Saturday, February 27, 2016

You ARE Love, Now What Is It That You Need?

I went through many years of my life seeking romantic love. From the earliest times when I figured out that people could couple up, that’s what I wanted. Whenever I’d meet a new person the first thought would be “I wonder if she’s interested?” There wasn’t a slight possibility for friendship, just a hope that I’d finally have found “The One” who would satisfy that longing and make me whole. No wonder they’d run. Barf!


The pattern was usually one of two. First, there was the pattern of me falling hard for them and they’d run. Second, vise versa. Either way I spent a lot of time on a roller coaster of seeking, finding and losing that always had an acute layer of pain that would grow over time, just keeping the cycle going. Most of my waking hours were spent obsessing and feeling out of control, wandering all over the countryside looking for Dulcinea. There would also be periods where I’d put on a brave face and show the world that I didn’t need love, that I was just fine by myself, all the time silently wondering if the flight attendant, restaurant server, bartender, guitar student, teacher, fill in the blank woman would be the answer to my most desperate prayers. Another strange thing about all of this was that there were many times when I found partners who genuinely loved me...and I would run! What the hell?


I’m not sure where the underlying beliefs came from that formed these needs, nor do I know exactly what it was that I thought I’d eventually find. All I remember is that being in love felt like a life or death need. It was a stronger pull than heroin or nicotine. I had to have it, didn’t know if, when or where I’d find it, and most assuredly I knew that once it was found that I would feel better and my suffering would end. Yet, when someone did love me, it wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be, and somehow it wasn’t enough. The pain, anxiety and grief were all still there. That love didn’t reach those places in me.


One day I went on a walk by Sligo Creek near my home at that time in Silver Spring, Maryland. I had just been given the ‘just friends’ talk the night before for the second time in that year. A few months before that I’d given the same talk to another person who was interested in me. I was tired, I was confused, and I was ready to be done searching.


Sligo Creek has large boulders along it’s banks and one of my favorite things to do back then was to walk until I needed a rest, then I’d find a boulder to sit on and meditate, think and reflect. I’m not sure why that day was going to be any different than any other, but it was going to be a turning point, an important one.


The boulder I sat on was my favorite place to sit. It had an overhang that jutted over the water a foot or two, and a school of fish nested underneath it. When the sun came through the oaks and beech trees that surrounded the place I could see the fish swimming out and back, over and over again. The current was a few feet away from the boulder so they had a nice calm spot to raise a family. This was my peaceful and happy place. Even on days that felt pretty dark, I could come here and find a modicum of inner peace.

This day I didn’t find inner peace. This day there was going to be an explosion, a demolition of the patterns that had been my focus for so long. As I was sitting on my rock a thought came through that was the pin in the grenade. It was simply “what if the love that I’m looking for doesn’t exist?” When my attention held that thought something shifted. In that moment all of my thinking stopped, I lost my breath and I felt uncomfortably dizzy. It felt like an electric charge had gone through my head. I knew enough about strokes to know that I wasn’t having one, so I got my unsteady self up and stumbled up the hill to the house. I spent most of the day lying down going in and out of sleep. Strangely, the obsession that had been my constant companion for all those years was gone. The exhaustion that had set in was an honest one, and a liberating one.


In the minutes and hours that all of this was happening, I experienced a new and different love. This love came from deep within my own being, and radiated to include and affect the whole universe. Nothing was out of place. All was well. This felt sense was to last for a while, but the understanding has been with me ever since. I knew for a fact that I AM all the love that can ever be. There could be no love outside myself that I needed. If I started to believe that there was, then I would start looking outside of myself for it, which would be the wrong place. Interestingly, as the days went by, the love that I found within manifested as love in and through others. That which radiated from me, returned to me. Full circle.


This realization didn’t erase my problems in the world. I still had the death of a child, a major illness, and financial ruin to go through. The stuff of life continues, but from that day on I knew that my obsessions weren’t real. They were generated by my own thought patterns and habits. Old tapes that didn’t necessarily go away, but I now knew that I didn’t have to listen. That’s where the freedom is. We can always choose what we pay attention to.


Not long after this day, I started dating my wife to be. For the first time I was in a relationship by choice, not by compulsion. The love wasn’t immediate or overwhelmingly joyful. It developed gradually and quietly while we got to know each other. the love we share is strong because it’s a meeting of the love that comes from deep within each of us. It’s not dependent on how we each show up. It’s the thing that makes us show up every day, even on the days that showing up isn’t the easiest thing to do.

To my friends that are in any way experiencing the same longing and need that I felt, please know that what you are looking for is already and forever present within you. This is the love that you really seek. The only thing that has kept us from seeing is our thinking that it’s not already here. The fairy tales, soap operas, and romance novels are misleading. The romantic love that you think will make you whole and happy isn’t real. It’s a spectre. Seeking it outside yourself leads you away from where love already is, within your own spirit. May you find your own freedom.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Inside-Out

I've always been a very deep feeling and emotional person, which has its pros and cons. As deeply as I can feel love and regard for people and situations, I can just as easily slip into wild bouts of anxiety, depression or rage. That's been a tendency for as long as I can remember. I've navigated the world by feel and have always thought that my feelings were a barometer of my circumstances, that they gave me an accurate read on what was happening in the outside world at large. Strong emotion has also been the root of my sense of being at the mercy of the whims of the world, and not completely responsible for my experience here. Recently I've learned that this was a misunderstanding, and not just a small one.

About six months ago I was listening to the I Love Marketing podcast with Joe Polish and Dean Jackson. It's one of my favorites, and I recommend it to clients and friends frequently if they are in any kind of career where they have to learn how to market themselves. Their guest on this episode was a guy named Jamie Smart, the author of a couple of recent bestsellers, Clarity, and The Little Book of Clarity. Jamie told his story of how he had read The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris, and had gone on to set up his business to run on auto pilot and generate passive income so that he could go on adventures and "mini retirements". His first of these was an extended trip to the Whistler ski area in British Columbia. He was very excited to have reached this level of success and he was looking forward to the ever more exciting life that he'd designed. This is where the story really caught my attention. Three weeks into the trip he found himself restless, and bored, and with the realization that the feelings he had hoped to have from that kind of success were nowhere to be found. He cut his trip short and returned to his home in London and began to seek out coaching to help him figure out what was next.

He found his way to Michael Neill, a success coach who has become well known for helping people reach ever deepening levels of personal transformation. In their sessions together Jamie would often find that his mind would go quiet and that his thinking would settle in ways that he had never been aware of before. In one session, Michael asked him where he thought his feelings were coming from. He answered that they were coming from his circumstances, that his disappointment was due to the fact that success really didn't feel as great as he expected it would. Michael then shared something that was to become a turning point for Jamie, and as I look back it was a turning point for me when I heard Jamie tell the story. He pointed out that our feelings aren't created by our circumstances, they are created by thought.

You can hear the rest of the interview for yourself. I want to stop there with that part of the story because that was my beginning of exploring what I've since learned is called the 3 Principles, also known as the inside-out understanding, or innate health. What I'd like to continue with is letting you know about a shift that has happened for me in the intervening months that I don't completely understand, but has changed everything about my experience of life.

The 3 Principles, which are at the root of what Jamie and Michael are talking about, were discovered my a man named Sydney Banks in 1973. He had attended a marriage encounter weekend and was leaving the weekend early out of frustration when he had a realization into the fundamental nature of thought. The basic realization was that thought generates our experience. I'm not talking about that thought forms cells, or creates "reality", it's just that our experience of the world is entirely formed by thought. The feelings that arise are not in response to an objective world, but are created by our own powerful ability to think.

Why this understanding would come out of the blue to a working class fellow in Western Canada I don't know. But then again, why not. Truth can be revealed to anyone. As this understanding sunk in, Banks began to have deeper and deeper insights into how our experience of life works. He saw that thought was a fundamental principle, or truth that all humans have in common, on par with the law of gravity. His understanding grew to include two more principles, mind and consciousness, mind being the intelligent energy behind all that is, consciousness as the ability to have experiences and to be aware of them. This simple understanding changed the course of Banks' life and immediately began to influence the lives of those he met from then on.

Much has been learned and shared by Banks and others who knew him ever since then. Now, with the books by Jamie Smart, Michael Neill and others, the 3 Principles are beginning to be shared on a worldwide level. As with gravity, the principles are mostly understood by their effects, as their causes aren't apparent. What we understand, we understand because of implications. Most of the time they are presented in the context of metaphors.

My own understanding started to take shape not long after I heard the interview with Jamie Smart on the podcast. As I was driving one afternoon I realized that my whole experience of life was thought being manifested as feeling. These feelings that I'd relied on for so long weren't really indicators of anything going on externally. They were only revealing the real time thinking I was having. My feelings aren't universal experiences as I had once thought. They're purely personal. We all see this in situations where every person who attends an event has a different experience of the same circumstances. Our preferences are thought generated and not hardwired into our personalities at birth.

This was the first of several insights that I've had since then. I'll be sharing more of them as I go. I'm attempting to make some videos about them so that you can have a more multi-sensory story to hear. But I'd like you to know more about the effects of the understanding rather than looking at the cause. The low level anxiety that I've had since I was a kid has subsided. There are still anxious moments, by they don't last. I'm not as easily angered, and when I do get angry it doesn't last, and I don't spend time after the fact obsessing over the things that I got angry about. The most common feeling that I have is calmness. I have the ability to focus better than I ever have, and I am more present to friends and family. For the first time in my life I feel really steady.

These changes in me haven't necessarily been easy for other people I know. There have been friends who have gotten angry at me because I'm not as open as I once was to commiserate with them. In that moment of anger they're not really interested in hearing that their thoughts are creating their feelings, so my silence is seen as me taking sides against them. Which is not the case at all. I'm finding it very difficult to see sides to a story. I'm finding it hard to be interested in stories much at all. My once familiar reactions of empathy and sympathy don't seem to automatically engage as they once did. While this may be mistaken for apathy by others, that is hardly the case. I care more deeply and in ways that are somewhat unfamiliar. I care to the point that I want them to see what I've seen, so that they can be free from the weight of their heavy emotions.

This is all new and I'm in kindergarten again, but there is something here that will shift the way that you are in the world in subtle but powerful ways. There are a number of books by Sydney Banks, as well as videos. I mentioned the books by Jamie Smart and Michael Neill. I'd also add Elsie Spittle, Garrett Kramer and Jack Pranksy to the list of authors that would be good to check out. There are a number of others. Videos abound on YouTube and one of my favorite resources I've found is threeprinciplesmovies.com.

I have already seen this understanding change the way that I work with clients. One of the things I'm commonly seeing now is that as I share what I know about the principles, many of them begin to have a similar shift. As that happens they discover new resources within that are helping them to successfully change course and put old habits to rest. My hope in the coming months is to take part in some training so that the principles understanding can be more effectively integrated into my work. The best that I have to offer now is real hope. If my life can turn around this quickly, anyone's can, and changing your understanding requires no practice or effort. It's kind of like a zoom lens. Turn it a little bit and see a lot more.

One thing I did put together is a discussion group. I spoke at Unity of Fort Collins in December about discovering the 3 Principles and afterward was approached by several people who wanted to know more. We're meeting the first and third Tuesdays of the month at Unity, 1401 W. Vine Dr. in Fort Collins. Anyone is welcome. We're using books, audios and videos as foundations for our discussion. The goal is simply to learn and share with each other and see where it takes us. Meetings are from 7 - 8:30PM. Please join us!