Do I Have To Change My Thinking?

Posted Posted in Breathe Yoga Newsletter

This post is from the Breathe Yoga & Wellness March 2015 Newsletter…

“Do I have to change my thinking?” I’m so glad you asked! Because I hear this all the time. The short answer is no. And what a relief! People often confuse the approach that I use with having to change their thinking (by the way, a summary of this approach from last month’s newsletter can be found here). What’s more, much of counseling centers around getting the client to change his/her thinking. Good luck! And as the one trying to change, it’s very easy to get frustrated when you notice that you’re not “doing it right.” The approach that we’re talking about here might sound like we’re changing our thinking, but there’s actually a subtle yet very important difference that’s worth pointing out today. And I think that this difference makes things much more simple, fast, and powerful. All you have to do is switch radio stations to the good one that’s built-in. Let me explain…

What we’re saying here is that there are two ways of thinking. One is the ego/chatterbox and the other is your built-in wisdom/common sense. That’s it. It’s like you have exactly two channels on your radio dial, and you’re tuned in to one of the two at any given time. So instead of trying to upgrade and improve the chatterbox, you can just switch in an instant to your wisdom/common sense. It’s already upgraded to the max. It needs no improvement. And it’s built-in. Much easier. So now there’s no pressure to improve anything. Just switch stations and then get out of the way. Bam! And you get better and better with gentle practice.

So how do you know which station you’re listening to? This is the cool part. As I mentioned last month, your body will tell you. (Warning: you are about to understand feelings better than most psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors. Seriously). How your body feels is your built-in guidance system to let you know the quality of your thinking in that moment. Chatterbox/critic/over-analyzer or inner wisdom/common sense? Just notice how you feel! So this is huge… this means that feelings are not separate “things” from thoughts. Feelings are simply the body’s reaction to your thinking. You are “feeling your thinking” 24/7. Your body cannot feel the world directly; it’s just not wired to do that. Feelings are an inside job. Your body can only ever feel how you see the world. And by “thinking,” I mean conscious thinking, unconscious thinking, perceptions, beliefs, whatever. Anything going on in your head. How you are seeing things in that moment. And most of it is invisible as opposed to the voice in your head.

A few comments are appropriate at this point. One is that switching to the wisdom/common sense station is more of a receptive process than when you are trying to “figure it out” with the chatterbox or the intellect. I simply ask, “What should I do now?” And then I relax as best I can and wait. I listen, with no demand that an answer come. Usually what I need to do pops right up, and if not, that’s okay – just do your best and keep practicing. Don’t judge it. Also, the answer often comes in the form of a feeling as to what to do or not do next. This is much different than me trying to think my way to peace or to a solution. Trust me – I tried to do that for the last decade! And then I tried some more just to be sure. It doesn’t work. There’s something built-in that’s more intelligent than your head, no matter how smart you are. And this is a guy with two math degrees talking! The heart is smarter, and I never thought I’d be saying something like that. Ha! And the heart will let you know when it’s time to use your head to figure something out. Maybe at school or at work, for example. Most adults live in their heads all the time, though. That’s too much, and that stressed-out feeling we all know so well is proof.

A second thing is to reiterate that this is something that you simply practice. And you don’t have to judge how you’re doing, because that’s usually more of that inner critic voice, which is exactly what we don’t want. Just keep practicing, very gently. Switch stations the moment you notice you’re on the chatterbox station. Simply relax and ask your common sense what you should do now. A big breath often helps, too – the body will start to release any contraction pretty quickly the more we allow it to do so. The ego station is weakened each and every time you gently do this, whether you notice it or not. You’ll definitely notice after a while of living this way, though.

A third thing is that there are times when earth life is painful. I’m usually not laughing at funerals, for example. When I understand the role of thought and perception in relation to how my body feels, though, normal feelings of sadness or frustration or whatever will pass through much faster than they would otherwise. They don’t get stuck. My wisdom reminds me that this is a normal feeling, and there’s nothing wrong with it. The same is true when I’m just in a low mood. Not a big deal. Let it be there, and let it pass. I’ll glance at my thinking, though, to see if anything comes up that I’m worrying about, for instance.

When my clients and friends start to really get this, it’s just amazing to see. That’s why this job is so rewarding. Wow. This approach epitomizes teaching a person to fish versus giving them a fish or two or three. There are some great fish out there, but learning how to fish by yourself is really where it’s at. I’m so excited to be able to keep this conversation going with you, and please know that this understanding of how the mind works is deepening in me all the time, just like it’s deepening in you. In fact, someone once said that this approach is “an inch wide and a mile deep.” Let the deepening begin!

How to Spill a Smoothie

Posted Posted in My Stories

About a year or two ago, I switched to a smoothie for breakfast. It’s healthy, quick, inexpensive, and tasty. And I’m out of the milk and carb game from my cereal days. I’m no dietician, but it just feels better. I love it. Except when I spill the whole thing walking out the door in the morning on my way to the office. Which is what happened the other morning. As my readers know, I’m relaxing my way into inner peace as quickly and directly and painlessly as I can. Not because I’m special, but because that’s what I really, really want. I pay attention to life and I try. And so I share much of my life on this blog. You see, peace is found in the most ordinary of places. You don’t have to meditate for decades in a cave in the Himalayas, although you certainly could if you want to. Life will bring you exactly what you need and when you need it, anytime, anyplace. Like when you’re walking out the door in the morning on the way to the office.

This post should really be called How to Clean Up a Smoothie, because anyone can spill one just fine. It’s all about how you clean it up after it’s been spilled. And it’s dripping all over stuff that you don’t want a thick smoothie to drip all over. And you were just walking out the door, headed to the office in the morning. You were actually already out the door on the way to the car. And you forgot something inside, so you set it down. And it spilled. And you’re standing there looking at it. And… pause! Let’s hit the pause button right there on this frame, relax, and take a very chill look. Let’s survey the scene from high above, because this is the moment of truth. And this is what you can learn to do in the moment. And yes, we’re talking about a smoothie! The mind could say big deal, but I’m telling you – this is where awakening occurs. This is your doorway to inner peace. And it’s so damn ordinary. Final thing… please don’t think I’m trying to brag in any way at all. Like look how I did this. There’s another way to live, and I’m practicing it, getting better all the time. And I’m just sharing it with you to show you what it looks like so you’ll have more options. And know that in the future, this will taught in middle school. Actually, I’m starting to do that on Tuesdays! More on that later. Back to that frame we paused on…

The first step is to resist going straight to thought. And watch out, because it happens fast! You can train yourself to go to the breath first, though, and let things sink in without thought, without words. Just be patient with that and keep practicing. And life will give you ample opportunities to practice… A bunch of conditioned thinking will not help at this point. Just breathe, relax, and survey the scene. Let it sink in. And it will. When you do this without engaging the thinker, your wisdom/common sense is automatically engaged instead. Which do you prefer? I prefer the one that feels better, the wisdom/common sense. And it simply had the knowing to clean it up. What’s the first step? Do that. Then do the next step. Wash, rinse, repeat. Then go to the office.

Now let’s see what the alternative looks like, the alternative that we all know very well. In the past, I would’ve already been angry where we pressed pause. The thought stream would’ve already started, and this would’ve been the beginning of “one of those days.” Sound familiar? Not this time, though. I mean, I didn’t want this to happen, but it did. So after letting it sink it that yes, I now had to deal with this totally avoidable situation, I simply started cleaning it up, one step at a time. And don’t get me wrong, those same thoughts started to come in! I didn’t feed them, though. The impulse was pretty strong to be angry, but I kept returning to just being present and getting the job done. And it all got cleaned up and I ended up feeling fine. It didn’t become one of those days because I learned what’s going on behind the scenes in the mind and practiced. The key words are learned and practiced.

The next question was what will I do about breakfast? I mention this not because you care what I eat, but because this was the next place where mental bitching and moaning wanted to creep in, along with the anger and frustration that it creates. So… pause again! I definitely felt a decent impulse to be in a bad mood at this point, just like when it first happened. I did not feed it, though. I stayed present and simply asked myself what my options were. I had the feeling that I just didn’t want to make another smoothie; I felt defeated in the smoothie department for the day. And our wisdom/common sense communicates to us as a feeling much of the time. So if I didn’t want to make another one, what were my options? Notice that there was never a story about it. The impulse to launch into a perfectly believable story was there, but it leaves as fast as it arrives with practice. Just stay focused and relaxed and stick to the next step. And what came up was a lovely new spot in my neighborhood that has a delicious breakfast burrito. So I went there. And it was awesome (for those in Pensacola, it was the Single Fin Cafe inside of Waterboyz Surf & Skate Shop – who knew they had food?).

So that’s the tale of the spilled smoothie. It’s not about how you spill it; it’s all about how you clean it up. “One of those days” was avoided. Impulses and feelings (to be angry and create a bad day) move through us without getting stuck when we simply let them. It’s all about feeding that ego voice versus leading with your wisdom/common sense. The breath really helps, too. Just feel the breath in your body and in every cell as you let the situation sink in. You could even look at the scene as soon as it happens and train yourself to say, “This has happened” a few times. Yes, there’s a whole blog post just on that… If you do that, you’re automatically bypassing that ego thought stream and engaging the part of you that can absolutely handle a spilled smoothie without it affecting the rest of your day in a negative way. And it’s built-in! You just have to tune in to that radio station instead of the chatterbox. And all it takes is some education, which this is, and then practice, which life will readily provide. Like maybe starting today.

And just so you know how the day turned out, I had a gap between lunch and my afternoon clients, so I went paddleboarding. And I had my coolest dolphin experience ever. Two dolphins were swimming side by side, and I paddled up to them, about 5-6 feet away. And then they darted to the side and swam real slow. And I turned and paddled toward them again and got close. And they darted to the side and swam real slow. This happened several times, and it was so cool. They swam around my board some, too, and I swear one of them was looking at me while they passed. I’m talking about some serious eye contact with Flipper from point blank range. And this could’ve been “one of those days??” Ha! One of the most awesome days of my life, maybe! Happy smoothie cleaning!

The Three Principles

Posted Posted in Uncategorized

It’s time I finally write about the Three Principles, because that’s what I learned about in late 2013 that has really sped things up for me, my clients, and my friends and family. I’ve mentioned Gulf Breeze Recovery before, the inpatient drug and alcohol rehab facility that I started working part-time at in early 2014. In less than two years, it’s a pretty impressive place. The founders set out to create a non-12-step rehab for folks who wanted another option. I’ve said before that 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous have helped millions of people, and they continue to do so each and every day. Different strokes for different folks, though, so it’s always good to have another option. When researching what their modality would be, some synchronistic events led them to something called the Three Principles and a guy named Joe Bailey. Joe is awesome, and he’s been training us the whole time. I might write about him sometime, because he’s pretty cool and I think that sharing some of the things that I know about him might be able to help you. He has some books, too, that you might be interested in. Like Fearproof Your Life: How to THRIVE in a World Addicted to Fear.

So what are the Three Principles all about? In a nutshell, it’s all about the fact that we are living in a world of thought. It’s all freaking thought. You can only ever feel your thinking; you cannot feel the world directly. Not possible! You are literally creating your own movie all the time, every moment you are alive. Wow. And we call this movie “reality.” Ha, that’s the last thing it is! Personal reality, yes. Absolute reality, absolutely not. The more you see this, the more peace you will experience. Period.

The other big thing is that we are always connected to a source of intelligence that knows what’s best for us. So we have that going for us… You could call it inner wisdom, intuition, or even common sense. They are one and the same. And they are alive inside of you right now. The more you live from this wisdom/common sense rather than the ego chatterbox, the more peace you will experience. Period.

So that’s the ten cent version. More specifically, the Three Principles refer to Mind, Consciousness, and Thought. Recall that a principle is something that’s always true. It’s a fact. Science is full of principles, like the principle of gravity. Psychology, however, has always been nothing but a bunch of theories. There have never been any principles. This might explain why counseling has always been so hit or miss. It never really has had that great of a success rate, to be honest. The Three Principles movement is an attempt to change that, pointing out that there actually are some principles involved in a human’s psychological experience of life. Here we go…

Mind is whatever powers us all up. It’s like electricity – you can’t see it, but you know if it’s not on because the lights won’t work. And it’s a constant; it’s just there, pushing everything behind the scenes. I often say, “Relax into it,” and this is what I’m talking about relaxing into. A Christian would call this God, a Taoist the Tao, a Star Wars lover The Force, and perhaps a quantum physicist Oneness (yes, it’s a scientific fact that everything is connected. Literally. Right now. Including you and the farthest star. Whoa.). You get the idea. There’s something powering us up. And for those who don’t like religion, that’s perfectly fine. You might want to check, though, to make sure you’re not throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Thought is anything going on upstairs, any mental activity. It includes beliefs, perceptions, etc. It’s how we see things. It includes our conscious thinking as well as the more unconscious chatter, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Most of it is invisible. And Consciousness is this magical power that constantly brings how we’re seeing things to life through our senses as a real, lived experience. It’s the special effects department. It’s what creates instant fear in me the second my eyes land on a snake, either real or in a picture. And Consciousness is a constant – it just brings Thought to life 24/7. That’s what it does, whether you are aware of it or not. End of story.

The idea is that it takes exactly these three ingredients for any human to have a psychological experience. These are the building blocks. When I realize Mind is behind it all, I can rest more and let a bigger flow carry me, even when I’m very busy and working hard. I can still “relax into it.”  It’s an attitude. This is what my client was talking about when she said she feels like she’s no longer driving; she’s riding. This woman. And the flow can handle the most minute details as well as the most perfect timing, too. We’ve all experienced this before. Now we can practice living from there more and more of the time.

When I realize that Thought + Consciousness is constantly creating my reality, my reality, a movie that only I see, I start to see that everything out in the world is actually neutral, and I’ve been unconsciously coloring it the whole time. This is where my feelings come from. Wow! Now the cat is out of the bag. This process is no longer unconsciousness. The charade is up, and I can take responsibility for how I feel. Not you, not my job, not my car, not my body, etc. If I want to change any of those things, I’m free to explore doing so. But I can choose as much peace as I can in the meantime.

So those are the Principles in a nutshell. It’s simply about understanding how your reality is constantly being created. You can choose to use this understanding however you want. And it’s like gravity; whether you are aware of it or not, it still works. I’ve noticed, though, that the people who learned about this long ago and have a pretty deep understanding of it are very relaxed and chilled out. It takes A LOT to rattle them. And these people used to be anxious, insecure, low self-esteem, depressed, etc. – just like anybody else.

Here’s a really good website with lots of videos about this: www.threeprinciplesmovies.com. Hover the cursor over Play Movies and you’ll have lots of options. And like anything, if you don’t like what you’re watching, just move on – there’s so much there. It’s helped me to hear about this from many different voices, each with their own angle. And to not try to “figure it out.” Just turn the head off, relax, and absorb. The more deeply you understand this, the more your innate peace and wellbeing will rise to the surface to be experienced. It’s always there; it can only get covered up by how we’re seeing things in that moment. It can’t be harmed or damaged in any way, though.

All the best on your journey in life, and let me know if I can help speed things up for you. Lord knows I’ve “done it wrong” just about every which way you can! This mostly comes under the category of trying to “figure it out” with my head or my intellect, like you’d figure out math. Nope. That’s definitely the slow way. I’ve been there and done that and am really weening myself off of that old habit as we speak. It feels so much better, too. So here’s to a much faster way to peace, the way of the heart and of feeling. Enjoy!

Don’t miss our next event

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Phasellus ac posuere nibh, in finibus nulla. In diam arcu, luctus sit amet condimentum sit amet, tristique et leo. Sed tincidunt justo a porttitor tristique. Nulla eu metus tincidunt, ornare magna ullamcorper, semper lacus. Quisque vitae porttitor odio, id tincidunt tellus. Fusce a suscipit eros. Proin sit amet risus fermentum, lobortis quam sed, consequat velit. Quisque sit amet ultricies lorem. Phasellus scelerisque ipsum eget ipsum posuere suscipit. Proin id molestie mauris, a venenatis ipsum. Quisque efficitur, nibh a dapibus mollis, metus tortor fermentum ante, non pellentesque mi magna non leo. Integer quis sem hendrerit, euismod dolor id, dapibus nulla. Maecenas non ultrices lorem. Pellentesque lobortis, diam eget feugiat lacinia, ante augue ullamcorper tortor, vel ornare sapien lacus pharetra quam.

A day at the office

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Pellentesque consectetur massa nec nulla fermentum, at tincidunt elit volutpat. Duis vulputate placerat tortor, sit amet eleifend mauris tincidunt sit amet. Aliquam a maximus ligula. Phasellus nec sapien sed tellus tempor eleifend id a erat. Donec convallis bibendum posuere. Quisque mollis imperdiet malesuada. Suspendisse eget dictum massa.

Phasellus ac posuere nibh, in finibus nulla. In diam arcu, luctus sit amet condimentum sit amet, tristique et leo. Sed tincidunt justo a porttitor tristique. Nulla eu metus tincidunt, ornare magna ullamcorper, semper lacus. Quisque vitae porttitor odio, id tincidunt tellus. Fusce a suscipit eros. Proin sit amet risus fermentum, lobortis quam sed, consequat velit. Quisque sit amet ultricies lorem. Phasellus scelerisque ipsum eget ipsum posuere suscipit. Proin id molestie mauris, a venenatis ipsum. Quisque efficitur, nibh a dapibus mollis, metus tortor fermentum ante, non pellentesque mi magna non leo. Integer quis sem hendrerit, euismod dolor id, dapibus nulla. Maecenas non ultrices lorem. Pellentesque lobortis, diam eget feugiat lacinia, ante augue ullamcorper tortor, vel ornare sapien lacus pharetra quam.

Just a simple post

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed venenatis dignissim ultrices. Suspendisse ut sollicitudin nisi. Fusce efficitur nec nunc nec bibendum. Praesent laoreet tortor quis velit facilisis faucibus. Maecenas sollicitudin lectus diam, non vehicula arcu ullamcorper ac. In pharetra, est vitae interdum tincidunt, urna ligula rutrum tellus, sit amet pharetra purus magna eu enim. Sed iaculis imperdiet nisi, et pulvinar mauris gravida maximus. Phasellus vitae lorem at sem mattis volutpat. In eget dictum dui. Quisque nec sapien at massa mattis semper. Ut ac malesuada turpis. Fusce eu nulla vehicula, tincidunt dui ultrices, fermentum felis. Aliquam lectus nisi, feugiat ut aliquet sed, posuere sed libero.

Pellentesque consectetur massa nec nulla fermentum, at tincidunt elit volutpat. Duis vulputate placerat tortor, sit amet eleifend mauris tincidunt sit amet. Aliquam a maximus ligula. Phasellus nec sapien sed tellus tempor eleifend id a erat. Donec convallis bibendum posuere. Quisque mollis imperdiet malesuada. Suspendisse eget dictum massa.

Phasellus ac posuere nibh, in finibus nulla. In diam arcu, luctus sit amet condimentum sit amet, tristique et leo. Sed tincidunt justo a porttitor tristique. Nulla eu metus tincidunt, ornare magna ullamcorper, semper lacus. Quisque vitae porttitor odio, id tincidunt tellus. Fusce a suscipit eros. Proin sit amet risus fermentum, lobortis quam sed, consequat velit. Quisque sit amet ultricies lorem. Phasellus scelerisque ipsum eget ipsum posuere suscipit. Proin id molestie mauris, a venenatis ipsum. Quisque efficitur, nibh a dapibus mollis, metus tortor fermentum ante, non pellentesque mi magna non leo. Integer quis sem hendrerit, euismod dolor id, dapibus nulla. Maecenas non ultrices lorem. Pellentesque lobortis, diam eget feugiat lacinia, ante augue ullamcorper tortor, vel ornare sapien lacus pharetra quam.