Hello, Breathe!

Posted Posted in Breathe Yoga Newsletter

Since I’m part of Breathe Yoga & Wellness now, I’m writing something for their monthly email newsletter. Woohoo! Here’s the first installment, a welcome and introduction. It serves as a nice overview to what I’m doing and how it differs from traditional therapy. And I really don’t mean any disrespect to traditional therapy. I really don’t. I know I can come across that way sometimes, and I’m working on that. I just get excited, because this is a new approach that seems to get better and faster results, all things being equal. And let’s face it, if that’s even remotely a possibility then it’s well worth talking about and exploring. Our peace is just too important. So let’s get excited about another way that might be more effective and even fun. Enjoy!

Hello, Breathe! I’m Ashley Pennewill, LCSW, the new Holistic Coach/Counselor for Breathe Yoga & Wellness. I’ve been friends with Stacey, Tara, and Christa for a while now, and this really is awesome for me. I just love them, and the future is wide open as Breathe expands to have more and more offerings to help us all have the best lives we can. What I’d like to do now is introduce myself and let you know exactly what I’m doing and how it represents an actual paradigm shift in the field of psychology. Big words, I know. Hey, I didn’t do anything by myself – I’ve had amazing teachers. I really do think that this approach represents the coaching/counseling of the future, though. It’s so cool, so powerful, so fast in many cases, and it’s happening right here, right now. Here we go…

In a nutshell, I teach health as opposed to treating illness. That’s a 180-degree turn. Just like physical health is built-in, psychological health is built-in as well. It comes with the body. When we cut ourselves, get a cold, or break a bone, the healing just happens. Nobody really knows how it happens. We can prevent healing, like constantly picking a scab, but we cannot heal. The best we can do is be smart, like keep the cut clean, put on a band-aid, do some pranic healing or another energy healing modality, and/or get stitches if needed. But the healing itself just happens pretty much magically. So here’s the big question… why wouldn’t psychological health be built in as well? That just wouldn’t make much sense. When I first thought about it this way, I was blown away. Of course psychological health and resilience are built-in! They have to be. This means it is built-in that we can thrive in life rather than cope and survive. It means we can thrive even in the face of hurts, disappointments, and traumas. It means we can handle it and grow and move on and continue to thrive some more.

When viewing things this way, our issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, anger issues, or whatever are merely symptoms telling us that our innate health has gotten covered up. And what covers it up? Our thinking. How we are seeing things in that moment. More specifically, we believe our thinking too much. We take it too seriously. Or you could say that we spend too much of our time doing low quality thinking. More on that later.

A great example is the student that freaks out whenever he has a big exam coming up (I got this from the amazing book, The Renaissance of Psychology by George Pransky). He gets terrible anxiety, gets angry, fights with his partner, and has trouble sleeping. In traditional therapy, he might get treated for an anxiety disorder, anger management, relationship issues, and insomnia. And this might come with some medications as well. The real issue, though, is his low quality thinking related to exams. So what would I treat? His low quality thinking related to exams! I would show him where these feelings and behaviors are actually coming from (how he views exams as oppossed to exams themselves). He doesn’t have an anxiety disorder or any of the other labels. He simply needs to raise the quality of his thinking related to exams. That’s the problem. The rest are merely symptoms.

So what is the difference between low quality thinking and high quality thinking? Basically, we have two ways of thinking. One is our computer/processor/analyzer mind. It shows up in the form of that voice in the head that talks incessantly. It can be critical, and it can analyze things to death (and then analyze them some more, just in case). It can make up scenarios that haven’t even happened in the name of being prepared. Sound familiar? This is how adults are conditioned to spend most of their time thinking.

There’s a more natural way to think, though, and it’s actually how kids think, so it’s how we all used to think at one point. It’s creative, free-flowing, responsive to any specific situation, helpful, and even wise. We could call it our inner wisdom, but another name is plain old common sense. This kind of thinking is available to us all the time. We just have to turn down the chatter, ask, and receive. This voice is not trying to compete with the loud chatter, though.

Now here’s where it all comes together. If you really, really think about it, our feelings are not connected directly to the world. Rather, they are connected to how we see the world. Big difference. I’m totally phobic of snakes, so if a snake lover and I are standing next to each other and we see a snake, we will have completely different feelings. I’ll freeze up and be stricken with fear instantly, while she’ll get a warm feeling of love. And we’re looking at the same snake! I used to think that the snake was emitting feelings of fear. But she feels love. So which is it, fear or love?? Neither! A human body is simply not wired to feel the world. It can only ever feel how it sees the world. It can only ever feel its thinking. So we can start to practice disconnecting our feelings from the world. Literally. All the time. Starting right now, wherever you are in this moment.

The more we notice that we’re feeling our thinking, the more our power begins to shift back to us. I’m in charge of how I feel now, and that sure beats being a victim of the world I see. I’m responsible for how I feel and nobody else. Not my parents, not my friends, not my romantic partner (or lack thereof), not my job, etc. Goodbye, co-dependence! The very ordinary awakening that comes from living this way is indescribable. And it grows and grows (I feel like I’m just beginning. And that’s totally fine!). That’s because our default setting of peace, which has been there the whole time, is now being covered up less and less. So it can come out more and more. Now when I notice I’m in my analyzer mode of thinking, I can simply switch to my wisdom/common sense in an instant. And how will I notice? This is the cool part. Since my body is feeling my thinking 24/7, feelings are now an ingenious guidance system telling me when my thinking is off. So there’s no such thing as a bad feeling; it’s all very valuable information guiding me back to peace.

So that’s my approach in a nutshell. I’ll be expounding upon it more in these articles, and I really look forward to connecting with you in this way. We’ll have lots of fun as we journey to more and more peace. And it’s just so ordinary; that’s the best part. You don’t have to become an expert on any modality or make it complicated. It’s your natural state, and there’s nothing you can do to change that. You can only let it be covered up by believing your thinking too much. I just feel so grateful that I’ve found the teachers and teachings to learn how to do things this way. It sure speeds up the coaching/counseling process. It really does act as a one size fits all, too, because we have what we need inside of us to handle the specifics. We just have to start living from our wisdom/common sense rather than from our ego. And we can feel the difference in a split second. Happy practicing, and let me know if I can help! Also, I’ll be talking about this at the Breathe studio downtown on Friday night, April 24, from 7:30-9. We’ll also do a really cool meditation at the end to show you how easy it can be to relax very deeply. The more we can relax, the more Life can flow through us. And it can be pretty amazing what unfolds.

The Science Myth

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

A friend of mine recently quoted another friend as saying, “If it can’t be explained by science, it ain’t real.” I don’t want to play the telephone game too much, and I didn’t hear the quote myself, but let’s go with this one because lots of people think this way. So I think we can learn something here about being open-minded. In fact, that might be a post by itself. Let me jot that down… Good. Also, there’s lots of this kind of thinking that’s just built into society. That’s one reason why change can be soooooo slooooowwww. I’m trying to change the field of psychology and counseling, for instance, to make it more effective. Good luck with that, bro! At least I know to just have fun and not attach my peace to it. And when I forget this, which can be often, my body definitely lets me know…

Before we begin, let me say that I LOVE science. I always have. I just see it for what it really is more than I used to. Here’s the deal – science has always been a major work in progress. If you really think about it, at no time in history has science really known that much. There’s always been a lot that it didn’t know, and there’s always been a lot that was just plain wrong. That was their best at the time, and that’s fine. So here’s the big question, and really let this one sink in. Why would this be different now?

Science used to think the earth was flat. Ouch. And science is still trying to figure out some of the most fundamental implications of the quantum physicists, who discovered that everything is connected. Literally. Right now. Including you. And that discovery was almost one hundred years ago! Has it even made it into our classrooms yet, except for advanced physics courses? Nope. Almost a century later, we’re still teaching kids as if the universe were made up of a bunch of separate objects. And we’ve known this whole time that that’s not even close to being an accurate view of reality. Big ouch! (Note: this has been common knowledge to many people like Native Americans for thousands of years. Basic. Common. Knowledge. For thousands of years. Their kindergarteners knew we are all One. Ouch).

Let’s face it, mainstream science really doesn’t have that much of a clue what we are and what’s going on in the big picture. And again, that’s fine. I wrote recently that if a totally blind person dies in the hospital for a few minutes and is revived with our awesome medical equipment, and then she describes the scene in the hospital in incredible visual detail, that means we are not even these bodies we think we are (yes, this has happened, and it’s really good news!). But the view of mainstream science is that we totally are. Ouch. Gee, I wonder why the world is a total mess? For starters, we have some serious updating to do with how we see things! And the first step is to say that despite our AMAZING accomplishments, and they really do blow me away, we really don’t know that much. And that’s totally freaking okay!

Here’s another way to look at it. Do you really think that if humans are still around in the future, say in 200 years, in the year 2215, they’re going to look back at us in 2015 and say we were not pre-historic? Ha! Not a chance. Not a chance. Those people will think we were cavemen. Just look at how big the first mobile phones were, and that was just in the early 1980’s! It was like carrying around a shoe box. We should all have a big, hearty laugh at the thought that science really knows what’s going on now. I promise you, so much of the current body of knowledge of science will be known in the future to have been totally wrong. And another huge chunk will be stuff that hasn’t been discovered yet. You don’t think there will be a less clunky way to treat cancer than radiation and chemotherapy? And not better versions of those things, but totally different ways of going about it. Of course, by then people will eat better and have less chemicals in their lives so that cancer might be a thing of the past anyway. But if it’s still around, I’m sure the treatment will be totally different. We’re talking about 200 years from now. (Spoiler Alert: I’ll write a future post about this, but we might know of a much better way now. Read the amazing book The Field by Lynne McTaggart. But get ready to update your worldview…).

Since science moves so slowly and has always been a major work in progress, it’s one of the last things I’d want as my judge of truth. So the phrase, “If science can’t explain it, then it ain’t real” is just not a good one to hang your hat on. It’s like hanging your hat on 1+1=3. I used to be a firm believer in this idea, too, and then for some reason I took a deeper look. And then I learned that we all have this “truth meter” inside of us that’s built in, and the more we pay attention to it the more accurate we get. It just takes practice, and trust me – I’m practicing all the time! I’m a major work in progress…

When we get used to the fact that in the mainstream, we really don’t know that much, the whole thing becomes pretty comfortable. Much easier. We can simply be open. There can be fear there at first, though. But why have the burden of needing to know? Life is much easier when I just drop that. Then I can focus on my world and thriving as much peace as possible. And the funny thing is that when I do that, answers to the bigger questions tend to start coming to me instead of the other way around. I don’t have to seek them out anymore. And since I’m living at peace more and more anyway, the whole thing doesn’t even matter that much.

So that’s my take on science being this absolute judge of truth. It’s really not. That’s the goal of science, I know. And that’s a great goal. And I love science – I always have. But let’s face – science just isn’t there yet with all that it knows. And that’s okay.

Waiting Is The Hardest Part?

Posted Posted in My Stories

The heater at my house stopped working this morning. I live in Pensacola, FL, which is in the extreme northwest of Florida, and it actually gets cold here in the winter. Well, not all the time but some of the time each year. I mean, I did go paddleboarding twice a couple weeks ago with only board shorts on and actually got sunburned (and it was awesome). But the low was around 30 last night, and it’s supposed to be the same or colder the next couple of nights. So it’s pretty cold right now. I’m at a lovely spot called Constant Coffee now as I write this, and I’m sitting next to the owner’s sister-in-law. She’s from Poland, and it’s three degrees warmer there right now (we just looked it up on our telephones). She thinks that’s messed up. I can’t disagree.

I’m sharing this because I know you really want to know about the heater at my crib. Just kidding. I’m sharing this because I noticed how the mind automatically went into high gear to try to figure it out. It was really going to town! And it was hilarious. All I did was notice this “mental work” and then take a step back and watch it. And when I did, I just sort of smiled because it immediately became apparent that there was really nothing for the mind to do. I mean, this was not rocket science. I’d already flipped the breaker thingy (I’m not very handy) and it didn’t help. And I’d already thought of places to stay for the next night or two if needed. The only thing left to do was text my landlord, which I did. So I just sort of laughed and relaxed. Nothing left for the mind to do.

Is there anything wrong with the mind being overly busy? Not at all! It’s a more stressed out way to live, though, and I’m more into peace. Recall that your body cannot feel the world directly. Your body is hardwired to feel your thinking, 24/7. It’s automatic. So if your body is feeling your thinking, and your mind is darting around being overly active and trying to solve something that it can’t solve, do you think your body will feel relaxed and at peace? Exactly.

In the middle of writing this, I just had a webcam session with a client in another state. This guy. He’s still waiting to hear about a job, and the company is being inexplicably slow in their communication. Meanwhile, he’s waiting to see if he’s going to make a major move that will involve his family. He said Tom Petty said it best: waiting is the hardest part. I said what great timing, and I told him about my mind trying to do something when it just had nothing to do. His mind is in the same boat – there’s just nothing to do at this moment.

So we’re both practicing waiting. And the more we simply notice the mind freaking out and then just step back and smile at the whole thing, it becomes less and less of a big deal. It’s nothing more than an old habit, and it’s on the way out. And after some practice, waiting just isn’t the hardest part anymore. Now I feel like jamming out to some Tom Petty. But I’m in a coffee shop. Hmm… Let me see if there are some errands to run. Good thing I have tinted windows, too, for some nice car singing.

No Body Lives Forever

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories, Other Cool Topics

Recently, I’ve been talking about some folks who are doing amazingly well by living what they’ve learned from A Clean Mind, and I’ll always continue to do that. Because you can do it, too. Check out the last couple of posts, for instance. And there are so many more to come that haven’t been written yet. These posts will usually talk about what those people are doing when things aren’t going well. How are they handling it? (Hint: Pause, take a breath, ask your wisdom/common sense what to do, and wait. That’s it. Wash, rinse, repeat, and your life will never be the same. I’m still practicing this, and it gets better and better.) Sometimes, I’ll write more generally about when things aren’t going well, like a recent post about Low Moods. Here’s one in that category, and it involves when those we love are getting older or are sick and might not be around too long.

An old friend emailed me today that she finally realized that her beloved grandmother, who is 93, is not going to be around forever. She’s finally aging. My grandfather is 95, and as it turns out, I was having lunch with him when that email arrived. And you know what? I’ve only recently noticed the same exact thing in him, that he won’t be around forever. He’s the picture of health, and he’s simply amazing, but he’s 95. Do the math.

On top of this, her dogs are getting older as well. One is pretty old and the other one was recently diagnosed with cancer and had to have a leg amputated. And on top of all that, she’s in transition career-wise. She’s super awesome and talented and will have plenty of options, but she’s recently left a business that she created and loved, and the future is wide open. And unknown. So what’s the first step? Relax into it.

So many people come to see me because they could’ve handled this, and they could’ve handled that, and they could’ve handled this other thing, but they all happened at or around the same time. When they come in, I’m able to (most of the time) show them that they actually can handle it all if they slow down, sort it out, and deal with one thing at a time. And then the biggie is learning that a human body is wired only to feel our thinking about the world and not the world directly. The more deeply we understand this, the more we can handle. The more feelings will flow through us. We still grieve loss, for instance, but it just happens faster than it otherwise would have. We check in with our wisdom/common sense, and it reminds us that we’re supposed to feel this way under these circumstances. It’s sad, and we might be angry or upset as well, but that’s normal and there’s nothing wrong with it. And if there are multiple losses, or if we’re in a transitional time of our life as well, our wisdom/common sense reminds us to be gentle and maybe get more rest if we can. Slow down a bit. Don’t judge as much. Breathe more deeply. Exercise some. Eat well. Take a walk. And even if you do none of these things, be gentle with yourself and don’t judge. That’s important.

My friend also said she’s been having trouble sleeping as a result of all this. Friend, just take some deep breaths before bed and let the body relax and let go. Tell that mind that bodies are temporary, and it can relax for the night and let your body rest. And just enjoy those beloved other bodies while they’re still around, just like others will enjoy yours while it’s still around. And let any sadness be there when it’s there, but don’t hold it. Then it won’t hang around as long. And always live from your wisdom and common sense as much as possible regarding each of the situations, but always one at a time. Don’t let it become a big blob that you can’t sort out. Always sort it out. It’s built-in that you can handle every bit of this, especially if you gently practice living in this way. It doesn’t mean you won’t feel, though. And there’s nothing wrong with that. And over time, you will come to appreciate the love of these beings without the pain, or at least just a tinge of it. We’re just trying to speed up the process.

The final piece involves what you think happens when a body dies. I’ve studied this a lot, and I have some pretty strong thoughts on the topic. I’ve written them up in a separate post as a follow-up to this one. It’s called Is Death Really Real? Warning: breathe, relax, and have an open mind. And think about this: whatever the truth is, it’s still true whether we read an article or not. Let that sink in! The truth is literally unaffected by our reading an article or not. We are free to read, watch, or listen to anything we want. And the truth, whatever it is, is still true, just as it was before. It is not changed one iota. We are totally free to explore anything we want. And there’s great freedom in really understanding that. Wow.

Is Death Really Real?

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

This is part 2 of a post in response to a good friend’s email to me with concerns about the inevitable… death. Her grandmother is 93 and is finally showing signs of aging. She has a dog that’s pretty old, too, and her younger dog recently had a leg amputated due to cancer. So she knows what’s coming. The first part of my response is called No Body Lives Forever. We talk about going through the grief process in as fast, natural, and smooth a way as possible, coming as quickly as possible to healing and acceptance. When you learn and practice what we talk about here at A Clean Mind, that’s what happens. You just handle it better than you would have before.

Any conversation of this nature, though, eventually comes around to what we think happens when the body dies. Well, I’ve studied the hell out of this (No pun intended. And I definitely don’t believe in Hell, either. That’ll be a future post). And as a super logical math guy, I’ve come to believe that death is absolutely, positively, definitely, no ands ifs or buts, not real. The body dies. And we are not the body. The body is literally like a piece of clothing. And yes, I know it doesn’t seem that way. So here’s the continuation of that post…

The final piece involves what you think happens when a body dies. Notice that the title of the first part of this post is No Body Lives Forever rather than Nobody Lives Forever. I’ve been tip-toeing around some of the “deeper topics” on this blog, and that’ll change at the right time, but let me give you a taste. Based on the extensive study that I’ve done on the subject, and based on the fact that I’m super logical, I absolutely, positively do not believe in death. This is because I absolutely, positively do not believe that we are a really body. We find ourselves in a body, but all the the people who die and are revived come back with the absolute knowing that the body is no more them than a shirt or a pair of pants. And there have been blind people, born totally blind and still totally blind when they were revived, who have described the scene in detail – visual detail. Like the frantic scene in the hospital to revive them. And the common explanation of “it was a hallucination of the brain due to lack of oxygen” is lame, if you ask me. They see too much. They see things at angles that the eyes weren’t looking at, anyway. And it was all accurate. And the amount of stories similar to this, that appeal to a math guy like me, are just too much to still think we are a body. Way too much.

So I think we just change vibration. We go into a different room. And when the other person does the same, they are reunited. Everyone is at the party. And until then, you can still talk to them. You don’t have to pray or do ritual. Just talk. I know because I’ve been doing it for a while now, like with my awesome dad, and some wild synchronicities have happened over the years. Finally, this math major had to change his mind about life after death of the body. So I’ve felt even closer with people after they’ve died, because now only one of us is in a body. So we have one less barrier. And all of the above includes pets, too.

Wow, that’s more than a taste. I didn’t plan on going there when I started writing this, but I guess I’m tired of not talking about what to me is the elephant in the room. I’ve been done with the concept of death for years now, and it makes the pain go by much faster, as I come to healing and acceptance. But it’s a real belief of mine, based on what I see as clear evidence. There’s just too much of it. And even though I’m sharing this here, I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything. I’m just putting it out there. Please understand that – you are free to believe whatever you like. There’s a whole lot of stuff out there, though, if you take a look around. So there you go.

I’m always here to help if I can, and thanks for the email. You’re the one who said if I were inspired to answer with a blog post, do that. That felt right, and it just flowed. So you are now responsible for helping whoever is helped by this. The chain goes on and on, and we will never know who finds comfort or healing, or whose life is changed altogether. Thank you. And this post finds me finally addressing some things that it’s high-time we talk about. Like who or what we really are. And what happens when we die. There are lots of great clues out there if we open up and look without preconceived ideas. I needed a push, so big thanks to you for that as well. Big thanks.

So we’ve put to bed the idea of death… not bad for a Monday night! I’m not sure when we’ll get around to putting to bed the idea of Hell – it’ll probably be a while. Feel free to toy with it in the meantime, though, along with the immense freedom that it brings. And if Hell or death is an issue for you, please contact me and let’s see if we can’t take care of that! Life is way cooler when you do. And I’m telling you – they’re totally not real. Peace out!

Her Busy, Hectic Life Is… Effortless and Peaceful??

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

Hi folks. I’m going to brag on another client who is really living it and reaping the peace that’s her birthright. And yours and mine, too! She recently said it’s pretty effortless now. What, exactly, is effortless? Living! Let that sink in for a moment… And her life is quite busy, too. She’s been in limbo with her husband for well over a year now, separated but still living together for mostly financial reasons. They’re still in business together as well, and it hasn’t been exactly smooth figuring that out. But it’s gotten smoother and smoother, and honestly their relationship is probably better and more authentic than it’s ever been. I’ll bet she’d say that it’s not even close. The nature of their work can be up and down, too, so there can be stress with that. So she’s not sitting around eating bonbons and drinking mint juleps all day. She’s busy and working and navigating through unknown territory with her primary relationship and their business and income. And all the while, because she’s been practicing what we’ve been talking about, it’s becoming more and more effortless. And her level of peace is at an all-time high. Wow.

Is that really possible? Yes! It’s actually natural, but we’ve just covered it up. She still has her “moments,” she says, but they come and go pretty quickly. And I have mine as well! They just aren’t as big a deal now. They don’t get stuck like in the past; instead, they flow on through. She knows her moods are coming from how she sees things as opposed to coming directly from the things, so she doesn’t feed them. She honestly doesn’t pay them as much attention that she used to. And know that this is the attention that the rest of the world, which is totally stressed out, pays them. There’s another way to live, people! And it’s so simple. It just takes gentle practice, and I’m practicing all the time. We are on the same journey.

She said that people around her are noticing that she’s just more relaxed now. They’ve noticed that to her, things are okay. She responds to issues that arise, but it’s still all okay; it’s just a part of life. She also said something really cool, which is, “I don’t feel like I’m driving anymore. I feel like I’m riding.” Wow! That’s what it’s all about. She can relax into things and live from her own wisdom, which is also her common sense. They’re the same thing. And it’s the same as your wisdom and common sense, too. I’m pretty sure there’s just one source of this, and it’s available to all of us all the time when we just ask and listen. And gently practice doing that.

Speaking of riding as opposed to driving, when people ask her for help or just vent, she gets out of the way and opens. She actually says to herself, “I open” and then she just gets out of the way and receives. And she’s noticed that what comes out of her mouth is so “clean.” She’s consciously aware that it’s not even her that’s answering. In fact, she doesn’t want it to be her! And she said they don’t, either. She’s letting that same wisdom that’s in you right now at this very moment, whoever you are and wherever you are, come through. And this process is so ordinary, too! She’s not meditating or having a vision of a wizard and a unicorn or anything like that (I love that image, by the way. I think I saw it once airbrushed on an RV). And it’s instant. She also said that sometimes there’s just silence. And when she trusts that silence, it’s always the perfect response in that moment. Again, wow! Lots of wows today…

Another thing she said is that when there’s a bump in the road, it’s just a bump. You respond to it and move on. Notice that this is a very big picture, impersonal way of looking at things. That’s how our wisdom/common sense is. Our personal mind, intellect, ego mind, computer mind, analyzer, processor – whatever you call it – is much different. It’s very personal and small picture, analyzing every detail. These are two distinct uses of the mind, and one feels much, much better. I’ll let you guess which one.

I’m going to be spelling out these two ways of thinking in the very near future, but for now, you get the idea. Live in your wisdom/common sense moment to moment and your peace rises over time. Done. It really is that simple. We’ve made it so complicated for so long, though, that we have an old habit to undo. And it’ll get undone and replaced with gentle practice. Over time, the water wears down the rock. So there you go, another person whose life has completely changed in not too long by applying a very simple practice of living in her own wisdom or common sense. I freaking love this job!! And if I can help you or a friend, please let me know. Life is too short not to. I love talking to groups as well. Let’s do this, people – you got this!