Nine Principles for Conscious Living
retreats we create an environment where people become very intimate and very trusting in just a few days. People feel such
safety that they share their deepest fears, problems, concerns, and traumas. In return, they are supported, nurtured, and
cared about as they work through as much healing and personal change as they're ready to deal with.
In wondering how to give those who cannot attend a Centerpointe retreat the same benefits, I realized that in these retreats,
I teach a series of principles that, if mastered, can totally change a person's life. I want to share them with you.
Every presenting problem we deal with, whether mental, emotional, or spiritual, can be traced back to a violation
of one or more of these principles. If a person follows these principles, life goes along pretty nicely, with a lot of happiness,
inner peace, and personal power. These principles overlap, but that's okay. They are different facets of the same diamond.
I know they will be helpful to you, as they have been to many thousands of people all over the world.
Principle Number One: The Principle of Letting Whatever Happens Be Okay
The amount a person suffers is directly related to how much they resist the fact that "things are the way they are."
All suffering and discomfort, regardless of the appearance, is a result of some form of resistance. This means that ending
resistance ends suffering.
To the degree a person is willing and able to let whatever happens
be okay, they do not suffer. Attachments
to people, situations, or things being different than they are can be upgraded
to preferences, so when "what is" is not what you want, you do not suffer. When this happens, your happiness and
peace are not controlled by outer circumstances.
People with many rules about how things
are suppose to be suffer more, because no matter how much they
try to get the world to follow their rules, the rules
are often violated.
Letting whatever happens be okay does not mean you can't work toward
making things they way you want
them to be; it just means you prefer the outcomes you seek rather than being addicted
to them. The key, then, to
handling challenging situations, thoughts, and feelings is not in resisting them, but rather
in becoming as fully
accepting of them as possible. Accept what happens, and what you think and feel, even if it is uncomfortable.
Though it looks as if discomfort is created by what we resist, in actual fact it comes from the resistance itself.
resisting, and the discomfort stops also. Through acceptance, you empower yourself to heal, transform,
or release unresolved
mental or emotional material. When you sense resistance, meet it with acceptance. Ironically,
once you stop resisting,
you are much more effective in creating any external change you may have a preference
(not an attachment) for.
Principle Number Two: The Principle of Threshold
has a personal threshold for what they can handle from their environment, based on the Nine Principles for Conscious Living
structure of their own personal map of reality-their concept of who they are and how they relate to the rest of the universe.
When your map of reality cannot handle its environment, you become stressed. You then try to deal with that stress through
various coping mechanisms learned during childhood. These include anger, depression, anxiety, fear, substance abuse, overeating,
plus others considered more "healthy," such as exercising, talking with friends, isolation, and many others.
All dysfunctional feelings and behaviors are really coping mechanisms used in an attempt to deal with the stress
of being over this threshold. Therefore, the "cure" for such feelings and behaviors is to increase that threshold
(precisely what meditation, and particularly meditation with Centerpointe's Holosync® audio technology, does).
Dysfunctional feelings and behaviors are not caused by other people, or by external circumstances, regardless
of how it seems, and people with a high threshold remain happy, peaceful, and centered regardless of what happens around them.
When people suffer trauma during childhood, their threshold does not mature normally. Such people reach adulthood
with a lower threshold and are much more easily pushed past it-and are therefore caught in dysfunctional feelings and behaviors
much more often.
Raising this threshold through therapeutic or spiritual practices causes
dysfunctional feelings and behaviors to gradually disappear, because the threshold eventually becomes so high that it becomes
difficult for anything to push a person beyond it.
Principle Number Three:
The Principle of Chaos and Reorganization
Chaos always precedes growth, and is a part of
the process of change. Therefore, chaos is a good thing. The coping mechanisms mentioned above (i.e., dysfunctional feelings
and behaviors) are really attempts to hold one's internal map of reality together. This happens because we associate the old
map with safety. Changing it, on an unconscious level, does not feel safe.
The process of
a map of reality reorganizing at a higher level in response to stimuli that exceeds it's threshold
is a very natural
one. As the old map of reality is stimulated in a way that exceeds its threshold, it goes into
temporary internal chaos.
Eventually, the old map may fall apart if the chaos becomes so great that the old map
cannot hold itself together. Then,
almost simultaneously, the map reorganizes itself at a higher, more complex
level of functioning-one that can handle
the environment it previously could not handle.
This natural process always results in a
new and better map that can handle what the old map could not. It
is therefore helpful to recognize when you are in the
initial chaos state, and to remind yourself that the chaos you
are experiencing is the prelude to positive change-if
you know how to get out of the way and let it happen.
Principle Number Four: The
Map is Not the Territory
There is a tendency to try to protect the old map (your concept
of who you are and how you relate to the
rest of the universe) as it goes into this initial chaos stage of growth. This
attempt to hold the old map together
comes from the mistaken idea that we are the map-that "the map is the territory"-rather
than realizing that
it is just a convenient tool we use to navigate through life.
is the limitations of this map (its inability to adequately "map the territory" or otherwise represent whatever
is going on in the environment) that creates the "over-threshold" experience and the resulting dysfunctional
feelings and behaviors. Therefore, letting the map go through the evolutionary process of temporary chaos
by reorganization at a higher level results in relief from the problems and limitations of the old map,
for Conscious Living and a new ability to deal with what was previously stressful or overwhelming.
When your map begins
to fall apart, remember that you are not falling apart. You are merely trading an
ineffective tool for a better one.
Learn to recognize your favorite methods of holding on to the old map, and
learn to stand aside and watch these times
of chaos with the knowledge that something new and better is being
Number Five: The Principle of Responsibility as Empowerment
You are responsible
for every feeling or behavior you have, in the sense that it is either your conscious choice,
or it is an automatic response
generated unconsciously by your internal map of reality.
This is not to say that you are
to blame for every feeling or behavior you have. Taking personal responsibility
is not about blame but rather about personal
power. If someone or something outside of you is the cause of your
feelings or behavior, you are powerless-a victim.
If you-or at least your unconscious-processes-are at cause,
then you can exercise some choice in creating the feelings
and behaviors that you choose, and that serve you.
People or events may be a stimulus, but your response comes from you,
either consciously or unconsciously.
Principle Number Six: The Principle
of Conscious Change
It is impossible to create something that does not serve you, and at
the same time create it consciously. You
can, however, create dysfunctional feelings, behaviors, and outcomes over and
over as long as you create them
unconsciously (without continuous conscious awareness). If you observe the creation of
feelings, behaviors, or
outcomes with conscious awareness, those that do not serve you will fall away.
The trick is to remain conscious. Unfortunately, we have many ways of becoming unconscious: overeating,
drugs and alcohol, projection, blaming, thinking, analyzing, obsessing, spacing out-and countless others. To
conscious, you must identify your favorite ways of going unconscious, be vigilant in noticing them, and
instead of going
unconscious, learn to watch your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors with curiosity and awareness.
with Centerpointe's Holosync audio technology) increases the ability to remain conscious and to be a curious observer of whatever
is happening. As you develop this ability, non-resourceful feelings, behaviors, and approaches to life automatically fall
away, and are replaced by those that bring happiness, peace, and success to one's life.
Number Seven: The Principle of Witnessing
When faced with uncomfortable feelings
(the result, either consciously or unconsciously, of not letting
"what is" be okay), the best course of action
is to mentally step aside and, with great curiosity, watch yourself
have the feeling or behavior. You might say to yourself:
"There I am, doing ___" or "There I am feeling ____.
The act of stepping aside to watch helps create conscious awareness, because it keeps you from becoming
lost in the
feelings or behaviors, or your mental analysis of them. It makes it much more difficult to continue
suffering. This watching
needs to be done, however, without attachment to the outcome. In other words, you
must objectively and curiously watch
what is happening-not to change anything, but just to notice what is
happening. The ability to step aside and watch yourself
as you feel and act is an acquired skill and takes time
and practice to develop, but it will totally change your life.
Meditation naturally develops your ability to become
Principle Number Eight: The Principle of Good and Bad Generalizations
Based on our early life interactions with our primary caregivers, we all develop generalizations about who
we are and
what our relationship is to the rest of the world. These generalizations (part of our "map" of reality)
different aspects of ourselves and the world into two categories: "good", or acceptable, and "bad" or
To keep from experiencing shame or other uncomfortable feelings regarding
the "bad" things, we either 1)
repress them into our unconscious mind, or 2) project them onto others (creating
extreme emotional reactions
to others who exhibit characteristics we believe are "bad" or unacceptable in ourselves).
Both of these reactions
are examples of ways we become unconscious.
In many ways, emotional
healing involves "unlearning" these old generalizations and making new, healthier
ones. In reality, there is
nothing about any of us that is innately bad.
These generalizations seem so real to us that
the idea that they are not true may seem ridiculous. All
generalizations, however, are creations of the mind, and they
are not innate in the people or things we apply
Principle Number Nine:
The Principle of the Neutral Universe
Everything in the universe is neutral. The old saying
"Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so" is
true. We assign meaning to everything we come in contact
with. This assigning of meaning then becomes part
of our map of reality. Because we assign these meanings unconsciously,
we "forget" that nothing really has any
intrinsic meaning, and that either we assigned these qualities and
meanings to the people and things in our lives
ourselves, or they were assigned for us when we were too little to know
This is why people can assign completely different meanings to the same thing.
Because you assign all
meaning to everything (even though you may be doing it unconsciously), you can create whatever
want through the meanings you choose to assign to people and things in your life. Make everything good, and
the world is good; make everything bad, and the world is bad.
In most cases, we did not
consciously choose the way we assign meanings. Rather, they were chosen for us
by our primary caregivers and other cultural
influences when we were too small to know any better. We can,
however, realize that these assignments of meaning are
arbitrary, and change them in any way we want.
A wise man once said "It's okay to play Hamlet, but don't fall into
the trap of thinking you are Hamlet." If
you think you are Hamlet, your life is a tragedy, because everyone dies
by the end of the play. If you know you
are just playing, you can have fun with it. Similarly, if you know everything
is innately neutral and that you have
assigned all the meaning to everything in life, you are playing, and you can therefore
be the creator of your own
experience. If, however, you forget-and think that people and things really do innately have
the meanings that
were taught to you when you were too small to question them-you lose your creative power, and will
degree create suffering for yourself.
Again, meditation gradually creates the
expanded awareness that allows you to step back and see that nothing
in the universe has any innate meaning.
Does this mean that you can do anything you want, since there is no innate right or wrong? No, it does not.
All actions have consequences. The conscious person sees the consequences of each feeling, each thought, and each action,
and acts accordingly, taking full responsibility for what is created.
When you are in distress,
check to see if you are violating any of these principles, or if viewing the situation through the filter of these principles
creates a shift for you. Whatever you do, make your life one of mastery of these principles, and you will create increasing
happiness, success, and inner peace.
Principle Number One: Let Whatever Happens Be Okay
The nine principles are
one of those easy/hard things in life-easy once you master them, seemingly impossible before you "get" them. But
if you can live your life by these principles, everything flows, suffering is minimal, and what seemed to be problems melt
away. Each of these principles looks at a different facet of the same diamond-the diamond of expanded awareness and conscious,
The reason some of these principles seem hard to master is that a part of
us fears that following them will actually make things worse. This is, once again, because our internal map of reality is
created to help us be safe in our family while growing up. Even though we may be grown and away from our family, changing
it seems unsafe-at least to the unconscious mind. So be forewarned that you might have some resistance to mastering some of
these principles. Also take note that the more resistance you feel, the greater the potential benefit, since the resistance
is a sign that the principle in question is a real issue for you.
Also, cut yourself some
slack as you embark on mastering these principles. Though they can be mastered in the twinkling of an eye, in real life they
generally take some time. You will find yourself slipping up over and over. Let that be okay.
You'll go through several stages with each principle. Stage One is Unconscious Incompetence, where you don't follow the
principle and don't even know you're not following it. Stage Two is Conscious Incompetence, which is where you probably will
be after reading this article. You aren't following the principle, but you are conscious of that fact.
Stage Three is Conscious Competence, where you can follow it, but only while you are paying attention to it and consciously
making yourself follow it. Stage Four, Unconscious Competence, is where you have consciously followed the principle so consistently
that you now can follow it without thinking about it.
The first principle is that of letting
whatever happens be okay. The amount a person suffers in their life is directly related to how much they are resisting the
fact that "things are the way they are." This has got to be one of the KEY pieces of human wisdom. If there is suffering
or discomfort, there is resistance to the way things are. Period.
To master this principle,
addictions or attachments to things being other than they are must be upgrade to preferences. This means that when "what
is" is not what you want, you do not suffer over it (get angry, sad, fearful, anxious, and so on), and your happiness
and inner peace are therefore not controlled by forces outside of you. You prefer things to be such and so, but you're not
attached to them being that way.
To the degree a person is willing and able to let whatever
happens be okay, they do not suffer. It's as simple as that. People with many rules about how things are suppose to be suffer
more because no matter how much care they take to protect their rules, and see that they are followed, both by themselves
and by others, these rules are often violated. These rules are part of that map of reality I mentioned above that we create
during childhood in order to be/feel safe in our family. In any family, you are "safer" (or at least it seems so)
if you follow the rules.
In some families there are few rules about how things are "supposed"
to be, or how people are supposed to behave. In these families, children learn to flow with and react to whatever happens
with a certain amount of psychological and behavioral creativity and resiliency.
others, there are many, many rules (sometimes rules about everything). In these families, responses are more automatic and
pre-programmed, which stifles the inborn ability to resiliently deal with things as they arise in a creative and authentic
Sometimes, the rules are constantly shifting, or are illogical, unfair, cruel,
or impossible to follow, which can create great fear and anxiety. Living according to the rules has a certain appeal, because
you don't have to think about each situation and come up with a more creative response. Instead, you just follow the rules.
This is life lived by a formula or recipe.
Unfortunately, no rules can cover the nuances
of each potential situation, other people often don't know the "correct" recipe for how to behave (what's wrong
with them?), and your responses become robotic and predictable and often not well suited to the situation. Worse, the more
often your rules are broken, the more you end up angry, anxious, sad, afraid, or suffer in some other manner.
If you could let it be okay when someone breaks one of your rules, you wouldn't have to suffer. (Of course
they wouldn't really be rules, then, would they?)
This doesn't mean a person can't be goal
oriented and work toward making things the way they want them to be. But the emotionally healthy person prefers the outcome
they seek rather than being emotionally attached to it. That means they work toward what they want but, whatever the outcome,
they maintain their equanimity and inner peace. This approach, then, is not fatalism, or disinterest in the outcome, but rather
a decision not to let the outcome throw you off-center. This is the meaning of upgrading your attachments to preferences,
and the meaning of the non-attachment spoken of in Eastern philosophy (and spoken of in Christianity and other religions in
The key to handling challenging thoughts, situations, and feelings is therefore
not in resisting them, but rather in becoming as fully accepting of them as possible. Accept what you think and feel, and
what happens around you, even if what you think and feel is uncomfortable or what is happening is not as you would have preferred.
Here, then, is a key point. Though it looks as if our discomfort is created by the thing we don't like, or
are otherwise resisting, in actual fact the discomfort we feel is actually caused by our resistance to it. When we stop resisting,
the discomfort stops also. It may look as if the person, thing, event, or whatever, is creating our discomfort, but it is
really our reaction to it, our unwillingness to accept it, that creates the discomfort.
has had something happen in their life that they strongly resisted, but ultimately came to terms with: a relationship that
ended, for instance. At first, you go through all kinds of suffering, but at a certain point you move on and accept what has
happened. At that exact moment, the suffering stops. Similarly, we've all heard of people who find out they dying from a fatal
illness, and who become totally peaceful about it once they accept the fact that it is happening.
It's not what happens that creates our suffering, it's our reaction to it!
you empower yourself to heal, transform, or release any unresolved mental or emotional material. Unless and until you can
accept what you think and feel as a perfect manifestation of reality, you will remain attached to toxic attitudes and beliefs.
But by being fully present to, and accepting of, your thoughts and feelings, you open the pathway for the unconscious to reorganize
itself to progressively higher levels of functioning. When you sense discomfort you are sensing resistance. When you sense
resistance, meet it with acceptance. Ironically, once you stop resisting, you are much more effective in creating any external
change you may have a preference for (not an attachment to).
This all ends up being nothing
but platitudes if you don't take some kind of definite step to put it into practice. One thing that helps, of course, is daily
meditation, especially with the Holosync audio technology we use at Centerpointe Research Institute, which dramatically accelerates
the meditation process. Stimulating the brain with Holosync creates the kind of expanded awareness that makes it progressively
easier to let whatever happens be okay.
The second thing you can do is to watch yourself,
with great curiosity, as you resist-in other words, become more aware of the Let Whatever Happens Be Okay principle, and practice
being more aware of how and when you resist. One way to do this is to write the principle on a 3x5 card. Carry it with
you and read the principle several times throughout the day. Then, each time you find yourself violating the principle, make
a mark on the card. When you find yourself following it, make a mark on the other side. In other words, keep score. This simple
procedure will cause you to be more aware of your resistance, and as you do so, your resistance will diminish-and so will
the amount you suffer.
An even more powerful approach is to adopt what I call the witness
perspective. When you find yourself resisting (and, therefore, suffering in some way) don't try to stop resisting (which would
only be more resistance). Instead, watch your resistance with curiosity, as if you were a scientist watching someone else's
inner process. This watching, without any agenda for what should be happening, is the beginnings of what mystics call expanded
awareness. The 3x5 card exercise is really a way to get you to begin watching. If resistance is the poison, witnessing is
the antidote. Highly evolved persons are firmly established in the witness all the time, and in terms of ending discomfort
and suffering in your life, watching the world from the witness perspective is your goal.
begin to watch your responses to what is happening, it will become more and more obvious to you that you do, indeed, create
your own suffering, and that suffering does not come from your environment. This will make it more and more difficult for
you to keep creating it. As this happens, a whole new world opens up for you, and believe me, you'll like it!
So keep meditating, and resolve to practice the witness perspective until it becomes easy for you.
Principle Number Two: Threshold
One obstacle to mastering the Nine Principles
is the fact that intellectually understanding them is not enough;
you must integrate them at a very deep and experiential
level. This requires expanded conscious awareness. It
requires that you become conscious of the ordinarily unconscious
internal mental/emotional processes that create
your life. Without this awareness, you are nothing more than an automatic
response mechanism, responding
automatically to people and situations with unconscious responses learned while growing
Previously, I discussed the first of the Nine Principles, that of Letting Whatever Happen
Be Okay. This
principle is crucially important because when you are not attached to people, situations, and things being
than they are, your happiness and inner peace are independent of the circumstances around you. This allows
experience of life to come from inside, rather than being under the control of outside events. When you
happens be okay, you can consciously choose to be happy and peaceful, even when the world is not
the way you want it
The second principle is the Principle of Threshold. It is a close relative of the
first principle, in the sense that it describes a major reason why people have trouble letting whatever happens be okay. It
is also a much more fundamental way of looking at mental and emotional health, and the real cause of dysfunctional feelings
The prevailing view in the mental health community is that childhood trauma
leaves you with unresolved emotional "stuff" buried in the unconscious mind. This unresolved material, according
to most mental health professionals, is the cause of your dysfunction, and needs to be brought to the surface and be "healed."
After working with over 100,000 people over the last two decades, I no longer believe this description is accurate-or helpful.
Here's another way to look at the question of emotional trauma and the resulting dysfunctional feelings and behaviors:
Each of us has a threshold for what we can handle coming at us from our environment. If that threshold
exceeded, we begin to feel stressed. Eventually, we can even become overwhelmed. When we begin to feel
attempt to cope in various ways we learned while growing up-most of which, unfortunately, do
My view is that all neurotic, addictive, obsessive/compulsive, and dysfunctional feelings and behaviors-those
things that send us to therapists, personal development seminars, self-help books, and all the many other ways we
help-are all attempts to cope with being in an environment that gives us more input than we can handle.
Those with a
threshold that is too low for their environment are chronically stressed, and, as a result, frequently
exhibit and experience
dysfunctional feelings and behaviors. Such feelings and behaviors include everything from
anxiety, fear, annoyance, confusion,
withdrawal, depression, anger, poor decision making skills, and violence;
to alcohol and drug use, sexual acting out,
eating disorders and the like; and even more severe mental health
problems, such as personality disorders and psychosis.
Because of their low threshold, such people have a difficult
time handling their environment, and their life.
What, then, creates a low threshold? Why can some people deal with almost anything, while others overreact
to the smallest things? Here's the answer: when people are physically or emotionally traumatized while growing
their threshold does not mature in a normal way. Because of this, what goes on around them (and often inside
bothers such people in a way that would not bother someone with a "normal" threshold.
A recent article in Psychology
Today, "Stress...It's Worse Than You Think" discusses the stress sensitivity of a
person who has been traumatized:
"...we can become sensitized, or acutely sensitive to stress. Once that happens,
even the merest intimation of stress
can trigger a cascade of chemical reactions in brain and body that assault
us from within."
Psychologist Michael Meaney, Ph.D., of McGill University has said that "sensitization leads the brain to
itself in response to stress. We know that what we are encountering may be a normal, everyday episode
of stress, but
the brain is signaling the body to respond inappropriately."
Some scientists believe
that everyone has a built-in gauge that controls our reaction to stress, a kind of biological
thermostat (what I am calling
your threshold) that, when working properly, keeps the body from launching an allout
response literally over spilled
milk. According to psychologist Jonathan C. Smith, Ph.D., founder and director
of the Stress Institute at Roosevelt University
in Chicago, sensitization lowers this thermostat set-point.
"Years of research,"
says Seymore Levine, Ph.D., of the University of Delaware, "has told us that people do
become sensitized to stress
and that this sensitization actually alters physical patterns in the brain. That means
that once sensitized, the body
just does not respond to stress the same way in the future. We may produce too
many excitatory chemicals or too few calming
ones; either way we are responding inappropriately."
Another researcher, Jean King, Ph.D., of the University of
Massachusetts Medical School, believes that when
certain stresses occur during developmental periods, it may be more
damaging than stress suffered at other times:
"The psychological events that are most deleterious probably occur
during infancy and childhood-an unstable
home environment, living with an alcoholic parent, or any other number of extended
crises...What we now
believe is that a stress of [great] magnitude occurring when you are young may permanently rewire
circuitry, throwing the system askew and leaving it less able to handle normal, everyday stress."
This, of course, is where all the various coping behaviors and feelings begin to manifest, causing all the
various life-problems that lead people to therapy and other personal growth and personal development solutions. (I disagree,
by the way, based on personal and clinical experience, with Dr. King's contention that this re-wiring of the brain is "permanent." It is very clear to me that meditation can raise your threshold.)
approaches to dealing with stress and emotional dysfunction have always seemed to me to be symptom-oriented, including the
prevailing view I mentioned above in which unhealed "stuff down there" must be brought to the surface and healed-or
the even more flawed view that we need to develop drugs that will supposedly "retune" the neurochemical system in
After nearly two decades of success in treating the "low threshold"
problem, I have evolved a more basic and more effective solution: raise the threshold at which dysfunctional feelings and
behaviors are triggered. When this is done, these feelings and behaviors simply fall away because they are never-or, at least,
As those who have been in the Centerpointe program for any length of time,
and who have spoken to me on the telephone, attended a Centerpointe retreat, or read my writings know, I firmly believe that
meditation, and particularly meditation with Holosync sound technology, brings about a process of change and evolution in
the brain that very dramatically raises this threshold, until it reaches-and eventually exceeds-the "normal" level.
As this happens, dysfunctional feelings and behaviors, even those that have resisted other treatment, fall away and disappear.
The process through which this happens-in fact, through which all change happens-is elegantly described
by scientist Ilya Prigogine in his Nobel Prize-winning work on complex systems. I will discuss this work in
in the next section. For now, I just want you to know that when people meditate, especially with
technology, electrical brain wave patterns slow, simultaneously increasing electrical
fluctuations in the brain. The
brain cannot handle these increased fluctuations. As a result, the brain, and your
internal map of reality, experiences
a stimulus that pushes it beyond its current threshold. In response, the brain
goes into temporary chaos, and then spontaneously
reorganizes itself at a higher level, one that can handle the
increased input. In this way, your threshold for stress
Any effective spiritual practice or psychological process creates change in this
same way: it gives the system that
makes up who you are stimuli that cause the "old you" to temporarily go
into chaos, followed by reorganization
at a higher, more functional level.
by the way, why the most chaotic events of your life have also been the most growthful. It's also why
people who use
Holosync, or other powerful spiritual and psychological practices, experience such dramatic
positive changes, why dysfunctional
feelings and behaviors fade as people progress in their spiritual practice, and
why beings such as the Dalai Lama remain
calm and centered regardless of what goes on around them. For those
who have done the work necessary to raise their personal
threshold, little or nothing can push them over it.
Dysfunctional feelings and behaviors
are nothing more than coping methods gone awry, and once coping
is no longer needed-because the threshold is so high
that the system can no longer be stressed-the coping
strategies are no longer needed. This is why raising one's threshold
is so important to those who want to become
happy, peaceful, and conscious: it attacks the problem at the root, and bypasses
the treatment of symptoms.
How can you use this principle? First of all, by continuing to do your daily spiritual practice,
whatever it is.
Next, by learning to recognize when you are in this process of overwhelm/chaos/reorganization, and by
that such times, though uncomfortable, are the prelude to powerful positive change, and should not to be resisted.
Finally, by realizing that as you do the work necessary to increase your personal threshold, any suffering in your
will fall away and disappear.
It really is possible to live a life free of suffering, and
raising your threshold is one sure way to get you there.
Other principles will expand on this point.
Principle Three: Chaos and Reorganization
Change is the one constant in this
universe. One of the first things the Buddha noted when he began to teach
was that everything changes. For that reason,
understanding change, how it happens, what makes it difficult and
what makes it easy, is of crucial importance to anyone
on a spiritual or personal growth path.
But how does change work? Why does it happen? And,
how can we allow it, without resisting and suffering?
The answer is found in the Nobel Prize-winning work of Russian-born
Belgian theoretical chemist, Ilya
Prigogine. Prigogine, working in the field of thermodynamics, became intensely curious
about what seemed to
be a contradiction between one of the basic laws of science and some equally basic observable facts,
the existence and evolution of life itself. This contradiction, though seemingly unrelated to our everyday
contains the seed of profound practical wisdom for anyone committed to mental, emotional, and spiritual
The second law of thermodynamics (stay with me-this really isn't complicated, and it's very interesting)
states that whenever work is done, some energy is irretrievably lost. When expanding steam causes a piston to
for instance, some energy is lost from the system in the form of heat radiation due to friction. In addition,
itself, unless energy is added to the system in the form of an overhaul, new parts, etc., will wear out
This fact of nature is called the law of increasing entropy. Entropy, simply
put, is a measure of the amount
of randomness or chaos in a system, and the law of increasing entropy is an expression
of the fact the universe
is irreversibly moving toward a state of increased disorder and randomness. Left to itself,
with no energy input
from the outside, any system will break down and become increasingly disordered. A car will turn
to rust and
fall apart, a mountain will be worn down, and so on. Even the expansion of the universe is a movement in
direction of increasing disorder, increasing entropy.
Yet we can see that many
things in the universe tend toward increased order-the opposite of what-the
second law of thermodynamics predicts. Life
has evolved as atoms became molecules, then amino acids, proteins,
cells, multi-cellular life, social systems, and so
on-definitely a process of increasing order, and against the flow of
increasing entropy. This seeming paradox puzzled
scientists for over a hundred years until Prigogine discovered
the key: that order arises not in spite of entropy, but
because of it!
the scientific community had been more interested in idealized closed systems, systems
that have no interaction with
the environment-the molecules of hydrogen in a closed container, for
instance, or an ideal machine. Prigogine, on the
other hand, was interested in open systems, those that
constantly interact with their environment, changing, growing,
and evolving. Living things are prime
examples of open systems. Far from equilibrium, they constantly take in energy
in the form of light, heat,
nutrients, air, water, etc., and then dissipate to their environment carbon dioxide, heat,
various activities, and so on. In this way they, they constantly adjust to their environment, changing,
growing, healing, learning.
Prigogine set out to study open systems in an effort to solve
the riddle of how systems of increasing order
(systems that can change, grow, and evolve) can exist in a universe inevitably
tending toward disorder and chaos.
Studying certain far-from-equilibrium chemical processes, he obtained results which
again seemed to contradict
the second law of thermodynamics. That is, until he ascertained that while the system itself
did indeed become
increasingly ordered, it did so by dispersing entropy to its environment!
These experiments proved his hypothesis that order emerges not in spite of chaos but because of it-that evolution
growth are inherent in far-from-equilibrium (open) systems. The key to such systems is their ability not only
in energy and matter from the environment, but also to dissipate the resulting entropy to the environment,
overall energy dynamic that does follow the second law of thermodynamics.
these open systems that evolve and grow by taking in energy and matter from their
environment and dissipating the resulting
entropy "dissipative structures." Prigogine's discoveries apply to every
open system in the universe, whether
a chemical system (as in Prigogine's original experiments), a seed, a highway
system, a corporation-or a human being.
Such structures, to maintain their existence, must interact with their environment, continually maintaining
flow of energy into and out of the system. And, rather than being the structure through which energy and matter
flow, dissipative structures are, in fact, the flow itself. In other words, this is not a universe of independent things,
but rather one of process, a changing, flowing, evolving, and intimately interconnected system of interactions.
growth: "escape into a higher order"
Dissipative structures (such as human beings)
flourish in unstable, fluctuating environments. The more
ordered and complex a system becomes, the more entropy it must
dissipate to maintain its existence. Conversely,
each system has an upper limit, due to its level of complexity, of how
much entropy it can dissipate. This is a
key point. If the fluctuations from the environment increase beyond that limit,
the system, unable to disperse
enough entropy into its environment, begins to become internally more entropic, more chaotic.
If the excessive input continues, the chaos eventually becomes so great that the system begins to break down.
Finally, a point is reached where the slightest nudge can bring the whole system grinding to a halt. Either the
breaks down and ceases to exist as an organized system, or it spontaneously reorders itself in a new way.
is a true quantum leap, a death and re-birth, and the main characteristic of the new system is that it
can handle the
fluctuations, the input from the environment, that overwhelmed the old system. In Prigogine's
words, the system "escapes
into a higher order."
Out of chaos comes a new order, a more evolved system. This new
system has a new stability and is able to
more easily exist in the previously overwhelming environment. But if input
increases again, to a level beyond
the system's new and higher capacity for dispersion of entropy, the process will repeat,
resulting in new internal
chaos and another reorganization at an even more evolved level.
The human brain as a dissipative structure How does this affect you? The human brain is the ultimate dissipative structure,
constantly taking in energy and matter from the environment, constantly dispersing entropy. We are able to handle amazing
amounts of input from the environment, encountering all kinds of new ideas, stimuli, and events, handling them without
threat to the system.
But if input (all that stuff that happens in your life) reaches
a certain critical level, different for each individual,
we begin to feel overwhelmed and become less and less able to
deal with increased input. We go into chaos. Eventually, the system (our mental construct of "what is") is forced
to break down or reorganize at a higher, more evolved, level. The process goes something like this: at first things make sense;
then, as chaos increases, they no longer make sense any more; finally, after reorganization, they make sense again, but in
a whole new way, never before imagined.
Certain types of people, those who constantly open
themselves to ideas and experiences, will be more likely
to reach this "moment of truth"-what Abraham Maslow
called "peak experience"-giving themselves the chance
of "escaping into a higher order," giving them
a chance to evolve and grow. On the other hand, people who resist
new ideas, who won't try new experiences, who reject
what doesn't fit their beliefs, and who never doubt their
way of seeing things-in other words, people who resist the
influx of new energy, stumuli, ideas, and matter into
their brains-almost never have peak experiences and evolve very
slowly, if at all.
If the input affecting the brain is strong enough, however, even a brain
resistant to change can be impacted.
This is what happens when we meditate. Meditation (particularly the technologically
based Holosync meditation
we use at Centerpointe Research Institute) creates fluctuations in the brain that eventually
affect even our deepest,
most unconscious resistance, creating change at a very deep level. Eventually, the brain evolves
to a point where it
is able to perceive, experience, and be one with the interconnections of the entire universe, allowing
of addictive and dysfunctional patterns and the growth of a profound sense of peace.
brain wave states and evolution.
Why does meditation affect the brain in this way? High
frequency brain wave states, such as the beta state
(that of normal, non-meditative consciousness), have very low amplitude.
The wave form has little difference
from its highest to its lowest point-a small amount of fluctuation. Lower frequency
alpha and theta brain
waves-those of traditional meditation (and the even deeper delta brain waves created by Holosync)-have
high amplitude-a large amount of fluctuation.
Since the amount of environmental
fluctuation determines a system's possibilities for evolutionary change, a
beta state does not push the brain to evolve.
In the alpha, theta, and delta states, however, the brain experiences
larger fluctuations, which, as we have seen, stimulate
evolutionary change in dissipative structures. When an
open system like the human brain is exposed to such low-frequency,
high- amplitude fluctuations, it can (and
will) make the quantum leap to the next higher level.
What, then, is the practical application of this model of change? And why does change often result in
feelings and behaviors and other kinds of resistance?
Remember that chaos precedes change.
Whenever there is chaos in your life, it means that your current map
of reality is not able to handle the environment.
In other words, you are over your personal threshold for what
you can handle. If handled consciously, however, this chaos
leads to positive change. At such times, remember
that 1) a new and higher threshold, and a new and more highly evolved
map of reality will solve many of the
problems that the old map of reality can't handle, 2) chaos is a sign you're getting
ready to create a new map by
reorganizing at a higher and more functional level, and if you get out of the way, this
will happen more easily
In other words, chaos is good!
Most people don't recognize when they're in chaos, for several reasons. Some people self-medicate whenever
they begin to feel stressed. They reach for a drink, a joint, a cigarette, food, a sexual partner, or an adrenaline
to mask their feelings. They don't realize that chaos is a growth opportunity and that by not
taking advantage of it
they keep their map of reality from evolving-which means that every time it is stimulated
in the same way, they will
become overwhelmed again. A new and more highly evolved map, however, could
handle what the current map can't, ending
Also, most people don't take responsibility for the chaos or stress they
feel. They project it onto something
outside of themselves. They find something to blame. "I'm stressed because
of him." "I'm stressed because I lost
my job." "I'm stressed because of the terrorist attacks."
"I'm stressed because of my kids/parents/partner/finances/
But the only reason you are stressed or in chaos is that your threshold for what you can handle is too low. And,
one and only real solution is to raise that threshold higher.
So first, notice when there
is chaos. "Here I am, in chaos." Then, acknowledge why it's happening. "My
threshold is too low."
Then, remind yourself that chaos is the first step in reorganizing your map of reality at a
higher level-one that will
work much better-an that this is actually an opportunity. "Hallelujah! I'm about
to evolve, and once I make the
leap to the next level, I'll be able to handle more, and lots of things that cause
me to suffer will fall away!"
Let it be okay that you're temporarily in chaos, and just watch what happens (more
about that later). Resisting will,
at best, make the process painful, and, at worst, will keep the reorganization
from happening at all.
Few really understand how change works. Instead, they fight it. If they win this battle, they lose the war.
By fighting change, you get to be pushed past the same old low threshold over and over, experiencing the same
over and over.
Understanding change will save you untold suffering, if use your knowledge.
Change is natural. You don't
need to know "how" to do it. The entire universe has evolved, for billions of
years, by this very mechanism. All
you have to do is get out of the way.
are the steps:
1. Notice and acknowledge that you are in chaos.
2. Realize it's happening
because your threshold for what you can handle
is too low to handle your current environment.
3. Remember that this
is a good thing, and means you are about to evolve
to the next level, where many current problems will disappear.
4. Let it be okay that this is happening.
5. Watch with curiosity and don't resist.
Or, you can avoid being in situations where you get pushed past your threshold (good luck). You can stay
yourself, don't participate in life, don't take in new information, etc. Or, blow off steam when the
Get angry, worry, compulsively talk, or exercise, or eat, or have sex (or whatever you like to do). Of
keep the same threshold in that case, with the same limitations. You already know what that's like.
Principle four: The Map is Not the Territory
If you took in all the stimuli that comes
at you on a moment-by-moment basis, it would be overwhelming.
If you tried to take into account everything that is happening
in each moment as you made each decision, the
sheer number of details and interconnections would overwhelm you. If you
took into account all the connections
that make up who you are, it would be too much, since ultimately you are connected
to everything. There's just
too much, and it comes at you in an unrelenting torrent of information. In order to manage
all this information,
you have to filter it in some way.
So, to get yourself through
life, you create an internal map of reality you can refer to as you navigate through
life. Just as with a road map, this
map is a scaled-down version of reality. But just as with a road map, it doesn't
show everything (how could it?), and
in some ways it isn't a very good representation of reality. There are no
Safeway stores on Rand McNally maps. You can't
go camping on the little triangles that represent mountains.
And you can't get wet or go water skiing in the blue areas
that represent oceans, lakes, and rivers. The map is not the territory. It's not meant to be. It's just a representation of
reality-not reality itself.
Now, if the territory changes, you're going to need a new map.
If you're driving along and the road ends
because of a new shopping center but the map says the road goes through, it
might be time to get a new map.
Or, if the old map was created based on crude technology that could not create a really
accurate map, and
new technology, such as aerial photography, becomes available, you might want to get a new map.
Otherwise, your ability to navigate correctly might be affected.
Similarly, we all create
a map of reality as we are growing up. Without it, we would have to figure out what
a door is and how to open it each
time we came to one, or re-learn how to relate to people every time we met a
new person. And beyond these simple examples,
this map also contains much more complex generalizations and
other internal mental/emotional aspects of how we see ourselves
and our relationship to the rest of the universe,
including beliefs, values, strategies, decisions, and a number of other
parts of what I call your internal map of
This map is our internal representation
of reality, and it is very useful, in the same way a road map is useful.
The closer to reality our map can be without
being unwieldingly complex, the better it functions. However, if
we grow up with trauma or abuse, or if the picture of
reality we received in our family situation only works in
our family but isn't that useful or accurate when we go out
into the rest of the world, we may have trouble. If
sharing vulnerable feelings is not part of our map, for instance,
we may have trouble being intimate with others
and may feel lonely and isolated. If our map emphasizes resisting what
we don't like about the world, we may
end up mired in constant struggle and suffering. If our map tells us we better
watch out or other people will hurt
us (not realizing that some will and others may not), we may miss out on many beautiful
parts of life.
Your map of reality, in addition to being an aid to navigation, is also a
blueprint your mind uses to create your
life. Your mind is a goal-seeking mechanism, and it uses your internal map of
reality as its software, its instructions
for what to seek and what to create. If there are riches in your life, or poverty,
or happiness, or adventure, or
suffering-or anything-it comes from your mind creating your experience based on your map.
Your mind doesn't say "Whoa. Wait a minute. This map is not very accurate and it's creating a lot of suffering."
It just says "Okay. I see. Create this...and this...and this...and this." It doesn't care what the map is, or
it's a happy or unhappy map. It's just a faithful creator, creating your life based on what the map says.
As people grow up and find various ways their map does not serve them, those who are more conscious seek
or improve the map (those who are unconscious just blame the world for not being like their map).
Approaches to personal
change that actually work, then, bring about changes in this map of reality. And
here is where the trouble starts for
those of us seeking personal growth.
In order to replace a map (or a part of the map) that
isn't serving you very well, there has to be an interim
period where the old map goes into temporary chaos, breaks down,
and is then replaced by a new map, one that
more accurately reflects reality and more resourcefully allows you to be
happy, creative, and spiritually connected
to other people. If you want to create happiness, inner peace, enlightenment,
oneness with God, or anything else
you want, you will go through many maps, each one better and more accurate-and more
useful and effective
in creating what you want.
As this process happens, almost all
people try to protect the old map (your concept of who you are and how you
relate to the rest of the universe) when this
initial chaos stage of growth-where you begin to notice the old map
isn't working so well-begins. This attempt to hold
the old map together is caused by the mistaken idea that this
map is who you are-that the map really is the territory,
rather than a just a tool you use to navigate through life.
In other words, we create this map (or rather, it is automatically
created in response to our life experiences,
especially those with our primary care-givers), and then we forget that
it's just a map. Instead, we think it's who we
When our map can't handle what's going
on, and begins to fall apart as part of the process of reforming in a
new and better way, we think we are falling apart.
As a results, we resist the process, sabotaging our own growth.
This map is often called the ego by western psychology,
and is your concept of who you are and what your
relationship is to the rest of the world. It is the limitations of this
map (its inability to adequately "map the
territory") that creates the over-threshold experience and the resulting
dysfunctional feelings and behaviors and
other suffering I've discussed already.
letting the map go through the evolutionary process (that of going into chaos temporarily and
then reorganizing at a
higher level) results in relief from the problems and limitations of the old map, and gives
you a new ability to deal
with what was previously stressful or overwhelming.
Getting a new map is the secret of growth,
yet we fight it because we think we are the old map!
So the main impediment to positive change comes from the mistaken
belief that this map is who we are
rather than just a handy representation of who we are. Believing this, it's no wonder
that, when the map begins
to fall apart in preparation for its reforming in a new and better way, we think "Oh my
God! I'm falling apart!"
Since we think we are what is falling apart, we do everything
we can to hold the old map together, resisting the
chaos/reorganization process. This is where all the dysfunctional
feelings and behaviors, and all the sufferings
we put ourselves through, come from. Fear, depression, anger, anxiety,
substance abuse, psychosis, bi-polar
disorder, multiple personalities, ADD, many physical diseases, traumatic stress
disorder, and many other mental,
emotional, and physical problems, are all ways we humans use to try and fight off the
death of the old map and
the birth of the new.
But what if we said: "Great! My
old map of reality, which isn't working that well anyway, and has a number
of deficiencies that cause me all kinds of
suffering, is falling apart. That means I'll soon have a new map that
works much better and allows me to be happier and
more peaceful inside!" In that case, we would just stand
aside and let the process complete itself-and save ourselves
a lot of trouble and suffering.
It is very helpful, then, to learn and recognize when this
process is happening, to learn and be able to
recognize your favorite methods of trying to save the old map, and to learn
how to let that this is happening be
okay-instead of trying to save something that isn't helpful to you anyway.
Some people call this having faith, and I highly recommend it. So know that you are not your ego. You are not
your concept of who you are. You are not your map of reality. It's just a map! And if it goes into chaos, that chaos is part
of the process of positive change and the prelude to a better and more functional map. When the old map falls apart, you will
still be there, ready to receive a new map-much better off, and much happier. Have
faith. And don't try to go camping on those little triangles.
Principle #5: Responsibility as
Everyone who has been on a personal growth path for any length of time has been
told that "you are the
creator of your world" or "you are not a victim" or some variation thereof.
Most would agree to both statements
if asked. However, when in a real-life situation, where something happens we don't
like, even those who "have
been meditating 75 years" or "knew Werner Erhardt personally and helped design
all his trainings" or who claim
to have taken every personal growth training and read every self-help book on Earth
(twice), begin blaming
something outside of themselves for what has happened.
lip service to these principles is not going to be helpful to you. Intelligent and sophisticated sophistries
yourself and others that you are not responsible for what is happening are not going to help you,
Why? Because until you realize that you create your experience of your world, including all happiness and
all suffering, you will be at the effect end of the cause and effect process. You, and your experience of life, will be
controlled by, and at the whim of, whatever is happening around you. Your only chance for happiness will be to
perfect circumstances and to find a way to keep them that way.And you know, if you
think about it, how likely that is.
The truth is, you are responsible for every feeling or behavior
you have, in the sense that it is either your
chosen response to something that happens, or is an automatic unconscious
response based on the way your
internal map of reality has been structured.
very different from saying you are to blame for every feeling or behavior you have. Taking personal
not about blame but rather about personal power. If someone or something outside of you is the
cause of how you feel
or behave, you are powerless-a victim. If you, or at least your unconscious processes, are
at cause, you have power and
can do something to change the situation to one that is happier and more peaceful.
Things outside of you may be a stimulus
for you, but how you respond comes from you, either consciously or
can live in a world where other people or events "cause" you to feel the way you feel, but there is a price.
The price is that you will feel bad a great deal of the time. Or, you can choose to take total responsibility for
feeling you have and every behavior you have. Having done so, you suddenly are at the "cause" end of the
and effect process, where you can choose how you feel and how you behave.
If what you feel
and how you behave is a choice, you can, of course, just make the right choice: to feel
something that feels good, or
to behave in a way that has the greatest chance of having a good outcome. But
what do you do with all those feelings
and behaviors that seem to come unbidden, automatically? Since for most
people, even those who are "advanced"
seekers, the majority of feelings and behaviors fall into this category, this
is a very important question.
First, begin by accepting this main premise: that you are responsible for the feelings and behaviors you
have-even if you cannot directly see how you are creating them. Most feelings and behaviors that "happen" to
you are conditioned responses, and somewhere, unconsciously, your internal map of reality tells you to feel or
in a certain way when you are stimulated in a certain way. Perhaps when your father yelled at you as a
child, you felt
afraid, then angry. Once this has been set up as a conditioned response, like Pavlov's dogs salivating
when they heard
the bell announcing dinner, someone yelling at you will cause you to become afraid and then
angry, and then perhaps behave
in a certain way.
It seems as if these emotions are caused by the yelling. They are not.
They are triggered by the yelling perhaps,
but they are caused by the conditioned response set up, by your past, in your
internal map of reality. Change the
parts of your internal map of reality that create this response and you could have
a completely different feeling,
followed by a completely different behavior.
only yelling you had ever heard was Groucho yelling at Chico, you might have a conditioned response
to laugh every time
you heard yelling.
Therapists often describe the phenomenon of exhibiting a certain feeling
as a conditioned response due to
childhood trauma going into a regressed state. This means someone yells at you now,
but you feel like a powerless
child, just as you did when your father yelled at you, even though you are now a much more
Again, this is a conditioned response, and the yelling is not causing the
feeling, it is merely triggering it.
How can you tell the difference between a cause and a trigger? If there is more
than one possible response,
if different people respond in different ways to the same stimulus, the stimulus is a trigger.
If there is only one
possible response, the stimulus is a cause. Pouring water over your head will get your head wet.
The water causes
the wetness. Everyone who has the water poured over their head will get wet. Yelling at someone could
anger, laughter, disinterest, puzzlement, fear, or any number of other reactions, depending on the situation, and
the way that person's internal map of reality is structured. Yelling is a trigger, not a cause.
Even though yelling may result in some sort of uninvited feeling, just knowing that it is triggering a part
internal map of reality, and that your internal map is generating your response, is a start in taking
for what is happening. This will begin the process of changing your internal map of reality so you
can make different
There are many ways to make changes to your internal map of reality, which is not
the subject of this article.
A good therapist can help, an NLP practitioner can help, a behavioral psychologist can help,
even tools such
as Anthony Robbins books and tapes can help. Certainly Centerpointe's Holosync Solution program and the
various Centerpointe knowledge products can help, as they are specifically designed to help you make changes
internal map of reality.
Your goal is for each response to each event be a choice. This
means you can choose what is most resourceful
for you, what makes you happiest, most peaceful, and most successful, in
the way you want. As long as you are
an automatic response mechanism, with the part of you that generates your feelings
and behaviors operating
outside your awareness, you are at the whim of events and people around you.
But until you firmly acknowledge that every feeling and every behavior is coming from you, regardless of
what the world sends your way, you cannot make any progress toward this goal.
To be able
to choose how to feel, to choose the state you are in at any given time, and to choose how you
behave, and to be able
to do all of this in the most resourceful way possible, is one of the major components of
freedom, and is very worth
How does the Centerpointe program help this process? As you use the program,
what was unconscious and
out of awareness becomes increasingly conscious. Your conscious awareness of what you are doing,
and why you
are doing it, increases. The program develops a "witness" part of you that is able to objectively
pay attention to
everything without being emotionally involved. This is what spiritual teachers mean when they speak
awareness. Expanded awareness allows you to see your conditioned responses for what they are.
Our culture has gravitated toward the popularization of victimhood over the past several decades. No one is
responsible for anything that happens to them. Smokers are not responsible for getting lung cancer, shooters of
are not responsible for firing them, burglars even sue homeowners for injuring themselves while breaking
into a house.
Criminals are not responsible for crimes they commit because they had an unhappy childhood, or
were under the influence
of drugs. Battering husbands (or wives) are not responsible for beating their spouses
because the other made them angry,
or did such and such to them. These are the more extreme cases, but you
can, I'm sure, fill in the details from your
own life, if you are honest.
It is so easy to say "I can't do ____. I have traumatic
stress disorder, ADD, a cold, alcoholism, no money,
don't read well, my father was distant, my mother was smothering,
I grew up in the inner city, I grew up in the
country, blah, blah, blah. In this popularization of victimhood, there
is an underlying presupposition that it is
somehow easier to be a victim, that there is some benefit to not taking responsibility,
that taking responsibility
would be onerous, difficult, a struggle, too much work.
want you to know that, without exception, it is being a victim that is onerous, difficult, a struggle, and too
Being responsible for everything that happens, and for every feeling and behavior, is the easy way
to live. It is the
way to happiness, inner peace, and a productive life. It is the sure way to end all the dramas in
your life. I highly
Principle #6: The Principle of Conscious Change
Every time I sit down to write an article about one of these principles, I undergo a few moments of
Because these principles are, in a way, very enigmatic, in the sense that they are elegantly simple and,
at the same
time, densely impenetrable. Until you "get" each principle, it seems inconceivable, unable to be
impractical, unhelpful. Though each of these principles can be understood and integrated into your
life in an instant,
in actual practice it can take years for the real meaning, in a practical sense, to dawn on you.
Do you remember when
you learned to ride a bicycle? You would ride along with your dad or mom running
alongside holding the bike up. Then
they would let go, and pretty soon you would fall over. It seemed hard, and
you wondered if you could do it.
Then, mom or dad let go but you didn't know they'd let go, and several seconds later when you looked back,
they were half a block behind you and you were riding, all by yourself! Hey, this is easy!
I remember thinking that
tying my shoes was the most complicated series of motions ever thought up by
anyone, and wondered how my mother could
tie my shoe so easily (while talking on the phone, even!). But once
you learn it, it seems so easy.
These principles are the same as riding a bike or tying your shoe. They seem hard, but once you get it,
they are easy-and because of them, life becomes much easier. If there is one thing I'm trying to teach in the
these principles with you, it is that life is easy. If it's hard for you, you're doing something, consciously
to make it hard.
I see or hear from people every day who experience one drama, one disaster,
one stress after another in their
life. Life is mostly bumps and bruises and suffering for them. From my perspective,
it's easy to see how they're
creating all of this-and also how they can stop creating it.
But for them, it all just seems to be "happening" to them. They don't yet see that what happens comes from
them, from their map of reality, from what they focus on, from their internal and external strategies for making
In the previous section we discussed personal responsibility.
This is an extremely important principle because
until you take responsibility, until you realize that what happens (or
at the very least your response to what
happens) is coming from you and not from anything outside of you, you can't do
anything about it. Once you
take responsibility, though, you can take control and create things the way you want them.
The next step, once you accept personal responsibility, is to become more conscious. And here is where I get
into my moment of indecision. How do I describe "conscious" to you? Everyone throws this term around as if
they know what it means, but as I look around, it is not at all apparent to me that they do understand. Being
does not mean being politically correct, following the Dalai Lama, being aware of injustice, saving the
with God or Jesus or spirit guides-or anything like these things.
Being conscious means
not operating as an automatic response mechanism. It means seeing what is
happening, on all levels simultaneously, at
every moment, and choosing an emotional, mental, behavioral, and
spiritual response based on what is the most resourceful
choice in that moment. Ultimately, it means doing all
of this automatically, without conscious thought (there's a seeming
contradiction!-being conscious, but doing
so automatically). You process all possibilities in a split second and respond
in just the right way-not with a
preset response (which is what I mean by being an automatic response mechanism), but
with a choice that is
optimum for the situation.
Most people, unfortunately, run on
automatic. They have rules or set procedures for what to think, what to
feel, and what to do in various situations-rules
or procedures they learned when they were too young to know
any better-and these responses happen automatically, like
Pavlov's dog salivating when it hears the bell. Some of
these responses were learned through physical or emotional pain,
and are particularly deeply imbedded. Others
are just things we accepted as true because our parents told us they were
true over and over at an age when our
parents seemed like infallible gods.
At the very
least, many of these rules and procedures serve to help us deal with our anxiety, or what I often
refer to as overwhelm.
We feel anxious, so we withdraw, get angry, have a cigarette, eat, exercise, act silly, have
a drink, talk too much,
space out, have sex, tense up, buy something, watch TV, cry...or one of thousands of
other behaviors or feelings. We
don't choose to do them because they seemed to be the most resourceful thing
we could do at the time. We just do them,
automatically. Usually they are anything but resourceful. Often, they
lead to drama, suffering, problems, sadness.
A person who has done much of their life unconsciously doesn't know they are feeling, behaving, responding,
and living unconsciously, and you may not believe me when I tell you this is something you are probably doing,
doing quite a lot, if not all, of the time. It takes becoming more conscious to realize what you were doing.
The Holosync Solution support materials, we describe the idea of being the witness, when I say
"just watch with
curiosity," we're trying to get you to begin the process of becoming more conscious. I will have
much more to say
about this when I get to the principle of witnessing in a later section.
Here, though, is
the big benefit of being more conscious: It is impossible to do something that isn't good for you,
or is in some way
non-resourceful (destructive) to you, and also do it consciously. You can do something destructive to
beliefs, values, behaviors, etc.) over and over as long as you do it unconsciously (without continuous
But once you begin to do the non-resourceful feeling, behavior, belief, value, etc. consciously,
it will begin to fall
away. You just cannot do something that is not good for you and also do it consciously.
trick, of course, is to remain conscious, which is, as I said earlier, one of those things, like riding your
tying your shoe, that seems really hard until you get it, and then it seems easy and you wonder why you
it was hard. For this reason, as you unravel, in your own life, the mystery of what it means to be
conscious, do not
let yourself become discouraged. Keep going, keep trying, keep watching, and at some point you
will turn around and no
one will be holding the bicycle up, and you'll be doing it, and it will all make sense.
We have many ways of going unconscious
so as not to deal with what we're feeling or how we're behaving:
overeating, drugs and alcohol, projection and blaming,
spacing out, analyzing, distracting oneself through a
thousand and one different methods, and many, many others.
To become conscious, you must 1) identify your favorite ways of going unconscious, 2) be vigilant in noticing them,
and 3) be committed to developing the ability to be the witness to what is happening, developing that part of you that stands
aside and notices what you are doing, feeling, or thinking, as you do it, watching without judgement or comment, just watching
curiosity, like a scientist.
This is one of the greatest benefits of The Holosync
Solution program, and one of the most difficult to
describe or quantify: that using Holosync, over time, creates and
increases the ability to remain conscious and
deal with things consciously.
every day to your Holosync soundtracks, let whatever happens when you listen be okay, and take
some time, especially
when you feel an uncomfortable emotion, to just watch yourself have it.
Pretty soon you'll be saying "Look, Mom!
Principle #7: The Principle of Witnessing
Everyday we communicate with dozens of people who are using the Centerpointe program. Some are having
a hard time with
the program, and with life in general (usually for the same reason). Some are angry, depressed,
fearful, anxious, or
confused-or are creating any number of other responses. One of the main instructions we
give these people is to "watch
what is happening-watch with curiosity."
This is a deceptively simple instruction that
nonetheless has tremendous power. What does it mean? And
how do you do it?
witness, the watcher, the observer, has been a part of meditative practice for centuries, but what
this really means
is not often explained in a way that makes down-to-earth practical sense.
You may be tired
of hearing me harp on the subject of resistance, and how resistance creates any discomfort
you may be experiencing in
your life. I find myself saying or writing at least fifty times a week that if you are
having any discomfort in the Centerpointe
program or in life in general, it's because somewhere, on some level, there is
resistance. Some people think I say this
just to blow off people who are having what they consider to be a negative
reaction to Holosync, to deflect blame from
Not so. Not so at all. To adopt a position of power, one in which you have control
over your destiny, you
must take full responsibility for whatever response you are creating to whatever is happening.
If you cannot
acknowledge that you are creating your response to everything that happens, you are helpless, a victim
Only when you take responsibility is there a possibility of doing
something about your situation or creating
something different. The main source, then, of both personal power and peace
of mind is taking all responsibility
for what happens.
So, first, you must acknowledge
that, whatever your experience with Holosync or with life in general, it
is your response. It comes from you, from some
aspect of who you are. As I've said so many times, "Life may
provide the stimulus, but you provide the response."
Sometimes this response comes from an unconscious part
of you, one you have little or no control over (or so it seems),
but, nonetheless, it comes from you (rather from
some force outside of you, regardless of the appearance).
Why would you create a negative response? Because a part of you is in resistance to whatever is happening.
Why, then, would someone resist it? Because some part of you is trying to reorganize, to change, whether as a
of the Holosync stimulus or something else that pushes you to grow, but you associate the old way with
your safety and,
at least unconsciously, don't feel safe letting the change happen.
Perhaps you have stayed
very self-contained since you were a small child, not letting anyone get close to you
because, in your family, it wasn't
safe to get close. But now Holosync is breaking up the old pattern and creating
a new ability to be close, intimate,
and connected with others. Consciously you may want this, but since letting
go of the old defense mechanism feels unsafe
to that unconscious "inner child" part of you, you resist. The
more essential this old way of being seems to
your safety, the greater the resistance will be. And the greater the
resistance, the greater the discomfort, the greater
Whatever the discomfort, whatever the upheaval, whatever the issue, some
part of you-some inner strategy
that you associate with safety-is trying to grow and evolve, and another part of you
is not willing to let go.
What can you do? Some people (those for whom resistance is a major tool in their survival arsenal,
the case with me) just want to quit. "I didn't start this program to be pissed off all the time," they
say to me. Or
they say "I feel worse than ever. Who would want to do this?!" Remember, however, that the majority
do not create this kind of resistance, or they create it only occasionally when something big is shifting-I
want to give the impression that you are looking forward to all kinds of discomfort as you use Holosync, because
chances are, you aren't. Only if you resist will you create discomfort.
Here is where
the concept of watching, witnessing, of being the observer, comes to play. If resistance is the
poison, witnessing is
First of all, remember that the discomfort is not necessary. It is only there
because of your resistance. It is
not there because life is unfair, because of the situation, because of other people,
or because of Holosync. It is
there because you don't feel safe changing and are resisting the change, or because you
are resisting someone or
something being the way it is.
Some very wise people, over
many centuries of experience with the process of personal mental, emotional,
and spiritual change, have discovered that
if you can just step back and watch whatever is happening, with no
agenda for what does or does not happen, the resistance
disappears. And, any changes that are trying to take
place can happen without suffering.
All personal change approaches that work involve the creation of a greater awareness of what is happening,
the fundamental principle that you can only continue behaviors and feelings that are self-destructive if
you do them
unconsciously-without awareness. Most of us have very elaborate strategies designed to keep us
unaware, but there is
a very simple way to defeat them.
If you step back the next time you are feeling any kind
of discomfort and say to yourself "There I am, feeling
angry" (or whatever it is you are feeling), and then
just notice yourself being angry, without trying to stop it or
change it, without any agenda for what should happen.
Any feeling you have will be a sensation in your body, so
just notice where in your body you feel it. Notice if it stays
the same or changes, if it stays in one place or moves
around. Become genuinely curious about it. Pretend you are a scientist
who has been searching the Amazon
jungle for 20 years for a certain butterfly, and finally...here it is! How carefully
and curiously would you watch?
Bring that amount of curiosity to bear on whatever is happening for you in that moment.
Whatever uncomfortable feelings you are having, you've probably been having them off and on for a long
But I would be willing to bet that you have never really watched them with curiosity to find out what is
and how you create them. You're so busy trying to make them stop, or blaming them on someone
else, or analyzing them,
or in some other way becoming unconscious about them.
Notice that you cannot be a stuck
in your suffering very effectively if a part of you is watching. If you are
curious and watching, it becomes harder and
harder to resist. Curiosity is on the opposite side of the fence from
resistance, and without resistance you cannot create
suffering. Once you are successfully watching, it becomes
very obvious that you could make another choice of how to respond
to whatever is happening.
On the other hand, if you are watching with an agenda-to stop
the feeling-you're not really watching.
The be the witness, you must have no agenda other than to watch and be curious.
Some personal growth teachers will tell you to "love the feeling," or "embrace the feeling,"
or "surrender to
the feeling." What they really mean is to stop resisting it. And the way to do that is to
become genuinely curious
about it and watch.
Several years ago, in the infancy of the
Centerpointe program, a woman in the program called me
in an extremely agitated state. "I'm freaking out!"
she said. "I feel like I'm coming apart at the seams!
Help!" She really was freaked out-as freaked out as a
person can be and still successfully communicate
with someone else.
I told her to go
lie down on her bed and very carefully notice the feelings that were happening in her body, to
be very curious about
every sensation, and then call me back and give me a report. Twenty minutes later she called
to tell me that (darn it)
she couldn't really give me much of a report because the whole feeling had disappeared
as soon as she adopted the point
of view of the curious watcher. All she felt now was a kind of euphoria, as if
something had shifted for her!
She was watching with curiosity, and because she thought I wanted a report, her agenda was not to make
feeling go away, but just to notice what was happening. If you do the same thing, you'll get the same result,
cannot be trying to make the feeling change. You must be watching with real curiosity.
your life and they're your feelings. You can become genuinely curious about them, can't you? I hope so.
One of the amazing
things that happens as people go through the Centerpointe program is that this "watcher"
becomes more and more
prominent, more and more easy to summon when needed, and soon becomes a constant
companion. This is the real beginnings
of what meditators call "expanded awareness." From this point, expanded
awareness grows even greater, to include
an increased sense of connection with the rest of the universe-but it
begins with the simple ability to reserve a small
part of you that just watches yourself and whatever is happening
with detachment and curiosity.
In fact, I'll go even further and say that this watcher part of you is the real you, the Self with a capital "S."
The rest is just a creation of your mind-all the analyzing and thinking and blaming and suffering is just your
distracting you from the real you. This is why people originally created meditation: to quiet the mind, so
as to get
past it to see their real Self.
So the real answer to the question of what to do when you
are resisting, but the resistance is unconscious, is
to just watch. Stop fighting with yourself and just notice what
is happening. Distress and discomfort fall away
when you do this, almost as if by magic.
So if resistance is your middle name, as it was mine before I went through the Centerpointe program, please
seriously the simple instruction to "watch with curiosity." It takes some practice and some will-power
the habit of resisting is deeply ingrained and very much an automatic response. But after some practice,
it will become
an effortless part of you, your own personal "Prince of Peace" who will help you through any
encounter. And, of course, remember that daily meditation with Holosync is a very effective way
to foster and strengthen
this very essential part of you.
I have written here mostly about resistance as people from
time to time experience it while doing the
Centerpointe Program, but this principle applies to everything in your life.
In any situation where you are
uncomfortable, no matter what it is, you are resisting people, things, or situations being
the way they are. To the
degree you do that, you suffer. If you can step aside and watch yourself have whatever reaction
you are having,
you will find that there are other choices of how to respond, at which point you can pick the one you
like to have, rather than just being an automatic response mechanism who suffers every time you are stimulated
in a certain way. People with "higher consciousness" or "expanded awareness" are those who have mastered
principle of witnessing. You can do it, too. Start practicing, and keep meditating.
Principle #8: The Principle of Good and Bad Generalizations
By now, most of you know that
I am of the opinion that it is not necessary to live a life that contains suffering,
and that there are definite ways
to change your life from one containing suffering to one where you are happy
and peaceful all the time.
Most of you also know that, in my opinion, the way to do this is to cultivate the ability to let whatever
happens be okay and to not resist "what is." This doesn't mean you're okay with injustice and suffering or don't
do anything about them. It means you emotionally accept things the way they are and do not resist what is.
what is and wanting to change what is are not the same, and the difference is one of attachment
to the outcome. The person
who is attached to the outcome suffers if they do not get the outcome they want,
whereas the happy, peaceful person prefers
the outcome they want but are not attached to it. If the outcome they
get is not what they wanted, they remain just as
happy and peaceful as they were to begin with. Their happiness
comes from within, and is not dependent on what goes on
Many people are not only unhappy as a result of what goes on around them, but
are unhappy because of
what goes on inside. At the same time, this inside unhappiness helps create outside conditions
that give them
something to resist in their outer life. This is one way in which people "create their own universe."
this universe is often not a happy one. On the other hand, you can always create a new and happier world
yourself, at any time.
Based on our early life interactions with our primary care-givers,
we all develop generalization about who we
are and what our relationship is to the rest of the world. These generalizations
(part of what I call our internal
map of reality) divide everything into two categories, those that we think are "good",
or acceptable, and those
we think are "bad" or unacceptable.
We don't choose
these beliefs. We soak them up from our primary care-givers, our teachers, and from other
influences (friends, relatives,
the media, etc.), when we're too small to know any better. These beliefs become core
components of the way we see ourselves,
other people, and the world. Some of these beliefs and generalizations
give us outcomes and experiences we want, while
others create outcomes and experiences we don't want.
This is critically important to your happiness, for two reasons.
First, the brain is a goal seeking mechanism,
and a very powerful one. Your brain can make whatever you put into it come
true in your life. And second,
because human beings have a powerful need for consistency between what they believe to
be true and what really
is true. As has been said, people would rather be right than be happy.
This means that regardless of how much what you believe is not representative of how things really are, or how
your beliefs result in misery for you, you will arrange to be right about them by creating the circumstances
to confirm that what you believe is true.
This is compounded by the fact that many beliefs
you might have about yourself, since they involve something
about you being "bad", "defective", "not
okay", "broken", "unacceptable", and so on, are too painful to hold in
your conscious awareness.
For this reason they are repressed into your unconscious mind, where they still affect
you, but are out of sight. Because
of this, they are not available for conscious examination and change.
The other thing we
do with these parts of ourselves we think are unacceptable is to project them onto others
(this results in extreme emotional
reactions to others who exhibit the characteristics we believe are "bad" or
unacceptable in ourselves).
In many ways, emotional healing involves "unlearning" these old generalizations and making new, healthier
ones. In reality, there is nothing about any of us that is innately bad. Since whatever you deeply believe comes
in reality, you could make a conscious choice to believe whatever would create a happy and peaceful life for
Most people, however never take the reins and do this. Instead, they adopt the victim posture made
so popular in the
last few decades.
Meditation with Holosync facilitates this healing by making you more aware,
more conscious, of repressed
beliefs about yourself, and it does this in a way that, in most cases, takes all or part
of the emotional charge off
the negative and painful belief. If you'll remember, another of these principles described
the fact that you cannot
continue to do something harmful to yourself, and do it consciously. Only by remaining unconscious
can a person
continue to do something that is harmful to themselves.
Most people evaluate
beliefs by whether or not they are "true or false. If it's true it's worth believing, if it's
false, it isn't. In
my opinion, this true/false distinction is not useful, despite the fact that it seems so obvious.
The useful way to evaluate
beliefs is by whether they are resourceful or non-resourceful for you-by whether they
create happiness and peace, or
something else. Since whatever you deeply believe comes true, the only resourceful
beliefs are those that contain an
outcome you want.
The big secret is that you can choose what you want to believe-you don't
have to believe what seems true
based on past experience. The first step is to find out what these unresourceful beliefs
are. One way to begin to
do this is to complete the following sentences:
I am _______. People are _______. The world
What we're looking for are the things you say to yourself when you're really
down about things, when
you're feeling the worst. We are not looking for what you learned in self help books-those things
you should believe about yourself. We are not looking for "I am one with everything." "The world
is filled with
abundance." "People are basically good." We're looking for what you really do believe about
yourself, and say to
yourself, about yourself, when things look darkest-things like "I'm never going to be a success.
No one will ever
love me. There's something wrong with me. I can't seem to do anything right. People will take advantage
if you don't watch them very carefully. Men always leave me in the end. No one cares about me. The world is
dangerous and chaotic." And so on. We're looking for those things you say to yourself when you are really down
everything. These statements are big clues to what negative core beliefs you have.
way to determine what these beliefs are is to look at what is happening in your life. Since what
you believe manifests
in reality, you can tell what a person believes just by looking at the results they are getting
in their life. If you
are having trouble sustaining a close relationship with the opposite sex, somewhere there is a
core belief about yourself
and about the opposite sex that is manifesting this result in your life. If you are having
trouble with prosperity, or
health, or any other issue, you must have a belief about that subject that is manifesting
in what actually happens to
When you look at other people who are getting better results, you can be sure the difference
is that they have
different, and more empowering, core beliefs on that subject.
you identify your core beliefs (and, remember, we're concerned with the negative beliefs here-the
positive ones, those
that are giving you the results you want, don't need attention), the next step is to decide
what beliefs you would need
in order to create the results you want.
Once you know this, you can begin to install the
new way of thinking about yourself.
To do this, you have to start telling yourself this
new belief over and over, and wiping the old belief out
of your mind whenever it pops up. The only reason the old belief
seems true is that you have focused on it so
much, which makes it play out in reality, which of course makes you focus
on it more, which makes it play out
in reality more, and on and on.
Focus on this
new belief. Think about it while meditating, while driving, while showering, etc. Doing
so may bring up old and uncomfortable
feelings, so be prepared for that-because you associate the old belief
with safety, it will fight for its life. Don't
let that bother you. Just keep focusing on what you want. Create a
Technicolor movie of yourself, getting just what you
want, and feeling happy and satisfied by it. The more vivid,
and the more emotion you associate with it, the better.
In addition to playing the movie during meditation, play
it right before you go to sleep and right after waking up.
Most people who have had significant (negative) emotional experiences focus on what they don't want (i.e.,
repetition of the significant emotional experience, such as abandonment). They have a rule: "avoid "x"
at all costs!"
When you notice yourself focusing on what you do not want, change the focus to what you do want.
mind doesn't know when you focus on something that you do not want it (it always takes whatever you focus
on as an instruction to go get something and bring it to you), focusing on what you do not want causes you to
more of it. To change your focus, which has been on automatic for a long time, takes practice, since the
old way is on
automatic. Allow yourself to go through the learning curve, which may take a while.
said earlier, beliefs come true because we need consistency between what we believe and reality, and we
will do anything
to create this consistency. We create this consistency in 3 ways.
1) We get attracted to
people and situations that confirm that the belief is true. For instance, you believe no
one will ever really love you,
which causes you to somehow feel a magical attraction to men/women who will
leave, even though consciously you have no
information about this aspect of who they are.
2) We hallucinate that the belief is true
even if it isn't. For example, you interpret behaviors of potential
partners as meaning that they will leave, are leaving,
have left, etc., even if that is not what it really means. In other
words, we put a meaning on whatever happens that
causes it to confirm, in our mind, that the belief is true;
3) We act in such a way that
people finally comply and act in the way we feared they would act. You fear
they will leave, and, because of that fear,
you act in such a way that finally cause the person to actually leave.
With all three, you get to be right about what
you believe. But as they say, it's better to be happy than
Though changing beliefs
can happen in an instant, in most cases the process of changing core beliefs can
take several years to complete. Just
identifying your core beliefs can take some time. Let it be okay that it takes
time. Take it one step and one day at
a time. Meditation with Holosync greatly speeds up this process, because
it helps you become more conscious and aware
of what you are creating, and it takes the emotional charge off
things in your life and allows you to look at things
from a more dispassionate perspective (this is the watcher I
often talk about).
long this process takes, it is worth undertaking. Making this change defines the difference between
being an unconscious
automatic response mechanism, living out beliefs that create suffering, and a conscious
being who chooses what to believe
based on the kind of world they want to live in and creates a life that is happy,
peaceful, full of stimulating creativity,
and well worth living.
You are already an expert at creating what you believe and focus
on. You may have not yet quite come to
terms with the fact that anything you focus on and believe can happen for you.
Most of what we focus on we
did not choose. What we focus on was chosen for us when we were small and it runs on automatic.
This is why
I often refer to most people as being, for the most part, automatic response mechanisms. Now, all you have
do is consciously change that focus to what you want and, since you're already good at getting what you focus
once you learn to consciously direct that focus, you'll start getting what you want.
these unconscious generalizations about yourself have become conscious, and have been changed to
reflect what you consciously
choose for yourself, you are free.
Principle #9: The Principle of the Neutral Universe
There is a Zen story of a great enlightened master who, upon hearing of his own master's death, began to
cry uncontrollably. His followers were shocked to see him cry. "Why are you crying? You're enlightened. You're
to be beyond suffering. What will people think?"
He composed himself as best he could,
and turning to them he said, "What can I do? My eyes are crying.
They are so sad that they will never again see
this teacher I loved so much."
As this story so poignantly points out, sorrow upon
experiencing loss is a normal part of being human -
even if we are an "enlightened" master and supposedly not
subject to desires and attachments and the suffering
they can create. The "Four Noble Truths" of Buddhism point
out that all life involves suffering, that suffering
is caused by desire, or attachment, and that suffering can be ended
by giving up attachment (the fourth Nobel
Truth is the method of doing so).
Nobel Truths are based on an obvious, often overlooked, but fundamental reality of human
existence: all things exist
"in time" and eventually pass away. It's pretty obvious that not getting what you want
(or getting what you
don't want) involves suffering, but it's equally true that getting what you want involves
suffering. Why? Because the
thing you wanted is, like everything else, transitory. This month you're Employee
of the Month, but next month you aren't.
You love playing with your baby daughter, but she will grow up. You
are alive now, but someday you will die.
I vividly remember the first time I experienced this truth. I was four years old and my mother had bought
me an ice cream cone. As I began licking the sweet and creamy ice cream off the top of the cone, I was in heaven.
when I'd eaten about half the ice cream, the realization hit me that this wonderful experience was going to
I certainly enjoyed the rest, the experience was definitely tainted by the fact that I knew the experience
be over. Even in the midst of my pleasure, I suffered.
The fact is, being overly attached
to particular outcomes (like the ice cream cone lasting forever) causes pain
and suffering. And yet, we are trained to
believe that happiness is tied to specific events or, especially in our
culture, to specific things. All around us are
messages that connect positive emotions to things we do and own.
The children playing with this year's hot toys are happy.
The couple standing beside their new car are in love.
The extended family sitting around the dinner table eating canned
pasta sauce are united in their humor and
affection. The women just given the diamond is young and beautiful.
Because we live in a mass culture where meaning is centralized, we are used to having others interpret our
lives for us. We have become passive observers of our own experience, waiting for other people to tell us what it
Outside influences direct our attention to what we should care about and what we should strive for so
often that the
truth of our own power escapes us.
I want to suggest another idea. It's not original with
me. It is basic to the transformational mystical teachings
of most cultures (Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, Zen, Native American,
Sufi, and others). Instead of believing that
there is an absolute value and meaning to reality, a "reality code"
that young people learn to decipher, I want
you to consider an alternative view:
a conscious human being you give your world, and each event that happens, any and all the meaning it has.
There is no
intrinsic meaning to anything. In most cases, we did not consciously choose these meanings we
give to things. Rather,
they were taught to us, according to the conventions of our culture and our family, when
we were too small to know any
better. The great news is that we could consciously choose these meanings if we
wanted to, and that, in fact, is just
what people who are continually happy and peaceful have learned to do.
This means, of course, that you are the creator
of your own reality. In contrast to how you may have been
conditioned to think, you assign meaning and significance (for
most people, based on unconscious programming)
to what happens to you and then, based on that meaning, choose (again,
usually unconsciously) what your
response will be.
This principle has a corollary:
you will be able to make wise and resourceful choices to the extent that you
live consciously rather than unconsciously.
If you have become an automatic response mechanism, unthinkingly
adopting those responses chosen for you by your cultural,
societal, family, and species background, then your
inner journey will be stalled. Your individuality and creativity
will remain stillborn. What is more, you will spend
a lot of time suffering.
the other hand, you are able to wake up and become more aware of what moves and motivates you,
you will see that you
have picked up the paintbrush; you are painting the shapes of your feelings on that blank
canvas. Because you are the
artist and the author, you can paint anything you like. What you are painting is as
ephemeral as anything else in life,
but the lines your draw, the shapes you form, and the colors you choose are
what give your life meaning. While we are
all influenced by the cultural and personal settings in which we live,
some people are able to become independent artists
who can express the dictates of their own heart, and some
become proponents of schools run by others.
The implications of living this way as a conscious being are staggering. Here is one of them: since you create
the world you inhabit, pain and suffering really can be optional. Only when you acknowledge your role in your
- and understand your own power - is there the possibility of improving your situation or creating a different
If you see yourself as a passive character who is acted upon by (and then reacts to) external forces you can
understand nor control, then you become a helpless victim.
Along with this idea of self-agency
comes another one. What is, is. You have some ability to change what
is, but there are real limits to what you can do.
Your power instead comes from how you respond to what is,
not from misguided attempts to control what is. How things
are for you is to a great extent the product of how
you feel about what is happening - and how you feel is the result
of the meaning you have placed on what is
And most of the time, if you are
living with conscious awareness, you will be happy and peaceful because
you have consciously placed a meaning on what
it happening that creates happiness and inner peace.
It is a very interesting exercise to stop whenever you feel other
than happy and peaceful and ask yourself what
meaning you have placed on the people or events that seem to be causing
your suffering, and then to consider
what meaning you could give things that would allow you to be happy. Are you so
attached to a meaning that
causes suffering that you are unwilling to let it go and change it to one that creates happiness
and peace? If so,
that is your choice, but do realize that it is a choice, not something thrust upon you.
This new meaning (the one leading to happiness) is no more real or intrinsic to the situation than the first
meaning (the one leading to suffering). This is, again, because nothing has any intrinsic meaning. But if you're
to place a meaning on what is happening, which would you want, the happiness meaning, or the unhappiness
your choice, though most people don't realize it's a choice.
This whole discussion, and
the idea that you could really choose to be happy and peaceful, may sound very
utopian and unrealistic to you. Becoming
conscious enough to notice when you are suffering, to notice what
meaning you have placed on a situation, and to consciously
change that meaning, does not come easily. Those
who can do this have generally spend years meditating, or pursuing some
other arduous spiritual practice, to
gain this degree of conscious awareness. One of the incredible benefits to the Centerpointe
program is that it
creates this kind of awareness in those who use it, and does so in a relatively short period of time.
offers you a view from a higher spot on the mountain, one allowing you to consciously make new and more
When I first bring up this idea, that nothing has any intrinsic
meaning, people often think I'm saying
life is "meaningless." That's not at all what I'm saying. Whatever meaning
your life has now, you created it,
whether you consciously realize it or not. The people and situations of your life
did not come pre-packaged with
meaning. You placed these meanings on things in your life, based on programming you for
the most part did
not choose. If you're ecstatically happy with your life and the meanings all the things in it have
for you, terrific.
If not, you could give everything in your life any meaning you want, at any time.