With that in mind, I have been paying more attention to where I place my attention. For example, if I only pay attention to my own wants and needs, I miss large pieces of the picture. Someone can be talking, and I can be nodding my head, and yet the conversation I’m engaged with is a universe away. I might be analyzing what they just said, or comparing it to some bit of information I have, or downright judging them. If the first conversation is the one in the moment, I liken the second conversation to a whirling dervish of mental activity that spins whenever something triggers it.
I’m not sure if you can relate to this analogy; you may have a different way of sensing it, but the effect is probably the same. When it appears, we are no longer present to the first conversation, only to the second.
All this was brought home to me recently by my spiritual brother Lloyd Tupper, with whom I have enjoyed many thought-provoking conversations over the years. He told me about a lecture he listens to almost every day from Dr. Ernest Holmes who, in case you haven’t heard of him, was the founder of a movement known as Religious Science, and a great speaker, healer and new thought leader.
The passage, which I transcribed sections of, goes like this. “I said to a man the other day who was telling me about how dishonest everyone was, would you like a little advice? I said, try to find out what there is in you that you are afraid is not honest. Try to find out why you suspect yourself of having a lack of integrity, and when you do and heal it, you will stop suspecting other people.”
He went on to say (I am paraphrasing now) that until you can take the problem you see out there, deep within yourself, without fault or blame, and see it as first originating within you, you will not clear up the cause of the problem.
This is Awareness 101, and yet it is profound and life-changing as a practice. Until we increase the awareness of how our view of the problem influences the problem, it will likely persist. This is uncomfortable at times, because we may want change, but not want to change ourselves.
This awareness practice allows you to see the connection between the inner and the outer. If you have a problem that persists outside yourself, look for its source by taking it deep within yourself. Is there some quality, belief, or assumption about how life is, or is not, that you carry around inside you, that is reflected back through the mirror of your life? And if you do see a correlation, where then is your first order of business — out there, or in here?
This week, when someone or something appears as a problem, see if you can take that problem deep into yourself, and see it from the inside out. First, give it a name. If you see lack out there, look for the source of that lack within yourself. If it’s mistrust, find the source of that mistrust inside, if you can.
And as always, be gentle with yourself. This is an exercise meant to free you from outmoded mental constraints. If you come to see the source of the problem is no longer valid, the clarity you bring to it will be enough to release it.