August 2015 Mental Arts Newsletter
Welcome to the August edition of the Mental Arts newsletter…As human beings we seem to have a tendency towards embracing what’s comfortable or what’s known, sometimes even digging our heels in and saying “well, that’s the way things have always been”. In doing so though, creates a limit…it limits the joy within our lives and limits what we can accomplish in the world. Carlos Castaneda said we are at our best when we are faced with the unknown. The unknown is all around us, why not go explore, embrace the unknown, do something you have never done before? You just never know what you might discover about who you are, what it is you might learn or what difference you might make in the world.
Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” – Carl Sagan
by John Worthington – author of “The Office of Shaman”
It is sometimes truly mind boggling to read the latest from our political hopefuls. Everyone from Hilary to The Donald seems to think that the American public is so stupid that we won’t notice when they outright lie to us.
It seems that what we the American Public are looking for is a candidate that will tell us the truth about where we are as a nation and what we have to do to move forward in this Global Village we all call home. Someone who will talk to us really rather than
parroting party slogans and taking the stance of party lines. If Hillary would just come out and say, “Yup, I did them emails wrong,” then we’d understand. If The Donald would just come out and say, “Look, I think being president would make me more powerful than even owning casinos or divorcing Ivanna” we’d understand. We might not vote for him but we’d understand. If Ted would just let us know which way he’s leaning on any given day we’d probably find him at least likable. If Scott were not quite so damned smug about how he’s screwing his constituency in Wisconsin we might not find him so offensive.
So when someone like Bernie or Elisabeth come along we tend to listen up. We want our leaders to talk to us like we’re grown adults, not to spoon feed pablum to us so we’ll vote for them. The American public is made up of educated adults who know what is correct and what is a lie. Hopefuls… don’t lie to us. We can handle the truth no matter what Jack Nicholson tells us.
Taking the “Roads” Less Traveled…
by Terri Stangl – Quantum Floats, Bedminster, NJ
My grandfather liked to do things the same way, every time. He ate the same breakfast of cereal and fruit. He drank Postum. He folded his napkin the same way. He read his devotional every morning. He always took the same route to church, or the store, or the post office. He watered the plants in the same order, every time.
Many of his longstanding habits served him well. His tools were always well maintained and he always knew where to find whatever tool he needed. But he also became flustered when things happened in a way different than what he expected. There were whole sections of his town he didn’t explore, foods he never tasted, and things he no longer was aware of because he knew his routines so well.
Do you know what you do the same way, every day, without even noticing? Do you travel the same roads, shop at the same stores, pack the same lunch, eat the same items at the same restaurants, talk with the same people, wear the same clothes in the same combinations, park in the same place, walk the dog in the same circle through your neighborhood? In so doing, what might you be missing? What else might you discover about the world – and yourself – if you did something out of the ordinary?
I recently was buying some new clothes. I was pretty sure I knew what “worked” for me, both in terms of style and color. I quickly scanned past and rejected other options. Some friends who were with me started pulling out items that were completely unlike anything I would have picked out. And as I tried on these items, I was in for a surprise. The mustard or the mauve shirt that I would not have even tried on, turned out to be more interesting and pleasing than I ever would have imagined.
The area through which I’ve commuted to work is a mixture of small towns and country roads. Although I can get there efficiently
with only 4 turns, I’ve been exploring different routes, across paved and dirt roads. On these travels, I discovered a little award-winning barbecue business that I never knew existed on a corner in the middle of nowhere. I found a homemade sausage deli in the front of someone’s home, bought honey and vegetables for sale along country roads, watched the beauty of horses running in a pasture, saw fields of wildflowers glistening in the dew, and fireflies lighting up a field on an empty and unlit dirt road. I would have missed all of this if I simply drove up and down the same four roads twice a day, every day.
Doing the same things in the same way over and over brings on a kind of deafness and blindness and numbness – to places, to people, to possibilities and discoveries that are available. I remember hearing how in decades past, when politicians in Washington didn’t go home to raise money every weekend, they used to spend more time with each other and to socialize with one another. They got to know each other as people. They formed relationships and did things together and their families socialized together, even if they were on opposite sides of issues. How often do we hear about that happening today? Would Fox News or MSNBC speculate on whether there are nefarious deals being made? Would Tea Party activists challenge incumbents for fraternizing with the ‘enemy’ or doing something unexpected? What solutions to problems, big or small, might be missed simply because people resist taking an unfamiliar route, have a drink with a different colleague, or try on a new point of view? We often delight in how children and comedians talk about their experiences in ways that are unexpected. Maybe that kind of freshness is something that is in fact available to anyone who includes the new or unusual as part of their daily life and thought. Robert Frost said that taking a road less traveled made all the difference for him. What might it do for our leaders? For you?
Are We Merely Individuals?
by Wendy Johnson – Delta Floats, Lansing, MI/www.deltafloats.com
This morning as I was waiting to pull out of a parking lot, I glanced across the street and there was another car waiting to pull out. As traffic cleared I continued to sit and wait. The other car had not used their turn signal and I had no way of knowing if that car was coming my way or not.
As I sat there wondering why so few people actually use their turn signals, I saw a lady crossing the street in the middle of traffic and expecting traffic to stop for her (not in a crosswalk or even on a corner, just across a 4 lane highway). These events aren’t really any different than any other day. But today I wondered when we as a society have become so consumed with ourselves as individuals, our individual rights or even our rights to NOT do something.
When the only thought in our mind is what we ourselves want or want to accomplish, or even what we don’t want to do, that we have forgotten that we are each part of a society. And that everything we do or don’t do, has an impact on that society.
None of us live alone on an island. We are surrounded by the people that make up our communities. Yet the status quo seems to be to only worry about ourselves. How can a society survive, if the society as a whole isn’t considered in all of our ‘individual’ actions? I think that people miss that when they act as an individual, and not part of a community, they have helped contribute to the ills of the community. When we insist on our individuality we increase the disharmony that we live in.
A Juxtaposition of Thought
by John Worthington – author of “The Office of Shaman”
It is terrible that Cecil the Lion was killed. He is one of a dying breed of mammals. The world is in the grips of a major species die off. It could even be that one of the species most threatened is homo sapiens. We men, as we call ourselves, cannot seem to understand that our aggression and our rancor toward each other is as dangerous to our survival as it was to the likes of the carrier pigeon and the California golden bear.
We mourn the loss of Cecil, as we should, yet we seem to be rather callous about the loss of black women in jails. We don’t really
miss the California golden bear any more than we miss the unarmed men that policemen shoot in the discharge of their jobs. I understand that many police shootings have blamelessness in the circumstances of the shooting. But those men are still unarmed. Those men are still fathers, brothers, cousins, uncles, sons and grandchildren. Their loss is still painful. Is the loss of life any less bitter or less poignant for a Syrian mother, father, or child? Are we truly justified in our ‘eye for an eye” policies?
I understand that we must defend ourselves. I understand that we must defend the freedoms we’ve won with just such loss of life. But that does not mean that I may allow myself to indulge in a warm feeling of “they deserved it” or the revenge of “better them than me.” Therefore, I must wonder if I’ve done my part today to reduce the rancor that allows such acts to even exist.
In the words of John Donne:
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”
The Importance of Applying Program Theory
by Nick Branzburg – Intern at iFloat, Westport, CT/www.ifloatct.com
“Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve.” ~ Karl Popper
Would it make sense for the world to accept Isaac Newton’s law of gravity as an explanation of what gravity is, without ever testing it or using it to solve practical problems? Why is it that we often treat Lilly’s Program Theory as an intellectual explanation of how the mind works, instead of actually applying it in our lives? I think this has a lot to do with the assumption that Lilly’s theories are like the theories of modern psychologists, such as Sigmund Freud and Karen Horney. These theories attempt to explain why the mind makes people behave in certain ways to provide an intellectual understanding for mental health professionals and lay-persons. This intellectual understanding is useful, but most of these theorists stress that it is no substitute for experience.
My biology professor, at the university I attended, once said that no matter how much proof is amassed for a scientific theory, it never becomes a scientific law. This may come as a surprise to some, but it is true for the same reason that explanations can never become descriptions. Lilly’s Program Theory is actually more like a set of scientific laws, in the sense that they describe how the mind works. For this reason, it is only useful in so far as we actually try out what he describes ourselves.
I recently discovered that I hold the belief that men rule women. This belief doesn’t express in obvious ways, such as me carrying on about how a woman’s place is in the kitchen. Instead, it expresses as me having a blow-out argument with my mom because I think she is disrespecting my brother, or me disagreeing with my girlfriend about something only to repeat what she said using different words. These disagreements not only create needless discord and tension, but they have damaged and broken my relationships in the past. Instead of explaining with theories why I have this belief, I have been able to apply Lilly’s work to locate and modify some of the places where this belief is troublesome. The more I do this, the more I’ve been able to see how my mom does what she does because she cares, and the more I actually listen and consider what my girlfriend is saying instead of blowing her off.
I cannot stress enough that simply reading Lilly’s work and understanding it intellectually has not been enough for me to make any changes. Babbling about self-metaprograms and biocomputers will never change the way that I treat other people. Instead, Lilly’s theories should be thought of as challenges that must be tested. The words he uses should only be viewed as useful analogies that can be dropped once the real phenomenon is located within. Each time I apply program theory in my life, it is not the result of following someone else’s theory, but an innovation that is mine alone.
Am I Too Loud?…
by Patrick Paulo – Art of Floating, Bloomsburg, PA/www.artoffloating.com
Every weeknight at 9:45pm, my father would come down from his upstairs bedroom and go to his night shift position as a steel mill worker at a factory forty minutes from home. One night, my siblings and I were playing and making so much noise that my father left his room and punished us for interrupting his sleep. Like most young children, we weren’t aware that we were being too loud. This event formed a belief in real. John C. Lilly says, “In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true either is true or becomes true.” I was making it true that my father was going to punish me for being too loud every time he left his room to go to work.
My communication with my father suffered because of this belief in real. Each night, I questioned whether I was being too loud and if my father was mad at me or not. “Bye dad. I love you. Have a safe day at work,” was replaced with a fearful silence because of something I made true in my own mind. I took this belief in real into my relationships years after moving out of my father’s house. Speaking up in work meetings and voicing my opinion was replaced with silence and a fear of being too loud. This belief in real was diminishing my chances for a promotion at work and expanding my relationships both in and outside the workplace. What I was making true would never have been recognized if it weren’t for taking the classes provided by the Mental Arts Network. The classes offered by the Mental Arts Network provides tools, concepts and an environment for individuals and business owners to recognize, examine and change disadvantageous beliefs in real. I’ve recognized how I’ve continued to blame my father for my silence so I can change it. I now have conversations with my father and say what’s on my mind without the fear of being punished for being too loud.
Law, Floating & Mental Arts
by Anne O’Malley – client at iFloat, Westport, CT/www.ifloatct.com
I recently discovered that being a good lawyer (or law intern, in my case) requires excellent communication skills and self awareness. I am a law student, a “floater,” and a student of Mental Arts. For the past two months I have worked as a summer intern at a law firm in New York City. I went into this experience with the intent of learning as much as possible about the practical application of being a lawyer – that is, the things that books and professors usually do not teach students in law school.
My internship has helped me see the practical benefits of floating and Mental Arts training. For example, an attorney asked me to proofread a draft letter to his client. The client frequently contacted this attorney to vent and state her demands for settlement while refusing to listen to or discuss the practical implications and potential outcomes to her case. As I reviewed the attorney’s letter I saw how he was Agreeing with this client “not to understand” the possible outcomes to her case. I pointed this out to the attorney and mentioned it was in his and his client’s interest for him to insist his client understand. The attorney was astounded and thankful. He was also stunned that an intern would notice such a thing.
With my training in Mental Arts I am able to better see what is happening among people so I can help them communicate. That experience showed me that practical lawyering is not just about law, but about communication.
I have also learned about the importance of taking the time to find out about people instead of judging them. When I started this internship there were a couple people who I initially judged and pigeon-holed. Taking a step back, I saw how my attitude was not at all constructive and was getting in the way of cultivating relationships with these co-workers. As I took the time to get to know them, I learned they are much more complex and supportive than I previously thought.
I hope more law students and lawyers get training in Mental Arts. It will help them understand themselves and make a greater difference for their clients.
Battle For Your Life
by Elise Lenhart – Quantum Floats, Bedminster, NJ
Differences in thought… between people amongst the world at large.
Every interaction. Every person. Every day.
You are in a battle for your life.
Morality, jealousy and blame.
Your energy will continue to drain.
Not one person is ever the same.
You are in a battle for your life.
Can you understand the interconnectivity within the differences?
The light shining through the darkness of masks.
The resolution is awaiting.
Can you see it? Can you reach it?
You are in a battle for you life.
Are you willing to fight?
To see a difference.
To make a difference.
To be who you are.
To stand in all that you are.
But above all, to fight for the freedom of others to do the same.
You will die within the beauty of purpose. Living life to the fullest.
There is value in the battle for your life.
Reflections on the Business Operator’s Class – June 2015
by David Conneely – iFloat, Westport, CT/www.ifloatct.com
I took the Business Operators class with several business colleagues from June 20 – June 27, 2015 in order to enhance our business. The class was based in Chula Vista, Mexico, which is a lovely, upscale town located in the outskirts of Guadalajara Mexico. The class was residential. We stayed in an elegant home with beautiful bedrooms and meetings spaces and we ate delicious home-cooked food.
We began preparing for the class six to eight weeks earlier when our Mental Arts facilitators helped my business partners and I create an MBO (Management by Objective) through email and webinar discussions. Starting in April and over a period of three weeks we outlined our Objective, Goals, Strategy, and Recurring events for the Business. That process laid an important foundation for us to prepare for the Business Operators Class. On the first night of being in Mexico we revisited the MBO with our facilitators. One of the topics we discussed in class was the topic of “assumptions.” When we “assume” things rather than finding out we often run into problems because we are acting from a place of fantasy instead of knowledge. Through discussions, questions, and many back and forth (and often spirited) conversations we were able identify and modify places where we were in disagreement in order to find Agreement with one another.
The second and third days were about how beliefs and syntax affect coalitions in business. Our facilitators took us through experiences to help us develop awareness of what we believe about ourselves and our business. We were all surprised by how effectively the facilitators helped us see beliefs that were destructive to our Objective. For example, a trip on the first day helped one of the participants see where he believes he should make others feel good at all costs – even to the point of lying in order to make that real. It was shocking for him to see how that ruled his life, and how that is destructive to our business. The facilitators showed us how the way we use language reflects what we believe all the way down to the words with which we start sentences. By developing awareness of what we believed and seeing how language can be used as a tool to change what we believed, we applied the tool to make changes. Doing so helped us communicate with one another about the business and the MBO.
The class increased in intensity over the next two days where the abstractions moved from a basic understanding of “belief” to an advanced place of “deliberately believing” and “having to believe.” About ten years ago I listened to an interview on NPR where a famous Hollywood producer talked about how he has done his best work when he had his back up against the wall. In other words, when everything was stripped down the producer got to a place where he had to believe something out of the ordinary – something fantastic and extraordinary – in order for a project to succeed. In the class we took an overnight trip to the mountains where we visited two monolithic pre-Aztec sites. The physical journey was coupled with readings and discussions about aspects of Carlos Castaneda’s writing. This resulted in an experience of being in a place where we had to believe something out of the ordinary. The class replicated what the Hollywood producer talked about. It put us in a challenging and unusual environment where (like the Hollywood producer) we had to deliberately believe something different in order to progress in the class.
The last several days of the class were largely about the abstraction of Intent. Each person progresses in life with a series of beliefs about how the world is structured. Those beliefs form a fabric for how one sees the world. However, sometimes forces greater than oneself (which one could call “Intent”) crash upon us and force us to loosen those fabrics. When we do so we are able to see what the World or our coalitions require of us (or what the World Intends for us) instead of what we want.
The last several days included a series of experiences and discussions for us to describe how Intent is crashing against our business like waves in the ocean. By Seeing the flow of Intent individually and collectively we arrived at a place where we could collectively navigate our business and ride the waves instead of being destroyed by them.
Since the class we continue to have discussions about our business. The class laid a powerful foundation for us to take our business to the level the World requires of us. I strongly recommend this class to any business person or business owner who wants the same for their business or organization.
Why I Float…My Olympic Journey to “Relaxed Chaos”
by Megan Henry – client of iFloat, Westport, CT/www.ifloatct.com
I had heard of floating while I was out training in Park City, Utah preparing for a skeleton race during USA Skeleton Team Trials as an athlete for the Army. Skeleton, it’s that crazy winter sport where you go head first down an icy chute on a lunch tray…a really expensive lunch tray. A massage therapist was telling me about a sensory deprivation chamber in Orem, UT. It was a bit far for me to go during the races, but I made a mental note to look it up when I returned home in the off-season to see what I could find. I was elated to find iFloat and read the benefits on the site and spent months eager to try floating and add it to compliment my growing repertoire of healing and recovery methods. Plus, who doesn’t like giant Epsom salt baths? Bonus points for muscle recovery, right?
As you can imagine, going headfirst at speeds up to 80mph and traveling every week for 6 months can get a little crazy. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but it can get hectic. I have been an athlete most of my life, but skeleton is by far the most mentally demanding and challenging sport I have ever taken part in. I had started to use meditation as part of my mental routine to help me relax. I wouldn’t consider myself an overly stressed person, but I think relaxation is necessary for everyone regardless of what you do. Skeleton, in particular, requires you to be in what some call “relaxed chaos.” If you want to be successful, you have to be capable of being relaxed while going up to 80mph in curves up to 5G’s of pressure. Any sort of outside stress, anxiety, self-doubt or tension will creep into your sliding and show up on the time sheets. Maybe you won’t see it physically, but believe me, it shows in your times – even if you have a stellar run.
Floating for the first time was the ultimate meditation session. It allowed me to feel like I was floating in space (gee, wonder why it’s called floating?) and it was the first time I have ever felt like I left the planet. You know when you want some me time, but someone always comes to your thinking-spot-of-solitude? It’s not happening here. Floating allowed me to have moments of self-reflection and come to epiphanies I may not have come to without all the other external distractions we sometimes let take our focus. Even during meditation, there is still the sense of touch or external noises. This session allowed me to take leaps of personal growth – like my brain was my own personal psychiatrist…it just needed to be given the opportunity to uncover some mental gems. This part for me was truly rewarding.
I came out of the session feeling very renewed, refreshed, intensely alert; very appreciative of my surroundings, my senses, everything. It is my most memorable time of feeling genuinely happy and at ease. Truly, it is an enlightening experience. I have since floated numerous times and the benefits just compound on the experience beforehand, no matter how far apart the sessions. (Sometimes it will be months in between sessions since I travel so frequently). Floating has allowed me to slow down and reassess or confirm my current plans to succeed in athletics, and has allowed me to recognize to not get caught up in past or future events, but to really stay in the present moment. I vividly recall a conversation my brain had made up during a float session with David, where he said to me: “Why are you moving so fast? You’ve got to stay still.”
These feelings lead me to believe that the general population that is constantly in “go-go-go!” mode, would benefit from this time of slowing down while floating. Being in the military and reflecting after Independence Day, I recommend floating to fellow Soldiers who are suffering from PTSD, anxiety, or depression resulting from multiple combat tours. Imagine spending multiple years constantly in fight-or-flight mode, but having no choice but to use fight? This very unique opportunity to help turn your brain off simply cannot be replicated elsewhere. For those who feel they do not want to turn and ask for help, I urge them to just try this. Floating allows those who may feel ashamed or hesitant to ask for help to feel empowered because they will ultimately be contributing to their own relief and journey of overcoming these mental battles. In addition, the environment at iFloat cannot be beat. Sharing your experience and epiphanies is easy and in a very safe, welcoming environment. I have to applaud David especially and his staff for giving me an environment that has allowed me to grow on so many levels, and have it “float” over to other areas of my life. I will continue to use floating throughout the remainder of my athletic career and whatever lies after. I encourage others to float and find their own relaxed chaos.
Megan is a self-funded athlete. Skeleton is a sport where the athletes who compete must raise the money to do so. If you would like to find out more about Megan or contribute click here for her fundraiser page.