The Art of Effortless Living

Stop Trying. Start Living.  The Art of Effortless Living.  Do Less, Let Go, and Discover Health, Emotional Well-Being, and Happiness, by Ingrid Bacci, Ph.D., 2000.Berkley Publishing Group, New York, NY.

pg 33:  When we’re healthy, we commit ourselves to activities, friendships, and professional work that give us joy.  Yet, to a remarkable extent, many of us have learned to eliminate enjoyment as a critical guide in our life choices.

Instead of measuring our worth by the organic feeling of satisfaction that comes from engaging in something meaningful, we look at how much money we’re making, or at whether we’re receiving social recognition.

pg 34:  The possibility that nobody might be in control, and that this could be just fine, doesn’t occur to us.  We think that either we have the power or someone else does, and so we’re afraid of losing power.  The Type A personality is run by fear, even though he or she may not realize this consciously.

Diseases of the heart reflect the dis-ease, or lack of comfort, of living without heart — of living a lifestyle that is inwardly self-destructive and of struggling to achieve in terms that amount to spiritual and psychological malnutrition.

A full 70 percent of doctors’ visits today are stress-based.  This means that patients’ complaints result from their mental and emotional responses to the demands of everyday living.

pg 35:  We get on that treadmill because we think we have no choice; we think we’re being forced to effort our way through our lives.  We become reactive instead of proactive.  When we are proactive, we determine our direction and shape our environment.  We assume that our own decisions and values can have a strong influence on the world around us.  When we are reactive, we think events around us have the dominant influence, and we confine ourselves to coping with and defending against those events.  We don’t see that we are constantly influencing the world as well as being influenced by it.  We assume that our best stance is a defensive one and we adopt a fight or flight response to daily life.

But today, the fight or flight response is the statistical norm rather than the exception.  It’s the norm for people to live with anger or fear close to the surface.  It’s the norm for them to approach their daily lives with the feeling that at any moment they might need to defend themselves or attack someone else.  It’s the norm for our bodies to remain in the biochemically aroused and muscularly contracted state of a creature in danger.  Is it any wonder that a constant fight or flight response to life compresses the body, depresses the immune system and eventually leads to long-term disease?

pg 36:  But what happens to a person who experiences life itself as endangering?  For this person, there is no point of equilibrium.  There is no point at which anxiety and tension are put to rest and body and mind return to a tranquil state.

Back problems and arthritis, one or both of which eventually afflict up to three quarters of the population, are often long-term manifestations of stress.  …We pull all our energy inward, shut down, and put a barrier between ourselves and the world.  If we get tight often enough and for long enough, our muscles stay tight.  …Our tight muscles also create friction that leads to osteoarthritis….If we develop a habit of tightness and defense, after a while we no longer can find our way back to the sense of release and ease that are our birthright.

Most people in our society exhibit the shallow thoracic breathing of a frightened animal.

pg 37:  Another increasingly pervasive chronic lifestyle disease that may be tied in part to poor breathing habits is cancer.  Loss of oxygen to the cells is an important factor in the growth of carcinogenic tissue, and that loss of oxygen can be a direct result of restricted breathing.

The problem is that most of us accept struggling our way through life as if it were inevitable.  We feel we have to strive ceaselessly.  We feel we have no choice.  We think that the demands of life force us to be in a rush and to produce.  WE ignore the fact that if we want to improve our lives, we must each choose individually to get off the treadmill of effort.

 

But being in a rush has no relationship to getting things done, even though the person who is in a rush may think so.  There is no proven relationship between being in a rush and being vocationally successful.

We may not be aware of it, but when we tell ourselves we have to rush in order to succeed, we lie.

pg 38:  Effective people are creative, and creative people make time their ally.  When any of us have individual moments of creativity, we taste the truth of this description.  We experience ourselves in the flow, we tame the perpetual wave of external events and ride it from a place of inner balance.  …We find ourselves reacting to a series o external constraints and demands instead of acting to implement ideas and values that we believe are important.

pg 40:  …classical example of the type of urgency and crisis orientation we can bring into our lives when we are consumed by small tasks, all of which we experience as being imposed on us by somebody else!

 

Perhaps it takes the form of getting home from a long day’s work and being unable to stop moving.  Instead of relaxing and enjoying ourselves, we fuss, fret and fix things around the house, moving kinetically from one task to the next.  Perhaps our over-focus on doing shows its face when we feel like exploding at someone who keeps us waiting on the phone…There’s something else going on when having to wait at the end of a telephone line makes us want to explode.   And that something else is internal pressure.

Perhaps this pressure builds with each request from a spouse or child.  It’s because we’re programmed to see life’s events as imposing pressure on us that we so readily experience other people’s needs as demands on us.  Otherwise, couldn’t we calmly and firmly say no?

pg 41:  And while the costs of poor personal health management…were immediate, the statistics on stress show that it is the norm to sacrifice our health to what we experience as the pressures of our lives.  Compulsive performing is everywhere, and is extremely difficult to give up.  Deep down we equate doing and more doing with success.

We all share four characteristics when we put too much value on doing and too little on being.  First, we overfocus on results and neglect to pay attention to mastering how we feel inside.  Second, we act from a place of anxiety and tension; our actions become a knee-jerk response to tension.  Third, we project our tension outside ourselves, objectifying it in the form of demands that we think the situation is making on us.  fourth, we assume that getting the job done is inevitably linked with tension, and so we accept the tension as normal….Pete Sampras…his body is a picture of effortless ease.  He looks as if he is really enjoying what he is doing, and even at the height of competition, he rarely seems to lose his composure.

pg 42:  Sampras seems to monitor his mental and physical state and to work to achieve a quiet mind and an alertly relaxed body.  …moment-by-moment poise creates the proper conditions for achieving a maximum result with minimum effort.  He doesn’t give his desire for the goal greater importance than the process he uses to achieve the goal.  He knows that if we keep on thinking about where we want to get to, we lose our ability to be one hundred percent involved with what is happening.

The four characteristics of endless effort that I mentioned earlier have a flip side; the four characteristics of effortless performance.  Fist, when we are effortless, we focus more on how we feel inside than on the results we want to achieve.  Second, we keep our attention on maintaining inner calm, and not giving way to anxiety.  Third, we refuse to lose our composure in the face of external pressures.  Instead, we use those external pressures to strengthen our inner balance.  Fourth, we assume that performance is intimately connected to pleasure, and keep our attention on finding enjoyment in our activities.

(Pete Sampras)…abandon doing and open the door to performing at our best….He’s interested in taking a look at and taking charge of how he feels n the inside.  He also works from an internal state of calm, because he knows that being in this state contributes to reaching his goals.  He associates achievement with relaxation rather than tension, and has learned to train himself to use relaxation in order to achieve.

pg 43:  He doesn’t make his situation responsible for how he feels.  finally, he follows the rule that success is intimately linked with enjoyment, and associates what he is doing with pleasure rather than anxiety.  He has trained himself to identify not just the result of performing but the performing itself with satisfaction.

Addictive behavior is behavior that we persist in with the hope it will get us what we need, despite evidence to the contrary.

Addictions are behavior patterns that perpetuate underlying problems while providing symptomatic relief.  They are ways of avoiding and bandaging over instead of resolving underlying feelings.

We keep on hurrying or doing because of inner anxiety, but our activity only dissipates the anxiety temporarily.  And over the long run it actually aggravates that anxiety.  Like other addicts, we need to acknowledge the reality of our pain and fear and allow ourselves to feel them.

Pg 44:  Are we addicts when we find ourselves home in the evening after a stressful day of work, unable to sit down and relax despite our best intentions, unless we put on a television program that hypnotizes us?

You may not think of yourself as an addict, but remember that addictive behavior perpetuates itself through denial.  We deny that our behavior makes us strangers to ourselves and breeds anxiety and fear.  We refuse to see that it is impossible to find inner worth by meeting external standards.

…the primary addiction underlying other addictions is the addiction to non-living and powerlessness.  Addictive effort hides another, deeper addiction: an addiction to fear.  We are attached to fear and we are afraid to take the steps that will take us out of fear.

We are afraid to take responsibility for ourselves, to fully define ourselves in our own terms.  So we give responsibility for defining who we are to someone else, and then we struggle to live up to those standards.  We avoid our fear of being ourselves by identifying ourselves in terms of achievements that give temporary relief and leave the primary problem unsolved.

Most of all, we are afraid of feeling our feelings, because if we were to acknowledge and take responsibility for our feelings, we would also have to leave the treadmill of our lives behind and take responsibility for creating something more meaningful.  Our list of things to do is never ending, and so is our avoidance of ourselves.  We become hyperactive in order not to come in contact with our deeper needs.  That hyperactivity helps us pretend that something meaningful is happening when it really isn’t.  Instead, we’re living with a semblance of what we really want in order to avoid taking responsibility for creating it.

pg 45:  Amanda was unable to find her inner variety, to move through the endless modulation of tone that gives our experiences a quality of truth and makes us interesting to others. …You can’t feel anything deeply unless you can give yourself the time to digest it.  And that means down time.  Time where you’re not having yet another experience.

She couldn’t move through a range of moods: from peace to excitement, to playfulness, to seriousness, to grief, to contemplativeness, to tenderness.

pg 46:  Unfortunately, it’s when we avoid feelings that they stay with us.

As an adult, Mary unconsciously held on to the framework she had learned as a child.  Whenever she had a task, she assumed that it was overwhelmingly important to do it well.  She also assumed that she would fail.  With that kind of framework, her only option was panic.

Mary was not aware that her problem lay in her mental framework instead of in the situation.

But Mary would have found anyone abrupt and demanding, because her unconscious commitment to fear paralyzed her, guaranteeing her boss’ frustration and creating the failure she feared.

pg 47:  Owning and transforming our fear is the most important step we can take in developing independence and strength.  When we do that, we stop seeing the cause of our fear as outside of ourselves.  We see our fear as coming from within, and we begin the alchemical process of transforming it.

Novel by Ursula LeGuinn (The Wizard of Earth Sea)…excessive pride.  He needs to prove himself to others, and to do that by showing them that he is superior. …He reclaims and masters the negativity he had projected into the outside world.

pg 51:  Ideally relationships are about learning and practicing transparency.  They involve becoming authentic in the presence of another person and inviting that person also to be authentic.  This is the high road o relationships.  But so long as the motivating force behind our relationships is fear, we will cling to masks even in our closest relationships and then wonder why our experience of intimacy is so empty.

When we are born, there is no separation between who we are for ourselves and who we are in front of others.  our sense of ourselves is as close as our own skin.  It’s natural for us to act spontaneously, to chortle, cry, suckle, eat, sleep and play according to an internal, unobstructed rhythm.  We don’t hold anything back and we don’t judge, evaluate or monitor ourselves.  We’re transparent.  We also approach life with wide-eyed fascination….We begin to live in the brittle shell that separates us from ourselves and from one another.

We then begin to inhibit our self-expression and curiosity, and we focus on figuring out what we need to do to get love, approval or security from the people we depend on.  We become as afraid of ourselves as of anything outside us that might cause us fear.  We repress the feelings that we think our parents will disapprove of and try to become the people we are supposed to be.  We stop being and start calculating and doing.  We lose our innocence.  Now we start to identify who we are with the masks of how we appear to other people.  We split ourselves in two: our deeper selves and the selves we develop in order to survive.

pg 52:  Yet real learning has always been about something far more profound: assimilating, growing and changing through our own experience.  It entails a lot more than absorbing information; it involves going though something that changes our framework of perception.

Too much of school learning is about forgetting how we see things and seeing them as someone else sees them….doing well in our lives is tied to meeting someone else’s standards.  Instead of being ourselves, we assume we have to be someone else’s version of a person.  Achievement of any kind becomes associated with performing, and since someone else decides how well we perform, performing becomes associated with anxiety.  Now we are hooked on anxiety, and since that anxiety is linked to success in any endeavor, it drives not only our professional lives but also our intimate relationships with other people.

Performance anxiety pushes us down the road of meeting other people’s needs, and being focused on meeting other people’s needs can create a lot of problems for intimacy.

pg 54: Janice worked hard to meet what she perceived to be Bob’s needs.  Along with running her own full-time consultancy, she organized dinners for political guests, attended long-winded meetings on Bob’s behalf, and accompanied him to his golf tournaments.  She wanted to do these things for Bob as an expression of love, but she couldn’t help feeling overburdened, drained, frustrated, and angry.  And she had difficulty getting him to return the favor and help her.  He would often get angry if she asked him to wash the dishes, or yell at her if he had to wait for her when they were going out together.

Janice skirted a lot of issues ot avoid possible confrontation.  She let Bob keep control of the remote when they watched television, so he wouldn’t get unhappy if she chose a channel he didn’t like.  She made a point of not taking a shower when he might want to do that.  And even in making love, she avoided telling him what would please her because she was afraid he would see this as criticism and take it badly.  She accommodated Bob because that was what she thought love was about, but then she felt frustrated, rejected and angry.  When the feelings built up, instead of backing away from the overload that she had brought on herself, she blamed Bob for how angry she felt when she did so much for him.

If Bob was touchy and ungenerous to Janice, he didn’t see it that way.  He worked long hours at the office, and by the time he got home, he was exhausted and irritable from the effort of fighting his own anxiety and presenting the appearance of brilliance to colleagues and clients.  When his wife asked him for something or said anything that sounded critical, he saw it as one pressure too any.  If she asked him to clear his papers off the living room table, he heard anger and rejection in her voice and took the opportunity to storm out of the house.

Bob was acting out instead of confronting his own anxiety.  He alternated between feeling excessively responsible and blaming the people around him, especially the person he loved most.  He was self-centered because his own concern about how other people saw him created too much internal pressure to be able to respond to anyone else’s real needs.  Because both Janice and Bob were too focused on deriving their own sense of self-worth from meeting other people’s expectations, they actually gave less and less real affection to each other, squeezing an occasional drop of kindness from a sponge full of tension and anger.

Instead of caring about Bob, Janice was taking care of Bob.  She was so involved in what she had to do for Bob to show her love that there wasn’t too much room to get in touch with feeling for him.  It was the same for Bob with Janice.  When we take care of people rather than care about them, we caretake.  When we caretake, we drain ourselves.  WE don’t grant ourselves basic respect because we feel we have to prove our worth by ministering to the other person’s needs.  At the same time we don’t grant basic respect to the person we take care of because we assume that that person can’t take care of himself.  Janice and Bob improved their marriage when they stopped taking care of each other so much and also stopped making each other responsible for their anger and resentment.  They began to care about each other far more when they became responsible for taking care of themselves.

What kept Janice and Bob in their unrewarding pattern of behavior was guilt.  As soon as Janice took on so much that she felt angry at Bob, she would also feel guilty about her own anger.  She would compensate by stuffing her feelings and making up for being a bad girl by working even harder.  Instead of letting go of some of the obligations she had piled on herself, she would criticize herself for being ungenerous and try to prove that she was a lovable person by doing more.  And this only worsened the problem for her.

Bob’s explosions were also caused by guilt.  When he heard Janice’s requests for assistance, instead of just hearing them as simple requests, he would react by feeling totally inadequate and guilty.  But this was intolerable to hi, and so he would explode.

pg 53: Instead of figuring out what we really want and need to do, what would be appropriate for us, we keep on guiding ourselves by what we should do.  Listening to the voice of guilt guarantees  that we will repress our feelings.

pg 56:  We hold on to our negative feelings because we tell ourselves that it’s the other person’s fault that we feel this way.  Then we hate ourselves for our negative feelings and tell ourselves we’re bad.  All of this makes us not very good at relationships.

It’s ironic that the more we define ourselves in terms of what other people think of us, the less we feel our deeper impulses and the more self-involved we become.

When we are overly dependent on other people’s perceptions of us, we often become overly demanding.  We expect proofs of love.

pg 58: Another woman would have felt abandoned and unworthy, but my acquaintance saw her lover’s behavior for what it was: an expression of his weakness and victim-consciousness and not a problem of hers.  In his own way, the man was needy.  He needed his lover to hold up more than her share of the relationship, and to excuse him from his own responsibility toward her and toward himself.

pg 59:  Yet as she became conscious of her craving, instead of just reacting to it she began to see that she had spent a lifetime associating love with this internal craving, reducing herself to begging for the crumbs of love.

pg 60:  We are brought up on myths of romance, finding our soul mate, or some other fantasy that has us wait to find fulfillment until the right person comes along.  However, others do not create our happiness.  They cannot fill the hold in our lives.  If w ask others to fill that hole, our own need too easily turns to resentment, anger and even hatred.  When love is an addiction, its other face is hate.

pg 61: …if we let go of doing and move toward being, every part of our lives will change for the better.

pg 63:  …characters whose apparent intensity substitutes for their lack of depth…Witnessing shallow feelings exhausts us.  Witnessing deep feelings opens us up.

We fail to ask ourselves the most basic questions, such as: “What are my ideals?” “What am I willing to stand by?” “What do I want to create in the world, regardless of public opinion?” “How can I genuinely make myself and the world a better place?”

When we focus on doing, instead of asking what we think is worthwhile, we ask what others think is worthwhile.

pg 68:  Concentration involves absorbing ourselves so completely in something that our mind becomes empty and we become channels.  This is exactly the opposite of how our linear culture approaches concentration.

pg 70: In order to discover non-doing, to get into the effortless zone, we have to make being at ease in our bodies more important than getting something done.

pg 71:  …we are always rationalizing our tension.  We get tense because we have a lot to do, or because we’re caught in traffic and are late for an appointment, or because someone isn’t treating us the way we want to be treated.  We have a million reasons for tension.  Most of them boil down to saying it’s more important to get a certain result than to feel balanced inside ourselves.  When we commit to effortlessness, we decide we are going to learn how not to let our interest in getting something done trigger us into tension.

pg 73: We have to cherish inner relaxation more highly than we cherish achieving a result.  That doesn’t mean that we become couch potatoes.  It means that as we go about doing the things we do, we pay attention to how we are doing them.  We pay attention to whether we are going into tension, and we learn how to inhibit that tendency….We get further if we stop thinking so much about where we want to go and focus instead on releasing the addition to effort.

The commitment to letting go of effort is the cornerstone of undoing the addiction to fear.

pg 74: Your ultimate goal is to develop the ability to let that relaxed, cat-like belly breathing express the way you live from moment to moment during your day, no matter what transpires.

pg 77:  The trick is to commit ourselves to being with the breath and to finding a way gradually to let that breath become easier and deeper, no matter what.  That means making the feeling of inner ease more important than what we are achieving, where we are going, or whether people are listening to us.

pg 91: Alexander Lowen, the founder of Bioenergetics and at one point a student of Reich’s, further developed Reich’s insights.  He elaborated a brilliant and powerful analysis of personalities in which each basic personality type was identified with specific frozen areas in the body–neck, chest, pelvis, etc….help clients heal by accessing deep emotions concealed under neuromuscular tension.

pg 93: Effort and decreased sensation are partners, just as effortlessness and enhanced sensation are partners.  The less we feel ourselves, the more rigid we become.  similarly, the more rigid we become, the less we feel ourselves.

pg 94: When we start feeling, our bodies automatically start correcting what is wrong.

pg 95: By entering into rather than resisting the pain, I had allowed the knot of trapped energy that was creating the pain to find the most direct route out of my body.

pg 97:  He needed to explore how changing the way he used his body changed his stress levels.  He needed to use his own feedback system more effectively.  How many doctors teach us how to do that?  It should be obvious that our health depends on our ability to respond constructively to the feedback our body gives us.  Yet teaching people to explore how different ways of standing, sitting and walking affect their bodies and create relaxation or pain seems to be a lost art.  And most doctors would rather give an MRI or an X-ray than use their eyes to observe a person’s patterns of movement.

pg 99: The more tension we carry, the less we can feel our bodies and the more out of touch we are with our emotions.

pg 100:  Terri didn’t want to feel the discomfort that had always been there but that had been unconscious.  She associated discomfort with things being unpleasant, and if she had been alone, she would have stopped the exercises right then and there.  Instead, I encouraged her to continue gently releasing the tension.  Soon, the uncomfortable sensations decreased and she felt better.

Terri’s experience shows that opening up requires overcoming resistance.  That resistance usually takes the form of pain.  The pain is there as a signal that we need to find a way to release held energy rather than avoid or repress it.  Every time we release pain, we open up our bodies to more life energy.

pg 101: The baby’s participation in the experience of pain is quite active, since it helps push its way through the uterus.  If it avoided pain, it could not be born.  Pain during life, as in birth, can serve the purpose of shifting us to the next level of existence.  But if we do not see it that way, we don’t work our way through it.  Instead, we fight it or suppress it, refuse the change it brings, and sometimes bring on chronic illness.

pg 103:…concentration is identical with body awareness and relaxation….bodily presence and ease happen when we let go, occupying our body instead of controlling it.

pg 104: The ultimate goal is to develop this kind of awareness in everyday activity, so that you are completely present to your body in everything you do.

…we have learned to be afraid of our bodies because we are afraid to be ourselves.  WE are also afraid of our bodies because we cling to fear instead of to pleasure.

What we are afraid of we try to control  But whenever we try to control, we stop listening.

When we learn how to be more effortless, we become more ourselves.  We stop putting up defenses against being ourselves.

pg 105: Feeling your body essentially means being curious about it, relaxing into enjoying it, exploring it, and listening to it.

pg 107:  Take a risk and start living from the inside.  You’ll like it because you are infinitely interesting inside.

…notice the difference between what it feels like to walk down a street focused on how other people see you, and what it feels like to walk down the same street focused on your own internal sensations: the swish of your arms, bounce of your feet, etc.

pg 114:  Whenever she felt threatened, she withdrew into a false presentation of calm.  She also assumed that it wouldn’t help her if she shared what she felt.  She walked around in the world feeling terrified and looking peaceful, at least to the casual observer.  Kitty couldn’t have her emotions–any emotions–in front of other people.  If she had found out that it was possible to have emotions in front of others without collapsing or dying, she could have begun to transcend her painful isolation.

She wanted to have her feelings openly because she knew that if she didn’t she would be false.  But then she told herself (and me) that expressing her feelings wouldn’t help her.  This was that same attitude that had led her as a five-year-old child to retreat into a corner rather than cry on a teacher’s lap and find the consolation of  a sympathetic fellow human.  Kitty never came back after that first session.  She was not willing to own her emotions in front of others.

pg 115: …the ability to care deeply is an integral part of the machinery of effective reasoning….If we cannot feel deeply, we cannot make responsible decisions, no matter how high our IQ.

pg 116:  Caring deeply enables us to put our hearts on the line, to buck the tide of other people’s opinions, the restrictive demands of the job, or the rush of events, and to chart our own direction through the unknown waters of life.  Our world is in a mess because too many of us have lost touch with the art of caring.  We need to learn how to care, and there is only one way to begin doing that: to practice experiencing our feelings.  We do that by feeling how we feel where feelings happens: in our bodies.

He probably encouraged people to treat him poorly by being so unexpressive and burdened in his demeanor.

pg 117:  Part of Richard’s difficulty in his relationships had been that he always blocked how he felt.  But since he blocked his feelings, he didn’t participate fully in his relationships, and the women he lived with used him to their advantage, resented him without understanding why, got tired of him and dumped him….He was learning that our emotions are in our bodies, not our heads, and if we want to get in touch with them, that’s where we have to go.

pg 118:  Talking about our feelings is reporting on life, but being in our feelings is living life.  In order to feel our feelings, we have to stop spinning on our endless merry-go-round of activities, including the gabbing about feelings that can be a substitute for feeling them.

pg 119:  We’re meant to experience them so that we learn that there is nothing inside of us that we have to fear.  We’re also meant to experience them so that we can share them genuinely with others instead of hiding from the people we care for.

pg 120:  Something deep inside tells us that if we don’t perform, we are n good….When we look at each other without talking, we become aware of the anxiety that triggers us into talking.  If we inhibit ourselves from going into our compulsive talk reaction, eventually the anxiety dissipates.  That’s where real feeling and real communication begin to be possible.

I tell them, when they walk into a room with other people or come home to their family at night, to do exactly what they would do if they could let go of all sense of obligation and there were no expectations of them.  I tell them to avoid doing what they think is expected.

…if we focus too much on being ice or polite we may lose the ability to be genuine.  It’s only when we’re genuine that intimacy has a chance of developing.  After this woman explored her motivations, she began to make a point of doing what she was sure she wanted to do, instead o what she thought she was supposed to do and was afraid of not doing.  She became a lot more interesting, and while she wasn’t always so available for her husband, he appreciated her a lot more!

pg 121: We eat, drink, clean house obsessively, talk compulsively or turn on the television, all to avoid the discomfort that accompanies feelings emerging….it’s important to learn how not to avoid that discomfort.  We have to stay with our physical feelings of discomfort so that we can come to grips with what is going on inside.  So long as we don’t try to get away from our discomfort, we eventually gain insight and freedom.

pg 127: When we learn not to fear our life force, it eventually becomes a beautiful, exotic friend instead of a fearful foe.  When we release feelings, we stop acting them out on other people.  We acknowledge how we feel and give our life force its full play without hurting others….Instead of blowing up or withdrawing from the people who hurt us, we find it easier to tell them matter of factly where we stand, or even to walk away from the situation without a residue of rancor or resentment.

If I am angry at someone and the anger boils inside, I know that I will make a mess of communicating with that person if I do not first take care of releasing the anger on my own.  But if I release the tension of the anger first, I can come back and tell him or her what bothered me without bringing in that edge of resentment or rage that makes for dysfunctional communication.

We also learn to share with others the content of our feelings in such a way that they can hear us rather than becoming defensive.

The more we enjoy giving ourselves the freedom to feel our emotions full force in our own space or in the healing company of witnesses, the more easily we are able to communicate with people how we really feel, without that edge that makes everything fall apart.  Then they understand that they can do the same with us, and together we begin to find more genuine sharing.

pg 130: Appropriate release involves taking responsibility for letting your feelings out.  Inappropriate release means venting your feelings on someone else.

pg 134:  It is appropriate for an infant to receive real love, and it is appropriate to feel pain and anger when this is not the case.  As Kristin recognized this, she became better at dealing with her resentment and anger as an adult.

pg 135: Kristin began to see that her tendency to be overly responsible with her friends gave her permission to be irritated at the all the time…she was partly responsible for driving them away when she did too much for them and then held it against them….she had to give herself permission not to do so much for others that she became resentful.  Second, she had to give up her own cherished habit of being angry and unconsciously demanding.  the first step in healing our emotional past is to experience the truth of how much we have suffered, including at other people’s hands.  The second step is to realize the suffering we have unwittingly caused others.  We don’t take the second step fully until we have taken the first step, because it is feeling our own pain that allows us to empathize with the pain others feel.

pg 142:  Learning Detachment

When I explored my own rebirthing and other sometimes traumatic experiences from infancy, I began to notice something very interesting.  On one level, I was going through extremely intense experiences.  But on another level, I was very detached.  At the same time that I was back in time, living out some event exactly as it happened, I was also observing myself in the experience.  Some part of me was separate and was saying, “Okay, let’s do what we need to do in order to help Ingrid out here, so that she can move on with her life.”

By developing the ability to witness what happens to us, we mitigate the tendency we all have to be overwhelmed by the intensity and immediacy of our reactions to events.

The idea of loving ourselves implies a relationship between the person to be loved or healed (ourselves) and the person who is doing the loving or healing (also ourselves).  The more detachment we have about ourselves, the more we can both see what can help us and marshal the appropriate resources for accomplishing that goal.

pg 143:  In detachment, we stop identifying with our internal states and simply observe them.

pg 144: When we can feel oneness with ourselves, it’s no longer frightening to be ourselves with others.  If we have nothing to hide from ourselves we have nothing to hide from others.

pg 145:  Because we’re more self-sufficient, we can just let other people be themselves instead of needing something from them.  Because we heal ourselves, we don’t need to be healed by them.  Because we heal ourselves, we also respect other people’s abilities to take care of themselves and we hold them up to that standard.  Relationships then begin to have creative potential instead of getting mired in conflict, fear, need and subtle struggles for power.  Once we can feel confident in being ourselves, whoever we are, we can let go of masks and share.  We can also support others as they do the same.

pg 158:  To be receptive and find inner guidance we have to cultivate our right brain.  We have to develop our ability to let things come up without having either to control the show or to analyze what’s happening.

Inner guidance comes from the unconscious.  Our conscious mind is made up of culturally accepted perceptions.  It tells us that the way things have been seen and done in the past is the way they must be seen and done now.  In contrast, our unconscious mind holds our creative potential for the future.  One reason we don’t hear the unconscious is, quite literally, that we don’t listen to it.  If somebody came into your room and started talking to you and you didn’t pay attention, eventually that person would leave.  It’s the same with our unconscious mind and with the inner guidance that comes from the unconscious.  It stops talking and leaves us alone because we don’t listen.

We don’t take the time to stop and receive, and we don’t train ourselves in receptivity.

Our inner guidance leaves us, and we end up trusting ourselves so little that the only path we know how to follow is the one already set down by social convention.

In order to develop personal power and authenticity, we have to learn to value unconscious guidance.  We have to practice opening the doorway between the conscious and the unconscious minds.  We have to develop a relationship between the conscious mind and the unconscious part of ourselves that houses our higher self.

pg 159:  A person who has found inner guidance feels as though there is some being inside himself that is also separate from him and taking care of him.  This being feels separate because it’s not part of the conscious mind.  But it also feels connected because it is internal.  The higher self is like a voice in our ear or an angel on our shoulder.

Opening the door to our unconscious, higher self is the most important thing we can do in our lives.  In order to do that we have to believe that this higher self is available to us and we have to ask it to speak to us.  Disbelief slams the door shut.  Belief opens that door.

Since receptivity to our higher self is a right-brain capacity, imagination plays an important role in nurturing a relationship with it.

pg 160: Through talking to my higher self, I developed a new orientation to life that placed less emphasis on planning and control and more on receiving and being in the current of things.

I had opened up a channel between my conscious and limited ego self and my larger and wiser unconscious self.  The conviction of a guiding presence gradually became the most important force in my life, far more important than the perceptions of people around me.  I could let go of my need for external reassurance and support without struggle because this other source was stronger, clearer, and more reliable.

pg 161:  In my healing work using mind-body techniques and subtle touch, activating my right brain opened up my capacities for extended sense perception.

pg 162:  I work as a medical intuitive to diagnose physical, emotional and spiritual problems clients confront.

The more receptive I became and the more willing I was to let go of prejudgment, the more information spontaneously poured in.

The regular practice of all the lifestyle approaches detailed in this book will spontaneously open up or enhance a person’s psychic abilities and inner guidance.

…the development of high-sped technology is breaking down the mental commitment to linear space and time.

pg 163:  One morning I paused by a trailhead at the edge of a rushing torrent.  I looked past the grassy lowlands and the timbers to the tall, snow-laced mountains in the distance.  A soft cloud hugged one of the rocky peaks, draping over it like a lover caressing its beloved.  It enveloped that peak so softly that it touched it delicately and completely.  A touch like that from a human hand could invite a person into ecstasy.

After a while the cloud detached itself from its rocky mate lingeringly, easily, and without haste.  I watched as the two forces, the cloud made of water and air and the mountain built of earth and stone, parted ways.  After such intense intimacy, they once more stood separately.  That slow-motion movie seemed an extraordinary teaching beyond words on what personal relationships could be like.  Perhaps we should look more closely to nature to understand ourselves and receive guidance on how to be with one another.

pg 170: …imagine that you have an inner healer, a loving presence that is close by listening to you.  Speak to that loving friend with total sincerity.  Speak out loud, as this will help you to avoid drifting off, and will encourage you to articulate your feelings clearly.  Describe in detail your emotions of the day, your reactions to events and even your physical sensations.  Remember that the more information you give your higher self, the more benefit you will gain from your communications.  After you tell your higher self your concerns of the day, ask to receive any guidance, advice or support that seems appropriate.  If you like, formulate specific questions.  When you are finished, close by thanking your higher self for being there.  Repeat this exercise at least several times a week, preferably at night when you go to bed.  Notice that this exercise works vest if you remember not to look for or expect any specific response.

pg 173:  …inner guidance doesn’t come into our lives consistently until we have thoroughly demonstrated our sincerity and commitment to listening to our higher selves.

pg 174: Commitment depends on character, and character includes such qualities as poise, forbearance, kindness, patience, courage and more.  We aren’t born with these traits.  If we have them, it’s because we cultivate them.

pg 175: …it’s never okay to blame our lapses in becoming everything we want to be on other people or on events around us.  Our primary focus has to be on identifying and pursuing being everything we can be regardless of circumstances.  Strength of character is about having inspiring ideals, and pursuing those ideals is what makes life an act of passion.

Real passion is about being swept away by our own inner vision.  It’s about cultivating a power of commitment in our lives that becomes so strong that it takes us through the worst situations with an unswerving directive.

pg 176: If we want passion, we have to focus our attention on what lifts us higher.  Things that lift us higher are the only things that can hold our attention over the long term.  they cultivate our capacity for commitment.

pg 182: In my ongoing meditation classes, sessions often start with a practice that develops personal sincerity and integrity.  Everyone closes their eyes and centers themselves.  Then, after some quiet time and personal reflection, we go around the room and each person shares a personal prayer about what they are hoping to create in themselves at the deepest level.  As one person speaks, others listen with an attitude of reverence…Making and honoring statements from the heart in this way, in an atmosphere of silence and mutual respect, trains people in expressing themselves with sincerity.  It teaches them how to bring their inner life forward and to share its commitments.  Invariably, people find these practices helpful for a simple reason: we rarely practice real sincerity in our daily lives.  It feels like a blessing from heaven to be able to hear other people speak from their hearts, and to be given both the opportunity and the challenge to speak from the heart ourselves.  When we do this, we identify what is meaningful for us and strengthen our intention to commit ourselves to what we find meaningful.

pg 186:  Identifying an inner ideal through abstract qualities:  Imitating a role model or projecting ourselves back to a special time in our lives gives us an immediate concrete sense of an inner ideal and of what it would be like to embody that ideal.  When we image being like someone who models joy for us, we can feel the sense of joy.  When we imagine being confident the way we once were, we get a fresh taste of the confidence we once had.  We can feel it.  Joy or confidence become concrete, lived experiences for us.  It’s that concreteness that helps us become more like the ideal we want to create in our lives.

Sometimes, however, we can’t find role models or experiences from our past that embody inner ideals.  Peacefulness or kindness, humor or courage, love or power can all be inner ideals.  We may long to make these qualities part of our daily lives yet may not have a role model or past experience that can help us translate those qualities into our experience in the depth that we desire.  We may have an intellectual understanding of what words like peace, love, or power mean, but lack a road map to lead us to the experiences for which these words stand.

Many people go adrift just because of this gap between their intellectual understanding of a quality and their lack of real-life experience.  It’s easy to say that we want to express courage in our lives, but hard to do if we don’ have much of an idea of what it feels like to possess that quality.  Abstract words like love, joy, peace and courage also carry a lot of different meanings, and so long as they remain abstract it’s hard even to know what we’re looking for.  Abstract terms need to be brought down to earth.

Let’s say we chose the abstract quality of love as an inner ideal.  To make that quality real in our lives, we would have to make it concrete.  That means asking ourselves what it would feel like to embody love, how we would move if we embodied love, what we would look like if we embodied love, what our voice would sound like if we manifested our inner ideal of love.  By exploring these questions we would be concretizing our inner ideal of love, teaching ourselves how to become love in the flesh.

pg 187:  Cultivating an inner ideal involves creatively influencing who we are as opposed to what we do.  A lot of people have a very strong desire to be good or caring people, but their ideal of loving kindness gets them in trouble.  Why?  Because they interpret their ideal of loving kindness in terms of what they do for people instead of what they feel like inside.

pg 188:  It’s important to remember that an inner ideal is first and foremost about our inner gardens.  It’s about how we experience ourselves on the inside and not about what we do.

If we want to make our ideals real in our lives, we have to make them practical.  We have to live them every day.  Otherwise, our inner ideals stay at the level of fantasy.

pg 189:  If we don’t have an ideal to focus on, we’re likely to stay in the rut of our own negativity.  If, on the other hand, we are committed to an ideal, we give ourselves some energy for changing ourselves.  we motivate ourselves to beak addictive patterns that limit us.

Consciously or unconsciously, we are always projecting images of our future.  For many of us, these images are filled with worry and fear.  We tend not to take responsibility for the power these images have.

Attuning life to an inner ideal means accepting change and risk.  It involves fostering a creative discomfort in our lives, a requirement that we be more than we are right now, that we stretch ourselves beyond our limits.

pg 227:  …we can ask ourselves where we use a relationship to protect ourselves from developing an ability that we would need if we were on our own.  Where do we ask a relationship to take care of us instead of requiring that we take care of ourselves?  We can ask the same questions about those we love.  where do we protect a spouse, sweetheart, son, daughter or friend from developing capacities and character traits that he or she would need to become independent?  Do we keep our loved ones from growing up?

pg 228:  Chronic feelings of fear, resentment or anger in relationships are always signs of power struggle and co-dependency.  If we feel them, in some way we are making other people responsible for our lives.  We are rationalizing our own refusal of power by projecting negativity onto others.

pg 233:  Helping someone else to grow can require us to let go of our own egos for a time, to let go of our demands to be special, different, apart and preferred.  This is extremely difficult.  All our lives we struggle to get other people to satisfy our ego needs.  All our lives we fail.  When we ask someone else to treat us as special–instead of doing the work of becoming special inside whether or not anyone notices–we can’t win.  It’s a zero sum game.  It takes us so long to recognize that we find personal fulfillment and love not in getting our ego needs met but in going through the many struggles that teach us to temper our ego needs, and to help others do the same, even when that seems to work at our own expense.

Why should we do good to the world?  Apparently to help the world, but really to help ourselves.

When we stop allowing our fears to control us and focus instead on developing inner balance and vision, then we become capable of deeper partnership.

pg 234:  …healthy relationships depend on understanding that relationships are not in our lives to support our needs or foster our dependency.  Instead, relationships teach us, often through difficulties, how to transcend our own limitations and to share with others from a place of mutual empowerment.

pg 239:  You are not meant to ask someone else to give you what you need.  That is so much less rewarding than discovering that you can give yourself what you need.  You are not meant to accept the low standards that rule our world.  You have the capacity to transform those standards and to inspire others to follow in your footsteps.

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