Finding Peace in The War Against Myself.

For my children, my grandchildren, and for all of us

I wanted to share with you that for a long time I’ve been struggling in an internal debate – been stuck in rumination, fear, and anxiety.  One part of me wants to trust life. Accept things as they occur. Be in the present moment. Another part is afraid to let go. It worries that if I stop worrying about the future I won’t be prepared for worst case situations.

When things don’t work out the way I want them to, I give myself a hiding. I’m really hard on myself. Blame myself for trusting someone or not seeing it coming. Blame others. Kick myself down the spiral staircase into the basement. That place in me where fear, blame and shame live, I reckon.

This war against myself has been going on for years. The opposing factions of trust and fear rise and fall depending on what’s happening at the time. If things are going well it’s relatively calm, although part of me never really stops worrying. When things aren’t going well it gets really intense. In a funk, I become debilitated – completely stuck. Go really quiet. Go dark.

I’m happy to share  that recently things have started to get lighter. There’s been recent success in bringing the factions to the table for peace talks.

Wanted to share with you that I’ve recently and successfully discovered a critical move.

It begins with the invitation. The welcome.

I’ve discovered it’s about how I hold myself, how I ask the questions, how I bring the different parts of me to the table. You see they all play a role in my self preservation.

The invitation has to recognise and honour all the voices. Let each one know they’re valid.

Let’s say one of them has a voice of ‘Trusting Life’ and another one, the voice of ‘Fear & Control’. To work with them I see that I need to invite them to the table with respect, with gratitude and compassion.

They’ve got to trust and feel that I mean to hear and hold what they have to say. When I show up with non-conditional positive regard they sense and feel this and I’ve noticed they’re more likely to open up.

When I do this, amazingly, I often hear things from them I didn’t know or had forgotten. They feel heard. I get to understand them. And we start to work together.

Listening to a sample of an internal conversation at one time you might have heard something like: “I’m worried you’re not moving fast enough“. Followed by: “Yeah, you’re failing, lift your game.” To: “Do not share this with anyone.” To: “You’re going to fall behind on this.” and on it would go.

Now, you’d be more likely to hear words like: “OK , I hear you. Tell me more. What are you worried about?” “Let’s work through this.” “It’s all good, you’re doing your best, maybe if you need to, ask for some help.” “All right, what can you do? What do you need?”  It’s a completely different experience.

I also find somewhat miraculously the different parts of me begin to listen to each other. And before I know it they’ve stopped fighting and are working together on a pathway for peace.

As I reflect on this, it dawns on me that the change itself is not derived from seeking change. It hasn’t come from setting an agenda or clever negotiation. And it didn’t come from trying to suppress one or rationalise the other.

It came through the nature and quality of relationship. A relationship formed through compassion, curiosity, non-conditional positive regard and a genuine desire for connection.

There was no bargaining just real listening. Competition replaced by connection.

I’m finding that as I show up to the parts of me this way they in turn are able to show up to one another in the same way.

I’m happy to share that while the questions are not all answered and the work goes on, the war is over and the conversation continues.

Lightness is coming in and I can safely say that the part of me that wants to trust, the part of me that carries the fear, and the part of me that wants to go dark are all committed to showing up and working it out together.

I gotta say – I’m all in for the keeping up the practice and the prayer for ongoing loving internal relationships. To seeing this flow out in turn to others and to all that becomes possible in the loving relationships we can have with one another.

 

With love
Martin  © 2022

Self-Leadership as Inner Guidance

What part of me do I call on in times of reaction, , impatience, fear, shame, contraction, resentment, or injustice? How do I show up to my ‘Anger’, ‘Judger’, ‘Blamer’, ‘Perfectionist’, ‘Competitor & Comparer’? Who do I call on? What part of me do I find when I’m gripped by fear, bombarded by ruminating thoughts, flooded with doubt and worry? How do I meet the vulnerable parts that I know as: ‘Alone’, ‘Helpless’, ‘Impossible’, ‘Terrified’, ‘Shut down and Numb’?

If, like me, you have these questions, I trust the following contemplation is helpful.

As I show up in the day to day, I’m coming to discern a direct and proportionate correlation between my inner experience and my outer experience.

For example, I notice that: As I am kind to myself it supports me being kind to others. As I am compassionate with myself, I am more able to be compassionate with others. And as I am courageous to face certain uncomfortable truths about myself, I find courage to face certain uncomfortable situations that arise from time to time.

And then conversely; somewhat painfully and sharply I’m struck by the realisation that when at war with myself the world is at war with me. And as I sit in harsh judgment of myself there is little doubt that I am doing the same to others, and on it goes.

What arises is a deep desire to know the part of me that I may call on to guide and help me make constructive, life affirming choices. To live in the former and not the latter.

I start with the understanding that when at peace with my Self I am indeed, at peace with the outer world. I also see that when my centre is known to me, being centred helps me navigate all weathers.

What follows in this contemplation is the understanding that Self Leadership as Inner Guidance comes about from an ability to listen and receive and then to follow and trust. Which inevitably leads to making grounded choices. Is it intuition? Is it the first thought? Is it inner knowing? Is it a still small, yet powerful voice speaking simply and plainly? Is it the voice of the soul? Perhaps the answer is yes to all. I think of it now as my inner guidance system. An Inner Guide.

I notice that when I truly listen to the Inner Guide I am unshakeably at the heart and centre of being true to My Self.

From this I see that being True to My Self is couched in the ability to have an honest and clear relationship with all the parts of me.

When disturbance comes, when disruption arrives, when discomfort rises, when fear strikes: when I am caught in the question of what to do and how to show up. I am learning to turn to my True Self as the Inner Guide. There is space and spaciousness and quiet wisdom here. I am committing to strengthen a relationship with this part of me as I sense it is a most critical piece of self-leadership and dare, I say, self-love.

To follow the logic: to Love my True Self correlates to putting more Love into the World. And if ever there was a time for this, it is surely now.

As I choose to love, so may I give Love. As I choose to listen, so may I be guided. As I choose to lead, so may I follow.

For GMGB
With love.
Martin © 2022

Contemplation on the Movement from Ego Mind toward Eco Mind

For Zach B

This contemplation begins with four questions.

>  What becomes possible when I move from the frame of ‘I want’ toward the frame of ‘what is wanted of me’?

>  What happens within me when I shift the focus from ‘I need’ to ‘what is needed?’

>  What energy manifests when the patterns of: want/don’t want, should/shouldn’t, must/mustn’t, begin to shift toward the manifestation of acceptance, and the ability to simply ‘be with what is’?

>  What occurs when the ‘I’ of wanting becomes the ‘self’ of listening? Listening for what is needed in readiness to respond.

My lived experience of this movement is in the early stages. Initially I notice relaxation followed shortly after by a grip of angst. At first the contemplation brings spaciousness and peace. Then after only a few beats I notice the grip.

I sense this grip to be the ego-mind fearing a loss of power. It kicks in and uses an instinctual survival lever in an attempt to maintain its primacy and the status quo. It does not believe it can have its needs met unless it remains in a perpetual state of readiness to defend itself and/or take what it needs.

It assumes the ‘I’ as seperate from the whole and that it will not be taken care of, unless placed at the centre of all eventualities.

And so I set out to reassure it with the following:

As I stay longer in the state of listening I notice greater spaciousness, ease, and peace. In a state of listening I see clearly that the frame of ‘what is wanted’, is inclusive. In any given situation ‘what is wanted of me’ could well be: to assert a boundary, to take up a cause, to take care of self, to let go a hurt.

Shifting from an ‘ego’ mind toward an ‘eco’ mind moves away from fragmentation toward connection. Away from the central assumption of separateness toward the understanding of wholeness. With Fear driving separateness and Love informing wholeness, the felt experience of the former and the latter show up in remarkable contrast.

Eco Mind does not imply homogeneity. It does not imply abandonment of survival instincts. It points to the understanding that the source motivation for all action and movement can be an attuned response at the deepest level, to what is arising, to what is needed.

The doorway to the experience of Eco Mind appears to open in me as a state of presence. As Being and Doing align I am able to be in a state of ‘Withness’. Able to: Be With what is arising.

I see clearly that if I’m caught in Psychological time – past or future, the rumination of Ego Mind, be it anxiety or fear keeps the doorway firmly shut. The finite loops and patterns of rumination equate to an attempt to solve problems with the same thinking that created them.

In my understanding and continuing practice, what becomes possible in the movement toward the frame of ‘what is wanted’ ‘what is needed’ and the ‘Self of Listening’ is the opening of a doorway to an infinite field of potentiality. A connection to Life energy itself. Toward, as a dear friend once shared, ‘an ability and the choice to Trust Life.

Martin with Love. © 2022

Our Inner State Creates Our Outer State – The World is the Way we See It.

As eternal souls, we exist in singularity with the universe.      Zach Bush

When we pause our inner battle of self criticism to work with all the parts of us that desire equal voice;
When we cease the inner struggle with self limiting beliefs that occur in the name of self preservation and in so doing, lovingly question their efficacy;
When we fully realise that all interior battles reflect and play out in the outer world, and that our world is what we make it to be;

We can find ourselves called  to a movement  towards ‘Being With’.  Being with What is – as it is.

We know this to be an evolutionary and universal imperative. Indeed, we see that our very survival depends upon it. Stated plainly: to ultimately survive as human kind we need to move away from, or rise above, a solely survival consciousness.

This is not to suggest an outright rejection of Survival Consciousness as this state is vital when our physical survival is under threat. It is more to recognise when a Survival Mindset is all prevailing and all pervasive, keeping us in a fixed an inflexible view of the world.

The movement towards;  ‘being with’ attunes us to the whole, and in attuning, fosters connection, as does the fact that we are far more likely to thrive, by being true to ourselves and true to one another.

To undertake a movement toward ‘Withness’ is to embrace a movement toward a consciousness of inclusion, connection and shared humanity.

A whole system stance being: ‘we’re in this together’ / a separate system approach being: ‘every person for themselves’.

The former, an eco mind. The latter, an ego mind.

To move towards ‘Withness’ connects us to the whole. Natural Systems, First People Systems, Micro and Macro eco systems exhibit ‘whole system’ consciousness.

In any system, segmentation, separation, and fragmentation where parts of the whole turn ‘against’ one another, become the hallmarks of breakdown and entropy. This is true in biological terms, in familial terms and in socio-political terms.

When we understand, experience and fully realise that everything is connected, that everything is governed by one source, we are able to see that each of us can play a role in the way we practice ‘Withness’, within the system we inhabit.

Roles can include being:

Stewards of care and connection.
Healers of internal breakdown.
Uniters of fragmented systems.
Guides towards conscious awareness.
Modellers of Inclusion and Acceptance.
Facilitators of connection and safe spaces for dialogue.

The list can continue.

What is foundational to all these roles and any we deem necessary to add, is the movement:

⁃ Toward inclusion and away from exclusion
⁃ Toward acceptance and away from alienation
⁃ Toward eco mind and away from from ego mind
⁃ Toward the light of generativity and away from darkness of disconnection and dissolution.

As we move away from Separation and ‘Being Against’, toward, Withness, Integration, connection and ‘Being With’, we experience the whole. Not separate but one with.

From against, to with, to interbeing.

 

#interbeing

Martin @ 2022

No Birth No Death | Thich Nhat Hanh

Interbeing: If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. “Interbeing” is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix “inter-” with the verb “to be,” we have a new verb, inter-be. Without a cloud and the sheet of paper inter-are.

If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. If the sunshine is not there, the forest cannot grow. In fact, nothing can grow. Even we cannot grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look, we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And we see the wheat. We know the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. And the logger’s father and mother are in it too. When we look in this way, we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist.

Looking even more deeply, we can see we are in it too. This is not difficult to see, because when we look at a sheet of paper, the sheet of paper is part of our perception. Your mind is in here and mine is also. So we can say that everything is in here with this sheet of paper. You cannot point out one thing that is not here-time, space, the earth, the rain, the minerals in the soil, the sunshine, the cloud, the river, the heat. Everything co-exists with this sheet of paper. That is why I think the word inter-be should be in the dictionary. “To be” is to inter-be. You cannot just be by yourself alone. You have to inter-be with every other thing. This sheet of paper is, because everything else is.

Suppose we try to return one of the elements to its source. Suppose we return the sunshine to the sun. Do you think that this sheet of paper will be possible? No, without sunshine nothing can be. And if we return the logger to his mother, then we have no sheet of paper either. The fact is that this sheet of paper is made up only of “non-paper elements.” And if we return these non-paper elements to their sources, then there can be no paper at all. Without “non-paper elements,” like mind, logger, sunshine and so on, there will be no paper. As thin as this sheet of paper is, it contains everything in the universe in it.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

The Lesson

A Pattern for Peace

For Toke Palludan Møller

On the morning of the first day of the Warrior of the Heart training the Sensei shared the first truth: ‘There are no enemies, only worthy opponents

Wrestling with this proposition, the student, despite being used to a life of suffering and not trusting others, even though they were yet able to know it for themselves, decided to consider this truth thoughtfully .

On the morning of the second day of the Warrior of the Heart training the Sensei shared the second truth: ‘Your worthy opponents are your teachers

The student, used to a life of blaming and judging others wrestled with this proposition. Again, even though they were yet able to know this truth for themselves, decided to consider the proposition thoughtfully.

On the morning of the third day of the Warrior of the Heart training the Sensei shared the third truth: ‘Your worthy opponents, as your teachers, have great gifts for you.’

The student, used to a life of struggle and effort, wrestling with this proposition, even though they were yet able to know this truth for themselves, once again decided to consider it thoughtfully.

At the end of the third day the Sensei approached and asked the student what they had accomplished. 

The student replied, they had a long way to go as they were yet able to know the three truths for themselves.

The Sensei looked at the student for a moment and then asked; what are the three truths as you understand them?

Sensei, the first truth as I understand, is: “I am powerful when I see my enemy worthy. To do this I will need to stand in my own worthiness, and this being the firmest ground of all, will help me to show a peaceful way”

“Sensei, the second truth as I understand, is: “I am powerful when I embrace what my worthy opponent has to teach me for they stand to offer me my greatest learning, and in turn, my greatest peace.”

‘Sensei, the third truth as I understand, is: “I am powerful when I accept the gifts my worthy opponents bring me, as they help reveal what I have hidden unto myself. Accepting these gifts will in turn, give great peace to all.”

With that the Sensei smiled, bowed and graciously said:

Thank you – you are the teacher.  Go in Peace. 🙏

 

Martin @ 2022

Catching the Judgment Pattern 

What I judge in others is what I fear in myself and this points to where my work is.

It strikes me that some forms of thought bring suffering and some forms of thought bring peace.

I’m curious.

  • What makes these thought forms different?
  • How can I characterise the difference?
  • How can I increase my ability to choose between them?

What makes these thought forms different?

When I reflect on the difference I see that in suffering thoughts I am often running an enemy narrative – I believe something or someone has the power to take away my power. I’m holding on to a me versus them mindset and sitting in judgement of others.  In peaceful thoughts there is a co-creation narrative – I see my part in the play. I see the part that I’m responsible for and I’m also able to hold my ground in the face of a challenge.

To the second question: How can I characterise the difference?

In suffering thoughts, there is much judgment, blame and accusation. In peaceful thoughts, there is empathy, curiosity and compassion, and I definitely notice judgment the relief that occurs as I ease into curiosity and empathy of others. A clear relief from the contraction of judgmental thoughts

To the third question: How can I increase my ability to choose between them?

This for me is the big question. You might say, where the rubber meets the road. With the above in mind, as I consider ways to increase my ability to go towards peaceful thoughts, practices like meditation, loving kindness and mindfulness come to mind.

In addition there’s a practice I’d like to share that’s been helping me take full ownership of my part in the play.

To explain.

I find it helpful to work with the premise that Life is constantly co-creating itself. Life is co-creation and everything physical and non physical is connected and in relationship.

On this basis I ask:  What if everything that causes me to perpetuate hurt and anguish is, at the deepest level of significance, an opportunity to see my part in the co-creation of the hurt and anguish itself? And further, What if everything I judge cause me to suffer?

What might this mean? Straight up it means I’ve got work to do.

Today my work is to catch in myself the voices of judgment and fear, the physical contractions, the mental narrowing on the problem, the ruminating, in fact anything that takes me down the rabbit hole of suffering thoughts.

The first part being to recognise this. To Catch the moment and hold it lightly.

The next step is the kicker and it’s where I turn the ‘what if’ questions into statements.

I do have a part in this. I am responsible for that part. I do have blind spots. 

The moment I make these statements to myself I notice how Radical Ownership kicks in. With no where to hide and facing in, what follows the sting of full ownership is the optimism of what begins to grow within me. There’s a weird quiet joy that sits at the centre of this – I’m figuring its a nod from my soul that’s indicating I’m back on track.

And then in the spirit of adventure I’ve been taking it one step further.

Whatever I judge in another I reverse it. For those that know Byron Katie’s work, I’ve been inspired by what she calls ‘the turnaround’ – turning the judgement back on oneself.

What I’ve discovered is the neutralising effect this has on the ‘suffering thoughts’. The reversal also takes me directly to deeper ownership of my part in the interplay and illuminates a blind spot.

To give you a recent example. I judged a person close to me for their lack of grace and consideration of others. Happily I caught the judgment and then proceeded to explore when lacking grace and being inconsiderate of others was true for me. Taking full ownership I saw very clearly that there were times when this was true.

Talk about a way to extinguish self righteousness.

In continuing this practice I’ve never yet found a moment where what I’m judging in another is not also true for me and/or where I’m playing a part.

Of course when I’m hot with emotion and feeling wounded, this practice feels impossible. In waiting for the heat to cool I can usually get there in time.

It works for historic incidents as well. Many years back I felt betrayed by two work colleagues – and you could say there was good justification for this. However even years later without doing this work I’m still suffering. So I applied the reversal of judgment and saw that in their eyes I had betrayed my colleagues in terms of their expectations as we’d never had clear and constructive conversation about any of the undercurrents at play. Voila – peaceful thoughts of acceptance.

Another example – I recently judged a family member for ‘throwing me under the bus’. When I reversed the judgement, guess what – in their experience I’d done the same. Suffering gone. Blind spot lit.

Radical ownership plus blind spot illuminated = ego reduction. And therefor with ego-mind reduced an eco-mind is enhanced and from this comes more peaceful thoughts.

I’m excited about this practice because it allows me to really see what is being co-created when I show up with contracted – suffering thoughts.

I perpetuate the suffering by avoiding ownership and falling into the trap of the enemy narrative.

I’m coming to understand that this is tapping into a universal truth or natural law.

What I judge is what I fear and points me to where my work is.

With love – Martin.

Martin © 2022

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