Going With The Flow

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories, Essential Topics

Life is so much smoother when we flow with it rather than against it. Resisting life is like holding a cat by the tail and petting it backwards – not very fun and a great way to get mauled. I love that image for some reason, by the way – it really gets the point across. Anyway, I was reminded of this by a client who had really “gotten it” after just one session (read He Got It!). He’s college-aged, so we were talking about majors, jobs, and the like. He has no idea what he wants to study or do for a living later, but he didn’t care. He said something to the effect of, “I want to let it find me.” Whoa.

He was basically saying that he wants to flow downstream, with life. This doesn’t mean to be lazy and do nothing, just waiting for the phone to ring. It’s quite the opposite, actually. We still work hard and put forth great effort, but we have a different attitude. We let go of trying to control things. I mean, let’s face it – if we tell the truth, we aren’t really in control of that much… So he’s going to dive right in and give it his all in school. He’s going to work hard, but without the tight, stressed out attitude. This will allow him to have fun at the same time. Will he feel stress at times? Absolutely, because that’s a normal, built-in part of school. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. Now that he knows that he can just let it pass through him, though, without making a problem out of it, he’s no longer afraid of stress. Not afraid of stress? Excellent! Now, that’s a good plan. And it’s all simply because he learned about it and practiced what he learned when things came up.

Back to the topic of going with the flow, I was very excited to hear my client say that he wanted to let his major find him. When we take that attitude, it can really speed things up in life. We’ve all experienced times when we were “in the flow” – that’s what we’re talking about here. My client mentioned how some days it seems everything goes right and other days it seems everything goes wrong. He said that some days the lights are all green and other days they seem to all be red. I took it a step further and said that the attitude we want to develop, and all it takes is practice, is that we don’t care! We’re going to roll with it no matter what kind of day it seems to be. Even when we’re sitting at yet another red light, we can take a couple breaths and just sit there waiting for it to turn green, not making a problem about it or bitching about it. That only makes us feel worse, and what’s more, it’s self-inflicted pain (not good). Instead, why not just sit there and relax? Red lights are a great place to let go of our stress, too. So we are making the choice that sitting at those red lights is being in the flow – that’s what the flow looks like right now. We don’t have to wait for one of those good days – we can make the choice everyday.

An important thing to note is that going with the flow takes practice for most of us – definitely for me… The first step is simply noticing our resistance throughout the day, both big and small resistance – it’s all the same. It happens fast. There’s a feeling that goes with the resistance, too, which is good news. That means you can learn to release it. Releasing it then and there gets you out of your head and into the present moment. At that point you can remind yourself of the situation and what your options are. That works much better than saying NO to what has already just happened. Because it has already just happened…

Good luck, happy practicing, and as always, let me know if I can help. And don’t beat yourself up when you catch yourself resisting – just stop. And breath. And let go. And laugh! Life is much smoother that way…

He Got It!

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

I had quite an amazing session with a client recently. Why? Because he got it! When he came in the first time, he had been feeling low and depressed for about a year and a half. A couple of big things had happened at that time that shook his self-esteem. He wasn’t his old self who was confident and comfortable in his own skin. He wanted to be that guy again.

We had a nice long first session, about 90 minutes, which I like to do in order to really be able to give someone tools for peace that they can use literally as soon as they walk out the door. So we did that, and all seemed fine. He decided to reschedule for one week later in order to check in and see how he was doing with this new way of seeing things. Note: remember that you can always go to the BEGIN HERE! category of this blog for a refresher on this new way of seeing things (which is not really new at all – just new for most of us).

So he came in a week later and looked great – very light and happy. I asked him how the week had gone, and he said it was pretty stressful. It was one of those weeks when lots of things went wrong. There was a frustrating issue with school that was out of his control, there was “girl drama,” and there was a situation with a bodybuilder meathead who wanted to fight (I love when that happens). This all sounds normal to me, because I’ve noticed in myself and in my clients that when people start to do this kind of inner work, life sometimes throws the kitchen sink at them right away. We could debate about why this is, but to me, it’s not important. Now we know how to handle it, so it’s no big deal. It gives us confidence, too, that it’s taking more and more to rattle us. Thus we’re on the path to inner peace. And that feels very, very good. Back to the story…

As my client told me about all of this drama, he was glowing the whole time – it was clear that these events didn’t touch him. I asked him how he thought he handled it all, and he said he was very pleased. Not long ago, he would’ve been depressed and now he was ebullient (SAT Word Alert… I’m a math major, so I get excited when I use big words. I’m not even sure I know what this word means, but I don’t care because I’m so excited about it. Back to the story.).

Why wasn’t my client depressed this time, beating himself up? What on earth had changed? He explained that since we had talked only a week before, none of this stuff bothered him. He was so ready to hear what I had to say that he was able to embrace it and implement it immediately. Remember that it always comes down to two things – feeling and thinking (because the things that happen to us are largely out of our control). He nailed the feeling part, letting feelings flow through him without getting stuck in the body and hanging around. He was truly blown away by how they would dissipate when he would go inward and just wordlessly let go of them, letting them be there but making sure he wasn’t holding onto them. Feelings won’t be able to have much power over him for the rest of his life. I explained that the only thing that can happen now is that bigger things can go wrong – worse things can happen. In these cases, the rules are exactly the same but the volume is turned up. That’s all. So he has feelings down pat – totally demystified. Now they’re only feelings – no big deal. Awesome.

Regarding his thinking, he had corrected that as well. The voice in the head was effectively neutered in favor of real, conscious, active thinking. He stopped the negative voice in the head that runs on repeat and replaced it. He went from being asleep to being awake. Amazing.

While he was telling me this, I was sitting there getting happier and happier, realizing that this kid had gotten it! I actually had to ask less than halfway through the session what he needed me for? How should we spend the rest of the time? Not a bad dilemma to have… We continued to talk for the rest of the session, and then we parted ways. He has my card and will contact me as needed if/when things come up. I explained that there’s no failure in life – just practice. We review the things that went south, ask ourselves how we handled them, and look for any improvement. There’s no harshness if we see room for improvement – we just learn and wait for the next opportunity. And if we like how we handled it, then we pat ourselves on the shoulder. He was very happy with how he had handled all of this. He knew that in the recent past he would’ve beaten himself up and ended up feeling depressed. Now those feelings are gone. Gone. He also felt totally confident being himself, talking to people, etc. Mission accomplished. Now he just has to live and practice, letting A Clean Mind get more and more cemented. It really does become habit, replacing the habit of freaking out and beating ourselves up. What a nice upgrade…

I don’t know why some people are more ready than others to let go of their old dysfunctional habits of mind, but some are. I don’t know why some people grasp the whole “feeling without the story/letting go/releasing” thing more than others, but some do. Today I just wanted to share the tale of one of those people who was ready.

NOTE: All of these client stories are told with no identifying information and of course with permission from the clients. My only interest in sharing these stories is to help more and more people find peace, and these clients are interested in the same thing. There is no pressure on the clients to allow their story to be told. Finally, note that these stories are always told at a certain point in time.

When they are told, it is unknown how the future will unfold. Feelings are powerful, thoughts are powerful, and the past is powerful. New and old issues might emerge after progress is made. If that happens, though, we know how to deal with it. In these cases, I’ll write up the rest of the story if and when appropriate. As said before, it’s all about helping more and more people find peace.

I Totally Drove My Car Into A Flood

Posted Posted in My Stories

As I mentioned in the post on timing, I drove my car into waist deep water in broad daylight a few months ago. Now I will come clean with what went down. This story illustrates how a person who makes his living teaching people how to be as peaceful as possible might handle such a situation. Did I do a “perfect” job at it? Definitely not! But was it WAY better than it would have been before I learned how to be more at peace? Oh hells yeah…

So we had this crazy, random flood in Pensacola earlier this summer (June 2012). It rained and rained and rained. It was the most rain in a 24-hour period here since 1934. That includes legendary hurricanes Camille (1969), Frederic (1979 – the first I remember at age 6), Ivan (2004), and all of the other ones since 1934. Really?? Yes. That’s a lot of rain…

So I had been helping an old friend hold a ladder in his attic because he was trying to deal with a leaky chimney. It was around noon. I was headed home to take a nap on the couch. What better to do on a weekend day with non-stop rain? I was driving down a road I’ve driven down a thousand times, totally on auto-pilot. My friend later told me he felt guilty for not telling me to avoid that road, because it tends to flood pretty badly. I thanked him and told him absolutely no worries – I still have two good eyes and could’ve seen the lake I drove into. Plus, who knows what is good or bad? It would be easy to label this as bad, but I’m not qualified to judge. The engine could’ve blown up on the way to a friend’s wedding a month after. Maybe I was spared from that experience? I simply do not know. Back to the story…

So I’m driving down this street headed home. Now, I’m in my trusty 1999 Subaru with 254K miles on it, all driven by me. Australian for car. All wheel drive. Great clearance. I’ve lived in the mountains and have driven in many hairy places in this car, so I’m not even slightly worried. I was driving like it was any other day, thinking about how good that couch was going to feel.

And then I hit the water. I remember thinking something like, “Damn, that’s all the way up to my tires.” At that point, the thing to do clearly would’ve been to slam on the brakes, look around, and assess the situation. Did I do that? No. That didn’t even cross my mind, in fact. I probably had a split second thought that went something like, “How could it get deeper than this?” In the next instant, though, it did. And I realized in that moment that I had really messed up. It happened very quickly, and all of a sudden, the car felt weird, like the back wheels were floating. The engine stopped. Adrenalin kicked in, and I tried to restart the car. No dice. Then water started coming in around where my feet were. Adrenalin really kicked in now, since any movie I’ve ever seen where a car goes off a bridge into water came into my mind. Same feeling, even though I’m clearly not in a life or death situation. A very weird feeling. I tried to open the door, and it wouldn’t open because of the water pressure. At this point, I told myself, “You screwed up, dude, but it’s done. Gotta deal with the situation.” The electrical system still worked, so I rolled the window down and climbed out, Dukes of Hazzard style, into waste deep water. Now it’s time to deal.

This angel of a guy was right there watching the whole time, and he helped me pull the car as far as we could toward dry ground and then tow it out with his truck. His truck ended up being too low, but another truck drove by right at that moment that was higher. The driver backed into the water as far as he could and towed me out. He drove off before I could thank him, probably to go help someone else. Or many other people. My car was destroyed, but it was in a parking space at least, out of the way. Water had come up to the middle of the steering wheel. Engine ruined, electrical ruined. Car ruined.

A friend drove by right when the car got moved and asked what had happened. I said, “I’ve screwed up, that’s what’s happened! But it’s done. What are you doing?” He had his neighbor in his car, and this guy had done the same thing a block over. So I hopped in and we went and towed that guy’s car out to higher ground.

During all of this, there was no time to beat myself up or think about how bad this was. This is because we had things to do. When all was done, though, and I got back home, that’s when those thoughts were able to start coming. As they came, though, I let them go. I did my best to not let my mind race. It had happened, so I had to accept it. There’s no time machine to go back and simply step on the brakes at that one crucial moment. Or take another route home. I did lots of feeling and releasing (read about Feelings 101 or The Sedona Method). Feeling very angry was normal in that situation. Feeling utterly stupid and idiotic was normal in that situation. Feeling sad was normal in that situation (me and my car were pretty tight). But just feel and let the feelings flow through without getting stuck. They just need to be felt, and then they can move on. That’s the Law of Feelings (that they don’t teach us growing up despite being able to put a man on the moon).

I was in a bit of a pissy mood the next couple of days, and I know that I was short with people. I was aware of it, though, so I tried to limit my interactions as much as possible. I did my best without judging it, and I continued to feel and let it go. LOTS of feeling. Move forward and deal with it. Friends and family were hugely helpful in loaning me cars, and then I eventually found my next car. I don’t like buying cars, so that was stressful. But I know how to handle stress, so I didn’t make a problem out of it. Just keep letting it go.

Looking back now, I can say that everything has worked out very well. Things happen, and you deal with them. Had I not been disciplined with my thoughts, though, I would’ve continually beat myself up, making me feel a thousand times worse. And had I not known about feelings (including stress), I would’ve felt a thousand times worse. I stuck to the plan, practiced what I preach, and it minimized the pain. I wasn’t exactly in a state of bliss right after this experience, but feeling low for a couple of days isn’t bad after something like that, especially when I’m not exactly printing cash as a new counselor growing his private practice. When I would stress about the financial aspect, I would sit and breathe and feel and let it go. And it would pass. That’s the fast way. I felt the financial stress in my stomach and chest – it’s very interesting noting where we hold different things in the body. But we always drop the story, relax into it, and it can exit our system.

Well, that’s the story about my car. It took the insurance company several days to tow it, and since the electrical didn’t work and I had put the windows up, it was a moldy, mildewy mess. Standing water everywhere. Terrible, terrible stench. Hot, sunny June days. That pathetic sight and smell made me feel very sad that she was going out this way after all we had been through. I felt I had disrespected her. In those moments, though, I had no choice but to once again drop the story and let the sadness totally be there but let it go. Don’t hold onto it.

Now I’m bonding with my new car, which looks remarkably like my old one except newer and a different make. It’s the 2.0 version. All has worked out fine. I had no idea how it would work out at the time, but I had to stop my mind in its tracks whenever I would start to worry about it. Of course the mind would worry about it! That’s normal in that situation. But it’s also useless, so just stop in that moment. Take a breath and get out of the head. And then if I have to do some real thinking, then do it. But the voice in the head was not allowed to do the usual droning on that it likes to do. No negative commentary. Real thinking or not, but no voice in the head.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this recap. The whole point is that I’ve learned how to be more peaceful than I used to be, even when I totally kill my beloved car, and for that I’m very, very grateful. So grateful. This is a path that leads to more and more peace, despite what’s going on in the world. I continue to learn and practice it, and you can too. And it makes all the difference.

It’s Just A Brain State!

Posted Posted in Other Cool Topics

Earlier this year, I read a book called Wired For Joy by Laurel Mellin that was very interesting. There are two main points that I think most people could benefit from. The first involves something called neuroplasticity, which is a property that our brains have. Simply put, it means that your brain has the ability to change. People who have been practicing being stressed out for a long time have a tendency to stay stressed out. Imagine deep ruts in a country road. The more time the person has spent in stress, the deeper the ruts are. But here’s the good news – neuroplasticity means that those ruts can become more and more shallow until they aren’t even there anymore. If this person has learned how to handle stress and has spent more time in peace, then the “peace ruts” will develop. Which is a good thing. I guess we might need a metaphor other than ruts, though…

To elaborate a bit on neuroplasticity, neuroscientists (aka brain scientists) like to say, “What fires together wires together.” This simply means that if you spend most of your time in peace, your brain will literally change so that it’s easier for it to both stay in peace and to return to peace when it’s stressed. The “peace ruts” are getting deeper and deeper, which is great! Peace is becoming your more normal state. And no, I haven’t thought of a new metaphor yet… The other side of the coin, though, is that if you spend most of your time in stress, your brain will change so that it’s easier for it to stay in stress as well as to return to stress when it’s in peace. Which isn’t very cool. So we want to learn how to spend more of our time in peace, so that the brain gets used to that state and changes accordingly.

The other main thing I got from Wired For Joy is that according to Dr. Mellin’s neuroscience research from the last several decades, a person is in any one of five brain states at any given time – that’s all. These are called Brain States 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Brain State 1 is total peace and Brain State 5 is total stress. The others are in between, so that 2 is pretty peaceful, 3 is slightly stressed but not bad, and 4 is pretty stressed out. Every moment of your life, you’re in one of these brain states.

So why am I excited about this and why do I think this knowledge can help you in your daily life? I’m excited about this, and I share the author’s huge excitement about this, because this means that when you’re totally stressed out, either in Brain State 4 or 5, it’s just a brain state! It’s not personal. You’re not bad or damaged or diminished. It’s not the end of the world. It’s just that the reptilian part of your brain that evolved eons ago has taken over. It was designed to protect us when survival was different than it usually is now. Think caveman/cavewoman times. They weren’t doing much higher math and poetry back then. The brain has continued to evolve, with the more recent parts being responsible for higher thinking. When you’re being chased by a lion, though, it’s not the time to do higher thinking. You need some cortisol pumping to get you going so you can survive. The same thing is happening when you’re stressed. But there’s no lion.

So the first thing to take away from this part about brain states is that it’s just a brain state, with a certain part of the brain in charge. It’s not personal. You still have to deal with the stressor(s), though, so I’m not saying that life is all roses when you’re facing being evicted form your house. But knowing about the brain states can help you calm down to better deal with the situation. To think more clearly. To communicate better.

The next question is, how do I change brain states? That’s what the book is ultimately about. Mellin teaches you how to identify which state you’re in, and then she gives a corresponding tool for that state that’s designed to move you up to 1. The only exception is that the tool for 5 gets you either to 4 or 1, but if you’re in 4 then you can use that tool to get to 1. They’ve done lots of research with the effectiveness of the tools for each state.

There’s an iPhone app (I’m not sure if it’s available for other smartphones) that might help even without the book. And it you want to learn more online, search for Emotional Brain Training (EBT), which is the name of Dr. Mellin’s group.

Now here’s the only thing that doesn’t work for me. The tools, while amazing, are a bit cumbersome for me. I prefer the more simple and instantaneous release of The Sedona Method, which I’ve written about before. That works very well for me, especially after much practice. My releasing process has gotten shorter and sweeter. I don’t have to figure out which state I’m in and then use a tool that takes a few minutes. That’s just me, though. If you recognize that you’re living in 4 or 5 much of the time and are having trouble breaking free, then I’d definitely recommend taking the time to identify which state and try that tool. Then you’ll be in a much better place to handle those stressful situations. And what’s more, what fires together wires together, so you’ll be hardwiring your brain to spend more time in peace and joy. Once you’re more used to snapping out of stress, something simpler like The Sedona Method might work. But if that works already, then I don’t think you have much use for the brain state tools. Just knowing about them might be all you need. Either way, let’s continue to take control of our peace and spend more time living there!

Timing

Posted Posted in Other Cool Topics

This is a pretty big one, because we think we know what’s best and when. But if we really take an honest look, we don’t. For instance, I drove my car into waist deep water in broad daylight a few months ago (it was this strange flood in Pensacola). It was instantly dead. That’s a pretty easy one to say, “This is definitely bad – it shouldn’t have happened.” Of course that’s true, right? Wrong. For all I know, the engine could’ve blown up a week later and now I’m spared that experience. Don’t resist timing. Let it be just how it is, when it is. Because it already is that way anyway…

We only resist the timing of things that we don’t want to happen. Nobody complains about timing when they win the lottery. But when something bad happens, and especially when many bad things happen together or in succession, we have a problem with it. We feel like a helpless victim. Instead, we might want to think of it as life bringing us these things right on time. Don’t worry about the reason, though. Tell yourself right away when things go south that life is bringing you this right now, right on time. So just deal with the situation. When we stop resisting the timing of things, we can handle them better anyway.

Keep this in mind next time bad things happen “at the wrong time.” There is no wrong time. Byron Katie says something like, “When you argue with reality, you lose – but only 100% of the time.” I love that! So true… Arguing with the timing of things is just another way of arguing with reality – it’s happened, it’s done, handle the situation. And when you catch yourself resisting timing, just stop. Take a breath. Feel any tightness inside and let it go. Remind yourself that whatever happened has happened. Life has brought it to you right at that moment, right on time. Handle the situation. Done. It doesn’t mean you wanted this to happen, but this minimizes the pain. We already didn’t want it to happen, so let’s not make it worse by having a problem with the timing.

Divorce/Breakup

Posted Posted in Other Cool Topics

I’ve noticed lots of divorce recently, so I thought I’d write about it. But before we begin, let’s keep in mind that the spiritual teachers would say that no person or relationship defines who you are or has anything to do with your true worth. So that’s nice. Here we go…

There are supposedly around seven billion people on earth, and most of them are simply not compatible to live together as life partners. Sometimes they attempt this in what’s known as marriage, and at some point one or both of them realizes that it just isn’t working. If this is the case, they’re probably better off splitting up and parting ways. That’s fine. So why does is get so complicated? There are many reasons. Some of these reasons involve kids, a house, bank accounts, pets, other assets, etc. But those things have to be dealt with one at a time, and whether it’s smooth or contentious, they will be. These are not the reasons I’m interested in, though.

One reason that interests me regarding why divorce gets more complicated than it needs to be is that we call it “divorce” and then pile on our societal or cultural or religious beliefs about “divorce,” none of which are necessarily true, and then we have a much bigger problem than we had before. Otherwise, it’s just two people who are not compatible.

Dropping the story is especially essential for folks who have been divorced multiple times. The same rules we’ve been talking about still hold true – it’s just happened more than once. But the core of who you really are is unchanged and unfazed. Drop the story, let go of the pain that’s there (allowing it to first be there, of course), and continue living. At least you’ve given marriage a good try! But when someone thinks they’re damaged goods because they’ve been divorced more than once, that’s BS. It’s a story that is not true. Even if it seems like many people believe it, it’s still not true. Most people used to think the earth was flat. Think about that when you’re being influenced by mass beliefs or societal beliefs or cultural beliefs. The earth never was flat, but everyone believed it and they’d burn you at the stake if you said otherwise. I know that life can be extra stressful or painful when you’re going against mass belief. The truth is still true, though, so stick to your guns, be willing to let those feelings pass though you and run their course, and you’ll be much better off.

Another thing that makes divorce complicated is something we definitely can’t ignore – the pain. We all know how much pain can be involved with divorce or any breakup. Pain is inherent in something like this – it’s a built-in part of that situation. It’s normal, and there’s no avoiding it. It flows in, stays awhile, and flows out. Like always, though, we don’t want to make it worse by not feeling it and by letting our thinking run wild. Feel the pain without the story and it’s not nearly as bad. I mean, it’s there anyway, and this is the fastest way out. It can eventually run its course and leave rather than getting stuck.

The pain is compounded when one person wants it but the other person does not. Let’s face it – that feels terrible. It’s rejection, basically. The universal law of feelings still haven’t changed, though. At A Clean Mind, we are no longer afraid of feelings! That painful feeling flows in, it stays awhile, and it flows out. We remind ourselves that this pain is normal under the circumstances. If there is anything we can do about the relationship, we do it. If it’s over, though, we must face that fact. When we’re willing to experience that pain without the story, though, and meet it face to face, it can pass. This is just a case of when the pain is ramped way up. The volume is turned up. The same laws apply, though.

That’s my take on divorce and breakup in general. If it has happened, we must accept it, feel the feelings, and drop the story. This lets us handle any other details like kids, common assets, etc. much better than we otherwise would. And my firm belief as a logical math guy who has studied deep stuff far and wide is that the core of who you truly are at the end of the day, when all is said and done, is literally unchanged. We’ve covered up that truth with who we think we are, though, the character called Ashley, for instance, which pales in comparison to reality. Ashley is temporary. The spiritual teachers say who were really are is not temporary. I’ve said before that we’ll get deeper and deeper here at A Clean Mind as time goes on. In the meantime, though, if you’d like to discuss that type of thing feel free to contact me one-on-one. Other than that, I wish you peace, whether you’ve been divorced or not!

Breakdown

Posted Posted in Other Cool Topics

This is for people who have experienced some type of “breakdown” or know people who have. It’s probably more common than you think. It can be known as a “nervous breakdown,” a “psychological break,” or just a “break” for short (don’t you just love therapy slang?). These are all umbrella terms, though, meaning that the experiences vary greatly. In many cases, the person was really just stressed beyond his/her ability to handle it and needed some  help.

The way I see things, this isn’t really that odd. Life can be pretty stressful, and sometimes we get overloaded. A Clean Mind is all about whacking stress the second we notice it in our bodies; this way it can’t build up. We keep pressing the reset button by releasing it right then and there, even in the grocery store or in the car or in the office or during a conversation with someone. A big part of this, as I’ve said many times, is by understanding that stress is normal and that it’s okay for it to be there. Let it be there and let it flow out when it’s time. And by the way, I use the word “stress” in a pretty general sense – that’s very useful and accurate, I think.

In my job and in my life, I’ve come across many people who seem to be perfectly “normal” (as if there were such a thing), but who’ve been overloaded before and had what was called a “break.” To them I would say don’t worry about it. Seriously. Just learn how to handle stress as it comes, though – that’s important. This “break” doesn’t define who you are at all. It’s in the past. Maybe it turned out to be your greatest teacher. Regarding what society thinks, always remember that society used to think the earth was flat – I never keep that too far out of mind. I mean, how hilarious! And how insightful…

Nobody’s true worth is defined by the past, regardless of what “everybody else” thinks. And there’s a good chance you’re doing some mind reading about what everybody else thinks anyway, making assumptions that aren’t true. Let it go and move forward. If there’s truth in what you’re hearing, then act on it. But don’t make it a bigger deal than it needs to be. Own it and make changes or don’t, but don’t feel defeated and damaged, because that’s useless. The past is still just the past. The question is, what are you going to do about it? Chill out, relax, and know that the rest of your life starts now.

In time, I’ll get deeper here at A Clean Mind regarding my thoughts on whether or not we’re really a body and how important the details here on earth are. I don’t think that now is the time, though. If you’d like to discuss this, then I’d love to. I feel like I’ve been through the “spiritual ringer” and have a decent perspective on it. For now, though, let’s just say that the details here might not be as important as we think. And yes, I know about the concept of karma and how it seems to be so linear (I’m A Course In Miracles student, though…). I’d focus on healing your interpersonal relationships – I’m pretty sure that’s where it’s at. Whoa – we’ve drifted into forgiveness, which is pretty huge and pretty misunderstood, I think. Back to the subject…

If you’ve had a “break” or know someone who has, there’s a chance that it might not be as bad as you think going forward. Check out Byron Katie’s story (last paragraph) she went from halfway house to spiritual teacher. But you can’t escape learning a whole lot about yourself. Let this experience be your teacher. And as always, if I can help, let me know.

Out Of Gas

Posted Posted in My Stories

This post illustrates A Clean Mind in action with something that seems trivial. It’s a great example of something small that can be the seed that grows and contributes to our being stressed out later in the day. But instead we can just whack it right then and there. Here we go…

After having my Subaru for 13 years and 254K miles, I drove it into four feet of water in a huge flood a few months ago. Broad daylight. No excuse. Totally avoidable. Instantaneous death of my car. I never thought this could possibly happen to me. This will be the subject of another post down the line, by the way. Anyway, I now have a VW Jetta diesel. It has a digital gas gauge, which is totally different than the one on my Subaru. After 13 years, I was intimately familiar with that needle as far as how close it was to running out of gas. That needle and I were one. Now I have no idea. When it’s on that last little digital block, I don’t know what that means. It doesn’t slowly dwindle from there, because there are no more digital blocks left – I guess it just disappears! The car said that I had 5 miles to go a few couple of hours ago, and I had assumed I could go much further. Time to go to the gas station.

Now, the whole diesel thing is new to me, so I’m learning that not all gas stations even have diesel gas. I was driving to one I knew of for sure, and that “5 miles to go” changed all of a sudden to “0 miles to go.” Sweet! I was pretty close to the gas station, so that was good. But with me staring at “0 miles to go,” the situation was definitely a bit tighter now. I was cool, though. I reminded myself that there was nothing I could do except what I could control – turn off the AC and put the windows down. Drive slowly. Use neutral when safe. Stay in the right lane as much as possible so as to be able to pull over if necessary. I was aware that the body was amped up a bit, but I was just aware of it, letting it be there without thought. It was normal to feel that way in this situation. No big deal. No other reaction necessary.

So I got to the station, and not all the pumps have diesel. I had only used one that had it, so for all I knew this was the only one. I pulled up to it, and what did it say? Out of order. Did I react? No. Why not? Because I’ve been practicing! I noticed the body react with some internal fireworks right away – it happens in a split second – but there was no thought because I know better. Just calmly walk over to the other side where there are more pumps and see if one of them has diesel. So I did that and sure enough one of them had diesel and I was all good. Had it not had diesel, I would’ve dealt with that in the best way possible. But until I knew I was in that situation, there’s absolutely no need for the mind to bother with it. It would only make me stressed out.

My point in telling this seemingly random, everyday story about getting gas is that there’s no reason to freak out and make things worse. Even a small freak out doesn’t help. Just check the other pump. And have I always been like this? No! I’ve learned and practiced “not freaking out” enough that it takes more and more to rattle me. Do I get rattled? Yes. Just not as often, though, and it’s getting better all the time.

When I got this car, my grandfather told me to watch out for the habit of a lifetime – reaching for that 87 octane pump. He said I could put something obvious like a skull and crossbones sticker by the gas cap to make it obvious. I laughed. He’s awesome… The habit of a lifetime that I’m talking about, though, is freaking out right away, jumping to conclusions, etc. And by “freak out” I don’t mean a full blown episode, but rather just letting the mind start running and doing its commentary. That chatter that does no good. Just calmly check the other pump.

Another big message here is that small, everyday challenges – even tiny things – are GREAT to practice on. Then bigger things will come up as tests to see how you’re doing You can often count on your family for that, too, as we all know. That’s another blog post, though… And to my family if you’re reading this – you’re awesome! Please keep in mind that I hear lots of people’s stories in my work… I hope that gets me out of hot water…