For many years, I’ve been told by my parents, my teachers, Buddhist monks, and many authors of self-help / spiritual books that forgiveness is the key to everything, including personal growth, happiness, inner peace and peace of mind. It seems that without forgiveness we are destined to be horrible people and live in a state of misery.

It has always made sense to me why forgiveness was so important because I could easily see that the person most affected by my anger, hatred, resentment and all the other emotions that came with not forgiving, was me. As much as I’d like to think that holding a grudge would make the other person feel bad for what they did and serve as a lesson for them, I realized that the pain I was putting myself through in that hope simply wasn’t worth it.

Then there’s the bit that people also say, which is that forgiveness of others only comes after self-forgiveness.

Years ago, at a Buddhist weekend retreat, we were guided through a forgiveness mediation which in summary started by:

1) imagining someone you would like to forgive and placing them into your heart while you said to yourself that you forgave them for what they had done to you;
2) then you imagined someone that you felt needed to forgive you and you imagined them in your heart and asked them for forgiveness;
3) then the meditation ended by putting yourself in your own heart and asking yourself for forgiveness.

Understanding the importance of forgiveness, I thought it was a nice exercise but I always felt I was missing something that they weren’t telling me. How was it that I was supposed to “put” people in my heart? Clearly, simply by imagining them in my heart wasn’t going to be enough.

So, how does one forgive?

What helped me start to understand this back then was the idea that everyone is doing the best that they can, given what they know in that moment. I am aware that people can easily turn this into an excuse, but I always understood that there was truth behind these words. Even though, I didn’t exactly know what that truth was, I had some intellectual idea of what it meant.

The other day I was listening to one of my teachers, Sandy Krot, and she was talking about how the level of service we provide the people we work with is so much greater when we help them understand how forgiveness works compared to simply telling them that forgiveness is a good thing to do. I was curious to hear more from her about this and what she shared made perfect sense to me. Her words were like a confirmation of what I had recently started to experience for myself but hadn’t yet tried to put into words.

What she said was not that different from what I’ve been sharing with you regarding the importance of Thought and its relationship to our experience of life.

What I have been seeing more and more lately is that, as people start getting their own insights into the principles behind life, they begin to recognize how easily they themselves get tricked by the outside-in illusion. Which is to say, that they innocently find themselves feeling that the source for their feelings is coming from something or someone outside of themselves.

The more people see this outside-in illusion for themselves and begin to recognize how often they are mistakenly trapped into believing something feels like it’s outside-in, they begin to recognize the same innocence in other people as well.

Every one of us is always feeling and reacting to the quality of thought associated to our level of consciousness in any given moment in time. And, when we perceive a threat and believe it to be real, we all do what we can to defend ourselves against it.

Going back to what Sandy Krot said to me. She said that once she had the insight that all her feelings came from the inside and that no one else was responsible for them, she found that forgiveness was a “no brainer” and that there was “nothing to forgive”.

And, that is what I think true forgiveness is; when we feel there isn’t anything to forgive.

Until next time, may the four winds continue to help guide your way.

Lots of love,
Daniel

This is going to be a long one so please bear with me.

This post is mainly in response to a question I received, from a comment I made challenging an article that said we can find happiness by following a to-do list.  But, it’s also a response to a number of conversations I’ve had were people say happiness comes from outside sources and/or is difficult to find.

I recognize that there are many tools and techniques that we can use to help us live easier and better lives. In fact, many of these tools and techniques are used every day by some people to achieve great things and by others to simply help them survive each day, which is an amazing thing.

In my challenge, I mention that the article is pointing people to pursue the characteristics of happiness as opposed to the cause. I said this because people are innocently pointing in the wrong direction when they are looking to find happiness as a result of some external source, in other words, in doing something or achieving something.

It’s going to sound counter to what we have all been taught, but we already have “happiness” inside of ourselves, we don’t need to do anything to have it. It is what we are already made of.

Most people in the mental health field are in it because they want to help people and they are going about doing this using tools and techniques that they have been taught. Unfortunately, many of these models don’t have the level of success that we would all want. Some people keep searching for more because they intuitively know something is missing from what they are being taught. But, others entrench themselves so heavily in the particular model or technique they have learned, that they are unwilling to even consider the possibility that other approaches exist.

If we look at the mental health industry, very few people, if any, have ever actually studied mental health. What they have studied are the ideas that others have had to describe what they believe to be mental illnesses. And as part of the training, people are taught a number of different procedures, techniques, and tools that seem to have an effect on some of the people that are “suffering” from these “conditions”.

Many of these procedures, tools and techniques are pointing to a misunderstanding that our lives are affected by our circumstance or by the world around us. Even the more recent modalities that recognize the importance of thought and our psychology, treat thoughts like something has a kind of form. All these approaches are designed to help you cope with your experience of life better, but do very little in helping you understand what is creating your experience of life in the first place. It’s like helping the main character in a movie to learn how to live a better life inside of their movie, as opposed to helping him or her understand that they are living inside of a movie in the first place.

We live in a world that views our psychology in the same way that people viewed the world as being flat hundreds of years ago. Think about it, if we didn’t know the world was round, and we didn’t have the ability to travel the way we do now, it would be very easy to believe it was flat. If we were to look outside, the ground appears to be flat and when we look out to an ocean, even the horizon seems flat.

Our psychology, or how we work, is no different. People look around themselves and see that their emotions are a reaction to their parents yelling at them, or their boss accusing them of wrong doing, or because they aren’t rich, or <fill in the blank>. So, they believe that their environment is creating their moods and more importantly, believe that it is affecting their well-being.

But this is simply not true. The system is designed to make it seem like it’s coming from the outside world but every emotion that you feel can only be created by thought, which we then turn into a feeling that we associate with something externally to ourselves, which is why we believe it caused by the outside. People that believe their emotions are caused by something outside of themselves are living in the analogy that the world is flat and I’m going to do my best to explain why it is that the world is in fact and inside-out world, and that it is round.

Let me begin by asking you some questions and giving you some metaphors to play with. Please answer honestly but don’t dwell on the questions, they are meant to be simple and superficial.

Let me ask you, do you believe that, to some extent, your thinking creates your feelings? Great…just so you know, most people at this point either nod their heads or say yes. Now comes the second question, do you believe, to some extent, that a situation or circumstance creates your feelings? Most people that I speak with say yes to both, but both cannot be true. A paradigm, defined as a model of how something works, can not have two different set of rules. There is only one way in which something can work.

So, let me do my best to explain to you what I mean by the fact that we live in an inside-out world and what impact the outside-in misunderstanding can innocently have us.

Many time people seem to recognize that what I’m about to share with you is true because they can feel the truth behind the words even if they don’t understand why or what it is they are feeling. So, here goes. We all have innate well-being inside of us and the only things that keeps us from it is our personal thinking; the innocent misunderstanding of the relationship between thought and our experience.

We have all be taught by our parents, teachers, the media and society that our well-being is something we need to work hard to maintain. We are told that staying positive in the face of all of lives problems is a lot of work and that there are things we can do in order to try and stay ahead of these challenges and remain positive, in spite of everything that is going on around us. This is simply not true.

The truth is that at the core of our being is our innate well-being and mental health. Again, the only thing that keeps us from feeling it more often is our innocent use of thought. Even though it seems like our feelings are coming from the outside, the reality is that our feelings are a reflection of our thoughts in that moment. In other words, when we have bad feelings, we are having bad thoughts; when we are having good feelings, we are having good thoughts.

Now, let me caution you, it may sound like what I’m referring to is another tool or a technique—if you change your thinking you will change your mood—but that isn’t what I’m saying. You see, we can’t control our thinking. If we could control our thinking, then we would be able to stop thinking about whatever it is that is bothering us so much. Thinking comes and goes in a constant stream of thoughts. We never know what thoughts we are going to have in any given moment. What I’m referring to is understanding Thought and it is in that understanding that your relationship to the thought-feeling relationship changes.

People often ask me what they can do to stop thinking about whatever it is that is bothering them. Even if they are able to distract themselves for periods of time, these thoughts always seem to return. I bet you that if they could “control” their thinking, they would never think about that troubling thought ever again. So, what I’m saying isn’t about changing your thinking, monitor, your thinking, or doing anything about your thinking. We are thinking creatures and we are going to think. Some of the thoughts will be conscious and others won’t. What I’m pointing to is that as your understanding deepens with regard to how the thought-feeling relationship actually works, you will be less affected by your thoughts, you will recover faster and with greater ease.

Let me change the subject for a moment and then I’ll come back to this later on.

I think everyone would agree that it’s perfectly normal for us to defend ourselves if we believe something is threatening us. For example, if a forest fire was approaching our home, it would be perfectly normal for us to defend our home from that threat. We would either: try to put out the fire, try to divert the fire in a safe direction, put up a barrier to block the fire, try to fire-proof our home (if that was possible) and whatever else we can come up with to protect our home from harm. In fact, we would be foolish not to try and do something.

When we believe that our emotions are caused by something outside of ourselves, which is again the way we are taught to believe is how things are (the world is flat), we would be foolish not to try to defend ourselves against that threat, just like the fire. In the process of that protection we create a lot of thinking around that threat in order to try to understand it, to block it, to divert it, and whatever else we can come up with to protect ourselves from it.

Moving on to the next thing, which is to say that it’s important to understand the structure of thought. Every thought that comes to us has the exact same structure as every other thought. All are the same and all work in the same way. A thought is a thought is a thought. A thought comes from the unknown (nothingness) and at the end of its life, it goes back to the unknown (nothingness).

We have all had “irrelevant” thoughts come to us and because we interpret them as irrelevant, we don’t pay them any attention and they go back to the nothingness from where it came from. This all happens without any implications to our well-being or affecting us in any way, shape or form. In fact, this is a perfect time for me to share that the life of a thought is only as long as we give it importance or we feed it with attention. Because we didn’t give this “irrelevant” thought any importance, we didn’t feed it, it didn’t become bigger, it didn’t become more real, and it didn’t affect us in any way. We simply ignored it and it went back to where it came from.

Well, like I said before, all thoughts have the same structure, the only difference is that we give some thoughts more importance than others. The ones we give importance to are the ones that seem more solid and as they become more “real”, the thought’s corresponding emotions are created and we end up “feel” it.

Changing direction once again, but this time only slightly, let me give you another metaphor. You are standing on the platform, waiting for a train and you notice a guy walking in your direction. As he is approaching, you notice that he is walking with complete disregard to the fact that he is pushing through people as opposed to walking around them. As he gets closer, you wonder if he’ll adjust given that you are looking in his direction, but he is completely oblivious to you and brushes your back as we walks past. As you imagine this situation, what kinds of feelings are coming up for you or would you imagine yourself having if you were actually there?

Great. Now, imagine this. You are standing on the platform, waiting for a train and you notice a guy walking in your direction. You recognize him from a news story you saw from the night before, about how his whole family had been killed in an accident and he was the only survivor. As he is approaching, you notice that he is walking with complete disregard to the fact that he is pushing through people as opposed to walking around them. As he gets closer, you wonder if he’ll adjust given that you are looking in his direction, but he is completely oblivious to you and brushes your back as we walks past. As you imagine this situation, what kinds of feelings are coming up for you or would you imagine yourself having if you were actually there?

Most people recognize that their emotional response is different for both scenarios, which is the point because the physical event has not changed. The outside world is exactly the same in both situations. The only thing that has changed is your internal interpretation of the event. Your emotions are caused by your interpretation of an event, which is thought, and are not caused by the event itself. This is true 100% of the time. But, don’t take my word for it. Play with it. Notice it for yourself.

Now, here is another element I want to add to the mix. Your state of mind, in any given moment, will determine the quality of the thought(s) that you will have in that moment. In other words, if we are in a bad state of mind, in a bad mood, and a situation occurs, our interpretation of that event is often a representation of our mood. However, when that same situation occurs and we happen to be in a good mood, then our interpretation of it is completely different. Let me give you a simple example, but I invite you, if you haven’t already, to remember times when this same phenomenon has happened to you. If we are in a bad mood and someone steps on your foot, you would likely react with some form of anger or aggression. But, if we were in a good mood and someone stepped on your foot, you would tend to respond in a more understanding or compassion fashion. Would you agree?

So, in short, we respond to our interpretation of situations and the quality of our interpretation varies considerably, depending on the state of mind we are in at that given moment.

Let’s get back to the earlier example of the metaphorical fire. If we are defending ourselves from the perceived threat (when we believe something outside of us causes our moods), we develop a lot of thinking about that threat, like I mentioned before as we try to come up with ways to defend ourselves. But, chances are that we are not in a good state of mind as we think about the threat and as a result, the quality of our thinking will be low. We may even replay the situation over again in our minds and create new interpretations of it, which again, are influenced by our low mood. And, with this new interpretation we have more thinking, etc., etc., etc.

The more we think about something, the more real it seems and the more we try to defend against it. It’s easy to see how we can innocently create a downward spiral with this use of thought.

On the other hand, when we recognize that:

  1. Our feelings are driven by our thoughts in that moment
  2. Our reaction is based on our interpretation (thought)
  3. Our interpretation is directly influenced by our state of mind
  4. Our thinking and the quality of our thinking will reflect our state of mind

Then our relationship to our moods automatically changes. We begin to see  that a number of the different variables that go into determining our given reaction and mood can often be arbitrary or even illusions. We also begin to notice, from our own experience, how the life of a thought and it’s affect on us is directly proportional to how much importance we give it. Because thoughts are always changing, our mood will change when a new thought comes in, as long as we aren’t holding on to it. Sometimes, this change happens instantly and other times it takes a bit of time. But our thoughts will always change, and when they do, we will feel differently.

When we have recurring thoughts that bring us down, if we feed that thought, it will continue to bring us down when the thought returns. However, just like our bodies have a self-healing system, our psychology has a self-healing system as well. When we don’t feed our thinking and make it seem real, our self-healing system will do what it does. When a thought is not given importance and it is recognized for what it is—just thought, like any other thought—it goes away, and when it comes back, it comes back with less of a charge. Eventually, the charge will go away completely and the thought will stop coming back.

So, what does all this have to do with well-being, peace of mind, and/or “happiness”?

The most important thing to take away from all of this is that you already have perfect mental health and innate well-being inside of you. It is our default state.

When we don’t get caught up in all the noise of our personal thinking, it allows our mind to be more quiet. As our personal mind is quieter, we naturally go back towards our default state of well-being and peace of mind. When we are closer to our innate well-being, we tend to have better quality thoughts and it’s also easier for us to connect with and listen to our inner wisdom. So, as a result, we end up living an easier life, with more appreciation, joy, forgiveness, and a bunch of other characteristics that people associate with happiness.

I know this post has been very long and thank you for sticking it out to the end. I hope the information I’m providing here is of use to you or someone you know. I’d be happy to discuss this further if you want or if you have any questions that came up as you read. Feel free to contact me.

Until next time, may the four winds continue to help guide your way.

Lots of love,
Daniel

PS – My latest quick description of the Three Principles:

There are three truths or principles that create our experience of life:

  1. Mind: there is a life-force and intelligence in the world / universe we live in
  2. Consciousness: we have an ability to recognize our own existence
  3. Thought: we have an ability to think, which is what we use to experience the world we live in.

The first principle (Mind) points to the fact that there is something other than ourselves that determines the inner workings of life. For example, something other than ourselves has determined that when you plant a seed you don’t get a bunny rabbit. In fact, when you plant a specific seed, you always get the same plant. You can’t choose what plant you want to come out of an acorn; you will always get an oak tree. I’m always amazed by the intelligence around us when I see any nature program on TV. It is truly amazing. I have not met anyone, regardless of their personal believes that does not recognize that we are part of something greater, whatever it is that they want to call it.

The second principle (Consciousness) is pointing to the fact that we all have an ability of awareness and it is through this awareness that we feel and experience life. Again, I have not met anyone that could tell me they didn’t have awareness.

The third principle (Thought) points to the fact that 100% of our life is experienced via thought. By thought, I mean some activity in our brain that results in an interpretation of data that we gather through our senses, as well as what we would normally define as thinking. As you read these words, your eyes are gathering data that is sent to different parts of the brain, which is processed and transformed into an interpretation. This interpretation is an example of thought.

 

I have a photocopied page with a numbered list of 12 items entitled, The Symptoms of Inner Peace. I can’t remember where or from whom I got it, but the page clearly shows a wooden picture frame that encased and protected the original from which it was copied from. The list of symptoms is centred nicely inside a simple, patterned border, with nothing else on the page.

I’ve always liked this description of Inner Peace, but now that a big part of my work is to help my clients awaken to the peace-of-mind that is our default setting, and often innocently hidden by all our personal thining (ego thinking or superstitious thinking), this list has become even more powerful for me. Not because I view it differently but because now I know it isn’t some illusive dream.

Before, when I used to read this list, it was more of an ideal or some distant goal to shoot for in my personal development. Thinking about how nice it would be one day to actually live life with these symptoms of inner peace as a natural and normal part of my day-to-day life.

My home as a child was often filled with many of these spiritual and inspirational sayings and quotes. Many of them I loved and agreed with, but often felt that even though their message was beautiful and “inspirational”, they were very difficult to achieve or to attain; I always believed it was, “easer said than done.”

Having come across the work of Sydney Banks and others in the Three Principles field, which I am very grateful to be a part of, I now understand that these symptoms of inner peace are not only NOT difficult to find, but they are easily achievable by everyone and not only reserved for the “enlightened” ones.

Inner Peace is not something to search for because it is who you already are, it is a part of all of us, regardless of who we are, our circumstances or our history. As I have continue to deepen my understanding of the principles that create my experience of life, I find it easier to get out of my own way and to live in my default state of well-being more often, with inner peace.

Giving an author credit for their work is very important to me, so I did a search online and quickly found that the original text was written by Saskia Davis in 1984. The author has a lovely description of how this came about, which can be found here. The original text is slightly different than the list in my photocopy, but the general meaning was unchanged. Here is the original text:

SYMPTOMS OF INNER PEACE
by Saskia Davis

Be on the lookout for symptoms of inner peace. The hearts of a great many already have been exposed; and it is possible that people, everywhere, could come down with it in epidemic proportions. This could pose a serious threat to what, up to now, has been a fairly stable condition of conflict in the world.

Signs & Symptoms of Inner Peace

A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences

An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment

A loss of interest in judging other people

A loss of interest in judging self

A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others

A loss of interest in conflict

A loss of ability to worry

Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation

Contented feelings of connectedness
with others & nature

Frequent attacks of smiling

An increasing tendency to let things
happen rather than make them happen

An increased susceptibility to love extended by others and the uncontrollable urge to extend it

WARNING
If you have some or all of the above symptoms, be advised that your condition of inner peace may be too far advanced to be curable. If you are exposed to anyone exhibiting any of these symptoms, remain exposed only at your own risk. © 1984

 Until next time, may the four winds continue to help guide your way.

Lots of love,
Daniel

One of the most common questions that I get when I’m first introducing the principles behind life to my clients is, “how do I do it?” Another way in which this question comes up is when I’m speaking with them specifically about the nature of Thought and the thought-feeling relationship. Once they start to recognize that their emotions are coming from Thought, they will often ask, “how do I change my thinking,” or “how do I stop thinking about what’s upsetting me?”

I know it may not be what you want to hear, but there is nothing to do. What the principles point to is how your experience of life works. It’s like asking, “how do I do gravity for it to keep me down on the ground?” Most of us have grown up being taught that for us to learn, achieve, develop, improve, etc., we need to do something. And that makes sense when we want to develop a skill or improve our competence with something. For example, to become a good piano player, we need to practice and learn different skills. This is different in the sense that there isn’t a skill to learn or a particular competence to develop. As you start to understand the principles behind our experience and about the thought-feeling relationship, there is nothing to apply. The knowledge itself, your deeper awareness of how life works is all that it takes for you to experience changes in your life.

From this deeper understanding, we simply get a new thought when appropriate. Let me give you an example. One of my clients, let’s call her Jenny, was recently watching a story on TV of a family that had fled their home country due to a number of atrocities that are common in that country. Jenny started feeling really sad as she heard the story and was surprised to find herself on the verge of tears. She wondered why this particular story was affecting her much more than other sad stories she’s come across recently. It then occurred to her, she had a new thought, that there must be some unconscious thought that is having her associate to this sad story much more than others. As she recognized that her emotions must be linked to some thought, her sadness naturally started to shift. Jenny didn’t “do” anything about it to shift her mood or to change her thinking. Just the recognition that this must be an example of the thought-feeling relationship was enough and that recognition (thought) just came to her.

During his recent talk with Ali Campbell, entitled Diving In, Michael Neill said:

There is no ‘how you do it’ because it’s what happens and that’s what throws us, because we think, ‘I want it to happen faster.’ Anything you do to make it happen faster will make it happen slower. The design has a sense of humor.

I invite you to play with this for yourself. If you have been following my posts for a while, you have already been introduced to the idea that we live the feelings of our thought, not the feelings of the world around around us. You have read my descriptions and examples of how it’s our interpretation of the circumstances that we react to, not the circumstances themselves. So, next time you are feeling something that is not helping you in that moment, open yourself to consider the possibility that your emotion is being created by some thought (conscious or unconscious) that you are having. And as an experiment, assume the position that this may in fact be true, and see what happens.

I’d love to hear back from you about regarding your results from this experiment. You can add a comment to my post on the Facebook page, my LinkedIn profile or you can send me a note via our contact page.

Until the next time, may the four winds continue to help guide your way.

Lots of love,
Daniel

Someone very dear to me shared this article written by Deepak Chopra because she thought I might like it:

http://www.chopra.com/ccl/what-is-a-spiritual-solution

In fact, I loved it and shared it with a number of people, including my partner. As we were discussing it, I commented on how I would have liked it three years ago, but I would not have understood it the way I do now.

For example, I would have read the article and said to myself, “that sounds great, but it’s easier said than done.” Or I would have asked, “I can see the truth in this, but how do I expand my awareness?” Now I read it and say, “that is exactly what I am pointing to when I work with my clients, and I couldn’t have said it any better.” It’s honestly one of the most beautifully described articles relating to the work that I do.

It’s hard to describe what’s made the difference in me because I believe it’s a combination of things, but they are all related to the different conversations that I’ve been sharing with you in the blog; they are all connected to the fundamental principles behind our experience. What I’ll do is share some headings (conversations) that I believe are at the core of my current understanding:

  • The role our state of mind has on the quality of our thinking
  • The fact that the life of a thought is only as long as we give it attention
  • The way in which we access our inner wisdom with greater ease

As much as I’ve shared the pragmatic and practical implications of this understanding that are relevant to your personal and professional life in more ways that you or I can even imagine, the core of the conversation is a spiritual one.

Until next time, may the four winds continue to guide your way.

Lots of love,
Daniel

 

 

Not so long ago, one of my mentors, shared something with me that gave me a deeper understanding of our experience, which has helped me live my own life with greater ease. If you have been following my posts, you will know that I have spoken about the principles that are behind our experience. For those of you who are new to my musings, the principles describe our experience of life in the following way:

1) There is some kind of intelligence (for lack of a better word) that determines the structure of the world and universe we live in. The structure of what we call nature and the inherent intelligence behind it is simply spectacular. And, it’s easy to forget because we like to think of ourselves as being separate and independent, and we are to some degree, but we are also part of this intelligence.

I recently read something in The Guardian, written by Clare Carlisle (found here), where she writes about how the philosopher Baruch Spinoza described the relationship between us and this intelligence with the analogy between a wave and the ocean. What follows is my interpretation of it, with my own embellishments. :-)

As much as each individual wave can be identified and lives on its own, with its own identity, with its own size, characteristics, and uniqueness, it is still part of the ocean and it cannot be separated from it. The wave is as much a part of the ocean as the water found in its depths. Just as each of us has our own identity within the greater ocean of energy that makes up our entire universe.

2) Every single one of us has an ability to recognize our own existence. We are aware of the fact that we are alive. For example, you are able to recognize the experience you are having as you read my words. It is this same ability that allows us to feel our emotions, our state of mind, or level of consciousness.

3) We relate to the world around is via thought, both conscious thought (what I often refer to as personal thought) and a myriad of unconscious thought.

So, what does all this have to do with my thought storm and the insight that I got from my mentor’s words, which lead me to live with more peace of mind? One of the many conversations relating to this understanding of the principles behind our experience of life is one about how a thought only has life when we give it attention. And the fact of the matter is that I am human and as such, will find myself stuck in thought from time to time.

A couple of days ago, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine and I started to feel insecure about myself afterwards. That insecure thinking has lead to what I am referring to a thought storm. The thoughts come to my mind about how I could have done something differently, how I am not capable enough, how I am not good enough, how I should understand things better, how I should be more capable, how others are able to do it so why can’t I, and so on and so on. I can go on, but I imagine that most of you can easily continue the list for me since we have all been stuck in these thought storms at some point or another.

About a month ago, my mentor was sharing with me that as much as we can respect when we are not in a good state of mind, we also don’t need to give it importance. In my earlier posts, I’ve shared with you how when we are not in good states, the quality of our thinking is directly proportional to the level that we are in. I also wrote about how it’s often a good idea to be aware of the fact that we are not in a good place so that we don’t make a mess of our lives (and with those around us), which we would need to clean up later. However, as much as this is true, it’s also important to recognize how easy it is to respect a state of mind so much that it then becomes an excuse and a limitation.

The truth of the matter is that I have been in a mood lately where it’s been really easy for me to drop into a low state of mind. I’m aware of this and I am also going on with my life. As much as I am respecting the fact that the quality of my thinking is not at its best, which means I’m not making any life changing decision, I’m still doing the things I want to do. My mood will pass, as it always does. In fact, engaging in the things that I want to do and focusing on them naturally releases me from being stuck in my thinking.

So, I recognize that my thought storm is fed by my low state of mind. I also know that I feel what I feel without giving it much importance and when I’m in a better state, the view I have of the insecurity that I shared with you above will be completely different. My thinking always changes when I let it do its thing – thoughts come and go all the time, they only stay when we feed them with our attention.

Let me leave you with a closing comment. Notice how even when we are in the middle of the worst thought storm ever, there are always moments when we feel better, when the storm is quiet. I know for myself, it’s in those moments when it’s really easy for me recognize the storm is missing and innocently start thinking about it, feeding it attention, and bringing it back into life once again. As I look at the principles behind my experience more and more, it’s easier and faster for me to recognize this pattern, which helps me get out of the storm with less damage to myself and others.

Let me know if you have any questions or would want to go deeper into this conversation.

Until next time, may the four winds continue to guide your way.

Lot’s of love,
Daniel

 

My girlfriend and I had dinner last night with one of her good friends and his fiancé. Neither of us had met his fiancé before and I’d only met my partner’s friend a few times but we had never really had a chance to talk much.

As we were talking about various things, his fiancé asked what I did and I spoke to her about how I help people understand what creates our experience of life.

In my field, many people use the metaphor about life being a movie and what we do is help you see for yourself what is happening behind-the-scenes; how the movie is made in the first place.

We talked about how there is nothing to fix and nothing to do. That the system is a self-healing system that will do its thing if we let it. The only thing that keeps us from feeling this or recognizing this innate health within ourselves is all the noise in our heads.

I then elaborated on the earlier metaphor about the movie by saying that tools and techniques are like changing the scenes in a movie so that we can cope with it better but still not recognizing that it’s only a movie in the first place, that it isn’t real.

We talked about how this conversation in a business context is focused around profitability, performance, state-of-mind, creativity, innovation, communication, and problem solving. All of which are natural outcomes of this understanding.

On a personal level, the implications of this conversation are also vast and far reaching, including better relationships, more peace of mind, more enjoyment of our highs and more forgiveness of our lows.

I don’t know how much of what I was sharing resonated with my dinner companions but at some point she said, “this could change the world.” And I agreed. She then said, “this could help everybody.” And I agreed.

This is why I love the work that I do.

Until next time, may the four winds continue to guide your way.

Lots of love,
Daniel

I’m going to do my best to address two comments that have come up regarding what is thought and what is not. The first is from the conversation with my brother that I’ve mentioned before, which is regarding the idea that fear comes before a thought. The second is from a recent conversation with a friend, which is that the sensation of touch is an impulse and not a thought.

Let me begin with fear. The part of the brain that registers activity during fear is in the amygdala and nicknamed the reptilian part of the brain because it is the oldest and least evolved. My brother’s argument is that fear is a primal instinct and occurs pre-thought. In other words, someone who finds him/herself in a truly dangerous environment is going to feel fear before thought, therefore the idea that all our feelings are a representation of thought cannot be true.

Sad to say that we were unable to continue this discussion at the time but it’s a great question that I’d like to address. You see, in part, it comes down to how we define thought. I would agree that a person will more often than not feel fear well before they have any personal thinking about their situation. If you think about it, our ancestors would probably not have survived for very long if they started to think about or analyse the situation when s saber-toothed tiger approached. In fact, it has been shown that our capacity to think logically or intelligently strongly deteriorates when the fight, flight or freeze response is triggered within us. But how is this response triggered?

The response itself is instinctual but it requires an interpretation of the circumstances to trigger it. For example, you put a baby in front of a tiger, it will not respond with any fear, it has not yet learned that tigers could be deadly. As we get older we learn they are dangerous animals so when we see them walking towards us, we interpret the situation as dangerous and feel fear accordingly. That interpretation is done almost instantaneously and outside of our conscious thinking. But the interpretation takes place nonetheless and that interpretation is thought-based. People with phobias are the same, their learned response is to associate an object that most of us would not be concerned about with fear. The association of that object with fear is thought-based. If you think about it, fear cannot be a pre-thought response because it requires an (unconscious) assessment of the event or situation in order to determine if a possible danger exists.

Moving on the the impulse statement. When I was speaking with my friend in London recently about the thought/feeling relationship, he brought up the idea that babies are clearly emotional creatures but they are pre-verbal so they can’t have any thoughts. Again, it comes down to how one is defining thought.

My understanding of thought is actually non-verbal and it is much more comprehensive than simply looking at personal or conscious thinking. The example I gave my friend was the idea that a baby may not be able to put the words hot or cold to a sensation as they touch an object, but that sensation is interpreted by the baby through thought.

My friend stated that he would call that an impulse and not a thought, which is where language can become a problem when it comes to describing the indescribable because we all have slightly different definitions for the words that we use. This is why I frequently recommend that you not look at the exact words themselves but at the feeling behind the words.

However, let me do my best to speak to this idea of an impulse vs. a thought. The baby puts his/her hand on a metal countertop and an impulse travels from its hands to its brain with all kinds of data about that surface, like texture and temperature. I would agree that this part of the equation is an impulse. But, then that data is interpreted by the brain and it is experienced through thought as hot or cold, smooth or rough, pleasant or painful. The baby may not have learned the specific pattern of sounds (language) that represents that sensation, but the thought that is created to turn the data coming from the hands into something the baby can experience, which leads to the pre-verbal interpretation, exists.

I hope this has been helpful and I’d love to hear from you if you would like to discuss either of these or other examples further.

Until next time, may the four winds continue to guide your way.

Lots of love,
Daniel

In reference to my last post, I wanted to go back to the ideas that my brother presented to me when we were talking a couple of months back. Shortly after I shared with him the concept that we live the feelings of our thoughts, not the feelings of the world (in other words thought is what creates our feelings and reactions to the world, not the other way around), he replied by saying two things (and I’m paraphrasing quite a lot):

1) The problems in the world would be solved if people paid more attention to their feelings instead of their thinking, that every problem in the world was caused by the fact that people focused on their thinking, so focusing on our thinking is not the answer.

2) Fear is a primal response, which come from the reptilian brain (more specifically the amygdala), is an instinct and it occurs before thought.

As I write this, I am sure that there is a bigger and more elaborate description relating to the first point and I don’t want to presume I understand all of the nuances that are behind that comment (I also may very well be remembering it incorrectly). I will add that at a later point in the conversation, my brother made a point about the value in recognizing that we are all part of a oneness and that this is a feeling. My guess is that this is probably what he was pointing to when he said that people are focusing too much on their thinking and not enough on their feelings.

The reason I wanted to share this with you is because I completely agree with what my brother said, that all the problems in the world are caused by the fact that people are focusing on their thinking, and the subsequent emotions that are related to that thinking. People all over the world believe that their feelings are caused by their environment; they blame their circumstances for their low states of mind, they point outwards to the people that “caused” them to feel the way they feel, and as a result, they have a lot of added thinking about these external conditions. But don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly understandable that we do this because when we believe our emotions are caused by something outside of ourselves, we naturally do what we can to address that, deal with it, fix it, protect ourselves from it, and we inevitably do this with a lot more thinking about the subject.

Let me give you a physical example, if a forest fire is slowly moving towards my home, it’s perfectly understandable for me to have a lot of thinking about how best to address that threat. I’ll try to come up with different kinds of solutions to either stop the fire, re-direct the fire towards a safer direction (safer for me), or to fire-proof my home so that the fire doesn’t harm my home if it ever reaches it. If we take this same logic and apply it to the emotions that we believe come from the outside, we can see how natural it is for us to want to protect ourselves from the external threats and causes.

The problems in the world, as my brother puts it, occur when the thoughts/feelings get so strong that people decide to do something about it, to protect themselves from the fire that is threatening their home. What they don’t realize is they are creating the fire themselves, from the inside out. We interpret the world and the environment around us with thought. Data is collected by our senses and it is our thought (conscious or unconscious) that interprets this data, which is what we perceive, feel, and react to. Our feelings are simply a reflection of the thoughts we are having. They work like a barometer, showing us the quality of our thoughts in that moment.

This thought-feeling system is part of our human condition. Thought comes to us and the gift of awareness that we have makes that thought seem real, through our emotions and our feelings. So, the illusion, and it’s an amazing illusion, is that the cause is coming from outside. So, going back to my brother’s point, most of the worlds problems are created because people are innocently believing that their emotions/feelings are caused by something outside. I say innocently because they are trapped in the illusion and don’t recognize that their perception of the world is created 100% of the time by thought, not by the form that is outside of themselves.

Just yesterday, I was speaking with some of my Tango students and they all agreed that if my girlfriend kissed someone, then it was clear that she must be the cause of my anger and feelings of betrayal, sadness, etc. But then I gave them this scenario:

She had known the man since they were kids and though they had never really been close friends, he had always had a secret crush on her. He bumps into her one day and as they start talking he shares with her that he has a very advanced form of cancer and only has a few months to live. He asks her if she would be willing to grant him a dying wish. He shares that he has admired her since they were kids but was always too shy to do anything about it and insecure believing she would never be interested in someone like him. It is only because of his current condition that he has summoned up the courage to ask her if she would be willing to give him a kiss, a meaningful kiss, so that he can have an idea of what it is like to kiss her.

Everyone in the group I was sharing this with said their reaction would be different. So, it isn’t the kiss itself that causes our reactions, it’s our interpretation (thought) about the kiss that causes us to feel what we feel.

If I recognize that it’s my thoughts that are creating my emotional reactions, I give them less meaning, which often results in the reaction not being as strong. So, it’s easier for my bad moods to pass and I have less busy thinking about many things because I no longer see them as an external threat (like the fire); there are less problems to solve.

There will always be external situations that are in fact threatening, but if you understand that your reaction to them is internally created, your experience of that “threat” is often very different. You will find yourself reacting form a better state of mind and we all know that we are more resourceful and insightful when we are working from that place.

Like I said, this system of our human condition that I’m describing is soooooo good that no matter how much understanding you have about this, there will always be times when we get caught in the illusion and believe people and situations are the cause of our emotions/feelings/reactions; until we recognize that they are not. We are all still human after all. :-)

I’ve decided to leave this here for now. I’ll share my thoughts with you regarding fear as a primal response in the next post.

Until the next time, may the four winds continue to help guide your way.

Lots of love,
Daniel

It’s been a while since I have written a post and a lot has happened so there are a number of topics or ideas that I want to share with you. I sat down yesterday with an idea of what I wanted to share with you but everything that came out just didn’t feel right. It felt totally forced so I stepped away and knew that the “inspiration” would come for me to share what I want to share with you when I didn’t have so much thinking about it.

As you read this, I can assure you this was not what I wanted to share. What I wanted to share with you are two different posts that came out of a conversation I had with my brother about a month ago. As I was sharing with him some of the general concepts behind the work I’m doing, I pointed out that every experience that we have in life is through our thought. He disagreed with that and used the example of fear as a primal emotion that happens to us before thought. The other area I wanted to share with you, using this conversation as an example, is the idea that we all have our noise (thoughts) that we experience all the time. But more on these two topics in the future, the near future I hope. :-)

What I decided to focus today’s post on is the idea of getting out of our own way. How many times have we tried to figure something out or solve a “problem” only to find ourselves spinning our wheels. We eventually give up trying and then we get an insight out of the blue, a flash of inspiration hits us all of a sudden, when we least expected it. I know all of us are aware of this but few of us actually practice this on a regular basis. Most of us, innocently, get caught in all kinds of thinking about what we are trying to solve or trying to do and we get in our own way.

So, what is this “way” that we refer to in our day-to-day language? Again, we all know of people and can recognize it within ourselves that we are so trapped by thought that we are not able to see anything clearly. Different people may use different words for that I’m about to share with you so I invite you to change the words are you read this to something that is more appropriate to you.

We live in a system that has an intelligence behind it and though it is easy enough to see it in nature and the world/universe around us, most of us think that we are the exception to the rule. Most of us live our lives most of the time completely oblivious to the system that we are a part of. For example, most of us, myself included, don’t pay any attention to gravity. We take it for granted and don’t even think about it as a system that we live within all the time. It is a principle that works, whether or not we are aware of it, recognize it or believe in it. It acts upon every single one of us all the time and it does not judge or discriminate.

Likewise, the nature of thought also works as part of an intelligent system that we all seem to recognize exists but most of us, again myself included, seem to work hard to work against it. This subject can easily turn into a small book so I’ll do my best to be brief given that my introduction to this post was quite long. :-)

Like I said, we have all experienced a time when we have come up with a solution or gotten a new idea shortly after we stopped trying to figure it out. What most of us don’t recognize is that this is true for every situation in our lives. Let’s stick with my earlier example. I had so much thinking about wanting to share the things I had set aside to share with you from the conversation with my brother that I was forcing the words down and I wasn’t happy with anything that was coming out. I recognized that I had a lot of thinking about it and could see that this was the reason the words weren’t flowing easily. Today as I was washing the dishes, I started thinking about wanting to write about the conversation with my brother and noticed that I still had a lot of thinking in the way. It then occurred to me, out of the blue, that I could write about not forcing things to happen.

When we talk about getting out of our own way, what we intuitively refer to is the fact that there is a natural intelligence that will provide us with the answer or solution when we don’t try to make it happen. Some would refer to that as our inner guide or inner wisdom. When we allow ourselves to have a quiet mind, when we are not thinking about our thinking, it opens us up to work within the nature of the system and the result is that we end up having access to the creative potential that exists beyond our personal thinking.

Until the next time, may the four winds continue to help guide your way.

Lots of love,
Daniel