Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories, Other Cool Topics

Let’s face it – sleep is pretty important. It’s a huge part of the equation for living in a body, along with other biggies like food and water. And beer. Just kidding… The subject of sleep has come up in sessions with clients recently, so I thought I’d write about it here and share what they’ve done. One is using meditation, which is pretty cool. He’s having great results.

The main thing is letting the mind know that it can worry about whatever it wants the next day, but when you lie down to go to sleep, it is definitely not the right time. Why? because it’s time to sleep! This is much easier to do for some than others. My older brother, for example, is in REM sleep as soon as his head hits the pillow. His wife, on the other hand, who is my long time sister-in-law, just wasn’t born that way. I’m kind of in the middle, but probably closer to her. None is wrong – we just have to learn what works for us.

Probably the biggest issue for folks who have trouble sleeping is too much thinking. And how funny it is that that’s one of the biggest issues for humans in general – we just think too much. One client came to see me and learned in the first session, as they all do, that it’s optional to listen to the voice in the head. He learned that he really can just let it go when he notices it, and when he does that there’s silence. And when the thoughts come back, which of course they do, he can let them go again, just like that. When he came in a week later, he said he had slept for eight hours in a night, something he hadn’t done in years! He also learned how to release, of course, and that’s a huge help for everything. He’s carrying less, so his mind has less to think about and comment on.

The other client I mentioned above has been using guided meditations to fall asleep. I had suggested just sitting for a few minutes and breathing before bed. He could also do this while he was already lying in bed. He went ahead and downloaded some guided meditations, and he said he’s basically asleep before they’re even over. His are from a person named Jack Kornfield, who is an American Buddhist with decades of meditation experience. I think there are tons of meditation out there if you look around, so you can find what works for you. Or you can just breathe and “merge with your source.” I like that kind – so general. And you can do it all through the day, so it’s not like you have to be “sitting in meditation.” You can be in your car, at work, in the grocery store, etc.

My client who uses the guided meditations uses headphones so as to not disturb his partner, so I asked if the headphones are a problem at all, like sleeping with them on. He said they are not a problem at all. It sounded like he’s pretty zoned out by the time the meditation ends, but he’s awake enough to take them off. And this doesn’t disturb him at all. Sleep issues solved!

Another thing to think about is that whether or not we have trouble sleeping, we don’t want to carry our BS from the day into the next morning. That’s just not the best way to start the next day. So it’s good to let go of what we’re holding before we go to bed. We’ll sleep better and we’ll probably have a better morning, too.

Either way, don’t just do nothing about it if you’re having trouble sleeping. And if you really have serious sleep problems and have tried everything under the sun, then I don’t really know what to say except keep trying! And try your best to let go of any anger this causes. But for people who are just thinking and worrying too much, what I’ve written about here should help – if you actually practice it for a while.

The final thing I’ll say is that sleeping pills like Ambien are fine, but I’d try to handle it on your own so that you can eliminate them or at least take the bare minimum. That’s generally the best attitude with pills – less is best. And for the CYA part of our show, let me be clear that I Am Not A Medical Doctor! From what I’ve seen with my clients, doctors aren’t afraid to throw a ton of pills at a problem. This often treats the symptoms but not the cause. It seems that’s how doctors and psychiatrists are trained these days, so I’m certainly not blaming anyone. Here at A Clean Mind, though, we’re trying to get at the cause. And again, I Am Not A Medical Doctor! I want to keep my streak of no lawsuits alive… Sweet dreams!

The Tiny, Mad Idea

Posted Posted in Essential Topics

We’re going to get pretty Jedi today. It’s very subtle, though. Here we go… I’d like to introduce the phrase “tiny, mad idea.” This refers to that first seemingly true thought that enters our mind and begins to hijack our peace. Everyday examples include, “This suck,” “I failed,” “It’s her fault,” “Just my luck,” etc. Since it’s just one little thought, and one that is probably pretty familiar, we don’t even notice it. Or better yet, we don’t notice the power of it. It has power because it snowballs until we’re in a pretty bad mood. It’s all about the snowball! I’d like to help train you to notice that one tiny, mad idea before it snowballs and hijacks your peace. When you learn to notice it, you can drop it like the bad habit that it is. And you can laugh at the fact that it ever had any power over you in the first place. It takes practice and persistence, but you’re probably going to live a while longer anyway, so why not?

We’ve been talking about just this kind of mental hygiene or mental discipline all along here at A Clean Mind; this is just a new term to describe exactly what to be on the lookout for. The phrase “tiny, mad idea” originally comes from A Course In Miracles, which is my bible. I recently mentioned the awesome book Spirit Junkie by Gabby Bernstein. She’s a student (and teacher) of the Course, just like I am. Her description of the tiny, mad idea has really helped me to simplify it, and that’s what I’m writing about here.

By the way, as I’ve said before, that book is pretty sweet – it could help speed things up for lots of folks today. So check it out and see if it feels right for you. If not, no big deal. It’s all about becoming one with spirit and guidance. You’re hardwired for this, right now at this very second. This is true! And it’s meant to be experienced and not just believed. Spirit will show you what’s up if you sincerely ask. This often comes in the form of synchronicities that act as little signs that you’re on the right path. You have to pay attention, though. Back to the story…

So the tiny, mad idea is simply any thought that comes from fear, specialness, separation, or ego (which just means the part of you that thinks it’s really separate from everything else). After all, they’re basically the same. And as we’ll talk about more and more, they’re not even real (and trust me – I realize that they seem pretty darn real). These are the thoughts that are designed to take you out of peace. When you notice them and don’t do anything about them, the process of feeling bad is underway. The voice in the head will keep talking until you feel awful. Instead, you can stop after that first thought and examine it. Is it true? Do you know it’s 100% true? Probably not… So let it go. Drop it. And it’s gone, just like that. Now you’re out of your head and you have some peace. Will these thoughts come back? Of course! That’s their job. But now you know what to do – just let go of them as they come.

When you’ve done this analysis enough and you’ve seen firsthand that these thoughts based on fear and specialness are not true, then you can skip the analysis and the questions of truth. You’ve already been there and done that, and you know these thoughts intimately by now. You know how they feel. So when you notice them now, you can just drop them in an instant and with a laugh. They don’t have power over you anymore. They can’t snowball anymore.

Gabby talks about witnessing them, and that term really works for me. It takes the personal sting totally out of it. Gone! I see right away that each of these thoughts comes from a part of me that thinks it’s really separate from everything else. The mystics have always said we’re not truly separate, and then the badass physicists made the same discovery in the early 1900’s (quantum physics). So if a thought comes from separation, then I know right away that it’s not even real! So I drop it like a hot potato. After a while, you’ll be amazed that these thoughts were ever allowed to snowball in the first place. As I said above, though, it does take practice and persistence. But again, you’re probably going to live a while longer anyway, so what do you have to lose? There’s certainly lots of peace to gain.

I’ve been amazed lately as I’ve been witnessing these thoughts and just letting them go. It’s just so easy. I’ve also been awed at the recognition that each of these little thoughts is what starts the “no peace” snowball that grows and grows. When it grows enough, you’re in a funk. I don’t like that term, by the way, because I’m a musician and I love funky music. Funk is a great thing! So let’s just say that when it grows enough, you feel really bad. When you find yourself feeling this way, that’s your signal to stop and take a look for the last time you felt fine. What happened in between? Very simple – one tiny, mad idea slipped by your “mental goalie” and it was on. Don’t get down on yourself for letting it slip by – no beating yourself up! Just learn from it and go forward trying to be more vigilant. If you have this attitude, then it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be on your game. So be on the lookout for the tiny, mad idea and don’t give it the respect that it’s gotten in the past. After all, it really doesn’t deserve it. Witness it and let it go just like that. And feel free to laugh or breathe a sigh of relief because you don’t have to be in the snowball business anymore.

Tool: Welcome the Assignment!

Posted Posted in Tools & Techniques

Here at A Clean Mind, we’re all about learning how to allow and accept what has happened. Why? Because it has already happened! Let me know when the time machine is around, because then we can just go back and fix or change things. Until then, though, let’s focus on allowing and accepting. Note: this doesn’t mean we have to act like a spineless doormat. Please let me know if you need clarification on this, because that’s important. Actually, I should write about that separately. (Pause…) Okay, I just put that on the list.

So we learn to allow and accept, and then we practice. It’s all about practicing. And life magically brings us exactly what we need to practice, precisely at the right moment and not a second too early or too late (read Timing or Am I Qualified To Judge?). This practice generally comes in the form of “things going south” or “bad things” happening. Life challenges. Relationship issues. You get the idea.

When these things happen, most people get upset and stressed out right away. And since they haven’t been reading and practicing A Clean Mind or doing something else helpful (there’s lots of stuff out there), this condition snowballs. My work is all about recognizing this condition as early as possible and then dealing with it on the spot, before it snowballs. First release the feelings (including the feeling of stress, whatever that looks like in your body), and then question the thoughts. Are they true? (Probably not). Can you know for a fact that they’re true? (Absolutely not!). And it’s so much easier to nip it in the bud early than late.

So here’s a tool that works wonders for me: as soon as my peace is disturbed, I tell myself, “Welcome the assignment.” Bam! That snaps me into right-minded thinking immediately. In three words, I’m reminded that this situation that I don’t like, whatever it is, is gift-wrapped from spirit and right on time. Will I pass the test? I hope so, because if not then I can be sure I’ll have to take it again! When you pay attention, you see that this is exactly how the world works.

Is this anything new? Absolutely not. This is just another way of saying what we’ve been saying here from the beginning. Different things work for different people, though. And different things work for the same people at different times in their lives. This is because we’re all changing and growing. For some reason, “Welcome the assignment” really works for me, so I’m sharing it with you. If it helps even just one person, then I’m pretty psyched.

I got this particular phrase from an amazing book called Spirit Junkie by a cool, hip younger chick named Gabby Bernstein. I cannot recommend this book enough. And having read it, I’m pretty sure she would not be offended at being described as a “cool, hip younger chick.” And by the way, the word “chick” to me is nothing more than the female version of “dude.” There’s nothing negative at all that’s intended. Literally nothing. Zero. Zilch. So please don’t assume that I’m some male A-hole when I use that word. I love that word – that’s how I talk. And if you read Gabby’s book, you’ll see that’s how she talks as well! Very refreshing. I’ll write an entire post about this book sometime. In short, though, it’s all about how you become one with spirit. Not too shabby a topic… And it’s very specific, too.

So when life brings you lemons, tell yourself right away, “Welcome the assignment.” See if this helps you to not get sucked in. When you get sucked in, you’re asleep and you allow the whole thing to snowball. And this is optional! When you have a tool like this to use, you’re forced to wake up. And when you’re awake, you have a choice where there was none before. You have the choice to deal with a small snowball of not fun feelings and thoughts rather than waiting and dealing with a huge avalanche later. Either way, you still have to deal with it at some point…

And if becoming one with spirit and turning everything over to spirit sounds appealing, then go read Spirit Junkie by Gabby Bernstein. It’s pretty powerful. It’s also very simple – I like that a lot. It’s experiential, too. She has you doing the work right along with her. This is the direction that my work is going, too. I still have to masquerade as a counselor to pay the bills, though. And like all other life situations, I welcome that assignment…

Tool: Using Third Person

Posted Posted in Tools & Techniques

A nice and effective tool for keeping the big picture in mind and seeing the forest and not just the trees is using the third person. And who would you describe with the third person? Yourself! For instance, let’s say I find myself getting angry about something that happens, like the internet isn’t working properly while I try to write a blog post about not getting angry when the internet goes down. Remember that we all have certain things that tend to push our buttons more than others. Many people call these triggers.

If I’m sitting there trying to solve the internet problem without addressing the anger, it’ll just keep rising. Remember that a feeling like anger is much easier to deal with when there’s just a little bit of it. I’ve always written here that the first thing we want to do is stop everything else we’re doing so that we can release the feeling before continuing the task at hand. What I’m writing about now is just a little addition to that. You always want to stop, close your eyes, take a breath, and let go of the anger. If it helps, you can also tell yourself in the middle of that releasing process, “Ashley is angry that the internet is not working properly.” This might help snap you out of it, making the whole thing seem less personal. You were staring at a tree from a few inches away, and now you’re up in the sky looking at the whole forest. You had forgotten about the forest, and now you remember. Third person can be pretty powerful.

Of course we’re all different, so this will work for some and not for others. That’s why I write about as many tools and techniques as I can. Even just one good one can change your life and speed up your journey to peace. If this sounds like the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard of, then that’s fine – it’s not for you! If it’s a fit, though, it can be downright profound. It makes the whole situation less personal right away in just one sentence.

Another reason why this can be powerful is that the person you think you are, like “Ashley” in my case, is temporary. And the spiritual teachers say that the truth of who you are is anything but temporary. This means you’re not really that person after all – you’re spirit that seems to be in a body for some period of time, long or short. If all this is true, then saying or thinking “Ashley is angry” is more accurate than “I am angry.” We don’t talk like this because it sounds ridiculous, though. I’m not saying to talk like this all the time, but it might help to experiment with it internally when things are going south.

Remember that the whole point is for you to live at peace. Using third person to describe yourself might just help you do that. It’s a simple tool that works well with the releasing and letting go that we’ve talked about here at A Clean Mind. It takes no time. So give it a try when you’re not feeling so hot. It really puts things in perspective. And no, the internet did not go out while I was writing this blog post…