Winter walks reveal all kinds of delights in the absence of the lush summer foliage. Like lichen and dormant seed heads. These seasonal ornaments invite us to remember the sweetness of life right here, right now. In our quest for peace or deeper understanding we can miss what’s right in front of us.
Doing the housework, paying bills, preparing for tomorrow’s activities. Folding clothes, creating slides, feeding animals, printing papers, checking news-feeds, reading reports, listening to the radio, cleaning work surfaces, running errands, recycling, posting parcels, chopping, hauling loads, cooking, writing, reading, listening, walking, running, beach combing, taking photos, driving, swimming, sitting, resting, napping, calculating, forecasting, estimating, drawing, painting, knitting, singing, chatting, debating, gaming, sharing laughter, music, TV, film, jokes, watching nature, weather, clouds, faces of those you love and complete strangers, breathing in and out.
There are a million ways to experience each moment and each remains only a possibility until it happens. A figment of the imagination until it is brought into form. And once passed it resides only in the shadowland of memory.
There is no storehouse of experience. That too is illusory.
We can not make deposits and withdrawals in some vast memory bank that will create a better now. For now is unattached to past and future. It exists independent of all else and yet intimately connected with everything else that ever has or will come into form. A paradox we do not need to understand.
And that is the joy of it. Each moment contains infinite possibility. No matter what the experience of the moment before; the next one could be anything. How can we possibly know what is coming next? How can we make sense of any of it?
We simply don’t seem to be equipped to fully grasp the miraculous, mysteriousness of this thing called Life.
So call off the search.
And rest, as far as you can, in the extraordinary miracle of being alive to each ordinary moment and see how those moments begin to transform into something rich and sweet.
Something that has nothing to do with the activity we are engaged in and everything to do with the awareness we rest in while experiencing those activities.
Photo © Juliet Fay
Penamaen Woods, Gower Peninsular, Wales, UK
9 February 2018
I’d love to hear your reflections on this piece.
I went to look at contemporary art in a gallery recently. It wasn’t what I’d planned. I was heading to look at a collection from the nineteenth century but at the last minute found myself outside a modern art gallery and so, on a whim, I changed my plan and headed in despite a niggling feeling.
Why the reluctance?
I have an idea I just don’t ‘get’ modern art. Rather than come right out and admit that, in the past, I would have said it is pretentious, pointless or some other sweeping generalisation. But I thought I would give it a go.
Once in front of a multi-media exhibition I found myself examining the labels on each piece. Words. I like words. I was looking for a way in, to understand the point of the piece.
To my surprise I found myself amused and drawn by several pieces
Next up, a photographer’s work. Framed black and white print after framed black and white print with no captions. What! No descriptions. I read the bio of the artist and once I realised there were no captions, I relaxed and started to gaze at the prints. They were arresting and showed a variety of subjects. Instead of trying to work out where they were I found myself just enjoying the atmosphere and the feeling I got from the prints. I was captivated.
It strikes me it’s very easy to get all opinionated about life as it comes through us
To have all kinds of rules and stories about how things should be, in our heads and in our lives. This tends to leave us with a precarious relationship to what ‘is’ because most of what shows up falls into the ‘not okay’ category. And what I realised from my foray into contemporary art is you miss so much when you stick to randomly created ideas (calcified into beliefs) about what things are or are not, should or should not be.
‘Like’ or ‘dislike’ are totally arbitrary and subject to change
And more often than not our opinions and beliefs come from thoughts about the past rather than what is in front of us.
We may like the smell of coffee because we associate it with all sorts of ‘nice’ things. We may dislike wet weather because in the past we have felt down on a grey day. The sentiment is not really about the coffee or the rain it’s about what stories we hold about them.
And those can change at any time….. Who knows what you currently dislike or think is impossible that you could see differently, at any moment?
I’d love to hear what comes up for you on reading this article. Please add any comments, questions, reflections or insights below.
As tools to communicate, social media platforms are fantastically efficient: fast, (mostly) free and easy to access and they provide a whole world of connections, information and inspiration.
However when we begin to mis-use our social media feeds: say constantly checking our Facebook feed to get a hit of feeling good or begin to compare ourselves negatively with others or simply use it to distract ourselves from engaging in tasks we dislike, the Facebook feed no longer serve us and can become a hindrance to being or doing in the world as we would wish.
This is not the fault of the social media platforms, simply a result of how we use them. How nice it is when we switch off our social media feed for a while. Returning to our feed after a break, we get reminded too what a great tool it can be when we are clear about when it’s helpful and when it’s not.
Our social media feed is not so different from our cognitive function
Our cognitive function, our ability to reason and make judgement is a fabulous tool which is incredibly helpful when we are faced with certain problems, tasks or projects such as building a bridge, baking a cake, learning to play an instrument, organising a party, booking travel plans, doing our tax returns or buying tickets.
Where would we be without it?
It excels at assembling facts, looking critically at information, making judgements, weighing up pros and cons and coming to conclusions. All very useful skills in some areas of life. Imagine the world if this function did not exist?
But our analysing and judging capabilities are really, really rubbish when it comes to matters of the heart.
By matters of the heart, I mean that search for a sense of peace, well-being and connectedness which lies at the heart of what all human beings yearn for. We may not express it that way. We may express it as a yearning for a partner, a rewarding job, a family, good mental or physical health but these just look like ways we might get to feel these things, to feel ‘happy’.
The cognitive brain is really, really bad at helping us feel connected and peaceful.
In that arena, the cognitive mind is no use at all. It’s simply the wrong tool for the job.
Do you hear the calling?
There is in each of us a deep deep yearning. A yearning to be at rest, at peace. It is a yearning that propels people up mountains, to run marathons to meditation and yoga classes, into nature or reaching for the top of the career ladder or aspiring to drive a nice car. We reach blindly for things out there, mistakenly believing in that yoga class, in that summiting of the mountain, in that winning of that promotion, we will find what we seek.
The yearning to be at rest, to experience peace, comes from a desire to feel complete, okay, satisfied. To rest in the space where there is nothing to be done, no goals to be achieved, no expectations to be met.
Yet ironically we act on the belief that it is in the doing, setting goals, meeting expectations that we will find our happiness, not realising that mistaken belief, in itself, takes us away from our natural state of rest and well-being.
(How different it feels when we engage in activities because they occur to us, because they appeal to us, because they are fun or would be cool, rather than doing things in order to ‘feel better/whole.’)
The yearning is a kind of knowing
Knowing what is good for us, knowing what we need, knowing what we truly are. Underneath the business of judgements, opinions and criticism, underneath the ups and downs of mood, underneath the ebb and flow of life events, there is a space that some call home. A space we know intimately. It’s a space where the chatter of our cognitive thinking is less dominant, matters less. Where experience just happens without analysis and commentary. It is a space where all is well.
Rather like the addictive checking of a social media feed, we have mistakenly given far too much importance to what our cognitive brain thinks about everything, from how we feel on waking, what we had for breakfast, how much our neighbour’s dog barks, what our partner said last week, how we were brought up, the state of the world and the weather.
Rather than making use of this powerful and remarkable tool to help us create and serve others, we have got carried away with the idea that the cognitive function is there to make us feel better. So it sets to work doing what the cognitive function does: analysing, correlating and drawing conclusions. Which would be fine, except that being at peace and feeling connected does not occur through analysis. It is our natural state and occurs when we fall out of that way of thinking.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could switch off our cognitive brain like we can shut off our social media feed? And actually just log in to it when it is of use to us. Any time we feel wide open and curious, not engaged in judgement, criticism, opinions, should’s and shouldn’ts we touch a space where all is well, everything is wide open, everything is possible and we are at peace. And it is a space where fresh, helpful ideas can arise and be heard.
How do we fall into that space more often ?
I’m not sure it is in our gift to determine exactly when we fall into it and when we don’t but perhaps we can increase the odds. These things may help:-
- Recognising when we are in that space, ~ that’s anytime we feel warm and at peace, full of love, happily engaged in something, any time we feel all is well (even though emotions and events may be going up and down around us)
- Knowing that space is there and not dependent on an activity or being in a particular place, or with a particular person
- Knowing we’ll fall in and out of it, so there’s no sense in trying to hold on to it
- Knowing we can’t ‘think’ our way into that space
- Going with the ebb and flow without struggle or strain
- Recognising what takes us away from that space, i.e. getting engaged with our cognitive mind, identifying with thoughts as if they were personal
- Recognising we are not our thoughts or feelings ~ they are transitory and can do us no harm if we leave them alone
- Appreciating being in that space ~ being grateful for that
- Opening ourselves to being in it more often helps.
- Listening deeply, with nothing on our mind, when on your own
- Listening deeply, with nothing on our mind, to others
- Not worrying when we are not in it.
The space is always there. Only our awareness of being in it goes in and out, in and out, like the tide.
And rather like our social media feed, if we get too obsessed and start trying to use our cognitive mind for purposes it wasn’t designed for, i.e. to try and find peace of mind, we’ll start to feel yucky. It will feel sticky and stressful and not okay and we might notice we feel tired and cranky. It’s a nudge we are using the wrong tool. Let it be. Look away.
Willingness to turn away from the cognitive mind (not being seduced by FOMO ~ fear of missing out), and just falling into our natural state, hearing and feeling that deep yearning that longs for your busy cognitive mind to fade out, that will luxuriate in the space that is always there, beyond that.
I’d love to hear what comes up for you on reading this article. Please add any comments, questions, reflections or insights below.
“Techniques will not help you to find the knowledge or the happiness you seek. I would call techniques the lost man’s way to enlightenment”
p.53 The Enlightened Gardener Revisited by Sydney Banks
This morning running through my mind was the question, ‘What I can bring to conversations with groups I work with? Picking up The Enlightened Gardener Revisited, I opened the book randomly on page 53 and my eyes fell on the line above.
It presents something of a paradox. On the one hand, people are seeking truth and often ask ‘how’ do I see this, on the other hand wisdom lies within.
So why set up an online group based on sharing the Three Principles or run a virtual programme to have these conversations?
Why do I go and run groups in a local mental health charity’s centre to share this understanding?
What is really going on?
When this understanding known as the 3 Principles first came into my awareness I got really excited. I saw something. I realised I was okay and in that realisation a large pile of thinking about my mental health dropped away.
But life wasn’t all hunky dory
Just as I always had, I experienced moments of joy….. but
I still had dark times, difficult times, horrible times. Some parts of my life I experienced as frankly unpleasant.
And I used to get stuck. Really stuck. Stuck back in that prison of my thinking.
So I began devouring 3 principles materials. Webinars, books, signed up for courses. The eager beaver.
For a while I hung out in Bliss Valley. My inclination was to stay there. Like I deserved a vacation after all that mental struggle and strife.
Doubts, fears, insecurity came crowding back so much I wondered if I would ever be free of them.
I hit a wall ……
“I’m going to scream if I hear another word about the 3Ps.”
I went cold turkey and stopped consuming any 3P material for a couple of months.
But then a few months ago, something changed. The struggle and effort went out of trying to understand this thing called the 3Ps.
So now moods still flow through me but I worry less about the ones I used to label A PROBLEM.
I get anxious, insecure, irritated and all the things everyone feels. Sometimes these moods hang around a while; sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I see what’s going on, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I get really upset and it can feel like I have ‘gone back’ into struggle and strife.
And yet, there is a difference.
I come out quicker. The moods are less and less compelling. If I get a bit lost, I don’t tend to give myself such a hard time afterwards. Seeing it more as a bump in the road. I know I still have blind spots. People in my life seem to be showing up differently too. My nearest and dearest but strangers too. There is more laughter, more love, more fun, more ease (mostly).
As my focus moves away from worrying about my moods, I am getting more and more curious about what lies beyond them…..
How and why did this happen?
I honestly have no real idea. But I can make a story about that for you…..
What it looks like to me now is I was lucky enough to hang out with folk who themselves dwell in a state of expanded consciousness. Being with them, was an invitation to allow my own consciousness to expand; to let go of more and more stories/beliefs/ideas about myself, the world and others and to surrender to the flow of life coming through me.
My intellect has always been my trusty steed. I experienced the world through my intellect. If I analysed things enough then surely I would figure them out.
It has been a long, slow sweet parting of the ways between me and my intellect.
I value it and know it has helped me in all kinds of ways, but for this particular journey, I eventually realised, I had to go it alone, without my intellect. But not really alone. For once you surrender to the flow of life, you find you are never alone, there are so many who offer to walk alongside or hold a lantern up for us.
I feel huge gratitude for so many people who have shared and are sharing this journey with me. Too many to name….
When I hear people suffering, stuck in the prison of their own thinking, asking for help to get free, it can be tempting to respond to the request for a fix or a technique. And I have gone down that route sometimes…..
But today I am reminded again, that something far bigger than me, flows through here in virtual and real spaces where these conversations are being held, in homes across the globe where people extend love and understanding to each other and my job is simply to allow that feeling to flow when I post and respond to comments.
In that feeling is an invitation to us all to see deeper, see beyond our beliefs, ideas and thoughts, see more of what we really are. People pointed the way for me and as I now point the way for others, I too am seeing deeper and deeper and the journey is getting lighter and lighter with more and more comedy and laughter along the way.
Thank you for reading and being in this conversation…….
Juliet Fay based in West Wales, UK, is a Marketing Geek and Three Principles Facilitator. Facilitating conversations in person and online with individuals, groups and teams to point people towards more ease in life and work. She also writes poems, articles, essays, prose and short stories. Contact Juliet via the Solcare website. To get email updates about new writing, events, programmes and meets ups, sign up to the e-mailing list here.
To learn more about the Three Principles ask to join Love Your Life Again, a Facebook group hosted by Juliet Fay of Solcare, for individuals social care workers and social entrepreneurs experiencing mental stress (or serving those that do). A place to look towards a deeper understanding of who we are and how our experience gets created. In this group you can connect with others and share insights into a new understanding of how the mind works known as The Three Principles as first articulated by Sydney Banks.This is an extension of the work Juliet does at a local mental health charity facilitating conversations with members, staff and volunteers. Please ask to join. Once you are a member you can invite others into the group.
Do you believe everything you think?
Most of us don’t.
We don’t believe when it has rained for 6 days solid that the sun will never come out again (though that thought crosses our mind).
We don’t believe life is unremittingly bad though it can look like that when we are in a low mood.
What if you don’t have to believe anything you think? What if it is all made up? Simply thought energy passing through us?
Hang on a minute, I hear you say.
Well if you can disregard some thoughts and not others, what makes the difference? How do you choose which ones you pay attention to, which ones you give weight to?
Scientific evidence, facts, validation from others?
You only have to scratch a little deeper to find it’s entirely random. The difference comes simply from what state of mind we are in.
In a high state of mind (or expanded consciousness) the thoughts we believe and therefore our experience of the world, is entirely different to the thoughts we believe to be true and therefore our experience of the world in a low state of mind. In a high state of mind we experience love, joy, wisdom, well-being, lightheartedness and peace. In a low state we experience fear, lack, scarcity and distress.
What does this tell us?
It is our state of mind that creates our experience.
The innocent misunderstanding is that circumstances, our genes, our wiring, our past, our hormones or anything other than the thinking in each moment that we believe to be true, creates our experience. That misunderstanding is the biggest cause of mental distress because we take our thoughts at face value. We believe they tell us something about ourselves, other people or our world.
But that’s not how it works.
Our state of mind ebbs and flows and therefore so does our experience of ourselves, others and our world.
The thing that is constant is our innate, essential, well-being. We may lose sight of it but we all have, at our core, innate wisdom, well-being, creativity and resilience.
Our shifting moods tell us ever-changing stories about ourselves, the world and other people.
These are made up. Insubstantial. Illusory. Only they don’t look that way. They look real.
It is expanded consciousness that shifts our experience.
How do you get expanded consciousness?
It happens naturally when we get quiet and still and tune in to something bigger than ourselves. To the universal energy we call life or spirit or Mind (as expressed by Sydney Banks).
The good news is, as our consciousness expands our feeling states continue to fluctuate, ebb and flow but they do so from a different base line.
The even better news is that there is nothing to do other than settle down. There’s nothing to get, achieve, tick off or even aspire to. There is only doing and being.
There aren’t even any states of mind that are inherently negative. We only judge them to be so. We can experience distress from a place of expanded consciousness and experience it as the dreamer watches what is unfolding in the dream. Engaged but not attached to any particular outcome.
Thus we can get curious about these feeling states we get to experience with this whole being human thing. With nothing on it, there is no longer the need to chase away so-called ‘bad feelings’ nor try to cling on to so-called ‘good feelings’. Knowing that feelings ebb and flow we can turn away from thinking about how we are feeling and allow instead thoughts and feelings to flow through us. Casting our attention away from stale old ones and towards fresh new inspiration that is always available to us, in each and every moment. This allows us to engage in doing and being with wonder, awe and appreciation.
When you realise you are not what you think, nor does what you think say anything about yourself, the world or other people you can surrender to Universal Mind and to life flowing through you. When life flows through you uninhibited, your experience of this whole being human thing, transforms as more and more appreciation leads to more and more allowing for love, joy and peace to show up in your life and the lives of those around you.
Why isn’t this common knowledge?
You might well ask. For once you realise your experience of life is created by the thinking you believe to be real, your whole relationship to your thinking begins to change. The good news is, this understanding is being shared across the world and more and more of those impacted by seeing the reality of how our human experience gets created are bringing about change directly or indirectly, in their families, communities and work places. Change is coming.
You can find out more by visiting the Solcare Resources page.
Please add your comments below.
© Juliet Fay 2017
Juliet Fay is a writer, poet, Marketing Geek and Three Principles Facilitator based in West Wales sharing The Three Principles as first articulated by Sydney Banks. Contact Juliet via the Solcare website. For articles, occasional poems, book reviews and programme news from Solcare, sign up to the e-mailing list here. To learn more about the Three Principles ask to join Love Your Life Again, a Facebook group hosted by Juliet Fay of Solcare, for individuals, social care workers and social entrepreneurs looking for more ease and flow.
I first heard Mara Gleason speak at the One Solution conference in Oslo in May 2016. It was an event that changed the direction of my life and more importantly added a big dose of oomph to a journey I had begun a couple of months earlier into exploring a new understanding of how the mind works.
Since then I have gone from being at the mercy of my roller coaster thoughts and emotions and experiencing periods of excruciating mental distress, to worrying less and less about how and what I think or feel in any given moment and getting more and more curious about just being and doing.
The impact of this shift in understanding continues to amaze and awe me as I experience life more lightly and worry less about what mood I happen to be in. What’s more, curiously, my children, friends and complete strangers keep showing up in my life with more and more laughter, love and wisdom.
For me having found so much relief, the obvious next step was to learn how to share this new understanding to help others alleviate their mental distress. To that end, I undertook a Three Principles Facilitator Training Programme in London with The Insight Space and have been running group programmes in Llanelli Mind’s Welcome Centre, where I live in West Wales.
So to Mara’s book. I haven’t written a book review before and I know it’s probably bad form to start a review talking about myself, but I did that quite deliberately. Mara’s book points the way to this new understanding I stumbled across and more importantly to the massive potential for change in our world that lies in spreading this understanding far and wide.
I am just one person and already I can see the ripple effect of this understanding showing up in my life. It is impacting me, people I know, people I work with and people I hardly know.
There are many books about this understanding or The Three Principles (as first expressed by Sydney Banks), as it is known, but there is something in the timing, the range and reach of the shifts described in the case studies, the broad sweep and most of all, in the hope behind this book that is, quite simply, compelling.
Many of us who work in this field are recognising this book as a great introduction to this understanding. I’m looking forward to sharing some passages with my group at Mind on Monday and have already shared it with a friend who messaged me asking for a book recommendation for a friend who is experiencing depression.
Mara’s book has arrived in the world on the crest of a wave with a huge bundle of energy behind it, which shows up in the writing and is evidenced by the fact that it hit the number one spot on Amazon UK, psychology books section on the day of its launch.
That energy is much in evidence when you hear Mara talk about this understanding, her work and her hope for the world. There is something about her intention in bringing this book into the world which is so simple and yet so utterly compelling. She doesn’t just want you to have a nicer, easier life (though that is very much what tends to happen), as the title says, she is looking at the biggest possible picture and inviting you to consider the possibility that, ‘one thought changes everything’.
What if that was true?
For the photo above, I found myself asking my daughter to snap a picture of myself holding the book up on our train trip to Cardiff, so I could share the cover with my Facebook friends and highly recommend they read it. I don’t usually do that kind of thing.
At the same time, it occurred to me to share it in a group called Campfire Convention, thinking that the creative, curious crowd there might be interested. In fact it was Pete Lawrence, founder of that group, who suggested I write a review. At first I thought, eh no, but then I thought, yes, why not? Thank you Pete.
My response to this book is similar to the response I had to Cheri Gillings, Listening Post idea back in May this year. The energy behind it is so easy and compelling, I found myself with a very simple clear response. Yes!
Yes I want to be part of that.
Yes I want to read this book. Yes I want to share this book. Yes I want to help promote this book.
Because this book might just change the world and I think we can all agree, that would be a good thing.
So go on, grab a copy, read it and decide for yourself.
Right now you can get the Kindle version here on Amazon UK for just £2.30.