I never thought this would be easy. After all, I’m 76 years old and have been housebound for over three years, not to mention the 20+ years of suffering that had gone on before I was confined. After doing the looking last April I went through a lot of turmoil over my spiritual attachments, and was only able to drop them entirely quite recently. During all that time, however, I continued to do SDA fairly consistently.
These past few days I feel that I’ve turned a corner, so to speak, and I wanted to share my experience here in the hope that it might be helpful to someone.
It came to me, as was suffering with numb legs and difficulty keeping my balance, that it was time to be honest with myself. I had been a Christian Scientist for 45 years, and one of the key concepts was “denial.” In other words, never admit that you’re sick, old, disabled, whatever. And this was supposed to help heal you. But the thought came to me: Don’t you know yet that there’s nothing you can do to “fix” yourself or your life? This is beyond your ken.
Right then I realized that I had been spending most of my time examining my past or fantasizing about the future, neither of which was doing me any good. Then I remembered what John and Carla have said about self reliance, and it occurred to me that I could stop focusing on the past and the future and see what I could do NOW. So I asked myself, “What can I do?” It came to me that I could sweep the floors. So I swept them. Then I thought I might mop them, too, so I asked, “Can I do this?” The answer was yes, I can. So I did all of that, and an idea for an exercise for my legs came to me as well. I started doing it right then, and there has been a lot of improvement in my walking in just two days. I also felt a lot more energetic from sweeping and mopping the floors. I was very tired at the end of the day, but it was a good kind of tired, not the kind I often feel after a day of sitting on my bed with my laptop.
I’ve been doing SDA twice a day, and I’m convinced that what changed in me is because of it. I was able to focus on something worthwhile and productive, instead of dwelling in the past, dreaming about the future, or bitching about the present!
I went through a lot of doubts about JOL during those months when I was still vacillating about my spiritual pursuits. I was subtly trying to find fault with it, comparing it to other teachings/methods, and so on. But the truth won out. I actually had a brief glimpse yesterday of what it’s like to feel “normal.” I haven’t felt this way in many years… in fact I doubt that I’ve ever really felt normal because I was still living with the fear of life.
This is not to say that I’m done with recovery. It took me a long time to get into the mess I’m in, and I know it will take patience (and lots of SDA!) for the “foot soldiers” of fear to finally give up their efforts and leave me for good, but I feel greatly encouraged by what has happened to me these past couple of days, and I no longer have any lingering doubts about the efficacy of JOL/SDA.
I had a funny image of how SDA/JOL operates. It’s like when you cut off a chicken’s head, the chicken still runs around for awhile until it finally gives up and drops dead. Kind of macabre, but amusing nonetheless! A.D. (Brazil) January 18th, 2018
I’ve been trying to put my finger on the changes that have happened more than six years out from the first look at myself. I don’t want to be one of those people that goes away and never reports back to this work as I think the community is important... However I do understand the impulse to get pulled, subsumed, into this wondrous life without taking the time for reflection. Self-reflection and trying to figure out what went wrong seem almost habits of the fear and not necessary now, a habit that lingers. I also know that I greatly desired word from the other side when I was in my long recovery.
I now somewhat understand John’s loss for words when trying to describe a life without fear. I have a taste of this life. The neurosis and anxiety have calmed down for some time now. When all that is gone, now what? I am going to call it the startle phase. It started with noticing that I am a little more jumpy and easily startled by sudden movements or sensations. I’ve never been jumpy, perhaps a cultivated, cool exterior, perhaps a deadening to the world around me to counteract the craziness inside. Anyway, I became jumpy and easily startled, even though I’m calmer than ever in my life. It’s taken a while, but I’ve realized this startle instinct is a deeper response to the inrush of life. The richness and magnificence of life as John talks about before he trails off at a loss for words. I’m wide open, or wider open, and can feel things like never before, with the paradoxical sense that they don’t affect me or hurt me. I’m raw and safe simultaneously. Unmoored, yet anchored. Life seems a balance of continuity and freshness. We maintain our sense of self, our memories and history as the world is reborn in each moment. It seems I am holding onto less and embracing the freshness more.
As the filters and barriers come down I am less and less in the deadened inner world of the habits of fear. The world around me is enlivened and endlessly fascinating. There is a feeling of rightness, even when there is something wrong externally, and of course much is externally wrong with the world right now, as ever. This feeling of rightness is deep and pervasive from the surface to the bones of me.
Anyway, that’s my best shot at describing the changes brought on by this incredible act. Please hang in there if you are feeling lost and overwhelmed by the recovery. Look for the subtle changes and movements internally and externally. I am one of the many who can say, If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. J.X. (USA) December 3rd, 2017
I just want to introduce myself really and tell you about my experience so far. After searching for “enlightenment,” I did eventually experience a wonderful few weeks of “wowness” for want of a better term. Searching stopped and there was no separation and life was flowing all by itself. Then I woke up one morning and the “wowness” had gone.... I felt very depressed, to be honest. One good thing was loads of beliefs I held had disappeared. But I felt very empty.
I came across Just One Look in June of this year. I tried the looking and, to be honest, I didn’t experience anything at all. But John had said in a video and in writing that that doesn’t matter. Whenever I felt inclined I did the looking again, until that stopped. Now I have started carrying out the Self-Directed Attention practice.
Although I knew John had said that once you’ve looked that’s it, I was still worried I had missed something. Well, tonight I had the pleasure of asking John and Carla this on the phone. I now feel so much better, and I realise that now all I need to do is practice SDA. But do it, I must, and regularly , to aid my recovery and rid myself of the psychological fears that have alienated me from truly living life, so I can start to enjoy my humanness to the full.
John and Carla were so helpful. No fluffy fantasy promises. A simple practice that leads us to being fully functioning mature self-reliant humans. K.S. (UK) September 23, 2017
I was involved with alcohol for many years and attended many AA meetings. I got the best results when supported by friends. After doing the act of Looking however this interest or need for alcohol simply fell away. I don't know exactly what happened and it wasn't really necessary that I know. The Looking along with the Self-Directed Attention exercise did the trick. I strongly suggest doing the latter, the Self-Directed Attention. It will help to alleviate some of the difficulty during the recovery process i.e. any mental anguish, anxiety over leaving alcohol, etc. A. I. (Mexico) August 27, 2017
The effects of the looking for the past week are undeniable. Of course in some way nothing at all has changed. But the relationship to thought has completely changed. Somehow it’s just not where my attention and energy is. Feels like a complete re-orientation of my inner world. The feeling of me is at the center, not all the thoughts about me and the world. Not sure if that make sense to anyone but the shift is subtle yet the implications are huge. Anyway, that’s it for now. I’ll stay with the looking as it has taken me and I trust it. Finally, I’ve realized my own authority on all this. My looking and my recovery won’t fit any prescription or formula. Thank you John & Carla, and everyone else on this forum and doing this work. It really is unlike anything I have ever known. S.M.(USA) August 26, 2017
In the period of 2010-2012, I was very active in this work. I knew for certain that I had done the looking and was headlong into recovery. I was a regular contributor to the forums, and even made a trip to Ojai to attend a meeting and to meet John and Carla in person. In early 2013, I changed jobs and moved into one of the most challenging times in my career. In 2015, we lost both of our dogs in the short period of four months, and two very close associates of mine had near fatal accidents.
What I have come to discover is that I was new into recovery and the shock of these events sent me running to what was more comfortable for me... the satsang world complete with the music, pictures, malas, guru-worship and, of course, dumping the responsibility of my life on to someone else. This was my way of escaping from these very difficult things and running away from life.
This wasn't a bad time. Great experiences were had. But, the great experiences came and went...just like the big personal traumas that sent me running into the satsang world came and went. Over the past couple of years, I found myself moving deeper and deeper into a satsang community, where, to be certain, lots of excitement is there to be had, and big, blissful experiences are the order of the day. The people there seem to live from one retreat to the next, from one encounter with "the master" to the next. Some, making it their life's goal to live on the land that he occupies at the moment. The machine around this teacher is top notch and they keep the community involved, engaged and running to the next event. It is easy to get caught up in the spectacle. The group energy is also very profound. It is easy, in the midst of the pomp and circumstance to miss the fact that aside from a rock concert type elation, no real change is happening.
The seeing of this dawned on me a couple of months ago. In my disillusionment, I checked back in with Justonelook.org and started reading the material that has happened during my absence. I watched the new videos and listened to all the new podcasts.
Self-reliance and personal responsibility were what I was missing. Over a period of a few weeks, my interest in the satsang community and in the worship of the satsang teacher began to fall away. Although some nostalgia for this very charismatic and loving man still arises at times, what I am experiencing now so far outweighs anything that happened there.
I reconnected with John and Carla on the very first "Talk with John" meeting on Wednesday, July 5th. I have attended every Wednesday since. The meetings in this informal setting are really great. I feel that I have picked right up where I left off in 2013, but with a deeper perspective. I have started at step one of the process and I am practicing the Self-Directed Attention exercise a few times a day. This has been enormously helpful in dealing with the barrage of thoughts and emotions that are kicking into gear now.
Here is what I am finding as a result of my return to the JOL work:
These are just a few things that are happening. The recovery isn't over, but these things are the result of self reliance, not the result of the "grace of the master". I hope some people may be able to relate to this and are possibly helped by it. I am happy to be back and I look forward to reading your insights and sharing more of my own. Thank you. B. A. (USA) August 5, 2017
I've known John and Carla for many years. I can't remember how many years ago I sat with them in a little group in Ojai. It was in the very early days of Just One Look before it was called Just One Look. But that was all John told us to do. Something radically changed inside of me back then. I don't think I realized it at the time. It began with this simple, sweet, joyful experience of just being me. The me I have always been. It was so simple, I didn't talk about or even share it much. I don't know what inspired me to go on Facebook at 2:00 am this morning and go to the Just One Look site. Perhaps it was missing John and Carla. After reading just a short time, I realized I have been experiencing the simple joy of being me all these years and not even thinking about it. So my dear friends, I urge you to check out Just One Look. I promise you, you will not regret it. L.R. (USA) June 5, 2017
When I was a child, I was not happy because I had very strict parents who robbed me of all my freedom. I was a very freedom-loving boy and I felt totally restricted in a family that never could, and never would, understand me. There was a lot of psychological cruelty handed out to me by my father and a hell of a lot of bullying I was subjected to by the other kids. I come from a very rough part of London called Peckham, and I was an extremely sensitive young lad.
When I grew up, I married a beautiful Australian girl, who is still my beloved wife after fifty years. We emigrated to Australia and, after about three months, I decided to join the Army. I volunteered to go to Vietnam so I could pay back the kindness that the Australians had shown me by receiving me in their beautiful country.
I served in Vietnam for about nine and a half months, then they decided to ship me back to Australia because of injuries and illness. When I came back, all my troubles started, and I developed PTSD, even though I had not really been in much danger during my days of war. I was filled with a terrible anxiety, and was absolutely terrified of both life and death. I had these periods of deep, deep dread that completely ruined my life. I was angry most of the time, and I detested everybody I ever met, with a vengeance that was hard to understand.
This got worse and worse as the years proceeded, and I tried everything to control it, from counseling to reading every kind of self-help book. I read every religion, and all the stuff by many different spiritual teachers, until I had a bookcase brim-filled with all the books I had read. I tried every kind of meditation, plus yoga, tai chi, and many other things. However, nothing worked. They helped a bit but not enough to stop the ugly terror I felt.
Then, one day, on the internet, I came across a man named John Sherman, who has helped so many people, and thousands of people now practice what he advocates with much success. John told me that all I had to do was close my eyes and look at the me-ness of me, it was as simple as that.
At first I laughed at him, with his simplistic approach to gaining back one’s sanity. But I was desperate. I had walked out on my wife for a year and given everything I had away. My anger was getting worse and worse, and when I finally came back to my family, I really wasn't worth being with. My wife tolerated me because she loved me so totally, but I could tell that I was leading her into psychological and physical illness.
So I gave John’s method a try. I meditated every day using my me-ness as a meditation point. I don’t mean my thoughts or sensations, emotions or such. I mean me, the part of me that actually runs the show. The me that always seems hidden but is always there in the background. I noticed some changes in me very quickly, but then the progress became slower, but very steady. Now I have been doing this for nearly five years, and the difference in me is phenomenal. I am so happy now, that I could almost scream with joy. I have no more anxiety, and the dread that once debilitated me is totally gone.
My neurotic fear of death has faded and, although I don’t want to die, when it comes, I will be totally ready for it. My life is so beautiful these days and everything seems so beautiful, and crystal clear. These days I walk on feather feet, and I am so grateful to John and his wife Carla for what they gave to me. I really want to share Just One Look with anyone who cares to listen. P.D. (Australia) December 23rd, 2013