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A Bit About Relationships

This talk is about being in relationships with others. It describes mistakes we make that end up leaving us hurt and confused. It also describes successful relationships and what we should strive for when we come together.

Often when we enjoy being with others what we’re enjoying is the presence that arises. Being with someone can take us out of our heads, out of our thinking space, and into being. One of the mistakes we make is thinking that the person we’re with was the reason for the joy, instead of the stillness that arose. We may begin to think something like “I can’t feel this way unless they are with me.” This type of thinking can lead to feelings of dependency, and even addiction toward the other person.

We need to realize that we are responsible for our own happiness, that we can only manage our side of the street. Once we look to others to make us happy, we are in trouble. Co-dependence is something that is subtle and hard to get free of. We need to learn that our needs are deeply important, especially to foster positive relationships. Once we sacrifice ourselves, ironically something we do in an effort to better the situation, we always end up hurting the relationship.

In good relationships, we foster synergy and emergence, which is when the whole ends up greater than the parts. We learn to appreciate the differences others bring, because they are what help us learn and grow and become more than we are. We foster taking the other person’s perspective in a healthy way so we can communicate properly and understand one another with empathy and compassion. We allow the joy that others bring us to be experienced fully without being dependent on it. We do our best to bring a full healthy self to relationships instead of damaged, needy, partial selves.

We are always in relation with everything. Even when we identify ourselves as separate individuals, we are still in relationship with everything else. Let’s work hard to understand and foster healthy relationships.

Reference: Stephen Covey

Song: My Baby Just Cares For Me by Nina Simone

Big Things From Little Changes or How to Have a True “Identity Shift”

Why is it so hard to make big changes in our lives? We all seem to want things to be different than they are. We’d like to lose weight, make more money, be more organized, eat better. In this talk I point out a couple of ways to help bring lasting change.

One of the ideas many people hold is that we change once. People often feel we’ll make one large switch, and then things will be different. I’ll go on a diet for a little while and THEN I’ll be the way I want. I’ll learn a new investment technique and THEN I’ll be wealthy. I’ll clean my whole house and THEN I’ll be organized. But in reality those changes rarely stick. To make changes stick we need at least two understandings.

First we need to realize that it is not one big change. It is a commitment to little choices over time that affect our lives in the long run. It’s not one diet, it’s choosing different foods over and over again. It’s not working out for two months for beach season, it’s committing to being healthy and fit going forward. And while these things may sound big and difficult, they are actually only done right now, and in small ways. Big change comes from little choices over time, not one big switch.

The other understanding we can use to make big change is to align our values with our goals. A diet is something we do temporarily. It isn’t who we want to be long term. Instead, learn to think of yourself as a healthy person, or even better, an athlete. Once you change your mindset like that, supporting that idea of yourself makes all your food choices easy. It becomes a way of life rather than a temporary fix. Rather than seeing yourself as a disorganized person who needs to be organized. See yourself as a deeply organized person. Instead of seeing yourself as a month to month pay-check person, see yourself as an investor.

By aligning our values with our goals, and realizing that it’s little changes instead of one big switch, we can make massive change in our lives, and those changes can last. These little changes lead to a total, transformative “Identity Shift.”

Song: The Changeling by The Doors

Introduction to States and Stages

This talk is an introduction to states and stages of consciousness. States of consciousness are our now experience, and stages of consciousness deal with the growth of self along many lines of development in time. In this talk I want to explain the importance of each of these perspectives of consciousness and begin to point at how we develop each of them.

States of consciousness are not permanent. They include: emotional states, drug induced states, meditative states, waking and sleeping states, and others. Much of our time is spent trying to manage our state experience. We feel hungry, we go for food. We have a headache, we take aspirin. We want to feel good, we have a beer.

Stages of consciousness instead deal with development along many different lines. Those lines include cognitive, value, interpersonal, moral, sexual, etc. On each of those lines there are altitudes of development. Some are more developed morally than others. Some are more developed cognitively. There can also be movement along these lines. An individual may start out as selfish, and move to nationalistic, and then finally resonate from a world view. Stages are objective judgments of subjective experience. They are the structures and beliefs from which we see the world.

Why do these altitudes of development get to be called stages? Because study after study shows that over time the answers to certain question about our experience go in one direction. The way we process and interpret the world tends to keep going in the same direction along these lines. There is a tendency to grow and widen our capacity and our understanding and experience of deeper stages. We all may not move along the line, but almost nobody goes backwards. There is a direction to the movement.

Healthy stage development, along any line looks like this: When one experience (or stage) is taken from subjective experience into objective experience. When we can look back at the prior stage objectively we have fully and healthily evolved through that stage.

Meditation (state management) practice doesn’t always show us our current stage. And while true subjective state experience doesn’t allow us to see our current stage ever (because we’re in it) we still grow through the stages over time. Working on meditation isn’t always only a direct state experience. Often it is a thinking dialog and running into walls of self, belief, structures, etc. It is my opinion that this part of the practice of meditation often leads to an understanding of the stages we’re going through. This is not because of the state experience, but rather the opportunity for introspection sitting offers.

States don’t tend to evolve, unless trained. And even then, they still jump around a lot. (Buddhas still sleep, wake and dream.) But states of mind can evolve when trained. The idea here is that non-dual awareness and the like can be developed. To a certain extent that is a stage in the realm of state experience. Once you understand and have non-dual experience, it has the capacity to inform the rest of your state experience.

Basically, we want to learn to manage our state experience as best we can, and grow through the stages of development along all the available lines as best we can. Doing those two things is what self development and growth is about, in this moment and through time.

Referenced: Integral Theory, Spiral Dynamics

Do We Change The World Or Accept It

Surrendering to the moment is a very important teaching. Learning to accept what is, is one of the fundamentals of growing spiritually. So if acceptance is fundamental to this teaching, then why do all these teachers want to change what is? Why are they unable or unwilling to accept the world in its perfection exactly as it is? Teaching is asking people to be different than they are. Why don’t all the teachers just accept the current state of understanding and move on?

This is a really great question, and points out a large logic problem with all this teaching business, and what enlightenment means. Do we want to change the world, or learn to accept it? The answer really is both. And the important clarification is the misunderstanding that to become enlightened is to blindly accept everything. That is not necessarily what enlightenment, or growth is about. Accepting absolutely everything would leave us motionless. That idea of stillness is an illusion. To a mind that is trying to manage state experience only, that would make perfect sense, and hence be a very attractive thing to try to attain. But that attraction is the same attachment that’s in any other form of desire. So what is this growth or enlightenment we’re talking about?

Integral theory and spiral dynamics talk about the difference between states and stages. And while a full explanation of the difference is beyond today’s talk, I will say that we are definitely trying for deeper states of consciousness, but also (and possibly more importantly) higher stages of development. Each stage is a level of attachment. It is a set of beliefs, or a paradigm that we walk through and act from. So the idea is not that we are trying to stay peaceful, or joyful, or happy all the time (which would be a state experience only, and doesn’t happen), but rather we are trying to walk through these larger stages of development (which would lead to more and more wisdom, durability, capability, and hence better state management as well). We try to become identified with larger and larger portions of reality.

So no matter what stage we’re currently identified with, what can we do to work within this paradox? At what point is our own attachment to change, or to an idea of something better, a problem? It is compassionate when we want to help someone else with their pain. But we begin to get lost when we insist on their growth or begin to get attached to it. Work to explain things you understand to those who don’t understand it, but don’t get attached to the outcome. Be mindful of your attachments, especially when they are masked with change for the “good” of something. Change and creation is always occurring with or without our intention. Be involved in that change to whatever degree you want to be, but know that acceptance is always available to you, and use it well. We have the ability to change what is (the external), but we also have the ability to change instead what we are (the internal) to acceptance.

Referenced: Integral Theory

Connecting to the Vine

How do we remember what to do when we feel lost in our daily lives? Metaphor can be a great teaching tool to anchor ideas into our reality. “Connecting to the vine” is a great way to describe connection to oneness.

What happens when a leaf gets cut away from a vine? It tends to wither and die. This talk discusses this idea as a spiritual metaphor. If we consider the expression of oneness as the vine, then our identification with self is cutting ourselves off from that vine. While identification with self can feel quite cut off, it is often called an illusion because we can never leave oneness. We can only identify away from oneness, not actually be away from it. Changing our identification back to experiencing life directly, we reconnect with the vine.

It’s simple to do. We can use times when we’re stuck in line, or in a traffic jam, to bring our focus to the physical sensation of life and reconnect to being. We can make the effort to truly listen to coworkers, instead of thinking of what we’ll say next. This allows us to be present while with others. Whenever we need to walk somewhere, we can bring our attention to the physical sensation of walking to bring ourselves back to the vine of being. And of course we can chose to allow a more formal space for connecting to the vine through meditative or introspective practices.

In this talk I also discuss Jesus and the idea that he was the expression of being connected to the vine. If we change our concept of Jesus from needing to go “through him” to understanding that he was showing us “how to be” connected, we can actually begin to emulate how he lived. If we leave it as an idea, we won’t be able to express his love.

Referenced: Jesus

Turning Subject Into Object

Turning subject into object is both a concept and a practice. In this talk I discuss the difference between inner and outer experience and how that relates to subjective and objective experience. We need to define perspective – subjective experience is what I identify as “me”. Objects exist within my awareness, but are not “me”.

An interesting point to note here is that even things I identify as me can be objectified. I have a foot, but I am not my foot. My foot is still me on some level, but I am able to objectify it. That ability to objectify internal experience is important.

If we find we are angry, that is our subjective experience. Turning subject into object would be backing up from that anger with a question: What am I right now? That shines the light on our experience and objectifies the anger. We can’t see the subject, we are the subject. But we can see things once we objectify them.

You may say, but Rob, I see myself get mad all the time. That’s true on two levels: One level is that you flip between subject and object to some degree all the time, and the other is that you see it now, when we’re objectifying it together. But learning to do this as a practice can lead to profound change in your life.

Who is the self that backs up from the subject to objectify it? That is the age old question. Another question to ask is which of these perspectives is self? That really depends on whose talking. Self can mean egoic separate sense; or it can mean, in some Indian traditions as an example, the cosmic oneness. We can get lost in words very quickly here. But the aware self in the background is what is often termed either just “awareness” or “authentic self”. Ego would normally be considered the smaller self.

The practice of mindfulness is a subjective experience, practice of awareness is an objectified experience. We need to do both. When you are angry, you are smaller. When you are aware you are angry (have objectified the anger, but not dissociated from it) you are larger. You are the anger and potentially the solution.

So how do we make the subject the object? We use introspection, questions, and cultivate awareness. The desire to see what you are brings this objectivity to the situation. We see as objects what we are. This is the practice of meditation. What is arising for me in this moment? We can make a practice of it, or we can do it when we realize we are unhappy.

Just the simple action of making the subject the object allows us space for change.

Referenced: Integral Theory

A New Kind of Judgement

There are two types of judgement or choice, and it is a mistake to make either of them bad. In this talk I will describe the two kinds of choice, introducing a new kind of judgement.

Many people in the spiritual community condemn judgement. They’ve had experiences where they saw the freedom in not judging a situation and so judgement becomes a bad thing (which really is just another judgement). In this talk I hope to clarify that judgement is important at all levels of spirituality, but that there are fundamentally two types of judgement for two types of levels or experiences.

When we judge something and condemn it, it doesn’t feel very spiritual. Most of the world is doing this most of the time. I’ll call this the level of “betterment”. We judge between good and bad and are always wanting the better of the situation. Very normal, and again, where most of the world resonates.

When we discern, or judge, to not attach to a situation, we are potentially coming from (or moving to) a non-dual or what many people think is a very spiritual place. Both of these actions use judgment. One is on the level of betterment, and one is on the level of non-duality or spirituality. This non-dual judgment is the new kind of judgment. It is the development of awareness.

What most of us are trying to accomplish in meditation, or learning our own minds, is an appreciation of what is. A non-comparative experience of is-ness. No good, no bad, just is-ness, or stillness. That type of experience is often called non-dual, and we try to experience it during meditation, and since meditation has a spiritual stigma surrounding it, we tend to equate spirituality with non-dual states of mind.

The more normal experience is on the level of betterment. The level where I prefer this smell to that smell, this feeling to that feeling, this person to that person. The first talk I did was on beliefs, and how beliefs are born from opinions. Well the level of betterment is the dance of comparing what we believe we are, with our situation; and striving toward the better aspects of that situation. An important point in this talk, and all my talks is to remember that we have the tendency to solidify our beliefs, but that it might serve us to soften our beliefs about who we are so there’s less “us” for phenomenon to bump into. This is not unhealthy dissociation, it is being aware of our ability to judge things in many different ways. I’ll discuss more on beliefs later.

I’m going to define a couple other words right now: relative and absolute. Relative is the dance between two or more things, and absolute is oneness (or potentially nothingness, but that’s another conversation). If I am comparing something to something else, or even something to myself, I am in a relativistic good-bad frame of mind. If there is no comparison, and there is only experience of what is, then I am in a non-dual, or what we might call a spiritual state of mind.

So the concept for this talk is this: if we use judgment to support a good or bad belief, or a betterment belief, meaning a qualitative stance on things, then we are not acting in a traditional spiritual fashion, but we are acting on a betterment fashion. On the other hand, If we are using judgment to choose a not belief based, not good or bad comparison, but our choice is to choose non-comparison itself; then we’re acting deeply spiritual, or deeply non-dual. That ability would be the new kind of judgement. The decision to drop comparison.

Many people are dancing in this space without much context at this point. They learn about the non-dual state of mind, and all of a sudden duality or the betterment level is bad. But, we’re not supposed to always act spiritual, or non-dual. To think about it differently, this entire life is spiritual, but many people take spiritual to mean non-dual experience only. You might start to feel that we can bring the term spiritual to both levels: non-dual and betterment; if we see that awareness or discernment are involved throughout. My betterment decisions become more spiritually based when I have the non-dual experience available to me.

The betterment level is where we can lose weight. It’s where we make more money. It’s where we can actually affect change in our lives, and other peoples lives. It’s not a bad place. We want to get better at dealing with the betterment level because it is a part of life. We just don’t want to remain lost in the betterment level only. We need both in our toolkit. If we don’t have any ability to just “be”, to just feel the situation, to move our solidified center of self out of the way, then we don’t have as many tools. The non-dual experiential side allows us to see the beauty in whatever comes up. Without that we don’t have the freedom side of things. So one is the work (betterment), and one is the freedom (non-dual experience). Most of us are just stuck in the work.

So this is a discussion on judgement, on good and bad, on beliefs, and on how all this stuff arises. The belief part is the me that comes up against the decision. The me that feels the pressure of the situation. So many teachings teach that we need to authentically feel our feelings, and I completely agree. But not many teachings mention that our feelings are relative to who we think we are, and what’s going on in the situation.

If you step on my foot, there will most probably be physical pain, but most people assume there will be tons of healthy anger there as well, and there certainly might be. However, the levels of anger depend completely on my perception of the event. If I believe you meant to do it, there will potentially be lots of anger. If I have compassion for your frustrated situation, there will potentially be less anger. If I believe it was completely an accident, there is the potential for very little anger if at any comes up at all. So the anger is not absolute, it is relative to who I believe I am and you are in that situation.

Most of us walk around with a solidified self that can’t have it’s foot stepped on. Most teachings would say that we need to include the healthy anger that comes up with all these situations. But that assumes a static unmovable self. The ability to move self, or choose (which is a new kind of judgement) what we want to attach to or believe in, allows us a deep freedom and is acting on the non-dual side of things. Learning this level of judgment allows us to have more options when that conflict arises. I can change the me that is in the situation. Fully dropping the me is to fully drop the relativistic quality of the situation (feel the feelings, choose to drop the judgement). Having these options in our toolkit is the building of awareness. Awareness is what I have called discernment in the past. It is the comparison and knowledge of where we are.

So we use the tension of the betterment level to achieve, and we use the freedom of the non-dual level to grow spiritually. The two kinds of decisions we have available to us are on two very different levels, but both are really necessary.

So normal judging is between relative things and is on the level of betterment. Judging (or choosing to experience) the level of absolute is non-dual and a new kind of judgment for most people. When we are stuck without the new kind of judgement, without the discernment of awareness, we are stuck in the betterment side of things only. That is generally a reactive and not very full experience of life. Once we learn these other tools that we have available to us, it allows us to navigate and improve within the betterment level, and it also offers the entire spectrum of non-dual experience as well.

Honoring Imbalance

In this show I discuss honoring imbalance. Many people (including myself) critique the world and describe the need for “balance” (listen to my last show, I use that very term). This talk discusses three ideas:

The first idea is that everything is in a state of achieving balance. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. As we push something over, we watch it achieve a new balance. The action involved is the “balance through movement” also known as imbalance.

The next idea is that we prefer an ideal state of balance, but that’s just not realistic. The entire world is in motion. Constantly balancing itself through imbalance. The beauty is in honoring the imbalance. We have the capability to stay still through that motion.

And lastly, on the level of betterment, imbalance brings growth. When we’re stressed and feeling the pressure, we can be comforted understanding that we are growing.

This Path is Not Easy

Everyone listening to a podcast like this is trying to better themselves. I want to commend all of you for trying to do that. This work is difficult, and not enough teachers say that’s the case. Many sell this path as an easy fix for people. It can often be very difficult. Meditation is hard. Being authentic is hard.

The big point of this talk is that learning to be authentic brings up difficult things to deal with. You end up seeing that there is potentially a lot to change in your life. Our unconscious lives leave large patterns and situations that we see are not authentic. Examples include: relationships that are codependent and messy, the tools we use to deal with life can be destructive, our work may be dissatisfying, etc. It can be very scary and difficult to deal with these situations once they arrive.

So why do we choose to do the work? One reason is because we have to do it. There is something in you that is searching. You wouldn’t be listening to this podcast or reading this blurb if that weren’t the case. Something in you knows that there’s got to be more. Once we start looking at ourselves, our belief systems, our own inner becoming, we notice that on some level there’s a lack of authenticity in our lives. So truths begin to open up to us. We can’t go backwards. Once we’ve seen that our life isn’t authentic, we can’t unlearn that.

Other reasons we do this work is because we find our joy in different places now. We learn not to fear “bad” situations or “bad” emotions. We become courageous. We become whole. However, you may not get the same pleasure from old things: TV shows, drugs, drinking, overeating. In fact, that lack of satisfaction may have started happening before you knew you were beginning this work. That dissatisfaction is what ends up making people search more deeply.

Disconnect, which is a huge tool for dealing with life situations, may not feel the same. It may not bring the same “peace” it once did. You will, at times, miss it. It has been what you’ve used to deal with many of life’s problems thus far. Instead, you’ll now rely on presence, and being true to your feelings.

Teachers often imply that this path is simple and natural; and that the now is always available. That is true, it is easy, but it also can be hard… to find the easy. It’s not a long path to this moment. It’s always right here, and yet we still miss it. Being authentic can be hard. Be courageous. Keep working. You might find there’s not much else to do.

Making Changes – Intention, Hypnosis, NLP, Goal Setting

On the level of self and accomplishment, as we learn how our mind works, we can begin to use tools to achieve change and betterment in our lives. We can learn to focus better, make more money, lose weight, eat better, etc. Not only that, we can use the same tools to further our meditation and connection to being. There are many facets to living an optimal life.

We do want to be careful that we don’t get too attached to that betterment. Self and ego are attached to these wants, so we need to watch how we apply the tools I’ll be talking about today. But the tools are very useful nonetheless.

Today’s show will be a brief overview of the power of Intention Setting, Hypnosis, Neural Linguistic Programming, Hemi Sync, Goal Setting and Positive Thinking. All of these “technologies” affect our opinions and beliefs, and hence our perception of the world.

Referenced: Tony Robbins