Mountains and Oceans: Inner and Outer

I came across the following post, and think it fits well with my coaching philosophy:

“Mountains and oceans have whole worlds of innumerable wondrous features. We should understand that it is not only our distant surroundings that are like this, but even what is right here, even a single drop of water.”
~ Dogen Zenji

Dogen was a Buddhist priest in early 13th century Japan, and although that’s a fair age away, his words can ring deep: if we allow them to by altering our perspective.

So here’s my take on his statement. It’s a metaphor for our inner world. The meaning we assign an experience – any experience – is an “internal” act. Much as we might adopt another’s meaning to an experience, as a belief, we are more than any position our thoughts take us.

Depending on which facet of our experience we choose out of habit, whether that be our Thoughts, Emotions, Sensations, Impulses/Desires, Imagination or Intuition (the last tending to express itself through one or more of the other five “psychological functions”, our worldview can become limited, distorted by unconscious habits of experiencing reality, ie. the world “out there”.

So when you find yourself consumed by thinking, emotions, an impulse to act without forethought, and if you are able, ask yourself: “Who is aware of this experience?” I suggest as some of you who visit this page may have some experience already in developing what I call “The Witness”. It’s a simple practice that, if combined with other mindfulness-growing methods such as Yoga, can return us to Presence: the experience of pure conscious awareness and will, beyond any content.

#presence #psychosynthesis #soul-making

Purpose and the Masterpiece: a broader, transpersonal view on the meaning of goals

Self as Light Energy of ConsciousSitting down to write contact emails to potential business partners can sometimes err on the painful side (I’m not the most gifted “formal proposal letter” writer), I came across an FB post on a quote by Michel de Montaigne, a 16th century French philosopher who lived at a time when France was wracked by civil war, famine and disease.

Much as the quote is in the image, I want to share it again, and share my thoughts a little on what this means for working with people as a coach/guide.

“The great and glorious masterpiece of man is how to live with purpose.”

When Michel was thinking about this statement of intent, I’m going to risk a mind-read and suggest that he wasn’t talking about a particular goal. Like cleaning the basement? Improve work performance to get that promotion? I don’t think so. Such examples might best be considered as particular goals, ie. they have a fairly well-defined beginning, middle and ending.

So we might go so far as to interpret Montaigne’s wisdom as referring to some grander, greater, visionary-like intent that spans a stream of goals, as way-points that honour that purpose.

A purpose is a vision, not a clearly definable end-point. A purpose is multi-layered, embedding our attitudes, values and their meaning in our lives. A purpose inspires and ignites the “Soul”, which seems to me to be that ineffable, timeless, deepest – and mostly unconscious – sense of self we each encounter in those moments in life that define us. Do we follow those old, trusty ruts in the track, following everyone else for the sake of acceptance, or do we ask deeper questions of ourselves?

A purpose as a vision is (hopefully) not about “me”, it is about “we”. Through synthesising our mundane goals in service of a greater purpose – whatever that purpose may be – the road before us, and of our intrinsic trust in life, we acknowledge the Call of Self, our deepest, highest selves.

Presence and Purpose…

There is a word that’s been skittering around my mind recently, a word that, depending on context, can get a little fuzzy. That word is presence, which can range from the prosaic “leadership charisma” kind to the sensations you might experience (perhaps wholly imagined) when you’re walking around a graveyard late at night. It’s a tricky term to embody and give form to, and yet it is, in my experience, instrumental in evoking purpose, in ourselves and in others.

Chinese icon for Presence.

Chinese icon for Presence.

Presence as a word can mean that we exist, that we are in a place; yet for me, when we’re with someone we care about, someone whom we can trust, we have the potential to be wholly present. So how might we do this? I found the image of this Chinese symbols illuminating, where we listen, we watch, we attend what’s in front of us with our whole focus, heart and soul.

Evoking presence – that quiet space between moments, when our awareness is wholly focused in the now – can bring about be the royal road to purpose. We are quiet within; with that awareness we self-witness our internal workings, our thoughts, emotions, physical sensation, desires, imaginings and intuitions.

We become present with our own process, and from that space within something special, something other, comes into being in the space between. An openness appears, enters awareness, and we get to choose to give whatever we are experiencing in our awareness fuel, giving it attention through our heart, our will – or not. From that we can choose to act, and that presupposes content from our past isn’t in our present, dictating how we’re filtering experience.

So being present brings presence, with ourselves, with whomever we’re with at the moment, and with whatever activity we are focusing our awareness and will upon.

Thoughts and Decisions, Awareness and Will

Thoughts tend to come and go. Some hang around a while, guests overstaying their welcome. Some are fleeting, in the moment, requiring a notepad to-hand to record their passing. Your thoughts can be steady one time, erratic another.

So what really matters? That you decide. From that decision, to take action.

An impulse, a repeating desire to take action based on a compulsion that leads to doing something that you’d regret, and have regretted time and again. Maybe you have a goal that you’ve been putting off working towards. Maybe you’ve a habit that you’d rather put behind you. Your future is reflected in each present moment, on what you decide to do.

We can be a slave to those thoughts and emotions. Or we can walk on by that opportunity not to decide, to succumb to that repeat “the same old same old”.

This is where your power lies. It is what you decide in the moment. When you are aware of those old habitual patterns of doing, you are in a position of power to decide. Your life can transform in a single day, a single moment.

Being aware of those habitual patterns, for example if they are stressful and undermining, can help you make a decision towards steering those thoughts to a more positive end. Another important difference between thoughts and actions? Decisions are thoughts transformed by action.

Be aware of what drives you. Once you are aware of these inner forces, you my have an opportunity in applying your will to decide on a new path. Optimism and faith require decision to make them “real”, out there in the world.

Make a decision, a commitment. Know what direction your inner compass in pointing. Take responsibility for your life.

Be your own person. Making that decision has so much power in it, you’ll be astonished at where it can lead you.

There is a quote that Roberto Assagioli, the founder of a depth psychology, Psychosynthesis, that I feel best sums up this post: “There is no certainty; there is only adventure.”

Is Hypnosis a Panacea?

It’s been shown that hypnosis can help with so many different problems, from assistance in treating cancer to teeth grinding and pretty much everything in between. This might give the impression that hypnosis is some kind of panacea, a cure-all approach to all ills. Given what we know of hypnosis, is this really the case?

Not at all. I might be coming across as undermining my own belief in the power of the unconscious mind in general, and of hypnosis in particular, and that just isn’t the case. I simply want to manage expectations, and to emphasise the vital ingredient of intention. T

Perhaps the reason that it may seem that hypnosis is a cure-all is the very strong connection – and correlation – between the mind and the body. Everything is energy, and that most importantly our thoughts and emotions are energy. It is after all a single system, and we have linguistically distinguished between body and mind as two separate things, when really we can consider mind as an emergent quality of the body. So if we expect to be positive and open-minded on any given day, chances are you will experience exactly that!

We might also consider this to be what’s known as the placebo effect, which is a well-accepted and clinically confirmed example of how the mind can positively influence the body. It might be worth considering its opposite, though not so well known; that of the nocebo effect [1]. When a person’s negative beliefs become so consistent and focused, this state has the potential of creating adverse effects on the body. Modern medicine is coming round to the reality of how strong the mind-body connection really is, and how much our daily mental habits impacts our health. As the unconscious mind governs this connection, we can appreciate what makes hypnosis so powerful with such a wide variety of issues.

Accessing the power of our unconscious mind through self-hypnosis can be one of the best tools you can use to positively change how you feel and what you think.

1.The Nocebo Effect: Negative Thoughts Can Harm Your Health, Psychology Today, Aug 6, 2013.

Hypnotherapy Training & Certification – Learn Hypnosis! [Updated 2020]

Clinical research into hypnosis for increasing self-esteem and lowering anger

In a 2004 research study on the potential for self-hypnosis a a means of relapse prevention with chronic drug/alcohol users, 261 US military veterans were admitted to Substance Abuse Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Programs (SARRTPs). For those participants who repeatedly used self-hypnosis, from 3 to 5 times a week, reported at a 7-week follow-up the highest levels of self-esteem and serenity across the group, and who also experienced the least anger problems with impulse control, when compared to those participants in the minimal-practice and control groups. [1]

  1. Pekala RJ, Maurer R, Kumar VK, et al. Self-hypnosis relapse prevention training with chronic drug/alcohol users: effects on self-esteem, affect, and relapse. Am J Clin Hypn. 2004;46(4):281-97.

Confidence in following our own inner compass

Confidence in following our own inner compass, what I call ‘true north’, can sometimes ebb and flow with life’s circumstances. In our shared culture we’re bombarded with media messages suggesting that we look a certain way, behave in certain ways, in fact our preferences are subtly manipulated through the daily digestion of television, radio and web-based news outlets.

Our sense of values, of what is meaningful and important to us as individuals, may sometimes be distorted by what we consistently pay attention to – both ‘out there’ in the world, and inwardly through repetitive thoughts and feelings – and so our innate sense of purpose in life may become neglected. It’s this last point that I believe in; that we each and all have a purpose, and it’s ours to discover and live out. When we come to question the sources of the stories we tell ourselves of about ourselves – through conditioning in the family, society and work – then we have an opportunity to change those repeating stories or scripts.

Do you want to change yours?