The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Monday, September 23, 2013

Procrastination - Part 2

Definition has it that procrastination is a particular behaviour characterised by performing less urgent tasks in preference to the more meaningful and/or urgent tasks. Another variant is choosing more pleasurable actions over less pleasurable though more essential ones.
To my mind there are two ways of looking at procrastination – the conventional and the unconventional. In Part One I explored my perspective of the conventional way. Here in Part Two I take a more unconventional approach.
Avoid Convention
To my mind the unconventional approach holds simplistic pathways to permanent change, where these points prevail:
  • No one is broken
  • Once we change our perceptions, transformation happens
  • There’s never a need to consult a To-Do list

I start my conversations with clients inviting them to tell me what happens for them. They will usually say, almost for starters, “This may sound weird,” or “You may think I’m weird, but,” and so on. In their perceptions, the whole structure of their behavioural experience is framed up as ‘weird’ and they need to be put back to (or made into) ‘normal’, ‘regular’ or – dare I say it - ‘conventional’.
The relief and relaxation that washes over them when they discover firstly that ‘weird is normal’ because we are all unique, is often patently visible. Out of that they then discover that they are not broken in any way and then we continue talking around their perceptions and how they make up their view of the world.
And if we are talking particularly about procrastination, I often show them an illustration of The Procrastinator’s Clock – just to gauge their responses!
The Clock illustrates time as a metaphor for the procrastinator. This is very much the coat-hanger for his procrastinators’ cloak!
Before he dons this cloak he is normal – the un-weird Mr Ordinary!
He believes the task X needs to be done and although now might be a good time, it can be left and done at a later date. There may and perhaps will be consequences of this, however.
Now at this very moment, as he considers the task X, he is hit by feelings of discomfort. Some thought process has triggered these feelings but he’s probably not aware of this. He just gets the feelings, thinks about them, considers them, and then acts upon them.
The action he performs is labelled as procrastination, and this is the moment he dons his cloak and engages with the clock!

Just suppose he was considering the task X and felt that there were good and sensible reasons to not do it today or Right Now. Then he’d get no feeling of discomfort.
If he had a sixth sense experience that seemed to say ‘this is not a good idea’ then the feeling and its bodily location would be different.

No, the proper discomfort he feels is quite a specific set of sensations – probably feelings he is familiar with, if he is a “chronic” procrastinator!
Next, in order to justify his deferment of X, he sets about filling his Now with other tasks – tasks with much less consequence than X. It is a variant of Parkinson’s Law. In doing this he justifies to himself (far more than to others) his reasons for putting things off. He wants His World to see that his time is meaningfully occupied, and that X would take much longer, so starting today is not the wisest thing to do.

It appears that there is a useful purpose for his putting off doing X. Now, this is a powerful excuse, and it has staying power – he can use it again and again, for he can always be “busy” right Now! It makes the next deferment easier, and so the loop goes on.

In the moment, however, the issue isn’t the task X, it is the discomfort.
The problem for him, right Now, is that he is trying to make the discomfort go away, and not X.

He isn’t a fool – he knows he cannot make X go away, because he knows it has to be done at some time, and probably sooner rather than later. Yet, the discomfort is what causes his deferment. And his frustrating dilemma is that only deferment seems to take it away.

When we procrastinate we often feel we are prisoners of such a habit - and the bars of that prison seem as close as are the hours on the clock face approaching 12. Yet, when procrastination begins, the bars of the prison are as wide apart as hours 1-4.

Here, our perception of time is distorted. The metaphor appears amusing on the outside and from a distance, yet on the inside it can seem as real as we want to make it.
However - the key, the essential element, to understand here is this:
Where procrastination is concerned, all of Time is distorted – whether it is the first hour or the eleventh hour. And when Time is distorted, like that, we need to realise that it is just an illusion.

Interestingly, with Time having such relevance in the domain of procrastination, it is a short and conclusive journey to the next realisation - that procrastination itself is also an illusion.

The Illusion Perspective
Procrastination and Time are perceptive illusions.

Imagine looking through a telescope. Now imagine seeing everything permanently through a telescope. If we don’t know what a telescope does, then when we use it we get a distorted view of the world whichever end we look through. The moment we know about telescopes then our view of the world we thought was REAL, suddenly changes.
Flight simulators, virtual reality goggles, microscopes, all change our perspective – and what they present for us is also a perceptive illusion. We just happen to know about the illusion, adjust our minds accordingly, and make really good use of the illusion.

With every illusion we are living within, there is an answer, an escape through metaphor. Metaphor helps us unlock the conundrum – rather like one I mentioned about the hourly gaps on the clock being akin to the gaps between the prison bars; and rather like seeing the world through a telescope not knowing what telescopes do.
So once we realise that the reality of our behaviour called procrastination is one we have made up, then the following conclusion can be very quickly drawn:-

There is no prison here at all – we are just inside an illusion.
Time, as man has constructed it, is also an illusion.

And I’d like to draw an elusive parallel here with some other illusions, namely – the sky, and the sea.
The sky is blue, as we know, yet when we look at it closely it is not blue at all. It has no colour. The sea also is blue, except that it isn’t. On days when the sky is blue, the sea is blue, also. When the sky is cloudy and grey, the sea also appears grey – yet we know neither of them are grey, or blue, or indeed any colour at all. Water is colourless, except for what is suspended in it. It is the suspension that gives it colour. The sky’s colour is caused by whatever is suspended in it also. 

Interlude - The Quotes
By way of a pause, I’d like to offer you a quote and a poem concerning the sky and, in particular, rain.

“There are holes in the sky where the rain gets in. But they’re ever so small, that’s why rain is thin.”  ~ Spike Milligan
“When it rains the sky doesn’t get wet. Only what appears gets wet – such as the earth or things on it or in the sky.” ~ Paul Hedderman

I’ve occasionally talked to people about the gaps between raindrops being dry. If we could dodge the drops then we’d remain dry too. We can feel the raindrops as they hit us, yet do we ever feel the touch of the dry gaps as they hit us? No – because the rain is suspended, falls and lands on us; dry is not suspended so we cannot see it or hear it. Yet - we CAN feel it, so perhaps it IS suspended after all?
What is dry, when all is said and done? Is it only an absence of rain or something more?

Now I’ve put these questions here for a purpose, with regards to my unconventional perspective of procrastination.

Procrastination is like a mirage or indeed any other illusion. We may see it as real, but it is like anxiety or confidence. It is not real, merely a construct suspended in time. Because it is suspended in time we see it as real. It is like the suspension that colours water or sky. Once we realise that it, too, is an illusion, then we are left with nothing.
And as we know – nothing gives us zero feelings of discomfort!

About Time
When we take time and empty out all the suspended stuff what are we left with? Empty time! And empty time is pure time.

And the only pure time is Right Now. The rest (the future and the past) we make up.
Time only appears real when things are suspended in it. We divide it up into episodes, give those episodes names and suspend them in time. We code up memories and suspend them in time to make them real. If we didn’t code them up then we wouldn’t remember them. We imagine sometime in the future and suspend things like forthcoming events in that imaginary time. In the act of suspension they become real, even though they haven’t even happened.
“It’s not like I imagined it would be!” – No, it never is! Because what is actually happening from moment to moment is a “live” experience!

Pure time, like pure sky or pure water, is an uncluttered medium that contains no impurities or suspensions.

What is the key element of suspension that hangs in Time, and so makes Time seem real for us?

Curiously enough, it is all of our own making – and the unimaginably simple answer is:
It is our thought processes; our thinking.
And you’d be amazed, because it gets everywhere!
When we feel discomfort – it is our thinking. When we judge – it is our thinking.
Experience, any experience including the “live” one, is as real as we want to make it – but that reality is made by a thought process. Without a thought behind it, how would we know it had happened? When “how we imagined it would be” compared with our experience is always different, it is because the thinking behind it was different. Nothing will ever be exactly the same, every second time around, for the very same reason.

You may have heard of the comment about when the tree falls in the forest; if there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?
Well, if there is no thought around to suspend in time – do we notice time at all?

Like sky, or water - the moment we become consciously aware of time, then we aren’t noticing time itself, we are noticing what is suspended in it. In other words, we are noticing our thinking. When we have no perception of time – when time seems to stand still for us – then there is no thinking suspended in it.
On some days time just seems to drag, whilst on others it really flies by – is merely a noticed perception of distorted time with varying degrees of thinking behind it.

In hypnosis, or meditation, or in The Zone or Flow State there is no sense of time and there is also little or no thinking.


So you want to stop deferring important tasks?
Ask yourself what stops you doing that X Right Now?
“The thought of doing it Right Now makes me feel uncomfortable.”
“Then don’t do it Right Now.”
“But I must, because it is important – and will be harder and more urgent tomorrow.”
“Then just do it Right Now.”
“But I can’t because the thought of doing it Right Now makes me feel uncomfortable.”
“You do realise that Right Now is the only time you CAN do it?”
“EH? What do you mean?”
“Well the only time you can ever do anything IS Right Now. Any other time in the future is just imaginary and hasn’t happened yet. And you can’t do anything when something isn’t happening. Can’t you? Tell me, will you be happy when you’ve done X?”
“Maybe – I know I’ll be relieved at least!”
“So why not Do It AND be relieved and happy Right Now? That way it’ll be ‘double’ worth doing?”
“Yea, I see. But ...”
“Just sit on that but for a moment. So what stops you doing it Right Now?”
“Because the thought of doing it always used to make me feel uncomfortable.”
“Well that’s because you ALWAYS used the same thought! Why not just Do It without thinking? Then nothing will get in the way of your doing it, will it?”

Ever woken up and thought “Where Am I?” We’ve all experienced that at some point in our lives. Next thing is we check what time it is. We are re-orienting ourselves in time and space.

Are you ever asleep in your dreams? Do you ever dream of sleeping? Are those two identical questions?
It is very easy to become too conscious about Time. Being too conscious about any illusion makes it super-real. When we do, we pay far too much attention to anything and everything suspended in that illusion.

And if you think that super-real is really surreal anyway, then you’ll know you can stop thinking that any time you like.

The audio version of this article is available on YouTube - just click on this link!

Monday, September 9, 2013

About Matter

Now I don’t propose here to write something scientific about the nature of a substance or particle, or write something particularly substantive about anything in nature, or indeed express in words anything that is really natural in some way, shape or form.

No, metaphors and ambiguities aside, I’d like to come straight to the point about what really matters. What does matter?

You know that quip “Do you believe in Mind over Matter”?
The clue is in the answer, “Well if you don’t mind then it doesn’t matter!”

And as clue follows clue, the truth (to you at least) about whether something matters or not is purely down to if you “Mind” – or, in other words, if it is important to you.
A further clue here is in important, like that, where we import whatever it is that matters into our Mind.

And this presupposes that it was never there in our Mind in the first place.

So where did it come from?

Thought Energy
I talk a lot these days about thought energy, about the nature of it being likened unto being a constituent part of a formless and endless stream that just flows through our lives. We can notice and select parts, or particles, of this formless energy and import it into our minds. That that we do not select just flows on in the stream, uninterrupted.

We then have a number of particles of thought energy which we can then choose to grow or discard, or keep in abeyance – perhaps there on the ‘backburner’, if you like.
Of course when we discard the import it is gone, blown away like a grain of sand back onto the beach. And once gone back onto the beach we are never going to notice that particular grain amongst all the others.
And what, then, of the ones we have kept?

Well, there are the ones on the ‘back burner’ – that unnamed retentive place in our memory. Once the thought is there it isn’t being ‘grown’ but we feel there might be some as yet unknown use for it - to us - at some future point. When that use comes around, we might then choose to ‘grow’ that thought we have kept in abeyance.
We may be considering a particular thing as being perhaps of some importance to us and we’ll remember, “Oh yes, I was keeping X on the back burner somewhere in mind. Let’s go and find it and add its weight to this thing of importance I’m considering here. This will justify my keeping X all that time, plus it now, too, has an importance that I will keep growing.”
In whatever way we might particularly grow our thoughts, this ‘inner dialogue’ has probably taken place in order to match X.
Then there are the thoughts we grow right from the moment of import. And perhaps it is here – in the domain of thought processing – where the thoughts cease to be formless energy, and take on a form of their very own. We begin to make the formless energy into something Real. At least – something that’s real as far as we are concerned.

The Growing

The next stage of growing is to amplify the importance, so that it begins to matter to us. Of course, as we know, the more it matters to us the more important it gets. Very soon, and maybe even by now, the reality of ... whatever it is ... has become so almost tangible, that we’ve lost all sense of it being under our control. We’ve lost the sense of choice, and here the option to ‘discard’ feels out of our reach.
At some point in this growth process we might run the idea past someone else – because ‘thought’ has already grown and morphed into an ‘idea’. And remember we are very good at grouping ‘ideas’ into ‘sets’, which is also part of the growing process!
Of course, the person we’re running the idea past might give us their opinion, and here – depending on their opinion, and the credibility we assign to this particular person – we extend to them our choosing process. “You decide,” we can almost hear ourselves saying.

If it matters not a fig to them, if they attach no importance to the idea – AND tell us – then we may consider discarding the idea, or perhaps putting it on the ‘back burner’. If it’s an absolutely scatter-brained idea then they’ll have done us a favour if we discard it. If we choose not to, then our brains deserve to be well and truly scattered!
But if it matters to them as well, then the weight of their importance is now added to ours – and in our mind its growth is at once accelerated, and it is well on the way to becoming a full-blown belief.

We then, by further thought processes, reach the point where what matters, what’s important to us, has been inducted into the Hall of our Beliefs and Values.
Now it may be hard to comprehend, but let’s remember that it started out as a formless particle. A particle that was accelerated, and then grown – by us – into this glorious edifice!

What’s the matter?
So a client comes to see me and I might very well ask them, “So how can I help? What’s the matter?”
And they’ll describe what’s the matter, and I’ll test their worldview to see just how much of a handle they have on all matter, like that.

Ask Yourself this, is very much the next stage in my approach, because regularly checking out with ourselves about matter can be quite a liberating process. A little bit of self-interrogation every time we observe our inner and outer language using words like “important” and phrases such as “it matters to me” probably wouldn’t go amiss.

How much does it matter? Am I growing this matter? For what purpose do I retain this matter? Am I losing sight of something else by holding onto this matter? How real is this matter to me? How much of this matter is my own? How much of this matter is familiar to me?
“I’ve had a lousy day at work – I need a drink/some chocolate as a comfort, a reward, a respite, to make all the ‘lousy’ go away.” This may be familiar to you as it is or maybe in some other guise!

So, this need – how important is it to you?
How much does it matter – and then launch all the other questions listed above too. And notice your responses, especially “Shut up” or “To hell with the consequences.” Because in those two are the very real and damning responses to ‘How Real is this matter to me?’

It is in the very nature of our own matter, that it is ALL important to us. Some of the matter we want to keep and grow some more; some of it we have, until now, kept and grown it – and now it is important enough to us to want to discard it. From nail-biting, comfort eating and fear of spiders right across to wanting more confidence, motivation and positivity – these are things that matter to us, they are important. Some we want more of, some we want to stop.
The ones we want to stop are the very ones we have ‘grown’ at some stage in our lives – and the ones we want more of, we don’t know how to grow at this stage of our lives. There is an irony here!

It is all down to the nature of Matter.
And here’s the thing - Once we understand the nature of Matter then we’ll know how we’ve grown it, we’ll know how to discard it and we’ll realise the part our mind plays in the very existence of Matter.

Then, we’ll be able to lead our lives more in the way we want, no matter what!

AUDIO VERSION now can be heard on my YouTube Channel:
About Matter

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Growing Our Desires

Whatever behaviours, habits, skills, and knowledge we have at any one particular time – these are things we have grown, things we have become “good at.” From riding a bike, and solving crossword puzzles, to being polite or doing impressions, we have grown our capability to do all these things. Of course, HOW good we are at them lies on a seemingly endless scale of mastery – from unconscious incompetence to total expertise or brilliance. The broad spectrum of our capabilities, and where everything is placed on that array, is part of the richness of our lives.

The thing about that spectrum is this – for each and every one of us, it is the garden of our life. The broadness of the spectrum represents not just the size of our garden, but the number of things we are growing in it, and the degree of ripeness and maturity of those things too. Essentially we GROW our behaviours, our habits, our skills, our knowledge and – let’s not forget them – our beliefs!
Now - we can pick the fruits and flowers from these and put them to some use, or we can leave them be. This is our choice. However, over time, we have grown all these things in our garden.

Now of course there are many more things growing in our garden than the few I have mentioned already. And we can grow some things quicker than others with the use of a particular growing agent – a kind of fertiliser if you like – that we characterise as Desire. Desire brings a level of intensity to our growing process whereby our focus – you might almost call it indulgence – is magnified.

Back in the day I taught myself how to play the guitar.
Well, this isn’t entirely (linguistically) true because “I” didn’t know how to play the guitar either – so how could “I” have taught “myself”?
Semantics aside, however, I had to have a model from somewhere to get “me” started. This came in two forms – someone showed me some very basic chord shapes, and then I got Bert Weedon’s learn-to-play-guitar book and saw visual representations of the shapes that someone had showed me.
The rest, as they say, was down to repetitive playing and Desire!
The lyrics of Brian Adams’ song “The Summer of ‘69” were particularly poignant for me, as my summer of ’64 involved me playing my first real six string until my fingers bled. However, through Desire the bleeding fingers got hardened and I was up and away, playing things well beyond endless repeats of the two-chorded “Bobby Shafto”.

So, desire indulges and magnifies our focus on whatever we might be engaged in – until the very moment it doesn’t. At this moment a number of things can take place.

Although it is (here) one of four possibilities, this is the point when Love can take over. I started with a desire to play the guitar that became a Love. Within that Love was sheer indulgence in the pleasure of playing, plus a new Desire; a Desire to grow my skill, to get better at playing more things and through that - increase the pleasure and grow the Love.
It is an often repeated cycle for many, many things in our lives – but let’s stick for the moment with what we call “playing the guitar”. Playing guitar remains something we do - until the very moment something changes in our lives and some of the impact of that change is felt in the area of playing guitar. It may be caused by circumstances, finances, lack of available time, etc.
Perhaps this moment has come about as an evaluation of that Love. We no longer get the same level or depth of pleasure or we no longer have a desire to grow. We may notice that part of our playing guitar has passed into unconscious habit, and we’ve “woken up to the fact” that we don’t really enjoy it as much.
We may then choose to make some changes – either start just doing it occasionally, or discard it altogether, or re-evaluate our Love or our Unconscious Actions.

Now we can carry this model into many areas of our lives, and draw parallels with many actions, habits and objects, and this includes people as well! And I’d invite you to perhaps go and examine one or two instances, in your own lives, where you have grown to like or love things and then there have been changes - perhaps immediate or gradually over the years. For many things and across many moments, the changes are happening often more regularly than we think!

When the patchwork, the tapestry, of our lives is built of a variety of metamorphic subtleties, the shifts are often down to how we have Grown Our Desires, and the changes or renewals can be down to how we dismantle or rekindle our desires.
In January of this year something changed in my life – a change brought about by watching a feature-length film about man’s exploitative relationship with all other living creatures. Now the film contained a montage of some of the most shocking imagery of carnage and cruelty I have ever witnessed. I could have given up watching after around 20 minutes or so as I was, by then deeply appalled yet anaesthetised by the relentless nature of the depictions. However, I felt compelled to watch the entire film – as if there was, for me, a particular purpose to that watching.

The result was that I have not eaten meat since.
I’d eaten meat all my life up until then, so my relationship with eating meat was on both an Unconscious level and a Love level. I really enjoyed the meals where particular meats were involved. And yet – in an instant, literally overnight – I went straight to Discard mode.

I guess the big question here is how did I do this?
Plus – how did I sustain it? How did I not, over the months, slip back into eating the odd bit of meat here and there?
Was the way I had grown my desire for meat something that was easily dismantled?

Well, I think this is probably true, because in the years I was a chef, I had to change the nature of my relationship with food from consumer to provider – and this allowed me to cook and prepare things that I would never myself eat. Also, through this phase of my life, as a consumer another change was that I only ate through building the experience via smell and taste. The “look” of the food was in the domain of me the cooker, not me the eater!
In dismantling the Unconscious level and the Love level, the shocking imagery also became coded up on top of my memories of particularly the taste of meat, and meat dishes. It was less so with smell - again, I’m sure, from my time as a chef. I would never have eaten liver for instance, yet I would happily cook it for others.
The thing about shocks and traumas is that these override all associated experience, plus any other structures that are running in that place, such as Unconscious Habit, Desire and Love. The other thing, for me, is that my personal values and beliefs also changed.

I know If I am to ever eat meat again at some point in the future, then I will (a) have to have a Desire to do so that overrides the awful imagery of that film, plus (b) a change in values back to meat becoming a necessity.

We grow our likes and our habits, behaviours, actions and beliefs by stages - and we can also “ungrow” them all as well.
The growth is fertilised by Desire, and the growth eventually evolves at pivotal moments.
Any “ungrowing” or Discarding, also takes place at pivotal moments.

So if you have something you want to change in your life – a habit (say) you’d rather discard – then finding where it is on the spectrum, in the garden of your life, is useful knowledge. Ungrowing it can then commence.

Similarly if you have something you want more of in your life, then grow your desire - yet be sure to make it a good and useful thing for you in the first place. Desire is a very powerful fertiliser!

Of course, we are only human – and to err is human, as we very well know!
One of the aberrations in humanity is our immoderate nature, and the attractions of over-indulgence. This is when growing our Desire gets out of hand – bolts – and becomes Lust.

And perhaps this is why Lust is a truly deadly sin.
Oh - and that film? It was called "Earthlings" and could be characterised as a tale of lust gone mad.