I Don’t Care How I Feel!

Posted Posted in Essential Topics, Tools & Techniques

I have a different view of feelings than many people, and I’ve talked about it a lot on this blog. That’s because understanding feelings (and thus not making a big deal out of them) is so important to being at peace. When you experience for yourself that feelings are nothing more than nameless, temporary energy in the body, then they just aren’t as big a deal as they used to be. You know that no matter what else is true, if it’s a feeling then it will pass. Period. It’s job is to pass – no feeling in the history of the world has ever been permanent. They just don’t have that power. And I know some have seemed pretty permanent, but they aren’t if you look closely.

So let’s ramp it up a bit and give you a tool that might be useful in the heat of the moment. To sum this attitude up, we could say, “I don’t care how I feel.” That’s a nice, succinct phrase that you can tell yourself to snap out of it when you’re not feeling so hot and you’re making a big deal about it. The voice in the head loves to comment on how we feel when we’re not feeling good. And this, of course, makes it worse. When I catch myself doing this, I nip it in the bud right away by saying, “I don’t care how my body feels now – I’m going about my day anyway.” And it works! Pretty cool. It works because I mean it. I don’t have that voice saying, “Yeah that’s cool and all, but… you don’t feel so good and that’s bad.” It’s not like that voice doesn’t try to be heard, but I don’t really let it be heard. And when it does talk, I don’t really listen to it. Instead, I just correct it by saying again, “I don’t care how I feel – I’m going about my day anyway! No big deal.” After a while, you might notice that you feel fine. You basically made the decision to just let those feelings pass. When you went on with your day, they did just that – they passed. Good work.

Let’s note that this is not the same thing as denial or suppression of feelings. We aren’t pretending that the bad feeling, whatever particular flavor it might be, isn’t there. We’re actually saying it is totally there, but we’re not afraid of it. We’re willing to let it be there because we know it’s temporary. And we’re willing to feel it thoroughly, but with absolutely no commentary from the voice in the head. Then it’s just nameless energy in the body that hangs out a while and then goes. No big deal.

Try this out for yourself and see what happens. This is all meant to be experienced by you and not taken as truth – it doesn’t work that way. And know that if it’s a new way of doing things, you should give it some time. And like pretty much everything, it generally takes practice. As always, let me know if I can help! Life is much smoother when we really don’t care how our body feels. Then feelings are able to flow through us without getting stuck. And then… feelings just aren’t a problem in our lives anymore. How nice!

P.S. This doesn’t mean you’re a zombie who doesn’t feel anything. It seems that there’s a natural joy that’s underneath all of this stuff that we’re letting go of. And that feels pretty nice…


Posted Posted in Other Cool Topics

We might as well go ahead and get this post written, since the End of Times is drawing near. Just kidding! Maybe there will be some upheaval in the physical world, but I don’t think so. And if so, we’ll deal with it then. I’ve always seen this as the end of a huge cycle and the beginning of the next one. There are some funny cartoons about that, too. I posted a couple good ones on my Facebook page.

I view this more as a consciousness shift than something physical. Perhaps a time of acceleration. Have you noticed any upheaval in your personal life this year? If so, just roll with it – don’t resist it. Out with the old and in with the new. Like the snake shedding its skin so it can grow more in the new one.

One thing I’ll be interested in will be the effects of mass thought about 2012 on random number generators throughout the world. I’ll have to write about this in more detail later. It’s very cool, though. There are these random number generators, or RNGs, scattered around the world in various places like science labs. They just spit out random numbers all day everyday. The interesting thing is that when there are significant events that many people around the world are paying attention to at the same time, they sort of sync up. They become coherent. It’s been years since I learned about this, so I’ll have to do some homework and then write in more detail, but the idea is that these machines are affected by the coherent, focused thoughts of many people. In other words, mind over matter. Literally! Some big past events that caused them to sync up in a statistically-significant way are the reading of the O.J. Simpson verdict and the events of 9/11. Millions of people were tuned into the same thing, watching the TV set, and these RNGs around the world – these freaking machines – noticed! They were affected in such a way that couldn’t have been by chance. The odds would have been very, very, very tiny, anyway. Pretty cool. The implications of this are huge. It means that your thoughts aren’t locked away in your head, separated from the rest of the world. That’s quite a bit different than how most of us are taught to see things…

Back to 2012, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. I’d definitely let go of any parts of your life that seem to be breaking up, though. Don’t resist it and just let it go. Lots of spiritual folks are pretty uptight about 2012 as well. I’d drop that, too – I think you’ll grow much faster if you do. When you stop trying so hard to “evolve yourself,” then something much bigger can take the reins. I’d rather have that be in charge. And aside from all of that, there might be some pretty sweet 2012 parties coming up. Enjoy!

Client Kicks Ass!

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

I had a client totally kick ass after just one session, and I’m really excited (I tend to get more excited than they do). What he did is pretty subtle, but it’s a big part of what my work with people is really all about. It’s simple stuff that most people don’t do. He did, and he had more peace. Go figure… So he came in once and then came in a couple weeks later to report on his experience. Here’s what happened. And it’s not glamorous at all, but it’s a radically different way of living when you really think about it, especially when you take it out into the future. That’s years of stress and anger and sadness that will flow through instead of building up. And that makes a big difference – it can even cause health problems down the line. I’ve seen lots of gastrointestinal problems related to stress, for instance. Is gastrointestinal really a word? It sounds good enough to me. Anyway, here we go…

The first thing he did occurred while he was at work. He was on a deadline, and something happened that was totally out of his control that slowed things down. Basically, he needed something from somebody in order to meet this deadline. On the day he was to receive what he needed, he learned that that person needed emergency surgery. Can’t do anything about that! He said that in the past, he would’ve spent some time and energy being angry about what had happened and maybe even wasting time complaining to his supervisor, who might complain right along with him about how this sucks. After that, of course, he would’ve handled the situation. What needs to be done now? What are my options? Order what he needed from someone else who does the same service.

So what did he do this time that was so amazing, in my professional opinion? He skipped the part about bitching and moaning and just… ordered what he needed from someone else who does the same service. Thank you! This was a simple choice that he made where there was no choice before, and he ended up not losing his peace. He came in, learned some simple things, and then applied them in his life when a situation arose. It’s so simple, but nobody can do it for you but you. And this is more about not-doing than doing. He didn’t really do anything at all. Rather, he did not do the freak out. And he was at peace. Amazing. This is small, but this is what the path to inner peace looks like. No joke. Things get magnified, but the same rules apply.

The other thing he did that I was very impressed with was to ask for a five-minute break during an argument with his wife. She wasn’t necessarily happy that he was doing this before the issue was resolved, but she must be happy with the results. He cooled off, letting the rising anger in his body flow through without getting stuck, and then he returned to deal with the situation. The version of him that left was angry, and the version that returned was much different. Which version would you want to negotiate with? He was calmer and clearer, and guess what happened? They resolved the situation. Yes! This guy probably thinks I’m crazy because I was so excited about hearing this. I was excited because he did something so simple, and it worked! Most people don’t do this. I guess they like to argue or just don’t know another way. Well, there’s definitely another way. Arguing is just another way of expressing anger – that’s all. It’s not rocket science. What do you call it when you remove the expressing of anger from an argument? Talking. I much prefer talking, myself…

I suggested that he might explain to his wife exactly why he took that short break. This way, she’ll support it in the future. Sometimes when my clients take this mid-argument timeout for the first time, their partner starts yelling at them about running away and not resolving things. This makes them even more angry, which makes the chances of resolving the problem go down even more. It’s nice to be on the same page so that the partner knows that anger has built up to the point that the person is expressing and is not  exactly in good shape to be communicating and fixing things. Let the anger pass and then it’s a much better time to communicate and fix things.

Well, that’s my story for today, folks. It’s so simple and yet so powerful. And it just takes practice. I love my job! Sometimes we have to be sick enough of our old ways that we’ll try something different. If that’s the case, argue away! But there’s another way to live whenever you’re ready. And I know that many of you are ready now and are doing great. Know that I applaud you. At some point I’ll probably write about why we might be addicted to our various flavors of dysfunction. Just bust yourself in the moment and let it go. Anyway, keep up the good work and of course let me know if I can help!

Let Go And Laugh At Yourself

Posted Posted in Other Cool Topics, Tools & Techniques

An essential thing for being able to let go and flow downstream with life is to be willing and able to laugh at yourself. Like most of what we talk about here at A Clean Mind, all it takes is practice. I certainly still have room for improvement in this area, but who cares? It doesn’t take much for a huge shift, and it’s getting better and better all the time.

The first time I remember really laughing at myself occurred two grad schools ago during “the math years.” I was driving home from Gainesville to Pensacola, and I had recently discontinued the intense energetic/yogic path I had been on called Arhatic Yoga. For the past 12-18 months, I had been working so hard at “evolving,” with a spiritual practice that took about 60-90 minutes a day. I was pretty tight about this spiritual evolution thing, as you might guess. A little voice kept telling me that I didn’t have to do all of this work, that it wasn’t truly necessary. Finally, I listened to this voice and stopped. And it felt great.

Let me say at this point that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with yoga. What’s more, I’m not talking about Hatha Yoga here, which is what most of us think about when we think of yoga. The word yoga means “to yoke” or to unite or join, to merge. Most people think of it as merging with our “higher soul.” Merging self with Self. Hatha yoga is basically the physical part, the physical poses that are done in the typical yoga class. Arhatic yoga was comprised mainly of very heavy duty meditations of different flavors. The energetic aspect of it was pretty intense and was definitely not subtle. Very powerful stuff. Back to the story…

It seems like whenever I’ve moved on from something, the next thing has appeared right away. In this case, I had what I needed to answer my questions in the form of the teachings of two spiritual teachers named Eckhart Tolle and Gangaji. I had a 4-CD set of Eckhart Tolle’s called Eckhart Tolle’s Findhorn Retreat (live from Findhorn, Scotland). Then there were two 1-CD audio programs from Gangaji called Beyond Practice and Spiritual Traps. This stuff was exactly what I needed! It was pretty uncanny…

So I’m driving down I-10 West, headed home to lovely Pensacola. I was listening to Tolle from Findhorn, and he started describing how most humans are, always freaking out about things and living in their heads, and he was laughing. And I realized that he was clearly laughing at me. And right away, I started laughing at me! It was a big, hearty belly laugh, and it was awesome. It was freeing, and it was a huge release. In that laugh, he had helped me snap out of taking myself so seriously. Life is way easier that way. I mean, we really don’t know much about what’s going on in the big picture. We really aren’t in control of our lives as much as we think. This can be disorienting at first, but when you get used to it life is much easier. Now you don’t have to know everything, you don’t have to control everything. Life is simpler. It might look the same on the outside, but it’s much more relaxed on the inside.

So when you’re feeling tight and life might not be going so smoothly, let go and laugh at yourself. Laugh at all of your efforts. You’ve tried! This is not a mean laugh but a very gentle laugh. A healing laugh. Life is much easier when you do this, and it’s much more fun, too. And if I can do it, anybody can. All it takes is practice. And I have plenty of practicing to do…

What If You Were Going To Die Soon?

Posted Posted in Other Cool Topics, Tools & Techniques

This one has been around a while, but not many people actually do it. Just ask yourself if you were going to die soon, what would jump way up on your priority list? I’d say go ahead and take care of that list. Then you can enjoy your life more.

I was reminded of this by a friend who actually does it. And it works! It gives him a quick shift when he needs it. I call that type of thing a quick attitude adjustment. It’s a specific tool he has at his disposal at all times. It’s quick and simple and gets results. I love it.

This tool could be used when we’re being lazy or passive and we want to get out and live more. It could be used for bigger things, too. I always feel like our interpersonal relationships are what life is really about at the end of the day. This means you have the opportunity to make any phone calls or send any letters, emails, or texts to do your part to heal strained relationships. When you do this, it’s probably a good idea to sit down, close your eyes, go inward, and feel any feelings that you’ve been carrying related to that person/situation. Get those feelings moving so they can leave, which is what they want to do anyway. When you’ve done this, you’re more cleared out and can proceed better.

When it comes to actually communicating with this person, know that the result is not what it’s about. It’s simply about you saying what you need to say to feel better. We don’t rely on the other person acting a certain way for us to be happy. That’s outer peace, and it doesn’t work for long. We’re on the path to inner peace here at A Clean Mind. So know that you have the option to put out there what you need to put out there to feel better. Life is much lighter when you’ve done this. You can even do this with people who have already died. Just write down what you need to say or even just say it to them. If you write it down, you can burn it or throw it away. This means you’ve done what you needed to do and can move on.

I did an internship for a couple of semesters in grad school doing grief counseling at a hospice, and I read a wonderful book called Final Gifts to learn more about what I was getting into. It was written by a couple of longtime hospice nurses who had seen so much wild stuff while working with the dying and their families that they finally had to share it with others by writing the book. One thing that stood out to me was how some dying folks would seem to be hanging on and not letting go. They’d be defying the predictions of the doctors and nurses, always living one more day. They were by no means getting better; they were at death’s door but were just barely hanging on. They seemed to be waiting for something; there was unfinished business. Sometimes the nurses would ask other family members if there was anything the person might be waiting on. Inevitably, the family member would mention that estranged son or daughter or something like that. They would arrange for that person to come in, and the person would finally die shorty thereafter. Things were incomplete before that visit, and now they were complete.

I say go ahead and have those conversations now. The other person might not even want to listen, but all you can do is try. And if they aren’t receptive, it might just be the front they’re putting up. They might be scared or wounded. Just put it out there and be at peace with it. In most cases, you’ll feel better and you might even feel unstuck afterward. I mean, what if you were going to die soon?

Tell Yourself: “This Has Happened”

Posted Posted in Tools & Techniques

It’s nice to have some simple things you can do and tell yourself to help you have peace when things go south. As soon as something bad happens, a great way to make sure you’re accepting life rather than resisting it is to tell yourself right away, “This has happened.” That simple statement snaps us out of our heads, as we’re telling the typical story about why this is bad, and into the present moment where we can put our energy towards dealing with the situation.

As soon as something happens that we don’t like, most of us instantly react by wasting some of our energy resisting it. This makes us feel worse, which then makes us less equipped to handle it. And it’s all self-inflicted! It’s only a habit, though. It would be nice if we learned about these habits as children, but our society for the most part isn’t there yet. And that’s fine – let’s make sure to learn about it now, though.

If the same bad thing happens and you catch yourself resisting it and immediately shut that voice off in favor of “This has happened,” you’re in a totally different place. You’re awake instead of asleep. You’re saying yes instead of no. This doesn’t mean, “Yes, I really wanted to get fired from my job!!” Rather, it means, “Yes – I did get fired from my job. Instead of freaking out, what am I going to do? What’s the next step?” Those two mindsets are radically different, especially when you string them out over time as you deal with all of the challenges in your life. All of those no’s add up to lots of stress and other nasty stuff that you’re holding onto. There’s  a better way, and it starts with a simple, “Yes, this has happened.”

“This has happened.” It seems simple, but it really does work. It’s so helpful to have simple, tangible tools and techniques at our disposal. Don’t waste your time and energy resisting what has happened. Why? Because it’s already happened! Let me know when the time machine has been invented, and we can reassess. Right now, though, there’s no time machine. This has happened. And if/when you catch yourself resisting what has already happened, just laugh! And stop doing it. And definitely don’t beat yourself up, because you can’t let go of something if you don’t know you’re holding it. So it’s a good thing to notice this (or any other bad habits of mind). Noticing is the first step. After that, all it takes is practice. As always, let me know if I can help!

Why On Earth Would I Become A Therapist?

Posted Posted in My Stories

Some people have asked me why I would become a therapist. The answer actually might be relevant to you, so I thought I’d write about it. Basically, I became a therapist because I’m selfish. For one, I wanted to have a job that I liked (since I’ve had many that I didn’t like). I got into the “deeper questions” many years ago, and it eventually became evident that that’s all that was really important to me; everything else was just extra. I thought, “how can I earn my keep talking about this?” The only options I could think of were university professor or therapist. When I did my homework and got realistic, going back for a two-year masters was the only choice. So here I am.

The other reason that’s equally as selfish is that I wanted to learn peace. I really, really, really wanted inner peace. So I started to teach it. And I love the results! Whoa… I’ve learned so much in the last 15 months that it’s truly ridiculous. And this is just the beginning! The stuff that I’m teaching works, as my clients confirm as well as me. And since I say the same things over and over, it makes it harder and harder for me to be dysfunctional in my own life (I still find ways, though, but it’s no big deal now). This wonderful stuff about letting go, letting feelings just be feelings, and not listening to the voice in the head is becoming more and more engrained. I love it.

The best part of my job is seeing this transformation take place in others. I had two sessions on a recent day that blew me away. I’ll write about those more and more in the future. These people really are getting it, and they’re knowing they’re on the right path because stressful and painful things are happening in their lives that are having less of an effect on them. These are things that would’ve made them more upset before. Now they’re able to let feelings flow through them while remaining centered and just handling the situation without blowing up. I’m very grateful to be able to share this. And it’s always about doing inner work first. Amazing…

I’m also seeing some clients let go to the point that their lives seem to be scripted (in a good, flowing way). Synchronicities start to happen so that things unfold in much better, faster ways than they could’ve ever planned had they been the one “controlling” things. They’ve handed over that control, which was really an illusion of control, and life starts to flow. It’s downright dramatic sometimes. After one recent client left, I was literally jumping for joy in my office and high-fiving the air. It was so funny. And it’s nothing special about me – please don’t think I’m bragging on myself. I’m pretty humbled by all of this. It’s the power of this work, this two-pronged approach that focuses on feelings and thoughts. It simplifies life so much. The third prong, of course, is spirituality, which will become more and more prominent in my work as times goes on. But for now, we’ve been able to reduce messy lives down to what’s happening, how we react (feelings), and what we believe and tell ourselves (thoughts). And the result is more and more peace!

So that’s why I became a therapist – because I’m selfish. Sometime in the future, I’ll write about how I don’t really listen to people bitch. In the meantime, happy practicing! And remember that we’re practicing all the time – either A Clean Mind or an unclean mind (and I’m not talking about “dirty thoughts” – let’s stop kidding ourselves and admit that most of those are normal). If you’re practicing anyway, you might as well start practicing something that lets you be at peace more and more of the time. As always, let me know if I can help.

Inner vs. Outer

Posted Posted in Essential Topics, My Stories

The way I teach people to handle their problems is to always start with the inner. Get that cleared out first, because the outer tends to follow the inner. I know this might sound weird, but that’s fine. Remember that I’m a really logical person who first tries things out to see if they work. And this works (although not always exactly how and/or when we expect… so don’t expect…). This concept also jives with the badass spiritual teachers who say that the mind is where it’s at. They say that the mind is the cause and everything else is an effect. This makes sense to me. And the mind is definitely “inner” and not “outer.”

Enough of this abstract talk – what does this look like in action? A great example happened for me this past Sunday. I rode my bike downtown, and when I got there, I realized that I didn’t have my phone. I was positive that I had had it when I left my house, because I remembered it in my pocket. In fact, I kind of had the thought that maybe it would be safer in a different pocket in these particular shorts. I say “kind of” because it just barely crossed my mind, and then I kept riding and didn’t think about it again until I noticed the phone wasn’t there.

So I’m standing next to my bike downtown, almost positive that my phone fell out of my pocket. I checked my immediate surroundings right away and didn’t see it. This is precisely when many people would start to freak out a bit (remember that I use “freak out” pretty loosely). I didn’t freak out, though. Instead, I went within. I closed my eyes then and there, took a breath, and noticed what I was carrying related to this (I was wearing sunglasses, too, so I didn’t even look weird). There was some stress, so I made sure I wasn’t holding it. I let go of it. Let is pass. No big deal. What happened in that moment? Some unpleasant feelings just got flushed out. The “feelings component” of this experience had been taken care of until I noticed more build up. Then repeat the same process. So simple.

Now that I was more cleared out, it was time to address the “thinking component” of this experience. The voice in the head was not allowed to run its negative mouth. Instead, I completely released the outcome of this. I told myself that this might be the time to upgrade my phone. I totally let go of wanting to upgrade it on my terms, when I wanted to. I released that completely and noted the facts – that I was not in control of this, and I really didn’t want to be! When I go with the flow, it seems there’s something else in charge that knows better than me. That’s been my experience, anyway. Let’s let that be in control. And speaking of experience, everything I say is not meant to be taken as truth but rather tried out for yourself.

So I made sure that I had totally let go of the outcome, and then I went over my options. I have a tablet at home that has an app on it that can locate the phone. So I had to go home. I might as well retrace my route and look for it, but without wasting too much time. I did that and no dice. I got home, opened that app, and there was my phone a couple blocks from where I had been! It was represented by a little green dot on the map. So it was time to get in the car and go find it. And don’t wreck while following it on the iPad…

Notice that the above “thinking component” of the situation didn’t involve anything but calmly going over my options. As I felt stress or frustration come in, I released it and let it pass just like that. It takes two seconds, and this way it can’t build up. So cool… And it just takes practice! Trust me, I have plenty of experience in the “loud voice in the head that makes you feel worse” department. That really is optional, though. It can take a good bit of persistence, but it’s well worth it. You’re going to be living anyway, so you might as well bust the voice in the head and turn its volume and power down over time.

As for the end of the story, it worked out as well as it could have. Some saint found my phone in the middle of the street, unscathed. He texted a friend who happened to be not too far away. Meanwhile, I was following the little green dot around and laughing my ass off at how fun this was, regardless of what I was getting myself into. And I was trying not to wreck or kill a pedestrian… And then I saw my friend right where the green dot on the screen was, and he saw me. And it was all good.

Here’s the catch, though – you can’t do this inner work with expectations of a certain outcome. Release it as much as you can! Totally release that. It doesn’t always work out perfectly, but my experience has been that the inner is definitely the place to start. I teach this to my clients, too, so I hear their feedback. It’s truly amazing, and I’m so grateful to be able to help people learn this simple 180 degree shift. Also note that the inner work took not even a minute. Is that so hard? It just takes practice to make this your habit instead of reacting. Try it out and see if it works for you. The other option is to be all knotted up and stressed out inside, so this new way is well worth a try. Good luck, and let me know if I can hep!