change, not a suggestion that she needed to get resigned to an untenable stand-off.

Right now, we live in a world that does not recognize that all people have the capacity to see their thinking for what it is and change their minds. We live in a world where resignation or argument is as good as it gets. We live in a world that assumes each person’s thinking is the way it is and nothing will change. We live in a world that gives all the power to situations, and no power whatsoever to the thinkers of the thoughts that created the situations in the first place.

In the resilient, dynamic, inside-out world represented by the Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought,Our life is what our thoughts make it - inspirational word by Marcus Aurelius on a slate blackboard with a white chalk and a stack of books against rustic wooden table that makes no sense at all. When our clients tell us that someone or something else is making them miserable or doing them wrong, we do not focus on “fixing” the situation or reinforcing their negative view. We focus on the only true source of power, the creative force of each person’s ability to think and think again, and see things for themselves, and appreciate their own unlimited power to change.

All of these situations we address are microcosms of the general failure to solve big problems in the world. People feel victimized by “intractable” situations, rather than seeing that their thinking about the situations is what is holding them in place.

Is it possible that a resentful ex-husband could come to understand that his negative thinking about the past is the source of his hateful feelings about his ex-wife, and question the wisdom of acting against his child’s best interest? Is it possible that an insecure ex-wife could see how her thinking, as well as his, played into the nastiness of the divorce, and question whether her own insecurity was preventing her from finding common ground about what is best for their child? Is it possible that a mental health educator who understood that thinking is a power we all can understand how to use could help resolve this situation?

Yes, Yes, and Yes.

Wake up, world! Wake up to the universal wisdom that could set us all free to resolve conflicts (large and small), create solutions (at home and in the world), and live at peace. It is one thought away from every person on the planet.

To find that thought — whatever healing insight is needed for the situation(s) we are in — all we need is a moment of truth, a moment in which we see for ourselves that we are creating our reality, and we can change it, a moment of quietude into which wisdom flows.

Here is a little talk I offered in 2013 about finding peace on earth, my vision for the 21st Century:

 

 

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Right and Wrong: Painful Thoughts

Many of my clients are intensely engaged in a fruitless, frustrating effort to prove others wrong, or to get others to say or do what they expect. They come in angry and resentful because these people are “ruining” their life or “making” them miserable. They hang their happiness on getting what they think they “need” from people they who have “let them down”.

When”, I always ask them, “is the last time you complied with an angry, accusatory person who insisted that you do or say something?”

The usual response is, “Huh?” That is usually followed, “But you don’t understand. I’m right.”

Of course, in the state of mind we happen to be in, we all think we’re right. And, there’s the rub. Unless we know that “right” is our own thought, we are doomed to righteous indignation and seeking the company only of people who agree with us while demanding satisfaction from those who don’t.

Here’s an example. I was talking to someone who had gotten through a bitter divorce and arrived, painfully, at a shared custody agreement with her ex-husband regarding their young teenager. He started giving the teenager a tremendous amount of freedom, lots of money, and every material thing the teenager asked for. She was attempting to set boundaries, limit spending money and encourage her teenager to work for things that felt important. It wasn’t long before the teenager was playing one off against the other, and manifesting a lot of negative behaviors. So the mother demanded that the whole family go to counseling.

After one session, the counselor told her, “Well, of course, you’re right, but he’s not going to do anything you ask him to do. He feels if he supported your parenting style and helped you, it would be doing something for you, and he doesn’t want to do anything for you. He can’t stand you. So I think you have to work with things as they are, or maybe try to renegotiate your custody agreement.” The woman was devastated. She wanted an answer about how to create change, not a suggestion that she needed to get resigned to an untenable stand-off.

Right now, we live in a world that does not recognize that all people have the capacity to see their thinking for what it is and change their minds. We live in a world where resignation or argument is as good as it gets. We live in a world that assumes each person’s thinking is the way it is and nothing will change. We live in a world that gives all the power to situations, and no power whatsoever to the thinkers of the thoughts that created the situations in the first place.

In the resilient, dynamic, inside-out world represented by the Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought, that makes no sense at all. When our clients tell us that someone or something else is making them miserable or doing them wrong, we do not focus on “fixing” the situation or reinforcing their negative view. We focus on the only true source of power, the creative force of each person’s ability to think and think again, and see things for themselves, and appreciate their own unlimited power to change.

All of these situations we address are microcosms of the general failure to solve big problems in the world. People feel victimized by “intractable” situations, rather than seeing that their thinking about the situations is what is holding them in place.

Is it possible that a resentful ex-husband could come to understand that his negative thinking about the past is the source of his hateful feelings about his ex-wife, and question the wisdom of acting against his child’s best interest? Is it possible that an insecure ex-wife could see how her thinking, as well as his, played into the nastiness of the divorce, and question whether her own insecurity was preventing her from finding common ground about what is best for their child? Is it possible that a mental health educator who understood that thinking is a power we all can understand how to use could help resolve this situation?

Yes, Yes, and Yes.

Wake up, world! Wake up to the universal wisdom that could set us all free to resolve conflicts (large and small), create solutions (at home and in the world), and live at peace. It is one thought away from every person on the planet.

To find that thought — whatever healing insight is needed for the situation(s) we are in — all we need is a moment of truth, a moment in which we see for ourselves that we are creating our reality, and we can change it, a moment of quietude into which wisdom flows.

Here is a little talk I offered in 2013 about finding peace on earth, my vision for the 21st Century:

 

 

The post Right and Wrong: Painful Thoughts appeared first on Three Principles Living.

Right and Wrong: Painful Thoughts

Many of my clients are intensely engaged in a fruitless, frustrating effort to prove others wrong, or to get others to say or do what they expect. They come in angry and resentful because these people are “ruining” their life or “making” them miserable. They hang their happiness on getting what they think they “need” from people they who have “let them down”.

When”, I always ask them, “is the last time you complied with an angry, accusatory person who insisted that you do or say something?”

The usual response is, “Huh?” That is usually followed, “But you don’t understand. I’m right.”

Of course, in the state of mind we happen to be in, we all think we’re right. And, there’s the rub. Unless we know that “right” is our own thought, we are doomed to righteous indignation and seeking the company only of people who agree with us while demanding satisfaction from those who don’t.

Here’s an example. I was talking to someone who had gotten through a bitter divorce and arrived, painfully, at a shared custody agreement with her ex-husband regarding their young teenager. He started giving the teenager a tremendous amount of freedom, lots of money, and every material thing the teenager asked for. She was attempting to set boundaries, limit spending money and encourage her teenager to work for things that felt important. It wasn’t long before the teenager was playing one off against the other, and manifesting a lot of negative behaviors. So the mother demanded that the whole family go to counseling.

After one session, the counselor told her, “Well, of course, you’re right, but he’s not going to do anything you ask him to do. He feels if he supported your parenting style and helped you, it would be doing something for you, and he doesn’t want to do anything for you. He can’t stand you. So I think you have to work with things as they are, or maybe try to renegotiate your custody agreement.” The woman was devastated. She wanted an answer about how to create change, not a suggestion that she needed to get resigned to an untenable stand-off.

Right now, we live in a world that does not recognize that all people have the capacity to see their thinking for what it is and change their minds. We live in a world where resignation or argument is as good as it gets. We live in a world that assumes each person’s thinking is the way it is and nothing will change. We live in a world that gives all the power to situations, and no power whatsoever to the thinkers of the thoughts that created the situations in the first place.

In the resilient, dynamic, inside-out world represented by the Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought, that makes no sense at all. When our clients tell us that someone or something else is making them miserable or doing them wrong, we do not focus on “fixing” the situation or reinforcing their negative view. We focus on the only true source of power, the creative force of each person’s ability to think and think again, and see things for themselves, and appreciate their own unlimited power to change.

All of these situations we address are microcosms of the general failure to solve big problems in the world. People feel victimized by “intractable” situations, rather than seeing that their thinking about the situations is what is holding them in place.

Is it possible that a resentful ex-husband could come to understand that his negative thinking about the past is the source of his hateful feelings about his ex-wife, and question the wisdom of acting against his child’s best interest? Is it possible that an insecure ex-wife could see how her thinking, as well as his, played into the nastiness of the divorce, and question whether her own insecurity was preventing her from finding common ground about what is best for their child? Is it possible that a mental health educator who understood that thinking is a power we all can understand how to use could help resolve this situation?

Yes, Yes, and Yes.

Wake up, world! Wake up to the universal wisdom that could set us all free to resolve conflicts (large and small), create solutions (at home and in the world), and live at peace. It is one thought away from every person on the planet.

To find that thought — whatever healing insight is needed for the situation(s) we are in — all we need is a moment of truth, a moment in which we see for ourselves that we are creating our reality, and we can change it, a moment of quietude into which wisdom flows.

Here is a little talk I offered in 2013 about finding peace on earth, my vision for the 21st Century:

 

 

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Living a Dream

We are always living a dream. We cannot experience anything without thinking it first. Whatever thoughts we bring to mind create our experience, which lasts only as long as they are brought to mind. Our thoughts are uniquely our own; no two thinkers arrive at precisely the same thoughts, although many people can share a predilection for certain kinds of thoughts. So each life, truly, is a particular dream, experienced as it unfolds through each person’s thinking.

One of the first statements I saw from Sydney Banks is: “Life is a divine dream, suspended between time, space and matter.” I was fascinated by it, though I could not work out what it must mean at the time. It hung there in my imagination for a few years, equally puzzling to me each time I revisited it. Then I heard Syd speaking once about a conversation he had had with a scientist, in which Syd tried to point out that the constructs of time, space and matter are ideas we’ve made up to be able to talk about our universe. But the only truth is formless energy.  Peering through the thicket of already formed thoughts at formless energy is a pointless exercise. We are bound to be caught in the tangle of our thoughts, not seeing beyond them, if we try to work through them to clear a gateway to infinity.

That gave me the courage to ask Syd a question: “How can I understand that life is a divine dream, suspended between time, space and matter, if I cannot think about it?” At the time I asked that question, the only book Syd had published was Second Chance, in which there is considerable conversation about  SEEING (as opposed to seeing) and KNOWING (as opposed to knowing). The wise character in that book describes SEEING in these two passages, for example (although I highly recommend reading the entire book):

“Remember, I told you …. that there are more realities than meet the eye. This SEEING must come from an experience of SEEING another reality.” (p. 16)

“‘SEEING’ is what evolves man’s mind to a higher level of consciousness. It is this evolvement that enables him to psychologically understand himself and the world around him.” (p.26)

Syd did not answer my question directly, but instead asked me what I thought about Second Chance. I told him I was confused by it and did not know what it all meant. “Good,” he said, “it’s good to be able to admit you don’t know. That’s the opportunity for knowing. From a state of not knowing you are likely to SEE something new.”

So I remained baffled, but I dropped the whole idea of figuring it out. I found that acknowledging not knowing and being at peace with it had really quieted my mind down. Needing to know the answers all the time (a habit developed in elementary school where there was a high premium on being the first with your hand up) had been revving up my thinking a lot more than I had realized. From a quieter state of mind, I was able to glimpse that “SEEING” is spiritual and “seeing” is temporal: that is, SEEING is an experience beyond cognitive limits. SEEING is fluttering briefly into the emptiness before thought where you KNOW the power of thoughts forming, your own power to form thought, as a spiritual gift before form.  I realized that I had previously memorized, pondered about, and repeated the definitions of the Principles as they were always described, thus innocently focusing on the formed word to understand them, rather than awakening to the formless, the true Principles, the spiritual energy of all life in creation, before the words. I had been reading the notes, but missing the music.

That was one of the most exciting insights of my life, and it was a point of transformation. Oh, like all of us, I still talked about the logic of the Principles and described the inside-out outcomes of the ways we create and hold our thinking, but I knew that was all an interpretation of the point, not the point. Not the point. The point is beyond words, in Universal energy we all share and through which we become our formed selves. Seeing the pure energy at the source, though, we have certainty that anything we see or know now could change, simply with the formation of new thought. Access to that reality is through stillness, through quietude, not thinking harder.

Although we can talk about Thought and thoughts, we are pointing to the feeling of the power that frees us from any one thought to release the potential of infinite new thoughts. It doesn’t really matter what anyone thinks, how long they think it, or what they make of it, if they KNOW the Principles. That power is realized and experienced, not taught or learned. For me, in the instant I caught a glimpse of that, I SAW and KNEW the absolute absurdity of taking any thought seriously. No matter what. It’s no more possible to hang onto really beautiful thoughts than to drive away really ugly thoughts. They all pass naturally as the flow of formless energy continues to power us through life. We have to re-think them to “keep” them. When we SEE that for ourselves, we cannot possibly harm ourselves with our own thinking, any thinking. Because we KNOW we are living a dream brought to us by our unique imagination and the creative power of life. We know the dream is fleeting, evanescent, just images we create, passing across the screen of our minds, signifying nothing but the beautiful power to keep creating them.

For me, the depth of gratitude I feel for Sydney Banks for so simply expressing the possibility that any one of us, all of us, can SEE this for ourselves, is immeasurable.

 

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True Change: Beyond the Illusion

We all change a lot over time. We grow from babyhood through childhood and adulthood to old age, with all the physical and mental changes that accompany life stages. We gain and lose weight. We get in shape; we get out of shape. We change our hair. We adopt new styles. We change locations. We change relationships. We change professions. We change financial status. We change our preferences. We change our politics. We change our reading habits. We change our minds in the face of new information.

Those “changes” are all illusions of reality we experience as we think our way through life. They have nothing to do with the spiritual change inspired by the Three Principles. So it is all too easy for people to say, “I heard so-and-so speak, and now I’ve changed my mind about …” Or “I listened to a Syd Banks tape and it changed me from being all stressed out to being really calmed down.” None of those represent the change we are looking for from an ever-clearer understanding of the Principles that are the essence of life. Any time change appears to result  from some external interaction — with a person, an event, an incident, a book, a lecture, a tape — it is temporary and illusory. Even if it takes us in a better direction than we were heading, it is not true change.

True change is suddenly seeing a different world. It happens in an instant, from insight, and once it has happened, there is no going back. It is looking out through your own mind and eyes at the very same things or ideas you were just looking at and realizing they all look completely different to you. It is a realization of something suddenly so obvious that you can’t even imagine that you ever missed it. It is a surge of feeling, a sense of clarity and certainty that brings with it peace and freedom and hope beyond the limits of your intellectual knowledge of life.

Many people first engage with the Principles and immediately grasp the common sense of the idea that we create our experience of reality via thought. I couldn’t begin to count the number of clients who have sat across from me, nodding, and saying, “Uh-huh. Yup. That makes sense. I’ve thought that before.” — and they feel just the same as they did when they walked in the door. They were hearing and analyzing  the intellectual content of the logic, without any connection to the spiritual truth of it. They are thinking about thought as content, missing the power of Thought as a Principle, the absolute freedom to create anything from nothing. What they’re agreeing to won’t make any difference at that point because the missing piece is the unfathomable experience of spiritual change, which is both ordinary and amazing at the same time. When clients aren’t listening in neutral but are engaging the gears of the intellect, I stop talking about the Principles immediately. Whatever they take from that conversation at that level will just make it harder to hear their own wisdom. (If I stop talking about the Principles, what DO I talk about? It doesn’t matter — anything that comes to mind that seems right in the moment to just put the client’s mind to rest and allow them to clear their heads and stop trying to figure out what I’m saying.)

It is a fact that the Three Principles, described and defined, are a logical, explanatory framework. They even seem linear to people — mind powers thought which powers consciousness —  although the very idea of timeless, formless, immutable truths being linear, which is a time and space concept, is incomprehensible. People teach them like addition, or subtraction, or evaporation, or a million other simple things. It doesn’t take much for everyone to learn them. But then what? Big deal. When you keep adding items or taking items away, you get bigger or smaller numbers. If you leave a bowl of water out, it will eventually dry up. That kind of knowledge doesn’t do anything for anyone until something DAWNS on them — yes, just like the sun rising to illuminate the shadowy darkness — what it really means. It doesn’t awaken understanding that leads to peace, wisdom and freedom, until we SEE something deeper than the facts and the logic.

Remember when you were little and you learned to count? At first, the only point was you could delight your family by correctly telling them “how many.” But then when you saw the deeper implications of knowing “how many” — how that knowledge empowered you to interact with the world — counting meant something to you. It allowed you to discover things for yourself and see the world through fresh eyes.

Sydney Banks talks about (his capital letters intended) SEEING. When I first encountered that, in Second Chance (p. 15), I was totally baffled by it,  and even a little annoyed because when the word SEE was first uttered, Jonathan, the wise figure in the book, says, “I can’t tell you what I mean by SEEING. It is something you must experience for yourself.”  The intellect wants a definition and a chart. I was thinking my way through a book that was never intended to be analyzed like a regular book. The best advice I ever got was to stop wondering about it and trying to figure it out, and just leave my thinking alone. That’s what “reflection” means; turning to internal quietude and simply allowing new ideas to emerge from nowhere. That “nowhere” is the spiritual power of the Principles, the formless energy from which we are formed with everything we need to create the experience of our lives.

My first experience of SEEING was the realization of how many times I had already SEEN and truly changed in my life, when a new idea took form in my mind and completely eradicated everything I had previously thought about that subject. One example. At the age of 29, after 12 years of trying and  to quit smoking because I completely understood all the medical and scientific evidenced that it was bad for me and especially bad for ME because I was prone to bronchial infections, I SAW smoking differently. I had not been able to smoke while I was pregnant; it was one of those things that made me sick during that time. I couldn’t wait until after the baby was born so I could smoke again. When I was first home from the hospital with my beautiful baby girl, a friend brought me cigarettes. I was so excited! I sat down with her to have a smoke, and I looked down at my sweet baby in her little lacy bassinette, and I SAW: “I am in charge of the air she breathes. She has no choice.” Suddenly, the whole idea of me, or anyone else, smoking anywhere near my baby was unconscionable to me. It looked entirely different. I never smoked again and I never gave it a second thought. That insight, in a moment, completely erased all the struggles and efforts of quitting. Why would I even think about it? It simply made no sense to smoke.

We all have moments like that, again and again, but we rarely pause to reflect on what they mean, on how deeply true change affects us and how it simplifies our life. We expend a huge amount of time and effort figuring out strategies for change, when all that is needed is quietude and insight. Sometimes the change is small, and sometimes it is a hugely significant turning point. — Always it is clarifying, refreshing. Always it is a reminder of the spiritual power that is our birthright; the extraordinary gift of the Principles at work behind all of life.

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European Tour III: Day 9 – Thoughts on how NOT to teach the Principles

Day 9, Tuesday, June 29, 2015

I admit to having disturbed thoughts, stemming from a conversation I had yesterday, hearing about people teaching in the name of the Three Principles yet combining it with other things. If anyone thinks they can combine the Principles with any other practice they simply are not seeing the Principles deeply enough, and it would behoove them to spend their time seeing it more deeply before they teach, instead of teaching before they see it deeply.

I have complete confidence that when people see the Three Principles deeply enough they will no longer feel the need to combine it with anything else; in fact, they will see the futility of it. One cannot teach inside-out and outside-in at the same time and have it do anything but confuse people and give them the wrong idea.

As I’ve said many times before The Three Principles is a description, not a prescription. It’s a description of how our experience of life is always created, no exceptions, and how we are already everything we are looking for. When people see that at a deep enough level, their lives change. That’s what the Three Principles is all about.  If we see it at too shallow a level we think gaining the understanding, in and of itself, is not enough. I suggest people be a little cautious of those teachers trying to combine it, because you will not be exposing yourself to teachers with a deep enough understanding.

Teaching what you’ve not seen for yourself

Another thing my thinking is a little disturbed by is people who try to teach about what another person has seen for themselves. This is difficult to explain.

Suppose someone has Seen Oneness. That person can talk very powerfully about what s/he has seen. It can touch another’s life. Now suppose a person who has been touched by what that other person has seen tries to teach what that first person saw. It will not be heard! It is not their direct experience, even though they have been touched by it. Yet, what will be heard and have impact is that second person’s description of what happened to her/him when s/he heard the first person’s description of Oneness. Get the difference? We can only talk about our direct experience and expect it to have any impact. This and similar issues are what I need to address in my Extended Professional Training in Spain, beginning in October.

Alone on the Ferry

Enough of that, I find myself on a huge ferry—more like a cruise ship—heading over to the island of Naxos. It’s all me alone now. Then I disembarked.

Some of my colleagues who know the Greek Islands tried to talk me out of going to Naxos. I don’t know why. How can anyone not love Naxos? At least I do. By the way, that other island I originally wanted to go to but couldn’t because of logistics is Donoussa, not whatever I posted before. That would have been nice but I’m happy here.

I was looking for a particular type of beach, which Donoussa had, but as luck would have it so does Naxos, within walking distance of where I’m staying—a long walk, but nonetheless. Really nice beach here. One of the ingredients is white sand, because white sand doesn’t burn the feet. So I had both a long walk and a long swim yesterday, and started reading a book about my beloved Boston Red Sox. That’s what I need right now. Frivolous. Just entertain me, so I can totally relax.

However, most people don’t know this about me, but I am actually pretty shy, except when I’m in charge of a training group, so it is not as easy for me as it is for some to meet new people. I know that’s just thought, but it’s a lifelong habit. I don’t like to thrust myself upon others.  And here in Naxos, quite interestingly, I haven’t even heard anyone speak English, except if they’re trying to understand me out of necessity, like checking into the Anita’s Village Hotel in Aria Ana or at the grocery store. Besides Greek, all other tourists here seem to be from non-English speaking countries. Then there are the smokers, of which there are many here, and my tendency is to stay as far away from them as possible. So this could truly be a vacation of solitude—which actually suits me quite fine right now. I’ll only have my higher self as a friend. Good company. Oh yeah, my lower self could show up too. Bad company. We’ll see who prevails.

A great way to put on weightI had to order pastitio again last night, because my first attempt had been so disappointing. This one was fabulous, so, gluttonous as it is, I’m so glad I did it again. It’s a great way to get fat. Then I actually did some writing! I had interviewed Richard on the beach the other day—fabulous interview; his life has changed in so many ways (just by a deep understanding, by the way)—and there is a lot of great stuff in there to write.

Unfortunately my bed isn’t that comfortable and there was a mosquito in my room—no screens on the windows. Drove me nuts. It’s amazing what we can let the outside world do to us sometimes.

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European Tour III: Day 5 Sleeping on the beach

Day 5, Friday, June 25, 2015

It kind of amazes me how I can have such a good time and do such good work, having gone through what I’ve just been through in my relationship. But that speaks to the power of Thought and Consciousness.

The training worked out great, judging by the feedback I received. I think people are far better prepared now to do more effective work with clients. Richard had another monster insight. And I was surrounded by wonderful people, in the afternoon went to the beach with them, and after the session had dinner with them. And I absolutely fell in love with Greece.

This morning I went for a long walk and in the afternoon went for a long swim, so I got in my exercise, which was really necessary after pigging out so much at dinner and having really delicious ice cream after lunch (with my ice cream buddy, Richard). I was so exhausted in the afternoon that I actually fell asleep on the beach. Couldn’t have been a much better day. Now I can go on holiday for a while exploring Greece and the Islands, before having to work again in Russia.

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Is It Easy to Be Happy?

Recently I saw a new client who sobbed at the outset, “I don’t see how I will ever be happy again!” An hour later, as she left, she was laughing. “I’ve sure been a big drama queen with all that serious thinking, haven’t I?” she said.

How does a shift like that happen? In the simplest terms, it is the natural outcome of what Principles practitioners do that is new to treatment. We don’t take unhappiness seriously. We point people to the true, constant, unfailing, spiritual source of human happiness that nothing can touch. We teach people what mental well-being is, and where it comes from, and how we lose and regain our faith in it. They see the universal logic of it and realize what they’ve been doing to themselves with the innocent misuse of their own power. They “wake up” to the truth that, no matter what, deep down we are born to be at peace.

I write about these cases a lot, but it seems like we can’t tell this story enough. The way traditional therapy addresses psychological distress is not working effectively enough to stem the increase in stress, anxiety, and depression, the afflictions of the so-called “functional mentally ill,” because almost all approaches are attempting to give people tools to solve their problems or drugs to dull them. But the “problems” are slippery. They are the variable artifacts of the way people are thinking about them. And the more people and their therapists talk about them and dwell on them and take them seriously, the worse they appear. Principles practitioners realize we should not be treating people’s problems as though they have a reality of their own. We should be addressing people’s understanding of their states of mind, of the nature of thought, of the spiritual power we all have to create thought and take it more or less seriously. We should be helping them to understand when to take their own thinking to heart and when to let it pass and allow their minds to quiet.

We all take for granted without question the way our minds work on ordinary things. I go into a store and see an item I just love, but I don’t think I should spend the money. So I walk away. A few days later, I go back and think, “OK, if I love it that much, I should really buy it.” But when I look at it again, I don’t love it that much. Did the item change? No. My thinking about the item changed. I read recipes right before I go to the grocery store and I start thinking I really should try some of those exotic vegetables. I buy them. Two days later, I get ready to make dinner and I look at them and think, “Too much trouble. I’ll just make a salad.” Are the vegetables any less nutritious? Any less appealing? No. But my thinking about how much effort I’m willing to make to cook them has changed. No one would argue with examples like this.

But what about “serious problems?” That’s when we lose our perspective on the fact that things look different in different states of mind.  In the depth of seriousness, it really does look like there is no other way to see the problem. We forget that life is filled with ups and downs for all people, all the time. There are a lot of serious downs for everyone: we lose dear friends and loved ones; relationships fall apart; arguments escalate; bad things happen in the world; we lose homes and businesses to weather events; things break down just when we need them to work, investments fail; we fall victim to crime or violence. Everyone’s life can change in any moment. And in the midst of the worst things, we feel deeply painful emotions.

But here’s the thing about problems. You can’t change them.  You can only change how you approach them, how you think about them, how much of your peace of mind you are willing to give to them. The “drama” we suffer around problems is not a present moment, creative response.  The only way we experience drama is through dwelling on memories and regrets about what has happened, or dwelling on fear of what might happen next. In the present moment, with a clear head and a quiet mind, we just see how to move forward, one step at a time.

Here’s an example. I once worked with a client who, after years of what can only be called torture, finally escaped an abusive relationship and got far away from her abuser, to a place he would never find her or think to look for her. In a moment of clarity, she had an insight about how to do this and acted on it. For a few weeks, she was exhilarated in her new, free state. She found a job, found a place to live, started a new life. But then she started believing that her abuser would find her because she had let an old friend know that she was OK. What if the friend told him? What if the friend told someone else who told him? She couldn’t sleep nights. She was afraid every time she heard a footstep. She became, as she described, “a bunch of jangling nerves that never shut up.” She was just as terrified as she had been when she was living under the abuser’s roof. She started our conversation trembling, in tears, saying she would never, ever be free of him, no matter where she went. She insisted on closing the blinds to the room where we were meeting so no one could look in and see her. She had made her appointment under a false name and she arrived at the appointment wearing huge sunglasses with her long hair stuffed up under a wide-brimmed hat.

She wanted to talk to me about strategy. Should she move again? Should she chop off and dye her hair and have surgery to change her appearance? Should she change her name? Should she go to another country? She had thousands of thoughts about what she should or could do racing through her mind.

I wanted to talk to her about the beautiful feeling she had when she got the powerful insight about how to escape. She only needed to reconnect to that feeling, to that sense of peace and freedom and certainty, because in that feeling state, she would know what to do now.

I had no idea if any of her fears were justified, or if any of her ideas would work for her. It’s not my place to give advice to people because, in a calm state of mind, they are the experts on their own life choices. My job was to bring her back to the present moment and help her to quiet her frantic thinking and get calm. From that state, she would recognize the idea that would work out for her because her next insight would also come with an uplifting feeling in a moment of calm.

After a few sessions, she called me. She had read The Missing Link that I had shared with her, focusing on the passages about wisdom. She had done her best to quiet down and look in the direction I was pointing in our sessions. The morning she called me, it had dawned on her that she was working for a national corporation, a large big box store with thousands of locations all over the county, and she could ask her human resources department if there were any similar opportunities in different locations. She went right in to talk with them, and found out she could transfer to another state within a couple of weeks, if she was willing to move herself. She was making her plans to move. She had confided in her human resources advisor what her situation was, and the woman had a lot of compassion for her and was very helpful.

“This was such an obvious answer,” she said. “It was right in front of me the whole time. I just didn’t see it. Isn’t that weird? All of a sudden, it just popped into my head.”

Not weird at all, I assured her. It’s the guarantee of the human operating system. If we don’t over-ride the thinking that is natural to us, the easy flow of thought in the present moment, we keep getting the answers that make sense for us.

Did she really need to move? Was this the very best possible solution? It doesn’t matter. She found an answer she felt good about that made sense to her, and she found the understanding of where the answers come from that will continue to keep her safe. She found her happiness, and she knew where to look if she lost it again.

Was it easy?

To me, it’s the simple path to take. Trust that you have innate wisdom. See disquiet and insecurity as a sign you need to let your mind settle. Follow quiet and good feelings. They lead directly to happiness. When we are happy, “problems” fit into the tapestry of our lives and fade from the moment as understanding and solutions come to mind.

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Join me and my colleagues Dr. Bill Pettit and Christine Heath in June for a wonderful retreat, Awaken Joy!        We will share the incredible power of happiness and peace of mind to change our lives, and the world around us.

The post Is It Easy to Be Happy? appeared first on Three Principles Living.

Listen for a feeling

I will never forget the first time I sat in a big conference where Sydney Banks was speaking and heard him say, “Don’t listen to my words; listen for a feeling.” It was very early on in my exposure to the Principles, and I came close to fleeing the room.  As a hard-working, hard-charging business person in a service business, who had been a tough-minded newspaper reporter, I was highly educated and well-trained to listen to and pay close attention to words. Every word mattered. Getting people’s words “right” mattered.  I had a Master’s Degree with a focus on Linguistics, for heaven’s sake, and that was all about words. If you didn’t focus closely on words, you could end up being sued in my work. Feelings!? Huh???

I probably would have fled, except that I was seated in the middle of a row. I glanced around me; everyone was sitting quietly, unconcerned about what Syd had just said, just taking things in. I would have embarrassed the person who had brought me if I clambered over a bunch of quiet people to rush for an exit, and I was also trained to be courteous. So I sat there, trying not to display my restless confusion, wondering what the heck it meant to “listen for a feeling.” I didn’t hear much else that day because, of course, I could not figure that out. So I was still puzzling over it on the drive home.

On the way, I asked the person who had brought me. The ambiguous answer infuriated me, but I kept that to myself, too, for the sake of politeness. “I imagine it means something different to each person who hears it. You have to see it for yourself.” I turned on the radio, hoping to mask how annoyed I was.  That night, I lay in bed in turmoil. “Listen for a feeling,” just four ordinary little words, and they were so outside of my world when strung together that I could make no sense of them at all. I had spent more than an hour in the audience of the talk of a self-confessed uneducated person, and I had no idea of the meaning of what I had heard. Yet hundreds of other people in the room seemed to think it was wonderful. During the break, I didn’t hear a single other soul complain about being perplexed.

When I confessed my fear that whatever this was, it just wasn’t for me — too weird and airy-fairy — to my mentor, he just laughed and said, “Let it go. Just relax. It will all come together for you when you stop trying so hard.”

“But, but,” I spluttered. “I run a business. You guys are trying to turn my brain to mush.”

“Sorry,” he said. “We don’t have that kind of power. You can only do that to yourself. But don’t worry about it. It won’t last. How about we go get some lunch?”

Oh, I tell you, in the beginning these people were maddening! The more agitated I became, the less interested they were in talking about it (unlike most of my friends). But I admit that lunch and a few jokes and some trivial conversation that day cheered me up.

OK, I was at a turning point. I could walk away from a group of people who seemed to me to be uncommonly happy, contented, productive and kind, who seemed to really enjoy their lives, and thereby lose any chance of learning what they knew that I didn’t. Or I could just stop worrying about it and hang out with them, as they suggested, and see what happened if I wasn’t analyzing every single word they said to me.  It was not actually a tough choice. What person who aspired to sanity would walk away from people who clearly cared, had my best interests at heart, and really wanted things to work out well for me? Despite my prickly attitude, they actually seemed to like me; they were immune to taking offense.

Fast forward a year, a wonderful year of soaking in the experience of spending a lot of time with high-spirited, high-minded, compassionate people who just loved their work and life in general. I took the advice to “thank my brain for sharing” when a bunch of questions would start popping up in my head, and I discovered quietude. I discovered having no need whatsoever to keep talking when I had nothing contributory to say. Everyone noticed how much calmer I was.

And then, one magical day, I “heard” the feeling. I can remember that moment with the exactness of a perfectly enlarged and preserved photograph. I was holding a staff meeting with my employees. We had been struggling for a while with how to handle a particularly difficult — all right, abusive — client who was also a major contributor to our income. That afternoon, I just “saw” that I had to put an end to our contract with that client, no matter the financial implications. I had an insight of total moral and ethical clarity; it served no one to go along with abuse for the sake of money. I gathered my staff, after notifying the client, and I told them what I had done. They immediately launched a barrage of technical questions, but instead of hearing their questions, what I heard was, “they are all feeling insecure about this.” The feeling of insecurity loomed in my mind much larger than any specific question.

“You know what,” I said, “we don’t need to worry about all these details right now. We will work it out. And I have tremendous confidence in all of us staying together, working together, and doing just great together. This is just a moment in time. We have no idea, yet, what we might be able to accomplish without spending so much time on a negative situation, so let’s just have our coffee and cookies and enjoy some free time together.”

There was zero precedent for that in my previous work life. The “old” me, the one who couldn’t even imagine listening for a feeling and following that, instead of my intellect, would have forged on, trying to answer each and every question, getting into the weeds of what it would be like to extricate ourselves from a contract, keeping the meeting going until every last question was discussed for as long as people wanted to keep talking about it. I would have been drawing charts and lists up on the board, sending people out to find certain files for reference, calling our attorney and our accountant, focusing on the words people were saying as though, if I really got to the bottom of everyone’s concerns, it would all work out just great.

The “new” me, the one who heard the feeling, simply realized that what my staff needed was reassurance and getting their minds off their fearful questions until they could enjoy their freedom and think fresh. And you know what? That was absolutely perfect. We chatted and had coffee and the cookies someone always brought to our meetings, then went back to work. Within a few days, I had reviewed the dissolution with our attorney and our accountant and I had a game plan. We had a brief meeting; everyone saw what they needed to do, and it turned into a routine business transaction. No biggie.

The big surprise, though, was that my staff relaxed so much once that was behind us that they actually became ambassadors for our work. Our existing clients started telling their friends and colleagues how much they were enjoying working with us, and how pleasant our staff was. Within a year, we had nearly doubled our business.

And from that one meeting forward, that one time I was so fortunate that my head had cleared and my heart had heard, I lost my attachment to my intellect, and I lived in a world of feelings and responded to them with love and care, just as my mentors had responded to me.

Oh, wow! It was so simple, when I let it be simple.

I don’t mean to suggest that I turned into a lifelong model of great leadership with that one big insight. We’re all human; we drop into insecurity before we even see it coming; we do things we regret; we second-guess our own wisdom. But there was one permanent change in my life. That anxious, analytical, revved-up state did not, I repeat, did not feel normal to me, did not feel good to me. It wasn’t my baseline any more. I saw it as a warning sign to slow down and try to weather it until it passed, rather than a green light to create a lot of activity around me. My intent was to regain my good feelings as soon as I could. I did my best not to pay much attention to my own complicated thinking at those times. And I always knew that the quieter, calmer more insightful me was the real me, the true me, the core me that could be sidelined but would always be ready to step back into the game.

Once any of us sees that, we cannot be tricked by our own minds. We know where we are, and we find our way as long as we listen for a feeling.

The post Listen for a feeling appeared first on Three Principles Living.

Problem solving from the Inside-Out with Michael Neill

Join Michael Neill live or live-streaming on the 20th and 21st of March alongside Jack Pransky as they take on the practicalities of problem-solving from the inside-out. They’ll also be taking an insightful look into our deeper potential and the amazing capacity for insight which makes change possible for anyone, in any situation and at any time. Details of these events are here.

Problem solvingProblem solving

The post Problem solving from the Inside-Out with Michael Neill appeared first on Center for Inside-Out Understanding.