Jim Lehrman's Column:
With the present column in Mindful Awareness Magazine, Jim Lehrman's mindful journalism takes a "quantum leap." Practical Ecstasy is "going syndicated," and will also soon be appearing in the upcoming on-line magazine of Stephen Wolinksy, Ph.D., Quantum Newsletter (see link below). Dr. Wolinsky is the author of the highly acclaimed "Quantum Consciousness -- a Guide to Experiencing Quantum Psychology (Bramble Books, 1993). His background includes Gestalt Therapy, Reichian Therapy, Transactional Analysis, and seven years of meditation training in India. Thanks, Dr. Wolinsky, for sharing Jimmy with us. -- Editor.
>Dear Editor. Someone emailed me a question about a mindfulness exercise and I emailed back an answer. Then that same person sent me another question, which I wrote an answer to. What do you think about running the 4 exchanges together as one article? Here's what it would look like. Jimmy
At 05:36 PM 10/18/98 EDT, you wrote:
If you can take this scene as a metaphor of the emptiness of mind into which a thought arises, while you are neither the emptiness, or the thought, then you are objectifying the thought by being able to see it as a cloud, as an object in a background.
On a practical level: You quiet yourself. You allow your attention to be like a spotlight, aiming it wherever the action is. You notice a thought going about it's business of creating itself, running its course and fading, to be replaced by yet another thought. If you can allow this process to unfold, and stay present as the witness, not getting engaged in the content of any one thought but simply noticing: so now this, in response to each thought, then, on a practical level, you are objectifying thought.
I hope this helps.
I hope you can see by what I've written, above, that you don't work with a thought that you have already had but you work with the process of thoughts thinking themselves into existence. You watch each thought as it arises and runs its course.
Again, I hope this helps.
At 08:01 AM 10/20/98 EDT, you wrote:
Experience is made up of two components - the story and the state. You can place your attention onto the story (ie, the story of what you are experiencing, the label or labels for what you are experiencing, as well as any explanation, associations, or connotations that go along with your experience) or you can shift your attention onto the state (ie, the felt sensation of what you are experiencing in your body in the moment). Generally, people spend much more time placing their attention onto the story than onto the state. In fact, I run into a lot of people who never get out of their heads to really FEEL what they are experiencing. Whenever somone is "lost" in their experience, they are really overfocused on the story, without the anchoring of a witness.
The question you posed in effect is: is seeing thoughts and emotions as energy actually a visualization technique where you are deliberately turning your thoughts into energy? Given my description, above, my answer to your question is that if you are consciously having a thought or emotion, then that means you are having an experience. You can place your attention onto the STORY of your experience, wherein you notice the thought or emotion, and you attend to its content. Or, you can shift your attention onto the STATE of your experience, which is going on even as you indulge the story: You notice the felt sensation of your experience. This might be that you notice a tightness in your belly, along with a streaming feeling along your back, along with a heaviness in the mid-rear of your head. When you take off any labels you have to these sensations and simply hang out with them as felt sensation, allowing them to be however they happen to be while you stay present as the witness, you are doing the exercise you have asked me about.
So what you are doing in the exercise is not transposing a cognitive or emotional event into energy, you are shifting your attention away from the conceptual world of the idea or label of the experience to the actual felt sensation of the experience. In other words, it already IS energy. The exercise is simply a way to train your attention to see it as it is. When we are noticing "sensation" after delabeling it, we are attending to energy.
A next step in the process of this exercise is to explore the difference or similarity between the energy inside your experience and the energy that exists outside your experience. Everything is energy, just as everything has mass, occupies space, and has a beginning, middle, and end (ie, time). You can play with your attention such that you can notice something in your experience that has been troublesome to you in the past, and you can hang out with it as energy, then you can go about noticing that it is made of the same stuff that the things around it are made of. This can help take the charge out of the troublesome thing and that can help give you enough perspective to be able to entertain more effective responses.
You might think of the signal-to-noise ratio: everything we experience has a signal, but because we live in a reality where we need to see the distinctions between things (we wouldn't get very far in our day to day lives if we lived in that level of enlightenment wherein we stayed in the consciousness of everything being made of the same thing) we need to indulge the "story" that 'this' thing is different than 'that' thing. In the signal-to-noise ratio metaphor the story we create in order to make sense of the thing is the noise while the thing itself is the signal.
Again, I hope this has helped. Please feel free to write again.
At 10:23 AM 10/21/98 PDT, you wrote:
Thanks again for all of your previous help and for taking the time to read this. If you can, could you please email me back at the hotmail address since i will be at work for a while and that way i can retrieve it. Thank you.
This last question of yours: how do we get to the beliefs that are hidden from us? This is not so hard as it may seem. And I have several answers.
First, there is something called Hakomi Psychotherapy, which not only focuses on the hidden "core beliefs" but it accomplishes the task of revealing them and responding to them in a very taoist way, going with the grain, being "non-violent", and having the client simply follow his/her present experience - in mindfulness - as the route to the core beliefs. A Hakomi therapist will then guide the client in appreciating the context and basis for having taken on the belief (way back when), and in compassionately updating the belief based on what both the world and the self look like today. The client organically moves into an expanded, more grounded openness to what is possible, and the old belief is updated with much more flexibility, less limitation, and more effective responsiveness.
Because of the principles and methods of Hakomi, people who are Hakomi clients begin, not long after beginning the work, to organically apply the Hakomi principles of mindfulness, non-violence, and organicity to their day to day lives. Once this becomes an integral part of their lifestyle, they start doing the work of noticing hidden beliefs and working with them themselves. Thus, Hakomi is both a therapy and a way to live.
Second, back to what you are reading: In your first email to me you mentioned you are reading Quantum Consciousness. Quantum Consciousness is the second of Stephen Wolinsky's six books. It's one of the most practical of his books in that it includes 85 exercises in its 250 pages. Between the exercises in that and his other books, and the processes used by Quantum Psychotherapists, Quantum is, along with Hakomi, a very practical and effective way to attend to and be at choice with hidden beliefs. In Wolinsky's Quantum approach, you become better and better at noticing what is in your experience, and in locating yourself as the witness, allowing yourself to be present WITH whatever is in your experience (rather than lost in it or lost to it), from where you can see clearly, objectively, and compassionately, how you actually go about the business of making your experience what it is. From this ability to "witness" (very similar to the mindfulness of Hakomi) you see the forces that make your experience what it is, element by element. By witnessing, that is, by stepping outside of your experience while remaining present with your experience, you see such things as what your body sensations are, what your breath does, what thoughts arise, what feelings arise, and what beliefs drive the thoughts and feelings, which in turn drive the sensations and changes in breath. Witnessing all this means you are not fused with it. You get to see the subject (eg., there is the "me" feeling x), and you get to see the object (eg., there is the x that that me is feeling). You get to observe the RELATIONSHIP between this you that is feeling x and this x that you are feeling. You are able to experience being "bigger" than the relationship, bigger than the experience, bigger than the beliefs. From this bigger perspective of the witness, you naturally see both the limitations of the beliefs and the valid options that are not only less limiting but additionally more accurately resourceful. You can do this by reading the books and doing the exercises or you can work with a Quantum Therapist. Bottom line: whatever you can do to practice witnessing your experience will lead you to be able to find yourself OUTSIDE of your beliefs, from where you can work with them.
Therefore practice witnessing anything: pick something you know about yourself (eg, that you often feel that you don't fit in, or don't belong, or are not welcome, or, as a separate example: that you often feel that it's not fair, that you are a victim, etc) and see if you can notice every instance when that part of you expresses itself. Sure, you won't notice EVERY INSTANCE but just see how often your awareness can catch yourself playing out whichever trait of yourself you've chosen to notice. Upon noticing the feeling or thought occurring, give it MORE space for it to express itself to you, rather than less space. Give it more space while you stay present as the witness, simply noticing any details you can of the experience. Try to not indulge any urges to change anything. Simply notice those urges. Just watch the movie. The more you can both allow whatever happens natually to unfold AND stay present as the witness, the more you are able to really see the choices you have. By witnessing, you get to see that just about all of your experience is a matter of choices that you make, all too often unconciously, asleep at the wheel. The more you practice witnessing, the more often you are awake, able to make more conscious choices to make your experience what it is: in your responses, your feelings, eventually even your perceptions.
It's late. I'm tired.
Jim Lehrman, a Tucson psychotherapist, who works cross-country, has been a long-time practitioner of the Quantum Psychotherapy of Dr. Stephen Wolinsky, and Hakomi Psychotherapy, originated by Ron Kurtz. Both are mindfulness approaches. Jim's first syndicated *spontaneous* column appears here in the Fall 1998 issue of Mindful Awareness Magazine now. He found that e-mail written by today's *good questionner* upon returning to the Old Pueblo -- Tucson, Arizona, from a refreshing encampment at Faywood Hot Springs, about 25 miles outside Silver City, New Mexico. So, that's how it happened. And here it is now. :-) Ed.
Fall Mindful Awareness Magazine, cover page.