5 Keys to Having an Amazing Inner Life

Have you ever noticed how many books in the self-help sections of book stores and how many articles in magazines start with a number.   Who knows really how many keys there are to having an amazing inner life?  There are probably at least a billion and that would just be a start.    I am going to use 5 so you as the reader don’t tire and you know when you are coming to the end, but make no mistake about it.  I don’t have the slightest idea about how many keys there are.  I am sure the number is infinite because it is an infinite world.

  1.  If you are a man and you are reading this article, you are so far behind almost every woman on the planet by virtue of having to grow up in a culture of Neanderthals, that you practically have no chance of catching up.  The average man’s range of emotional feeling inside can be summarized in these three words, sad, glad, mad, while most women can probably name 100 emotions.   As men we are taught the method of “white knuckling” negative emotions which means that you never talk about them or deal with them.  You just tense up and push them down.   When white knuckling doesn’t work anymore, we go to the pub.  Then we create a culture around the pub that gives us permission to not deal with the inner world.  Craft beer makes it seem like you are doing art when really you just are just white knuckling.  Women are much freer to express emotions and work on them as they wish.    If you are a man and can just add the phrase “I am feeling fear” into your repertoire of comfortable things to say,  then you have made a good start to a great inner life because naming the negative emotions is where everything begins.  Even if you only say it to yourself, it is good beginning.  If you are a woman and you are using the white knuckling approach,  it means that somehow inwardly you have given up being a woman to become a man.  Big trouble!!!
  2.  If you hear voices or see strange figures or feel weird vibrations when you enter a room,  you don’t have to believe that you are schizophrenic or try to shut them off.  Contrary to a lot of methodology that is practiced with meditation,  the goal of learning how to quiet yourself on the inside is so that you can see and hear and feel the inner world.    The negative things that you are quieting are like inner voices that shut out the positive.   The goal for me has never been to turn off the negative voices or pictures in the beginning.  The goal is transforming the negative voices and pictures to positive ones.    Going to a silent retreat and expecting to get some kind of tranquility is expecting a lot.  Tranquility comes when you love what is happening on the inside.
  3. Prayer without meditation is like trying to call your friend for help but just talking all the time or telling your friend all of your problems and asking for help and then hanging up.  Meditation is the process of asking a question on the inside and then listening for an answer. Sometimes it takes awhile to get an answer.
  4. The next world and the souls in it are closer to you than you can imagine.  They are actually waiting to help you out if you ask them.   It helps if you can be aware when they are around.   If you don’t believe in the next world, which is true for a lot of people, then you can call on positive energy to help you which is really effective.  For instance, if you need to be more discerning because you are taken advantage of easily, then call of the energy of discernment to help you.  As you do it you can gradually learn how to be more discerning.
  5.  When darkness pervades your life, the goal is not to rid yourself of the darkness.  The goal is to find the differentiation of the light that is trying to break through the dark areas.   Spiritual energy is one like the light of the sun, but when it goes through the prism of the human world, it is differentiated into qualities like courage, honesty, peacefulness, love, compassion, and generosity.   Each quality emanates from the same one spiritual source, but we need the differentiation to give light to various aspects of our lives.   The qualities are like prescriptions to make each part of our lives much more effective.   To have a great inner life you should always have one of the qualities that you are working on.  In this way your life improves each day.   Never start a day without knowing what you are going to be working on developing inside.

The Challenge of Being an Introvert in an Extroverted Culture

When I grew up in America in the 1950s-60s, it was pretty obvious to me when I entered school that the really strong part of me that was introverted was not valued or encouraged in any way.   Really I remember being really comfortable with myself before entering school and then suddenly being overwhelmed with needing to be an extrovert. American culture is about being an extrovert and not an introvert.    My stronger nature was to be very calm and go into the internal world, but the pressure of the culture was always be more extroverted.   I should have had meditation classes, but instead, when I wouldn’t talk to people, I was labeled shy.   If the opposite were true, then I would have been ok while the extroverts would have been labeled loud and rude which is how Americans are usually perceived in many other cultures.

It wasn’t until I first landed in a different culture, a First Nations Reserve in Alberta, Canada, that I felt validated for being able to easily go into the inner world.   It is place that is easy for me to go to.  I can spend long hours there easily with no problem.  And it is not like I don’t like the outer world.   I love doing a lot of things with others.   I am not saying that one is better than the other, nor am I saying that you can give the excuse of not being social because you are introverted or not being calm and reflective because you are an extrovert.  Life requires big doses of both, but I think that in America it is much harder to be an introvert than an extrovert.   And I think that this has something to do with the cultural fear about going inside and exploring the inner world.   I cannot usually talk to too many people about what I can do in the inner world.  I have to hold back about what I share because many people automatically are very resistant to it, a little bit like you are anti-religious or anti-American.

I am really not aiming this post at extroverts.  I love you guys because you make life fun and enjoyable.  I appreciate you for that.   I am hoping to reach a few introverts who have extraordinary inner powers that no one is going to teach you about at home or in school, that you may even feel are wrong or demonic.  The inner world is waiting.

In the next post I will discuss the dynamics of going inward with some easy tips.

Why the American Dream is a Big Fat Lie: Making it Little

The title of this post may sound like it is a rant.   It is not intended to be one.   When I was thinking about it,  I started doing some statistical work, mainly on the number of people who start out with a dream and then the actual number who get to it.  In the U.S. the percentage of high school football players who make it to the pros is something like 0.09%.   Of those who actually play regularly the percentage is probably lower.   In Canada in one university of the 5000 applicants who were qualified for medical school  only 194 were accepted.  That is about 1 out of every 25 qualified applicants.   It got me thinking about the American Dream which says something like if you work hard and do the right things, that you can do and become whatever you put your mind to.  I started thinking about 10,000 American boys who loved football, probably had the dream of the pros, worked hard and did all of the right things, but didn’t make it or the 4,806 medical school applicants who worked incessantly to get to the goal, but were not allowed in.   And then it stared me in the face.  The American Dream is a Big Fat Lie.   It isn’t true.

So if it so obviously not true from the data,  why are bookstores full of stories about the 1 person who did make it, and not about the 99,997 who didn’t.  Why are we so obsessed about believing something that is so NOT true?    It is an interesting question and a great book title.  “How We Didn’t Make it Big?”    So what happens to the 99,997 when they don’t make it big?    This is what happens.   They become part of the machine that feeds the few of the ones who make it big.   We love the story of making it big, but there is an ugliness about it that maybe we collectively don’t want to look at.  There is a dark place where we don’t want to go.  At least some people don’t want you to go there.  No one is writing about us.   I was one of the 99,997.  I even got to the next level which was college football, but something turned me when I got to that level that has helped me change my pattern of living ever since.   There was an ugliness in university that didn’t exist in high school.  It was if I was feeding a machine.   The machine had trained me well to work extremely hard, to have workaholic habits.   Really and truly I was going after the dream.  Then one day it stared me in the face, the dark truth.   “There is nothing in this experience that I doing, trying to make in Div. 1 American football that had anything to do with me.”

For some reason I felt it, began to name it, and then left for what turned out to be extraordinarily more rewarding for the rest of my sporting days which continues until the present, intramural sports.   I played lacrosse, squash, and a little rugby.   I made it LITTLE.   It was a 100 times more rewarding to play intramural lacrosse than to try to play Div. 1 intercollegiate sport.

For some reason something woke me up and told me that making it Little was so much better than making it Big.   Something told me as early as 1968 that if I try to make it Big, I will lose myself entirely.     Trying to make it big by following the American Dream teaches you from a young age to work really hard so that you can make it to the top.  What they don’t tell you is that the real goal is train you to work hard so that you become a slave to those who are already at the top.   This is the dirty truth.  I hope it doesn’t sound like I am angry or ranting.  I am not.    In 1968 I began the opting out of the American Dream process.  It wasn’t an all-at-once experience.  I did it gradually over time.   It didn’t mean that I completely opted out of reality like the hippies did at the time.   I knew that there were realities about life that i couldn’t deny like how to make a living.    The dirty truth is that the people at the top don’t really want you to make it to the top because they want it for themselves.   They allow a few people into the club because it gives the illusion that if you work hard, you can make it.   Then they write about those people as if they are some kind of heroic figures.    On occasion someone who knows how to work hard sees that it is all a dirty game of cheating, figures out the rules of cheating really well, and makes it up there pretending like it was all hard work.   His name is Lance Armstrong.  He played dirty for sure, but for every single Lance that is caught, there are thousands more playing his game that are not caught.   I am sure that if he were really honest, he would just say that his problem was that he got caught, not that he was cheating.   Nor everyone at the top cheats, but the American Dream is a culture of cheating that convinces people that working hard will get you to the top.  Lance Armstrong just realized that the American Dream wasn’t true.   Does it make him less guilty? No.   He just wanted to be part of the club. Most of us want into that club.   I could see why they wouldn’t let him into bike racing after the scandal, but he was also banned from every other kind of sanction racing even when he didn’t have a chance of winning.   That just tells me that we want him to be a scapegoat so that we don’t have to the let go of the illusion of the American Dream.

How do you opt out and maintain yourself without going broke?    It is the big question.  I don’t have all of the answers.   I wish I did.     When you opt in to the American Dream, it is an automatic ticket to losing yourself.  It is how the system works. Opting out, but having to make a living, allows you to make choices other than how to get to the top.   It allows you to make decisions on how you can be more beneficial to your family and your community.   It helps you to pursue courses of action that actual give results rather than working for organizations that are looking for material gain only.

In the end it helps you to get results that are extremely satisfying and rewarding to the lives of others.  Time to think little and make it little.


The Problem with the Way Most of Us Set Goals and Go for Visions

I have been doing a lot of work recently in my counseling sessions with various people who are having difficulty achieving what they really want to do in their lives.   One of the things that I have discovered is very revealing about the process.   Most of what I have read in the past about goal setting and envisioning emphasizes the aspect of clarity about the future targets.   You are supposed to see what you want to do as clearly as possible and then go for it.   While there are issues around questionable goals using this process, such as in the way you acquire financial wealth,  for the most part it is a sound process.  The problem is often not in the goal and its clarity.

The bigger issue is the “me” that it is trying to achieve the vision.   So here is the problem.   The vision or the goal that I have set is one thing, but the me who can actually achieve the goal is not yet living in the real world.   I can set a big vision, but can the person who I currently am achieve it?  Often the answer is no.   It turns out that achieving a goal is not often about what the goal is, but more a question of who do I have to be to accomplish it.   Who I need to be is often wanting.

The process of achieving the what, the specific target, is mainly about the degree of clarity along with the appropriate action to get there, but the process of developing the who is not so much about clarity, but about understanding how the person who can get to the target actually does the work.    It doesn’t do much good to go after a goal like doing abstract art until you can understand the state of mind and being that an painter is in when they paint.    When you have uncovered the patterns of the mind that do the activities to get to the goal, then it is relatively easily to begin doing the new patterns. You cannot  become an abstract painter when you are not in the correct state of mind, when you don’t answer the who.   Who is a person when they do abstract painting?

What further complicates the process is the limitation of not believing that being a certain type of person is possible.    You will hear people even from a very young age making self limiting statements like I am not the kind of person who……    It is a way of saying no to doing new types of activities and protecting yourself from failure.

The more helpful process at the beginning stage of doing the goal related behavior is to not jump into identity beliefs immediately such as feeling like you have to be Picasso,  but rather to explore questions about what is the state of mind that someone like Picasso is in when they do their art.    What is the state of mind that you need in order to run a marathon or fix the plumbing or sing in public?     Each person, the runner, the plumber, and the singer has a unique state of mind that allows them to do what they do.  When you can discover what they do in their minds, then you can start achieving the goals you set related to a specific area.

As a therapist for instance,  I have the ability to internally walk side by side with a person as they are exploring their own version of their own hell.   It is like  I am holding hands with them through hell.    I actually get excited when I am in there with them because I know it is going to be where I find the answers to unlock the positive potentials in them.    When I get to the darkest places, I get really joyful.   I am with them so that they don’t get totally into a dysfunctional state.    My excitement lets them know that it is ok.

So when you are thinking about a goal like planting a garden or learning a new instrument the starting place is with who do you need to be to plant a garden and what is the best state of mind to achieve that goal.   Ask someone who is good at it how they do it.

Using Your Dreams to Monitor the Intensity of Your Physical Activity

In the previous post about what kind of physical activity you can do when dealing with trauma I introduced the concepts of low intensity and high intensity exercise emphasizing the importance of low intensity work when you are in first working with your trauma.   In this post I am going to show how to use your dreams to help monitor the way you do physical activity.

The general rule is that the worst the dream is in terms of its content the lower the intensity of exercise you should be doing.   What happens to most people when they have a nightmare, for instance, is that the nightmare wakes them up, and then they are left with a huge amount of fear in their mind as well as negative emotion in their body usually in the form of tension.   The worse the nightmare, the longer the negative energy will stay in the body and mind.   If you have done the work I have recommended in Dreamwork: Module 1 (https://gum.co/FbZe),  you will see that the goal isn’t to forget the nightmare or suddenly let go of the fear.    The goal is use the nightmare as a springboard for your own transformation.   When you have a nightmare, the goal of the exercise is to dissipate the excess tension which will calm the fear enough so you can work with it.   You need very long walks.   When you do a yoga or stretching position, you need to approach where the stress is in your body, and gently hold it without forcing yourself through the stressed area.   This also dissipates, but keeps you mindful of the fear.   At the same time that you do the long walks you need a huge amount of processing.   The more the fear the more the processing because the nightmare is the signal that you are at the beginning of a process of unleashing new potential.

The danger of a nightmare is the desire to forget it.  This is absolutely the worst thing you can do.   The tendency for a lot of people is to do really high intensity hard work when they have a nightmare or big fear because it allows you to temporarily forget the nightmare.   The nightmare goes away with really hard work, but after some time it comes back with a vengeance.   This is where you see professional athletes break down. They repeated go to high intensity hard work without processing.

If you are generally emotionally stable or have already done a lot of trauma work, then the day after a nightmare is  a good one to suspend training and  do a lot of meditation and walking.   A long walk in the forest followed by journaling is ideal.   Always feel free to send me your dreams and I will be happy to give you some feedback.  dreamsforpeace@gmail.com.  Counseling work is all the better.

A person coming back from a prolonged nightmare like war should not do any intensive exercise at least until the nightmares of war have ceased.   Recurring nightmares put you in recurring fear.   You need low intensity exercise to dissipate tension and then a lot of therapeutic work to convince the mind that it is no longer in danger.   War like conditions which are the same as childhood or adult abuse take a fair amount of work because the mind has such a hard time letting go of believing it is not at war even when it is in a peaceful surrounding.

If you are relatively healthy and you are doing inner work to change yourself, there will come a stage when the dreams will change from all negative to a mix of negative and positive.   This lets you know that you are on the right path, that the change is happening.     At this point you can have a mix of high, low, and medium intensity workouts.   The danger, when you are in this stage, is to think that because the high levels of stress and tension have left your body, that you still shouldn’t process.  This would be a huge mistake.   You should do the processing in inverse proportion to the exercise.   On low intensity days you do high amounts of processing and I on high intensity days you do less processing.     Remember that the purpose of high intensity exercise is to forget pain which is good when you can handle a challenge, but at this stage you still have work to do before the new potential is in place and becomes habitual.

The last stage of development is the challenge stage where the dreams are mostly positive.   At this stage you can just take the energy and really challenge yourself in the outer world.  This is a good time to go after a big physical goal that requires a lot of work.   In this stage forgetting is a good thing because you are forgetting or letting go of your old patterns and using the new ones habitually.

What if you don’t remember any dreams at all.  This means that whatever happened to you in the past doesn’t want to be remembered at all.   The way to get to the memory of the nightmare in your life is to do very short periods of high intensity exercise.  The challenge you put your body through will begin to wake up the memory of the trauma, but you need to have counseling services on hand because it will be intensive inner work that you need. At the point when do the intensity, you are going to meet some bad stuff.  There are supplements you can take that will assist the memory as well.  Just have the help on hand.

Going through the stages example.

Let’s say that you are a person who is moving from being cold and overly rational to warm and loving.   When you do the walking part (low intensity), you can begin to dissipate tension associated with being warm and loving.   The tension is going to be some kind of intense fear of being abandoned.   This is pretty universal for some cultures like northern Europeans.  You will always end up in your dreams feeling afraid and alone.  As you come to grips with abandonment you begin to find closeness with your true self and others.    At this point the intensity of work can be introduced.  Your dreams will have less alone feelings and more positive emotions around being together with others.   Over a period of time you can continue to process until the level of loving and warm feelings inside have reached a point where you can start to include all kinds of diverse people into your life.   At the point when you are ready for high levels of diversity because of the progress with closeness then you can also push the physical challenge.   The physical and social challenge will be matched and the dreams will be positive.

Just about the time you are feeling great about the warmth and loving progress in your life that you have made, then a new set of capacities will want to evolve in you.  That is just the nature of being a human being.  The dreams will start back at the nightmare stage.  When you think the growth process is over, bam, a new one strikes.   The difference between this set of dreams and the last ones, when you first started nightmare work, is that you already have a memory of how to work through a process.    So for exercising you don’t have stop the challenges set in the previous stage, but you still have to do the processing.     Whenever i have a really negative dream I make it a point to take a really long walk and then give myself a long time to process the dream.   The best money you will ever spend in your entire life when dealing with a nightmare is some hours in counseling with someone who knows what they are doing.    Better yet if they give you ideas on how to exercise while you are processing.  In the old paradigm counseling was seen for weak people.  It had a sense of shame to it. It meant that you couldn’t tough it out.

How to Use Physical Exercise to Deal with Emotional Trauma

I am writing this article purely from my own experience and observations and not from a more rigorous scientific point of view, but I am sure that you will see the logic and common sense behind what I am suggesting.   Healing from trauma to a large degree is achieved by long periods of sustained inner work.   It requires having to face some pretty awful stuff on a daily basis without running from it.

If you watch certain professional athletes the way they fall apart emotionally in high pressure situations,  it should be obvious that they need time off to heal their childhood traumas before returning to high intensity training.   High intensity work, which seems to be something of a fad to lose weight right now, is about the worst possible thing you can do when healing a trauma.    If you watch a professional athlete’s temperament under pressure,  you can see the ones who have suffered childhood trauma.  You can almost predict the timing of their next injury.  And the nonsense of a show like the “Biggest Loser” shows just how little we know about healing as a culture.   A person with huge obesity obviously has childhood trauma, so sure they can go ahead and lose a lot of weight quickly,  but it is going to come back just as fast unless the emotional healing work is done in a sustained way over a considerable period.

What does high intensity work do?    It shuts off the mind completely so that you will learn how to forget the pain.   It is what the Navy Seals do so that when they go into combat they will not feel pain.  When you are healing, you don’t want your mind to shut off and forget pain.   You want the opposite.   You want to be able to have access to the pain rather than forgetting it.   Trying to forget your emotional pain is what obese people when they obsessively eat.

The kind of environment you need to heal childhood trauma is one where you can constantly look at your pain without it getting the best of you.   It is usually done with a lot of supportive and competent people who know what they are doing in the healing process.

What kind of exercise do you need?   You need low intensity exercise that you can sustain for a long time, and you need to avoid competitive situations until the healing cycle is complete.  Low intensity is exactly what the therapeutic community is doing to heal the trauma.   They keep you safe and calm, but really focused and alert.  What does that look like?   Usually people start with walking.   Walking is good because it raises the heart rate to a degree and as you are moving you are still able to process while at the same time dissipating the build up of negative energy in your body.   As your body strengthens you can add elevation and speed, but you can not sacrifice distance and time.   Repeated 100 meter sprints will teach you to forget the pain and throw you right out of process.    Walking or running will allow you to keep the pain and process it, but at the same time let go of the toxic build up in your body from the trauma patterns.   If you can talk and process while you are running with a partner, for instance, then you are doing something positive for yourself.   If you are just training at fast speeds to compete, then you are throwing yourself out of the healing mode.  It is not bad that you do performance training, but not when you are doing trauma work.

With other types of exercise like strength work it should be with low weights and a lot of reps. Holding yoga positions in a comfortable positions for a long time could also be beneficial.    You can use yoga and strength work to help heal, but you need a qualified person to take you through where you are weak and frozen in your body so that you can process the emotional pain as it happens.   You probably shouldn’t play team sports in competitive situations until the trauma is healed to a large degree.

Don’t look at anything to do with weight loss until you have done the trauma work.  It will be fruitless and will make your body worse.

Please feel free to add what you have found helpful while you were healing in the comment section or it you disagree wildly.

The Hows and Whys of a Daily Spiritual Practice

“Let each morn be better than its eve and each morrow richer than its yesterday.”  Baha’u’llah

The modern world is fully of busy people doing a lot of things all the time, but one of the things that few people have is a daily spiritual practice where they are consciously working on the purpose of life which is to acquire more positive qualities (virtues).   If you don’t have a daily spiritual practice, you put your life into the hands of cultural forces for your development.  They tend to make you materially minded and focused.   A daily spiritual practice keeps you in a continual process of growth that can counter the detrimental effects of cultural pressure to act in ways that are against your true nature.    What are the steps?

Everyone’s spiritual practice may look different.   The key aspect of it is that you do it everyday and it actually helps you to make a lot of changes.   If it doesn’t work, don’t use it.

  1. Prayer.  Prayer is the process of lowering yourself in humility in relation to the divine.   It is the nature of the spiritual dimension to be benevolent to you, but it requires that you be in state of where you are as nothing and the divine is as everything.   This puts you into a state of openness for the divine forces to work in assisting you to change in ways that are best for you.   When you are in this state,  it is much more possible to make rapid growth.    When you are in the opposite state, it is as if you are trying to be God which doesn’t work at all.    Try using prayers that ask for the divine will rather than your own because you cannot help but have selfish motives in your own prayer.  “O God please buy me a new house,” may or may not be what the divine has in store for you.
  2.  Read from Holy Inspirational Writings.   These have a great deal of positive  influence on your spirit.   Take your time when you read and reflect on their meaning.   These are universal divine truths that apply to everyone such as loving your neighbor.
  3.   Meditation/Reflection Work.   There are as many ways to do this as there are people on the planet.  My criteria for myself is whether or not it produces change.  The key dual processes are detachment from the negative forces in your life and in yourself and attachment to the specific spiritual energy you need right now.   The hard part is the detachment which is why it is the emphasis in almost everyone’s method.    I start with recognizing where my biggest issue is in my life.  I recognize it by what negative emotion is the most pressing on me right now.   For instance, the issue may be fear of poverty or worry about your appearance or sadness of the loss of a partner.    The issue and emotions generate behaviors in the category of flight or fight.   If you fear poverty,  you may avoid spending on yourself or others.  If you worry about appearance you may avoid being around certain people or become someone else around them.     Once I know the issue and behavioral pattern,  then I start the attachment phase which is going to be in the positive opposite direction to the issue and behavior.   For instance you can be generous in how you spend your time and energy with people,  practice what it is like to be free of thinking others are looking at you, or being enthusiastic about the new people you are going to meet.
  4.  Try out the new solutions in the world.   If you have done the work correctly, then the solution will work in the outer world.    The action will give you feedback of what changes you need to make the following days.    The next day you start all over.  If you have been following my blog, you know that I also rely heavily on my dreams for the guidance about the issues.

This is a summary of the steps.  They can get a lot more sophisticated at each step. Try not to get hung up in thinking one is that much better than other.  Do what works which is what makes the most change.

Fear is Your Best Friend When It Comes to Transformation

In the work I do with DreamsforPeace hardly a day passes when I don’t receive a message that goes something like this.  “Dear Richard, Last night I had the most disturbing nightmare…”    The first impulse when we have intense feelings of fear whether they are in dreams or real life is to do whatever is possible as soon as possible to get the fear out of the body and mind.   This is only logical.  It is the rational thing to do because the fear feels awful, it starts patterns of fleeing and hiding,  and upsets our emotional equilibrium.    Fear is an enemy to the body to be eliminated ASAP.    We feel this way, for the most part, because we don’t understand the positive purpose behind the fear.    Why is fear good for us?   Why should we make friends with it and love having it?    It is a very counter-intuitive and challenging process so see fear as your friend when our logical minds are using every ounce of energy to see it as something to get rid of as quick as possible.

In my counseling work I try to think of the friendliness process as if I am helping someone to take their fear on a holiday with me.    They can sit at the poolside or the beach with the “fear” in the chair next to them.    When we are friendly with our fear or even other emotions like rage or despair, we can take them on a holiday with us and relax with them because they are going to be the impetus for us to change into the person that we really want to be.  If we have no fear or other negative feelings, it is almost impossible to transform.   They are the catalysts so it is best to learn how to love them and look forward to them.   Does this sound peculiar?    It shouldn’t.   This is why.

We all have two natures, one that we call our true self, which is made up of all of our positive capacities, and one that is  our ego or our animal nature which has all of our protective instincts which include all of the negative emotions.    When we feel fear like the fear of being assaulted by others, it is a protective instinct from our ego or animal nature.  It helps our protective instincts to kick in so that we won’t be assaulted, but it often acts way out of proportion to the actual danger.   For instance, it may prevent us from going to do shopping or leaving our house because it always imagines the worst possibilities wherever we are so that we will look for them all the time.   It can literally paralyze us.   And then when we see the fear as our enemy,  it goes inside a bunker of protection so that we won’t get rid of it under any circumstances.    How do you make friends?

What we need is to take the fear on a holiday where it can relax for awhile because what ego conditions tell us above all else is that we are lacking a more positive higher energy which we sometimes call virtues or capacities.  When we have the fear of being assaulted, even though it is a safe area,  it means that we don’t have the capacity to reach out and engage with others fully.   Imagine being on the beach again with the ego state, the fear of being assaulted in the chair next to you and then a third person shows up.   That person is the you with the new capacity which is to reach out and engage with others fully.      The reason that you can be friendly with the fear is that if you stay in process and do the change work correctly,  it is going to be able to walk away and have a long sleep under an umbrella somewhere while the new capacity gradually becomes fully a part of you.

The key to making friends with our fear or other ego states is realizing that they are the motivating impulse for change because they tell us what capacities we don’t already have operating.   Everyday when we wake up or in our sleep, our ego reminds of what we don’t have developed yet.   It is as if the ego is saying, “come on, let’s go relax on the beach for awhile and develop this new you.”    But if you don’t acknowledge it, and try to stuff it, it feels like the enemy and then will do its ugliness.

Take your ego on a holiday today.


The Challenge of Being Strong in Your Self

For a lot of people who have worked in various organizations and businesses the big challenge is the realization that the CEO or head is often stuck developmentally around the age of 5.   If you think about letting a 5 year old be in charge of an organization,  they run into a number of big challenges.  First of all when they are under stress, their fall back position is to only think about their own selves and protect what they have.   What that often looks like is the use of power to  protect their own interests.  They can have a lot of fear about being innovative because a 5 year old cannot look very far into the future.   Does this sound like people you know or even some world leaders?  Scary thought!!

The difficulty, when facing immaturity, is how to stay strong within your own true self and move forward in actualizing a higher vision, and not reverting into your own 5 year old fighting back at them.   We have a few great examples in the not so distant past that can inform us perhaps of how to stay strong.   They include people like Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and  Aung San Suu Kyi to name just a few.   It seems to me that in the face of governments or cultures that were run by 5 year olds they needed to have some very specific capacities.   If we were to apply those capacities in whatever situation we are currently in,  we too might be successful  with our long term visions.

What are they?

I think one of the great capacities they all had was patience.   5 year olds don’t have much patience.  If you think back to when you were actually 5, you may have heard an adult say something like “patience is a virtue”.   But I remember as a 5 year old that I hated that expression because I didn’t have a very long time frame.  Nelson Mandela spent 26 years in prison before the South African government abandoned apartheid.   Aung San Suu Kyi spent 15 years under house arrest in Myanmar (formerly Burma).   Patience allows you pick the right time to do things and to stop time internally.    It allows you to erase time as a factor because patience extends the amount of time you actually have to achieve something.

Another of the capacities was their ability to see exactly what they wanted in the future that was both positive and inclusive.  A 5 year old under stress is exclusive and destructive, but the vision of the above leaders has been  to create a society that includes everyone with equality and equity.    Even though Americans have a long way to go yet with racial issues, you can see Martin Luther King’s vision actually having been realized in so many places.

The other great capacity that they have had is the ability to let go of hurt and pain caused at the hands of the 5 year olds.  They didn’t take the path of revenge.   To me this may be the greatest capacity that they have had.   It is the ability to not fight back with vengeance even though the injustice has been horrific.

Patience- Inclusive Vision- Letting go of Hurt

I am sure that you can think of other capacities that were also in use, but these stand out in my mind as the ones you need to be strong in yourself when facing negative leadership.   If you practice them, you can hold a vision for decades.



The Fallacy of Going for Love and Affection: Why We Should Go for Playfulness

Many of the people I get dreams from or work with in counseling sessions suffer from a kind of internal obsession, which I have had myself at times in my life, that believes that if we only have love and affection from someone, then our lives would really work and we would somehow my whole.     In the midst of that belief this is what ACTUALLY happens step by step.

  1.   First of all we start from a position of weakness in a relationship that says the other person has all of the love to give and I have nothing.   The longing for love and affection is like believing that you are a dried up well that needs filling.  When someone else fills it, then you will be ok.    It is NOT such a strong position to start from.
  2.  Sometimes you can get into a relationship and get your well filled up for a short time, but if you are internally a dried up well, people will abandon you sooner or later because they don’t want to have to continually hang with a dried up well.   Seeking love and affection equals abandonment.
  3.  When you get abandoned from others because of being a dried up well,  then the tendency is to hide in the mind rather than living fully in the world.  The mind becomes a safe place where you don’t have feel abandoned.

To get out of the pattern that ends up in abandonment there is an easy switch which works amazing well.    Instead of believing that you need more love and affection, you can believe that you need more play.   The difference between seeking love as if you are dried up well and being involved in more play is that play takes you out of your mind and puts you fully into your body in the present tense, the now.   Not surprisingly when you are fully in your body, then you can connect with others more easily because you are  a well that is full of positive energy.

It is a bit counter-intuitive but it explains why when you come home from stressful work where you have had to face a lot of harshness or rejection,  that going out and exercising or playing re-energizes you when you are tired.    The natural tendency after facing the negative world is to return home and believe that what you need is love.  This is because the outside world has dried up your well.    If it worked to get love from someone, it would be a great strategy, but it just doesn’t work.  It just leaves you feeling abandoned.

Play re-engages yourself and puts you back into your body fully.   It starts from inside of yourself and then connects you back to positive energy.  When you are connected to your inner self, then you automatically with almost no effort connect to everyone around you.

So when you feel like your spouse or mother or father or someone doesn’t love you, then just make the mental switch and go for play.   You will forget them and be connected with everyone around you.

Releasing Enthusiasm Part 2: Getting Over the Fear of Other People’s Anger

I have a lot of natural calmness.  I think it was just one of those gifts that was placed in me when at the moment of my conception.   I don’t think it has a lot to do with genetics or environment.   It is what helps me do a lot of the inner dream work with people.     However,  I have recently had to come face to face with a negative calming aspect in myself that I am saying good by to.  This is the kind of forced inner calm to prevent other people’s anger.    I was fired three times in my education career, each time traumatic, and each time making me go to the forced calm as a kind of ego protection so that I wouldn’t be fired again.

What seems to happen internally which seems to be the common pattern is that I imagine  a big negative consequence is going to happen if I put myself out there in an enthusiastic manner.  Someone is going to get jealous and then angry and then down I go.  My historic reaction from my ego was to go into a calm place that tried not to disturb the possibility of someone else’s angry tendencies.   I got fearful of someone else’s anger.

It is a pretty simple fix for me now that it has come up.   Instead of imagining their anger and the consequences and then tensing up and going to the calm, do nothing place,  the process is to see what my true self really wants to do in terms of goals, ignore the anger of others and the consequences, and go for it.    How can I ignore the anger after all of those firings?   Here’s how.   When I go back over my history,  I see that each time I was fired my next job paid me nearly double of the previous job.   It was like the firings were an invitation to a higher salary.

Anger on the part of others was just a manipulative, controlling technique for the other side to get me to line up with what they wanted.   When I just ignore it now, and see where I am going and get enthusiastic about it, everything seems to work.    The ignoring part is not so easy because being fired is a real risk.    I am not saying that one needs to be rebellious or disobedient to authority to get to where the enthusiasm is.  That is a dark path that leads nowhere but fighting and wars.   What works is to maintain very high levels of enthusiastic behaviors by going for true goals.     It doesn’t require ignoring authority. It requires ignoring anger.  There is a big difference even though the two are often living in the same place.   Anger is what needs to be ignored, not authority.

So the practice is to be aware of when I am fearful of someone’s anger,  see that it makes me calm down and do less,  and then ignore the anger and go for the enthusiasm instead, because the enthusiasm is the engine that will drive the achievement of the goals.   Enthusiasm is up energy and that is what we all need.

Being Enthusiastic in a Know-It-All World

Enthusiasm is the capacity to feel up about going for a positive end in the future.    It is the energy that keeps you going despite setbacks and challenges.    It is difficult to imagine any enterprise succeeding without a great deal of enthusiasm.

One of the great thieves of enthusiasm is know-it-all energy.  Know-it-all energy is an ego state that believes it knows the truth without ever investigating the new things.    It seems to be more prevalent where people have a vested interest in holding onto current ideas.    Do pharmaceutical companies really want you to know that an alternative lower cost solution has pretty much the same effect as their drug?

When you are going after implementing new ideas,  you can be absolutely certain that the know-it-alls are going to show up because you threaten them.    The difficulty in dealing with them on a personal level is that they generally are not yelling at you in your face.  They are speaking with you with a lot of assurance as if they know and you do not.    It is the assured tone of their voice that rattles you.

What needs to happen in dealing with know-it-alls is to first realize that you have adopted the new ideas because the old ones were not working.  If they were working, you would probably be the first to adopt them.    Internally this means turning off their assured voice.  As soon as the voice is turned off in your head you can instantly return to being enthusiastic by focusing on your positive end.

Try this out when you are trying something new and are up against the know-it-alls.


Magic of Children’s Dreams

Dreams For Peace

“About a week ago I dreamt that I was flying and then I went on an amazing adventure and it was so wonderful. And then suddenly, in my dream, I went back home and something terrible happened. It woke me up and when I tried to go back to sleep and remember the great adventure, I could only remember the terrible thing.”

This dream was told to me this morning by an 8 year old girl in my wife’s grade 3 class. Debby invited me in to speak about dreams to her children for about an hour today. They just kept telling one dream after another mostly nightmares the whole time and when I had to leave, they just begged me to stay longer so that they could share a few more dreams.

I started the post with the adventure dream because it happens to so many children and so…

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How to Analyze Your Child’s Dreams?

Dreams For Peace

Someone asked the other day when I was doing a presentation on dreams to some young people if I thought that the books about dreams that tell you what each thing means are worth buying.    I told her that it can be problematic because most books don’t teach you how to read a dream and then analyze it.

When I hear a dream,  the first thing that I have to do is remember it.   You may think that that part is easy, but the most often asked question about dreams is how they can be remembered after awakening.   It took me a period of about 6 months of listening to dreams everyday before I could remember them after people told me them.   So it is not a bad idea to write your dream down and go over it several times.

After I remember it, then I try to make it…

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How to Transform Your Child’s Nightmares into Amazing Capacities

Dreams For Peace


It is not surprising to me that after I wrote my last post about Godzilla and the principle of opposition that, without having read the post, someone sent me an account of their 3 year old child’s nightmare with a dinosaur. The dream is as follows.

“I dreamed that a dinosaur was chasing me – it was big with blue skin that was really bumpy. And was scared, so I went into Mummy’s room, and I could see Mummy sleeping under the covers, but when I pulled the covers back, Mummy was a pirate! And she had a knife! I was so scared that I ran away from her, but he started chasing me so I jumped out the window. Mummy the pirate followed, and then killed her. “

This is what I wrote back to the mother with her permission.

“A dinosaur represents a huge fear of negative evil…

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Dreams about your Ex

Almost every week I receive a dream on the “free dream interpretation” page of this blog where someone is sleeping with their ex and then wondering what that is all about since they don’t have a relationship with that person anymore.   It can be very disconcerting to get sexually stimulated with someone you thought you were over when you have such a positive relationship with someone else.  What is that all about?   What do you do with a dream like?

The first thing I would like to tell you is to not worry about your current relationship.  It is not about that at all.   I tell you why.

There is a stage in life, in adolescence, when young people start getting attracted to each other and then enter into relationships.   We all need this because we need to learn how to interact with others in ways that work.    It turns out that we have a tendency to latch onto people who have something inside of them that we need for ourselves.      The problem with the latching process as in dating someone and then naming them your boyfriend or girlfriend is that we get so that we are dependent on the other person.   The more dependent we are the sooner the relationship goes bad.   When you depend upon a boy or girl  for something like being strong or assertive or being compassionate and caring, then when they don’t deliver, the fights begin.   Eventually the fights become greater than moments of joy so the couples break with each other.

The problem is that breaking up does not solve the problem that led to the break up. What you needed from your boyfriend or girlfriend is just as strong as ever.  Your inner being is not going to let go of it.   Fortunately the dream world comes to the rescue by giving you a steamy dream about your ex.   All this means is that your inner self still wants the positive quality they have in them. It shows you in the dream because the message is to be intimate, like you were having sex, with that quality.   To be intimate with the quality means having it inside of you and loving it until it is totally yours.      The new relationship will work a hundred times better when you find out what you were missing that your ex boyfriend had, and then incorporate it in you by working hard to develop it in yourself.

The good news is that you don’t have to have sex in your dreams with only your ex to develop yourself in a new way.  It could be that you could have sex with a famous person or with someone completely random.   They all have different messages and different qualities.

Who have you had sex with in a dream and what is the outstanding positive quality that they have?  That is the important question.

Dream Work and Exercise/Sport

When you fall asleep at night, your body and mind go through a series of cycles intended to give you rest and recovery for the next day.   At the same time,  your spirit or your true self, goes off on various types of journeys when you are in your deepest periods of sleep to further your evolution as a human being.   The dream journey is connected to your body and mind, but also detached from it.   You remember the dream in your mind and feel emotions from it your body,  but the purpose of the experience is always to help you grow as a human being by acquiring new capacities.

All of us as human beings are in a constant relationship with our bodies to get stronger, faster, more flexible, last longer, and be more coordinated.   We just want to be at our peak and not have to face sore muscles and incapacitating injuries and illnesses.   We miss it so much when our bodies are not able to act to our fullest potential.   But since we are human beings, we all have weaknesses.   Without them we would never know where we need to grow.

Dreamwork is about using the messages you get in your dreams at night so that you develop your inner self and your physical capacities.   What is a useful way to think about your dreams,  is that they originate in your body.    When you first start the work, your dreams will begin in the weakest part of your body.    For instance, your dreams may be in your knees or in your neck.  They may be in your lungs or your achilles or your shoulders.    Wherever you are weak, they will be there.

How does it work?   If you have knee problems, which are the most common for people, you may have issues around flexibility usually because of trying to control things too much.    The dreams will show you in a metaphoric manner where the issue is, like where your fear is.   Then you can overcome the weakness and develop the body part as well as the virtue such as being more flexible in your life.    When people start this process, they usually have long standing recurring injury problems.   They are almost always related to the family they grew up in and how that family interacted in its cultural surroundings.    For instance, if you have had an absent father, you probably will face some kind of back problems because of the lack of support.    When you do the work to give yourself more emotional support and then do the corresponding physical work to strengthen your back, then you get amazing growth in every way in your life.

Most of the work begins with negative emotions, usually fear, because most of us do not have methods for working through our difficult problems especially handling complicated emotions.   However, there are also dreams that are strictly positive such as flying dreams.   Flying dreams are related mainly to your lungs because they are about being in the air.    When you get a positive dream and know where it is related in your body,  then it means that that type of exercise movement is open and ready to really develop.

You can start the work fairly simply and easily.   If you are doing an exercise program,  you can notice which movements are the most difficult for you.   This is where your dream will be.   You can write me, tell me what kind of program you are doing,  where your difficulties are along with a current dream, and then I can point out some solutions for doing the developmental work.    If you can’t remember a dream, which is also common, that is great information for me related to the difficulties.


Dealing With Blemishes in Dreams and in Real Life

A blemish in a dream is an imperfection.   Everyone has blemishes because everyone is imperfect.   The modern culture seems to want me to be like this photo below.   I pick up my copy of Runner’s World Magazine which is full of good articles and good advice, but the cover shot is the perfect man image.   The visual image is the unconscious goal, not everything else about a healthy life style, good health, etc..  Look perfect like the guy in the photo!  That is the message.


How did we get here to where we have to look perfect all the time?   This is actually not a new phenomenon.  It has been with us for quite some time now, more with women than men.   Making mistakes, having weaknesses, blemishes in appearance have been and continue to be a source of great shame in the culture.   I wish I could say that there is a culture that has overcome the belief,  but wherever you go in the world,  it is always ever present. Being imperfect is shameful.   It is so bad in certain parts of Asia that if you make a leader look the least bit bad, even when they have acted horribly, you are the one who is going to get fired because they cannot stand the thought of themselves having imperfections.   They are supposed to be like God.  They even believe that they are God.

Trying to play God is always the problem when it comes to shame.  If you feel shame, it is because you believe that you should be God, perfect.  God doesn’t want you to be God.  He wants you to be human.  Having blemishes seems to be quite ok with God.  When I say my Baha’i prayers each morning, the thing that strikes me is how often they allow me to refer to my weaknesses and relax about them. It appears that God doesn’t want you to be perfect, but only that you are fully engaged with transforming your weaknesses into strengths on a daily basis.   Imperfections are what we call being human.

How do you deal with the blemishes, the imperfections?  The first thing that is important to understand is that shame is the negative emotion you feel when you feel horrible about yourself because of something that is wrong with you.   The way that the culture is constructed, despite all the advances in treatment and technique, makes us try to hide the weakness or blemish, rather than freely admitting it.   Hiding and covering up the blemish, which is what the culture loves you to do, is a strategy that doesn’t work, but just freely admitting it also is not that helpful even though it is better than hiding.

The important first step in dealing with the shame of being imperfect (not God)  is to have a bank full of positive memories that are accessed and available all the time.   This allows you to feel good about who you are despite the weaknesses.  You can freely admit to weaknesses, but if you don’t believe that you have strengths and capacities,  you will not have the motivation and inspiration to move forward in the process of changing weakness into strength.    The culture is based largely on finding weaknesses and exaggerating them.  In my current city in Vancouver I often pass women having a conversation where the tones illustrate the cultural difficulty.   The speech is often has 100% certainty in the negative point about someone.  The sentences are short and cut off.   It is like there is no room for acceptance of weakness.  Who would ever want to admit to anything in that kind of culture?  This morning I saw a taxi driver make a minor mistake in doing a right turn whereby a person on a bike and a nearby pedestrian started super criticizing the driver as if he were a serial killer.   There was no room for the mistake.   The shame is everywhere.   In a culture of encouragement where finding the positive is the rule rather than shaming others,  people are allowed their mistakes and then feel motivated to deal with them freely.      Building the bank of positive memories is what gets us out of shame.  It is the antidote and remedy of shame.   It requires almost always living in a state of positive memory.   It is not only how great of a run I had this morning.  It is also how well I can remember it and relive it. That is what lets go of shame.

Once I can relive my positive memories, then I can deal with my weaknesses because the shame is gone.  When my shame is gone, I can freely admit to the weakness and start transforming it.    Let’s say my weakness is core strength, which it is, by the way.  First I relive my runs and other aerobic activities.   Then the emotional issues blocking the core strength will open to me.

What are my issues?  Since I don’t have a lot of shame anymore after reliving my runs and being ok with imperfection,   it is ok to explore the negative energy blocking the core.   What comes up is a belief that despite doing a lot of work I am still going to be really weak way behind others.   This lets me know that I need to get out of the world of comparing myself to others, to just feel my own improvement and remember it the same way I remember the runs.

In summary,  to get rid of shame, we first need to have the belief that mistakes are part of what it is to be human, that the goal is to NOT become perfect, God.   Then we need to build a bank of positive memories about are capacities and strengths.  We do this by reliving our positive experiences repeatedly.   Then we are free to work with the next issue in front of us.



Dealing with Nightmares in the Real or Dream World

What should your attitude be after you have had an intense nightmare or have gone through a horrific experience in real life?

When most people begin working with what is happening with themselves,  the first goal they have is to get rid of the recurrence of the negative feelings.   When you are feeling a great deal of fear because the memories of some horror like being in war or being with an abusive person get triggered constantly,  the actual experience in your body of the negative emotion can be so awful that the only thing you can think of is getting rid of it as quickly as possible.     Most people do a lot of coping strategies like alcohol or drugs or relationships to forget the pain.

As awful as the feelings are to cope with, the goal is NOT to completely forget the nightmare or keep it from recurring.  Nightmares in the dream world are just messengers.   They are not enemies to be killed and forgotten.  How could this be if they feel so intensely bad?   There is a key to doing internal work that is so powerful that once you learn it, everything will change for you.   What is the key?

The key is that almost everything you develop positively in yourself is preceded by something negative.   When I was 21,  a friend of mine convinced to begin running longer distances.   The first couple of days of running were so painfully awful that it was hard to imagine going back to it.   He told me that one day, if I kept with the running, that I would be able to run for an hour easily.  It was something way beyond my imagination because 15-20 minutes were really tough.  Gradually with many repetitions the pain gave way to more joy.  After a few months I was able to run for an hour.   It was exhilarating.

When you are developing a great new capacity inside, it is a similar and sometimes much more difficult process to get to.  If a young man goes off to war and faces the threat of having to kill someone or  of being killed,  it can put him into a really fearful place.   Long after the threat is over, even in the safest of places,  the fear remains, especially in his sleep in the form of nightmares.   Why do they persist?    They persist because what he was supposed to be developing instead of how to kill others was how to live in peace and harmony with others, not war.    The nightmare is a constant memory of undeveloped capacity.     Since creating peace and harmony is such a big capacity to develop, the nightmares and fear serve as a reminder to him just how undeveloped these capacities really are.    They will persist for as long as they are undeveloped.   So it isn’t really that we are trying to rid ourselves of the memories of war or of having been abused, but to develop new capacities that keep war and abuse from happening in the real world.   This is the journey of the soul.   The nightmares are the messengers of just how much progress we have  or have not made.    When a challenge is big like creating world peace, the memories are there so that you won’t give up developing the new thing.

When I learned this key to development many years ago,  I started the habit of getting really excited when I had a nightmare rather than being really upset or despondent.  I realized that when I had a nightmare, it just meant that I had a lot of work to do inside of myself to develop something new.   This all began when I was fired from my employment for the first time.  I used to dream about the person firing me and me swearing at her.   When I woke up from the bad feelings, I just said to myself that I have a lot of work to do to detach from what she did and then keep helping people with the transformation work.

So the key to a nightmare or the key to working with memories of abuse is that they are just messengers that something big and positive wants to develop inside.   When you can get excited about the new thing, the memories and nightmares, though they may persist for awhile, are not so intense.

Building a Culture of Encouragement in the World

Note:  I wrote this piece about 10 years ago, but it is obviously more relevant than ever.

Everyone in the world no matter which culture or remote island you are from suffers from the lack of living in a culture of encouragement.  We have all grown up in cultures where criticism is the rule, that is, where recognizing negative energy is the item mostly highly prized. A few people have escaped partially by living in families that encourage and maybe even a mildly encouraging community, but there is nowhere in the world today where you can find a culture that encourages as a way of life.   We have all been traumatized and even beguiled by criticism, often thinking that it is a really important part of our lives.   For instance,  we know that people produce the best art when they are surrounded in an environment of support and lots of encouragement to experiment and grow without the interference of criticism.   Yet as soon as person puts on an art show or performs a play or gives a speech hundreds of people are there criticizing everything about it.   We are trained from the moment we enter the world to criticize.

Encouragement is actually almost the same process as criticism only the focus is positive instead of negative. When you criticize, you look for something wrong and then you express it  in some way such as talking about it, writing about it, or doing some kind of artistic representation of the negative.   When you encourage, you do the same except that you look for the positives and then you express them.    The purpose of criticism is to get you to stop doing what you are doing, while the purpose of encouragement is to expand your activities.  They both work.  Criticism is the fastest way to get a person to stop doing what they love to do.  Most people are extremely vulnerable to criticism, that is, they stop the productive things that they are doing when it is present.

Encouragement, on the other hand,  has a much less immediate and continuous effect. Encouragement doesn’t work as fast to keep a person expanding and growing in activity in the way criticism gets a person to stop.   Encouragement seems to be much less efficient in getting its work done. In other words you need a lot more encouragement to grow and change probably as much as five times more, than you need criticism to stop something.     The reason for this phenomenon has a lot to do with survival.  Negative feedback is much more aligned with surviving and so negative emotions are much more readily felt.   We feel negative emotions much more easily than we do positive ones.  Our first reaction when we feel negative, is to try to get the negative emotion from happening, that is, our first response naturally is to try to stop something.  This is because we don’t realize that the negative emotions are just feedback messages that let us know that something inside needs to be changed.   If you are in a position of authority or power such as a parent, the first natural tendency when you start worrying is to find a way to stop it.  And the quickest way to get things to stop is to criticize someone else. It takes the responsibility of changing off of you and puts it on the other person and then you feel some temporary relief.

Self criticism has exactly the same effect, and those of us who self criticize abundantly have a difficult time changing.  Self criticism often happens when you are focusing on some goal, and then you feel a negative emotion such as anxiety or fear that is connected with doing a new activity.  You don’t know how to deal with the negative feelings which then cause inactivity or poor performance,  so you end up putting yourself down for failing.  There used to be a lot of literature that suggested people couldn’t change for this very reason.  When you fail numerous times, you start giving yourself an incorrect label such as depressed, timid, or lazy, when really you are just running into a negative pattern of failure that has its roots in criticism and focus on negativity.  The key in facing the future is to go into it with confidence.  Confidence is gained by a clear memory of what was successful.  It allows you to have the necessary resilience to gain feedback in the new activity without falling apart.   You actually get excited about the feedback that helps you improve.


Encouragement depends on the ability to see a positive and then express it in such a way that it seems very important.  It is not only important that you express the positive either to yourself or others, but also that you express it in a way that it is perceived as being significant.   Encouragement normally requires repetition and an expression of enthusiasm about what has been seen.  Verbally this is done through the use of tones in the voice.  In writing it is done through the use of positive adjectives and adverbs, and in painting it is usually done with color.  Criticism, on the other hand, doesn’t need as much repetition or tones.  The words in themselves are usually enough to stop people.  For encouragement to work it needs to be much more present than criticism.  The best formula is to eliminate criticism completely.


Encouragement is an act of remembering.  You see something that has already happened and then you express it to yourself or others in a positive way.   If you want to help a person change, the most important thing is to see positives and express them especially if what you are mostly seeing are negative things.    The positives that you are seeing are observations of what is already successful and when you acknowledge success, it fixes it in the mind of the doer, and makes the likelihood of repeated success much greater.


Encouragement allows the person to take what he is already doing well and then move to the next step.   The next step is an integration of what a person has already done and then an additional new process.   For instance, when a toddler is learning to walk, he first has to learn how to balance himself so that he can stand in one spot.   He starts by learning how to sit in a balanced position and then eventually stand after hundreds of trials where he is building his leg strength and holding on to supports to keep the balance.  Finally one day he can balance and when he balances, he just naturally does the next thing, he starts trying steps.  And when he tries to take steps, he usually falls because he doesn’t have the balance integrated with the movement.   But after hundreds of more trials, he learns how to walk.  Success in walking is dependent on how well he did the previous stage, balancing, and then integrating that with movement forward.  The previous stage is always an integral part of the current stage and any future stages.  This is why historians are so important because they tell the story of what has lead to success.


Criticism tries to do the opposite. It identifies a weakness and then tries to not allow something negative to happen.  For instance, one of the most common fears that people have is speaking in front of a group of people.  Some people will do almost anything to not speak in front of others.  As soon as child is in front of a group of people and expressing himself the parents usually start worrying about all the things that others are going to say.  They forget the lesson of walking.   Parents love when a child says their first words and almost everyone uses encouragement to help the child express more, but when the child starts to express real thoughts and real feelings in front of others, the parents begin to feel worried about what others might say, so they criticize the child and even punish him until he stops expressing himself in public.   Children who are encouraged to express themselves and told how well they are speaking in front of others, or how well they are playing an instrument in front of others,  naturally want to do more, and they learn through observation, and positive feedback what is effective and what is not.  Children who are constantly criticized don’t learn the lessons of public expression because they stop themselves from making the necessary trials and experiments to do it.  Eventually they may even start criticizing each other in a more vicious way than parents.  You know criticism is present when children have a hard time staying with an activity for a long time.  They have the practice of starting, getting excited for a short time, and then quitting.   The criticism works.


Occasionally, a child will need to know where the limit is in expressing oneself.  For instance, a child should know that he shouldn’t say negative things about other people and also he should refrain from using swear words.  But it is a lesson difficult to teach a child in a culture where everyone is saying negative things about each other all the time and lots of people swear.  If there is an abundance of encouragement, then it usually is not very difficult to set limits with children.  However, children living in situations where criticism is the rule, resist limits fiercely.   In a culture people are much more willing to follow just laws when they are living with encouragement, than they are when criticism and injustice exist.


Since we have all grown up in cultures where being critical is the rule, the challenge of creating a culture of encouragement is immense.  However, there is a very simple way to begin the process.   It takes two steps.  First, we can remember everyday some positive things that we did.  It helps to keep a journal of those remembrances.  We can analyze the successes and find out how we did what we did well so that we can continue doing them.  Then to take the next step, we can ask ourselves what it is that we are feeling that is negative and what is it trying to communicate to us that we need to change.  Everything in life is in a constant state of growth.  The law of creation is that human beings must grow and develop.   And the impetus for growth is relentless.   Remembering allows you to know what you have already developed, and finding out about your negative feelings gives you a clue about the next step.


To help a person make a change the first step is to help them realize how fantastic they already are.  You do this by analyzing positive characteristics and patterns and then emphasizing them with tones of enthusiasm.  For instance,  maybe a person can dribble a basketball very well.   So you can ask him how it is that he learned how to dribble.   He might tell you that first he watched some great player dribbling and then he went out and tried it. He just kept watching and kept trying and practicing and eventually he could do it to perfection.  Now he has gotten so confident that he even tries new things.   However,  you also discover that he is having trouble learning how write creatively and what you discover is that he is not doing what he already does well in basketball to learn how to write creatively.   Instead of reading from a great writer and then copying him like he did in basketball,  he is trying to make up some kind of original thought that no one else has done because someone mistakenly told him that creative people only do original things.   He doesn’t know that creativity is mostly allowing yourself to be influenced by the positive things that are already there and then just adding something on to it.  So when you encourage him, you are just helping him to do what he already does well and then try it with other things.


The false idea about creativity being originality comes from the fact that we live in a culture of criticism.  People don’t want to remember positive contributions of past artists because when they try to remember, the memories that appear are all negative and critical.   They are used to hearing how bad they are, so they shut off the memory completely and then lose confidence to do new things.  Creativity is much more about copying what is already there and then adding.  Even in the most creative modern artists of our time you can see how they have copied what went before them and then just added something slightly different.  The first step is to bathe yourself in positive memories and expose yourself to the richness of positive memories.  However, it is no easy task to lose the effects of negative experiences in the past.

My daughter, who is an art teacher, uses this technique to develop artistic talent.  When people produce a piece of art and share with others, she has them pass around a piece of paper and ask the people present to write a supportive, validating comment about the art based on the language of virtues and recognizing beauty.  The result is that the artists become extremely motivated to do more art and try more new things.   In the current cultural climate of criticism most people get really criticized, then go into a period of depression and fear,  and have to go through major recovery to get back to the art.

When my tennis instructor teaches me something new with my tennis strokes, he first shows what it looks like to be successful and then puts me through the correct motions.   Then as soon as I start doing the movements, he acknowledges what I am doing.  This lets me know I am doing the right things.  If I cannot do the stroke correctly, he stops the drill and shows me again the correct motion reminding me how to be successful.  Then as soon as I do it correctly he gives a lot of positive feedback.

One of the major problems about creating a culture of encouragement in the world is that the current structure of power gains short term material advantage by trying to keep others from changing.  We all know that the world is moving from hierarchical, top-down, static structures of administration to ones that are based and dependent upon equality, individual initiative, and constant growth.  A hierarchical structure is one where there is a recognized leader at the top and leadership moves down through a series of levels until you get to the bottom.  In models that are based more on equality and individual initiative the leadership is seen more as a facilitation of a process of growth.   People often feel that they have a voice in the organization and there is encouragement to try new things.


We know from research that when you start encouraging in a community by systematically remembering positive qualities and then helping people to take the next step, the amount of individual initiative, growth, and  cooperation rise immediately.  But as soon as you implement these kinds of changes you can also almost immediately be assured that you will encounter resistance and it  is almost always from the ones who have a material advantage and are higher up on the hierarchical ladder.   It could be in a family, in an organization, in a community, or in a nation.    The resistance is at the top and it can effectively destroy encouragement in the short run.  The top usually has financial power, more control over communication than others, and can create rules to prevent initiative.   When the top feels threatened, it reacts by using it powers to stop the process of encouragement.   One of its techniques is to find something wrong with someone that is partially true, and then exaggerates the negative thing until it seems like the normal something is really terrible.  It takes the burden of change away from the leadership so that they can remain the same and avoid the change process.

There is really no solution to this type of discouraging practice in the short term.  They will start their campaigns of criticism and undermining and it will cause people to lose courage.   However, on the really positive side, it is impossible to stop encouragement in the long run because the process is so powerful that it actually has an effect on changing the leadership itself.   And furthermore, if leadership is actually done through encouragement, the growth rate is so fast and so positive that people in the group feel constantly in a state of awe and wonderment and then just naturally want to make more positive changes.  The only problem we have now is being able to sustain a long term campaign of positive encouragement in the face of the certain resistance we will face.  My experience on this matter is that it is naive to think that there will be no resistance, and even more naive to think that the resistance is not going to be hurtful.  However,  if and when resistance comes, it is even more important to increase the amount of encouragement because the resistance is really a positive sign that the encouragement is having its positive effect.


If we were just to put into practice the one idea of seeing positive things and telling others what we see, the world would change right before our eyes.  But the hurt we feel from criticism is often like a huge hole of inactivity into which we fall.   It is difficult to climb out of the hole because the hurt is so real and its pain so intense.  There is a remedy for criticism but it is very difficult to practice because our natural tendency, when we feel hurt, is to hurt back, to seek revenge.   However, in the long run, the only lasting remedy is to forgive and forget the hurt and then increase the encouragement.   I can’t think of anything harder for me to do than to forget and forgive the pain I feel from criticism  because I have such a great desire to seek revenge by hurting back.  And yet whenever I can manage to forget and forgive, always new doors of opportunity open and the world becomes a different place for me.   The reason, I believe, it becomes like a new world is that the forgetting of the pain allows the memory to experience all of the positive emotions of success in the past, then the positive emotions associated with the actual experience allows for the feeling of confidence, and finally the confidence generates the courage to take the next step.  The door opens and the experience is filled with wonder and joy.


Courage is the key quality for doing new things and having new growth,  and positive remembering seems to be the main force that frees up courage to act.  We know that a toddler learning how to walk is only basically relying on his positive psychomotor memory and the thrill of success to propel him forward.   There is no interference from critical thinking because a baby doesn’t have a critical faculty.  He succeeds by remembering how to balance, having confidence in it, and forgetting the pain of falling.  Somehow, toddlers manage to not pay attention to the pain for very long.  They seem to be driven inwardly by the success they already have and the desire to go forward.   It is virtually impossible to stop a toddler from learning how to walk even in really adverse conditions unless you do something physically to stop him or he has a physical impairment.   Every toddler succeeds.  Adults succeed for the same reasons.  They forget the pain and remember the success and are propelled forward by the desire for the goal.  It is only when we don’t pay attention to the positive success in the past that we fail.
So the formula is simple.  Remember the positive past and help others to remember it and they will naturally be propelled toward new goals and new adventures.

Relationship Dreams: Breaking the Old Paradigm

I receive a lot of dreams from young people, often in high school, who are wondering about how to move forward in the area of relationships.   For some reason we have created a worldwide system of education that requires endless hours of math and science,but almost nothing in relationships.   I am not against math and science.   I adore math and numbers,  but where are the curricula in our schools that address how to have a successful relationship?

One of a number of types of dreams that young people have is when they are currently in a dating-type relationship with one person, but getting physically intimate with someone completely different in a dream.  To understand how to respond to a young person or, for that matter, a married person having the dream, you first need to fully understand that the culture we live in worldwide is based upon the principle of exclusion.    More than anything, our culture is a race to the top which can only have one winner.  Everyone else loses and is excluded along the way.     Dating is a reflection of the exclusive culture, and young people race to get to the number one person.   The number one position in the dating race is to have a really great exclusive boy friend or girl friend.   This is the pressure and most people unconsciously participate.

The dream world is not part of the material culture.  It works on spiritual laws that are completely outside of man made exclusion schemes.   So in the dream world it is perfectly ok to have two boy friends.    So why does a young person need more than one?  Why is exclusion such a bad paradigm?  Relationships, when they are actually about the relating rather than the conquest,  are the perfect environments for exploring various parts of your character.    Everyone is unique.  The more people you know and are close to, the more you can learn about your own self.   If you dream about getting close to someone who is not your exclusive partner, it means that there is a part of yourself that you need to explore and develop. The best way to develop it is through relating positively to the person in the dream.   Relating is learning.

The problem with just changing over to a new system of dating and relating is the person at the top. If you are on top because you have this great girl friend, you are not going to want to be exploring and learning.  You are going to want to be keeping your advantage over others.    People at the top in our exclusive world don’t want to share their spot even if they are miserable  and jealous in it.     The key in dealing with people who are stuck in the paradigm of exclusion with huge ambition for making it to the top is to become detached from them.   They are really not that important in the long run even though they think they are now.

Dealing with Embarrassment: A Real Story

Dear Richard,
When I was a little girl, I imagined when I got older the things that stopped me from feeling peaceful and happy would be gone because I would be an adult and be able to choose things for myself. Then I would choose to do things I really wanted to do but wasn’t given opportunities to do, like learn a musical instrument, learn to dance with a group, travel and see beautiful things on earth. I also always loved learning new things and sharing them. When I was little I wanted to be a teacher so I could keep learning and sharing. I’ve found myself as an adult drawn to being in the company of people who also enjoy learning, sharing, and growing.
My big scary dream which has reoccurred in one way or another since I was 7 was of someone I trusted driving a car with people in it into water. When I was a child this dream image then became a “real” phobia so that I would actually get nervous when we drove by water but I am learning to work with this image as a metaphor and work through this issue with the tips you include in these two recent posts about reoccurring dreams and going for big change.

Here is the part I struggle with: even though I want to share this with you and this wonderful online group of dreamers, even now, my fears kick in.

I wonder when is a good time to name the ego and emotion and when is not a good time to share it.  It is always good to name the ego within yourself.  Sharing it with others is always optional and depends upon the listener’s ability to help you with it.   You need to be able to trust the listener.
I am afraid of feeling embarrassed after I send this and of not being clear and of being misunderstood. I’m afraid of something bad happening if I share my feelings.     Sharing feelings out loud is always risky.  That is what happened in your dream.  The person driving you that you trusted drove you into the lake.    This just means that you need to drive the experience.   The reason that you share is to get help, but the embarrassment comes because when you thought you could trust someone, they drove you in a lake.  Now every time you consider trusting someone to share, you are fearful of being driven in the lake so your ego reacts with embarrassment.    Furthermore it happened at 7 years old when you are just being able to hold mixed feelings in your mind, positive and negative at the same time.   For a child that age they have to be able to feel great about how they played, for instance, despite the fact that the scoreboard says they lost.  For your experience you need to be able to be open to learning and experience, and, at the same time, realize that it is not wise to be open with everyone. 


Anyway, my question to you is this: what do we do when our dream life presents us with a lot of issues of emptiness and dullness? Emptiness and dullness in dream life means that you are feeling the same in real life.   Dullness in particular is a protective state the ego uses so that you don’t have put yourself out there and be really excited and colorful.   First it is important to realize that it is protection. Second you use it because then you don’t have to trust yourself in situations that require enthusiasm.
What do I do when my dream makes it look like I’ve overcome one part of the reoccurring issue but in real life it looks like it is happening all over again?   The dream presents it this way because you have overcome the issue in one origin.   Often when you have been through difficult traumas, there are multiple origins of an issue because one problem builds on another.   When you keep letting go of the ego at the new place, then real life just keeps getting better and better.



The Dynamics of Going After Big Change

We all want big change.  There is probably nothing more universal and completely compelling within us than to want to change ourselves.  Growth is part of who we are as human beings.   What are the dynamics?  How do we simplify the process so that is more available everyday to everyone?  What a world that would be!   We know this for sure.   The knowledge of how to change just about anything about us is going to be available and wildly practiced by billions of people.   When that happens who we are now will scarcely be recognized.

in the Anisa Model of Education, a holistic approach to development, human beings are seen as having unlimited potentialities. We are is guided by the concepts of immanence (how one’s past impinges on the present) and transcendence (how one’s future effects the current reality.   When you work with these two realities, you can evoke some rapid transformation.  Here is an introduction.

When we normally think of change dynamics, we try to erase many of the negative limiting aspects of our past so that they don’t impede how we currently function.   When we look at our immanence,however, it represents the sum total of all of the capacities that we have heretofore actualized.   Whatever our current reality is in the real world, the thing we want more than anything, is to be competent in our day to day existence.   We want to have lots of capacities that are available.   Since the immanence represents the positive capacities as they bare on the present, the one thing that is absolutely vital in bringing our immanence to the current reality is remembering everything positive about ourselves.    Without knowing and remembering that we have a capacity, it is generally not available to us.  Remembering that we have a capacity allows our immanence to function amazingly well.

If you are manager or a coach or a teacher or CEO and you want your people to perform well right now, one of the things you need to do is to help them access the memory of what they already do well so that they can bring it bear on what they are doing.  The general rule for managers should be this!!  When you see it, “say it” to the person you are supervising.   Don’t hold back or think the person is going to be spoiled.   The pressure to forget one’s abilities is so great in everyday life that no one could ever possibly get enough validation of their positive energies.

If you are doing your own change work, you need to get a journal and start reminding yourself about all of your positives.   Just write them down and keep writing new ones and keep repeating them all the time.   What can you do? How are you effective?  There is absolutely nothing more powerful in the way of invigorating your immanence to act in the present competently than to remember the things you have already actualized and repeat them often.   The one thing we know for sure about memory is that it needs repetition to stay in shape just like a running needs to run a lot to maintain fitness.

There are lots of reasons for forgetting.  Here is a post on memory that might help. https://dreamsforpeace.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/day-14-the-best-asset-is-a-positive-memory/

When you have your memory in place and your immanence right, then the next part of the dynamic that needs to be addressed is your transcendence (how the future affects the present).    The first problem in dealing with the future is, as has already been said, not being able to remember your past abilities.   We find that with most cultures, parents, teachers and supervisors  make the mistake of trying to remind a person of their weaknesses, those thing which they haven’t actualized and then throw blame on them for not being able to be good at them already.   It is so absurd, but unfortunately the general rule.   It is as if we all believe that if you just say what a person is bad at a million times, then the change will happen.   Well, one thing the research on change is absolutely sure about.  The strategy of blaming a person for what they can’t do doesn’t help anyone to change.   Time to give it up.

What does work?   First of all when we orient toward the future, toward changing ourselves,  it is extremely helpful to understand that we already have a built in mechanism that motivates us to change.   The mechanism is called our ego.   It is not who we truly are, but it is the part of us that feels negative stress or negative emotions when we orient toward developing new abilities.   Suppose that you are trying to learn how to ski for the first time.   If you are not used to taking risks or have really poor balance and strength, then your ego is going to send a message of fear to your mind and body because most likely it will want you to get out of there as fast as you can.   The ego is protective.   Your true self may want you to have the capacity to take more risks, but your ego is going to put emotional barriers to stop you.    If you are young and already have a lot of experience with risk taking, you won’t feel the stress of fear as much, because you will know what the benefits of risk taking are.

It is usually pretty easy to clarify what kind of change we want to make in life like being able to sit down and concentrate for long periods or maintaining a close relationship or finishing what we start,  but often it is difficult to admit to the negative feelings we are feeling that hold us back from moving into a learning dynamic.   The best place to start is with the simple question, what am i feeling?   Is it fear, anger, frustration, hurt, grief, guilt, embarrassment? What is it?   Asking this question and being able to answer it loosens up the tension that is caused by the ego’s resistance to change.   If that were the only question you ever asked, it would help a lot.   Just saying you are afraid before you start skiing helps the risk taking.   I once had a colleague who would say to a group that she was not good at speaking in front of groups, and then go on speaking for 20 minutes.

In the first stage of developing a new capacity, you have to be able to do whatever it takes to lessen the ego’s hold on your action.  What often makes this difficult is our extreme attachment to cultural practices that try to shame a person into change by repeating how bad they are at the new thing.   If we want to stay stagnant, shame is how we do it.   If you want change, name the ego.   The cultural practice of shaming tightens the grip of the ego on protection.   It causes us to try to hide our weaknesses rather than be open with them.   Being open with your own ego does not mean that you need to go on national television to admit it.   It doesn’t even help admitting it to someone else.  The only place where it  helps is admitting it to ourselves and then realizing that it is natural to have negative emotions when dealing with new capacities.

What you do have to watch out for is the second bad cultural process which is something like typology.  Typology is the kind of defense of the ego where it admits to a fear like the fear of heights and then believes it is a permanent condition so that you don’t have to work on developing things connected to it.   Children learn this as early as 5 years old.   Then we give them big long names with the suffix, phobia, on the end.   The ego is always a temporary condition. It is never permanent.   It doesn’t mean that it will be easy to let it go.  If just means that you haven’t figured out how to loosen its grip.   When a child gives up at age 5,  it is like cutting out huge aspects of their lives that they could be totally involved in.   Don’t ever catch yourself saying this popular phase. “I am not the type of person who……….”

The ego is kind of like the brakes in a car only it normally is out of your control when the car stops  rather than being in your control.    Sometimes it is as if you have headed out the door, gotten in your car for a new destination, gone down the road, and then 10 minutes later find yourself back in the garage.   The ego doesn’t really care if you change. It only cares about protection.   The transformation aspect of yourself, the true self, is the one who is really going after the change. It wants the transcendence.   The measure of whether you end up back in the garage and give up or keeping going down the road despite the obstacles of the ego, indicates who is in charge, the ego or the true self.

Transcendence requires that the true self be in charge, which essentially is the belief that the change you want to make is possible, probably, and if you stick with it long enough, assured.   As soon as the change becomes habitual then it becomes your immanence, your past, that allows you to function even better than before.   If it is the right change for you to make, then all you really have to do is stay with the process of letting go of the ego continually while you learn new aspects of the ability.

We find in our current world that people who have been trained technically very well often find themselves in employment positions where they are managing people, which is an area where they are not trained very well.  While they may have been extremely motivated to learn technical skills such as being an engineer or doctor or lawyer, when it comes to managing people, their egos take over. They use management that is based upon leading with one’s ego like using dominance.   While they may keep up on current practices in their technical field, they do not do the same with management.   We used to find something similar with  a lot of children who worked really hard to be great at playing the most recognized sport like soccer, but when they were encouraged to learn a new sport that had less recognition, they made almost no effort.   Instead of using the same kind of determination to broaden their competence, they allowed their egos to take over and putting in little effort.   What this means is that your true self never wants to let you off the hook in the area of transcendence.

It is difficult to meet a lawyer who is also a good parent, because while they have put in humongous hours in the law firm and being lawyer-like, the skill set for being a parent is about as far in the opposite direction that you can go, but requires equally as much effort to get to a level of excellence.   It turns out that, by and large, what our world culture recognizes and rewards, is also the reason why we are in so much trouble worldwide.   A doctor’s daughter may be screaming for some kind of attention, but the doctor consistently puts her off because being a parent brings up huge amounts of avoidance and fear.  And because the doctor’s profession is so regarded as important, he can easily hide from his parental role.

The general rule for transcendence is this.  Look at the world and what it rewards and recognizes.   For instance, football stars can make 200,000 dollars for each game they play.  Then develop the part of you where you are least like to gain public recognition no matter how good you get at it.   I can guarantee you that this is where your true self wants to change first.  When you do it, the whole world changes.   The area where you need to grow isn’t something you choose.  It always chooses you because it is the area where you are the weakest.

Once you know where the weakness is and know what ability you want to have, then the transcendent aspect works best if you have the best possible vision of what that ability looks like in future.   After that it is all about waking up each morning seeing the vision and then recognizing and dealing with the ego that is going to want you to stop doing the work.   If the ego is doing its work correctly, which it always does, then it will always be trying to take the vision away.  That’s its job.  When you are friends with the ego, you can thank it, and then see the positive vision even better.

Not every bout with the ego is easily won alone.  A lot of them require professional assistance.

Recurring Dreams: Transforming your Recurring Issue Changes Everything in Your Life

When you have a recurring dream, a dream that repeats itself over time, its purpose is to bring up a recurring issue in your life that you need to address.     Even if you do not have recurring dreams,  if you track your dreams regularly, you will find that you are dealing with pretty much the same issue as it presents itself in the changing circumstances of your life.  Circumstances change, the issues stay the same until you transform them.  That is how the spiritual domain works.   Issues never go away by themselves by leaving them alone.   They stay and get worse the longer they are not dealt with.

Practically anything can recur in a dream.   The dream I have gotten the most in my life is about returning to my first university, that I quit after 3 years, and starting over again.   Since I went to a military university in the U.S. that was extremely rigid, authoritarian, and had a lot of restrictions and rules,  I tend to be trapped into believing that there was/is something I can do to have made the experience more successful.   In the end the smartest thing I ever did was leave the school and change my whole field of studies.   Nonetheless, my life keeps running into restrictive authoritarian leadership and then I keep trying to figure out what it is I can do to overcome them and be successful.     The solution always remains the same, either physically or psychologically leaving the restrictive leaderships.    What I keep hoping for is that the authoritarianism will go away completely from my life.  I believe sometimes that maybe it is like bad karma, that I am attracting the bad leadership.    What brings the most transformation for me is the strategy that worked in the beginning, to leave them.   They are not going to go away anytime soon in the world.

Similarly I have heard many dreams from people all over the world who reenter their university or high school to face an exam that they wished that they could have done better on in the beginning.    In the case of exams you have to face the reality that no matter how well you do on exam, even if you score a perfect mark with no errors, someone is going to find something wrong with you because the world is full of criticism and fault finding.  Everywhere you turn there it is.

Recurring dreams teach us about how to deal with negative realities in the world that are ever present.   If you live in a place where people have rigid and fanatical ideas about what their religion says,  your dream life will present the fears and anxieties of having to live in this kind of culture.  Likewise, if people in your country worship their cars more than they believe in the spiritual domain,  then your dream life will present you with a lot of issues around emptiness and dullness, and they will recur when you try to go deep into spiritual reality.

The stuff that recurs tends to be related to the big stuff in life and the problems we face in the world around us.   As you enter the new year resolve to transform your recurring issues.  Your family, friends, and the rest of the world will be happy you did.

Visualization is a Powerful Tool But Read About What You May Not Know and Won’t Be Able to Find Anywhere Else

The first thing you need to know about visualizing is that there are really two forms of seeing things inside your mind.   It all has to do with where you are in the process.   You can be inside your head looking through your eyes or you can be looking at yourself as if you are outside of yourself.   In the latter you are seeing yourself out there.   In the former it is as if you are on the inside so you don’t see yourself out there.   Both are really valuable.   I suppose, but I don’t have the data on this yet, that we prefer and are good at one form of the other.

So why do we need both types of visualizing?  What is the advantage of one type over another?   It is easy to understand if you can divide yourself into two major ways of operating in the world.   One way is to be in-going or introverted.   This is not to confused with being timid or shy.  Timidity is a state of the ego, not the true self.   Introverted qualities are those qualities that allow for deep reflection, for thinking about things, or for problem-solving complex issues.   They are reflected in the character by peacefulness, calm, tranquility, and patience to name a few.   People who are great introverts can sit with a problem for a long period of time, like decades, and not grow impatient with the results.   The process of thinking about something is so joyful and exuberant that results rarely seem to matter.    The other way of being is to be extroverted.  Extroverts act on the outside and make connections externally.   They are often seen as being social because they are largely interested in creating bonds, but they are also adventurous,  love taking risks, and are the first to do new things.   Their character qualities tend to be courage, enthusiasm, friendliness, inclusion, and creativity.

When you are visualizing from yourself on the inside looking out through your eyes you are utilizing your inward seeking self.   It normally goes for meaning.  When you are visualizing with yourself out there and you are looking at yourself, you are engaging your outward going self.  It seeks more action and connection.    Both states are extremely important and necessary.  It is hard to imagine a life where you only have one or the others.

Where you have your challenges in your life will often be reflected in which type of visualizing you cannot do?   If you are not very patient or have a hard time meditating or sitting still, it means that you are having a hard time being in-going which will make problem solving and reflection difficult.   If you are fearful of something bad happening to you when you interact with others or when are doing new things, then it means that you are having a hard time being out-going.

Contrary to what psychologists used to say, you can actually become very competent in both aspects of visualizing even though you may be stronger in one or the other.  Just because someone told you that you are introvert does not mean that you can sit in your house all day and be anti-social or blame your lack of taking risks on being inward seeking.    Likewise socially strong people cannot say that it is not in their nature to be reflective and calm.

You tend to live a much happier life when you have both sides well developed.   For instance you may do very good research or be able to spend a lot of time alone with a canvas, but if you cannot relate to your own children outwardly,  you will create a lot of disharmony in the world.

Which one can you do?  Where do you need to grow?


When You Deal With Criticism, Listen to the Voices in Your Head

Have you ever noticed that when you watch a very frightening movie, all you have to do is turn off the volume and then the fear goes away.  The movie makers seem to control your state of fear through the way they manipulate sound more than anything else.   Sometimes the scary movies seem a little hilarious when there is no sound to them.

Likewise when we have a lot of fear about approaching a new adventure or doing a new task,  the necessary enthusiasm to look forward to the event dwindles when there is a lot of criticism inside our heads.  It is as if the sound system controls the negative state.   Our minds hear negative voices that tell us that we shouldn’t do something, to be cautious, and to not make any mistakes.    It is like a symphony of negative tones and words that freezes our true selves from getting into positive action.

All we have to do to protect ourselves from developing new aspects of ourselves is to have a cacophony of negativity in our heads.    Then we stop ourselves.  It can be your own voice or someone else’s voice.  It doesn’t matter.  It can be the current you, your mother or father’s voice, or even your voice as a child. Often it is a teacher’s voice.   Someone inside your mind can be very protective and get you to stop almost any kind of new growth.    Most cultures in the world are so good at implanting negative voices inside young people’s heads that creativity and transformation barely get past the slowest snail’s pace.   Actually it usually seems as though we are going backwards.   It is as if the culture is completely aligned against change.

What if it were different?  What if we had positive voices in our minds?

If you watch a group of runners in a marathon,  they will be going along at a certain pace, but when they hit a crowd of people lining the streets yelling positive things to them, they immediately perk up and pick up their pace.   You can often get a child who has practically come to a standstill in a race to suddenly feel more energetic by yelling positive things to them.  It is an interesting phenomenon.   If you have ever played a sport in front of a crowd of cheering people,  it is absolutely electrifying.

We stay the same or regress in our lives when he constantly hear negative voices.   We have a difficult time taking risks.  Fortunately, there are some very simple things we can do to change the negative voices.

When you are thinking of doing a new project or accomplishing a set of new goals, first imagine what it would be like with a mental picture and feeling about what it would be like to achieve the goal.    Next go inside and listen for voices that are critical, negative, and controlling.  Listen to their tones and volume.  Then check your body’s reaction.  Those voices probably make you tense and lessen your ability to get into action.   They can be so effective that they can wipe out the positive mental image you have created in your mind.  Isn’t that interesting?  They are very powerful especially when they come from authority figures.

After you have hear the critical voice and identified who it is and what it sounds like,   then you can also identify the kind of positive voice you need inside.   When you can hear it at least as well or better all the time than the negative voice,  then you will be on your way to change and great new stuff.

To consolidate the voice you can do the following.  First you can hear the negative voice, then turn down the volume so you cannot hear it at all.  Then as it goes to zero volume begin to hear the positive, encouraging, enthusiastic and uplifting voice.   Keep repeating this exercise as many times as you need to until the voice stays in there permanently.

You can test it in the end by holding up the mental image of the vision you are trying to achieve.   When you can hold the image indefinitely and also hear the enthusiasm,  then the voice is in there.    If you only get partial results, it means you probably have some other voices in your head.   You can systematically go through the negative voices and replace them all with positive ones.  Then you will be able to achieve just about anything.

It is amazing how your feelings change toward the person behind the negative voice when you do this work.  You end up with much more compassion.

The Virtue of Courage

In the last few weeks I have spend a lot of time with children teaching them about courage using the medium of rock climbing as the tool for its development.   Even though I have done this for 10 years now, it never ceases to amaze me how fast a child can go from being in a state of fear to a state of courage.   When the 5 year olds come to the wall, it must seem like they are about to take on Everest.   They take the first few steps hesitatingly.  Then something clicks inside of them after just about 10 minutes.   What they thought was so frightening isn’t so daunting after all.  In another couple of lessons they are flying around the wall as if they were walking on the ground.     Of course, everything is in degrees.  Some children move much more slowly through the fear.


I can say that there is hardly a greater moment of joy for a teacher than to see a child gradually work through a daunting fear  in climbing and then get to a goal that seemed so impossible.  How does it happen?    I wish I knew more about the process.  The one thing I have learned about fear and accompaniment that is phenomenal is that the closer I am physically to a child going through a fearful situation, the more likely they are to achieve the goal.    When I am close to them, it is as if they believe that despite the fear, nothing is going to happen.

Fear is just so real.    The first time I ever did bungy jumping there was so much fear pulsating through my body that I couldn’t even experience one moment of joy.    The only way I jumped is by telling myself that no one else has died yet.  It worked.

Fear and Courage go together always.   When you are developing the virtue of courage,  it means that you are learning to let go of fear.   Fear keeps you from doing the intended goal.  Courage allows it.   Fear presents to you all of the ways that something is going to go wrong.   It puts the negative in your face and often makes it bigger than life.   This protects you from any harm whatsoever because when you see the bear in the forest coming into your campground at night, you decide not to go camping.   When you see people laughing and criticizing you for what you are saying in public, you hold yourself back from speaking in front of large groups.

Courage happens when you let go of the fearful image and replace it with a positive one.   Instead of seeing the bear in the campground disturbing everything and tearing everyone to shreds, you see the people eating around a campfire and enjoying nature and long hikes.   You see the positive results of what you are saying on the faces in the audience.

Courage is simply having a positive image of the desired goal state in a big way and then jumping in.    It doesn’t mean that by courage alone you are going to be successful,  but it does allow you to be jump and be in the experience and then keep going back to it.    People who are courageous just love the thrill of jumping in so much that they easily let go of any hurts that they have had in the past.

How to do you let go of fear?  Usually people who hang onto fear place a big value judgment on mistakes.   And that value judgment is reinforced a 1000 times by people in positions of authority saying negative things about an action.    It is hard to contradict a parent who tells a child that they are lazy or stupid or have embarrassed the whole family.    Letting go often requires that you let go of the value judgment connected to the action.   When you let go of the shame or embarrassment that you have caused by not performing well, then the fear itself is easy to change, but who is ashamed by your actions can cause you to stay in a fearful state for your entire life.

Children can often get other children to stop doing courageous acts by laughing at another child publicly or making fun of what they did.   This is the same as an authority figure because children often value their peers as authorities.   Instead of laughing at a mistake and going forward with courage,  children can often go right into a shell so fearful now that their peers are going to laugh at them again.

People who are good at courage take the authority from their own inner selves rather than outside of themselves.  Mistakes are fun to them because they live inside the goal setting not thinking about other people’s reaction.

Some good questions.

What is my desired goal? Make a brilliant picture in front of you larger than life.

What is the fear keeping me from going for the goal?

Whose reaction am I am most concerned about?

Dream of Surfing on the Moon

“My wife and I were talking and she suggested that we go to the Moon. I told her that I really didn’t want to go to the moon because there really wasn’t anything there. In the next moment I was on the moon’s surface. The scene was in black and white. Shortly thereafter I noticed that there was some water and small waves. I said to myself that it was so cool that the moon had waves. Then the dream changed into color, and I began to surf on a body board doing all kinds of things that are impossible in real life surfing. When that part ended, I began exploring the possibility of skydiving.

When I woke up from the dream, the first question that crossed my mind was that of being attached to the earth.  Why was I so attached to on the earth that made it difficult for me to go to the moon and have that great experience?   What I realized was that I was attached to being at the top or at least defeating those who are at the cultural top.   I was stuck to the earth in complete attachment.    When I detached myself and let myself go to the moon,  then all kinds of extraordinary new things began to happen that I was not getting to while I had my earthly attachments.

Being attached to being #1 is a common earthly attachment for a lot of us, but it just closes so many doors and keeps us from exploring the more radical side of life.

What are you attached to that is keeping you from experiencing the more radical side of life?

Framework for Change Part 2: Getting Unstuck

We all have issues.  We all have difficulties and problems that we have to face each day.  It is built into the very core of being human that we are all facing challenges.   No one escapes from the moment we are born until we die and then probably beyond that.    When I first started doing the change work with myself many years ago, I was just hoping that I could eliminate having issues.    And then I believed that if I made substantial progress on one big issue, then the rest of my life would be a lot easier.    The truth is that the more change work you do the easier it becomes, but the challenges never cease.    This is simply because we were created with infinite potentialities which our inner self is hard-wired to strive after.  There is always an urge from the inside to move forward with new possibilities.  There is no way to stop it nor should there ever be a desire for slowing it down.

The tests, the ordeals are what keep us motivated to change, but they also have the capacity to destroy us if we deal with them in the wrong way.    There are two ways to deal with the testing process.  The first is to go the way the ego, which is our animal nature that we share with other creatures.   It tries to cope with the negative challenges by fighting them or fleeing them in any one of millions of ways to do so.   The second is to find the positive inner energy that our true self want to become and then learn how to live in that energy. 

The amount of tests that you get don’t seem to depend upon what kind of life you are living, positive or negative.   Tests are a function of being human.  We all get our share and more.   If, however,  you deal with the tests in the way of the true self, then your capacities to do positive things grow.  If you are tested and go by way of the ego like fleeing into an addiction, then your abilities weaken, and you become less capable of beneficial action.

How does it work?  When you are faced with a challenge that is beyond your current capacity,  the first thing that happens is that your ego, the protective part of yourself,  sends a message from your brain to your body announcing the unprepared state.   That message is in the form of a negative emotion like fear or anger or guilt.   It says that whatever positive capacity you need inside yourself to deal with the current challenge is not there yet.   If you respond in the protective way of the ego, you will run away from the challenge or you will fight needing to develop the capacity like  blaming others for its cause.  As long as you respond in the protected manner, the negative message in the form of an unpleasant emotion will continue and then grow over time.   The more we run or fight the bigger the message and consequence needs to be to wake us up and develop the new capacity.    It never goes away until we change it.

The reason we run or fight probably has a lot to do with the fact that negative emotions are uncomfortable.    When you have fear, you definitely feel it in your body.  Who wants to keep it there?    The most automatic response is to protect ourselves, and that leads us to being stuck in our lives without growth.     Growth happens when you recognize the negative state, realizing that it is a signal for developing a new capacity,  and then take systematic steps to unleash the new part of yourself.

The first step always involves humility.   It is recognizing that you are in over your head, and you need help.   When you are in a state of humility, you allow yourself to be at the bottom so that learning and assistance can flow to you.   It is for this reason that leaders in a top-down organization often have such great difficulties changing.   They already believe that they are perfect and everyone else is beneath them in abilities.   Wherever there is a great discrepancy in rights and resources, there is a huge lack of humility.    When you have humility, it instantly becomes OK to have fear or grief or hurt.   It allows you to be in a weak state as a starting position.   If you get to feeling as though you are in last place,  then you can just grow like crazy.

The next step is to understand the message that the negative emotion is giving you and what your ego response to it already is.   For the most part human beings start the process of growth and change because of their problems with each other.   Unity, closeness, love, and harmony are where the core issues always start.   The biggest fear that human beings have by far is the fear of exclusion and that is what we, as a human race, seem to do best; exclude.   The exclusion almost always starts in our family or origin.   When we want to get closer to others or be in harmony with them,  we are overcome with fear or hurt that sets off a whole range of coping behavior often in the form of addictions.

To get unstuck from being a workaholic or drug addicted or food addicted or whatever other running or fighting behavior we might have, we first can get to a great understanding of what the fear is like inside of us.   If often goes like this.   Suppose you want to get closer to your spouse.   When you are trying to get closer, the first thing that comes up is the protective emotion of fear that warns you that you may get excluded.    This is because you already have experiences of being excluded.   It may have been the memory of being left alone a lot, in which case the memory may register as you being in a dark place all alone as if something is going to come and get you.  It may have been the memory of feeling like you are not good enough to be included because you were criticized.   The memory may register as a loud angry voice telling you that you are not good enough.   You may have been beaten in which case the memory would be a huge monstrous figure in your mind.    The problem with dealing with the exclusion in whatever form it may take is that the negative memory that runs the fear is what determines the behavior.    A workaholic will seek endless amounts of money and get lots of recognition for achievement, but ignores his family completely.   This is simply because when he goes for closeness he might be left out in the darkness in his head.    Usually where there is a lot of alcohol there is a loud negative voice in someone’s head.

Once you understand what is going on your head, which is not usually advisable to do on your own,  and you also know what kind of coping it causes you to do,  then you can make the steps to let go of the negative memory, to get it disconnected from the coping behavior, then connect to new structures in yourself for the positive new ability.    This principle of connecting to the new structures is that of finding the energy inside that is the positive opposite to the negative structure.    If you have a memory of being yelled at or criticized all the time, then the energy will be a really powerful positive voice that finds the really good things about you and reminds you of them all the time.   If you were alone and in a dark place in your mind, the new energy will be with memories of being close to others.

Disconnecting or letting go of the old memories is not always that easy to do.   It is usually best to seek assistance in the process.   This is because the awakening process can be very fearful which you are now controlling by way of adaptive or coping behavior.  When you open the new energy and go for it, your life will be dramatically changed in ways you cannot currently describe, but mostly it will bring you closer to others and yourself.

Framework for Change Part 1: Who first. What or How much second.

There are basically two ways to go about the transformation process.     The first method answers a what or how much question.  What kind of house do I want to live?  What kind of career do I want?   How much money do I want to make?  How many pounds do I want to lose?  How fast do I want to run? What kind of car do I want to own?    The second method answers a who question.   Who is the person that my true self wants to become?

In the first method the goals always begin from outside of yourself.   If you want to own a home that cost millions of dollars,  then the first thing you need to do in the first method is a have a really clear picture of what that looks like.   When you are set on it and have a time frame in mind,  then who you are going to become is the person that can make enough money to buy a multimillion dollar home.  That is who you become as a person.

In the second method the goal starts from the inside and then proceeds out.  Who do I want to become as opposed to what do I want to have?  In the first method who is decided by the thing you want to possess.   In essence you become your house.  In the second method you decide who you want to become and then the who seeks expression in the outer world.   In the second method you are not your career like in the first method.  You are who you choose to be and then that who decides on a path that may be a particular career.

The problem with the what do I want to have option of transformation is that when you pursue it, you don’t always end up liking the person you have become.   For instance  you have a good home to live in, but you despise your life.  It seems like the way I am going with this framework is to try to lead others to the path of transformation that begins with the who questions.    That would be a correct assumption and I am headed there,  but life is not always an either or proposition.   Usually the two are working harmoniously together to achieve the best possible end for you.   For instance,  if you weigh 150 kilos,  having an identity about being healthy would be great, but you can also be really effective at losing a number on the weight scale so that you can actually be healthy.   When the two methods work in the right order everything ends up marvelously.    But if you go for just losing weight to get down to a number,  but have not answered the who questions, then the person you end up with maybe just as bad off as the person with 150 kilos.  This is why a large percentage of people on the “lose it fast” TV shows don’t keep it off.

There is a big big big problem with starting with who.   It is so dangerous that even though I am suggesting people should start with the who, there is a huge CAUTION sign that goes with it.   The huge caution is this.   Who you want to become is not about choice.  Even using the word want or thinking you have the slightest choice whatsoever about who you are supposed to become is like foul language.   Who questions do not involve choice or want.   Who questions involve submission.  Submission is like sweet nectar to the Who questions.

If who you are going to become is about submitting,  then what are you submitting to?  The best way I can describe this is that we were all born uniquely with our own individual positive destinies.  You have your own destiny.  It is extremely positive and beneficial not only to yourself but to everyone else on the planet.  The answers to a who question and how you go about becoming the who you were meant to become are always on the inside.

It is not as difficult to submit to the inner world as one might think.   In fact it is quite simple.   The reason that it is so so simple is because who you are becoming is changing all the time.   The who question is not static or done one time in your life and then finished.  It has to be asked  at least everyday.   If it were not so, then we would not be the amazing creations that we are.   We would be rocks.  Who questions work when we realize that we are dynamic, ever-changing, and full of unlimited potentialities.

This is how they work.  You start by asking yourself this question.  What is the biggest issue or problem that I have in my life right now at this very moment? There it is.  It is that simple.   Then you just have to answer the question.

“I am so worried that my guests are not going to like the dinner I serve.”   “I am so fed up with my boss.”  “I am so angry with my spouse.”

To do the transformation work you don’t need to list all your problems, just the biggest one.   The reason that you need to pick the worst one is that you can only change one thing at a time about yourself and the worst one gives you the most positive effect in the outer world for that moment when it is transformed.  The benefit of doing the change work with who questions is that whatever energy is released inside of you in a positive manner automatically generalizes to every part of your life.  So, for instance, the problem may be with your boss,  the benefits will show up at home as well as other parts of your life.

Once you have answered the worst issue question, then the next step is to find a positive solution to the issue.   This gives you who you need to become right now.  One of the most common issues people have is being worried about what other people think about them as if we need their approval.  Probably most of the people on the planet have this issue.  The solution to this issue is the belief that who you are on inside is absolutely incredible and needs no approval from anyone except yourself.  When you can get that kind of belief about yourself, then it is just so easy to let go of the worry and need for approval.

Biggest issues are always about something outside of yourself that register inside with a big negative emotion.  Solutions give you added capacity on the inside and always feel extremely positive when actuated.   For instance, consider this issue.  “My boss does not give due consideration to my ideas.”   The negative feeling is anger toward the boss.   The solution is to give your own ideas full consideration and then find an appropriate expression in the places where the ideas will be received with more openness.

Answering the who question in this first phase is an extremely powerful practice because it always keeps you in touch with change at any moment of your life and puts you in charge of the process.   The next part of the change process is looking at how you got to the stuck place you are right now and some initial steps to get unstuck.