June 22, 2010
“This is my philosophy and has always been my perspective on life since I was a child…that life is a painful, nightmarish, meaningless experience and the only way to be happy is to tell yourself lies.” Woody Allen
Woody Allen can always make me laugh; his irreverence and apparent neurosis touches a cord every time yet I realize the perspective suggested in the above quote represents an absolute polarity to my own philosophy. I am a meaning junkie. I look for meaning in the day to day unfolding of my life; every synchronicity and serendipity represents a trail of breadcrumbs that when followed leads to a potentially valuable insight. I know I am not alone; many spiritual teachers aspire to similar ideas yet they are hardly common in the conventional paradigm in which we live.
What interests me is our role in co-creating meaning in our lives. Does my life have meaning because I believe it does? Is Woody Allen’s life devoid of meaning because he thinks it is absent? Finding significance in what others may see as random incidents, contributes enormously to my life’s journey and slowly but surely creates a foundation of faith. It also helps to reduce what may otherwise be painful or miserable into something that provokes curiosity. For example breaking down in Sault Saint Marie due to a boiling battery extends into an investigation of “suppose the vehicle is a metaphysical extension of my life, what is it trying to tell me?” Suddenly instead of fretting about the situation I begin to see a mystery to be explored. Following this trail led me irrevocably to a major shift that forever changed my life and started the chain of events that led to my becoming a spiritual coach.
In a recent support group that I facilitate, there was a suggestion by one attendee that when he needed help then something would cross his path like the relevant book or appropriate quote. There is a Buddhist proverb “when the student is ready, the teacher appears” that has been the story of my life. The teacher may be a person, an event, a synchronicity or other serendipity that could be missed if I was not paying attention. It seems that setting intention in one’s life to find meaning accompanied by paying attention to unfolding events invariably results in both a sense of meaning and guidance emerging.
Most recently a teacher that emerged for me was James Hollis, Jungian analyst, psychologist and eminent author. I encountered him through a book that called to me from the bargain display at my local spiritual bookstore. It was titled Why do Good People Do Bad Things and drew me in like a powerful magnet. We obviously share a similar worldview and his focus in finding meaning in one’s life parallels mine. He has an honesty that shines through his writing, never promising quick fixes but suggesting that our lives will become more interesting. I just read his reflection on therapy that has the crystal ring of integrity, “Therapy will not heal you, make your problems go away or make your life work out. It will quite simply make your life more interesting…. consciousness is the gift and that is the best it gets”. Finding your personal authenticity or telling yourself lies, I guess we each have to make the choice.
June 10, 2010
The dictionary defines intuition as the “faculty of knowing without the use of rational process”. I believe all of us have the capacity to be intuitive but many of us have lost touch with it. I sense that in our early years, if brought up in a loving environment, we are naturally creative and intuitive and then at the age of about six something terrible happens to us. (When I do my presentation on DecisionClarity, this is the moment when like a ripple on a pond, I see comprehension spread through the room and the word “school” erupts spontaneously from people’s lips.) Our school system in its haste to teach perhaps fails to embrace the duality of creativity and intuition. Over time we just lose our connection to this amazing gift. Well the good news is that we can reactivate our talent.
The first step of course is to believe we have such a talent and I have realized when woprking with clients that I need to find a language that communicates this concept. As Executive Vice President of a large advertising agency and an atheist at the time, I had no empathy for such things as intuitive senses, divine guidance or the higher self however at an amazing workshop that I attended in 1986 I was introduced the concept of the sub-conscious brain. The right hemisphere of the brain has the capacity to multi-task and process data unconsciously. The challenge remains if we have no way of data retrieval we never get to experience the benefits. However if we can learn ways to access this information it will result in the “faculty of knowing without the use of rational process”. We are all hard wired for intuition we have just lost touch with it.
My practical use of this faculty, once I believed that it existed, was to apply it to my work environment. I still recall the first time I decided to attempt writing a report using my sub-conscious. The initial preparation did not change as I still needed to obtain and prepare the preliminary information however at that point having absorbed all the relevant material I just put it away and waited. It was one week later during a lunchtime jog on a beautiful Vancouver Fall day that something amazing happened. I was passing the Bayshore Hotel, one moment I had no idea what this report would look like and then a moment later it was completely formed in my conscious mind. All I had to do was return to the office and write it down. Since that time I have used this method many times while writing papers at school, reports at work and my book Life’s Little Book for Big Decisions came to me while riding my bike. The DecisionClarity model provides a tool kit of ways used successfully to tap into one’s intuition. For more see http://www.decisionclarity.com/intro1.html
Footnote: Recently after one of my presentations I was given a wonderful example of a child’s intuition working where adult logic failed dismally. During a family shopping trip at a large mall, the adults realized they had no idea where to find the car. Ignoring the protestations of the four-year old they wandered from dead-end to dead-end. Finally his small voice broke through their frustration. “Mummy I know where the car is”. Somewhat disbelievingly they followed him to the precise location.
June 10, 2010
During my ten years of working with the DecisionClarity model I have observed that having a clear question is not always so important. Once we commit to the inner journey of exploration that the model requires, when we learn to work with setting intention and paying attention then there is an innate wisdom that will bring forward the issue or the outcome that is important. Frequently the critical starting point is the sense of chaos or confusion that is often necessary before we can move ahead. Chaos is a fertile field for individual creativity to emerge.
For example one client thought she was trying to decide whether to change her job. However, during the midst of the process she found herself getting lost in familiar places. During a discussion she asked me what this could mean and whether it was connected to her decision-making process. Once we disregarded any possibility of early onset dementia, I asked her what she thought getting lost could mean in this situation. Her answer was immediate “ Oh I am lost because I am working on the wrong question, the real issue is should I leave my relationship.” From this chaos emerged clarity that it was time to leave.
On another occasion an attendee at a workshop wanted to decide whether to take on a specific project that she had been offered. During the two days of inner exploration she realized that her whole life reminded her of a dog chained to a post in the yard, going round and round in circles, continually tightening the chain around its neck. It became clear that her challenge was to reinvent her life. It was remarkable during the closing meditation that when asked what the answer to her question was, she relied “Oh I have completely forgotten what it was” The answer lay in the journey and the question just wasn’t relevant any more.