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Hi everyone,
I'm posting a copy of a newsletter I receive every month regarding making positive change in our lives.  consistent practice of meditation will no doubt help one to become more conscious of what "makes us tick".  That is, will help bring our unconscious motivations to our conscious awareness. 
(Forgive me MD but much of this was beautifully written under one of your Mind Exercises, I just thought we could use a reminder)
Now, some of what is written is pretty controversial.  I almost deleted that part but decided not to for one reason:  To give those who may be still grieving a past trauma some hope that it can ALL change and a happy life can be created in spite of it.  I too am a survivor and once thought it would always be painful to open my eyes and breathe another day.  But that has changed so I left the controversial statements in.
All of this can be argued and please feel free to do so.  I just want to pass on a little of what makes me tick NOW.  Peace and blessings,

People who are happy, peaceful, creative, connected with the world and other people, balanced, and effective in what they do  people who are living life fully and happily  have certain internal strategies, certain ways in which they see themselves, the world, and other people. They have a map of reality that supports them, brings them happiness, and makes them more effective. If you can model these people and learn how they have created their internal map of who they are, and then adopt these same ways of seeing, being, and acting, you will get the same results.

As I have said many times, one big stumbling block to positive change is somehow thinking you can change your results without changing some of the fundamental ways you see yourself, the world, and other people. If you keep your map of reality the way it is, you will continue to get the same results. Period. The only way to change your life and make it better is to change your beliefs, your values, your decisions, your strategies, your ways of filtering and sorting information that comes to you, and even your memories. There is no other way.

If you have read the articles on The Gap and Possibility/Necessity, you have two big pieces of the puzzle. Here is another: the difference between moving toward what you want and moving away from what you don't want.

They seem the same, don't they, at first glance. Is there a difference between wanting something and not wanting its opposite? Yes, there is. A big difference.

Your mind is wired to create for you whatever you focus on. Those of you who have set goals and focused on them know what I mean. When you focus on something, your mind creates the circumstances for it to happen. The more you focus, and the more emotion to bring to bear, the faster it happens. but only 2% of people, according to a study at Harvard, ever really create goals and write them down. This means 98% of people are creating whatever is accidentally floating around in their heads, without much intention.

There is no doubt that focusing on something brings it about, however. For confirmations, read Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill, or Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz, two classic books on this subject.

As I have said before, you are already REALLY GOOD at creating whatever you focus on. You do not need to practice this. There is no way you could NOT do this.

The problem comes from not taking control of what you focus on, which few people do. Most people are running on auto-pilot, and what they are focusing on is coming from outside: from parents, friends, the media, church, the general culture. Most of it is unconscious, and most of it is not very resourceful.

And, you really can't hide what you focus on, because all you need to do to figure out what someone is focusing on is look at the results they are creating in their life, since the two are irrevocably connected.

One of the biggest mistakes people make in this regard is moving away from what they don't want rather than moving toward what they want. Why is this a mistake? Because your mind cannot tell the difference between something you are thinking about that you DO NOT want and something you DO want. Anything you think about it thinks you want it, and sets about arranging for it to happen.

Now some people do both -- they go back and forth between thinking about what they want and thinking about what they don't want. For this reason, they get good results some of the time, and then torpedo themselves later. They go back and forth and can't figure out why they never get anywhere.

Why would someone think about what they don't want? Because they have had some kind of significant negative emotional experience, after which they are on the lookout for anything that reminds them of what happened so they can avoid it happening again. The classic example is the child who burns herself on a hot stove and then is afraid to go near the stove for fear of being burned again. A significant emotional experience will create in you a fear, and a scanning mechanism in your mind will then spend a significant amount of energy scanning the environment for similar danger.

One of the most heartbreaking examples of this is a little girl who is sexually molested and who, by focusing on what she does not want to repeat, attracts sexual deviants and predators throughout herlife. Most sexual assaults happen to people who have been assaulted before!

Please don't think I am saying the person who is assaulted is to blame, for that certainly is not the case. The person doing the assaulting is surely to blame. However, by focusing on what she does not want, subtle things happen: she may feel an attraction to people who are capable of an assault, without knowing why, and may draw them into her life. She may give off certain unconscious body language clues that a potential predator picks up (probably also unconsciously). Because she focuses on what she does not want, her mind creates the circumstances to make it happen.

This is, of course, an extreme example. Focusing on not failing creates failing. Focusing on not smoking creates the desire to smoke. Focusing on not wanting your spouse to leave you creates the circumstances where that comes true. And so on.

Carl Wallenda, the high-wire tight-rope artist who fell to his death a decade or more ago had been doing his high wire act since he was a child. He told interviewers he never ever thought about falling. It just wasn't a possibility, in his mind. He always focused on walking across the wire with balance and grace and getting to the other side safely. But a few months before his death he began telling his wife about dreams he was having of falling. He began to think about falling, and a few months later, he fell to his death.

One of the greatest skills you can have, one of the greatest ways to be more CONSCIOUS, is to focus on what you want instead of what you do not want. Those who focus on what they want create what they want in life. Those who focus on what they do not want, even part of the time, create what they do not want.

The problem is that all of this, for 99.99% of people, is all happening automatically, out of your conscious awareness. This means you must become more conscious of what you are focusing on, and then take the reins of your mind and consciously focus on what you want. One of the biggest benefits of meditation is that it naturally develops this kind of conscious awareness. And remember, you cannot do something that is not resourceful for you and do it consciously. Once you become conscious of what you are focusing on, if it does not serve you, you will stop focusing on it. As long as this is running on automatic, however, you can do it for your entire life, with disastrous results.

So the first thing to cultivate a disciplined meditation practice so you can develop the conscious awareness you need to change this very important part of your map of reality. Becoming conscious and aware will clear up everything in your map of reality that isn't working for you.

But there are other things you can do. First, you need to be clear about what it is you DO want. Most people are NOT clear about what they want. Write it down. Be specific.

Second, you need to spend some time, at first, consciously setting aside time to focus on what it is you want. Picture it in your mind, and feel the emotions you would feel if you had it, as intensely as possible. Do this over and over. Do it right before you fall asleep every night and right when you wake up in the morning, and a few more times during the day.

Third, you must become aware of those times when you are focusing on what you do not want (what you are afraid of, worried about, anxious about, depressed about, etc.), and immediately change your focus to what you do want as soon as you notice what you are doing. A good plan is to keep score. Carry a 3x5 card and keep track of each time you think about something you do not want and each time you think about what you do want. This will also probably surprise you by pointing out just how often you think about what you do not want.

If you do this, and do it relentlessly, the unconscious habit of thinking about what you do not want will gradually give way to the more resourceful method of thinking about what you do want, and eventually THAT will become a habit and will run on automatic.

One more thing: often we frame what we are thinking about in positive terms, but it is based on moving away from something we don't want, despite the way it is worded in our internal dialog. If you say you want a man or woman in your life who will treat you with respect, it may very well be that you are really moving away from having (yet another) partner who does not treat you with respect. The whole issue of respect in a partner wouldn't even come up had you not been mistreated (ie, had a significant negative emotional experience). So beware of "moving away" thinking disguised as moving toward thinking.

Finally, remember that the key to positive change is being willing to change your map of reality. This means letting go of scanning your environment for danger, because doing this scanning brings danger to you. If you can focus on what you want and move toward it, and give up focusing on what you don't want or are afraid of, your life will change. Do it the way the really happy people do it, and you'll be happy, too.
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