Blog: Mental Arts

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February 2016 Mental Arts Newsletter


Welcome! So very often we perceive someone to be a certain way based on how we think or what society deems acceptable. And more times than not we find, how we thought things are, are vastly different. We are a fascinating lot for sure, with all of our societal prejudices and media fantasies. The very fact that we can meet someone who we think occupies a certain stereotype, automatically assuming they have nothing to offer…and then they open their mouth and what emerges is pure gold. Their voice, their depth of thought…their very being fills up a room…and we are blown away. The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” is pointing at that very thing. Could it be that what we hold as beautiful or having value, is merely a limit within our thinking, maybe even a limit that causes us to miss where beauty actually resides? I believe we can do better as a society and as individuals by removing those limits from our thinking and our lives, so we can see beauty wherever it may be.

What is the Introduction to the Art of Rewriting Seminar?

by John Worthington, author of “The Office of Shaman”

Mental Arts provides a number of seminars, which are based on the works of John Lilly. One of the most basic seminars is the cleverly named Introduction to the Art of Rewriting Seminar. It’s really a very simple, and at once complicated seminar. It’s simple because it really doesn’t cover much material. It’s complicated because the material it does cover may take weeks or even months to digest.

The seminar is divided into two parts. One part is the communication of information. The information pertains to what an individual requires to be able to complete the second part, which is the actual writing of a program. No, really, actually writing a program. A program that the seminar participant designs and writes for him or her self.

Some of the information one must have to write a program includes the elimination of all manners of blame, and the acceptance of responsibility for one’s own actions and nothing more, or less. It includes defining dichotomies as being non-existent in reality. While there actually are such things as “good” and “bad”, those two concepts are not connected with a bungee chord. The same is true for “right” and “wrong.” In this seminar there are no “right” or “wrong” answers. There are only answers. But answers which tap the origin of where ideas and thoughts begin for any given individual.

The origin of any given thought is treated as just that. An origin. There is no emotional charge placed on the origin and therefore the seminar participant can examine that thought through his/her experiential lenses to see if that thought still serves them, or if that thought may need a bit of upgrading to fit the current reality of the individual.

What follows is the famous Goals/Means program. Do you know that defining a Goal is a terrible challenge for most people? Do you know that defining the Means to achieve that Goal is an even larger challenge? There are eleven statements used in the Mental Arts Goals/Means Program. Each statement represents an abstraction of thought, which is larger than the one previous. So the Goal statement would be a size of thought, then the Means statement would be a correspondingly larger thought, and then the Charisma statement would be even larger and so forth.

The changes wrought by writing a Goals/Means program are thought to be astounding by those who write these programs. We invite you to look into writing your own program at your earliest convenience. There’s no reason for you to continue to be run by a three year old who no longer exists.

The world in me

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself…”

~ Rumi

 (Illustration by Brianna Sienkiewicz – iFloat, Westport, CT)                                                               

What Goes on in a Mental Arts Float Center?

by Nick Branzburg – iFloat, Westport, CT/

“In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true is true or becomes true, within certain limits to be found experientially and experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the mind, there are no limits… In the province of connected minds, what the network believes to be true, either is true or becomes true within certain limits to be found experientially and experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the network’s mind there are no limits.” – John C. Lilly

Mental Arts float centers are more than a place where people go to relax and recover in an isolated, weightless environment, although relaxation and healing are the most fundamental aspect of what Mental Arts float centers do. Floating frees up brain circuitry, and Mental Arts float centers are a place where people of all walks of life go to solve problems, big and small. These problems may range from interpersonal relationships, artistic, psychological, philosophical, political, religious, business, entertainment,  sports, and beyond. No problem is to big or too small to be discussed in a Mental Arts float center.

“The first principle [of science] is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” – Richard Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize for physics, 1965.

Float facilitators in Mental Arts, like their clients, come from all walks of life. The minimum requirement of a facilitator is knowledge of the works of John C. Lilly (The inventor of floatation tanks). This knowledge means more than familiarity with the works of Lilly through reading. Indeed, having read Lilly is not strictly a requirement. Rather, they must demonstrate their understanding of Lilly’s work through experiencing and communicating their experiences in Mental Arts seminars. Float facilitators are experts in communication and healing, and facilitate discussions between their clients, themselves, and the outside world.

“How DARE you and the rest of your barbarians set fire to my library? Play conqueror all you want, Mighty Caesar! Rape, murder, pillage thousands, even millions of human beings! But neither you nor any other barbarian has the right to destroy one human thought!” ― William Shakespeare

509322419Mental Arts float centers are hubs for the intellectual. The walls of Mental Arts float centers are covered in artwork from artists of all walks of life, and each float center has a bookshelf or library that is filled with interesting books. It is fairly standard for a float center to have the works of John C. Lilly, Carlos Castaneda, and Alfred Korzybski as well as many others, on hand. Every book and every piece of artwork has a place in a float center. Some of the books and works of art are for sale, some are not, and some are free for taking. Float centers typically take book and art donations. Donated books and artworks are either added to the float center’s collections, personal collections, or distributed to charities and libraries in the area.

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” – Tony Robbins

In Mental Arts float centers, each client, facilitator, as well as the owner of the center brings a unique piece of themselves to the table. These include specific political, social, and religious views. The Mental Arts float centers neutralize the effect of these differences while maintaining them, so that problem solving communications can take place. Mental Arts float centers facilitate the exchange and distribution of these problem-solving communications through the Mental Arts Network, and beyond.

Reflections on the Business Operator’s Seminar

Three of our seminar participants, Miguel Angel, Jean Simon and Lenore Sterner share their experiences, observations and thoughts from their recent attendance at the Mental Arts Business Operator’s Seminar. Miguel is a psychologist from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Jean is a Float Facilitator at iFloat in Westport, CT and Lenore is a massage therapist in training from Northumberland, PA.

by Miguel Angel… I met John Worthington, the author of The Office of Shaman through a mutual friend. Being a psychologist I was very much interested in what was being offered through the seminars John facilitates at the gorgeous sea front house in Puerto Vallarta. During our meeting I was invited to the upcoming 8 day Business Operator’s seminar as an “impartial observer”. I thought this would be a wonderful way to find out more about what Mental Arts does and accepted the invitation.IMG_0160

Within the first day I was beginning to see one of the best and fastest ways to demonstrate to people the reality they are living in and what they communicate in the way they are speaking. I was also observing in myself where I was hesitating in speaking up, I didn’t want to make a mistake and be “shown in public” the reality I was living in. Even with my “knowledge” as a psychologist, it didn’t protect me from looking at what was real.

I started feeling comfortable as the “impartial observer”, when suddenly I was asked why I wasn’t mingling with all the other seminar attendees as an equal and why I wasn’t sitting among them and sharing my understanding of each idea that was presented, or my observations. I was surprised, even shocked by this…I believed I was only an “impartial observer”. However, I was invited to be a part of the group, not a foreigner. After that moment everythin12509858_1207393052622527_8028145060449206669_ng changed. Everyone began to show me the reality I was living in, where I had a fear of belonging and of trusting and where I’ve allowed betrayal to exist in my life. I recognized that why the groups I’ve tried to lead and the businesses I started have collapsed, is because of what I believed to be real.

I learned a lot in this seminar. I have been in many seminars, but the speed at which John, the other seminar facilitators and participants where able to see what others were doing/communicating was not only incredible, but is what gave me and everyone in the class a place to make changes in our reality. This is going to be a very productive and new life for me, my family, friends, and perhaps a positive way, to address my country and the world. I sincerely thank everyone for this opportunity.

by Jean Simon…Walking through the door to the Mental Arts training facility in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico was like entering into a float tank. I relaBE3_3255xed instantly from the beauty of the house and view from the windows. I was supported by the knowledge I had from previous seminars I attended and I knew it was a safe place to be. Relaxing into the experiences over the next 8 days would be an opportunity to see through the eyes of the group of people attending, the beliefs I make real to be recognized and changed.

One thing that was pointed out to me was how I hold people off in my life. I was described as a football player dressed in uniform, helmet and all, with my hands up ready to defend my personal space from anyone stepping to close. This cost me 33 years of relationships and opportIMG_5810unities that I will never experience. I was embarrassed by my behavior and wanted to do something different. I didn’t know at the moment what that something different was, but I knew that my life had value and my experiences and skills could be of service to society.

Returning home from the Business Operator’s seminar was like stepping out of the float tank. Now I had to apply what I learned. I now spend 3-4 days a week at iFloat in Westport, CT, facilitating float sessions with clients. Instead of hBE3_3247olding in my thoughts, I speak up when I have something to say. I say yes to opportunities that will give me a chance to get to know someone and for them to know me. I call family and friends when I think of them because the best time to connect with others is right now.

Seeing my life through the eyes of the group during the Business Operator’s seminar has shown me how to shed the layers of “football gear”. They gave me a hand, so I could see what I was doing, so I could make the changes to my thinking. They gave me a chance to make a difference in myself and now I want to do the same for other people and make a difference in the world.


by Lenore Sterner…Attending Harmony class in Mexico helped me to make changes in my life and in how I viewed the world. After leaving Harmony, I realized that I had been denying myself doing what I wanted, and what I needed to do with my life. It only took me a week to decide that massage school was where I needed to be.

A few months later when the opportunity arose to return to Mexico for the Business Operator’s Seminar, I knew I needed to go back. I was in massage school and I wanted to work in a Mental Arts affiliated float tank office…this class was the next step.Copy of IMG_0336

Puerto Vallarta, where the week-long seminar is held, is beautiful. There is absolutely nothing I can compare it to that I’ve ever seen. Leaving dreary Pennsylvania for sunny Mexico was like stepping into a dream. The house that the seminar is held in is nothing short Copy of IMG_0268of gorgeous, and the view isn’t exactly too shabby either. The town itself was alive with culture, and around every corner was a learning opportunity.

As for the seminar itself, I was constantly challenged to look within myself and sort through my life, and my relationships. What I found is where I was missing out on so much, the most important being, respect for myself and of the people in my life. If I don’t have that, than what kind of footing do I have to stand on? Taking this seminar helped me find that footing.DSC_1069

Had you told me 6 months ago that I would be traveling to Mexico twice, in massage school, and finally finding sure-footing in my life, I would have told you that you were absolutely insane. The seminars didn’t do that for me, but they were a tool so that I could do that for myself.

Why We Float…

by Nick Branzburg – iFloat, Westport, CT/

I was very anxious. Normally, I talk to someone before I float. But this time, the tank center was closed. I thought these circumstances were particularly bizarre, and I was convinced that this was going to be the most dramatic float I’ve ever had. I set a timer so that I wouldn’t be in there too long. I even thought this was profound. I had made an agreement to come back to reality!

ThinkstockPhotos-186323207I got in the tank, and time quickly slowed until it practically stood still. Suddenly, I was jolted by a surge of anxious energy. I drifted until my hand touched the top of the tank, and the wall felt as if it melted. I did something similar for the other 3 sides of the tank, and had the same experience of the walls melting. Finally, I reached with my hand to touch my face, and I felt as if my hand went straight through my face. I then had the sensation that my arm was melting, and then my entire body. I thought to myself “This IS the strangest float I ever had!”

At that instant, a calmness washed over me, and I decided it was time to get out of the tank. As I started to reorient myself to the world, all of the anxiety and frustration I felt was gone. I went home, and talked to my girlfriend. We had been fighting before I left, but when I saw her this time, it was if I was seeing her with new eyes. In that moment, we both realized how much we loved each other.

Many people report strange experiences in the float tank. They see colors, strange images, tactile experiences, and so forth. These experiences are interesting in themselves, but there is a danger in focusing on these tactile and sensory experiences as if they are what is important. As fascinating as these experiences may be, what is actually important is when we use these experiences to make a difference in the lives of others. In this case, the dramatic sensory experience that I had was really just me reorganizing my beliefs so that I could see what was real: my relationship with my girlfriend. People do this all the time, in and out of the tank, and this is why we float.

Slow Down

by Steve Danforth

Moon rise - Bay of Banderas, Puerto Vallarta, MX

Moon rise – Bay of Banderas, Puerto Vallarta, MX


Slow down dear friend

or you’ll miss the ride

life’s not found in the busy

but for you to decide

It’s in taking the chance

and in trying the new

it’s in looking around

and admiring the view

So stop for the beauty

take time to enjoy

the days you have left

are at your employ

Live the life that is yours

start now and don’t wait

slow down my dear friend

before it’s too late

Something About Her… 

by Brianna Sienkiewicz – iFloat, Westport, CT/

GettyImages_476363813_FotorIn the latest Star Wars movie there is a character named Maz Kanata. In the movie she is the owner of a castle/bar that she has run for over a 1000 years. Her character displays a wonderful juxtaposition to reason…between her appearance and who she is. During the scene in the bar she is checking out one of the characters, the former storm trooper. As she looks into his eyes, she says “When you live long enough, you start to see the same eyes in different people.” She sees into him, she is intimate in a way that reaches passed the fears and cordialities and speaks TO and WITH the characters.

I believe we crave this type of intimacy and yet in the same breath are terrified to be that intimate with one another. It is that intimacy though that cuts through to the heart of who and what we are, that type of intimacy is what makes a difference in our world.

When Brianna Sienkiewicz was in college she attended a talk by a woman who was a grad student and writer. Brianna met a “Maz Kanata” that day. Below is a piece Brianna wrote to describe the experience of that meeting…

There was something about her… She was beautiful but not beautiful in the way you think of A-List celebrities. Not like the girls that covered the popular magazines or the women from high fashion runways. She was disproportioned…she had a squashed plump and boyish figure. She sat hunched in the armchair, her stringy, tangled brown hair sticking out from under her navy blue hoodie, and her worn, pale, chubby and makeup-less face twisted into awkward grins. She was not far from looking like “trailer trash” except she still had all her teeth. She was a different type of beauty. The one I preferred.

When she spoke she flicked and rotated her arms and hands in a beautiful display of body language that successfully never passed outside of her body’s frame. In her deep, rough tone, even her speech was refined and thought out. She presented herself with confidence and a calm, intellectual demeanor. She didn’t seem nervous to talk to a group. When a question was asked she held out her hand as if to receive the question via gesture, then would think before she responded to the question. When she did answer the question, she made eye contact with you, leaning forward in her armchair. She was talking to you. Not at you. You knew it was a conversation worth having and worth listening too.

There was something about her. She was beautiful but not beautiful in the way you think. It is the way I prefer.


by Steve Danforthbalance-110850_1280

How can I say
Who I am
Without including You
Your silent voice
Guiding me
In everything I do
And even though
I call You
By another name
When I look inside
I can see
How we are the same

Moving Beyond Playground Politics…                                                                        

by Terri Stangl – Quantum Floats, Bedminster, NJ/

All grown people are the product of – and are run by – their unconscious (and thus unrecognized) early childhood programming. Such programming is – for better or worse – internally consistent and utterly predictable.

Back in the day, one of my favorite comic strips was Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin is a little boy and Hobbes is his stuffed tiger. They spent many hours building and defending a fort and making up rules about the club they ran out of it. In their quarrels and games one could see the signs of beliefs about real that show up among grown adults.

With that in mind, I found myself imagining a fort-building project undertaken by a group of today’s Presidential candidates if they had gotten together as young children and when their beliefs about “who I am” and “how things are” were already in place.

Imagine if you will that you have wandered into a vacant lot and can hear the following kids gathered around a pile of wood, duct tape, rope, cans and boxes: Donny T, Hillary, Teddy, Bernie, Mark, Jeb, Ben and Chris.

Jeb: We’ll need a fort. My daddy had a fort. And my brother had a fort. I know all about forts.  I’m supposed to have one too.

Donny: Your idea of a fort is boring. I get to be in charge of the fort because it will be the shiniest ever and I have the best toys. If anyone doesn’t like it, I’m kicking them outta here.

Ben: I should be in charge of the fort because I got an A on my science test and won an award for my science project. That means I’m smart. We can build a cool fort by balancing big boards on top of little cans. Nobody has ever seen gravity anyway so I think they’re making it up to scare us.

Hillary: I can build a fort as well as any of you boys. Even better. I’ve been practicing to build a fort my whole life.

Donny: You will build the most boring fort ever. I’ll shake things up.

Hillary: But the other people who live in the neighborhood like me. Whatever I build will fit in. It will last. You’re a jerk and are going to upset people. We won’t have any friends.

Donny: Boring, boring, boring. We need a huge fence around our fort so everyone will know how cool it is. And no muslim kids allowed because they don’t like me being in charge. You girls can come in when me and my friends say it’s okay and if you’re cute enough. Right, Sarah?

Bernie: That’s not fair.

Hillary: I’ll show you, Donny. You just wait.

Chris: If anyone doesn’t like how I build a fort, I’m taking away the ladder and sitting on them. Try and stop me.

Ted: I go to sunday school. I feel like Jesus wants me to build a fort the way he would and to decide who belongs in it. I couldn’t feel that way if it wasn’t true.

Bernie: That’s not fair. It’s not nice to leave anyone out.

Donny: You’re such a wuss, Bernie.

Mark: I should be in charge of the fort because I’m younger and cuter than anyone here. You need me because if I leave all my Hispanic friends will go with me. Then who will build your stupid fort? None of you will.

Bernie: We all should build the fort together. That’s fair. Everybody works and everybody gets in.

Chris: You can’t make me build a fort with you if I don’t want to. I got a guy who builds forts.

Jeb: My daddy says that I don’t have to build a fort. I can use the fort that he and my brother left behind. If it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.

Ben: I know! I know! We could build a fort out of tin foil. It’ll stand up by itself. And we can have matching hats, too!  See I’m smarter than those losers who keep talking about how gravity makes things fall down.

Donny: Well at least that would be shiny. When your fort’s the shiniest, everyone stares. And then we can do whatever I want. I always do anyway. Hey, you guys! Where’s everybody going? Don’t you want to see my toys?

​And so the squabbling goes round and round and nothing is resolved. Who’s still standing when the street lights come on and it’s time for bed? And why? How can there ever be a winner when everyone is just talking to themselves? Must we settle for endless attempts to “be right” or “get attention” or to prove “you can’t make me” or are there any grown ups who can sort out real from fantasy and pick the Agreements to build something together?

Over 50 years ago, author James Q Wilson warned that, with the rise of righteous amateurs in office, “conflict will be intensified, social cleavages will be exaggerated…[and the] ability to produce agreement…will be reduced.” I think Wilson is right about the problem with righteousness, but I don’t think that the solution is more years in office. I think addressing self-righteousness in our individual and collective thinking requires an understanding of thought itself. That’s a playing field for grown-ups, not little kids. Sorry, Calvin.

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