Springingtiger's Blog


It’s Funny How The Time Goes.

In NLP there is an hypnotic phenomenon called ‘Time Distortion’. Richard Bandler did a great tape on the subject. Yesterday I had the opportunity to spontaneously experience time distortion.

My patio is about three feet lower than the beds that surround it. I was working on the narrowest of the beds clearing the neighbour’s Clematis from my climbing rose when I stepped back into empty space. I don’t know how long it took me to fall, but it felt like a long time. It was long enough for me to realise that with my right foot still on the wrong side of the patio wall I could not prevent myself from falling. I had time to reflect that I could not roll out of the fall and to focus on breaking my fall so that my head did not hit the concrete slabs of the patio. I moved my left arm to protect my head and moved my right across my body to help absorb the impact. I landed on the side of my left foot, then my knee, but my head remained off the ground until I ceased to fall and lowered it to the ground where I lay for a while unable to move. I am not glad I fell, but the experience of time distortion was interesting. 
Now I am finding that time is moving more quickly than I. Unable to place weight on my left ankle every activity requires planning and movement is agonisingly slow (what an appropriate expression!). Today I am resting with my somewhat swollen ankle raised, doing as little as possible and experiencing a strange sense of timelessness as I observe the world. It is of course another time distortion, the sense that time itself is illusory or perhaps this is reality and time is the illusion.
I have a Werner Erhard tape in which he postulates that there wasn’t time as we know it until religions needed to divide the day so they might pray at regular intervals. For centuries  all time was local, based upon the passage of the seasons and the movement of the sun. Most people had no need to divide time with any accuracy. It was the requirement of ocean navigators for accurate time keeping upon which to make their sextant observations that led to the development of accurate timepieces, chronographs. However for most of us local time, even accurately measured local time, remained local. It was the advent of rail travel that ended local time in Britain. In order to catch scheduled rail services it was necessary for the time in the stations on a route to be coordinated otherwise people in the west of the country would always be late for a train coming from London, whereas those travelling the other way would arrive early at the station and have to wait. More improbably the journey west would appear to be slower on the same route as the journey east.
Everything in creation has its own pace. The planets orbit the stars, chemicals react, materials degrade and rot, seeds germinate and grow, leaves fall, seasons change in sequence, we are born, grow old, and die. All of this is natural. However time with its seconds, minutes, hours, and days; with its weeks, months and years, and the labels we place upon these divisions is made up. Humans created time and then subjugated themselves to its tyranny shackling themselves with clocks, diaries, schedulers, Filofaxes, appointment books, year planners, all made the more tyrannical with the advent of personal computers and smartphones. It is true that we need all this for an ordered society, but sometimes it’s a relief, a necessity to stop time and live the timeless life. The worst time distortion is the distortion we allow time to inflict on our psyche, our values, our peace of mind. Stress is a function of time, deadlines can empower us, but equally destroy us. We complain that we have ‘no time to do anything’ today I have NO TIME and so I can do anything I choose.



Playing Hooky
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GUESS at MCM

On Saturday I took a day off from my usual schedule. I enjoyed it. Everyday I write my journal, everyday I read my Bible, everyday I post my blog. Saturday began as any other day I did write in my journal in the morning, but decided to postpone my Bible reading until the evening, as I often do. I usually blog in the evening, often the subject of my blog is suggested by the events of the day or, perhaps, the news. Saturday began as a normal day, the only anticipated break from routine was meeting up with some of my friends in the Glasgow Ubiquitous E Steampunk Society to go to the MCM Comic Con. This is not going to be a blog about MCM nor Steampunk, but there will be reference to both later in the week possibly.

It was only in the evening as I thought about blogging that I realised it felt like a burden. I could have posted one I had in reserve for an occasion when time did not permit writing. However as I contemplated what to post it occurred to me that I had become a prisoner of my targets and goals. I love setting goals as they provide a clarity and focus to my actions, but on Saturday I realised that instead of using them I had become subject to their tyranny, I had become obsessive about achieving them. I had set myself the goal of posting a blog every day of the year and having blogs in hand made that a simple enough thing to do. On Saturday the thought of posting a blog everyday ceased to give me joy. Blogging is not my job, I don’t get paid for it, I do it for pleasure and if it does not give me joy then what is the point? On Saturday I chose not to post even a reserve blog, I chose not to read my Bible, and in the evening I did not complete my journal for the day.

For a little while I felt uncomfortable, I do not like it when my days do not follow their expected routine. For a little while I felt uncomfortable that I was letting myself or others down, I have no contract with anyone but myself so at worst I was letting myself down. I learned many years ago from Werner Erhard that even when one has given one’s word it is permissible to renegotiate any agreement. My agreement is with me and I realised that the deeper level of the agreement was to find joy in what I was doing, I gave myself permission to play hooky and immediately experienced a great feeling of freedom, so much so that I almost wrote about it there and then. I think that might have defeated the point a little as it was only by breaking my agreement with myself that it ceased to be a burden.

One day off from goals and schedules and then it was back to the blog and all the rest of it because that’s what I wanted. I have a better agreement now, now I will not allow myself to be burdened by my commitments, but to focus on the joy to which they lead. And where there is no joy on which to focus then I will do something else. Another thing I learned by taking that day off is that I love to write and a day without writing feels like a day with a hole at its heart. I doubt I’ll take another day off like that, but I’m happy I did.



Running To Stand Still
August 1, 2016, 22:09
Filed under: Gardening, Health, Scotland, Steampunk, Writing | Tags: , ,

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Some years ago I was sorely tempted to buy myself an irrigation system for my garden. I am so glad I didn’t, what a waste of money that would have been. This year I haven’t needed to take out my hose once. Rather than an irrigation system my thoughts are turning more to the question of installing additional drainage!

The quantity and frequency of rain here in the West of Scotland means that opporchancities for just enjoying the garden are limited. However the abundance of rain does mean that in the intervals between showers when we get into the garden there is garden to enjoy, and then some. All the experts say that we should not cut our lawns when the grass is wet, if we paid any attention we couldn’t see out of the ground floor windows. Clay soil, frequent rain, and sunny spells does at least mean that my garden is flourishing. Flourishing? It’s romping away faster than I can keep up with it.

Unfortunately the bad weather of last year coupled with my ill health meant that I started this Spring somewhat behind schedule. While my health is improved, I suspect I may finish this year behind schedule too, but hopefully not as badly.

I have embarked upon a new garden strategy. Realising that I have no commitment to gardening in the rain I have categorised and chunked my garden tasks so that I can take advantage of the gaps between downpours. I have big jobs for those rare days when I can spend uninterrupted hours in the garden and filler in tasks like hand weeding for the rest of the time. I am beginning to see some progress, not as much as I would like, but definitely progress.

Even now that I am no longer in employment there never seems to be time for everything I want to do. I can think of a thousand and one things to do in the house. I was thinking today that I might read the Bruce Trilogy by Nigel Tranter, it’s at least two decades, perhaps more, since I bought it. I have free bus pass and Scotland to explore. I am not using my Unlimited Cinema card as much as I would like to feel I was getting best value from it, and there are so many films to see. It is several weeks since I last watched one of my accumulation of unwatched DVDs. I have a leather strap on a pair of goggles to rivet. I am part way through building a Steampunk gun, it’s a couple of months since I bought the brass tube that will be the barrel. And all the time my garden presents me with a daily reminder of how much there is to do. Oh and I’ve got a newsletter to put together.

Werner Erhard says that, “All there is to do today is what you get to do today!” Which is all very well, but it leaves a hell of a lot for tomorrow!



SdrawkcaB

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Last night I dreamed that I called to an interview in the job Centre. However I didn’t feel like talking and so I took a pad of paper on which to write. Every time the interviewer asked me a question I took my pencil in my left hand and wrote the answer in mirror writing. Needless to say the interviewer swiftly became frustrated and told me he knew I could speak and if I didn’t he’d sanction me. I took pity on him and answered in Sdrawkcab which sounds like a foreign language at first, but is the verbal equivalent of mirror writing. I have to say I speak it much more fluently in my dreams than when I’m awake, but speak it I can and in my dream, speak it I did. Unfortunately I don’t know what the outcome was because I woke up while the interviewer was becoming increasingly annoyed.

As I drifted into the day I thought about people who have appeared to live backwards, beginning old and ending as a child, Benjamin Button and, of course Merlin. How could someone be born as an adult? Well they couldn’t. However if someone’s chronology is reversed then if their life coincides for a while with someone living normally, might they not appear to grow younger? There is a problem with this which I won’t bother with just now. I never understood the mathematics of Einstein’s theories, I never tried to, but what I took from Special Relativity I would sum up by saying that what we call ‘time’ is actually just an interpretation of an observation of events.

Someone, probably Ray Cummings, once said, “Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.” However why should time have to flow in any one direction? Something John Archibald Wheeler (he thought about time and reality a lot) said, “The quantum principle shows that there is a sense in which what the observer will do in the future defines what happens in the past – even in a past so remote that life did not then exist, and shows even more, that ‘observership’ is a prerequisite for any useful version of reality”. Isn’t that cool? It hooks right into the Triadic Saivism assertion that what we call organs of perception (nose – smell, eye – sight, ear – hearing, and ‘hand’ – touch) are rather organs of creation. To put it another way the world in which we live is a world we have created with our own mind, or rather which we are creating with our mind. When we create this moment we also create the past which led to it and the future which will proceed from it. Neither that past nor future existed before of after this created moment and they exist only as a part of this ‘Now’. What then is the point of planning for the future if it only exists in the Now? Because everything is created by our mind the act of planning for the future is in reality an act of creation. It also means that the future you can create is only limited by your imagination. I remember that in the Est Training we learned that most people’s future was given by their past, you could alternatively say determined by their beliefs of what is possible. This is why Werner Erhard was so keen on having participants ‘create from nothing’. When nothing is subject to belief, or the interpretation of experience then the future is a blank page on which anything however unthinkable is possible.

That’s enough for tonight’s blog, there’s more on this sort of thing and more outrageous thoughts in my book, ‘Brianna: A Life Between Lives’.



Thank You Randy McNamara
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Mediterranean Sunset

Anyone who reads my blog on anything like a regular basis will know that I acknowledge a debt of gratitude to Werner Erhard who developed the est Training. However Werner’s work of transformation was not undertaken by Werner alone, he built up a team of people equally committed to having people’s lives work and one of these was Randy McNamara who learned Mind Dynamics from Werner and was there right at the start of est in 1971. Yesterday I was on Facebook and I saw Randy’s announcement that after forty-five years of leading transformational courses first est and then the Forum he was going to lead his final event in April. I dread to think how many thousands of miles he has travelled and how many hours he has spent in the work of transformation, I reckon it’s been a pretty gruelling forty years and I bet he doesn’t begrudge a second of it.

I didn’t do est with Randy. However some years after I did est I attended the first Forum that Landmark Education put on in Leeds and Randy was the trainer. He has real presence and what can only be called a ruthless compassion. He doesn’t waste time indulging a person’s stories, reasons and excuses, he honours them as being responsible for their lives and puts them right on the spot. During the course I shared an issue and Randy suggested I might like to talk to him about it. I’d seen him in action and preferred to sleaze my way out of what I expected to be an uncomfortable confrontation. Meal breaks were the times when Randy was left alone, no one was allowed to interrupt him and I’m not surprised given the focus he held for hours on end, completely present to everyone in the room. I calculated that if I spoke to him quickly at the start of lunch I could postpone a real conversation until I’d had time to get my act together. Confident that Randy held his breaks as sacrosanct as the attendants held them I went up to him and asked, “When would be a good time for me to come and see you?”

Randy fixed me with a stare that told me he could see right through me and replied, “Now!”

I had hoped for a respite before I faced myself, but Randy doesn’t do ‘wiggle room’. In NLP we are often told to make a note of why people come for help because when their perceived problem vanished they would often have no awareness of it ever having been there. I have some slight awareness of my then issues but by the time I left Randy to go on my break they had collapsed like the stupid illusions they really were. I didn’t eat much that break as I spent the whole time on the phone clearing up my life and completing incomplete issues with the people I loved.

One of the things I took away from that Forum was that Randy knew the stupid stories and acts we had, the rackets we were running, because he had been exactly where we were. His compassion was grounded in the recognition of what it is to be human and what it can be to be human, he didn’t discriminate between us and him because at root we are all human.

When Landmark Education was recreating its program my wife got to go to San Francisco to observe the Forum Leader Body and Communication Program leaders working on the recreation of Landmark. She was very impressed by the space Randy held for the conversation with his absolute integrity and rigour.

So the point of this post is to record my personal acknowledgement of Randy McNamara. I won’t detail the impact he has had on the lives of Neelam and myself, but I will say that it has been considerable. Werner may have laid the foundations, but Randy and others built on them. I don’t know how many lives Randy has impacted directly as an est trainer and Forum Leader, as a trainer of Forum Leaders, or indirectly through the successive impact of those he trained. I do know that I was moved to read the hundreds of tributes his announcement elicited, he is well loved and he deserves to be.

And he’s not actually retiring after all these years! He’s taking that classic stand for a world that works for everyone into tackling the impact of humanity on our environment and combating global-warming. Whatever Randy McNamara goes on to do, he has my undying gratitude. I am sorry that soon people will no longer have the experience of him as a Forum Leader, but they will continue to have the opportunity to experience the Forum under the guidance of those he trained, and that occurs for me as an amazing opportunity.



All In The Mind

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One of the things that has lived with me since I did the est Training is that two things cannot occupy the same space. It reminds me of the story of the intellectual who went to a Zen Master for teaching. The master called for tea and began to fill the man’s cup. Soon the cup was full and running over. The man protested that no more tea could go in the cup, to which the master pointed out that neither could teaching be put into a mind that was already full of preconceptions. I have been fascinated of late to read transcriptions of conversations between Nisargadatta Maharaj and questioners. It is so very difficult for people to let go of what they think they know and so they are unable to even consider a new possibility. In NLP it is postulated that the purpose of the unconscious mind is the survival of the body whereas in est the primary purpose of the identity is the survival of the body or whatever the mind considers it to be. Thus one person may flee a burning house while another rushes back in to grab a child or perhaps the manuscript of their novel, whatever they associate with their identity.

However I digress. What excites me is the idea of creating out of nothing. As long as there is a pre-existing concept or idea in our mind the best we can do is to change it, and that may be a good thing. What est taught me was that if that space is empty then rather than mere change anything is possible. And that is another thing I learned from est, creation happens in that empty space that comes into being when we put aside what we know, what we have been conditioned to believe is possible. I recently went to an introduction to ‘The Forum‘ a course that grew from est and the other work of Werner Erhard. The guests had all the usual reasons for not doing the course that I had over thirty years ago for not doing est: haven’t got the money, haven’t got the time, haven’t got a babysitter and so on. It was obviously impossible for either my wife or I to have done est, we had so many reasons not to. However we put aside our ‘better judgement’ and we did it, we did the impossible. Since then whenever something has called to us strongly enough that we knew we really wanted to do it, we have done it. Neelam has crossed continents, but somehow distance and money have ceased to be the barriers they once were. We still have all the old doubts and considerations come up and if our love is strong we do it anyway. It’s not just courses, but travel and other things. We don’t know how, I suppose Darren Eden would say we are harnessing our will to the service of what we love.

In est terms you could say we create an opening for possibility. It is very like buying a lottery ticket. It is only by buying a ticket that you have any possibility of winning the lottery. I know the odds are very heavily against winning, but people do. The point is not necessarily to win the money, but to create an opening for possibility. In est we were told to stay in the room and take what we got. The trick when creating an opening for possibility is to take what you get. You may not win the cash, however in that period between paying your pound or dollar and the numbers being drawn your creativity can be unleashed. That is the time when you see what you would love to do had you the money to do it. The dreams you create before your hopes of a win are gone are the real prize. It is these dreams that tell you what you would love to do. When you can see clearly what you really would love then you can set about achieving it.

Robert Fritz in ‘The Power of Least Resistance’ talks about the process of creation beginning with the end result. Darren Eden would describe it as the vision of what your heart would love, which may be flowery, but it works. Werner Erhard said something similar of leadership, “It’s called a ‘project’ because you throw it out in front of you.” In NLP we will walk someone forward along their time line to the place where their objective is reached then turn them round so they can see what whey did to get there. In Time Line Therapy® the process is similar, but done entirely in the imagination. The point is to harness the will to accomplishing what you would really love and not what you think you should.

People tend to use the dismissive term, “It’s all in your mind!” However in a properly trained mind, that is where the magic happens. Some years ago the ‘Inner Game’ books were all the rage. Today it is commonplace for athletes and artists to spend as much time in mental rehearsal as in actual physical rehearsal because of the improvement it makes to their performance. Does it work? I was on a NLP World Master Practitioner Course in a very short time Jeremy Lazarus of the Lazarus Consultancy coached me into breaking boards with my bare hands. Darren Eden had me driving drinking straws through potatoes on one of his courses, again with nothing more than my hands and the focus of my will. We each of us have an amazingly powerful mind if we just put aside all our nonsense and use it. The next trick, of course, is to put aside the mind and enter possibilities which the human mind can never hope to imagine.



Mindful of My Pain

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There is a saying that pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. I have of late managed to secure for myself several sources of pain. Some months ago I dislocated my right thumb, mere days after slicing into it with a mandolin, it still objects to excessive pressure. A couple of weeks ago I sprained my left ankle only days before managing to pop my shoulder out of place and then, equally painfully, back into place. My doctor says my back and hip pain is sciatica and my knees still have the unfortunate tendency they’ve had for years to occasionally go sideways instead of forwards and back. I have used painkillers when necessary (I’m no Stoic) but they bring with them their own problems. However I prefer not to suffer and so I am gradually bringing my pain into a beneficial relationship with my mind.

The few people who habitually read my blog will know that I am very fond of referring back to the est training, I shall do so again. When I did the est training we were taught a method for easing or even disappearing pain by fully experiencing it. It was much later I learned this to be an exercise in mindfulness. What we had to do was locate a pain in our body, observe it and describe it. We were not to use abstract terminology or value judgements, but had to be precise in our description of the pain as we visualised it. For example ‘My pain is nine out of ten, it is a band stretching from my lumbar vertebrae out to the iliac crest on either side, it is about an inch below my skin, it is sharp and hot, it is yellow like molten gold, it is making a noise like a combination of buzzing and scraping fingers down a blackboard.’ After each observation we then described it again noting any changes that had occurred. And then again and again until the scale of the pain became manageable.

I had forgotten about this exercise until recently, assaulted by so many concurrent pains and unwilling to be dependent on painkillers, I started reading ‘Break Through Pain’ by Shinzen Young. At the same time I started reading Will Johnson’s ‘The Yoga of Mahamudra’ as a follow up to something else I had been reading. Both books addressed the problem of pain in very complimentary ways and so now I am using my pain as a tool to facilitate self-awareness.

The technique I am using consists of four parts. The first is to be aware of my posture and keep my body relaxed and balanced and my spine vertical. This allows my vertebrae to be supported by the others upon which they sit and reduces the effort needed by my muscles to support me. Apparently this also allows the energy in my body to flow in its proper channels without impediment. Whatever it may or may not allow mysterious energies to do it does provide a relief from pain and an awareness of my posture and muscles.

The second part is effectively the mindfulness exercise described earlier. But also a general mindfulness of my body and constant adjustment. So if I become aware of tension in my sjoulders I relax them. It involves scanning my body, being aware of the sensations within, adjusting and moving on. It is important not to resist the pain. As Werner Erhard used to say, “Whatever you resist persists.” and that is certainly true of pain. Instead dwelling on the pain and allowing it to freeze me, I have to enter into it and experience it objectively and without judgement. I don’t explain it and certainly don’t make up stories about it; hypochondria is more dangerous than pain.

One of the symptoms of resisting pain is stopping the breath, we do this to suppress feeling. Another thing we do is to tense our muscles to immobilise the site of the pain. Even when pain is acute I have to continue to breathe, in fact I have to focus on the pain and breathe into it, experiencing it fully. The strangest thing is that when I do this while fully experiencing the pain I find I can actually relax my muscles and the pain becomes more manageable. It is not always easy, but as soon as I notice myself locking and resisting if I let go and relax the overall discomfort subsides and I can focus dispassionately on the pain itself.

The final part is to be gentle in my transitions. That is to say to stand up, sit down, lie down, in fact to make every movement mindfully and with full awareness of what is happening in my body. It means being in balance as I move and using my awareness to be kind to my body as I move from one posture to another.

I am learning to be grateful to my pain. Not only to my pain, but to all the sensations in my body. The taste of my food, the snow on my face, the sound of my keyboard, the recording my wife is playing in the next room, my tinnitus, the flickering light, each thing comes together to lift me out of my limited concept of myself and blends me into the wholeness of everything around me.

Pain is not a bad thing, but something to use respectfully. It is a signal to be aware of our body and to care for it. But it is also a door to a world of unlimited experience. It is early days for my experiment in mindfulness, but so far I am well pleased with the results I’m getting.