Know Thyself

1335 Relax and Succeed - Where do our choices come from

I’ve noted before that one of the advantages of working with younger people is that they’ll often play video games, and there will be patterns to which games they are attracted to. This can tell me (or a parent) a massive amount about how that kid sees the world and their place in it.

Do they like cooperative games, or ones where it’s every person for themselves? Do they like to destroy enemies, or co-opt them? What kind of avatar do they use? After all, that is the face they chose to show the world. That is how they want the world to see them. That might be a facetious use of a character or wishful thinking, we have to listen more to know. But the things we’re interested in say a great deal about who we are.

This applies to fashion, hairstyles, what movies or series we watch, what books we’ll read, and what sort of jobs we’ll take, as well as what people or organizations we’ll invest energy in. Despite the fact that these are completely guided by how we see the world, it is amazing how few people even begin to look for patterns in the things they consume.

Why do we like some characters in stories and not others? Why do we like some kinds of stories and not others? What do our tastes tell us about our view of the world?

And what about those closest to us? Parents, siblings, spouses, children, business partners, coaches etc. What do they like and what can that tell us about them and how can that knowledge improve our relationships?

Some people (like me) prefer to spend time with people smarter than us, and different from us, who can challenge us with ways of thinking we haven’t encountered before. Others are more intimidated by new information or change and prefer to associate with only those that already agree with their current world view.

Do we like books about weak individuals? Are our favourite movies all about little people defeating big people? Do we dislike ambiguous endings and abstract art, or do we prefer it? Do we like games where we build things, or destroy things?

1335 Relax and Succeed - The things we're interested in

Do we like board or card games that require tricking others, or by negotiating in good faith? Do we avoid playfully spiteful board games or card games (Aggravation and Spite and Malice have those names for a reason), or do we prefer games with multiple ways to win?

Maybe we like shocking hairstyles or fashion that helps us gauge how open new people are. Or maybe we’re a teacher, and we prefer the quiet studious kids to those that are more kinetic and that might become ballet dancers or athletes. Knowing that can help us make decisions about our joy and our growth.

Since knowing ourselves can add value to our lives, let’s take the rest of the week and let’s look at our own lives. Let’s study our bookshelves, music collections, wardrobe and even our relationships etc. And then let us ask ourselves what these things say about how we see the world and our place in it.

While no way to be or set of interests is right or wrong, these things do influence which decisions we’ll make, and therefore which challenges we’ll face in life. They’ll also inform where we’ll feel comfortable, or where we’ll experience more stress. These represent our ‘crosses to bear.’

The aim here isn’t to improve ourselves or others, it’s merely to know ourselves and others better because that creates more empathy and better relations.  And that knowledge can help us enormously when it comes to making decisions about our future.

For those that engage in this seriously, if you’ve never thought of yourself in these terms before, prepare for some surprising self-discoveries along the way. We’ll all likely find patterns that we didn’t even know we subconsciously had chosen.

All this being the case, let’s all take the rest of the week and get to know ourselves. After all, we’re worth it.

peace. s

The Trouble With Now

387 Relax and Succeed - The power of now

I’m reading Eckhart Tolle’s book “The Power of Now” but I’m not getting why he thinks Now is such a big deal. What am I missing?

Now or Never

Dear Never,

Let’s start by letting you know that you are in good company. When the book was first released I had many people contact me, asking if my sessions could help make sense of that book.  There is great value in it, but of the many books on the same subject, it is one of the more difficult ones for many people.

What you are missing is The Power of Now, in a fairly literal sense. This may prove helpful. Sometimes things are easier to see from farther away.

You’re likely thinking of Now as a time, but in fact it’s the only time. As remarkable as it may seem, the book points out that the concept of linear time is an invention —an illusion— and our belief in it is what keeps the door to Now shut.

So rather than it being a time, think of Now more as ‘silence-as-a-verb.’ It’s about not-thinking.

Thinking is what creates our sense of separateness and it’s also what places us in time. Without it we are like children —we are fully awake and alive in the moment we are in. That is why children learn so phenomenally fast.

I’ve said it many times; most of us learned at least one language by the time we were two years old, including a large vocabulary and the ability to do algebra in real time because if we couldn’t do that then we couldn’t assemble those words into coherent ideas using grammar.

Consider that we all did all of that learning without anyone really attempting to even teach 99% of it, and we were also functioning without any sense of trying to grow or learn. We were just being. Being is where the wisdom’s at.

387 Relax and Succeed - Forever is composed of nows

Now is a very specific place/mindset/time. It is ultimately when 100% of our lives take place. But by using super-subtle narratives of thought and pre-loaded beliefs, we can create scenarios in our consciousness in which we are lonely, or offended, or hurt. We can also tell ourselves positive stories and feel happy or satisfied or warm, but that still requires having a Being to experience the happiness or satisfaction or warmth.

Even better is to have no Being at all. To not be anyone. To be free and clear. To be transparent. To be alive, but not be a life. To have no story. To simply be. This is awareness itself. That is what it is to live in the Now.

Eckhart’s not kidding —it’s a pretty amazing place to live. The most important thing I can say is that you cannot try to achieve Now. It’s not something achievable in the classic sense. Instead, it must be realized.

We don’t find it by seeking it, or learning about it, or meditating on it. We  realize it by being it, which is why in my own work I focus on psychological experiences rather than ‘teaching.’

The idea is not to learn about Now, but to become One with Now. Like a child, we must learn again to function without time. Without definition. We are verbs. In being so, we surrender the story of our personal identity in favour of diving into the Present Moment.

Now is an important idea. It is important to study our assumptions and re-consider our beliefs. And we need to actually practice going quiet. Completely quiet. Because a profound silence deep within ourselves is the only access point to Now.

We can open that door, but the key is to quiet your chattering story-telling ego. Without a string of words describing the past or future, we are left in the gap before our mind assigns reality any qualities. This is a place of grace, and the journey we take to find it is well worth it.

If the book felt difficult, that was largely only because we have been so strongly taught to see the world in a linear, described fashion. But Now is a natural place that we relax into discovering. We want to return to the state of mind we had as children, before we all knew language, before we could use it to fabricate a past and present with words.

Our limitations are created by our word-based thoughts. Cease them, and we are all left together, basking in The Power of Now.

Good luck with your reading.

peace. s