Cognitive Emotional Therapy -    Help for your mind when you are feeling a little lost....

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WITH YOU IN MIND

 

It can get pretty scary out there. I mean in life... life out there in the world of other human beings. What with all that never being sure of what's really going on with other people, what to do and what to say and how to fit in. Do you remember any of those early days of school for example; or your first day at work?

Do you ever remember taking on a persona, a smiling face, to face people and the crowd, when you didn't really want to? For many this persona is a sort of idealised self image perhaps based on our favourite characters in films or stories or bits and pieces of other people’s characteristics that we subconsciously adopt chameleon-style in social situations. It’s as if we seek to present a perfect mask with a perfect face to fit with any situation. This mask is designed to protect, guard and embolden our uncertain, sensitive and maybe even fearful self, a self frequently held secretively to the rear of our mind and in shadow. This false persona can lead us into storms, prolonged periods of the doldrums or even into a kind of creeping world weariness, a weariness that doesn’t get better with sleep. This kind of fatigued down-heartedness can all too often take the shine off living, so that no matter how pleasant the day is, when we walk in the countryside, we may not even notice it.

At this moment, as we move down the page together we have a relationship. How this relationship goes is your choice. You are able to influence what actions you take by just deciding. For example you can pause here and think for a while or you can look around the room. You can choose to pick up something else, read a book or listen to music. Alternatively, you can choose to carry on reading. The ‘choices’ you make bring consequences and the amount of choice you have in life seems to be directly related to how well you know your own mind. It’s hard to know who you are it’s difficult to know what you really, really want from the life you are experiencing yourself to be in. Once you become aware of the way in which your mind is persistently trying to make sense of what you’re doing - as it is now - you can begin to get to know its games and quirks, and the tricks it uses to handle feelings of fear, anger and guilt (FAG). But FAG limits and restricts your choices. FAG confines you to a prison made of your own beliefs.

If, for example, something in your mind tells you that you are inferior or disliked or that you are stupid, you are not likely to feel free from feeling awkward and stressed. It’s as if anxiety can take possession of your mind so that you are prevented from using your normal intelligence and you are prevented from knowing the simplest of things like the name of someone you have known for years. For a moment, as you think about the possibility of others thinking that you are stupid, it seems as if your ability to think about other things just freezes up. It’s from areas of your mind that you don’t know, or aren’t friends with, that the hard times and limited choice tend to arise. If you have a “skeleton in a cupboard” of your mind (a part of yourself or your feelings, that you have locked away out of awareness) from time to time the cupboard may open at an inconvenient moment and the skeleton will fall right out. Recognise any of these thoughts?

“What ever got into me.”

“I must have been out of my mind.”

“How could I have done such a thing?”

 “Why does it always happen to me?”

“Why do I do this to myself?”.

 “Why do I never seem to learn?”

These are your mind noticing that it has been on automatic, and behaving as if it had no choice. With your mind on automatic, choice is crowded out by distress, lack of confidence, lack of spontaneity, low self-esteem, jealousy, envy, anxiety, panic, grief, anger, loneliness. . . . . .  and it is lack of choice, quite frequently along with lack of love and understanding, that leads to a profound sense of suffering and ill-feeling. When this painful sense of dis-ease goes on and on day after day, week after week, a cloud of depression can descend, accompanied be a haunting fear there will be no escape. The mind can feel trapped and helpless, lost and without choice.

 

CHANGING YOUR MIND

The good news is that when it comes to perception, human minds always have the capacity for choice. And once your mind is out in the open, you have more of a chance to change it, for you cannot consciously change what you cannot see. Once you get to know the themes and the knots within you mind, once you know of the powerful influencing force of your belief you can begin to free yourself. By learning about yourself you will grow in self knowledge. By growing in self-knowledge you will become more integrated and less fearful. And that’s precisely the purpose of the awareness exercises that you will be asked to do and that are outlined in the section following this one. You will need to work on your awareness in order to increase it, and to provide a vision of the possibilities available to you for changing your mind in the directions you choose. Working on your mind is not easy, and in the initial stages it can sometimes be emotionally painful. This is because working on your mind can involve revisiting trapped or repressed emotions for the purpose of releasing them. Again, it is important for you to know at this very early  stage of your getting to know you that you cannot change what you don’t see. However, rest assured once the early unearthing period of self discovery is over you will continue to learn but your experience of learning will become a happier one.

So hold out, You can do it if you have a mind to !

But first of all you need to develop the important skill of being more aware of:

  • what you’re aware of.
  • what you’re feeling; and why you’re feeling it.
  • what you’re thinking and why you’re thinking it.

Every time you feel a little anxious, or that your head feels a little funny, you’ll need to ask yourself:

  • “What’s happening to me?”
  • “Have I experienced this before?”
  • “To what extent am I causing this by the sort of thoughts that I am having?”
  • What exactly must I be saying about this person or situation to create this feeling?

If necessary you may have to make a contract with yourself so that you insist that you have to write all of these things down before you can take any remedial action. Taking self study seriously is important. It’s the most important thing you can ever do. In order to be free of self ignorance you simply have to get to know you… you need to get to know all about you and how your talk with yourself, in your own mind, from the moment you rise, to the moment you sleep, dictates how you will feel about your life.

In Brief the stages that you have to go through are:

 

Let’s Face It

  • Face up to what’s happening to you.
  • Say to yourself, “What is happening to my body, what can I feel?”.
  • Listen and feel for what is there.
  • Stay with it for at least 30 minutes.
  • Do not try to get rid of the feelings even if they are uncomfortable.

Accept the Symptoms

  • Talk to yourself about the symptoms.
  • Ask yourself questions about their possible cause.
  • Is it your present circumstances?
  • Is it what you are saying to yourself about those circumstances?
  • Take a moment to write down your answers.

Floating.

  • Let these symptoms be.
  • Do not fight them.
  • Practice your relaxation skills.
  • Imagine all you have to do is just get by.
  • Try as best you can to let the symptoms slowly float and drift away.

Let Time Pass.

  • Continue with Floating without doing anything else.
  • Just let time pass. (it may take up to an hour or so).
  • Do not try to stop the feelings.
  • Just let the feelings continue.
  • Accept the feelings.
  • Keep reminding yourself that they will pass if you just hang on for a while.

The Healing Hour.

  • Remind yourself that this is the most difficult stage.
  • Resist the powerful temptation to resort to taking tablets (unless prescribed by your doctor), drinking alcohol, eating a lot of food, or any artificial comforts you have used in the past.
  • Make a pact not to do any of these things for at least an hour.
  • Spend the hour becoming “more aware of what you are aware of”.

Distraction.

  • Using anything that will distract you is acceptable.
  • Play a relaxation tape.
  • Read a book that you are very interested in.
  • Watch an amusing/light-hearted video.
  • Do your awareness exercises again.
  • Do anything that will stop you resorting to your old methods of coping!
 

MIND MUSCLES

 

Once again let me remind you that working on your own mind isn’t easy - and it will change your life. By carrying out the above six stages and becoming more aware you will gradually have a clearer idea of your strengths and weaknesses. Carrying out the above six stages with regular practice of the awareness exercises will be a bit like trying to build mind muscles.

 

By developing your mind ‘muscles’Anchor you will be in a better position to choose a programme of emotional, intuitive, intellectual and sensory gymnastics. But most important of all, you will get to know how to manage your anxiety much more effectively. And for the most part defeating it will entail accepting it and letting time pass. Only in this way will you eventually learn that anxiety is not something that can kill you. It is not nice when you are experiencing it, but it is not disastrous - and it will eventually pass if only you’ll learn to accept it and then let it drift away at it’s own rate without forcing the issue.

So all this is for you and if you are at all curious about:

  1. your own potential
  2. how your mind works
  3. how you came to be the way you are
  4. what you can do about the times when you panic
  5. what you can do about the times you cannot stop eating or drinking

 - then these awareness exercises together with relaxation practice are initial steps on the road to recovery. Thus, if your mind is presently or frequently flooded with distress, or if you feel very fragile and that your nerves could easily shatter, re-read this gently; slowly go through each of the six stages, and gradually let your strength return.

 

THE TIME IS NOW

Always encourage yourself and make a decision right now that you will only deal with each day and each moment that you are living in. You can’t do anything about yesterday, the day before, or the week before, the year before or years ago. You can’t anticipate what will happen tomorrow, next week or in the years to come. For the time being, the most important thing for you is to learn how to survive the present moment. This may seem a very small thing to do but it can make the difference between your mind settling down or going into a spiral of unnecessary panic.

Resolve never to say anything to yourself that a good friend wouldn’t say, in fact, frequently ask yourself the question “What would a good friend say to me at this moment?”. In this way by calmly counselling yourself you may never feel completely alone. Finally, allow yourself sometimes to feel a little downcast, and allow yourself just to get by on the odd occasion. You just have to get through, but you don’t have to be a success. Indeed allow yourself to do poorly sometimes, because only in this way can you learn from your errors and mistakes.

In most situations you will find that this is true, providing you’re not so hard on yourself. All you have to say to yourself is “I cannot fail at the situation, I can only gather more information to help me develop my mind better. Slowly, but surely, the sense of helplessness that frequently attacks you will lose it’s hold over you, and once it starts to slip, never let it regain its power.

 

DECISION POINTS

I imagine that even now you are asking yourself the question “What effect will all this work on myself have?”. Well, I have to admit that, as a result of increasing your awareness, you may sometimes feel sadder, and at other times wiser, than you have ever felt before. But for the most part, you will also come to appreciate that your mind, and everyone else’s, is not a fixed thing that you are stuck with forever, but a process that is susceptible to change, increasing freedom, and perhaps most importantly of all, choice.

In this way, you will become increasingly aware of  important moments where you will have a choice to make. We will call these moments: Decision Points. Get to know them well, saying to yourself when you recognise one: “This is a Decision Point! what are my choices?”. Then weigh up the pro’s and cons (writing them down if necessary), and then finally make your choice on the basis of the guideline “Always choose that option with which you feel most comfortable (or at the very least the choice you feel least uncomfortable withAnchor).  Remember you can never really fail completely after you go ahead with your choice. You can only collect more information for the next Decision Point that you come to. You can only learn more and more from each experience you encounter.

At this present moment you have such a choice. You can either put this down and carry on in the same way that you have been doing for a long time now, or you can be determined to do the awareness exercises that follow. For my part, I hope that you will work very hard at these exercises by doing them regularly. For your part, all you have to do is frequently be prepared to ask yourself the question, “What am I aware of, what am I feeling, what am I thinking, and why?”.

Now I wish you well on this new adventure into your awareness. . .

 

.................... BON VOYAGE!

Exploring Awareness

Talking about awareness (which I’m about to) is much more difficult than experiencing it (which is what you’re doing at the moment). The best way to grasp the idea is to experience it: and I will suggest one or two simple experiments you can try as we proceed, which will enable you to do this. For your convenience (if you have a colour copy) the experiments are coloured blue.

Awareness is a mental process which exists in us as a result of direct or indirect physical contact with our environment. For example: photons are reflected from an object in front of me, and the result is that I am visually aware of a cat sitting on a chair. This kind of awareness, sensory awareness (seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting) is the most fundamental kind, in the sense that all other awareness depends on it.

Take a few moments to use all your senses in exploring your immediate environment. Examine objects carefully using all your senses in turn, and allowing plenty of time for your exploration.

I am also aware of other goings-on in my body: a slight feeling of tension in my forehead, and occasional feelings of anxiety, or nervousness, an itch in my left big toe, the rise and fall of my breathing or my heart beating.  All this is part of my bodily awareness, technically known as “somato-sensory” awareness.

Close your eyes, and pay attention to the bodily feelings and sensations you are presently experiencing. It may help you to start with your feet, and let your awareness move upwards slowly from the souls of your feet to the top of your head or you may be happy just being aware of what ever sensations are drawn to you attention. Take your time: allow yourself to experience and get to know your body and it’s current sensations and whether there are any areas of tension or stress.

A second important area of awareness is that of the thoughts, fantasies, images and memories that frequently pass through your mind. When you think about it these words represent rather odd but very genuine phenomena. Thoughts, fantasies, images, and  memories are not actually physical things but they do exist and they are real to us as an experience. In fact so real are they to us that they determine much of what we do or say. So real are they that we have developed words to represent them. All human beings wherever you find them, genuinely have the capacity to self-reflect and imagine.  We can refer to this as imaginative awareness.

Again closing your eyes if this is helpful, take a few minutes to be aware of this aspect of your present experience by noticing the thoughts and images that pass through your mind.

I would like to introduce you now to a simple, but important mind training exercise, the practice of which is essential to improving your mind’s capacity to calm itself.

Make yourself comfortable, sitting or lying. Then say (to yourself or out loud) the words “Now I am aware....” and complete the sentence with whatever you are aware of at that moment. Repeat this procedure for as long as you like.

To illustrate this, I will record the result of my efforts for just a few seconds:

“Now I am aware of the clock ticking: now I’m aware of the whiteness of the paper in front of me. Now I’m aware of a slight pain in my neck: now I’m aware of thinking I’ve done this for long enough...”

You will find this experiment especially interesting if you tape record your self-report; or have a friend listen to it, and give feedback.

If you have chosen to carry out the experiments, you may have noticed the following important features of your awareness:

(i) that what you are immediately aware of is always here and now. ‘Here’ means within reach of your senses: or presently located in your body or head. ‘Now’ means occurring right at this moment. (Exceptions to this rule are only apparent. For instance, if I remember what I had for lunch yesterday, am I now aware of that bowl of lentil soup? No; I am now directly aware of only a memory image of it; so that my awareness of the actual bowl of soup is thus indirect or only ‘second-hand’).

(ii) that your awareness can be focused and directed. So if I now ask you to: Focus your attention on your right big toe and how it feels right now, you are able to obey this suggestion. Also try to attend to what you are hearing at this moment. When you have done this, recall what you ate for lunch yesterday.

(iii) that not all your awareness is controlled by what you attend to; some of it is ‘imposed’ by your environment or your body. For example: a few minutes ago I heard (and couldn’t help but hear) the door bell ring.

Take a few moments to become self-aware, and notice for yourself the difference between those things you are aware of because you choose to attend to them; and those you cannot help but be aware of.

(iv) that at any given moment your awareness is limited in content. Right now, you are aware of some things; but there are very many things you are not aware of. Thus: you can now see this dot . but at the time you saw the dot you were not aware of the feel of your right big toe.

 

As you practice becoming a better and better student of what your mind is doing and what your mind is aware of (in terms of body sensations, thoughts and feelings etc..) your mind will grow and you will start to feel much safer and in control. Once you have trained sufficiently in helping your mind to be more aware of all the things that were influencing you (outside of your awareness).  You can then get ready to move on to practice the next stage of learning cognitive relaxation. Here you will learn to hush up, or at least quieten, your mind when it gets a little out of hand.

Instead of focusing on what you are actually aware of CR is the practice of doing the opposite of this: i.e. concentrating and distracting your mind so that you can learn to ignore any negative and repetitive thought patterns that may have rooted themselves in your mind, but are unwelcome. In essence awareness training is like progressively trying to “tune in” and CR is about learning to “tune out”. So keep up the awareness exercises until you’ve mastered them.

 

You will find throughout this manual a number of Thought Experiments. These have been carefully designed to assist you in seeing your own habitual thought patterns more easily, and to assist you in identifying what prevents you from experiencing a mind at peace with itself.

These Thought Experiments achieve nothing if you are unwilling to spend a few moments engaging in the exercises,

even if it means having to get up and find a pen,

or some paper,

when you really can’t be bothered,

and would much rather just turn the page and carry on reading.

This manual can only be of benefit to you if you work diligently through it and complete all of the exercises. If you are not prepared to make use of it in this way then please return it, with any comments you wish to make, so that it can be passed on to someone else.

Because you are reading this you probably consider yourself ‘unwell’ in some way – mentally perhaps, physically maybe, or even both – and are looking for a cure, looking for some way to be ‘well’ again.

In order for you to be well again, a change will have to take place. The change will occur in you. For you to be well, there will have to be something different about you. Perhaps you will feel different. Perhaps you will think different. Perhaps you will feel happy, or at peace, or free of pain, or free of emotional anguish. This has to be true, for if there was no difference – you would still be unwell.

Human beings are particularly fond of the familiar, and so often seek to resist change, particularly if they feel insecure and uncertain about their ability to cope with the ‘new’.

Transition Shock is the term used by psychologists to refer to the emotional and behavioural consequences of moving from one state of living to another, in too short a period of time... Under such circumstances, there is a profound sense of mental discomfort, which may for a time lead to a yearning for what they used to have.

Indeed, some people miss the old life-style so much they become depressed and feel driven to return to the familiar life-style at the earliest opportunity. This may even occur when the life-style they had formerly experienced was physically or emotionally painful.

It would seem that for some, the familiar circumstances they know are better than the unfamiliar circumstances that they don’t.

(Remember this is just a game to play in your mind).

If you were guaranteed a cure what would you be prepared to do in order to have it?

For this

Thought Experiment

each of these questions guarantees a cure.

So, in order to become completely well, would you be prepared to:

Yes

No

 

 

 

Change your job?

 

 

Move house?

 

 

Move to another town where you have no friends or relatives?

 

 

Move to another country?

 

 

Change your diet?

 

 

Live on a seriously restricted diet e.g. no Dairy products, or no Wheat products?

 

 

Go on a retreat for a month?

 

 

Go on a retreat for six months?

 

 

Spend two hours each day in meditation?

 

 

Spend four hours each day in meditation?

 

 

Leave your partner?

 

 

Leave your children?

 

 

Change most of your attitudes to yourself?

 

 

Change most of your attitudes to others?

 

 

Stop judging others completely?

 

 

Stop judging yourself completely?

 

 

Stop feeling guilty – no matter what you have done?

 

 

Change your religion? (if you have one) or Take up a religion? (if you don’t have one)

 

 

Give 5% of your earnings to a charity of your choice – for life?

 

 

Give 50% of your earnings to a charity of your choice – for life?

 

 

Spend two hours each day in rigorous exercise?

 

 

Experience a prolonged physical illness in order that you can confront and be free of your fears?

 

 

Become homeless and live on the streets?

 

If you have missed out any answers, then go back and complete all the questions.

We will not be asking you to do any of these things. All we will be asking you to do is to look at the way you think. But consider this, if you have ticked many more ‘no’s’ than ‘yes’s’ in the above table – are you really ready to change the way you are and become well?

You will notice that there are no easy questions in this table. There are no questions that can be given a ‘yes’ without a moment’s thought. This is quite deliberate. But the questions are simply an opportunity for you to look at those things that might be keeping you where you are, an opportunity to consider some things that might be maintaining your ‘unwell-ness’. The questions are designed to invoke a ‘fear’ response.

You have come to us for help and you immediately find yourself being asked questions that, if you take them seriously (and we seriously suggest that you should at least seriously consider them) are quite threatening. Leaving your job, moving to a place where you don’t have any friends, sitting cross-legged on the floor for hours each day… but the important point to remember is that, in this Thought Experiment, doing what the question asks makes you better. So the questions simply provide an opportunity to see how much you value your unwellness. If you have answered ‘no’ to every question then it would seem almost as if you would rather be unwell than to make any effort at all to become better.

But we will leave you to ponder on that one for now.

 

A Thought Experiment

 

A frog, who all his life had never left the little pond he knew, met a friend who (being a bit of an explorer) had been on his holidays to see the Sea. His friend said to him :

“ I’ve been on my holidays to see the Sea and you’d be amazed at how big it is. It was really, really big. In fact you’d never imagine just how really big it is. It was bigger than big, it was “GI…normous”

What you mean it’s even bigger than this pond ? Asked the stay at home frog.

“O much…much bigger”. Said the travelling  frog.

“What you mean as much as twice the size of this pond ?” Said the introverted frog.

“O much much bigger “ Said the travelling frog.

“What even ten times the size of the pond ?!!” Said the small minded frog…

The exploring frog began to realise that getting the “stay at home frog” to imagine the size of the sea would be impossible. So he said: “No the sea is a zillion times the size of this pond, but you’ll have to come with me to ‘see’ it for yourself.

“Oh no !” said the insecure frog. “I’m not moving from this spot. Nothing could possibly be that big.”

This little story demonstrates that we are so confined in our imagination by our actual experiences that we cannot see beyond what we know unless we are prepared to explore the unknown in some way. The difference between what you think you know about yourself and what is actually true about yourself may be compared (for all we know) to the difference between an atom and a Universe of atoms.

Perhaps we can begin that move towards a greater experience of Peace of Mind with the humble recognition that…

we do not know everything there is to know about ourselves.

If you doubt the truth of this you need look no further than your own lack of Peace of Mind.

If you already know everything about you, then why are you seeking help to relieve your suffering?

If we are really honest we do not know ourselves very well at all. Most of the time we do not even know what is about to happen in the next moment. In many ways we are much more like little children than fully knowing adults. Genuinely accepting this primary truth of our unknowing releases us to open up our minds to genuine learning.

This genuine learning involves humbly “listening” for those thoughts and feelings within ourselves that are there to be found, but are often out of our awareness because we are so busy being busy. These hidden thoughts nevertheless affect us, often causing us to feel either good or bad. The bad thoughts stem from negative beliefs about ourselves that have been cast, as if by a spell, into our minds as children. To dis-spell these disabling beliefs we need to look at them, for whilst they lie hidden they continue to influence our actions without our consent. But when they are observed by us and seen for what they are, we are presented with the choice of whether to energise them or not.

So, your freedom from an unthinking slavery to these disruptive thoughts lies simply in your recognition of them.

Of course some of these thoughts we will not want to look at, as they will seem to threaten us -like monsters in a dream… and we will want to run away from them. But to be totally free of our fears we need to be so committed to our search for self-truth that we are prepared to look each mind-monster in the face. When we have the confidence to do this then the monsters of our childhood will start to shrink… eventually becoming no more than memories.

‘Possessed’ by thoughts of others ?

So if you are disturbed it is certain that there are many concerns or beliefs that have possessed you, and so are blocking you from a full appreciation of life. When you are not at peace something is ailing you… and something has clearly gone wrong.  When you are not under any ‘real’ physical threat yet feel threatened, fearful thoughts have rooted themselves, like weeds within your mind, and you feel possessed by your thoughts… rather than in possession of them!

What do we mean possessed by thoughts? This is when we experience thoughts that are disturbing us and preventing us from enjoying life, yet no matter what we do or say we just can’t make them go away…

The vast majority of these disturbing thoughts reflect your preoccupation with what others may be thinking about you. But as you engage in the exercises in this book and look at our ideas and suggestions with an opening mind, you will discover the nature and origin of these habitual concerns and your possessive and self-defeating thoughts will be seen no more.

The essence of this book may be summarised as follows:

  • Put your Heart and Soul into ‘exploring’ all aspects of your thoughts and feelings as they arise.
  • Remain patient, curious and committed to being honest within yourself (even when the going gets a little tough) and learn how to become dispossessed of all unnecessary fear.
  • Dispossessed of all fear you will find Peace.
  • Finding Peace you will eventually find Happiness.

This book provides you with the necessary information (or tools) to help you find the peace/happiness you seek. Our main tool will be that of honest or truthful self-study or self-reflection. However, at the start we will need to look in closer detail at what it can be like for us when we feel disturbed and unhappy.

 

Cognitive Relaxation - 1

I will assume that you are reading this text because you feel a need for greater Peace of Mind in your day to day life. This may well be because of a trauma of some kind. It probably won't seem like it to you, but in a strange sort of way this has done you good service. It has brought you to a place in your life where you can discover genuine, sustainable peace.

I imagine you are asking how you can gain peace and maintain it, as you feel the world is so traumatic. The answer is by learning to look at your own mind, as honestly as you can, and studying how you understand your world and yourself in relation to it.

As a means to that end, Cognitive Relaxation is a method by which you can quieten the disturbing thoughts that are upsetting you, and come to see what else is going on in your mind. By learning to relax your body and shift the focus of your mental energies, looking away from the immediate, away from the voice of fear; you can learn to question any beliefs that cause discomfort, and ultimately undo them.

YEAH! BUT HOW DO I DO IT?

There are several methods.

To begin with:-

1. Find a quiet ten minutes when you are confident you won't be disturbed.

2. Find somewhere comfortable where you can sit or lie down, whichever you prefer.

3. Set some kind of alarm to tell you when your time is up.

4. At this point you can try one of several different methods. In each case the idea is to try and occupy your mind in a peaceful, untroubling, undisturbing way. You commit yourself to watching your mind and doing your best to ignore negative thoughts. Every time a disturbing thought comes to mind, and you recognise that you have strayed from your intended course, you make a conscious effort to re-focus your mind.

5. This list is by no means all inclusive, but the following are all possible distractions for your mind during Cognitive Relaxation (CR).

a) Close your eyes, focus some attention on the feeling of the air passing in and out of your nose or mouth, and repeat the phrase "Let go," in your mind, over and over again. The word LET, can accompany breathing in, the word GO, can accompany breathing out. Try to agree to only be aware of your breathing, and if any thoughts do come in, you can gently remind yourself that you have committed yourself to spending 10 minutes listening to nothing else but your breathing.

DO NOT worry if you find yourself straying off course and listening to different thoughts. Instead, whenever you notice that you have strayed, gently remind yourself to focus on your breathing again. When your 10 minutes are up, if you can remember them, note down any insistent thoughts that you were aware of as standing out in any way. Then, when you see your Cognitive Therapy Facilitator you can mention these thoughts to him/her. Of course, you only mention these thoughts if you feel comfortable in doing so.

b) Count from one to four in your mind, as follows:

One: I feel calm and relaxed. Two: I am still calm and still relaxed. Three: I feel really calm and really relaxed. Four: I feel totally calm and totally relaxed.”

A slow count works best. Do not be put off by the fact that part of your mind at least will feel these statements are completely untrue. The more you say it, the more true it will become. As above, you may find your concentration straying, if so simply remind yourself of your agreement to focus on a slow count. All the time, be aware of the feelings you are getting from your body and mind. This method works by producing a feeling of calmness, detachment, relaxation and warmth. You may well feel as if your entire body is warm, and this is precisely what you want.

c) Listen to a favourite piece of music, one that makes you feel happy and/or peaceful, and focus as much of your attention as you can on that. As with the last two, anytime you find yourself straying, you need only gently remind yourself of your agreed task of listening to the music.

d) Light a candle, place it at a comfortable distance from you, and concentrate on the flame. Watch how it flickers in the slightest breath of air. Notice the colours in the flame, and the smoke curling away. Become absorbed by it and whenever you realise your attention has wandered then gently bring it back to the warm and lively flame.

e) Simply close your eyes and allow your attention to become centred upon the sounds that are registering with you. As you focus upon your sense of hearing the sounds will become louder and you will notice an awareness of subtleties of sound that were unavailable to you a few moments previously - the sounds of traffic, of birds, refrigerators, clocks, wind, rain and so on. As you become more absorbed in this task the sounds will appear to grow in volume. Allow them to do so and stay with them until your task is completed.  

 

PERSEVERANCE IS THE KEY

To really benefit from CR, to aid the growth of your inner calmness, you need to make it part of every day. If you commit yourself to 2 or more sessions of 10 minutes a day, AND DO IT, the results can be tremendous.

If that much commitment and perseverance seems beyond you right now, that's fine. Do as much or as little as you can. If you keep an open mind toward doing CR in future, you may well come to it later on.

AND FINALLY

I very much hope you can find the time and the ability to pursue CR, as I am convinced of its ability to aid your search for inner calmness. From personal experience I know of the help it gave me. However, if you cannot take to it, DO NOT WORRY. Many people have found inner calmness without CR. It is a useful aid, but not essential.

 
 Thought Experiment


 (Please ask your Facilitator for a copy of the Necker Cube picture as it is not printable on website)

 

 
 

 

 

 

  1. Spend a few moments looking at this shape.
  2. Notice how sometimes one face of the cube seems to be at the front, and at other times another face seems to be at the front.
  3. What causes the change to occur?
  4. Can you make it happen deliberately?
  5. Can you hold one face at the front?

 

Now, you are reading this in order to discover how to find and maintain inner calmness, and you are asked to play a game – a game you may even have encountered before. So, first of all, notice how troubled you were by your problems during those few moments you were playing the game. If you don’t remember then play the game again.

Then I want you to look again at the cube, notice how the front face can shift, and then become aware that what looks like a cube, what your mind is seeing as a three- dimensional cube, is actually a few lines drawn on a flat piece of paper. Even the perspective isn’t accurate – but the mind sees those lines, recognises the shape they represent, and sees what isn’t actually there.

And those switching front and back faces of this imagined cube demonstrate the ability your mind has to look at the same object in different ways. The lines on the page never change, but what you see does – and so you can see that your mind has the ability to look at things in more than one way. Yet it is the belief that you can see quite clearly what is happening in your life and the lives and circumstances of others around you that often causes the lack of calmness that you experience. With the help of this book you will learn that there is always another way of looking at an event, a circumstance, or a situation that is troubling you, and as you discover different ways of looking you will experience a greater sense of calmness.

Please fill in your homework after brief consultation with your Cognitive Therapy  Facilitator about the details. You may then go through your answers in the follow-up session.

 

Self-Assessment Exercise

 

1. In your own terms what do you think your core problem is ?

(Note: please do not simply put anxiety, depression or panic….try instead to say what this feels like  and also what it is that you are anxious, depressed or panicky about).

 

 

 

2. If you were to change in such a way that you no longer had this problem what would be the costs and what would be the benefits to you ?

Make a list of these and rate importance of each (on a scale of 0 - 10).

 

Costs                                                          Benefits

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  Can you think of any costs/benefits there might be for you to keep having your problem?

Please list these below as honestly as you can and rate their importance (Scale of  0 - 10).

Costs                                                            Benefits

 

4. Are you really sure you want to change and be without your main problem ? 

 

Score how sure you are on the scale of  -10 to +10.

 

 -10  -9  -8  -7  -6  -5  -4  -3  -2  -1  0  +1  +2  +3  +4  +5  +6  +7  +8  +9  +10   

Totally against                                                                                                                        Totally committed

change                                                                                                                                      to change                                         

 

5. Do you have another core problem?

If you do please repeat questions 1-4 above and write your answers on a separate sheet.

 

 

6. Now, if you have at least two main problems, which do you think is the most important and why ?

 

 

 

 

7 . Are your two main problems connected in any way ?

If so write down in what way(s) you think they are connected

 

 

Date

Emotion

Event

Fear-Inducing Thought

Calmness-Inducing  View

 

12/2/98

 

Anxiety

 

AH Group Meeting

 

What if they ask me a question

1. What if they don’t ask me a question

2. I could say ‘Rain-Check’

 

15/2/98

Sadness/

rejection/

hurt

Someone I usually chat to ignored me today

They don’t like me and they only talked to me because they couldn’t avoid me

1. They had their mind on something and didn’t notice me

2. They were in a hurry

 

16/2/98

 

Guilt

Debbie asked me to pick her up this afternoon. I said no I’m busy

 

I’ve been selfish. I could have put off what I was doing.

I’m important too and

I can only be me - doing what I’m doing.

 

18/2/98

 

Anger

I asked Debbie to pick me up this morning. She said no she’s busy

She’s selfish. I always help her out and now I’m stuck and can’t get out.

1. Here’s a  chance for me to get some exercise

2. It must be something really important to her

THOUGHT DIARY

 

 

Date

Emotion

Event

Fear-Inducing Thought

Calmness-Inducing  View

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A very useful way of recovering your personal history is to draw a Life-Chart that represents the whole of your life from birth to the present day.

 

An example of such a chart is illustrated below.

A blank chart is also provided for you to complete.

It is not necessary for an entry to be made against every year,

Just record events that are of extreme and significance to you.

 

If you are older than 39, then feel free to continue on the back of the sheet.

 

Life Chart - Version: 1.2

 

Age

 

What Happened

0

Þ

 Born                 

Þ

                          

3  

Þ

Sister (Julie) born

4  

Þ

Granddad dies          } Father’s side

5  

Þ

                                    }

6  

Þ

Grandmother dies      }   Mother's Side

7  

Þ

Moved, house, New school, Wet bed

8  

Þ

Dad moves out, Mum always crying

9  

Þ

 

10

Þ

 

11

Þ

 Go to Secondary School (have fight on first day)

12

Þ

 

13

Þ

Put into higher class(very upset, Can’t cope, Put back down) )again)

14

Þ

 

15

Þ

 

16

Þ

Take exams, Too anxious, Do poorly, Feel let mother down

17

Þ

 

18

Þ

Start work in Sports Shop (Unfortunate incident ) Manager)

19

Þ

Leave work to take on FT College course

20

Þ

 

21

Þ

 

22

Þ

Pass 4 out of 6 exams

23

Þ

Meet first real girlfriend (Sexual relationship)

24

Þ

Mother becomes ill (Heart problems, Very upset)

25

Þ

Grandmother (on Mum’s side) dies, very upset

26

Þ

Have panic attacks daily

27

Þ

 

28

Þ

 

29

Þ

Meet wife to be (Christine)

30

Þ

Mother dies (Very, very upset)

31

Þ

Panic attacks again

32

Þ

 

33

Þ

Gemma born

34

Þ

Made redundant

35

Þ

Unemployed, 1. Visit doctor, depression

36

Þ

 

37

Þ

 

38

Þ

 

39

Þ

 

 

 

Blank Sheet

Age

 

             What Happened

0

 

 

 

                          

3  

 

 

4  

 

 

5  

 

 

6  

 

 

7  

 

 

8  

 

 

9  

 

 

10

 

 

11

 

 

12

 

 

13

 

 

14

 

 

15

 

 

16

 

 

17

 

 

18

 

 

19

 

 

20

 

 

21

 

 

22

 

 

23

 

 

24

 

 

25

 

 

26

 

 

27

 

 

28

 

 

29

 

 

30

 

 

31

 

 

32

 

 

33

 

 

34

 

 

35

 

 

36

 

 

37

 

 

38

 

 

39

 

 

 

               Part 1

 

OK. Let’s get this straight right at the very beginning - Cognitive Relaxation is not about relaxation, at least not in the way you normally think about relaxation exercises. It’s not about trying to relax your body. No, in fact it’s more like taking a medicine you don’t like very much... but one you need in order to affect a cure for an otherwise persistent illness. Once the persistent illness is cured, there is no longer any need for the distasteful medicine... But while the illness remains, the medicine is necessary.

          

Now, in your case, the illness in question is your ‘intoxication’ with certain thoughts or beliefs. These ‘toxic’ beliefs are poisonous to you because they do not always accurately represent reality. They  provide only a poor map (or blueprint) which does not allow you to navigate either smoothly... or painlessly, through your world.

 

These thoughts and beliefs have either been ‘taught’ to you in the early years of your life, or you have ‘acquired’ them as a result of your own experiences.

 

 

The various beliefs that have been ‘taught’ to you have had to do with right and wrong, or what is culturally acceptable - as opposed to unacceptable - behaviour. You have also been taught about the nature of good and evil, and about what sort of behaviour is damnable... or unforgivable. These thoughts have been toxic (or ‘poisonous’) to you because by ‘speaking’ to you constantly of guilt and fear, they have prevented you from becoming aware of your own “True thoughts” (or perhaps more correctly, from knowing your own Mind). In other words... the voice of guilt and doubt has led you to hide your Real Nature from yourself (and others), and your True Desires have become essentially unknown to you. Indeed, the thoughts of others, about how you “should” or “shouldn’t” behave, have prevented you from BEing REALly  aLIVE to who you are IN TRUTH.                                        

 

These ‘taught’ beliefs have obviously been toxic to you because they have led you to feel frightened about being yourself, and so, in the presence of other human beings, you have become unnecessarily plagued with all sorts of social pressures and irrational fears. Instead of becoming more and more calm, and, therefore, more and more at home with yourself... you have been experiencing considerable ill-feeling and considerable background or ‘mental’ tension. In addition to this sense of “dividedness” you have always felt the need to change yourself for the better in some way or other. You have never completely accepted who You really are... because you have always been led to believe that you “should” be someone better than or more perfect than the person you have become...

        

This, of course, is an absurd belief because you can never be anyone else other than who you areAnchor, so that you are already doing what you are capable of doing. Thus, for example, at this particular moment in time you can only be you..., doing what you are doing, and thinking what you are thinking. This is because what you currently know and what you currently experience is limited and therefore, from moment to moment, you are always incapable of doing anything else other than what you end up doing! That is, until you know how to be different and you want to be different!

 

How is it possible

in any particular second

for you to be anyone else...

 or anyone other than...

WHO YOU ARE

in the moment that you are experiencing yourself.

       

This of course is not to say that you can’t improve the way you think and the way you act. But, until you learn how to do this, you cannot do better than you are doing... and so... there can be no call for the self-destructive emotions of guilt and self doubt. You see, it is inevitable that from time to time you will make mistakes... But it is not inevitable that you should feel guilty about the mistakes you make. Seen correctly a mistake is simply an opportunity to learn.

 

What you need to understand right now is that :-

 

It is your pre-programmed thinking that leads you to believe that you should be doing better than you are doing.

 

It is your early conditioning that has led you to believe you are inadequate and that because of this you are a failure in some way.

 

If a child adds 2+2 and gets 5, this is not a terrible disaster for which he should feel guilty for the rest of his life. It is a simple mistake through which he can (with careful, loving guidance) find the right answer. Likewise you need to become aware of the mistaken beliefs that you have held, in order to (gently) correct them.

As for the beliefs that you have acquired or taught yourself, these have resulted from your own past experiences, normally of pain (emotional or physical), and the corresponding action that your subconscious mind took in order to ensure that similar experiences of pain would be avoided in the future.

 

Some of these defensive beliefs have been quite balanced, and quite appropriate to your current circumstances... Others have been excessive... or ‘superfluous’.

 

It is these superfluous and self destructive beliefs that you need (to learn) to let go of... You need to let go of them because they are no longer relevant to your current circumstances.

 

But whatever the particular nature and history of your own toxic beliefs, one thing is certain: they are present with you right now... somewhere outside of your direct awareness... waiting... waiting to be reactivated... reactivated in the form of fearful thoughts and doubts. Doubts about the past... and the future... or about guilt and sin... loss and punishment... Or they are waiting to be reactivated as fears... fears about sickness and ill-health... loneliness and rejection... condemnation and reproof.

 

These fearful thoughts and doubts lie silently at the back of your mind, secretly watching and waiting... constantly guarding... guarding against any possibility of your ever re-experiencing those long forgotten childhood traumas... Guarding against those times when you felt emotional pain so deeply. Guarding you from ever being caught again, in the loneliness and confusion of childhood.

 

Now, this is not to say that all the things you have learned are wrong. The problem is  rather more to do with the fact that much of your current self-condemnation, and your current hostility towards others, has been the result of your past pre-programmed beliefs and expectations. Such beliefs have made you fearful and somewhat rigid in the way you see the world. As a result you have lost your most valuable asset. You have lost the childlike capacity to be honest... honest and open minded, without fearing  condemnation. And now, when there are times that you don’t know what to do, or you don’t understand, you are frightened to admit to this! Because you have ‘become’ an “adult” you think that to be unsure is to have failed in some way... And so you no longer receive the answer to your questions because you do not ask.

In fact ...

 

You have lost your childlike capacity to be genuinely and freely CURIOUS.

You have lost the capacity to be constantly fascinated by everyone and everything.......

and You have lost the simplistic sense of Joy that accompanies this.

 

In the place of your naive childhood curiosity there has developed a sort of socially induced trance, whereby everyone and everything has been defined for you... by other people. It is a trance that you don’t even know about... because you are always right in the middle of it !

The so-called defensive or self-protective aspects of your thoughts (in saving you from your childhood hurts), therefore, have never REALly brought you any enduring sense of Calmness. For they have been instilled in you at the cost of your childlike Innocence. And you are no longer in Awe of the World because these thoughts of fear and condemnation have regularly disturbed your calmness, often quite unnecessarily, by perceiving danger where danger no longer exists... and by seeing a form of evil in the behaviour of others (or yourself) that would be better understood as stemming from their own particular form of limited, or fear-based, thinking. That is to say their mistaken behaviour has also arisen out of their own particular form of ignorance and lack of Self-Understanding.

But the ignorance of others is not a matter for you to concern yourself with, instead your most sensible aim is to:

ensure that you no longer act out of your ignorance...

either with regard to yourself, or with regard to others...

and that you learn to correct your own errors of thinking !

For while you continue to see the world only through the ‘spectacles’ of your own past, and the beliefs it formed in you, you will always have a somewhat jaundiced (pre-programmed, and, therefore, prejudiced) view of everything. An inevitable Consequence of this will be that you will always see only a poor (limited, or muddied) reflection of the Whole Truth. You will see only a tiny part of the experiences in life that Are Available to you. And if you continue to see the world in this way, always believing what you see to be the only truth there is, you will always remain prone to frequent attacks of unnecessary anxiety, and anger... and eventually depression. Why? Because you will always be confronted with others who see things differently from the way you are seeing  things, and they too will require of the world that its belief map conforms to theirs. So don’t be so arrogant in your judgements, and be prepared to be a little less hard in your certainty about your own particular view.... there may well be much more for you to experience in life than you think......! You can rest assured that to be more open in this way is very much in your own best interest.

Therefore, note well:

Correcting your mistakes means being open to the correction of your own mistaken judgements... and not the faulty judgements of others...

...And that the mistakes that need to be corrected are those thoughts (judgements) that can be shown to be hazardous to your own peace of mind.

It is your own Peace of Mind that is THE single most important thing to you....... and others.

For if you cannot live in peace with yourself,

as surely as the night follows the day,

you will not be able to live in peace with any other woman or man.

And so if you are going to restore your own peace of mind, you will need to know something of the nature of the thoughts that disturb you... and also a way of dealing with them. For the sake of convenience we will refer to these frequently self-attacking and sometimes “soul-destroying” thoughts that always accompany negative judgements (either about yourself or others),  as the dis-ease-ing thoughts of the “ego mind”.

This  concept of the pre-programmed ego mind is such an important one to understand that the following section will summarise some of its more noticeable features. We will then go on to talk about how the discipline of Cognitive Relaxation can help you be rid of the ego’s disturbing influence.... And don’t worry, without the ego you will not cease to exist... You will still continue to experience life in a responsible and response ABLE way.


 

The term ego is used to refer to your ‘conditioned’ sense of self. That is, much of your thinking was conditioned or ‘pre-programmed’ into you as a result of your childhood learning experiences. When such predetermined thinking (i.e. your early programming) remains unrecognised it is frequently left unquestioned and, therefore, unchecked... or unrestrained. In this way the ego mind is left to determine for you your current reactions to everyone and everything. Correctly understood, what this process means is that for most of the time you are not really living in the ‘present’. Instead, your mind is regularly resorting to early learning experiences in order to make sense out of the present ones. When this is done automatically, without your even being aware of it, you might say that you have become entrapped by an old, and even archaic, system of thinking. Such a system of thinking has been passed on to you (at least in part) by your parents... and to your parents by their parents.

It is convenient to refer to this ‘knock-on’ and backward looking system of thinking as the “ego mind”. Your own peculiar brand of ego-type thoughts are frequently experienced by you (in your mind) as if they belong to you... or even as if they are you!

 

As already indicated, this intricate web of fearful thoughts and beliefs, known collectively as the ego mind, has arisen both as a result of your early attempts to defend yourself against the disapproval of significant adults (who were ‘responsible’ at that time for your education); as well as from your attempts to avoid re-experiencing painful childhood memories.

 

Like a well regimented army, your ego thoughts may be extremely resistant to change, and at times even completely inflexible. Considerable determination therefore is necessary in order to loosen these fixed fear-associations.

 

Only through a genuine commitment of intention, will you be able to “trust into” seeing things differently from the way you see things now. Only through such consistent openness of mind will you learn that so much defence is no longer relevant to your adult life. Becoming aware of... and then giving up your unconscious mind’s pre-occupation with thoughts of fear and attack may be a lengthy process... but it is nevertheless a necessary one if your aim is to live more peacefully, and more creatively with both yourself... and others in your life.

 

Cognitive Relaxation is a significant step in the releasing process engendered by such a determined aim.

 
 

“The  ego mind is full of thoughts of doubt and danger... thoughts of guilt and accusation... malice and attack!”

 

Cognitive Relaxation (CR) is a procedure whereby you learn to free yourself from your slavery to ego based thoughts and fears. By increasingly learning to ignore, and give up such self-disruptive thoughts, eventually you can  learn to reinstate greater choice in your life. Thus, CR is more like a discipline whereby you undergo a degree of discomfort in the short term in order to benefit in the longer term, by virtue of an increasing sense of freedom from your over-reactive and frequently fearful ego mind. Once the skill of CR (perhaps more correctly referred to as “Thought Releasing”) has been acquired, the discipline involved in the training period will no longer be necessary... unless of course the illness (i.e. your excessive preoccupation with the suggestions of your ego) once again returns...!

Another way it might help you to think about this is to imagine that your mind is a deep pool of crystal clear water which someone has contaminated by tipping polluted waste (i.e. ego type thoughts) into it. Now, if both the clarity of your ‘vision’, and the creative potential of your imagination were both directly related to the purity of this “mind-pool” then it would be necessary for you to clean the pool out... and in order to ensure its purity you might need to empty out all the water again and again, and again and again, in order to sieve out all the impurities. Obviously, such a procedure could be expected to take some time and would, therefore, require considerable patience.

Cognitive Relaxation is one method for accomplishing this sieving process. Initially all of your thoughts (both peaceful and fearful) are run through it, but in the end... almost without you knowing it... only peaceful, creative thoughts remain.

 

Essentially there are four main reasons why you should commit yourself to a trial practise, and then persevere with CR:

  1.  improve through prior practice your ability to ignore fearful and self-disruptive thoughts, thereby  improving the quality (peacefulness) of your day to day experiences.
  2. To increase your capacity to be aware of the thoughts of the ego as they pass through your mind. That is, by learning to progressively ignore the thoughts of the ego you will initially find that this, somewhat paradoxically, will make you more aware of them. This is an important stage to go through as it is important for you to know what sort of things you have been silently saying to yourself at the back of your mind. What has been hidden from yourself needs to be brought into the light of your own conscious awareness. 
  3. To demonstrate to yourself through direct experience that, contrary to your previous expectations, when you do actually start to ignore these thoughts nothing disastrous actually happens, and that you continue to experience yourself as a fully conscious living BEing. When you learn to release your ego thoughts you will learn that you do not disappear or become a non-entity... Instead you will find that many of the preoccupation’s that  previously had ‘dogged’ your mind will have shrunken to more manageable proportions... so that increasingly you will begin to develop a clearer idea of what to do, and how best to think about a situation in order to remain peaceful.
  4. Finally, to help you discover your Intuition as a more effective and more peaceful source of guidance for your behaviour than the ‘voice’ of guilt and fear (i.e. rather than the ‘voice’ of the pre-programmed/pre-conditioned “ego” mind).

 

If you follow through on your CR practice sessions you will eventually find yourself more and more in contact with a calmer and clearer ‘voice’ within you. At such times you will be able to say that you have become more “centred” or “clear” in your thinking. When you have achieved this centredness you will recognise that you have found a special “place of peace” in your Mind where you will be able to tune in more easily to your Intuition or the ‘voice’ of your inner Wisdom.

 

Getting in touch with your Intuition will enable you to learn that your ‘real’ self is not as bad as your ego mind would have you think. Learning to be led more by the non-judgmental and loving voice of your Intuition in this way will free you from acting so much out of guilt (and frustration), and will eventually enable you to do more (both for yourself and others) out of a genuine and heart-felt sense of interest and curiosity.

 

Enough has been said about why you should be prepared to commit yourself whole-heatedly to a trial practise. What you now need to know about is what is actually involved.

 

Part 2

 

Imagine yourself as the planet Earth. You have a very turbulent atmosphere, with clouds and haze that prevent you from seeing clearly. There are violent storms that wreak havoc. If you focus, or centre, your attention into this turbulent confusion, then you will seem to be Being tossed about and hurt and you will become confused. Withdraw, or re-focus, your attention closer to the centre of yourself (planet Earth) and you leave behind the turbulence. Life becomes calmer away from the surface and you start to realise that the storms have purpose, that rain and heat are appropriate, and that though the atmosphere’s turbulence is there for good reason - you don’t have to sit in the middle of it. You are able to withdraw the focus of your attention from it and observe it from a distance. It is only as a distant observer that you can experience clarity. While you are a part of the storm, there is only pain and uncertainty.

 

Centring yourself involves withdrawing your attention from the turbulence of your ‘surface’ thoughts, in order to stop your Being “dis-eased” by ego thoughts. In general terms “Centring your Self” involves your conscious choice to ‘quieten’ your mind,  so that it is no longer trying, from moment to moment, to solve problems... so that it is no longer in a state of constant tension because of ‘unREASONable’ demands placed upon it... by the ego !

 

Initially then,

Cognitive Relaxation

is about your spending

10 minutes

(twice daily)

engaged in

this

process

of

CENTRING’.

 

In order to help your mind along this path towards ego release, Cognitive Relaxation uses a simple distraction or ‘anchoring’ technique whereby you choose to focus on something simple, such as your breathing, in order to take your attention away from a preoccupation with anything else more complicated or disturbing. In one sense, therefore, it is true to say that CR aims to trick the ever-active ego mind into increasing inactivity through a conscious (and somewhat determined) decision to attend to something else, at least for the duration of the practice session. Thus, by refusing, with some conviction, to listen to the incessant ego chatter which goes on in the back of your mind, eventually you will learn to ignore this guilt and fear based system of thinking. You will learn to listen more easily to the peaceful or more intuitive source of guidance we are calling your “Intuition”. Thus, whenever you experience situations that seem to overwhelm you, if you have practised CR sufficiently, you will be able to quickly centre yourself and distract yourself from the disruptive thoughts of your ego. Then you will find that you will be able to relate to the situation more peacefully and with greater clarity.

So, note well, that your Intuition is a Friend that Lovingly Understands you, can see the Greater picture, and always knows more than you about what is the most appropriate way to look at and eventually handle any situation that concerns you. Guilt comes from your ego mind, is judgmental and nearly always Undermining. Guilt may lead to you changing your behaviour in the short term, but it rarely leads to a Genuine change in Your Mind.

Has guilt been your guide?

You feel guilty - so you know you have done something wrong. Is this guilty feeling what dictates your course of action through life? In truth, guilt is something you are taught. It is not a built-in guidance system to right and wrong. Do your life-teachers not expect you to feel bad when you do wrong in their eyes. ‘You ought to be ashamed of yourself’ - how many readers, I wonder, have not heard this idea expressed.

If you are in pain, and guilt is your ‘guide’ to right and wrong - then consider the possibility of a ‘guide’ that allows you to be you, free of pain, and free of the fear of being seen as ‘at fault’ in the eyes of another. If you would like such a ‘guide’ then you need to learn how to listen to your Intuition. The way to do this is to learn and to practise CR.

What then, in practical terms, does Cognitive Relaxation involve..?

 

In brief CR involves BEing aware of, tuning in to, or simply listening to your breathing  while at the same time you repeat the words “LET GO”, silently in your mind. Every time you breathe in, you think “let” and then when you breathe out you think “go”. As much as possible your aim is to focus your attention on these two things only: your breathing and the words “let go”. These two things, therefore, will temporarily represent a deliberately chosen ‘resting’ point for your mind that you can refer to as your “Centre”. As you continue to Centre yourself  in this way, your aim will be to release any thoughts that distract you from attending to your breathing and the words “let” and “go”. That is to say, as you notice all sorts of thoughts starting to form in your mind which are unrelated to your chosen mental ‘focus’, you consciously CHOOSE to IGNORE these thoughts by repeatedly coming back to the sensations of your breathing around the bridge of your nose and to the instruction to yourself to “let go” of any  thoughts that may materialise that are unrelated to this process.

But rest assured that you will not need to worry about the fact that more thoughts keep coming in to your mind, because the constant re-generation of thoughts is something that is bound to occur... at least at the beginning, and perhaps for some time to come....... The point is merely to repeatedly demonstrate to yourself that you are in charge of your thoughts... and that your thoughts are not in charge of you. In time you will learn, through constant repetition and practice, that if you do not want to think certain thoughts you can ignore them by choosing to attend to something else.

But this is clearly a learned ability that improves the more you actually choose to take the time to practice your authority over thoughts. So whatever you do, don’t fight with your thoughts, because at the end of the day you will eventually triumph and you will see that you are the thinker and that you are the one that chooses what to think.

Therefore, be warned!  Fighting unwanted thoughts is not a good idea!  Such an approach will serve only to drag you more into the ego’s world, where your fears will only grow in significance! Instead you need to learn how to IGNORE them...........

For the time being however, simply be prepared to notice your thoughts as they come up during the session and then remember your agreement with yourself to release them by ‘HOME-ing in’ again on your breathing.

In general terms your aim will be twofold :-

a) make a point of noticing whenever you have strayed from your Centre (i.e. when you have started to think about something unrelated  to your breathing or unrelated to your self-instruction to let go of your thoughts).

b) make the conscious choice to return immediately to your Centre by letting go of any distracting thoughts, and by concentrating once again on your breathing and the repeated self -instruction to “Let Go”.

If you experience any problems with this technique then bring them to the attention of your Cognitive Therapy FacilitatorAnchor.

The whole process, in one sense, is quite simple. In practise however, you will initially find that maintaining your centre will be quite difficult. So to help you I have outlined the step-by-step instructions for Centring below. For the time being the important thing is to get a grasp of the basic idea, without getting too complicated. Later on, in the sections that are to follow I will go on to describe some of the preparations that might help you to get more out of your CR practice sessions. I will also draw your attention to some of the more commonly experienced problems with CR and some possible ways of overcoming them. Again, however, it is important for you to understand that these so called instructions are only provided to  assist you if you think that you need assistance with motivating and disciplining yourself.

If, however, you feel that you can get on with spending a few minutes or so each day, learning to Centre your mind without too much trouble, then ignore all the tasks outlined below and simply do it in your own way and in your own time.

But for now just try experimenting with the following step-by-step instructions :-

1. Draw your attention to your breathing...

2. Breath in and out slowly, fairly deeply and repeatedly...

3. Become aware of the sensation, the feeling, of the air as it flows over the lining of your nostrils. Move your attention into that sensation to whatever extent you can. Become aware of the coolness of the air on the way in and its warmth on the way out. Notice how a quiet breath is more difficult to feel on the way out. Listen to the sound the air makes, as it travels through your nose, both in and out...in and out...Do this four or five times. Over this time try to develop an awareness of BEing ‘present’ with yourself. Focus on the sensation of air as it enters and exits your nose and be mindful of the life to be found in each breath... and the accompanying sense of being a living, thinking BEING...

4. If you wish, say to yourself in your mind very gently, very softly and very quietly “let....go”. Do this by saying “ l-e-t “ every time you breathe in, and “g-o” every time you breathe out. Think  “l-e-t” and then “g-o” at a measured and even pace with every cycle of breath, first in and then out respectively. Do this a number of times in order to get the feel of it...

5. When you say “let go” to yourself, if you notice that your thoughts have strayed from your chosen focus of attention (i.e. from your breathing and the words “let go”) try to actually draw your attention back to your Centre, so that you make a conscious choice to take your mind away from any other thinking that may be going on.

Don’t worry if you find that your thoughts keep straying away from your chosen focus.

Just be prepared to make a conscious choice to ignore these thoughts as soon as you become aware that you have been thinking them. Try to be firm with yourself and repeatedly draw your attention back to your breathing and your commitment to “let go” of everything...

 

TASK

 

Take a moment now and try it for yourself...

Try to practice the whole process for three or four minutes to see how it feels...

 Do not read on until you have spent at least 2 minutes practising...

In essence all that is required of you is to try and focus on the sensation of air passing the bridge of your nose, while at the same time calmly suggesting to yourself to let go of any thoughts.

 

Chapter 4

 

Further clarification

 

As I explained earlier, this conscious choice to place your breathing at the centre of your attention will eventually allow your Mind an alternative point of concentration that will, with practice, enable you to distract yourself from the otherwise continuous, non- stop and turbulent flow of undisciplined thinking. Throughout your CR practice session your agreed aim is to CentreAnchor yourself as much as you can by focussing your attention on your breathing and repeating the instruction to your ‘self’ to let all conscious thoughts go.

You are doing this in order to learn that YOU are the master of your thoughts and that your thoughts are not the master of you. Thus, your aim is to utilise your breathing as a sort of “homing beacon” which will allow your mind an alternative place to ‘gather’ itself in peace. Therefore, whenever you notice that your thoughts have strayed from this pre-arranged focus, you should try to home in again on your Centre... by once more  drawing your awareness in and away from any ‘illegitimate’ thinking. So, when you first notice that you are thinking about something else, don’t make a big fuss about it... simply return peacefully to letting go by tuning in once more... allowing the sensation of air... as it passes through your nose and into your lungs... to fill your mind completely....

Try practising CR for the next three days. Do it for a full 10 minutes... once in the morning and once in the evening. Make a proper commitment to yourself and set your watch or some other timing device to ensure that you know when the 10 minutes are up!

Just before you go...

If practised sincerely and regularly, CR will help you to develop the skill of Centring your mind at will. Once you have learned to do this you will be less tied to the over-reactive thoughts of your ego mind. Instead, when you are confronted with difficult situations (at home or at work) in which your thoughts might normally be automatic, illogical, unrestrained, intolerant or merely inflexible, you will find that you will be able to “step back” more often, and let go of such self-disruptive thoughts. You will be able to do this firstly by learning to notice any tension in your body associated with your anxious thoughts, and secondly by learning to Centre yourself quite quickly - thereby restoring your peace of mind. You will then be able to review each situation calmly, with a more “open” mind. Eventually, as you feel increasingly more confident in doing this, your capacity for natural and “intuitive” thought (from in + tuition, or self-teaching)Anchor  will be released, and your thinking processes will become more efficient... more creative... more peaceful... and increasingly less judgmental of both yourself and others. At this moment however, all of this will seem a long way away from your current experiences.

So get a little closer by taking another step towards Self-Realisation by completing the task below.

 

TASK

 

Experiment with CR...

and read no more...

 until 3 days of twice daily practice sessions are up...

 

 

  Part 3

 

 

By now you should have completed a total of six 10 minute sessions of CR, and you should be somewhat more aware of some of the difficulties involved. Bearing this in mind therefore, I would now like to outline some of the more commonly experienced problems with CR practice, so that being forewarned you will feel forearmed.

By reading through each of these points you will give yourself a better chance at learning the potential value of CR. CR can be quite a difficult discipline to keep going and you will need to be aware of some of the ploys (used by your ego mind) to get you to change your mind about ridding yourself of its influence. Clarity about what to expect is essential. If you are unclear as to what you are supposed to be doing, you will be unready to commit  yourself, genuinely, to a full month’s trial practise.

 

Ú Ú Ú

 

It is very important for you to try and rid yourself of any preconceptions you may have had about CR being a discipline whereby you learn to stop thinking.

Such an expectation will probably get in the way of you doing CR peacefully, because you will probably start to blame yourself if you find yourself spending a lot of time thinking in your session, and then you will start to feel uncomfortable... which is the last thing that you want. You see, you must try to understand that in order to develop the skill of putting thoughts in their proper place by this system, you are inevitably (at least at the outset) going to have plenty of thoughts coming up for release. So there is no need for you to feel guilty when they do. All that is required is for you to be consistently Mindful of the following  instruction or agreement made with yourself every time you sit down and prepare yourself for a 10 minute session... :-

 

“As soon as I notice that my thoughts have strayed from my ‘centre’ (...accepting that there may be times when I fail to notice that I have strayed... possibly even for lengthy periods) I will immediately release those thoughts. That is to say, whenever I realise that I am no longer paying attention solely to my breathing, I will release whatever it is I am thinking about, and gently re-focus my attention on my breathing. I willingly give up my time in this way in order to learn how to Centre myself at will. In this way I will eventually learn how to be free of disturbing thoughts, and be progressively more at peace with myself... and others.

 

TASK

Given the importance of Self-Commitment to CR

Write the above pre-sessional briefing down on a card right NOW.

Later you will be able to read it through each time you engage in a daily session and be more CLEAR about what you are committing yourself to on a day by day basis.

Read this card through before each practice session. It is worth spending this time BEing clear in order to remind yourself of your self-commitment, and to ensure that you keep on target... because if you do not... your ego will surely find a way to distract you, and your ability to ignore difficult and unwanted thoughts will be curtailed!            

You see, your consistent goal will be to home in, repeatedly, on your breathing in order that you develop a greater capacity to put your ego related thoughts increasingly in their place (...by learning to ignore them). It is important that you remain highly committed during your practice sessions because moments of ‘crisis’ will eventually arise when your excessive fear-related (ego) thoughts will start to get the upper hand. Without prior training you will soon feel trapped and out of control, and your ego will tell you that “spending a few minutes Centring yourself will just be a waste of valuable thinking time”.  Or it will give you such thoughts as “CR is  just a means of avoiding issues without facing them”  or that you are “not coping very well”. You see, the long-standing domination of your Mind by your ego thoughts has been such that any effective change for the future is going to require both alertness and considerable  preparation beforehand. Contrary to the ego’s accusations, the Truth is that if you stop listening to its ‘voice’ for guidance, you can learn how to find a Greater Source of Guidance and Wisdom.... and eventually you will handle situations with greater Clarity and greater Peace of Mind. For the sake of convenience this Greater Source of Guidance (found in the stillness of your quietened mind) has been referred to as the voice of your IntuitionAnchor. This inner voice will sound a little like a more peaceful and wiser version of Your own thoughts, except it will not be so much like a thought, it will be more like a communication of Clarity and Meaning.

This quiet experience of “Meaningful Ideas” (which are to be found in this Place of Peace in your Mind) can then be translated into the best thoughts that you can conjure up at the time to communicate to yourself what was being ‘said’ or COMMUNE-icated by your Intuition. So once you have learned to recognise and experience these “Meaningful Ideas” you can allow thinking to occur once more. This sort of thinking is appropriate because it has followed your decision to join with your ‘higher’ Guidance, and is therefore helpful to you because it does not come from the instinctively fear-based system of your ‘lower’ ego mind and it helps you to understand what is being said to you in the Silence.

You will need to feel your way towards this sort of Higher Self Guidance....because the static produced by your ego has drowned it out for so many years that you have lost touch with it. And you need to know that this feeling of your way will take time.... You need to know this in order to short-circuit any experience of guilt that occurs when you find that the silence of your mind just seems like silence and nothingness. If you simply continue to allow the silence, eventually it will turn to Silence (a comfortable feeling of contentment rather than the hollow emptiness of silence). And in this Silence eventually the experience of Meaning (understanding - without the distortion of ego beliefs) will occur..... This process can be likened to leaving a brightly lit room and going into a room that appears to be in complete darkness. As time passes you can gradually start to make out some of the shape outlines, together with some of the features of the room.

What you need to understand for the time being is that your pre-conditioned thinking has had its un-interrupted way with you for most of your life, so that you are not REALly aware of the full extent of the problem. You may think you are but you are not..., and you will not know how much you have been imprisoned until you learn to See through new Eyes!

Inevitably, while you are in the process of training your thoughts, you will miss the target from time to time. In fact, it might be helpful for you to use this image of learning to shoot at a target to help you realise that missing is not always something to feel bad about. Try to accept that sometimes you will be off target, or off Centre... but each time you miss, your sub-conscious mind will make use of this “miss” information and (providing you continue to want to improve your marksmanship) your mind will gradually use this information to help you to be more and more on target. There is no penalty for being off centre... it is simply an opportunity to see how far off the target you were! Therefore, be prepared to be patient with yourself and persevere.

Remember:

There is no misinformation - only miss information,

no failure... only feedback

As you learn to get more and more on target in your practice sessions - by being able to remain centred more frequently and more easily - you will also experience a greater capacity to be able to ignore the disruptive thoughts of your ego mind throughout the day.

Ú Ú Ú

You need to discipline yourself into doing CR regularly...

...otherwise you will not routinely get the practice necessary for you to become adept at ignoring ego thoughts. It is important for you to learn to simply ignore these thoughts, rather than actively confront them or fight them, because to allow them any space in  your mind at all is to give them excessive mental significance.

The importance of doing CR regularly cannot be over-stressed.

It is the signal to your mind that you are serious about wanting to change.

It is the signal to your mind that you are no longer willing to suffer.

It is the signal to your mind that you are ready for Peace.

 However, recognise that disciplining yourself, in order to do your exercises regularly, does not mean feeling guilty if you do not achieve your goal of Centring yourself perfectly every time. In any particular CR session you will only be able to let go of thoughts as often as you become aware that they have strayed. Once you know in your own mind that you have made a genuine commitment to spending the agreed upon time Centring yourself, you need no longer feel responsible for the periods of time when you have inadvertently failed to notice that you have strayed. Your honest intention and readiness to “let go” is the most important aspect of this exercise...not the frequency of your success! Try to remember that if you manage to put your ego in its place on only one occasion during the exercise, then you have made progress. And each time you invest, by paying this price in the short-term (i.e. by practising CR), then the interest payments received increase over a hundredfold.

 

Remember

 CR isn’t about not thinking.

It is about returning your attention to your breathing...

 whenever you realise that your attention is not on your breathing.

It is impossible to fail at CR...

 ...as long as...

...you sit down...

...read your pre-sessional brief...

...focus on your breathing for the first breath...

...and stay in place for ten minutes...

...ignoring all distractions.

 Ú Ú

Do not, for a moment, think that CR is going to be something that you are going to look forward to.

Understand that CR is a discipline that can be compared to paying off a really expensive mortgage, whereby the repayments have become so large  that you can no longer make a move in life without having to consider its affect upon your ability to keep up the payments. Obviously such a state of affairs would be so profoundly disruptive to your enjoyment of life that it would be in your interest to pay off some of the mortgage, as often as you could. That is to say, if from time to time you found yourself with a little spare cash, although you might not be very fond of the idea of parting with your money, it might be wise for you, periodically, to save some of it up and pay a little of the mortgage off, in order to increasingly relieve yourself from the tyranny of such a large debt.

Likewise, in the same way that a person can be terrorised by an over-size mortgage, you have become subconsciously enslaved by the thoughts of your ego mind (i.e. by the conditioned beliefs and associated defences developed in your childhood) to such an extent that this long-standing thought liability also needs careful and controlled correction... And correction, in this case, requires you to periodically pay off the debt -by breaking up the tendency of your mind to think in stereotypical (repetitive) ways. This means that although CR may not be wholly desirable to you in the short term, in the longer term it will pay dividends. You see, Cognitive Relaxation is not at all about trying to be relaxed while you are actually practising it, rather it is about learning to distance yourself more and more from your automatic and self-defeating thought patterns. Eventually you will find that when you are in a tight spot you will no longer continue to respond with the same old fear-laden, ‘knee-jerk’ responses. Instead you will be able to quickly step back from the situation by Centring yourself as soon as you can. Then, and only then, will you be able to deal with the problem(s) from a place in your mind that is peaceful; a place where efficiency and harmony is preferred to urgency.

Becoming centred is about...

....learning to “come from” the most appropriate place in your mind.

This place is the most peaceful and, therefore most enlightened, place for effective decisions to be made. Although this may require you to let go of unsettling thoughts from time to time (in order to be as calm as you possibly can be... i.e. under the circumstances) it does not mean that you will always avoid feeling uncomfortable.

That is to say, there may be times after a CR session when, in order to feel OK about something, you may be ‘directed’ (by your Inner Guidance) to be quite assertive and at times even quite bold. You see, many of your fears are quite unfounded, but in order to ‘REALise’ this it is sometimes necessary for you to confront them... in the short term, in order to be free of them... in the longer term. The longer term of course, becoming much shorter every time you make a decision to tune in to your Guidance. Centring yourself is more than just the absence of anxiety. It is the means by which you can experience companionship and guidance. It is a means by which you can find your Self.

Ú Ú Ú

You will probably find that often you will want to avoid your CR sessions...

... or that other more important things miraculously seem to come up, or that you just need to do something else first... etc. etc. Remember - taking time for CR is an investment for your future. It is your opportunity to release yourself from the burden of a stimulus/response slavery to your ego mind. Therefore, to say that you do not have time for CR, is like saying that you don’t have time for yourself.

Ú Ú Ú

At times you may find that doing CR will make you a little sleepy...

Given that this is not really the aim of CR, try to practise only when you feel sufficiently awake to benefit from experiencing the Silence of your Mind.  Also try to ensure that during your actual practice sessions you are sitting with your back straight. This careful positioning of your body helps because in order to keep yourself balanced you will need to remain conscious. If you still seem to have problems with drowsiness then try opening your eyes and focusing on a candle or some other point of non-intrusive focus. However, if you still find that you feel too sleepy, then at least persist with  your sessions. If you fall asleep, then you fall asleep.

  

 Each session will consist of the following stages

 

  1. Preparation - Ensure that you find a quiet place, where you know you will not be disturbed.
  1.  Spend a minute reading through the pre-sessional brief you copied onto a card.
  1. Set your timer for 10 minutes.
  1. Close your eyes and make a mental note to carry out your commitment to ignore any attempts by your ego to get you to think “constructive” thoughts relating to solving any problems that have been, or are, pre-occupying you.
  1. If during the 10 minute session any thoughts come to mind that you think are outstandingly important, then it is even more important that you also let these thoughts go. You’ll have an opportunity to write down any inspired thoughts later. If, however, you should find that you forget, you will just have to trust that these ideas were not as inspired as you thought they were.
  1. Start the timer and engage in Centring yourself. You can perhaps best mentally visualise this step by seeing it as a moment in which you  have decided to step into a time capsule that will take you outside of time for a while... starting the session by “closing the door” would signify that for the next 10 minutes you are willing to keep on “track”, by not allowing yourself to get sucked back into the world of Doing. Instead you will just Be.
  1. When 10 minutes have passed, keep your eyes closed and spend one minute becoming aware of how you are feeling... and what you are experiencing. Do this by asking  yourself  “What am I aware of right now..... and what am I feeling ?”
  1. Next, allow yourself to think any thought or thoughts that come into mind.... and then be ready to write the most important one down at the bottom of your daily worksheetAnchor. This thought may be about anything. Listen to it as it will probably enable you to learn something important about yourself. You may have more than one thought, but don’t spend much more than a minute writing things down.
  1. At the end of this listening period, whether you have had any thoughts or not, ask your Intuition (Higher Self Guidance) any important question that may have been on your mind, and that you would like guidance, or clarification, about. Spend about two minutes asking and listening. If you do notice that you have a question write it down in the appropriate section of your worksheet. Also write down any answer you receive.
  1. You may find that there is an answer to be found in your mind very shortly after the time of your asking. Alternatively it may follow later, at anytime during the day or coming week. So continue to be aware of the question, so that later you can be subconsciously prepared for the resulting Guidance. This Guidance may come at any time or in any form. When you do receive an answer that you feel comfortable about, also write this down in the appropriate section of your worksheet.
  1. Finally make sure that your worksheet (see below) is complete. Note that the worksheet covers both the morning and evening session for the same day.

Morning Session                                                                                Date :   ________

Did you read through your pre-sessional brief?                                             Yes/No ? ___

Did you return to your centre when you were in a position to do so?            Yes/No ? ___

Any Thoughts or Comments following the session worth noting ?

 

Write down the question for your Intuition? (if any)

 

 

 

Rate importance of this Question on a scale of 1 - 10:  ___    (1 = important and 10 = vital)

What answer(s)  have you received?

 

 

 

Evening Session                                                                                

Did you read through your pre-sessional brief?                                             Yes/No ? ___

Did you return to your centre when you were in a position to do so?            Yes/No ? ___

Any Thoughts or Comments following the session worth noting ?

 

 

 

Write down the question for your Intuition? (if any)

 

 

Rate importance of this Question on a scale of 1 - 10:  ___    (1 = important and 10 = vital)

What answer(s)  have you received?

 

 

Now is the time for you to make a personal contract with yourself to make a longer term commitment to 2 weeks further trial practise of CR. This will involve you putting aside 10 minutes twice daily in order to accomplish this. You will have to do this in a formal way or else you will find that your mind will allow things to slip.

 

TASK

 

Read through the following Self-Contract below:

 

Do not sign it yet !

 “No matter where I find myself and no matter what excuses my mind comes up with, as from ___________(write in starting date) I will find the time to do a 10 minute CR session, once in the morning and once in the evening, for two consecutive weeks. I will also agree to repeat each of the stages outlined in the CR text and fill in my daily worksheet after each session.

Signed ............................................                    Date..........................

 

If you should decide to sign the above agreement with yourself to practise CR for 2 complete weeks, then, at the end of the two weeks, your Daily Worksheets can be reviewed in order to ensure that you have carried out your agreement with yourself. 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It is unlikely that you are sufficiently ready to change yourself in any significant way if you cannot spend up to 30 minutes with yourself each day. If you have a wife, partner, and/or family to consider, you will need to let them know of your commitment well beforehand and then make the necessary arrangements to identify when and where you will carry out your sessions.

In order to carry out your commitment successfully first of all you will need to make sure in your own mind that you are serious in your attempt to change the way you are. Therefore, you will need to complete the following task before finally deciding to sign the contract above.

TASK

Spend the next two days thinking about what your main problem is. What is the problem that you would like to change. Write this down and then think about what some of the disadvantages to changing might be. For example, if you decide that you would like to be more self-reliant, one possible drawback to this might be the possibility of being alone more often. Another perceived drawback might be that you do not want to go through each of the sessional stages of a CR session on a regular basis...

If at the end of the two days you conclude that you are ready to change, then read once more through the sessional stages outlined above along with the personal self-contract and then, and only then, sign the declaration of intention and date it. You see, one way or another you are going to have to deal with any conscious or pre-conscious resistance you may have to accomplishing your aim. Therefore, only once you are sure that you have weighed up the pros and cons for changing your current circumstances will you be able to sign the commitment with sufficient conviction to see it through. Now, read no more until you have completed this task.

 

In order to gain a greater idea of how CR can help you in any tight spot you find yourself in throughout your two weeks trial practise, try engaging the procedure of listening to your breathing and letting go of anxious or angry thoughts at every opportunity... i.e. even outside of your scheduled daily sessions. So whenever you feel in a bit of a fix and you don’t know what to do, just try to settle yourself a little by letting go of your thoughts and concentrating on the sensations of your breathing and the bridge of your nose for a few moments.

Now, this will not be an easy thing for you to do... especially if you are right in the middle of a tantrum, or an anxiety or embarrassment attack, or an “I’ve just got to prove that I’m right” attack... especially if you start to think to yourself: “ you’ve really gone overboard this time”; or “I’ve really shown myself up this time.”  In actuality this is never true. You can never go too far before you can put a stop to your ego thoughts (!)... especially when you are coming “full steam” from your ego in a dispute with someone. It is simply never, never...never too late to engage in a little CR in preference to listening to the prattle of your ego. So, don’t allow yourself to keep on and on in order to justify yourself. You’ll only dig yourself further into the realm of the problem (the kingdom of the ego) more deeply.

So always be open to an opportunity to stop fighting and stop JUSTifying and to start LISTENing to that silent ‘voice’ (ever-present WITHIN you).

 

So JUST LISTEN WITHIN!

Do this in your mind while you are in the situation (if you think that you are up to it), or try to excuse yourself from the situation for a minute or so and then do it. Don’t listen to the voice that says “it won’t make any difference... the anxiety and the pain will just be the same, so don’t even bother”. Instead, just do it! Do it as soon as you can! Try and stand back... even if it’s only to take two or three short breaths. This will be better than responding from the place of your ego mind, where groundless judgements or mental associations with fearful outcomes will only serve to take you further into ego territory. Indeed it’s better to sometimes say and do nothing (particularly if you don’t REALly know what to say or do) than to pretend to know... when you don’t!  Better still, in cases where you don’t know what to say or what to do, be prepared to admit it. In this way you will be able to release your ego based thinking even more... and yet still be safe! The more sensitively honest you can be the less prone you will be to a later guilt attack (from your ego). Even if the other person responds unkindly you will know in yourself that you were not BEing dishonest or manipulative, and that you tried genuinely to do what you could.

If your genuine and sensitive honesty doesn’t work, make sure you make a tactical withdrawal to a place where you can engage CR for a few minutes. Once the storm of your emotions has passed you will be in a better position to carefully collect the necessary information you require in order to make the “RIGHT decision”. You will also be better able to review this information more efficiently, with reference to your more intuitive sense of inner guidance, and as a consequence feel much more peaceful about any chosen course of action. Sometimes you will, of necessity, have to “make a decision not to make a decision”, and then “let time pass” until you have more information, or you are in a different (more peaceful) frame of mind.

It has been to the easier accessing of this “different frame of Mind”, that this text has been addressed.

 

FINAL TASK

 

When you feel ready, repeat your self commitment to two weeks of further practise, but this time spend 20 minutes practising CR. If you want to you can leave out the step where you fill in a daily worksheet.

 

CR as a method of personal ‘Self’ development is, strictly speaking, an approach that needs to be understood within the broader context of Attitude Awareness Therapy. In this respect CR is more appropriately seen as a most important preliminary, or preparatory, stage to the healing of more deeply seated patterns of dysfunctional thinking through regular attendance at Cognitive Therapy Groups.

(for further information please refer to author).

 

Cognitive Relaxation - 2  Version: 2.0

I have a question for you. But, rather than read the words and then immediately turn the page, spend a few moments in your mind and come up with an answer before continuing. This question is so important that I have ‘wasted’ the rest of the page, rather than provide you with a distraction (more words) from spending time with you.

 

What is the most important thing to you?

 

  A Thought Experiment

Consider the following:

 

There is a country, on a planet far, far away in another galaxy, where the ruling parliament creates laws, and so decides what is right and what is wrong in the lives of its People.

Imagine you live in that country.

Whenever you do what is right, according to the law, you feel less afraid of the police calling at your door. Whenever you do what is right according to the law, you are less afraid of another citizen “shopping” you, or disapproving of you…. but strangely, a lot of the time, if you do what is right by the law you feel very ill at ease and uncomfortable in your mind... as if you’ve done something that goes against your innermost nature… that is to say - in doing what you are told, you are less afraid of getting into trouble, but you don’t feel at all right in your own self.

When you do what you are told is right you get acceptance from the authorities, as well as those who conform to the law…. but, having done what you’ve been told, you feel extremely uncomfortable in your own mind… so much so, that at times you feel almost sick….

Imagine you are told that when you die you go to a place known as Heaven... as long as you do what is right according to the dictates of the law. This is what all children are taught from an early age... and so they believe it.  What the people do not know is that this Heaven does exist but is in fact a place of great turmoil and great torment... torment that lasts for eternity.

However, in this far away country, if a person actually has the self-determination to go against the opinion of the lawgivers….and do what is “wrongful” according to the law….. what happens is that they get an incredible sense of well-being and peace of mind, despite the fact that the “righteous” people of the country condemn them for it and tell them that because of their evil and disobedient behaviour they will go to Hell. Hell does exist…. but in reality it is a place where everyone has eternal peace of mind together with complete and absolute happiness.

So, in this country, increasingly doing what makes you feel peaceful within yourself results in you being taken off to live forever in a place of peace-loving people when you “die”. To the lawgivers this place called Hell is so alien (in their world of power and control), that they tell people it is a place of eternal torment and should be avoided at all cost. Just to help you a little... and make you see the error of your ways... they contrive all sorts of horrible punishments for you if you do not conform.

 If you lived on this planet and the punishment for disobedience of the law was severe, what do you think you would choose?

Would you choose to do right or wrong?

Answer this question as honestly as you can…

Take a few minutes to think about this.

 

What sorts of issues are involved in you making your decision.

1. Fear of immediate pain and its capacity to cause you to deny your genuine self. (Fear of Physical Pain).

2. Fear of non-acceptance. (Social Anxiety)

3. Fear of the afterlife. (Spiritual Anxiety)

 

Now, imagine you managed to discover - beyond a shadow of a doubt - that Hell was in fact an eternity of bliss... and that Heaven was an eternity of pain. What would you then choose to do? Would you choose to obey the law, do what is right, and go to Heaven, or would you choose to do wrong and go to Hell ?

What then is your goal (“Core” Directive)?

You will feel comfortable with us if you recognise that you want peace of mind so much that you are prepared, if necessary, to choose it over and above the fine judgements and opinions of others.

  There are two extreme experiences of mind that we can imagine: living a life and feeling so bad about it that it’s like a living Hell; and living a life and feeling so good about it that it’s like a living Heaven. Indeed two people can live in very similar circumstances, say of being physically healthy; having food and drink whenever they want - as well as warmth and shelter. Yet one of them can feel as if they are in Heaven whilst the other may feel as if they are living in Hell. It is also possible to feel heavenly one moment and full of dread the next. It might even be possible to live in a world full of rivers and trees and seasons of the year and modern conveniences, with friendly people all around, yet still feel miserable.

Why ?

Most of the time you have no idea how much of your thinking is to do with how well you are measuring up in an imaginary comparison of yourself with other people i.e. in terms of your successfulness or self-worth. Just think about the amount of time you spend talking to yourself about things like: what you look like; what others have said to you; what you should have said; what you will say when you see them again; how things will sound when you say them; and what people’s reactions will be if you wear your hair this way or that, etc. etc. And then of course there’s the inner “newsreel” of your mind that plays back all the unfortunate events of your day just before you go to sleep, frequently highlighting just how different and inadequate you believe yourself to be as compared to others. On a bad day there seems no end to the time that you can spend looking at yourself from the viewpoint of other people rather than your own.

In our culture we are swamped by images, from films or television, of colourful characters, musicians, politicians and film stars… who seem to be important in some way that we are not. And frequently… right from an early age… the message to us seems to be that if we are not super successful in a way that marks us off from every one else then we have failed in some way. It seems to us that it is not good enough to be ordinary and average, we have to be special or outstanding in some way. Just being average is perceived as failure.  So for those of us who maintain the very natural desire to be appreciated by others and be seen as special, it becomes important for us to “give off” a good impression when other people are around. Often, in order to do this, we are prepared to engage in a little impression management whereby we pretend to others to be fine when in reality we are struggling. Under different circumstances we might refer to such impression management as acting… Yet rarely do we feel that we are acting… to us it is much more like just trying to survive.

 In this context Shakespeare wrote:

“All the world’s a stage and all the men, women, and children have their exits and their entrances…”

It would seem that to enter the presence of another human is to be thrust suddenly into a play where the very appreciation of our selves may depend upon our “performance” …and what another is thinking about us…

 The Commitments

As a student of US I am prepared to commit myself to making the goal of learning about my Self an important part of  gaining the peace of mind that I seek. I may not at present know what I must do to get the peace of mind I desire, but I can commit myself to listening honestly to what is (or is not) “going on” in my mind as often as I can. That is, I will do this in the hope that this will eventually help me to feel more at peace with myself. In this sense learning about myself must, at least for the time being, take precedence over the peace of mind I seek. Thus, if I do get disturbed and continue to feel disturbed, I accept that this may be an important part of the learning process. I will therefore always try to remain committed to the process of “Self” learning and accept that even times of difficulty and emotional disturbance can afford important opportunities for self discovery - by me being prepared to look at what I am thinking.

 

I agree that peace of mind is extremely important to me and that I am prepared to try and discover it by committing myself to learning about my real “Self” and not just the self I believe myself to be. In this respect I am genuinely committed to being completely honest within myself both in order to discover more about myself and to live more peacefully with myself and others

I am willing to try to value whatever I find going on inside of me (i.e. in my mind). If I find that something is important to me then I am prepared to be open to the possibility that it might be important for a good reason.

Because of this commitment I am willing to try to be open to new and different ways of seeing myself in an attempt to discover what is really important to me. If in my exploration of new ideas  I find a good reason (i.e. one that I am satisfied with) to change the things that I have found important then I am willing at least to try to be open to such change.

 

 I, therefore, (accepting that the things that are important to me may be valuable in their own right) shall always try to be prepared, within my own mind, to genuinely look at, or listen, to my thoughts and feelings in an attempt to learn more about myself. If I have any uncertainties or questions I will try to be open and ready to express them - at least to myself. I recognise that I need not necessarily express them to others, unless I feel comfortable in doing so. I also agree not to take on a new idea as being really True for me unless I feel comfortable with it within my own mind. Although at times, perhaps out of fear, I may still find myself conforming to other people’s thoughts and ideas, I will nevertheless try to listen more to what’s going on inside of me as a means of self understanding. I will attempt to listen to other’s ideas to see to what degree they are helpful to me, and see to what degree I can make sense of them; but at the end of the day I will try to value more what I, within myself, genuinely think and feel. This means that - although I may seek advice or guidance from others - I will teach myself only what I am prepared to learn, when I am ready to learn it.

Whenever another person (especially a therapist !) asks me questions that I feel are leading me in a direction (of thinking or feeling) that I find uncomfortable or particularly distressing in any way, I am prepared to sufficiently value the privacy of my own mind as to let them know that I do not want to talk about what they are asking me about. I will, however, try to look at my discomfort in the quiet and the privacy of my own mind in the hope of finding out what my discomfort is about - in the hope of understanding myself better. I also reserve for myself the right to come back to the question(s) later should I feel more comfortable in doing so. (i.e. take a “rain-check” on the question(s) - see Group Commitments).

I commit myself to allowing myself to lose the track of any conversation that I am trying to follow. I recognise that this is bound to happen from time to time since everyone occasionally finds themselves following their own thinking. It’s obvious that while I am listening to what is going on in my own mind I will find it difficult to fully listen to someone else. This is due to the fact that my mind can only be in one place at any one time. Therefore, not following the “flow” of another’s conversation does not mean that I’ve messed up in some way or that I’m ignorant or incompetent.

        

So if I am asked by someone to comment on anything that they or someone else has said I will be ready to acknowledge that “I’ve been off on another track in my mind” if it seems appropriate to do so. I am prepared to accept that it’s OK for me to do this

I commit myself to allowing myself to lose the track of my own thinking if it happens. If this happens when I am speaking to someone I will try to be honest and simply acknowledge that “I’ve lost my thread”. I accept that this sort of thing can happen to anyone and probably happens to everyone at some time or other, particularly when feeling disturbed in some way.

In order to learn more about myself by discovering the sort of feelings I am having and what sort of thoughts are causing them (See Homework 2),

I am prepared to:

  1. Step Out Of My Shoes (SOOMS) i.e. Step Back and become aware of any strong emotions that I am feeling and then look at them from the point of view of another person.
  2. Stand In Their Shoes (SITS) i.e. stand back and wonder what the world looks like from another person’s viewpoint… particularly when they seem upset or concerned. In such circumstances instead of immediately thinking “I am to blame” attempt to ask yourself  “I wonder why they are so disturbed.”  Indeed, if it seems appropriate, you might even sensitively ask them if you are right in thinking they are disturbed or worried… and if they are amenable try to ask them what it is that is troubling them.

I commit myself to valuing the times when I do not understand something. I am prepared to see my doubts… my uncertainties…. and my questions rather more as important opportunities for clarification and learning than as evidence that I am stupid.  If I do not understand, it is possible that others may also not understand. When I ask for clarification or re-explanation I accept that this may provide both the speaker and the listener(s) an opportunity to learn more. Consequently I am prepared to see my questions as uncut diamonds rather than dirt that needs to be hidden from view.

Remember:- 

                           “A question is the leading edge to an answer.”

 

Daily Worksheet

 

Morning Session                                                                                Date :   ________

Did you read through your pre-sessional brief?                                             Yes/No ? ___

Did you return to your centre when you were in a position to do so?            Yes/No ? ___

Any Thoughts or Comments following the session worth noting ?

 

 

 

 

Write down the question for your Intuition? (if any)

 

 

 

Rate importance of this Question on a scale of 1 - 10:  ___    (1 = important and 10 = vital)

What answer(s)  have you received?

 

 

 

 

Evening Session                                                                                

Did you read through your pre-sessional brief?                                             Yes/No ? ___

Did you return to your centre when you were in a position to do so?            Yes/No ? ___

Any Thoughts or Comments following the session worth noting ?

 

 

 

 

Write down the question for your Intuition? (if any)

 

 

 

Rate importance of this Question on a scale of 1 - 10:  ___    (1 = important and 10 = vital)

What answer(s)  have you received?

                                                                                                    #

 

 

If you can solve your problem

Then what is the need of worrying?

If you cannot solve it,

Then what is the use of worrying?

 

hantideva

# # #

 

 

Please fill in your homework after brief consultation with your Cognitive Therapy Facilitator about the details. You may then go through your answers in the follow-up session.

 

1. When anxious, say to yourself “This is very good…… I will learn something important from this.”

 

 (And really believe that this is true, i.e. that the anxiety and the feelings are valuable in the sense that they afford an opportunity for you to look at your mind and what it’s doing.)

 

2. Next ask yourself:

 

a) “What’s going on here, what am I thinking, what am I feeling, what am I seeing/believing is going on?”

 

b) “Am I aware of any images or pictures in my mind?”

 

c) “What’s the worst thing I can imagine might happen? If it ever did happen, what would it mean(say) about me?”

 

3. Then say “Why?”

(i.e.:  Why do I think I am thinking, or feeling, or seeing, things this way?)

 

4. Then spend some time listening within your mind for your answer.

(There may not be an immediate answer, but listen anyway).

 

NB.  You will only need to go through this self-assisted analysis for a limited period of time and you will not have to do it always. That is to say, you will only need to do it until you reach a point of understanding a little more about yourself. Try to write down your answers and review them. Better still try to get into the practice of recording your questions and answers to yourself on a tape recorder.


Children Learn

What They Live

 

If a child lives with criticism

He learns to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility

He learns to fight.

If a child lives with ridicule

He learns to be shy.

If a child lives with shame

He learns to feel guilty.

If a child lives with tolerance

He learns to be patient.

If a child lives with encouragement

he learns confidence.

If a child lives with praise

He learns to appreciate.

If a child lives with fairness

He learns justice.

If a child lives with security

He learns to have faith.

If a child lives with approval

He learns to like himself.

If a child lives with acceptance and friendship

He learns to find love in the World.

 

 

A child is born - a helpless infant. Look into the child’s face as it lies in its crib. What do you see? Do you see guilt, or do you see Innocence? Surely this child is innocent, after all it has only just arrived in the world. Is it a bad child, or a beautiful baby?

 

Look into the child’s eyes and see yourself.

 

 What happened? Where did the innocence go? Who took it away?

 

Your education took it away, nothing else. You were educated into a belief in guilt. You were educated into a belief that you could do bad things. You were educated into a belief that you could be a bad person.

 

How could this happen? Why is it allowed? Surely it is wrong to teach an innocent about guilt and bad-ness.

 

Perhaps the guilt was taught INNOCENTLY.

 

Your educators, for your protection, innocently taught you about guilt. They innocently taught you that you could do bad things: that you could be a BAD person.

 

You see, a young child is unaware of the very real physical dangers that exist out there in that big wide world. They need teaching. In fact it is so important, for their physical safety, that they are perfect students in their early years. They are so perfect that they  accept teaching without questioning its wisdom. They do this in order to learn to negotiate the world in safety.

 

 
 
 

 

 

 

Fears

Misconceptions

Perceived Dangers

Acceptable Behaviour

Real physical danger

 

 
 
 

Pain Pyramid

 

So the very basic, first level of teaching is that involving real physical danger.

 

The next level of education is about existing in harmony with the other human beings that surround this child. This is the education about society’s rules. These are not essential to physical survival, but a knowledge of them is essential to social survival. This is the level of acceptable behaviour.

 

Now the next level of education is one that the educators may consciously, or unconsciously, teach the child. This is the level of the educator’s own beliefs, views and perceptions of the world. This is the area where we learn prejudice; fear of other human beings; fear about human beings with particular physical characteristics; religious beliefs about good and evil, heaven and hell; anger and revenge; the list is endless, but the most significant area of mis-education, undertaken at this level of fears, misconceptions, & perceived dangers, is in the area of innocence.

 

Innocence is simply forgotten.

 

A child full of innocent curiosity opens a cupboard door and is fascinated by all the papers and boxes and bits of wool; fascinated by all the shiny metal things and by the textures and weights and colours.  The adult who discovers this blatant act of curiosity sees only a mess and has a tantrum. The child is taught that it is bad - not that Mummy doesn’t like a mess all over the floor; not that Mummy is frightened because there are dangerous sharp things in the cupboard; not that Mummy hates cleaning up. The child receives no education about these matters.

 

The child is taught that it is bad.

It is this level of teaching that we seek to understand. We seek to undo the teaching of unwise teachers in the search for our innocence. At least it seems like a search while you believe in guilt, but as you release the belief in guilt you will realise that that which you seek was never lost. You are always innocent.

Now, when you have lived your entire life by a set of rules and someone comes along and appears to say “Your Rules are Wrong” - then you are left in Limbo. These are the rules that have always kept you ‘safe’. How will you survive without them. These rules allow you to make judgements about who is good and about who is bad. They allow you to realise when your behaviour is acceptable and when it isn’t. You only know how to follow rules, and now someone is not only saying your rules are wrong, but also saying there are no rules!!!

In order to make the process of change easier - and the process is that of very gradually, very slowly, releasing those beliefs (rules) that you believe keep you safe. In fact they don’t, but in the releasing you still need to feel safe. So we have created a set of interim rules, or Guidelines.  These Guidelines are available for you to select as many, or as few, as you like. They are signposts to help you find your way around this planet - that is, if you feel the need for help. There is no suggestion that you must, use, follow, or obey what is said in the following pages. They are simply a gift - it is entirely up to you whether or not you accept it.

These guidelines need only be followed whilst you find them helpful in increasing your Peace of Mind and sense of living in harmony with others. Some initial dedication is necessary, however, before you can expect to be in a position to see if any longer-term changes (in your sense of well being) can be established.

Whenever we seek to master a complex new skill, whether it’s learning to walk or learning to surf, a sense of balance is required - both in the way we carry out our learning, and in the way we complete it.  In both these examples,  for Balance to be accomplished there has to be: a degree of Curiosity, or interest in learning, in the first place; a degree of willingness, or Commitment, to apply one’s self to learning (which involves the readiness to pick oneself up after a fall and not simply give up); regular Practice;  and Patience.  In this way, eventually, one starts to get a feel for the task  and in time the skill can be mastered to a level whereby one can walk up the steepest of Hills… or surf on the most challenging of Seas…

These requirements for learning and mastering apply equally to the task of accomplishing a Balanced Mind…

This can be represented by the expression :

Balance = Curiosity + Commitment + Practice + Patience

Also, in order to help you to maintain a sense of balance, as you read on, I’d like to draw your attention to Guideline F.

 

When making any decisions always choose for that option which you feel the most comfortable with ( i.e. choose for that option which disturbs you the least ).

 

If you should decide that what you want, more than anything else, is Peace of Mind, then this Guideline is the most important one for you to follow. Thus, if you find any of the other guidelines uncomfortable or threatening in any way you can disregard them.

Thus, given the central importance of  this Guideline, if you are obeying it you can be sure that :

Everything you’re doing, at this moment, is the best you can do under the present circumstances.

This is not about never experiencing anxiety, it is about reducing anxiety and eventually learning to do whatever seems appropriate - even though some level of anxiety is being felt. In other words it is necessary for you to learn about operating within your area of ‘Comfort’, or understanding your Comfort Zone.

Imagine your mind as the centre of a circle. The interior of the circle is your Comfort Zone. Now, the circle, or Comfort Zone stays where it is, but your mind can roam around inside it. You can’t see the circle that is your Comfort Zone, but you can feel whereabouts in it you are. You can feel it because the nearer you get to the edge of the circle, the more uncomfortable your mind becomes. The nearer you get to the centre of the circle, the more comfortable your mind becomes. For some, though, even the centre of the circle is uncomfortable - but there is always a greater degree of discomfort as you move away from the centre.

This Comfort Zone is relevant to the understanding of Guideline F. Guideline F is really saying, move freely within your Comfort Zone, even all the way to the edge if you wish. You may experience some discomfort within your comfort zone, but you are safe and can handle this level of discomfort. Only when you move outside the Zone is the discomfort so great that it becomes difficult to relate to the world. But, it seems that excursions - on a regular basis - to the limits of comfort have the effect of widening the circle and allowing greater freedom. As the circle widens, the gradient of discomfort from centre to edge lessens and so movement within the circle becomes much free-er. As movement within the circle becomes free-er, so the mind itself becomes easier and more pleasant to live with.

What this really amounts to is an instruction to Listen to Your Fears. Monitor your fear levels. When they are too intense for you to continue in the direction you are moving, then stop moving in that direction - you have stepped outside of your Comfort Zone. In time you will be able to see your Fear as a friend who guides you and lets you know when you are attempting to move too far, too fast. The journey is accomplished, the destination reached, just as surely in small steps as it would be in giant strides. Yet, you may have an agenda. An agenda that says I must be rid of this pain/fear/anxiety/depression NOW, because my life is slipping away uselessly.

You have to learn Patience. Patience allows you to release old beliefs at exactly the correct moment for you to be comfortable without them. Patience allows you to release fear slowly, gently, and with respect for the Frightened One.

 

Do not hurry. Take as long as you like. Allow the fear to be released when you are ready to release the fear. Until then you may need to get used to the idea of allowing yourself to be frightened. So monitor your fear, or your levels of discomfort, and take notice when you are so far away from the centre of your Comfort Zone that intense distress is occurring. This can happen in the Now or you can anticipate it - perhaps when someone extends an invitation to a social gathering. Or even when attempting to decide between going shopping, doing some housework, or lying on the settee for a few hours. There is no right or wrong decision, so why not do whatever ensures that you do not experience distress that is excessive for your present anxiety management skill level.  It is okay to guess how bad you will feel and act accordingly. To say No because anticipated comfort levels will be outside of the Zone is not to condemn yourself to an eternity of isolation. It is simply showing you the respect that you deserve for the place you currently are. It is a demonstration of respect for you that will move you towards those situations that you desire but are currently denied.

 

The Guidelines

 One fact that you can be sure of about you is :

 

You are existing right now as a living mind that is capable of experiencing things in a conscious way.

 

When you really start to become aware of this you will realise that this is amazing. Just think about it for a moment…

 

You are a minded being that really exists and you know this is true because you are currently experiencing things right now. You are for example currently experiencing your reaction to these words which may be producing thoughts or images in your head.  This fact may not seem to be miraculous to you, because you may have become deeply pre-occupied with other concerns which seem to require your more urgent attention.

 

These preoccupation’s are often connected in some way with either your past experiences, things currently happening to you, or thoughts about your future. Each area of concern is like a giant magnet, that is so powerful within your mind that it can draw your attention from noticing the natural beauty of life… in so doing this thought/fear magnet can block you from experiencing the miracle of your  being…

 

So let’s try to switch off the magnet for a moment and let us look more closely at what you are…

 

You are a thinking experiencing being and you know this for sure… And as you look into your mind to discover what precisely is going on inside you, you discover that for better or for worse you only have the thoughts and feelings that you’ve got. I mean you only have access to the sorts of thoughts and feelings that your mind brings to you. Whether you like it or not, you can’t be anyone else but yourself… What you think, do, and feel is just something that happens… and you are simply the mind (that you find) constantly on the receiving end…

 

This mind, that you are constantly being aware of, you have come to know of as your “self”.

 

…And so when in the presence of others, whether you speak or not… look up or not… you can only be what you are being, even if your vocabulary and your grammar goes astray from time to time and you "flush up" with embarrassment… because what you wanted to say didn't come out right… And if others fail to recognise that you are simply being you to the best of your ability then any disapproval or attack that they demonstrate in response to you being yourself must be because they are judging you… i.e. perceiving you as being “bad” in some way. The ‘you’ that they are attacking therefore is not the ‘you’ that you are… The ‘you’ that they are attacking is simply someone they imagine you to be.

 

If (in time)  you can get to know yourself well within your own mind, increasingly you will no longer fear what is imagined (about you) by others.

 

So in accepting this Guideline for you (i.e. that you have no other choice than to be the mind you find yourself to be…) then you must also accept it as being true for others.

       

Recognise that when any human sees another human as being bad, which is to say wicked or evil, they are claiming to know that they were born into the world as a wicked baby. Given that there is not even one single clear-cut case of an evil child being born (in the entire history of mankind) then they are practising a belief for which there is no evidence at all…

 

Furthermore, to completely fail to recognise the value that lies within any human being is to fail to recognise the value of yourself. 

 

 

 

However…

 

… when love and appreciation are not forthcoming then there are consequences which often take the form of fears and perhaps even cold steel, like shields of defence, consisting of disapproving eyes, perhaps even with swords ready to be used in attack.

 

Unfortunately, any attack on another is an ignorant attack, given that to attack another's mind is to attack oneself. Why? Because when you feel hostile you feel disquieted within your mind, and this ill-at-easeness affects your body in an unhealthy way. If your body is kept in a constant state of disquiet, the associated stress leads to progressive damage of your internal organs and nervous system. Indeed, studies show that one of the major causes of stress linked to heart disease is a hostile attitude towards people and life itself. Perhaps this is nature’s way of letting us know that we have adopted a frame of mind which is “at odds” with us and not conducive to the peace of mind that we (under normal circumstances) would be seeking.

 

In order to keep yourself straight therefore, it might help you to ask the following question whenever you are tempted to judge another person as being more “wicked” than your self:

 

If I had been born into his/her shoes (with their genetics, background family circumstances and current experiences) can I be one hundred percent certain that I would be different from them ?

 

The answer to this question is, of course, that you cannot always be certain. Therefore once you realise this, in the interest of self truth, be prepared to withdraw your judgement.

 

However, does this mean that we should allow others to walk all over us if they themselves are being ignorant of any discomfort that we are feeling in relation to their dis-respectful words or behaviour? If we were to apply the Guideline of zero wickedness within our society as a whole, would it mean that we would have to ignore situations where we observe insensitive people behaving ignorantly towards and perhaps even hurting others ?

 

No!  Instead we still do whatever we can to offer a helping hand to the ignorant ones, but we do not (ever!) approve or allow the abuse of one person’s rights by another. So, whenever we are in a position to do so, we attempt to re-educate others (into a greater awareness of their own value) providing of course they themselves continue to seek our help in attaining such awareness.

 

If we apply this Guideline at the societal level, it is of course necessary to recognise that sometimes in our society - when the degree of insensitivity to a child has been so great that the child has never been given the opportunity to develop any sensitivity to other humans - it may indeed be necessary to imprison the person in order to restrain them from further insensitivity and ill-treatment of others… This is simply the application of the sort of common sense we can all apply our minds to… with the enduring hope of preventing subsequent generations of people/parents/children from abusing one another.

 

Surely, if a man-eating lion were to escape and ravage people passing by, it would be foolish not to try and capture and restrain it…

 

Furthermore it will be important to recognise that when we eventually reach a point where we feel confident in sharing more of the truth of ourselves, we should not always expect others to like it and try to be like us. Therefore do not be too surprised if sometimes others react angrily to your attempts to be genuine !

 

Generally a good sub-Guideline to apply here is:

If another expects to receive respect from me, then they should be prepared to offer it to me…

Speak only the words you feel comfortable in saying and recognise that anger/guilt is only the flip side of fear…whether it’s coming from you or another. That is to say people only get angry when something is happening that they really don't want… and they feel that no one is heeding them… or indeed it may be the case that something is not happening and it seems vital.

 

Often the root of this fear is that they are very uncomfortable within themselves because they feel bad or unacceptable in the eyes of others that they meet. Sometimes this fear is also accompanied by an immaturity and impatience of temperament.

 

However, such insecure people will not need to fear you if you are living according to Guideline B… Why ? Because even if you do not like what they are doing… and you are even prepared to say so… you will not be judging/seeing them as hopelessly bad/wicked/evil.

 

This will often surprise them and perhaps even confuse them a little.

 

Thus when you are able to genuinely offer no attack in your eyes and no longer insist on convincing others of all their failures, then you will begin to feel more safe in the universe…and in your company others will stand the best chance of finding  a safety free from their own anger/guilt…

   

However, note well that you will find immense difficulty achieving this sort of peace of mind - if you steadfastly refuse to move in the direction of accepting your own innocence.

 

Nevertheless, rest assured that - given the truth of Guideline B - you are indeed an innocent… and so you cannot fail… but you can  resist seeing your innocence for as long as you are prepared to endure the pain of  eternal loneliness and ill-feeling towards others.  When you have really had enough of misery and separation you will move much more quickly to a state of safety by learning the following Guideline (Guideline C) as well as you feel able.

 

If I commit myself to a lifelong honest study of the truth of myself (see The Self Commitments) I cannot fail to find the truth of myself… Looking and listening and talking to myself about what I'm thinking and feeling will help me get to know what my mind is like. Whatever is going on in my mind is just simply going on… and so I cannot ultimately be responsible for what I find arising there. Even if I experience desires which others say are unacceptable… I need only realise that if they are there - then they are there… and so had better be incorporated into my own self knowledge. Rather this than have them hidden and falsely denied by me.

I do not need to act on all my desires, but if they are present within me, better I see them for what they are.

If I ever want to look upon myself in the mirror without fear then I need to get to know me well… If I can do this and find a friend in me, then I need never ever be alone again… At the very least I will have me… a someone I can begin to know and trust with the truth of me... without  the fear of judgement…

On a final point, I want you to know that Guideline C is a very important Guideline when it comes to your being able to do something positive/constructive towards feeling better about yourself and your life.   You may not be able to directly control things in order to "pull yourself together" and  so you may not feel at all confident that you can gain peace of mind by just trying harder…  But one thing you can surely take steps to do is look and listen to what is happening in your mind especially when you feel disturbed.  I mean you do have experiences going on in your mind and so you can clearly make a study of these experiences. All you need to do is be prepared to look and listen in to your thoughts and feelings as they arise... and particularly when they are strong…

 

Honest self-awareness, through consistent self-study, is the single most important thing to your mental and physical health and general sense of well-being.Anchor

 

 In the process of observing yourself you will inevitably discover beliefs that have been such an essential part of your life that you will be frightened of releasing them. As you start to unearth them and start to look at them, at first you will go through a degree of confusion. This is an important transitional stage which always occurs when one belief system is being undone and another belief system starts to replace it. Fear not … not only is this stage quite normal and necessary but it is also indicative of hidden progress. It happens because once you start to allow your mind to step back from its normal way of looking at life, you begin to fear that you might have to change behaviours that have become familiar…  and therefore comfortable to you.

 

This sort of fear based resistance is well captured in the expression “better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t”.

 

So as you start to  replace deep-rooted long-standing beliefs with alternatives it is inevitable that you will feel uncomfortable as readjustment occurs.

 

You need also know that occasional periods of panic, down-heartedness and even depression may still occur in your life… even as you start to feel better. Try not to let these periods worry you or deter you from your commitment to self study too much.

 

Notice them, accept them for what they are, and then await the return of your more optimistic frame of mind. It will come back when it’s ready... But watch out...  your miserable sense of self really will seem like a different person to your more happy sense of self… When you find yourself in a bad frame of mind it will seem as if the person that was the “you-who-had-hope” had been living in a completely different world.

 

So try not to let your fear (ego mind) drag you away with the suggestion that things never have and never ever could get better. Just watch this mood state and avoid, if you can, being sucked you into an undignified fight with it…

 

By not letting depression frighten you, you stand a better chance of floating much more quickly to the surface of good reason again… Without this overlaying fear of complete hopelessness it is sometimes possible that just a good night's sleep can make all the difference. If necessary even be prepared to give such foggy mood states two or three days to lift…

 

  Few people (currently) seem to realise that the quality of the life that they experience is not so much determined by what is actually happening but by what they think is happening. This means that being happy is much more the result of how you are thinking about yourself and the world around you, than the actual circumstances themselves. Of course this does not mean that what is actually happening is irrelevant, but it seems clear that two people experiencing the same situation (e.g. poverty, hardship, imprisonment, verbal abuse, being alone etc.) may respond to it differently. One might remain at peace, whilst the other may be full of dread...  The difference seems to lie in the conversation going on in the mind of the one having the experience.

Committing yourself to a life-long study of the truth of yourself as suggested by Guideline C will assist you in actually discovering the nature of the conversation inside yourself, so that there will be fewer potential skeletons to fall out of your “mind-closet” and take you by surprise.

This will take you a long way to improving your confidence and the quality of your own experiencing of life.

However, another important step to help you live more in harmony with yourself (and therefore everyone else) is to seek for the loving voice within yourself… I like to refer to this "voice" as my Personal Therapist or my Wisdom, but it can also be referred to as your "Intuition", which literally means inner tutor or guide.

This still/silent “voice” that  seems to talk to you very quietly and gently  from the sidelines of your mind is perhaps most easily recognised as a flow of helpful ideas,  that emerge when you take the opportunity to step back from the incessant chattering of your controlling/contriving mind. The voice of your healing mind is therefore best recognised by its ability to express thoughts, ideas or images which comfort you, and make you feel better…

         These are the sorts of thoughts that can arrive (when you  take the trouble to listen for them) that help you to be free from the disturbing thoughts and preoccupation’s of your mind.  This voice, therefore, can be distinguished from the voice of disruption and agitation by the fact that it is the voice of comfort…the voice that, if heard, helps you to get your mind back. It is the voice of counsel within your mind which best helps to balance you… rather than destabilise you.

But… be aware !

If you have spent many years listening only to thoughts of anger, fear and doubt (also known as the voice of the “ego” mind - see Slowing Down with US - Cognitive Relaxation - 2) then finding  the wavelength of your own "on-board" Counsellor may take some work…but  rest assured it's worth it !

      Recognising your intuition takes time and practice, owing to the fact that losing the habit of listening to your ego is not easy. Your ego seeks constantly to monitor everything going on in order to maintain a rigid control, in order to prevent the  disasters it constantly foresees... Without it you feel naked and believe you would suffer. But with the constant mistrust engendered by it... you can never hope to rest.

So if you desire an enduring sense of peace you will have to find a voice within you that will help you to trust, whilst at the same time enabling you to feel safe in your trusting...

But again, be aware that the primary Guideline (Guideline F) suggests that you choose to do only those things that you feel comfortable in doing…  And so if ever you do not feel safe in trusting someone or something then it is recommended that you honour this by not trusting…, at least until a time when trust has in demonstrated… or even earned…

 

Slowing down...

One of the most important steps to shifting your conversation (technically known as your “inner dialogue”) away from your ego to your healthy mind, involves slowing down or relaxing your thinking. The problem is that whether you are aware of it or not, there are many thoughts going on in your mind all criss-crossing on different levels. It’s all happening very fast, and often you are only aware of what you are preoccupied with. So in order to catch what’s actually happening in some of the unseen corners you need to find a way of stepping back from your thoughts and perhaps even “freeze-framing” them. This is like putting yourself into a state of mind free from the distractions of thinking which constantly seek to undermine you. The intention is to listen to and eventually "home" in on other thoughts arising within you that are more peaceful and loving.

 

Another way of looking at this is to think of it in terms of tuning out of the wave-band or "radio-station" which broadcasts Ego thoughts (known as Radio FAD = Fear, Anger, Doubt) so that you may tune more easily into Radio Peace (the wave-band of your “on board” counsellor).

The problem seems to be that Radio FAD is on an unusual frequency in that it seems to hang on and persist even when you try to tune out of it !!

Fear not… this is simply habit. The ego mind has absolutely no power over you whatsoever. 

Nevertheless, the most important first stage in seeking out your inner guidance is learning to relax your mind in whatever way you can (and as regularly as you can) in order to give yourself the best chance of hearing the Voice for Peace… and eventually being in communion with it. Be assured it is there waiting for you. Nobody is born into this world without the "Companionship" of their own mind...

      Within the field of Cognitive Therapy there are a number of methods available that can help you to slow down your thought processes in the search for your guiding wisdom. Two papers on what we refer to as Cognitive Relaxation (CR) are available on request. One is a short version outlining the importance of finding some personal means of relaxing your mind (Slowing Down with US - Cognitive Relaxation - 1) and the other is a much longer document which outlines the practice of relaxing your thoughts in much greater detail (Slowing Down with US - Cognitive Relaxation - 2) . The longer document also provides more information on the nature and origin of “Ego” thoughts.

 

On a final note I want to encourage you to persist, in what ever manner you can, to find the voice of self healing. Once you begin to get the feel of listening and seeking its help on a regular basis, you will never ever feel alone in life again.

 

Indeed when you find the voice for Wisdom not only will you never feel alone any more…but you will actually seek to be alone in order to spend more time with your "Companion".

 

Your inner guidance knows everything about you and all that troubles you. It loves you and seeks to answer all your questions in order to bring you home to the recognition of your innocence. Never ever stop listening for your Friend… Being alone with your own intuition is one of the most wonderful experiences available to all of human kind…

 

  ( i.e. choose for that option which disturbs you the least.)

 

Given that peace of mind is important to you, whenever you are uncertain within your mind as to what to do or say, always choose in accordance with the idea or thought that you feel most comfortable with. This does not mean that you always avoid putting yourself in situations where you feel a little anxious. It simply means that you look to your intuition for the course of action that it suggests would be the right thing to be doing. If however you have not yet achieved a high degree of familiarity with your Intuition/Therapist and you seem to be wearing  yourself out trying to decide what to do or say, make a definite decision not to decide anything until you have got more information. Then simply wait until a future time when you feel that things have changed and you feel more comfortable with moving in one direction as opposed to the other.

 

Alternatively, if you feel all alone in your mind and you feel totally unable to hear another more helpful voice (your intuition) then one possible way round this is to imagine yourself talking to a therapist. If you like, you can imagine this therapist to be someone you know and trust in the real world (so that you can imagine what sorts of thing they would ask or say)...

 

However, if you wish to stand an even better chance of developing your ability to hear your own intuition you can simply imagine conversations with a part of yourself that knows you perfectly. You can imagine that this part of your mind is a perfect therapist, and you can imagine the sorts of questions such a therapist would be asking you if s/he were really present with you in your mind trying to help you clarify the situations you’re concerned about. This exercise is also a good exercise to engage in regularly in response to any circumstances where you find yourself disturbed.

 

For the most part your imaginary therapist can be activated within your mind simply by saying “ I need some Help” .

 

Then you can go on to ask your self questions. Start by mentioning your own name. 

 

     Say “X”  (your name)…,

          How are you feeling  at the moment ?…

 

and then after  listening…perhaps the following questions… each time pausing to listen for the truth as you find it within your mind…

 

          Why are you feeling this way ? …

 

          What are you thinking right now to make you feel

          this way ?…

 

          and what is it that makes you think that ?… etc.

 

 and  even perhaps questions like…

 

     If what you are thinking were actually true what would that mean to you…or what would that be saying about you ( i.e. as far as you are concerned) ?

 

          and what are you so frightened of ?…

 

         what’s your worst fear ?…

 

          etc.

 

As you talk to yourself regularly in this way also be on the look out for any images that may arise spontaneously in you mind.

 

Another particularly good question to frequently ask yourself is:

 

          "Is there another way of looking at this situation?"

 

Ask this and then give your mind time to bring to you alternative ways of interpreting the situation that you are preoccupied with. With this  question, you might even want to ask others if they have any ideas.

 

Practice this and practice this. Eventually, in time and with much patience, your conversations with the healthy side of your mind will become second nature to you.

 

In trying to look for other ways of looking at the world you are experiencing the following guideline is extremely valuable.

 

Attempting to apply this Guideline regularly, represents true listening... and it is particularly helpful when another seems upset about something and you can't work out what seems to be going on. As with many of these Guidelines, this is perhaps the hardest thing to do in the heat of the moment. However, when you are feeling "under fire" this is also the best time to try to listen to another.

You will find that when you refrain from either attacking the other person or defending yourself, and instead try to attempt to understand what the other person's problem is (i.e.  where they are “coming from”), you yourself will start to feel better..., and more often than not you will see in the eyes of the other that they seem to be feeling better…

This is because when another is disturbed and shouting at you what they are really doing is saying that your view of them is important... and they want you to listen to them. Under such circumstances just being there listening to them... without offering advice... can be more helpful to them than anything you could actually say or do! (For more on this topic see The Self-Commitments).

 

Guidelines for Self Harmony  Version 3.0
Moments

Moments in time

Moments that combine

Moments with moments of changing design

Moments of gladness

Moments of sadness

Moments when moments seem full of madness

Moments of peace

Moments of release

Moments when moments seem never to cease

Moments for sharing

Moments for caring

Moments that nobody knows that you’re there in

Moments to cry

Moments to sigh

Moments you wish would go quickly by

Moments of splendour

Moments so tender

Moments with moments you want to remember

Moments to be giving

Moments to be living

Moments when you feel you need to be forgiving

Moments to shake

Moments to quake

Moments when moments seem hard to take

Moments to regret

Moments to forget

Moments that you wish hadn’t happened yet

Moments to fear

Moments that are clear

Moments when you wonder if someone is sincere

Moments of scorn

Moments when you’re torn

Moments when a brave face needs to be worn

Moments of woe

Moments to go

Moments when moments go painfully slow

Moments to bless

Moments to confess

Moments when you wish the moments were less

Moments of bliss

Moments you miss

Moments when wounds could be healed with a kiss

Moments of need

Moments of greed

Moments from which you want to be freed

Moments to pray

Moments to delay

Moments when feelings are hard to convey

Moments to cherish

Moments of relish

Moments that hopefully will never perish

Moments that shine

Moments so fine

Moments when life is like roses and wine

Moments of pleasure

Moments to treasure

Moments you wish would go on forever

 

So as you journey through joy and strife

Remember

Moments make up your life

 Lloyd


Daily Worksheet

 

Morning Session                                                                                Date :   ________

Did you read through your pre-sessional brief?                                             Yes/No ? ___

Did you return to your centre when you were in a position to do so?            Yes/No ? ___

Any Thoughts or Comments following the session worth noting ?

 

 

 

 

Write down the question for your Intuition? (if any)

 

 

 

Rate importance of this Question on a scale of 1 - 10:  ___    (1 = important and 10 = vital)

What answer(s)  have you received?

 

 

Evening Session                                                                                

Did you read through your pre-sessional brief?                                             Yes/No ? ___

Did you return to your centre when you were in a position to do so?            Yes/No ? ___

Any Thoughts or Comments following the session worth noting ?

 

 

 

 

Write down the question for your Intuition? (if any)

 

 

 

Rate importance of this Question on a scale of 1 - 10:  ___    (1 = important and 10 = vital)

What answer(s)  have you received?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eagle Rising

In the shifting light and shadow from the crackling fire, the old Indian chief lay down his pipe. To the young braves watching intently, filled with earnest admiration, he was the greatest man alive. His age worn face bore lines etched by a life in the wilderness, yet his eyes danced, sparkled and shone with a joy, a love and a zest that belied his age and bespoke a peace with his self, his life and his world. When he spoke, his words transported his audience to times and places long gone, scenes that seemed as vividly real through his words as they had been when he experienced them. Indeed, many braves would later tell how the very fire itself seemed alive to his words, as if within the moving flames, the tales were being replayed.

 

"When I was born, spring was on the land." The braves looked at each other briefly, smiling, joyous at having one more tale. "It was a time of rebirth, renewal and growing hope for the year to come. My mother, old-bear, gave me life, in the forests to the west of here." The Indian raised his bony right hand and pointed, laughing inwardly as each of the braves turned to look in the direction indicated. "She simply stopped still, groaned, sat down beneath a huge redwood and delivered me to the earth. As I lay on the ground, with the women of the tribe all about me, an eagle passed over head, rising toward the sky. I pointed up, aware, somehow, of the mighty bird and someone spoke. "Look, an eagle rising." So was I named."

 

"Five springs passed, swiftly, easily, as easily as I passed from the belly of my mother. We had no need of walls, no need of guards or barricades. We lived in peace with the land and the sky and all our brother animals. Then, one day, soldiers came. While our men were away hunting, the soldiers raided our camp and killed or wounded many of our women and children. My father, the Chief, was furious, he wanted to make war on the white men, but mother, weeping and dazed, begged him, for the sake of all our futures, not to wage a war that we could never win, a war that would blight our lives forever. So the walls were built."

 

The Indian Chief leaned forward as he spoke. "We, who had lived in peace and freedom for generations, respecting all life, rejoicing in our freedom, went forth into the forests armed with axes and rope. Many, many trees, spirits of the forest, guardians of our land, fell to our axes. Axes wielded by men, men driven by fear and desperation. We were insatiable in our search for pro­tection. Many more trees fell than we could ever need. We were not organised, we were not reasonable or rational. We had a plan, build a barricade, keep the bad men out, keep ourselves safe. So the walls were built."

 

He chuckled, humourlessly. "Fine walls they were. Tall and strong. Sharpened points on their upper edges, walkways were guards could patrol. We had but one gate, heavy, strong secure. To secure our freedom we had made ourselves a prison. Every minute of every day we manned the walls. Stocks of food and water were laid in. Stacks of arrows were made. Only to have the tips rust and have to be made again. So much effort. We never let up our vigilance, never let down our guard. Many long years passed. We were always looking, always expecting trouble, always on our guard."

 

The chief's face shifted to an expression of fond remem­brance. "It was my mother who changed all that. She was old, very old, and dying. Waiting to be carried away by the great bear spirit for whom she was named. She asked me to sit by her, and she spoke to me. With tears streaming down her old, worn face, she told me of her sadness. She remembered a time before the walls. She remembered how we had foraged with joyous abandon, going wherever we pleased, instead of skulking about, wary and watchful, with guards ever present to keep us safe. She knew she was going to a place like that again, and wished that we could do so as well."

 

"Holding my hand tight, staring into my eyes she said, "My son. For the eagle you were named. The eagle who is the hunter, the eagle who flies free over all the land. The eagle who does not live in fear, in a cage, hiding from a world he does not like or understand. An eagle in a cage is a pet, a toy, not a fierce warrior, proud and strong. I want you to be proud. I want you to be strong. I want you to go, outside the walls and show that we have nothing to fear. We have not had an attack for many years. It is safe. It is our own fears that have raided our dreams each night. And those blasted walls, they are a constant and terrible reminder. Yes the raid was horrible. Yes the raid was terrible, but what we did to ourselves, and to you, our children, was far worse. We violated the forest, our home, and we violated you. It is time for you to fly free."

 

The old man's hands were spread wide, as if he was indeed flying. With his head bent back it actually seemed as if his hair streamed behind him in flight. "So, without a word to anyone, I stole from the gate. I remember my heart beating fearfully loud, I remember the awe and wonder I felt at suddenly being alone, yet at one with the land. I knew in that instant that it was my land, our land, it belonged to us as we belonged to it. We were one. With a light step I strode boldly into the forests and was free. I was safe in the dark, confronting fears that were no longer my own. I knew I was safe. I knew the land was safe. I knew my place in the great and glorious scheme and I blessed my mother for her wisdom."

 

"One year later, under cover of darkness I set fire to the walls of the camp. I knew the fire would spread slowly, and I knew the gate would be free from fire for more than long enough for everyone to escape. As soon as the flames had caught I screamed "FIRE!" and hammered on the gate. The camp was suddenly a hive of activity. Screams echoed back and forth. Was this another raid, the attack so long feared and prepared for? The gate was opened and the people poured forth into the night. Women carried babies, children came on foot and the men came out to search for the culprits. The fire spread so quickly along the outer walls that attempts to put it out were useless. Many of the women were weeping and wailing, crying from fear and desperation. The men seemed bitter and angry. Only two of us were smiling, I and my mother. She had not left when the alarm had sounded, just lain still and trusted that whatever was meant to be, would be."

 

The old man was laughing openly now. "I remember the smoke that came from the old, tarred wood, thick, black, belching. I remember the night sky being covered. The only light was from the fire itself. And in that light, in the warmth, the people calmed. As they got used to the new light, the light of what seemed only destruction, they realised they were still alive, and they were safe. I called everyone to gather near me, and many were shocked to hear why I had left and how easily I had survived. They were even more shocked to hear it was I who had set the fire. I remem­ber momentarily fearing for my life, until a deep well of calm within me came to the fore in my mind. I knew I had done right. I knew that just as I had been liberated into throwing off the shackles of my own fear, so the rest of the tribe would be too. Already they were spreading out. I could see the simple delight on their faces at being outside the walls."

 

"As the fire died away, and the night sky showed itself once more, allowing the crisp light of the moon to shine down again, people began to rejoice. I, a young boy of fifteen, had survived a year, unaided and unthreatened. I was unharmed. They, after the fire, were unharmed. The camp itself, all the tents, horses, everything, were unharmed. All that had gone was the wall. The barricade that had imprisoned the tribe was gone. The fear, the constant reminder of suffering long past, was gone. Only peace remained. The peace of the eternal forest, which is as much a part of each one of us as we are of it, was unchanged and undis­turbed."

 

The Indian smiled at his audience. "So you see, facing our fears liberates us from them. Keeping them alive, only enslaves us for life. We had been raised to fear until my mother showed me how to know courage, to be brave, to trust. To live in fear is not to live at all. Peace is ours, it is our birthright and our true way, face your fears and peace will be yours always."

 

With that the chief closed his eyes. This was the signal for the braves to leave. As they did they each found themselves first looking up, at the great open sky, then down, looking as far as the eye could see, unbounded by walls, or fences, or fear.

 

 

David Birmingham

 

Anchor

 

Anchor (See also Homework 2 and Intuition vs. Guilt  (or Man in Her Season), by the same author).


 


 

 

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