From my perspective, what allows me to help people is all based on the years of meditation I did following my accident. That was very fortunately incited by a young doctor who was just wondering along with me, where people go when they are dead and then brought back to life.
That soon lead to all sorts of very Buddhist-like meditations regarding identity, the nature of ‘I,’ consciousness, and the nature of reality. And those constant meditations all proved fantastically fruitful –from my perspective.
From the student’s perspective, what often feels most different is they generally feel that I have an unusually keen insight into their psyches. They see that ability –and the one above– as being the same thing. While they certainly are connected, I think there is value in teasing these two ideas apart.
The idea of thoughts as reality, or the nature of consciousness, represent very deep and philosophical –even spiritual– ideas. But most people don’t start deep and go shallow, they start shallow and later go deep.
This means, for most students, they see the training as less about their spirit and much more about their psychology. They want help with daily life, that’s why they see more value in my ability to perceive hidden aspects of their psyche. Plus learning about ourselves is fun.
How I do this is difficult to describe. I’ve written before about how Daniel Tammet can ‘see’ mathematical forms. He doesn’t really do any calculations, he vaguely describes perceiving something more like shapes and colours. From there he can determine things like an extremely high prime number. I can relate to that a bit, because what I ‘see’ feels very precise as well.
Below is a video featuring another acquired savant (the ‘acquired’ part being a person who developed a savant ability following an injury or illness). In situations involving accidents or illnesses, most people are left worse off. But it goes differently for a lucky few.
Savants end up with some deficits as well, but we get to trade those for benefits. Some suddenly become great artists, others can calculate remarkable things or have fantastic memories. In the case used as the focus for the video, a man was beaten, had a head injury, and as a result he ended up becoming a sophisticated mathematician regarding any subject relating to pi.
This man’s story was comforting for me was because I could relate to his strange sense of both beauty and isolation. What happened to this fellow with pi happened to me with the logic of the psyche. As he looks around he sees math, and I can really relate to that because when I listen to people what I ‘see’ feels very close to math.
I see people’s psyche’s as having plenty of room for flexibility but, like math, the very nature of having a psyche means that it is structured and often predictable. That’s why we each experience the same kinds of challenges, we have repetitive arguments, or date the same kinds of people.
Any psyche is nothing more than a set of unconscious tests that we filter reality through, and clues about our filters lay hidden in our language and in how and where and when we use it. This is where my unusual ability shows up.
As people speak, word by word, pause by pause, juxtaposition by juxtaposition, I ‘see’ their personality form like a sculpture of their inner life. The context, timing, word choices, grammar, pacing, cadence, and body language etc. etc. all come at me like unfolding, logical data points. I can still have misinterpretations, but they are often corrected by more data/listening.
Having done this since I was five years old, conversations now appear to me much like a detailed and precise flow of building blocks that combine and recombine with the Tetris-like predictability of atoms or chemical formulas.
Over time, my model for a person becomes increasingly accurate, which is what allows me to help. This ability allows me to, in effect, ‘see’ the world through the student’s eyes to some degree. Once the model is specific enough, I can ‘see’ which realities people are inclined to block out and which they would be likely to invite in.
By showing people their hidden assumptions and how they likely arrived at them, people can appreciate the logic in their mistakes. In turn, they quickly recognize their ‘problems’ as meaningless thought-based barriers to their success, which in turn gives them increased feelings of freedom and strength.
In truth, people are rarely stopped by the world, but we are often crippled by our comprehension of it. That’s why making ourselves more conscious is so valuable. Unlike psychology, this training is less about what we perceive and more about how we how and why we perceive what we do. Once people can see that, they blossom.
If you think you make no sense, you can rest assured you are mistaken. Even people doing what appear to be the ‘craziest’ things are making a form of sense. And once they can appreciate the sense in what they are doing, they all tend to quite naturally move past their old boundaries. They become someone new by simply making different choices that are all based on their new and clearer vision.
I help people gain that vision, but the strength and clarity they feel in their lives is not generated by the training, it was always within them. The training is just what allows people to get out of their own way so that they can realize more of their potential. So never mistake your thoughts for your potential. Our potential is always magnificent, but our thoughts can be small enough to make us feel tiny.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.