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January 2016 Mental Arts Newsletter

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Happy New Year everyone and welcome to our January edition! This is a year of change in many ways, the most talked about is the Presidential election this coming November. We, of course, will be writing about this event as we did in this very edition. And as always we offer much food for thought. Our country is on the precipice of change, what will that change be? How will that change affect our lives and even our world?

We will continue to bring you thought-provoking articles and as always offer other points of view to consider. Here’s to an amazing year ahead!

 

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.”

~ Rainer Maria Rilke


What Will We Leave Behind?

by John Worthington – Author of “The Office of Shaman”

This is the year of our presidential elections. It’s when we choose the one man in the country who is best qualified to represent us on the world stage. It’s when we, as a people, tell the rest of the world who we are and what we do.

If this year’s crop of GOP candidates for the Office of President were truly representative of what we the people of the United States think of ourselves and of our hopes and aspirations for our children and grandchildren then we will be viewed by history as a small and greedy people. We will be viewed as a people who self-centeredly insisted that we ignored the facts of climate change. We will be viewed as a people who would offer our children as a sacrifice to our God of War and Violence. We will be viewed as a people who refused to acknowledge those who sought refuge in our borders. We will be viewed, in short, as a cruel and Godless people. A people who are heartless and arrogant.

Fortunately, the people of the United States are not such a people, even if we do amuse ourselves with the spectacle of grown men trying their best to entertain us with a lying contest, which would possibly be won by the most outrageous liar of the bunch. Who will eventually prevail in this contest will be the man or woman who touches us most deeply with his love for us and his compassionate beliefs about where we as a people want to go and what we want to leave for our grandchildren.


We Are All One

by David Conneely – iFloat, Westport, CT/www.ifloatct.com

In 2002 I was walking on a dirt, rocky road in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. It was about 5 or 6 pm and the sun was stationed at its final position for the day. I was on my way home from Souk, the weekly market where people from the sixty or more villages traveled to buy vegetables, meat, and other things. I was tired from the long day of speaking to many people. On the two mile walk home I was alone and I welcomed the silence as I enjoyed the beautiful, high desert scenery with large mountains in the background.

 

Then all of a sudden a man on his donkey caught up with me. He stayed at my pace. I had never met him before. He was from a remote village, much farther away than my village. We spoke about many things, but our conversation (which was in the Berber language) turned to the notion of countries and borders. “There was a time,” he said, as he cast his hand in a semi circle to point at the great expanse in front of us, “when people could travel and not be limited by borders, such as the one between Morocco and Algeria.” He spoke longingly almost like he was someone who had lived forever, and seen the changes over the past many hundreds of years. He wAerial View of Multiethnic People Forming Circle and Globeas dressed in a jalaba robe and his head was wrapped in a turban. He looked like a Jedi Knight. As I was speaking with this man it was as though I had traveled back in time to meet someone who lived before the modern construct of countries.

“All those borders,” he said, “They are not necessary. We are all One.” Something hit me hard when he said, “We are all One.” I replied in agreement but also in awe because something changed in me when he said it. I suddenly saw the one-ness between him and myself, and me and everyone.

In today’s world where the likes of ISIS and Trump are insisting on separateness, I encourage everyone to remember what the man on the donkey told me. We need borders for countries in today’s world. They maintain order by organizing our economies, governments, schools, and businesses. However, we do not need the borders of separateness in our minds. We must engage ISIS through waging battles of different types whether they are in the form of physical combat or virtual combat on the Internet. But the true battle with ISIS and their associates is in the mind and at the level of belief.

They want to create division. If they create division they will bolster their numbers. We must stay away from the reality of separateness. The key to defeating them is to ally ourselves with those who support the reality of “respect for all.” In other words, we must recruit people for our own army: The army of Respect.

The reason I teach seminars in Mental Arts and own a float center is to provide experiences for people to see they are connected to other people, including those who are different from them in areas such as race, ethnicity, and religion. When we slow down and sink into ourselves we get to a place where the borders between ourselves and others dissolve. That frees up space in our mind to take on different points of view. I often wonder what would happen if the leaders of ISIS floated or did a Mental Arts seminar. I wonder what would happen if Donald Trump floated or examined what he believed to be real. Would they slow down and see their fantasies of separateness dissolve? I hope so.

We are all One.


My Dream…                                                                           

by Lisa Sienkiewicz – Editor, Mental Arts Newsletter (Quantum Floats)

January 18th we once again celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. It is a day to honor what this man stood for and what this man fought for while he was alive. I took time today to read his “I have a dream” speech that he gave on August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. As I read his speech, what struck me is what he believed, what he dreamed would become real in our world, is still being fought for and still has not been achieved.  Yes, progress has been made, we no longer have the severe segregation that was so prevalent in the South during Martin Luther King, Jr’s time, however, there is still much unrest, prejudice and racism in our nation. There are still horrendous acts of violence being committed against other human beings. In 2015 there were over 290 mass shootings; almost 50 of those were school shootings; several mosques were either set on fire, or received death threats; over a third of the women who were murdered in the U.S. were murdered by their partner/spouse, let alone the number of people who have been harassed, beaten and killed because they are gay or black or belong to a certain religion… Are we waiting for another Martin Luther King, Jr. to bring an end to the violence? Or another Gandhi or spiritual leader? What I believe is, it is up to each and every one of us to stand up, for each and every one of us to say no more killing, and to stand together to end the prejudice and violence that is threatening this nation and the world. And that ending begins within each of us. That is my dream.


Reflections on the Harmony Seminar

by George Khamis

2015-11-29 01.14.35Arriving into Puerto Vallarta, I knew that this seminar was no vacation – this was work. I intended to learn everything I could from this seminar, and to benefit from it as much as possible. I did not realize at this time that by making that intention, I had a responsibility to keep it no matter what. If I had realized this before the seminar, I would have had a much different experience. After getting acquainted to the breathtakingly beautiful house and the view of the entire bay of Puerto Vallarta from almost every window and porch in the house, I began to work on identifying my belief in real. Within the first few hours of my stay, I identified a belief I wrote when I was about one year old centering on the theme of being unaccepted. This belief played out in ways like “I have to please other people to be accepted” and in many other unfortunate ways. This belief also resulted in a dichotomy of “If I am not less than, then I am better than others”. This came to nip me in the butt as I was progressing through the first two statements of the rewrite.

image1-5_FotorDuring the first few days of the seminar, I felt very confident; I believed that I was going to make exceptional changes over the next week. Underneath that confidence was the strong sense of “I am so important that it is an honor to talk to me” that I had to address in the class. The reason for this was that if I felt accepted by others, feeling like I wasn’t less than them, I still attempted to separate myself through placing myself on a high, high pedestal. By attempting to make myself “better than”, I came off as a huge asshole. By trying to “help” people, I put people down, justifying to myself that doing that would help them. Although what I was saying may have been legitimate for that person, behind it all I was selling the belief that I was more important than others.

Throughout the whole stay, the facilitators (John, Jenny, and India) provided a unique space in which that belief would be accentuated so that I could recognize it enough to change it.

All my life I held people at a distance. I never allowed anyone, not even my parents, to get close enough to really know who I was. With the “rewritten belief”, I am able to do what I couldn’t do before, namely hold meaningful and intimate relationships. I used IMG_0216_Fotorto think that I had an obligation to others – basically that I lived for others, and that I had to make other people happy and comfortable. Now I know that I do not have to do any certain thing to be accepted in my relationships. In other words there is no one to please, and there is no need to please anyone.

Toward the middle of the stay, I had come upon a roadblock: I was hesitant to move forward with the class while others lagged behind. I thought if everyone was behind a day or two in rewriting their program, then maybe it’s okay for me to fall a little behind. I naively thought that if I was seriously falling behind someone would tell me.

What I discovered is, I alone was responsible for the choices I made and I would have to live with the consequences. After coming home, I realized that I have been doing that same thing my whole life: Selling myself short by comparing myself to others. This is one of a handful of lessons I am integrating into my life now due to the Harmony Seminar. Although I made those mistakes in the past, there is no need to make them again.

It’s All About Relationship…                                                                                             

by Louis Berrigan – client of Art of Floating, Bloomsburg, Pa/www.artoffloating.com

The Harmony seminar was one of the most eye opening experiences in my life. My classmates and I were provided with the harmony_12_15_Fotoropportunity to examine our closely held beliefs of what we perceive to be real in the world. These perceptions are based off something you believed real when you were a toddler. The belief I programmed myself with when I was a little kid was that I knew better than my parents or that I do whatever I want. I’ve been living with this debilitating belief my whole life, and it has cost me greatly in my interactions with people. Instead of listening to what people said to me I would cheapen the exchange by just offering what I thought and not considering what they were saying.  Once a program is written it becomes the rule of your life until recognized and changed. John, Jenny, and India, the4_Harmony_12-15_Fotor facilitators of the seminar, do a great job at helping you see what you believe.  John says, “You can not see the color of your own eyes.”  This saying is analogous with beliefs. In everyday life no one disagrees with what you believe to be real, and it is impossible to see the true nature of what shapes your thinking. This is not the case in harmony class.  The facilitators refuse to agree with the disadvantageous beliefs that we would offer in our communications. With this disagreement they are fighting for us. In these times it helps one look at the efforts they are making in their relationships. The individual must be able to not only see where this happens, but also have the will to change it. To make the change myself it was important that I listen to the information presented to me, adopt other points of views outside of my own, and make the choice to do something different. Since arriving home, what I learned in Puerto Vallarta is being integrated into every aspect of my life.  I’m making new efforts in the relationships that I am a part of.


The Cost of Hypocrisy

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

Hypocrisy is perhaps the most costly error we Americans make. It cannot be excused or justified but we indulge in it over nearly anything and everything.  It confuses us. It uses amazing amounts of mental circuitry. The worst part is that it defines us as a people.

Our political leaders practice it and even use it to convince us of how worthy they are. They pander to our indulgence in it. They shamelessly justify it as they flaunt it to the world. We blatantly sell assault rifles to Mexican criminals who live in a country where gun ownership is not legal, so the criminals can murder anyone and everyone they want, even women who have just been elected mayor.

We wage war to protect our oil interests and through that war we create the political crucible, which spans terrorists and refugees by the hundreds of thousands, not to mention murder in the streets of Paris. But that isn’t hypocritical in the least. We have the right to do whatever we want and damn the consequences.

I have to wonder how we can support such hypocrisy as murdering black children while we slap white terrorists on the wrists. How can we dare to flaunt our “economic rights” to the world under the banner of “you can’t prove climate change?” Well, the answer is there is no possible justification for such behavior. I don’t care if you get mad about that or not. It just ain’t justifiable.  Really.  It’s not.

The problem and the solution to the problem was laid out by Da Vinci a long time ago. He said, “He who does not oppose evil commands it to be done.” In other words our pandemic of hypocrisy can only be addressed by we the people refusing hypocrisy in any of it’s myriad forms. We may not allow it in ourselves nor in those we love. It is just too destructive.

If we want to respect the man or woman we see in the mirror every morning the same way we want to be respected as a people on the world stage, then we must replace hypocrisy in our thinking.  We must admit to ourselves that our disembodied fears are not the substance of political seduction.  We must be represented by men and women of integrity.  Men and women who lead by example not men and women who try to lead with seduction.


Program Theory…Applied

During the second session of our Program Theory and Application Seminar, the participants were asked to write a paragraph or two about something that inspired them from that particular session. In otherwards, for them to apply what they’ve learned so as to make a difference for someone else. Here is a sampling of those writings, from Steve, Brianna and Lenore…Enjoy!

Nice Guys Finish Last…

by Steve Danforth

I have a reputation I’m not proud of — for most of my life I’ve been known as a “nice guy.” This in itself may not sound like the worst thing in the world, but to be fair we have to consider the methods it took to earn that reputation. At some point much earlier in my life I made the decision to adopt a personality of nice. Nice looked shiny, seemed attractive to others, and appeared to be a way to get the things I wanted with relatively little conflict. I had heard the phrase “fake it ’til you make it” and decided that was exactly what I would do. So I faked it. But I ran into a problem in the question “How would I know what ‘make it’ was and when I got there?” And maybe the larger problem of repressing who I actually was and the growing feeling that “nice me” was seriously lacking substance. I did not answer the question or deal with the problem and watched myself spiral through the pitfalls of avoidant behavior using drugs, overworking, maintaining a life of “busy,” and isolating from others.

Being a Nice Guy left me depressed and wanting. The why makes sense, if you think about it: Nice is just a mask, it is not me and it is not you. It could not ever be us. Our vast limitless selves cannot hide behind any single mask, and it is wise of us to avoid trying. It was only once I was honest with myself that I found being nice was the least kind thing I could be doing for anyone. A more accurate way of explaining it might be to say I was lying to everyone. By lying to others I was removing the opportunity for us to learn through communication. How nice is that? It was only through the help of good friends who saw past my mask and the facilitators in the Mental Arts Network that I was able to uncover the truth. Are you wearing a nice guy or nice girl mask? If so, what has that cost you?

I think people get exactly what they want, even when they don’t know they are getting it. A few months back a friend, who was potentially going to lose her job because of something out of her hands, told me if she lost her job she would just move back home. That logic didn’t make much sense to me, she had a boyfriend that could support her while looking for a new job. I asked her, “Why would you move back home?” She made an excuse about how it wouldn’t be fair to him and she didn’t want to be a burden, etc. To me it looked like she was looking for any reason to break up and run. Fast forward a few months later and she contacted me saying they broke up. She still had her job but they had still broken up. After talking with her, it seemed it is exactly what she wanted, not at a conscious level but at an other than conscience level. Many people today, I’ve noticed, walk around in a reality getting exactly what they want, be it something that benefits them or not, because of what they believe is real and the agreements they hold with others. Somewhere in my friend’s relationship was the agreement to run, an agreement that many of my friends have, and the same place I needed to address this past week in Program Theory.

Why We Always Get What We Want

by Brianna Sienkiewicz – client of iFloat, Westport, CT/www.ifloatct.com

ThinkstockPhotos-514273425I think people get exactly what they want, even when they don’t know they are getting it. A few months back a friend, who was potentially going to lose her job because of something out of her hands, told me if she lost her job she would just move back home. That logic didn’t make much sense to me, she had a boyfriend that could support her while looking for a new job. I asked her, “Why would you move back home?” She made an excuse about how it wouldn’t be fair to him and she didn’t want to be a burden, etc. To me it looked like she was looking for any reason to break up and run. Fast forward a few months later and she contacted me saying they broke up. She still had her job but they had still broken up. After talking with her, it seemed it is exactly what she wanted, not at a conscious level but at an other than conscience level. Many people today, I’ve noticed, walk around in a reality getting exactly what they want, be it something that benefits them or not, because of what they believe is real and the agreements they hold with others. Somewhere in my friend’s relationship was the agreement to run, an agreement that many of my friends have, and the same place I needed to address this past week in Program Theory.

A New Year State of Mind…

by Lenore Sterner – client of Art of Floating, Bloomsburg, PA/www.artoffloating.com

Within the mind, there are no limits. This idea got me thinking about the concept of the New Year and resolutions. Every year, people make resolutions, and don’t see them through to the end of even January. My friend talked to me about how January is the absolute worst time for her to go to the gym, as it is completely packed and no equipment is available. By February, she says, the gym is once again empty, up until the same group of people decide to get their bodies ready for the beach. It happens every year, to the extent that Planet Fitness banks on at least 50% of their members never using their memberships.

I used to wonder why this happens, why people (myself included) can’t stick to a commitment. Why I personally changed my major in college at least 10 times and attended three different colleges before finally committing to what I want to do with the rest of my life. I understand now that it’s imposing limits, as well as giving up as soon as things get too hard. It’s committing to do something then whining when it actually takes work. There are practical limitations– for instance, the body will not magically become fit and toned after a single work out, that obviously cannot be eliminated, and that is where hard work comes in. What I’m realizing is that the hardest “work” is looking at where limitations in my mind kept me from finishing what I had said I was going to do and banishing them from my thinking. The rest is a cake walk in comparison.


In This Year to Come…

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself.

Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

~ by Neil Gaiman


The First Float: Is That All There is?                                                                            

by Terri Stangl – Quantum Floats, Bedminster, NJ/www.quantumfloats.com

Paul comes out into the lobby after his first float. “I had trouble relaxing,” he reports. “I kept thinking about things. I bumped into the walls. ”  “Sounds like a first float,” I reply. He sits down on the couch with a cup of herbal tea. “I’m not sure if floating is for me,” he muses. “My body feels relaxed, but I just don’t think I’m the kind of person who can ever really slow down.”

North of Dream

During the first float, people are experiencing something new. They check their actual experience of floating against their ideas about it. Will they really float? How will they react in the dark?  Will they get bored? Will they fall asleep? Even though stimulation from light, sound, temperature and gravity have been limited, the tank space is new to them. The brain has something new and unknown to talk to itself about. That’s why it’s important to float 2 or 3 times to see how the float experience changes over time.

 “Are you going to decide what floating is like and how it will be every time after your very first experience with it?” I ask. “Did you do the same thing with sex, too?” Paul laughs. “I see what you mean. Maybe I am a little too quick to decide.” “Could be,” I say. “I wonder if you’re doing that anywhere else in your life? Floating is a great opportunity to observe what kind of thinking you do, all by yourself. That thinking goes with you wherever you are.”

 Two weeks later, Paul floats again. This time after the float he looks slightly stunned. “That was completely different, “ he reports. I don’t even remember all my thoughts. I feel so much more relaxed than before.” “Yeah, that happens,” I nod. “Our reactions to things are always based on programming instructions that we put in place based on our prior experiences. Since everything we perceive and how we react are always the result of how our brains are programmed to process sensory input, what we see and feel may or may not be how things actually are.”

 Floating is an unparalleled tool for observing the raw material of one’s own thinking processes in isolation from external stimuli. Mental Arts float facilitators are skilled in helping float clients sort through their experiences and observations. Once one begins to see the processes themselves, they can be adjusted. When Paul realized how he was quick to assume he knew what a float session “is” or what kind of person he “is”, he had the opportunity to do something different. And he did.


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