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Sunday, March 18, 2007

What To Do When Noticing Assumptions

What do you do when you notice an assumption?

Part of the challenge is to notice what you usually do. An indicator of something that is "sticking out" that may eventually become some sort of problem is a signal. Usually when people notice this, it more often means they must "shore up" or "justify" the need for their conclusion or assumption, reinforcing the circle and reapplying their "remedies" that are really keeping the circular problem in place.

Because their focus is on the content as being more important, they cannot see the larger picture of how they are caught in a repeating pattern. They only experience that some part of the pattern is working in the ways they intend, when it is really an out-of-control pattern that MUST repeat whether the person wants it whenever the trigger is pressed for the habit to "go off." I would say that there are "endorphin squirts" that occur in pressing the trigger originally, but often the experience of the squirting may not register any more because it, too has become habitual.

If you take away the need, I believe our systems "self correct". You do not have to "do" anything but experience the lack of need, then just wait and watch yourself. What happens next will tell you quite a bit about everything you have been experiencing. If you just get the familiar justifications for your habits, just stop again and wait. Each time you stop, your senses will wake up a little more as you take the next layer of the habitual assumption off. It seems that people are naturally sensitive underneath layers of habits.

That's why stopping yourself when you would have normally started talking is such an effective technique in Dialogue - or in any conversation. Listening will tell you more than talking, for obvious reasons. You merely interrrupt yourself right when you found a need to say something and watch what happens in yourself. You question your motive of wanting to talk, because there will be usually be feelings and needs underneath the assumptions.

So if you don't know what these feelings are or they don't surface because they are the submerged part of the iceberg, you can find out what they are by stopping yourself from going into the habit repeatedly. My experience has told me that there is often more than one need/motive/justification. Sometimes these are tricky to uncover, because the remedy of the assumption is trying to cover it up by answering the need. So this is where Dialogue comes in - you put yourself in a situation where this issue comes up again and again - and you watch what happens in yourself each time you notice the reaction.

Tammy, pictured here is an Alexander student of mine who has the rare ability to challenge her assumptions and do something different about them. Perhaps you have some more characteristics of how to notice assumptions - or you might have more 'tips' of what to do when you do notice these assumptions? I'd love to hear about them.

Thought Proprioception

I believe the way thought and movement work together are quite similar to the way thought works when it has no corresponding overt motion to express its effects. Intention is response, whether it has a word attached to it or not.

Some people translate action or reaction into language before they move, some don't. Sometimes translating intention into words will make their movements delayed.

Decision is the first part of response, but there can also be a habit that recognizes and handles reactions too that can work very fast.

As a technique, if you think any movement through step by step, you'll detour the "trigger" word and the corresponding sets of habits - whether they have words or not. That this works is really handy, because it can point you to a decision you made historically and then forgot.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Dealing with High Sensitivity

As a child, my very high sensitivity worked intensely even though I might try to defend like mad. No emotion precluded it. Anger, fear, or intimidation did not shut off my sensitivity or cover it over as many people commonly could do. My sensitivity worked overtime no matter what else happened.

The only thing that did work was denial. To use denial to deal with grief I had to throw a very gross "big switch" that cut me off from everyone and everything that used to bring me pleasure. Later I was wary after that of doing anything but experience however I felt, no matter if it was in intense high definition.

Therefore, I imagine that certain people are born more sensitive than others, but sometimes I believe that we all have high sensitivity and some supress it. Many are tempted to deliberately use other emotions to shut down their sensititivity as a covering up strategy. For instance, feeling angry feels more powerful than feeling sad. After a habit is designed and in place, one emotion precludes or dull natural sensitivity. It takes much effort to stop because the habit becomes an assumption that works insidiously. From what I understand, sensitivity for most others needs safety to emerge or for them to notice it behind other more savory emotions that are underneath their other more intense unsavory emotions. However, if you merely remove the habit, natural sensitivity will rebound as if by itself.

Perhaps because of my high sensitivity to both external events and my internal responses, I was sort of "forced" into experiencing other people's emotions. I did not learn that I was experiencing the emotions of others until my teens, when gradually I learned that my emotional empathy seemed to be controllable by proximity.

It took much practice before someone could ask me how I felt and I could answer truthfully. In the interim of learning the skill of separating out other's emotions from my own, I sometimes needed to turn away and not look at them while I was asking myself what I felt. At the beginning I needed actual physical isolation to sense myself as being distinct from others. Now I'm able to carry a sense of autonomy with me, knowing where emotion is coming from usually with certainty. It was a long road!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Responding is an Art

I'm fascinated how the way meaning is phrased has to do with how it's received. These sorts of choices about exactly the way to write meanings are what continues to challenge and fascinate me as I get better at expressing my thoughts.

For instance, saying, "I am the one who is responsible for myself" certainly would be in keeping with the cultural view of identity. Let's make some observations about meaning from the way this is stated. The direct object takes away the action of responding and turns it into a noun. Perhaps that doesn't express the same meaning that I'd like.

Let's try to come up with a sentence that makes grammatic sense & also communicates. Here are some ways to express similar content:
"I believe that my sense of identity is how I can respond."
Or how about: "The many ways I can respond expresses my unique intent."
Or since choice is implied by the "can" we could say:
" Identity is the choice of response."

...but is identity "only" the choice of response and nothing else? For me it is, but to make this statement implies this is true for everyone - and I wasn't saying that. So to keep it more personal I would prefer the previous definition.

This could be expressed in the social niceties of pleading, "No, allow me! It is my pleasure to offer..."

The first statement using "response-ability" involving a direct object (being responsible to) that implies an action on a "thingification" (answering to our obligation to an identity.) Also the ability to respond "to someone in particular" is implied in the social nicety, which is how it would usually be expressed. Response can be to anything, even an internal conclusion of thought, such as an interpretation of beauty, a fear, or it can be external as a sensory experience or another person, etc.

Instead in the second way of saying it, we're using "is" like an equal sign, which is more in keeping with the nature of the statement: identity
= choosing my own responses.

In a way, learning to write or use any medium to adequately convey my response. Communicating the response or recognition of meaning that I might like to create in the other person is quite a transcendent skill that seems to be never finished. I also believe that the ability to respond using various mediums of expression with the objective of bringing about certain deliberate effects for others is a definition of art.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Erasing Identity

I knew someone who had been very close to me who really believed that their identity was an illusion. So to express this idea they got rid of their driver's license, ID cards, etc. That action got them into lots of legal trouble the next time they got caught driving, which wasn't until years later because nothing else had been transgressed. Continuing to ignore the "rights" the legal system and countries had over them continued to cause them more problems.

Turns out the guy was born in the UK and his parents had brought him here when 3 years old and thought it kind to leave US naturalization to him. Turns out this wasn't such a good idea for someone who had trouble dealing with bureaucracies. So when this guys got rid of his "identity" and then got into legal trouble, of course eventually he was threatened with being sent back to the UK, where he had never lived. This guy's remedy was to kill himself so nobody could have further control over where he was.

The ironic thing about this was a friend of mine just told me the other day that it was this guy who convinced him not to kill himself. Very strange.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Quoting and Egolessness

Quoting is also an indirect way to get some idea on the table without having the responsibility of owning the idea...because it was someone else's idea, not yours, you cannot be attacked, blamed for it, made to answer a question about it, made to follow up on it - all of the attachment implied to having birthed the idea yourself...the same with quoting the historic authorship of the idea. The advantage is you can just dump it if the idea is not well-received by the group. The disadvantage is you may be asked for a book report. Then there's the advantage that you have been the source of the idea by being such a good reader and having the ability to trot out an adequate synopsis. But the disadvantage for the group is that nobody else may answer you, except with another quote that is somehow related.

So if more than one person does this, it very easily becomes an extension of the "who do you know" game.

I think the assumption behind this quoting thing, as well as the "no persona" idea is that the Freudian ego is the source of trouble. If you claim an idea as a product of your own thinking, observation or experience, it implies you "must" have a vested interest in the outcome of the conversation and this attachment is somehow forbidden. It's tricky to demonstrate that you do not have attachment to an idea that is your original one.

I think the reason people like to do this is they imagine that a lack of ownership or authorship is a sign of suspension by a willingness to dispense with any claim of authorship for original thinking.

Good think Bohm didn't impose that limitation on his own thinking!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Can Mindfulness Become Automatic?

In order to do anything reliably, it needs to be practiced. Even mindfulness or cultivating a tolerance for confronting the unknown, or anything else. You could put mindfulness into a "program" of familar habit which would spoil its positive effects, but then there are always going to be those clumsy trip-ups, surprises and nuisances that would be telling you how "unmindful" you really are.

The qualities of some disciplines do not integrate well into our "favorite" ways of doing things, and we must put them aside if we want to learn otherwise. Whether we "match" or sort for "differences," we'll notice something isn't right.
Describing qualities will often avoid cramming new stuff into our old familiar ways, assumming we "have it" if we apply our usual operations or "factoring" processes. If these things we want to "have" do not have the qualities of our former experiences of it, then we know we're missing something.

It would be nice to have unlimited learning be put on automatic, as it was when we were kids! Learning is a big job though, so as adults we're called upon to keep it together more often than open up and learn. Going from opening to learn to consolidating to apply the learning and then back to opening up to learn takes more flexibility than most grownups have. So we need some help from the kids and those who know how to learn easier.

Proprioception of Thought and Movement

I believe the way thought and movement work together are quite similar to the way thought works when it has no corresponding overt motion to express the affects of a thought. Thought has no proprioception built into it, but the judgment of movment does. But proprioception only senses differences, it is not an absolute measuring device.

Intention is responding, whether it has a word attached to it or not. Some people translate action or reaction into language before they move. It makes their movements delayed. Decision is the first part of response, but there can also be a habit that recognizes and handles reactions too.

As a technique, if you think any movement through step by step, you'll detour the "trigger" word and the corresponding sets of habits - whether they have words or not.