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Intention

I've been thinking lately about how intention is important when setting out to get a glimpse of our actual nature. I've often wondered why some of my friends, who are experts in spiritual and psychological maintenance, never seem to get the results that I seem to be getting. I've mentioned this simple act to them many times for many years. I seem to have lost my desire to diagnose and describe my problems while they seem to be getting better at it. "When do we come to the final diagnosis" I asked one of them recently. No answer.

This lead me to do some serious thinking about why this is working for me, and I came to the conclusion that my intention was what made the difference. If someone says "hey look at that butterfly" I certainly will. Then I'll immediately try to name it Monarch and then I'll usually go off on the metaphorical significance of the cocoon and the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into the butterfly and how humanity is in a cocoon stage right now and bla bla bla.... But, I realized recently that if I look at a butterfly, just for the sake of looking at it, and use all of my capacity to focus attention, with the honest intention of just looking at it without all the commentary, the experience is quite different: It's about as explainable as looking inward, at me (you for your part) but it seems to allow much more essence in. It's like the difference between shining a flash-light through a key-hole in a closet door, as opposed to opening the door and shining it in.

In the beginning, I was addicted to all the old patterns of thinking and could wax eloquent about my actual nature. Now I feel like a fish trying to describe the water that it lives in. I feel lucky to have come to this in such state of disillusion about my worn out high-maintenance protection habits. I was so desperate I threw everything out the window as best I could and poured my heart and soul into the looking. Four years later some results are in, but they aren't like anything I could have expected. Just a more prevailing but subtle sense of the unimprovable, and the occasional sigh of relief--like I might get coming out of a theater having just watched a long scary movie. And, rather than constantly TRYING to BE grateful, I am naturally more-often-than-not blown away by the fact that I get to be here, and read and tell stories. I was blown away today in fact, when I read in one of my favorite stories: ‎"I realized it for the first time in my life: there is nothing but mystery in the world, how it hides behind the fabric of our poor browbeat days, shining brightly, and we don't even know it." When I read ideas like this these days they just make sense, and are much more enjoyable than when it was necessary for me to memorize them all.

So please, muster up as much intention as you can. I spent a long time in the "spiritual ghetto" and I was a basket-case so my recovery was and is seemingly slow. I'm sure it will be different for everyone but I'm also sure that it will work if you amp up your intention. If not I'll refund your money!)

Much Love,

Mike

Mike, this says it all for me. I mean where you have come and why. It's not simple maturation, that's for sure. It's the work you put in doing the looking. Congratulations on your hard work, for I know it must have been as hard for you as it has been for me sticking with a project where the results are not immediately known, and even then questionable as to causation.

I would add a comment about intention for the sake of others who might be thinking all they need to do is to make the decision to have the intention to do the looking. Intention, like everything else, is transitory. Don't count on it being there all the time. When John says to look when it occurs to you to do so, that puts it exactly right. I have made a conscious effort to look during all different kinds of states of mind I have been experiencing over the years (six I believe), and sometimes I have been shut out. No problem; try again whenever it again occurs for me to do so. As for the success I feel occurs when I have had a good look, my advice is not to rely on it. Those feel-good moments are not what the looking seeks to bring about.

But I kind of take issue with your statement about waxing eloquent about the nature of you. Pegging my nature (transitory as it is) has helped me, I believe, in maintaining the project. I realize I like to write about stuff, so maybe that's been my way and isn't necessarily for everyone else. I do agree with what you imply, however, and that is that our revelations about what we see in and of ourselves don't mean a hill of beans. Just like seeing the metaphorical significance of the cocoon as it relates to humanity. (It can be fun getting lost in the maze, though.) It took me about three or four years to finally ring the death knell on understanding, even though I had known having understanding was as irrelevant as revelations shortly after I started.

And I want to say one thing more. Bringing myself present with that which is here is for me an essential first step in the process of doing the looking. It doesn't matter what I am connecting with, just as long as it's real and not in my head. So the intention you advocate can be broken down into two parts: first, getting the sense of your existence by associating or linking to something there in front of you (no commentary helpful or required as you observed); and second, getting that taste of who it is or what it is making the connection to that which is there with you. That's all there is to it. No seriousness of purpose needed, no prayer for healing or success, no confirmation or acknowledgment of completion, no further thoughts at all, for all such thoughts are completely beside the point and as irrelevant as understanding or revelations.

I appreciate your essay on intention as opening the way for me to speak as I have. trimpi

you have no idea

You have no idea the encouragement reading you two gives me.

Thanks Marlowe. The encouragement is a two way street. Just knowing that it was helpful to you is a great gift.

And thank you Trimpi for your thoughtful reply. I took on a new habit when I first started trying to do this. I trashed everything I had done before, out of spite, because it didn't work. Your right to mention that some practices and understandings can indeed be helpful. Knowing about the fear of life was certainly helpful for me, as was the use of the simple pronoun "Me" or "You" to describe what I was looking for.

I was thinking today about how I am actually interested in improving certain skills, in a way that is so different than the obsession with self-improvement I was hooked into. A lot of practices got "high-jacked" by what I like to call "The Immaculate Inception" (The fear of life). I believed I was an Alcoholic and stayed "clean and sober" for 18 plus years. Around the time I started the inward looking, I also started drinking beer again, quite consciously, with the intention to see if it was true. After four years I've come to the conclusion that I am not nor was I ever an alcoholic, just a goofy well intended human that was plagued by an unconscious constant angst. My interest in beer has fallen off quite naturally. I just wanted to belong somewhere, to have an identity (addict) and a cause (addiction) and a "Program" that promised redemption. I should say here that this is my experience from this point of perception and that I know some people that have acquired, for whatever reason, a chronic dependency on alcohol that is life threatening. So I would not recommend anyone do what I do, or have done, in the course of my recovery.

I have taken up the practice for really looking at things besides my actual nature lately. Just letting them in. The experience is quit refreshing now that there is less distance between me and life.

I've also started writing a novel, I think, or something like that. I wrote a boat-load of crap a while back when I thought I had something to prove. Now I'm just doing it because I love it. Funny how I put a lot of intention into this inward looking and now my intention for some things that I do is changed. Even the stupid stuff that still comes out sideways is tainted with a different kind of intention lately.

much love

mike

Thank you for sharing your experiences regarding intention. "Intent" is a word that's been resonating inside my mind for a few months now, and I can relate to the importance it has when it comes to focusing my attention. And how intently looking at me brings about an entire new way of approaching creativity. I'm a musician and up until 2-3 years ago, making music was about THIS is what I want, MY way - with all the clashes and failures that brought in its wake - whereas now I feel a certain reverence towards the mere ability, to be lucky enough, to make music. To channel it would be more accurate even. But one thing caught my attention even more.

Mike Helsher

I believed I was an Alcoholic and stayed "clean and sober" for 18 plus years. Around the time I started the inward looking, I also started drinking beer again, quite consciously, with the intention to see if it was true. After four years I've come to the conclusion that I am not nor was I ever an alcoholic, just a goofy well intended human that was plagued by an unconscious constant angst. My interest in beer has fallen off quite naturally. I just wanted to belong somewhere, to have an identity (addict) and a cause (addiction) and a "Program" that promised redemption. I should say here that this is my experience from this point of perception and that I know some people that have acquired, for whatever reason, a chronic dependency on alcohol that is life threatening. So I would not recommend anyone do what I do, or have done, in the course of my recovery.

This idea is something that has been going round my mind as well since a few months. I've come to believe that ANY addiction has its root cause in identifying with the substance abuse, as in 'this is who I am' and that only this identifying perpetuates the entire merry-go-round. As you said, I'm not looking to devise a cure, it's just something I've been noticing in myself - the better I can see who I really am, the less I'm conforming to the ideas of who I am.

Any insights from you or anybody else would be very appreciated. I apologize if this is somewhat off-topic.

Wouter

Un-concocted

Mike Helsher

I was thinking today about how I am actually interested in improving certain skills, in a way that is so different than the obsession with self-improvement I was hooked into. A lot of practices got "high-jacked" by what I like to call "The Immaculate Inception" (The fear of life). I believed I was an Alcoholic and stayed "clean and sober" for 18 plus years. Around the time I started the inward looking, I also started drinking beer again, quite consciously, with the intention to see if it was true. After four years I've come to the conclusion that I am not nor was I ever an alcoholic, just a goofy well intended human that was plagued by an unconscious constant angst. My interest in beer has fallen off quite naturally. I just wanted to belong somewhere, to have an identity (addict) and a cause (addiction) and a "Program" that promised redemption...

I have taken up the practice for really looking at things besides my actual nature lately. Just letting them in. The experience is quit refreshing now that there is less distance between me and life.

I've also started writing a novel, I think, or something like that. I wrote a boat-load of crap a while back when I thought I had something to prove. Now I'm just doing it because I love it. Funny how I put a lot of intention into this inward looking and now my intention for some things that I do is changed. Even the stupid stuff that still comes out sideways is tainted with a different kind of intention lately.

@Mike - Once again your down-to-earth and un-concocted positive report is really encouraging, and seems to align really really well with what John promises without being wishful thinking. So thanks again.

For me, the recent anxiety has been so great that it is taking pretty much all my attention and obstructing any bigger picture perspective on my life, but I'm starting to be able to see, I think, that aside from my internal emotions, there are in fact things about my life and my personality/reactions that are changing.

For one thing, ever since shortly after starting the Looking, I stopped seeking. I don't have the "seeking" energy anymore, although I am in a "trying to survive" mode. Instead of seeking, all I want is just to have a normal life without the senseless anxiety.

For another thing, I can see incredibly more clearly the difference in myself between sanity and insanity. And also in the rare moments when I am not afraid at all, I behave and feel totally natural and normal, as if that's how life was always supposed to be...not seeking after anything or trying to hold onto anything or get anything "right", just living, just like that, unremarkable yet perfect.

And in other small ways my personality and my life seem to be getting better and more sane, but it's hard to notice it, let alone enjoy it, because my internal world is still so screwed up.

Gerrit

Thanks Gerrit, it was truly inspiring to read your reply. It reminded me of how I was, and still am sometimes, frustrated by the fact that this inward looking brings no instant gratification. But down the road we get to see, as you have, the subtle differences that slip in, sometimes when we least expect it. I had my first "rare moment" about a year ago, when I realized for the first time in my life, that I felt safe. No big overwhelming flood of infinite wisdom beaming into my brain directly from God; no goose bumps or hair straightening out; no golden white light glowing from my heart chakra out my eyes and through the pores of my skin; just a simple, almost unnoticeable feeling of safety that I had never felt before.

Not that this matters much, but I was just now inspired to remember something I learned a while back when I was studying to become a Waldorf teacher. Something about "education from the inside out" and something about how acts of pure love bare no reward. These ideas make sense to me in an off hand kind of way, now that I don't have to believe them.

My internal world is crazy and screwed up too Gerrit. A frackin three ring circus, a shawshank redemption, a vigilante killer with an impenetrable force-field who pays a visit to all the Rothchild's, a "poor me I was born on the wrong planet at the wrong time" movie that I watch just about every day and on an on and on... but the anxiety I feel these days is different, less charged with longer and longer spaces in-between. And, without trying too hard, I seem to be able to sluff some off it of with a "so what" or a "who cares." Your maya may very though, but it sounds like things are loosening up for you too, which is really good to hear!

much love

Mike

The crazy-go-round

FluoSmurf

Thank you for sharing your experiences regarding intention. "Intent" is a word that's been resonating inside my mind for a few months now, and I can relate to the importance it has when it comes to focusing my attention. And how intently looking at me brings about an entire new way of approaching creativity. I'm a musician and up until 2-3 years ago, making music was about THIS is what I want, MY way - with all the clashes and failures that brought in its wake - whereas now I feel a certain reverence towards the mere ability, to be lucky enough, to make music. To channel it would be more accurate even. But one thing caught my attention even more.

This idea is something that has been going round my mind as well since a few months. I've come to believe that ANY addiction has its root cause in identifying with the substance abuse, as in 'this is who I am' and that only this identifying perpetuates the entire merry-go-round. As you said, I'm not looking to devise a cure, it's just something I've been noticing in myself - the better I can see who I really am, the less I'm conforming to the ideas of who I am.

Any insights from you or anybody else would be very appreciated. I apologize if this is somewhat off-topic.

Wouter

Thank you too Wouter. It was good for me to read about your experience with music. Last summer my son and I started playing music together, which reignited an old flame in me that had gone out in the 80's. I know about the "my way" music business too. Jake and I started playing regularly at local venues and next thing you know I'm all about steady rehearsal and perfection and recording an album. Thing is, he's only 14. My musical karmic bucket popped open like a jack-in-the-box and I went right back to all the feelings I had had and all the stuff I hated about the music business. I wasn't going to let THEM squash my son's creativity like THEY did to me. Turned out that I got to close out those old feelings and chill out a little. I don't seek "healing" these days but it does happen now like it never could before. We played for fun at an open mic last week and I was elated to be up there expressing myself for the joy of doing it. I then sat in the audience and listened to Jake play a song that he wrote for his classmates at his eight grade graduation. Tear-jerker to say the least. I can't say how wonderful it is to enjoy moments like that without the constant fog of silent fear.

And yes life for me was all about a desperate search for some kind of identity that would keep me safe or bring me home some day: free-thinker, drug-addict, Anarchist, you name it. "Conforming to the ideas of who I am" seems insane to me now. The "merry-go-round" analogy is great, though I wonder if we might call it a "crazy-go-round" instead...smily

much Love

Mike

Creativity

Mike Helsher

We played for fun at an open mic last week and I was elated to be up there expressing myself for the joy of doing it. I then sat in the audience and listened to Jake play a song that he wrote for his classmates at his eight grade graduation. Tear-jerker to say the least. I can't say how wonderful it is to enjoy moments like that without the constant fog of silent fear. Mike

Hi Mike and Wouter,

You both mentioned something I have observed as a somewhat predictable (small sample, of course.) outcome of becoming sane. It appears that when we recover from the fear of life we become more creative in some way. It makes sense that when all the energy previously used to keep life at bay is freed up, it has to go somewhere. We are all creative beings endowed with some gift we can use to enrich and further life. Our unique gift, freed up, becomes the wellspring for our feeling fulfilled. Wouter expressed it beautifully, "whereas now I feel a certain reverence towards the mere ability, to be lucky enough, to make music. To channel it would be more accurate even." Even if ones gifts are not in the common art categories, they are just as important nonetheless. The feeling of reverence and channeling of inspiration can be equally as powerful.

Perhaps John can verify this connection. Lera

Fulfillment

Thank you Mike for that story. It confirmed several things for me, music is a big part of my life, so it's inevitably tied to my understanding of me. And, speaking as a son, I find it a beautiful thought to know that your boy, at his age, has someone in his life to show him 'what it's really all about', not just when it comes to music, but to live a life.

Also, thank you for sharing your past issues with 'beliefs of alcoholism'. My father actually died ten years ago due to alcohol abuse, when in his early fifties, and I have been struggling with my own addict identity, smoking pot for the last twelve years. I'm grateful I have not done any real permanent damage to my body just yet, and that I have found the looking at my age. The actual need to smoke, and the need to identify with the lifestyle have subsided greatly and I feel the mechanical habit waning also, so thank you for making this discussable for me here - it's not something one brings up casually.

And yes, crazy-go-round does sound more appropriate! :D

It amazes me more and more, how when I ponder about WHY the healing actually occurs now that I'm no longer invested in it, and rather just look at me, the answer just seems to be 'a miracle'. I think it's the best word to describe it without going for 'magical'.

To Lera I'd like to say that the phrase "Our unique gift, freed up, becomes the wellspring for our feeling fulfilled." really resonated in me, and just like the healing happening ever more spontaneously, the profound but oh so natural fulfillment of just doing what I am here to do, of what naturally occurs in my actions, is miraculous and inexplicable. And I can't help but find it funny, that it's actually the absence of any need for explanation, and the shift of interest to just looking, that set it all in motion.

This thread really helps me a lot!

Wouter

Learning, and learning how to contribute

To all:

I think Mike is an example of learning what works in this work. If you are going to take on "looking", it makes sense to notice that John and Carla often say that they are still learning. John often notes that what he sees now is different, and what he says now is different than past perceptions, past ways of talking about this. I talk to John often and I know that he has realized that the conversations with the rest of us have been a central source of what he is learning in terms of how to talk to people, and in terms of effective ways to do the looking and manage the experiences in recovery.

One of the things I love about John is that he readily acknowledges that other points of view and other's experiences are extremely useful for him to notice things that he has not noticed. I have watched him continue to refine his ideas and learn about new realms of possibility for bringing this work to others and for supporting people who are considering looking, in the process of looking, and in the recovery process.

I have found what Mike shares to be the case for myself. This is not a casual matter. I believe that if one comes across this conversation and the suggestion of looking and "gives it a shot", then not noticing anything different, dismisses it, or begins to relate to it like it is probably a group placebo, that it is likely that they will miss the boat, i.e. not experience the reality of it, or notice any results....John may see this differently (my view). On the other hand if one is really serious about finding out who they are and pursuing this possibility with high intention, and consistently attention to their experiences, I believe and have found it to be the case for me, that the act and the experiences that follow will be self evident. One of the things I tell my patients in psychotherapy is that unless you give constant attention to what is occurring in your internal world and the world around you, along with your actions and their consequences, that I cannot promise any results. People who take this seriously and work on being consistently aware of these aspects of experience always produce significant results in relatively short periods of time.

Also, I think that we all need to work on developing a way of talking about this in terms that can be heard by anyone, i.e. people who are not part of the spiritual communities, who can relate to the experience of living with anxiety, depression, and fear and the way that this is limited their ability to enjoy and function in life. This communication is one that anyone can relate to and that the ordinary general population is motivated to find an answer to. Just watch the TV ads directed to people about getting relief from physical and emotional pain and suffering, and consider the billions spent to get relief albeit temporary, and often with negative side effects. Let us all think about this and contribute to the conversation because there is no saving us in the end without saving all of us.

Love.

David

Mike Helsher

I've been thinking lately about how intention is important when setting out to get a glimpse of our actual nature. I've often wondered why some of my friends, who are experts in spiritual and psychological maintenance, never seem to get the results that I seem to be getting. I've mentioned this simple act to them many times for many years. I seem to have lost my desire to diagnose and describe my problems while they seem to be getting better at it. "When do we come to the final diagnosis" I asked one of them recently. No answer.

This lead me to do some serious thinking about why this is working for me, and I came to the conclusion that my intention was what made the difference. If someone says "hey look at that butterfly" I certainly will. Then I'll immediately try to name it Monarch and then I'll usually go off on the metaphorical significance of the cocoon and the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into the butterfly and how humanity is in a cocoon stage right now and bla bla bla.... But, I realized recently that if I look at a butterfly, just for the sake of looking at it, and use all of my capacity to focus attention, with the honest intention of just looking at it without all the commentary, the experience is quite different: It's about as explainable as looking inward, at me (you for your part) but it seems to allow much more essence in. It's like the difference between shining a flash-light through a key-hole in a closet door, as opposed to opening the door and shining it in.

In the beginning, I was addicted to all the old patterns of thinking and could wax eloquent about my actual nature. Now I feel like a fish trying to describe the water that it lives in. I feel lucky to have come to this in such state of disillusion about my worn out high-maintenance protection habits. I was so desperate I threw everything out the window as best I could and poured my heart and soul into the looking. Four years later some results are in, but they aren't like anything I could have expected. Just a more prevailing but subtle sense of the unimprovable, and the occasional sigh of relief--like I might get coming out of a theater having just watched a long scary movie. And, rather than constantly TRYING to BE grateful, I am naturally more-often-than-not blown away by the fact that I get to be here, and read and tell stories. I was blown away today in fact, when I read in one of my favorite stories: ‎"I realized it for the first time in my life: there is nothing but mystery in the world, how it hides behind the fabric of our poor browbeat days, shining brightly, and we don't even know it." When I read ideas like this these days they just make sense, and are much more enjoyable than when it was necessary for me to memorize them all.

So please, muster up as much intention as you can. I spent a long time in the "spiritual ghetto" and I was a basket-case so my recovery was and is seemingly slow. I'm sure it will be different for everyone but I'm also sure that it will work if you amp up your intention. If not I'll refund your money!...;)

Much Love,

Mike

 

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