February 2015 Mental Arts Newsletter
Welcome, everyone to our 5th edition. We hope you are enjoying the various articles that our colleagues and friends have written. The articles have been thought-provoking and timely. You may have even found you’ve gained another perspective to view the goings on in the world and even within you.
Many of the events occurring in the world can seem challenging to understand as to why those things are happening, why people do what they do. It is in our reaction to these events where we can begin to understand how we think, where we can question how we think and what we can do to make a difference for ourselves, for others and in the world.
“Our capacity to make peace with another person and with the world depends very much on our capacity to make peace with ourselves.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
What We Can Learn When Politicians Diss the President
by David Conneely, iFloat, Westport, CT/www.ifloatct.com
The recent event in which Congressional Republicans invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak at a joint session of Congress without consulting with President Obama is a symptom of a societal problem: no communication. As a Mental Arts Facilitator and Float Center Operator I constantly talk to people about the importance of communication in relationships, whether they are with partners/spouses, family, friends, or colleagues. The only way for two or more people to create something together is to communicate so they know what is going on in the minds of all interested parties. What happened when Boehner and his colleagues did not consult with Obama is no different than a husband making unilateral decisions about his family without discussing things with his wife. It is disrespectful but, more importantly, it is counterproductive. Doesn’t it make sense for the husband to find out how his wife thinks about an upcoming trip? She might know something he doesn’t know. Doesn’t it make sense for Republicans to find out what the President thinks about Netanyahu’s visit? He might have an important insight. In order to increase the health and well being of families, countries, and the global community, we must communicate with one another.
Sorting Out What’s Real
by Terri Stangl, Great Lakes Flotation, Swartz Creek, MI www.greatlakesflotation.com
In a television interview to discuss recent shootings by – and of – police officers, New York Police commissioner William Bratton spoke about how African American parents educate their sons about how to behave around police officers who may not see them for who and what they are.
“I interact quite frequently with African Americans from all classes, from the rich to the poor. And there’s not a single one that has not expressed this concern, that their perception is the reality that we have to deal with, “ said Bratton. “[This] has to be part of the dialogue. It has to be trying to find that common ground, if you will, so that all parties involved here understand the perceptions of the other parties that shape the realities that we’re trying to deal with.”
Bratton called for both the community and police officers to “see each other”, by which he says means “to not look past each other, but to really see what is motivating what we’re experiencing”. And to accomplish this, Bratton says, “We have a lot of talking we’re going to have to do here to understand all sides of this issue. This is not a one-sided issue.”
It is a complex issue. And communication between people with very different perspectives and experiences around race, violence, and the police, will help us to get past our illusions about each other. We do make our perceptions real – both by what we expect and how we respond to what we think we see.
But where do those expectations and reactions come from? Our thoughts and reactions are the result of experiences which are recorded as instructions – programs – in the brain. Many key experiences happen when we were very little and are so embedded in how we see the world, that we don’t recognize them as programs. We are now at a point in human history where we have vast knowledge about the brain, perception, and programming – and the float tank as a tool to observe our thinking machinery. We can use this new knowledge and experiences to reshape the realities that we deal with. Wouldn’t it be great to have a generation of children who have had experiences that result in programming that will help them sort out what’s real before they assume the worst about each other and pull the trigger?
Why I Own a Float Center
by Wendy Johnson, Delta Floats, Lansing, MI/www.deltafloats.com
I own a float center and I am a mom to a four year old boy. One of the main reasons, or maybe the single most motivating factor I had for opening a float center was my son. I had been studying Lilly, and doing work on understanding my programming, but also how to apply what I was learning. And as I realized that the frustrations I had, or the things that didn’t seem to be working quite right in my life, traced back to beliefs that I had put in place before I was four, I was driven to apply what I was learning for the sake of my son. So that he could grow up understanding and using the tool of programming.
Lilly says “To elicit the full potential of the young growing computer requires special environments to avoid negative anti-growth kinds of programs being inserted in the young computer early”. Well this seemed rather logical, but what the heck were special environments and did I just assume I knew what anti-growth kinds of programs were?
When I delved into what anti-growth programs were, there seemed like an endless number of them. There were the easy ones to pick out like treating things as equal opposites; good and bad or right and wrong. Then there were harder ones to describe because they were in the fabric of our own identity, like what is the role of a wife or a husband, or even just what it meant to be a man or woman. Surely, those programs are not as permanent as they may seem, they could be tweaked or altered from what has always been in my family, so that they worked better.
That led me to what it would mean to provide a special environment for my son. Not one that was just programs I decided where better for him, even if they are an improvement of what I had grown up with. But an environment where he understands he has a choice in what he is writing and is being inserted into his young growing computer, and even once it gets in there, that he knows how to change it if and when he sees a better way to write that thing.
Once I understood programming and that people are either run by their programming or they run their programming, I no longer had an option on providing that ‘special environment for my young growing computer’. It wasn’t if I wanted to own a float center no matter how much it challenged my current programming, I was obligated to do it for my son. To give him anything less then the best tools I can, in this case understanding how his own mind works, is just something I could not do as a mother.
Flatland – Part 2
by John Worthington, author of “The Office of Shaman”
Last month we talked about Flatland and how in the syntax of Flatland the concept of sphere or cube could not exist. We also considered that in our current syntax of three dimensional particles we can not allow a syntax of uncertainty or, stated differently, wave/particle duality. However, in the world of quantum mechanics there exists the reality of both/and while the reality of Newtonian physics allows only either/or, which may not as of yet evolved, or which perhaps cannot exist.
In either event the reality of quantum mechanics has existed since the beginning of time. Therefore all things are constructed on and by quantum particles and quantum rules. The quantum “rules” are ever so reminiscent of Murphy’s Law. Murphy’s Law says that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Quantum rules say that if a physical event is not specifically forbidden it can and will happen. Brains are things that have been constructed according to quantum mechanics and are also constructed of quantum particles.
Since that is true is it any wonder that we humans have used our brains to decide that objectivity is the foundation of knowledge? We even believe that objectivity is the basis of all science and without it science would simply be arbitrary. But in the quantum world a true or defined reality just does not exist. Reality exists only when it is measured. Now here’s the kicker. Quantum physics is ever so accurate and is used in everything from atomic bombs to the bar code that tells the cash register how much to charge you at the check out counter. Quantum physics doesn’t really care if you, or science, are uncomfortable with it. Because concepts such as cause and effect exist only in the behavior of large quantum systems such as planets, galaxies and stars, and even their quantum mechanics are ever so observable. After all, it was through the measurements and observations of the far reaches of the universe that the need for quantum mechanics was realized and postulated. How much more so is man and his thinking machinery part of the quantum world? Can we possibly ignore our dependence on quantum mechanics to even form thoughts?
Consider that particles such as electrons and photons exist as probabilities not as actualities. That means that they might be, or they might happen, as opposed to things that “are.” In Shakespearean or Newtonian physics things are, or they are not. And that is the question. But in quantum physics things are a wave of probability until they are measured and then they are particles. They are both/and, not one or the other.
Now, since thought takes place by electrons moving across synapse and between neurons, thought itself must surely belong to the world of quantum physics. And it is for this reason that we eschew the use of dichotomies in our spoken language, because dichotomies rely on the either/or of Newtonian physics not the both/and of quantum physics. (to be continued)
Immunization: Another Perspective
by Terri Stangl, Great Lakes Flotation, Swartz Creek, MI/www.greatlakesflotation.com
The debate over immunizations sometimes seems to be a battle between well-intentioned parents over what it means to “care for” or “protect” a child. All parents are hard wired to care about and to protect their children from harm. And parents are understandably wary of anything that might hinder their ability to protect their children. This issue is polarized further by those who pit “government” against parents.
How might the conversation change if it were considered from the perspective of a child? Or of future generations? Or from the perspective of a country where immunizations are not available at all? Or the perspective of a parent who fears damage due to their own actions far more than the risks of inaction? When policy discussions are framed as moral dichotomies, in which “good” is treated as the equal opposite of “bad”, and “right” is treated as the equal opposite of wrong”, the conversation is polarized. Dichotomies lead to much frustration and argument, because they are something we make up as a convenience, not something that actually exists. There are things that are “good” or “right” but anything else is not automatically their opposite. Some things are more or less advantageous or beneficial than others, but that doesn’t mean that any alternative to what is “right” is automatically “wrong”.
When the argument is about dichotomies, no one is dealing with either children’s health or the role of government. I think we can do better. I’ve seen how people can resolve conflicts when they eliminate dichotomies, examine their own assumptions, and explore what is more advantageous from different perspectives. And having tools to resolve conflict has significant long term health benefits, not only for our children, but for all of us.
Building Blocks of Thought
by John Worthington, author of “The Office of Shaman”
I always hear people talking about how they’re all so careful about people coming out of the tank. They “protect” them by not talking to them, they say. This is especially prevalent in the New Age/It’s all good crowd. They’re not going to impose their will on no one, you see.
But that isn’t the actual problem in a tank center. The actual problem is the other side of the coin. It’s the people who float who do not share that ever so lofty ideal of not affecting anyone else. The vast majority of people who float do so, in their early floats at least, to reduce stress. If they were cognizant of not programming other people it is not likely that they would be that stressed.
But they are that stressed and since, as Lilly said, the first few float sessions are always about resolving the conflicts in the various coalitions that we as people have, when folks exit the tank they tend to be checking about the nature of coalitions.
And, of course, I can hear all those New Age/reincarnated folks shrilling about how THEY don’t talk to clients. Well, O Shrill Ones, who said that talking has anything to do with communication? How Lilly explained this is that Metaprogramming entities use Metaprograms to communicate. In other words, for those of you who do not understand the word Metaprogram, communication rests on and is predicated on emotional content. Before you argue you should check that one out.
Now emotional content includes such concepts as body English, grunts and other “non” words, facial expressions and even the tone of voice used to say “thank you.” But that’s all neutral and doesn’t affect you as a tank operator, huh? There’s at least one study which cites the following percentages for communication. Body English = 50%. Facial expression = 40%. Words =10%.
“Read the study here: http://es.slideshare.net/nas_56/how-body-language-affects-the-communication-process”
So this obviously means that if you’re too good to talk to your float clients then your float clients are going to play fair and not leave any of their belief structures behind for you to clean up, right? Oh I forgot, you don’t know what belief structures are, do you? Well, Lilly referred to belief structures as Metabelief operators. The reason he used this term is that Metabeliefs, or belief structures is what we build our language, emotions, feeling and even our logic on. They form the basic building blocks of thought itself.
If we do not understand those building blocks in ourselves what chance can we have of understanding how those building blocks are transferred through the 10% of communication that only uses words? Much less the other 90% that uses body English and facial expression. That lack of understanding leaves us victimized by all the Metabeliefs that our float clients leave behind or “sell” us.
I know that no one is really affected by those left behind Metabeliefs, though. That’s why the average life expectancy of a float office is only 3 to 5 years. But that must be due to a lack of interest. Couldn’t be a lack of understanding on the float operator’s part. Naw, that just can’t be. Namaste.
The Flow State
by Patrick Paulo, Art of Floating, Bloomsburg, PA/www.artoffloating.com
It’s no mystery that practice and determination will help athletes and artists shine on the world stage. Although practice is great, it may take more than ten thousand hours on the basketball court to be throwing jump shots like Jordan. Perhaps it’s achieving the flow state that world class athletes and artists do so well that gets them to the big show. It’s a state of mind athletes and artists achieve when they don’t have to think about their next move. Instead, the action flows through them without resistance.
Applying program theory can help shine some light on this mystery of flow. Lilly said self-metaprograms work directly and only on metaprograms, which work directly and only on programs. When athletes are achieving moments of greatness, they’re operating at the level of the self-metaprogrammer and not in logic where consciousness is stored. At this level, there’s no possibility for artists to entertain thoughts of self-criticism and doubt. They only focus on the task at hand. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, studied the phenomena of flow his whole professional career. He said, “the self expands through acts of self forgetfulness.” I think what he’s suggesting here is that if we want to achieve the flow state, we have to forget self-limiting thoughts and instead, immerse ourselves in the present moment. Try it the next time your out playing mini-golf. You just might feel like Tiger Woods.
Great Lakes Flotation at Health/Wellness Expo
Great Lakes Flotation participated in the first annual Health and Wellness Expo at the new Flint Farmer’s Market in January. There was considerable interest in floating from the other health and wellness vendors and two people won free float sessions! Owner Terri Stangl reports that health and body workers often come into float.
Intolerance is Bad Form
by John Worthington, author of “The Office of Shaman“
Over the last month we’ve all been bombarded with news about the murder of 10 members of the staff at a French Newspaper called Charlie Hebdo. There have been all manner of fallout from both the “Christian” and the “Muslim” sides of this horrific act.
The entire idea of a religious insult is pretty hard to digest. If the belief is in an omnipotent God wouldn’t He or She be able to handle His or Her own insults? Wouldn’t He or She be able to punish the wicked without assistance from the faithful? Is it really necessary for anyone to insult someone who is Gay because God is too incompetent to do His own insulting?
Is the Prophet Muhammad really going to be vindicated as God’s true messenger if cartoonists are murdered in his name? Will Jesus love Christians more if the Christians hate Muslims and dream of being an American Sniper? The writer finds it terribly unsettling that there were as few Muslim dissenters to the Charlie Hebdo murders as there were Christians who embraced the Muslim community in their time of deepest sorrow. Neither action can possibly be justified.
But then how could children who were raised in an atmosphere of religious prejudice become rational adults concerning actual reality? And I don’t mean the Muslim children who were raised to consider the Koran as the only education that adult human beings require. The Christian children who were raised to consider that the Bible is the only education needed must be just as sure of their beliefs concerning evolution, climate change and the consequences of sex as Muslim children who are raised to believe that women must cover their heads, that it is necessary to fast during the days of Ramadan, and visiting Mecca once during a lifetime is a must if possible.
Both belief systems require unconditional acceptance and a devotion to a God of Mercy and Understanding. Both belief systems require discipline to a set of instructions that accept very few variations on the theme of that particular group. Both belief systems generate extreme admiration from this writer. But only if both belief systems remain internally consistent. Murder and hate are not internally consistent with either belief system. Maybe some practitioner from both sides of that belief aisle must first look to themselves before they judge another? Think that could be true?
Interview with Harmony Class Student
iFloat client J. Simonian interviewed by David Conneely, iFloat, Westport, CT/www.ifloatct.com
Q: Why did you take the Harmony Class?
A: I took the Harmony Class because I wanted to improve how I interact with others. I wanted to strengthen my relationships. I was successful in my career but I isolated myself from others. I was tired of that.
A: I experienced being thrust into a culture different than the one to which I am accustomed. I had to find my way around that. The culture was Mexican culture but it was also a culture of respect insisted upon in during the class. I experienced that reality is not made of extremes but between the extremes. I cannot ignore the subtleties of life just to suit my perception of reality. I experienced Brutal Honesty.
Q: What did you learn about yourself in the class?
A: At the start of the class I learned how resistant I was to change. I experienced my defiance first hand by having it pointed out to me. It was shocking but then a relief because I saw a different way of being in the world. I saw I could stop being defiant. I could respect others.
Q: How have you applied what you learned?
A: I am experiencing what it is like to be aware of the people in my life. Before, I lived in the world of my own construction. I was isolated. I am maintaining relationships and this is very different for me.
Q: Would you recommend it to others? Why?
A: The class is life changing and I would recommend it to others because the tools one learns in the class helps a person get along better with others. It helps us be honest with ourselves. With this honesty, there is freed up brain circuitry to see what is going on in their life.
Float Artists Make a Difference
iFloat, Westport, CT/www.ifloatct.com
On Saturday, March 14, 2015 at 6 pm iFloat will be co-hosting an art opening and community party at FTS Gallery in Stratford, CT. Artwork from over thirty five local artists will be presented. All art was created as a result of the iFloat Artist Program, in which artists are given three complimentary floats in exchange for them creating a work of art inspired by their float sessions.
The program started in May 2012. The artwork will be sold and the proceeds will be donated to a local charity selected by the artists and the iFloat/FTS community. It is an excellent example of the power of floating to inspire creative people and to have an impact on the local community. Floating has many benefits and creativity is an important one. Many artists who have participated in the program have continued to use floating as a tool for relaxation and for enhancing their art.
The “Nice” Message
by Ken Kaplan, Quantum Floats, Mendham, NJ
For about 10 years, the voicemail message on my phone said “this is Ken. I’m not able to take your call. Please leave me a nice message at the tone.” It was only recently that I stopped to consider why I thought it was important that someone leave me a “nice” message. I discovered that when I was 3 I decided that if I was “nice,” people would like me.
You could say that I wrote a program to “be nice”. That may sound harmless, but the “be nice” program was costly. Instead of being honest with people, I told them what they wanted to hear. I thought I would hurt their feelings if I were honest.
I’m lucky to have people in my life who care enough about me to have helped me see that the “be nice” program made me a lousy friend.
When I saw how the program was affecting my relationships, I rewrote the program to “be respectful”. This was a huge shift for me because being respectful requires honesty. The adjustment of that belief had an immediate impact on my relationships.
My relationships are more enriched now. Instead of telling someone what I think they want to hear, I help them see where they too may have holes in their thinking based on a program they wrote as a little kid.
by Jenny Mae Waters, program/float facilitator
Recently, I moved to Mexico to help with the expansion of classes for Mental Arts. It’s been a rude awakening. I’ve had to examine the world around me. Most definitely, I’ve had to stop and see what it is I’ve been doing. Do I fit?
Many times I’ve been confronted with the many prejudices and biases that I hold. Whether I realized it or not, I’m the one who is out of place. I am the one who has been ignorant. So the best thing I could do is to stop, take a deep breath, and observe the world around me. Know that we are all human beings here on this earth. I’ve had to recognize that beliefs are what shape us. Yes, its true that we can’t see the color of our own eyes, but when someone is telling me something… at least for a minute, I’ve had to stop and consider what that person might be telling me.
I’ve been learning a lot. The need to assimilate into the culture is ever so apparent. Being a part of the community and the people around me is an experience, one that will last a lifetime.
Why I Float
by Anne O’Malley, client of iFloat, Westport, CT/www.ifloatct.com
I started floating at iFloat about three years ago, around the time I began studying to apply to law school. Over the past three years, I have seen that by slowing down I actually speed up. By relieving stress, I am more focused on what is important in the moment. By seeing new approaches to problems, I often find better solutions.
Initially I described floating as a sort of “meditation.” Inside a tank, quieting the outside noise is a given. Like meditation, floating is relaxing and stress relieving. But with the tank quiet, I discovered my mind slows down enough to think in new and creative ways beyond what I had ever experienced with meditation. Now I have replaced meditation with floating as a tool that enables me to function at my best.
I have come to appreciate that having someone to talk to post-float about the experience is just as important as the float experience itself. After floating, I’m often left wondering about new ideas and thoughts that occurred in the tank. My post-float chats with iFloat staff have shed new light on the experience and provide me with a deeper understanding of how the mind works.
Every month, Art of Floating hosts an event that highlights the talents of local musicians while raising money to benefit non-profit organizations in the area. On January 31st, Art of Floating had the pleasure to welcome the musical combination of Jerry Decker playing Aura & Saraz handpans and Chelsea Smarr playing the harp. Proceeds from the event went to support the Columbia County Volunteers in Medicine Clinic.