Self-Consciousness and Consciousness of Self are Two Different States of Being

1367 Relax and Succeed - We make more sense than we think

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.

peace. s

Accepting Reality

1285 Relax and Succeed - We can make any experience our teacher

I used to run the precusor to what a website now is. It was linked up three other writer’s BBS’s. One of those guys took his time off during the writer’s strike to create a TV series that did very well. It was built around a character named Garfield that a guy he knew was trying to sell as a cartoon to newspapers. At the time I think Mark was writing on Cheers. He essentially described sitcoms this way: Act One a guy gets a date, Act Two he steps in dog poo, and Act Three was when the poo got from his shoe to his hat.

If viewed the right way, re-starting the blog right before a pile of unforeseen complications is a bit like being in a sitcom. Either I laugh at the unlikely nature of each additional complication or I perform a narrative docu-drama in my head about a sick person with a heavy workload. Which one sounds like a good investment of my consciousness to you?

Maybe I flick past that sad brain-channel a couple times to test it. But the fact that it feels bad is my signal to change channels to something that expands me (which, granted, sometimes can be the sad thing). We can make any experience our teacher, so I’m better to face adversity in a way that allows me to practice the act of learning from the experiences.

By staying conscious instead of thinking about the past or the future too much, I was aware that some unusual surprises to my schedule had me unusually run down. So it wasn’t surprising when a simple head cold took me out. That was win number one: when I got sick I didn’t feel disappointed. I looked at the facts and being sick made a lot of sense. So I slid into acceptance of the fact that life was just doing what it often predictably does. I had no motivation to feel my illness was ‘unfair’ in any way.

I did quickly and necessarily calculate the illnesses negative impacts to my schedule and life, but that process didn’t take long because before I was even done adding things up I realized that there was no way I was getting it all done, so it wasn’t like the volume was the issue, it was the priority.

I could have had a meaningless debate in my head about how important my entire list was, but that’s obvious because the things were on my schedule in the first place. But equally obvious was the fact that clearly it all wasn’t possible to get done while being sick, so the question was only: what should be sacrificed? Any thoughts about what ifs or I wish it were’s would only be consciousness-time invested in meaningless thinking.

…but why not feel guilty later about the stuff that is late?

Did you see that?

Pretty subtle wasn’t it? I just bent reality back there. I torqued time. (We all do things like that routinely, but try and tell someone to do it voluntarily and suddenly we’re all full of excuses about why we can’t.)

If I got sick because I was harried then clearly my schedule was over-full. No one is really motivated to keep their schedule over-full except the few people who are using that schedule to avoid something that maybe should be on their schedule. But for the rest of us our schedules are as they are because it’s just a part of life that reality will often give us more marbles than jar.

If you asked me the day before I got sick, all of those things were must-dos by a certain dates. Yet by getting sick, I managed to push the future back to a later date, allowing me to prioritize the important things and then pepper the rest into the following weeks until I’m caught up. Some of the dates on those musts didn’t appear flexible until they needed to be. Such is the triage required for adult life.

Yet still it’s easy to imagine you asking, but why not feel guilty later about the stuff that is late? The answer is acceptance. I don’t believe I should feel guilty when what’s happened is reasonable, and getting sick is a part of life.

The day before I got ill was the end of a period of working past a reasonable limit and that eventually caught up with me. Since I was aware that I was gambling the gains of the extra work against the risk of making myself ill, when I got sick my brain immediately went into acceptance mode because the extra work had been done consciously, with the knowledge that there was a risk and reward trade-off in action.

1285 Relax and Succeed - If we've only thought of one

This is the big advantage of living in the Now. Decisions are conscious; where we think about what we’re truly choosing and all the ways it could potentially go. If we’ve only thought of one expected and desired consequence of any decision or choice, then we haven’t really thought about that choice at all.

By living in the now, I make my later easier because rather than wonder why I got sick, I can instead accept that the gamble that I took means that I sometimes do not win. Again, there is little to no war of words in my head about how it should be the other way when it simply isn’t. I can’t change the deal I made with the world after the fact, I can only ensure that when I make it I am conscious. That one small thing could save many from a lot of suffering.

To whatever degree we can, we benefit by avoiding the act of filling our heads with self-talk about how we wish things were, or how bad the price will be, or even blaming the person we believe lead to our problem or made us ill. Having these initial thoughts is natural and none of us should criticize ourselves for having immediate reactions. But entertaining them without serious consideration can steal our lives away if we don’t remain vigilant about our thinking.

Enjoy your days.

peace. s

PS Because my parent-care schedule makes this challenging, if you guys spot any typos or formatting errors in a blog, feel free to message me through the facebook page or here.

The Emotional Wobbles

1209 Relax and Succeed - Happy piggy desk wobblerBoing. Maybe you even have one of these wobblers on your desk or dashboard. They remind me of people. When we’re younger we have an idea of our lives that is unperturbed. It’s starts as a straight line. We have a general direction and lots of energy and we see no reason why our crisp clean dreams won’t line up.

But dreams are a form of expectation, and when we’re young we tend to overvalue the happiness that will be derived from the achieving the expectation, which leads to unhealthy attachments. Simultaneously we undervalue our own internal peace. Many of us can remember some early, less mature relationships that we took to be true love, when really those were just some of our first encounters with non-familial love, so they felt a bit intense due to a lack of contrast. We overreact because we don’t have that spectrum of experience to balance things with yet.

Our love is true then in the sense that we see none of the person’s undesirable traits when we look at them, but when we have limited experience it’ll be highly conditional love based on the person meeting our expectations, which were based on our dreams. But they can’t act out our dreams. They have a dream of their own that they expect us to be a part of. And when we both first feel that impact to our egocentric, thought-based dreams, it sends us reeling. Our pendulum naturally swings hard to one side, which in turn generates a near-equal and immediate response and we all fly back in the opposite direction.

1209 Relax and Succeed - Things that matterBecause your dreams of your future depend on this person loving you, you are prepared to reach too far to bend yourself into your dream. But the more you demand, the more the person insists on being themselves and the more they move away from you, and the push and pull between your ego and spirit have you penduluming back and forth for a while before you calm down. (As an example, think of how teens and parents push against each other’s wills.)

What you really want in your life is love, but if you mistake the person for the love then you can end up wobbling strongly off your center in your attempt to connect to them, when in fact you’re actually reaching for a finger instead of noticing that it’s pointing at the moon. You eventually surrender your dream as you realise you’ve miscast it. As you wobble your way out of those thoughts your emotional swings are consistently less dramatic until life gets almost too still and too boring.

Over time we get sanguine about the impacts. As each hit comes and does the same thing, and as we see ourselves react, it’s not like our life is rocked less; it’s more that we accept the extreme motion as a natural result of the intensity of the original event. Rather than making it worse by hurrying to calm it, we learn to just ride it more like a seasoned circus performer whose act is to gracefully balance. They can do that because they stop focusing on the external motion and they focus instead on maintaining their internal center of balance.

1209 Relax and Succeed - Focus on the goal not the obstacles

With any event, the less you focus on the impact and the faster you focus on the way out, the better. But this means letting go of our attachments and even after we’ve grown in wisdom, that’s not a painless process. But then again, we need some sources of sorrow too, don’t we? Otherwise we’d lose all of the beautiful relevant art as well as all of the empathetic experiences we share and connect through.

Allow yourself to swing from side to side when you’ve taken a hit. But don’t make that emotional sway your identity. You’re still the thinker of those thoughts, you’re not the thoughts themselves. You still get to choose your thoughts and your attitude about life. They’ll just get interrupted by emotional extremes while your wobbles are extreme. But once you feel them, use that as a signal to reset and calm your internal voices.

Over time, and by nature, the swings always reduce in intensity as you learn to let your internal arguments go. And by the time you’re life is too still, a part of you will be secretly conspiring to get some drama back. Because deep down our spirit likes that drama. You can tell because, when you stop to think about it, most of our wobbles actually originate with us.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.