Aha Moments of the Ego: The Splits

The safety of the womb shell shatters as you are propelled into a split world. One moment you are cocooned in oceanic bliss with no sense of separation and then, bam, you’re cast out of heaven to go it alone!  Cue bright lights, loud noises, a slap on the backside, a gasp for first breath, the feel of cold steel and the terror of disconnection.  Expelled from oneness with the source of all creation to be ejaculated into a fragmented universe. Welcome, baby, to the world of form, the ten thousand things, as they say in Zen.

Despite the shock entry into this planet, your sense of separation is incomplete. You are not wholly detached from source because your ego has not yet established its stranglehold. As Wordsworth said: “trailing clouds of glory do we come from God who is our home”. You retain a sense of glorious oneness for around 12 months and then slowly the developing ego charts your downhill course from unity to separation. The boa constrictor ego tightens its grip until, by the time you are a toddler, your true Self is shed. Instead of emerging free like a butterfly you materialize imprisoned within a false self, a persona. The supreme, eternal identity that was manifest at birth has crawled under the carpet of your mind and has become lost to your consciousness. The shriveled persona with which you are left is a poor, frightened creature terrified of removing its many masks. Your whole sense of being is now locked up in this fragmented, contracted small self we call the ego. You have split from your higher Self.

My research* shows how only Aha experiences can begin to heal your split self. It also shows the ego for what it really is, a many-headed beast with constriction at its core. Self-sabotaging inner talk is its specialty. Gremlins, or egoic attack thoughts run the show you call your life. You are on automatic pilot as your life is guided by these unconscious Gremlins. They resonate throughout your bodymind and shrink your whole sense of being. Here, for instance, a client is guided to awareness of how her attack thoughts affect her whole experience of living:

“My coach was encouraging me to reflect on the voice of the gremlin at the same time as exploring the feelings and sensations in my body. The “Aha” moment came as I saw the link between the gremlin and the body and mind response. I felt myself shrinking as I realised that this is too often my tendency” (J. Mc L., client)

Practices for the ego

Gremlins lurk in the shadows of your mind, keeping you stuck in the status quo of who you think you are. They attack you by continually pointing out your weaknesses and failures. They are an ingrained habit of mind that run you like a puppet until you WAKE UP and realise that you are doing this to yourself. This is how:

Whenever you are feeling resistance, fear, or backtracking and focusing on your limiting factors, then be warned, your gremlin has taken centre stage in the drama you call “you”. It tells you variations on the themes of “You are too stupid”, “It’s too risky”, “You’re not ready”, “You’re not equipped”, “You should be stronger”, “They won’t like it if you . . .”

Gremlins appeal to our sense of reason and their “advice” often sounds like constructive analysis: “I’ll be more productive if I wait until Monday”, “I have to earn a living after all”, “I should give xx more consideration”, “No need to be hasty”. They don’t care about your values but make your life a misery if they see that you are not following them: “You’re spineless”, “No follow through”, “Give it up”.

Gremlins can’t stand too much scrutiny, so bring them out of the shadows and get to know him / her / them intimately:

When does he / she / it show up?

How, exactly, does it make you feel?

What does it look like?

What is the name of your gremlin?

Draw / sculpt / make a collage of it /. Write a poem or letter about it.

List the common statements that it tells you.

What is the tone of its voice?

Count the number of times it appears to you this week.

Treat yourself to a great little book called “Taming your Gremlins: A Guide to Enjoying Yourself” by Richard Carson or watch him on youtube.

The trick is to just observe, very gently and with simple curiosity without judgment the nature of your gremlins, or attack thoughts. Is it possible to stand back and simply watch them? If so you’ll derive huge self-awareness.

So commit to smashing through the shell of the ego by drenching yourself in Aha moments. Like a baby bird pecking its way out of its shell, each Aha moment breaks through your wall, taking you closer to the freedom that lies beyond it. And from there you can take flight. All you need do is take on board the ideas set forth in these articles about ego and you will begin to transform your life.

* All quotes are genuine responses from the participants in my research. These participants were clients of Co-Active Coaching who filled in diaries about their Aha moments just after sessions with their coach.

 

 

The Dark Denial of Shadow

Aha! Moments of the Ego. Part 2 (i)

The last post looked at Gremlins and how to recognize them. Even when we still have much work to do in overcoming our conditioned mind, at least we can lure the Gremlins out into the open, into the light of consciousness. 

This is trickier with our “shadow” self. We could think of our shadow as a collection of lunatics the ego keeps locked up in our psychic attic. The lunatics are not so easy to bring into the light of day because the ego invests so much energy in denying their existence. The ego far prefers to hide behind its masks, or personas as Jung called them. Most shadows were formulated in childhood when we were unable to bear what was happening to us. So our ego buried the events deep in our unconscious, an understandable but deadly strategy because the ego is now at war with the shadow.

Shadows will retaliate no matter how much the ego tries to deny and repress them. They just keep popping up, sometimes as bad moods, phobias or compulsive ideas, and sometimes in dreams. According to Jung, nightmares often present the shadow as ‘primitive’, a ‘savage’, a wild man, ape or other wild beast, or a monster. Such monsters represent traumatized, dissociated parts of the psyche hidden away so that you can present the persona ofa strong, powerful and attractive member of society. When the shadow bursts into life in the dream world the ego can perceive it as a mortal threat to this persona. So we have a fragmented psyche: the false self or persona that the ego has totally identified with versus the murky shadow that the ego has pushed down into unconsciousness.

The game of fitting into society compels us to show only ‘acceptable’ parts of ourselves. As Jung noted, ‘We have a certain idea of how a civilized or educated or moral person should live’. We are so desperate for approval that we hide our ‘shameful’ parts behind our public masks. Everything that we deem to be ugly, sinful, weak or ridiculous aspects of ourselves are locked behind prison bars, leaving only the persona with its fake posturing and social ambitions. It costs a lot to run this prison - 24 hour surveillance, barbed wire fences, dogs etc. The cost isn’t financial. You pay with your whole life and the cost is suffering. It takes huge amounts of psychic energy to construct and maintain this prison populated by your unacceptable, shameful shadow elements. This is what makes the shadow deadly. If the gap between the persona and the shadow grows too big and the energy required to maintain the division becomes too exhausting, a breakdown can result. The shadow can turn daemonic, becoming an energy field of vengeful energy, hating the ego’s false self and hell bent on destroying it.

All the energy poured into the shadow could be freed up for vibrant living if the ego would only allow it. If we want to stop being a victim or pawn of our shadow, then we must establish a truce between the ego and the shadow. We must reintegrate the shadow back into the psyche, rather than have it menacing our lives from the murky depths of our unconscious. It has to be faced.
The quote from this client shows her facing shadow elements presented as bodily experiences:
“Instead of immediately going for cover I ask myself what this sensation is trying to tell me”

Practices for Unearthing the Shadow

To begin to get more familiar with your shadow, do your best to answer these questions (however partial your answers might be):

  • What do I least want others to know about me?

  • What do I tend to have a disproportionate reaction to?

  • What qualities of mine do I often feel aversion toward?

  • What do I most easily project onto others?

  • Which emotions do I consider to be negative?

  • Which emotions am I the least comfortable expressing?

  • Who or what specifically was I trying to get away from in those dreams of mine in which I was trapped or being pursued?

  • What am I most scared to openly express or share in a relationship?

Don’t worry if you don’t have clear answers for all of these questions. To even attempt to answer them brings you into the domain of your shadow, however slightly. The lighting may be dim and your steps tentative, but at least you are approaching your shadow. The very act of turning toward it is a major step in your evolution, no matter how slight such movement initially may be.

 

“I think therefore I am…screwed”

The+Thinker.jpg

At your core is a beautiful pearl, shimmering, iridescent and vibrating love. You were born like this but the pearl soon got buried under the weight of thought. You were taught that the best thing you can do is to think. The thinking mind has been prized for centuries as the apex of intelligence, the pinnacle of consciousness. And so the precious pearl got buried under the weight of thoughts, ideas and belief systems. From birth your mind has been filled with stories about who you are and what the world is. A steady drip of stories gradually turned into a tidal wave of thinking that engulfed your mind. And now it spews a constant tsunami of useless, second-hand thoughts. Under their weight the pearl has drowned. It is lying at the bottom of the ocean of your mind, laid to rest for all eternity unless you WAKE UP.

You are not your thoughts. Thinking has a very important place in our psyches and is fine to use it when the occasion arises. The problem is that we are thinking all the time. It is the world’s number 1 addiction. We have been brainwashed into believing that, as Descartes famously proclaimed: “I think therefore I am”. It would be more apt to say: “I think therefore I am…screwed”. Thoughts turn into beliefs, i.e. just thoughts that you keep thinking. Most of these repetitive thoughts have taken refuge underground in your mind and now run the show that you call your life without your knowledge. You identify with your beliefs as if they had an objective reality. They do not. They are simply habits of an uncontrolled mind.

Spend just one day being aware of your thoughts as they arise. Notice the busyness of your mind and see how it teams with unexamined thinking, stinking detritus from the outside world that you’ve taken on board, flooding your mind with useless ideas. Look for one single belief that is truly yours, one idea that didn’t come from the outside world. You will soon discover that your mind is not your own. It has become a prison you created by listening to other peoples’ thoughts. The way out of the prison is lit by Aha moments of insight.

Aha moments arise in a quiet mind, a still mind that is not bothered by thoughts. This doesn’t have to be hours of meditation but conscious, regular gaps in thinking. People have huge Aha moments when they mind the gap, when they surrender their thoughts. They consciously impose a small opening between thoughts in which insight can emerge. If you sit in a space of “don’t know” mind you begin to clear the detritus, giving space for a wiser, more intuitive place within you to make its voice heard.

So don’t be a great thinker, be a gap-maker. Be present in the moment and connect to what is happening in your life and not in your head. You will realize that there is a much greater intelligence than your thinking mind awaiting your attention. And when you connect to this higher, interconnected wisdom, you will intuit the re-emergence of the pearl of love that you are.

Aha Moments of the Mind: Map Making

“The garden of the world has no limits, except in your mind.” 
― Rumi

Young people won’t remember how travellers in the London underground system used to find their route. Picture this. You look down into this glass-encased map of London showing underground routes marked by tiny light bulbs. There is an alphabetical list of tube stops under the map. You choose your desired destination from the list and voila! The little bulbs that show your quickest route obligingly light up in unison with a ping.

That is what your mind is like. A thought enters it and ping! – you disappear again into your mental cyber space, your virtual reality where the same old neural pathways light up, motivating the same old behaviour, keeping you trapped in the same old life! As they say in Buddhism, not advancing is retreating. Unlike the underground map, your neuronal lights are invisible. More than 95% of their activity is not on your conscious map of reality. Imagine that! You consider yourself a switched on human being and yet hardly any of your little neuronal light bulbs are firing. This is your crazy mind, a deeply unconscious mire of unused lighting. You sit in the dark, with your tiny little limiting beliefs about yourself, about others and about the world, not knowing that most of your potentials are switched off. That is your current map of reality, hardly any current running through it all. It won’t take you very far will it? Just round and round the same old circuits to the same old, same old days.

Our maps of reality started upon exit from the womb. We were born to parents who were not here for us, not present to our heart-felt, soul-felt needs, even if their physical bodies were with us. They were in the la-la land of their minds, lost in thought and therefore unable to acknowledge us, fully embrace us, make us feel safe, see and hear us without judgment, make us feely truly, deeply loved. So we learned that the world was not a safe place and that love doesn’t flow to us unconditionally. These early lessons and the beliefs and feelings that formed around them terrified us so much that we promptly buried them. And yet these repressed beliefs and feelings linger just under the surface, shaping our worldview and dictating the narrowness of our lives. If you felt abandoned, unloved or abused as a child you will have an unconscious belief that this is what life is like, this is what people are like and you may well attract the kind of people who will abandon you and abuse you. At least to your tiny mind these people will give you the feeling of coming home, no matter how abusive home was. That’s where you learned what love is and your unconscious is seeking home.

The physicist David Bohm had a great metaphor for the mind and its contents. He dubbed it ‘electrochemical fog’, a murky maze where we blunder again and again into the same old unconscious ways of experiencing our lives. The fog blinds us to the truth of who we are. It keeps us lost in the monkey mind, swinging from past to future, rushing to judgment of ourselves and others, all the while missing the only life available to us, the one that is happening right now in this very moment. This is the only thing you can say in truth. I am. Right now I am. There is a sense of I-amness always available to us. Being lost in thought means we lose this awareness that is the ground of everything that is arising and passing in our minds. Being lost in thought means losing our true identity. For we Westerners, this is the tragic state we are in – lost in thought.

There is a way out of the fog. With insight, your mind can be revealed and rewired. Aha moments switch on new little light bulbs, ones that lead you out of darkness and into the light, out of fear and into love. This is because they light the way out of the usual roadmaps and into your true Self. This is the consciousness you find behind all the maps, an awareness that preceded all your beliefs and ideas and assumptions. In this awareness lies undreamed of destinations like peace and happiness. But first, you must bring your maps into conscious awareness. This is the first step in escaping the tyranny of your thoughts and their outdated pathways. It is easy to bring pathways lying just under the radar of consciousness to light, as this client discovered during his Aha moment:

“I realised that I knew consciously that I had pre-conceived ideas about what would happen in a situation” (S. P., client)

Aha moments unearth thinking that is much more deeply buried too. This client writes in her journal to encourage Aha moments from her unconscious mind:

 “I know that when I write, allowing my unconscious to spill out on paper, I sometimes have Aha moments. I can remember this happening particularly when I allowed different parts of my psyche a voice.  As I moved the pen as fast as I could to capture their words, a dialogue would emerge among them from which an Aha moment might occur” (M.L., client).

You do not need more thinking, more ideas or more belief systems, yours or anybody else’s! You need to take a great big rock and chuck it into the stagnant pool of your mind. There is no point in tinkering around throwing pebbles onto the surface and unsettling the waters a trifle. Rearranging your thoughts is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. You might end up with better thoughts but you’re still stuck in your head with your limiting beliefs. Smash through them. This client did:

“The Aha moment suddenly smashes through the crust of consciousness to reveal what was hidden underneath”. (S.D., client).

As well as revealing your current mental maps or belief systems, Aha moments can also re-wire the brain, setting up completely new circuits. Neuroscience confirms a nanosecond of ‘brainstall’ before the Aha moment bursts into full cognition. The new neural pathways encouraged by Aha moments can be created in only 28 days. This is what is meant by neuroplasticity. Ahas can switch on unused neurons:

“It’s as if the brain has to stop before re-orienting itself in a new direction”. (D.L., client)

Practice 

Examine your own underground mental maps. Observe your thoughts dispassionately. Find out what little bulbs keep lighting up.

One great way to do this is through journaling:

1.    Decide on a time limit of between ten and thirty minutes and set an alarm.

2.     Lay the Gremlins aside, take a few deep breaths, open up your heart and write about the contents of your mind.

3.     Do not punctuate, do not worry about grammar or spelling, do not stop, just write, without censor, without judgment, just spill your guts onto the paper.

You’ll be surprised how the simple act of regular journaling will yield Aha moments big and small, bringing into the light of consciousness that which has lurked underground.

 

 

Aha Moments of the Mind: Reading the Mind Games

“Protect yourself from your own thoughts.” 
― Rumi

What do you think is your most intimate relationship? It’s not one that you find outside of yourself with another person, if that’s what you’re thinking. By far your most intimate relationship is the one you have with your self. It’s the picture of reality that you paint in your mind, your own inner world. And in that world you can observe the maps of reality you have created to steer you through life’s choppy seas. These maps are built upon the thoughts you have allowed into your mind. Your thoughts and concepts and ideas have taken root, congealed and fermented into belief systems comprising all the interpretations you’ve placed on your experiences, all your likes and dislikes, all your demands and desires and prejudices. You do not see reality as it is, you filter reality, make up stories about it and then believe them. With these belief systems you spray paint your world, colouring it not with what is truly there but only with the reflection of your own fantasies about how the world is. There is no such thing as clean perception and so you see and experience the world not as it is but as you are. The truth is the polar opposite of what you’ve been taught, i.e. that seeing is believing. The truth is that you believe first and so that is what you perceive. Believing is seeing and this is how you only notice what you expect to see, what fits in with your image of yourself and the people and things in your world. Such are the tricks of your mind.

To gain great Aha moments into your own mind games, all you need do is watch your thoughts and read their stories. The trick is to adopt a light touch and come from a gentle place of simple curiosity with no judgment whatsoever. If you find yourself judging your thoughts as good or bad, right or wrong, you will activate the defense mechanisms that will close them off to you – again! And that would be such a pity. Because if you stay with the programme, you will discover two huge insights:

1.    Everybody has the same or similar negative thoughts as you.

2.    Your thoughts are not really yours.

1. Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone; we’re all nuts. We all share similar negative thinking patterns that come from our inner critics, or gremlins. These patterns have brought us to who we’ve become today. Our crazy minds play some variation on the theme of “I’m not good enough” – not worthy enough, not lovable enough, not capable enough, not clever enough, simply not enough for this world. It is a relief to know that this kind of destructive thinking is not personal but true for all of us.

Bringing hidden beliefs into conscious awareness will show you how they play out in who you’ve become in your mind. In your inner world are you a worrier, a complainer, a dreamer, a procrastinator, a failure, a star? In your outer roles in the world what part do you most like to play – the helper, the hot shot, the shy one, the life and soul of the party, the peacekeeper, the weakling, the clown? Find out who you are in your story. Shine some Aha lights on the particular games your mind likes to play. What are their recurring themes, where does your thinking always go, where does it close down and never go?

After a few weeks of noticing her thoughts and reading their stories, this client discovered that she likes to cast herself as the victim of her life:

“Looking at my stories with an open mind and a light touch, I had a big “Aha” moment when I saw how I loved to play the victim. It gave me the excuse to blame others rather than take responsibility for my own happiness” (S. B., client).

Note the growing up that can happen when we begin to see and acknowledge our own patterns. Without this awareness of our own mind games we have no choices available to us. S. B. is in a far stronger position now to make different choices because she has woken up to her story. Only when we know better can we do better by making better choices. An example of Aha moments opening up choice comes from the next client as he uncovered his story that life has to be a battle

My Aha moment showed me that it has unfortunately been my “reflex” to think in positions and future battles rather than cooperation and common interests”. (C.G., client).

C. G.’s insight paved the way for him to think of the common good rather than his own self-interest.

“Aha” events germinate in a silent space.  The next client reports adopting a strategy suggested by her coach of simply raising awareness of thinking patterns:

“I learned to sit in silence, just observing my thoughts as they arise”. (H.G., client) 

With practice, the stories can be spotted before they have time to take hold, again putting you in a position to make new choices:

“I’ve learned to recognise my old story as it shows up”. (J.W., client

2. With consistent reflection on your belief systems it gradually begins to dawn that your thoughts are not even your own thoughts. They have been conditioned in you. When you tease apart the thoughts that are meaningful to you from the mountains of belief systems that have been forced down your throat, you can begin to get real. Your life becomes more authentically yours. You can decide for yourself what thoughts to allow into your mind, as this client discovered:

“Examining my beliefs in self-reflection has led me to my being me, trusting myself, respecting myself. This is because I have let go of beliefs that don’t belong to me but were ‘put in’ to me” (L. A., client). 

Practices 

1. Become aware, over and over again, of your stories. Do not berate yourself when you find yourself getting lost again in the monkey mind. Just re-establish your attention behind the awareness of your thinking. Awareness, awareness, awareness. This is the foundation stone of transformation. Without it nothing will ever change. It is the first step to self-healing. This blog is a continuation of the last in that it’s all about unearthing the thoughts that you are unconsciously allowing to run you so, again, journaling regularly is a great way to uncover thought patterns that are below the surface of awareness.

2. Get creative with ideas on how to become more aware of your mind games in ways that stimulate you: draw, paint, write poetry, keep notes all day about them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aha Moments of the MInd: Upgrade Your Mind

Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?
― Rumi

The mind is like a bio-computer, one that we forget to upgrade. So it runs on obsolete software of very old stories that have crystalized into a virus. This virus is the ego, the running commentary in our mind, the dictator that keeps us lost in time-travelling between the past and the future, never coming close to our present in-the-moment experience. Most of us are oblivious to the fact that our minds can be upgraded if only we’d wake up and see – Aha, the mind is not me; t’s mine but it’s not who I truly am.  

This client works in computers and describes his habituated patterns of thinking as “running on old programmes”:

 “I learned that I was running on the same old programmes and didn’t even know an update was possible until I started coaching.” (W.M., client)

Your brain runs on ‘software’ comprising your belief systems and their accompanying emotions. When new software is installed, you as bio-computer gain more memory. Now you have even more ‘knowledge’, more beliefs, ideas and opinions with which to argue the toss. And maybe the software allows you to run your mouth even faster in defending your point of view. This is true of the vast majority of the world’s minds. They run on what Integral calls 1st tier levels of consciousness. All these levels have one thing in common; they are all ruled by an ego that says that their particular way of looking at the world is the only correct way. People perpetrate wars to impose this one correct way. So adding more softwear programmes to 1st tier levels of consciousness only keeps you a prisoner of your ego.

Upgrading your mind means acquiring a whole new operating system, a 2nd-tier level of consciousness. Now a magical transformation happens as you rise above ego and a new way of seeing clicks into place. Thoughts don’t go away, they are included in your reality. The difference is that they are now transcended so that they can be perceived from a distance. 2nd tier levels of consciousness are permanent stages along the expanding spectrum of consciousness available to us. We find a wiser and more compassionate depth of awareness where there’s no more self-torture or torturing of anyone else. At 2nd tier we can take an overview; we can stand back and see within ourselves all of the levels of first tier clearly without identifying with any one of them. This is the upgrade from the tyranny of the mind to freedom, when we can dis-identify with our thoughts and realize they no longer define our reality.

Aha moments are very powerful tools for upgrading the mind to this more embracing, more evolved operating system. We realize that we have thoughts and beliefs but we are not those thoughts or beliefs. They are simply stories that we have spun, or more accurately, allowed to have spun for us. Waking up to this means that we no longer hook our personal wagon to the illusory stories of our fixed points of view. Mental life becomes much richer and lighter as we find ourselves relieved of the burdens of defending our belief systems. With an update to 2nd tier, a wiser, more tolerant and more loving attitude towards ourselves and others quite naturally develops.

It is imperative to wake up to the fact that you have a choice here: do you allow your life to be dictated to by virus ridden old computer software or do you transform your inner world by upgrading to a higher level of consciousness? The mind is an amazing evolutionary tool. And when reasoning or imagination or creative invention is called for, it has no equal. The problem is not the mind used as intellect, but the power of unconscious thoughts to run your life. Then the mind is like a herd of wild horses that have escaped captivity and are running amok in every direction. So you feel scattered, ‘all over the place’. By reclaiming control of your mind the wild ones become tamed. (Of course, thoughts need to be made conscious and parts 1a and 1b of this series on mind addressed this). Here is one of the secrets of erasing the virus in your mind:

Take a third-person perspective, or meta-view on your thoughts. This is a higher order of thinking that ‘looks down’ on thoughts so to speak. It’s meta-thinking - thinking about thinking; reflecting on your belief systems. This can be achieved by creating mental space between you and your mind games - your ‘old programmes’, seeing them as objects in your awareness so that you can now consciously perceive the bugs in the system.

This client recounts how taking a meta-view allowed her to see her egoic games from a distance. During a creative visualization, her coach had invited both of them to travel above the city in a helicopter and view her life from this detached perspective:

“My coach asked me to describe what I saw from this ‘on-high’ perspective. As I looked down on me and my colleagues, suddenly I could see the way I was being, the games I was involved in” (D.C., client).

Taking a gentle, non-judgmental approach to one’s mind games encourages Aha moments:

“Aha moments happen when I take a step back and reflect on my own mind games, without judgment. I can also go into my body and listen to what it has to tell me” (S.L., client).

When thoughts are out in the open, they can be examined simply as objects in your awareness. Just like any other objects, they can be experimented upon, manipulated, played with. You can look at the contents of your mind as you would look now at the sentences on this page– outside of you, spread before you for your consideration. You take a step back:

“I’ve learned to take a step back and can now see the bigger picture in situations!” (F.H., client)

Aha moments constantly reveal the importance of meta-thinking and feeling:

“The common theme in my insights is a sense of pulling back from the situation and sensing a system or big picture thing at work”. (K.C., client)

Your thoughts are not you, however persuasive the ego makes them sound and however much you believe them. Meditation allows you to see that the contents of your mind are just like clouds that pass in the sky. Thoughts just come and go, creating no emotional reactions if we let them, if we don’t attach to them, if we don’t follow those crazy horses galloping in all directions. We simply witness them, we allow them to pass over the vast blue sky of our open awareness and float away.

Mind and body are never separate and so meta-awareness can trigger a change in emotions. This awareness of being aware links body and mind to create a bodymind unity that heralds an upgrade to 2nd tier consciousness, a more intuitive level of understanding.  After flights of fantasy with her coach this client’s meta-view has created a sense of expansion:

“Feeling expansion my mind…letting other possibilities in, allowing my imagination to lift me up and put me in touch with the bigger picture”. (L. M., client)

Practices 

1.    It’s great when you have a coach and there’s two of you to get in the helicopter and look down on yourself, your thoughts, feelings and actions from this ‘on-high’ perspective, but even a solo ride will produce Aha moments. So climb aboard your helicopter, stand on the rim of the plate, or whatever metaphor works for you in being able to separate yourself from your mind and see its contents in your awareness. Take a meta-view.

2.    Meditation: Close your eyes and picture this: you are sitting in a green pasture on a lovely summer’s day beside a sparkling stream. Breathe deeply into your belly and allow your attention to follow your breath. When a thought arises, drop it softly into the stream. Notice that when it lands it turns into a little leaf that floats gently down the stream and fades from view. Continue dropping your thought leaves into the stream until you’re all thought out. Practice daily, even for a few minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aha Moments of the Mind: Welcome Uncertainty

Uncertainty.jpg

Mysteries are not to be solved: The eye goes blind when it only wants to see why ― Rumi

Start to Tolerate Paradox

There is a world of difference between change and transformation. Change requires no alteration in your present level of consciousness. Your level of consciousness dictates your worldview, determining the size of your particular peephole on the world. An fool can change their behaviour by learning new skills, anyone can change their mind by re-organising their thoughts, but without rising above their current worldview they are still looking through the same hole. The same old thoughts, the same old views, the same old world.

This is you without transformation. Without continuing to grow and evolve along an ever-evolving spectrum of consciousness you get stuck. You continue to lap up all the belief systems, all the stories your society spoon-feeds you. You still judge and interpret the world according these stories. People con themselves into thinking that their belief systems can make them feel safe in an unpredictable world. This is a big mistake that keeps people infantilised. They remain Princes and Princesses, never stepping up to claim their crowns as Kings and Queens, leaders of the only domains over which they ever have certain control, the land of their minds.

To transform is to transcend your current worldview so that you can operate from a higher mind. This is not a metaphor nor an abstract idea but a proven fact that the structures of your mind change as you go beyond (trans) your previous levels of consciousness. Higher levels engender ever more complex structures that lead your mind into clearer, wiser, vastly more spacious terrains where you are no longer identified with your silly, tiny little ego mind This ego mind still exists, it's still included in the transformed you but you have transcended it and therefore you are no longer exclusively identified with it. This is the first step to freedom; you have transcended your thinking mind and with it the limits you have always placed on your sense of self, your understanding of who you are. Indeed my study found that transcending the ego mind offers a freedom so immense that people will gladly loosen the strictures of their buttoned down beliefs to achieve it. All you have to do is give up the need to be 'right', let go of believing that your ego mind can make you safe by waking up to the fact that there is no such thing as certainty. Without certainty there is only theory, interpretation, conjecture. Accepting this is the first step to overcoming the grip of the ego and then all you have to do is:

Choose to tolerate uncertainty, ambiguity and paradox. Practice makes perfect so put your energy and attention into practising getting comfortable with the unknowability of existence. Quit kidding yourself that you can find certainty - it's so refreshing to be honest with yourself.

Societal beliefs should come with a health warning. It is not good for you to pretend to yourself that life is knowable, predictable, certain. Because the truth is that there are no ultimate certainties in life and deep down we know it. How can we live authentically with so much denial of truth? It's like living with dirty little secrets.  We think we are keeping ourselves safe, but in fact we’re keeping ourselves stuck by clinging to belief systems that aren’t even ours, as client M. H. attests:

“I have really looked at my beliefs since childhood and realised that so many of them either didn't belong to me or were based on assumption. I get into a lot less trouble with people these days due to questioning some of my beliefs”.  

Stop living other peoples' lives. Stop understanding your life and your world based on what other people say. Look how screwed up the world is. And you want to model your life on this world's belief systems?

Do you want to live your own unique authentic life? How can you when not one of your beliefs is your own? This is why it is essential to hold your beliefs up to the light of examination:

Are they really your beliefs?

Are you sure about that?

When beliefs are not questioned they have us; they have our unconscious buy-in and then they dictate how we experience our life. Unexamined beliefs belong to 1st tier levels of thinking where each level thinks that it has the proper, the correct, the one and only true set of beliefs. Many people are at a level of consciousness labelled 'amber' in Integral theory to signify certain personal values and self-identities. Those who have developed to the amber stage are led by group values and identify only with their own groups. This is a conformist, ethnocentric stage where allegiance is paramount and groups demand loyalty, obedience and rule-following. There is a strong moralistic sense of right and wrong, good or bad, with an emphasis on rules, obligations, honour and duty. Amber is the highest stage of development of those following  fundamentalist religions. They believe that "My God is the only right and true God and the rest of you can all burn in hell". They form their convictions based on the literal interpretation of corrupted religious texts, demonstrating no facility for rational reflection. Those at amber share the level of awareness of a 10 - 12 year old no matter their chronological age. This is where their development stopped mainly because this is the level of maturity of their nation. Sophisticated weapons in the hands of children whose beliefs are pre-rational is a deadly combination.

Beliefs are also deadly on a personal level. They are death to the spirit. Spirit blossoms in a still mind. There is no stillness in a war-torn mind. There is no peace in fighting to defend a belief that you pretend to be a certainty That you have to try so hard to shore up a position shows that you have no confidence in your position, no certainty. Your soul, or higher self or inner wisdom or whatever label we slap on it, knows somehow that nothing is sure, nothing is certain. We intuit in our bones that life is a great mystery and no amount of so-called knowledge or belief systems can change that. But when the ego drowns out the voice of the soul, an internal battle rages between your mind trying to convince you that life is knowable and controllable, and your intuition whispering that this is not so.

Intuition comes from a higher, deeper level of consciousness than the ego mind. To transcend the rational mind and reach the embodied wisdom of intuition, we have to get comfortable with the uncertainties, ambiguities and paradoxes of life by developing a little trust in the mystery. Client M.G.’s excerpt shows the accommodation and resolution of previous paradoxical thinking:

After wrestling with doubts and uncertainties, I’ve learned that there is a much more powerful place for me to go – both/and and not either/or” (M. G., client).

So there is more power in thinking that reconciles opposites and nurses doubts than in the pretence of the 'safety' of a polarized belief system. It’s a relief to move beyond either/or thinking to arrive at 2nd tier consciousness. It’s not only good for you, it’s good for others around you:

“Now I operate on a different level. I am not attached to beliefs – mine or anyone else’s. It’s so freeing. I’m lighter, brighter, more loving and more tolerant, of myself and others” (S.D., client)

Aha moments are stimulated when you can tolerate uncertainty without becoming insecure. Learn to widen your telescope to include opposites and polarities. Don't chop things up into good and bad, right and wrong, black and white. You can be free of concepts by positively embracing paradox and uncertainty:

As I embrace apparent paradox and uncertainty, I’m free to create and act in ways I wasn’t before. I’m finding myself much less judgmental and far more compassionate towards others.” (L.R., client)

Paradox, ambiguity, uncertainty are all concepts of the mind. There is nothing wrong with the mind. It is a fine instrument as long as it used as the servant of our lives and not the master. The thinking mind is at our disposal for all for the ways is which we can use it wisely. And when we’re not using it we shouldn’t be in it. But we are. Constantly. We are no longer the master of our minds but the slaves. Thinking has grown out of control. Like a cancer is has spread to the more important dimensions of life – the creative mind, the intuitive body, the depths of consciousness where we discover our true nature, and has silenced them all. It is through stilling this ego mind that the higher dimensions can be recaptured. When we see through the absurdity of the ego mind, we position ourselves to get comfortable with uncertainty. We can end up laughing at the absurdity of our ego:

“I am so much more aware of my ego and its frustrations and demands. I used to be a slave to these demands but now I can recognise it and laugh at it” (M.M., client)

Practice  

Stop trying to find answers. See that every belief you hold is a mere concept, it is not reality itself which is beyond any conceptual thinking the mind can entertain. Sit quietly and reflect on this. You might like to reflect on this wonderful poem from Rilke:

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.