Let your stream of consciousness come and go while paying attention to it. Go for open-minded attentiveness. Curiosity is helpful. Witness what you’re saying to yourself with pure self-observation, no verdicts. Simply a kind watching and listening to your self-talk, from a psychological distance, a kind and caring observer with a subtle smile who sees and hears all.
This starts to get the clutter out of your way. And it realigns you with a powerful force that presses toward actualizing.
This book is about not staying stuck in any of our parts.
It’s about wholeness.
Hold a pen or other object in your hand, and squeeze it tightly for 10-20 seconds. Notice the lousy feeling. Now relax your grip, and then slowly open your hand. What a relief: check out how good this feels.
Then let the pen roll in your palm, and then lightly toss it up and down. Let it roll around some more in your hand. Notice how your whole relationship with the pen has changed. It’s not so strangulated.
This is a metaphor for life. When we tightly grip our thoughts and opinions, we get strained and uptight. And when we tightly grip our daily stresses, this too weights us down.
As you go about your day, remember to relax your grip, and breathe freely.
You’ll never stop breathing as long as you live. Pay your acknowledgements. Your breathing is about to become your great friend and ally. Simply become aware: “I’m breathing. Breath is coming in, breath is going out. I’m breathing.” Do this for three complete breathing cycles.
You’re beginning to re-claim your breathing process, starting to pay more attention.
“For eternal truth: listen to the birds sing.” - The Zenrin
Interpersonal communication is an attainment, not a given. Interpersonal communication occurs when we treat people not from an I-It position, as if they’re a “thing,” but from an I-Thou mindset of respect and appreciation. We treat the other as a person, as the one-of-a-kind and ultimately immeasurable being they are. We give them our Warmth, Empathy, and Genuineness.
When our communication is of this quality, we call it interpersonal.
D.E. Harding says that the best moment of his life was when he realized he had no head. He was walking on a ridge in the Himalayas. All of a sudden it dawned on him: as he looked down at his own body, he could see feet, legs, arms, hands, belly and chest, but the one thing he definitely could not witness directly was his own head!
Yet it was not as if “nothing” was there, it was more as if the emptiness was filled by the beauty all around: “I had lost a head and gained a world. Lighter than air, clearer than glass, altogether released from myself, I was nowhere around.” All duality disappeared: there was no him “here” and everything else “there.” There was only immersion in “this.”
You too might want to practice the headless way. Notice how in the world you are when you have no head, no structure to be hidden behind.
Begin by assuming that you have no head, and experience what happens.
I’ve always loved Henry Ford’s pithy and powerful way of speaking of self-belief: “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right!”
We know that we can have thoughts, but we don’t have to be dominated by the content of these thoughts. We’re able to acknowledge them, and know that rarely are they 100% of the absolute truth about anything. They’re words passing through our heads. We separate ourselves from them ever-so-slightly, and gain distance and perspective.
Look at one of the graphics in these pages, then close your eyes, and breathe, and feel and sense your ability to increasingly stand apart from your thoughts, to let them more loosely pass through you without you clinging to them. You’re setting yourself free.
Open your eyes and know this.
It’s not a matter of getting everything right when you’re with other people, it’s about getting right those things that matter. Here’s one of the most important: do you emanate Warmth to others, or do you feel somewhat chilly to others, or maybe even downright cold? How quickly do people feel comfortable and relaxed around you?
Famed management consultant Peter Drucker teaches that 10% to 20% of what happens in social situations often accounts for 80-90% of the overall results. Perceived Warmth versus coldness is a major element in human interaction, within that 20% that leads to 80% of the bottom-line. How we fare on this continuum can be a relationship maker or breaker.
Do you think others ever see you as cold? You might want to warm-up yourself, and them. You can choose to let others come in from the cold, and bask in the warm glow of your firelight and sunshine. Close your eyes and see and feel this in your mind’s eye for a few seconds.
People will forget exactly what you said, but they’ll clearly remember how you made them feel.
Realize that your entire body is a communication system.
Again, when we speak of actualizing we don’t mean to imply there’s some existing already-completed “self” sitting here inside us, formed and intact, waiting to be unveiled. We construct the “self” we actualize, much as a poem, or a song, or a painting gets created. The artist brings the painting or poem into being using imagination and sensibility to craft the work of art, to design and give shape to it, under the influence of inspiration. The creative process by which we actualize ourselves is improvisational, participative, and imaginative.
We’re living out this process now, in this moment. You are continuing to be formed and elaborated in this instant. We miss seeing it almost constantly.
In conversations we regularly come to a choice-point: do we lapse into defending, or suspending? We can choose to defend, risking damage and rupture, or we can suspend, clearing the path to dialogue. Suspending has to do with holding our opinions and positions lightly, just as we can hold the pen lightly in our hand, or not. If our grip is tight, we’re not suspending. When we loosen our grip and relax, we’re suspending.
Observe your conversations this week, and become aware of when you’re defending, and when you’re suspending. How does each feel? Which was more productive? What else do you find and learn?
Dr. Carl Jung asked us to imagine two circles, one very small and the other very large, with the smaller circle inside the much larger one. The small circle represents the “ego-self” aspect of who we are, and the larger circle represents the Being dimension in which we participate. We usually operate from the “ego-self” center, the smaller circle. It’s where our behavior comes from, it’s where our self-identification is based, it’s what we’re determined to defend in everyday life. Everything that categorizes and defines me in the eyes of the world is part of this “ego-self.” Surrounding this smaller circle of “ego-self” is the grandly larger circle that Jung associated with Being. We can’t precisely define Being, but we can say it’s the dimension in which we make contact with elevated capacities for selflessness, caring, compassion, forgiveness, altruism, love, courage, wisdom, transcendence.
At those times when we reduce our mental, physical, and emotional tensions, we can relax through the semi-permeable borders of our “ego-self” and expand into the realm of Being. We enter as far into Being as we’re ready for at a given time. This periodic relaxation into Being not only refreshes and restores us, it gives us glimpses of what lies beyond the boundaries of our “ego-self.” Anything that comes from this expanded dimension and then through us will be of higher quality than if it originates from within the small circle of “ego-self.” Being is a dimension from which human virtue can inflow, so we do well as we expand ourselves into the realm of Being.