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Posts Tagged “quiet mind”

The Principle of Mind

Last week, I published a brief Blog and video posting about the Three Principles as discovered by Sydney Banks, the foundation of Mental Health Education as I and thousands of others practice it. This week, I offer another brief Blog and video, just on the Principle of Mind. (The Principle of Thought will be next week, and The Principle of Consciousness after that.) I hope these are helpful to sharing the profound understanding of how these Principles can change the understanding of the true human potential for peace, across the globe.

When asked why there are three Principles, Sydney Banks used to say, “Well, actually there is just Mind. But we would not know it without Thought and Consciousness. Combine those three and there is nothing more we need to see life.” To see this in depth in Sydney Banks’ own words, read The Missing Link, or any of his other books, all of which can be found at Lone Pine Press.

As much as we try to talk about Mind, there is really little we can say because our very presence on earth is after the fact of Mind. So just as we cannot ask a savant to describe how he “learned” his gift, we cannot ask ourselves to describe how we acquired the gifts that give us life.  All we can know is that we are alive, and filled with the potential that being alive in a dynamic state allows us the possibility, at any moment, to change. The Principles describe our power to change, and it all starts with Mind.

This video is also available on You Tube

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Is It Easy to Be Happy?

Recently I saw a new client who sobbed at the outset, “I don’t see how I will ever be happy again!” An hour later, as she left, she was laughing. “I’ve sure been a big drama queen with all that serious thinking, haven’t I?” she said.

How does a shift like that happen? In the simplest terms, it is the natural outcome of what Principles practitioners do that is new to treatment. We don’t take unhappiness seriously. We point people to the true, constant, unfailing, spiritual source of human happiness that nothing can touch. We teach people what mental well-being is, and where it comes from, and how we lose and regain our faith in it. They see the universal logic of it and realize what they’ve been doing to themselves with the innocent misuse of their own power. They “wake up” to the truth that, no matter what, deep down we are born to be at peace.

I write about these cases a lot, but it seems like we can’t tell this story enough. The way traditional therapy addresses psychological distress is not working effectively enough to stem the increase in stress, anxiety, and depression, the afflictions of the so-called “functional mentally ill,” because almost all approaches are attempting to give people tools to solve their problems or drugs to dull them. But the “problems” are slippery. They are the variable artifacts of the way people are thinking about them. And the more people and their therapists talk about them and dwell on them and take them seriously, the worse they appear. Principles practitioners realize we should not be treating people’s problems as though they have a reality of their own. We should be addressing people’s understanding of their states of mind, of the nature of thought, of the spiritual power we all have to create thought and take it more or less seriously. We should be helping them to understand when to take their own thinking to heart and when to let it pass and allow their minds to quiet.

We all take for granted without question the way our minds work on ordinary things. I go into a store and see an item I just love, but I don’t think I should spend the money. So I walk away. A few days later, I go back and think, “OK, if I love it that much, I should really buy it.” But when I look at it again, I don’t love it that much. Did the item change? No. My thinking about the item changed. I read recipes right before I go to the grocery store and I start thinking I really should try some of those exotic vegetables. I buy them. Two days later, I get ready to make dinner and I look at them and think, “Too much trouble. I’ll just make a salad.” Are the vegetables any less nutritious? Any less appealing? No. But my thinking about how much effort I’m willing to make to cook them has changed. No one would argue with examples like this.

But what about “serious problems?” That’s when we lose our perspective on the fact that things look different in different states of mind.  In the depth of seriousness, it really does look like there is no other way to see the problem. We forget that life is filled with ups and downs for all people, all the time. There are a lot of serious downs for everyone: we lose dear friends and loved ones; relationships fall apart; arguments escalate; bad things happen in the world; we lose homes and businesses to weather events; things break down just when we need them to work, investments fail; we fall victim to crime or violence. Everyone’s life can change in any moment. And in the midst of the worst things, we feel deeply painful emotions.

But here’s the thing about problems. You can’t change them.  You can only change how you approach them, how you think about them, how much of your peace of mind you are willing to give to them. The “drama” we suffer around problems is not a present moment, creative response.  The only way we experience drama is through dwelling on memories and regrets about what has happened, or dwelling on fear of what might happen next. In the present moment, with a clear head and a quiet mind, we just see how to move forward, one step at a time.

Here’s an example. I once worked with a client who, after years of what can only be called torture, finally escaped an abusive relationship and got far away from her abuser, to a place he would never find her or think to look for her. In a moment of clarity, she had an insight about how to do this and acted on it. For a few weeks, she was exhilarated in her new, free state. She found a job, found a place to live, started a new life. But then she started believing that her abuser would find her because she had let an old friend know that she was OK. What if the friend told him? What if the friend told someone else who told him? She couldn’t sleep nights. She was afraid every time she heard a footstep. She became, as she described, “a bunch of jangling nerves that never shut up.” She was just as terrified as she had been when she was living under the abuser’s roof. She started our conversation trembling, in tears, saying she would never, ever be free of him, no matter where she went. She insisted on closing the blinds to the room where we were meeting so no one could look in and see her. She had made her appointment under a false name and she arrived at the appointment wearing huge sunglasses with her long hair stuffed up under a wide-brimmed hat.

She wanted to talk to me about strategy. Should she move again? Should she chop off and dye her hair and have surgery to change her appearance? Should she change her name? Should she go to another country? She had thousands of thoughts about what she should or could do racing through her mind.

I wanted to talk to her about the beautiful feeling she had when she got the powerful insight about how to escape. She only needed to reconnect to that feeling, to that sense of peace and freedom and certainty, because in that feeling state, she would know what to do now.

I had no idea if any of her fears were justified, or if any of her ideas would work for her. It’s not my place to give advice to people because, in a calm state of mind, they are the experts on their own life choices. My job was to bring her back to the present moment and help her to quiet her frantic thinking and get calm. From that state, she would recognize the idea that would work out for her because her next insight would also come with an uplifting feeling in a moment of calm.

After a few sessions, she called me. She had read The Missing Link that I had shared with her, focusing on the passages about wisdom. She had done her best to quiet down and look in the direction I was pointing in our sessions. The morning she called me, it had dawned on her that she was working for a national corporation, a large big box store with thousands of locations all over the county, and she could ask her human resources department if there were any similar opportunities in different locations. She went right in to talk with them, and found out she could transfer to another state within a couple of weeks, if she was willing to move herself. She was making her plans to move. She had confided in her human resources advisor what her situation was, and the woman had a lot of compassion for her and was very helpful.

“This was such an obvious answer,” she said. “It was right in front of me the whole time. I just didn’t see it. Isn’t that weird? All of a sudden, it just popped into my head.”

Not weird at all, I assured her. It’s the guarantee of the human operating system. If we don’t over-ride the thinking that is natural to us, the easy flow of thought in the present moment, we keep getting the answers that make sense for us.

Did she really need to move? Was this the very best possible solution? It doesn’t matter. She found an answer she felt good about that made sense to her, and she found the understanding of where the answers come from that will continue to keep her safe. She found her happiness, and she knew where to look if she lost it again.

Was it easy?

To me, it’s the simple path to take. Trust that you have innate wisdom. See disquiet and insecurity as a sign you need to let your mind settle. Follow quiet and good feelings. They lead directly to happiness. When we are happy, “problems” fit into the tapestry of our lives and fade from the moment as understanding and solutions come to mind.

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Join me and my colleagues Dr. Bill Pettit and Christine Heath in June for a wonderful retreat, Awaken Joy!        We will share the incredible power of happiness and peace of mind to change our lives, and the world around us.

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Listen for a feeling

I will never forget the first time I sat in a big conference where Sydney Banks was speaking and heard him say, “Don’t listen to my words; listen for a feeling.” It was very early on in my exposure to the Principles, and I came close to fleeing the room.  As a hard-working, hard-charging business person in a service business, who had been a tough-minded newspaper reporter, I was highly educated and well-trained to listen to and pay close attention to words. Every word mattered. Getting people’s words “right” mattered.  I had a Master’s Degree with a focus on Linguistics, for heaven’s sake, and that was all about words. If you didn’t focus closely on words, you could end up being sued in my work. Feelings!? Huh???

I probably would have fled, except that I was seated in the middle of a row. I glanced around me; everyone was sitting quietly, unconcerned about what Syd had just said, just taking things in. I would have embarrassed the person who had brought me if I clambered over a bunch of quiet people to rush for an exit, and I was also trained to be courteous. So I sat there, trying not to display my restless confusion, wondering what the heck it meant to “listen for a feeling.” I didn’t hear much else that day because, of course, I could not figure that out. So I was still puzzling over it on the drive home.

On the way, I asked the person who had brought me. The ambiguous answer infuriated me, but I kept that to myself, too, for the sake of politeness. “I imagine it means something different to each person who hears it. You have to see it for yourself.” I turned on the radio, hoping to mask how annoyed I was.  That night, I lay in bed in turmoil. “Listen for a feeling,” just four ordinary little words, and they were so outside of my world when strung together that I could make no sense of them at all. I had spent more than an hour in the audience of the talk of a self-confessed uneducated person, and I had no idea of the meaning of what I had heard. Yet hundreds of other people in the room seemed to think it was wonderful. During the break, I didn’t hear a single other soul complain about being perplexed.

When I confessed my fear that whatever this was, it just wasn’t for me — too weird and airy-fairy — to my mentor, he just laughed and said, “Let it go. Just relax. It will all come together for you when you stop trying so hard.”

“But, but,” I spluttered. “I run a business. You guys are trying to turn my brain to mush.”

“Sorry,” he said. “We don’t have that kind of power. You can only do that to yourself. But don’t worry about it. It won’t last. How about we go get some lunch?”

Oh, I tell you, in the beginning these people were maddening! The more agitated I became, the less interested they were in talking about it (unlike most of my friends). But I admit that lunch and a few jokes and some trivial conversation that day cheered me up.

OK, I was at a turning point. I could walk away from a group of people who seemed to me to be uncommonly happy, contented, productive and kind, who seemed to really enjoy their lives, and thereby lose any chance of learning what they knew that I didn’t. Or I could just stop worrying about it and hang out with them, as they suggested, and see what happened if I wasn’t analyzing every single word they said to me.  It was not actually a tough choice. What person who aspired to sanity would walk away from people who clearly cared, had my best interests at heart, and really wanted things to work out well for me? Despite my prickly attitude, they actually seemed to like me; they were immune to taking offense.

Fast forward a year, a wonderful year of soaking in the experience of spending a lot of time with high-spirited, high-minded, compassionate people who just loved their work and life in general. I took the advice to “thank my brain for sharing” when a bunch of questions would start popping up in my head, and I discovered quietude. I discovered having no need whatsoever to keep talking when I had nothing contributory to say. Everyone noticed how much calmer I was.

And then, one magical day, I “heard” the feeling. I can remember that moment with the exactness of a perfectly enlarged and preserved photograph. I was holding a staff meeting with my employees. We had been struggling for a while with how to handle a particularly difficult — all right, abusive — client who was also a major contributor to our income. That afternoon, I just “saw” that I had to put an end to our contract with that client, no matter the financial implications. I had an insight of total moral and ethical clarity; it served no one to go along with abuse for the sake of money. I gathered my staff, after notifying the client, and I told them what I had done. They immediately launched a barrage of technical questions, but instead of hearing their questions, what I heard was, “they are all feeling insecure about this.” The feeling of insecurity loomed in my mind much larger than any specific question.

“You know what,” I said, “we don’t need to worry about all these details right now. We will work it out. And I have tremendous confidence in all of us staying together, working together, and doing just great together. This is just a moment in time. We have no idea, yet, what we might be able to accomplish without spending so much time on a negative situation, so let’s just have our coffee and cookies and enjoy some free time together.”

There was zero precedent for that in my previous work life. The “old” me, the one who couldn’t even imagine listening for a feeling and following that, instead of my intellect, would have forged on, trying to answer each and every question, getting into the weeds of what it would be like to extricate ourselves from a contract, keeping the meeting going until every last question was discussed for as long as people wanted to keep talking about it. I would have been drawing charts and lists up on the board, sending people out to find certain files for reference, calling our attorney and our accountant, focusing on the words people were saying as though, if I really got to the bottom of everyone’s concerns, it would all work out just great.

The “new” me, the one who heard the feeling, simply realized that what my staff needed was reassurance and getting their minds off their fearful questions until they could enjoy their freedom and think fresh. And you know what? That was absolutely perfect. We chatted and had coffee and the cookies someone always brought to our meetings, then went back to work. Within a few days, I had reviewed the dissolution with our attorney and our accountant and I had a game plan. We had a brief meeting; everyone saw what they needed to do, and it turned into a routine business transaction. No biggie.

The big surprise, though, was that my staff relaxed so much once that was behind us that they actually became ambassadors for our work. Our existing clients started telling their friends and colleagues how much they were enjoying working with us, and how pleasant our staff was. Within a year, we had nearly doubled our business.

And from that one meeting forward, that one time I was so fortunate that my head had cleared and my heart had heard, I lost my attachment to my intellect, and I lived in a world of feelings and responded to them with love and care, just as my mentors had responded to me.

Oh, wow! It was so simple, when I let it be simple.

I don’t mean to suggest that I turned into a lifelong model of great leadership with that one big insight. We’re all human; we drop into insecurity before we even see it coming; we do things we regret; we second-guess our own wisdom. But there was one permanent change in my life. That anxious, analytical, revved-up state did not, I repeat, did not feel normal to me, did not feel good to me. It wasn’t my baseline any more. I saw it as a warning sign to slow down and try to weather it until it passed, rather than a green light to create a lot of activity around me. My intent was to regain my good feelings as soon as I could. I did my best not to pay much attention to my own complicated thinking at those times. And I always knew that the quieter, calmer more insightful me was the real me, the true me, the core me that could be sidelined but would always be ready to step back into the game.

Once any of us sees that, we cannot be tricked by our own minds. We know where we are, and we find our way as long as we listen for a feeling.

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