Starting with the example of food, we chatted about differences of opinion. From there, we spoke about conflict more broadly and how it always arises from beliefs butting up against each other (whether that’s internally or with others). This led us on to the way in which every thought is accompanied by a feeling, and how the feeling is therefore a clue to our clarity of mind.
The second half of the conversation was a fascinating (and super helpful) discussion around noticing our feelings, and how that can be an invitation to be curious about our thinking in the moment. As ever, we got fascinated with the human potential to have a fresh experience. Sally summed up this part of the discussion beautifully by comparing the lovely, open feeling of possibility to the constricted, closed down, conflicted feeling that comes when we’re caught up in our thinking and efforting to resist or change it.
This is one of my (Clare) favourite Fresh Look At conversations to date. We began by revisiting thought and ended up wondering about whether we can ever be objective, which led us to consider the infinite levels of experience open to human beings. On the way, we took in the tooth fairy, a lost dog, and Sandrine’s ‘spider in the room’ theory. It really was a brilliant conversation. I hope you get as much from it as we did.
This conversation is a little bit difficult to summarise in a few words. Frank recounted a recent experience he had of observing his feelings, rather than being ‘inside’ those feelings. It pointed to the freedom or the neutrality that comes when we’re less attached to how we are feeling. This took us into a discussion of the form and formless—how we often pay more attention to the form, yet there is so much richness and dependability in the formless.
This conversation began at overwhelm and finished up with us considering who the ‘me’ is that experiences overwhelm (or any other emotion). We explored how overwhelm is the opposite of being in flow (flow might also be called ‘doing the next thing that’s in front of you’) and how being present to the task at hand is different from psychologically straying into a made up future or a recreated past. As we often do, we reflected on how understanding what’s happening—that our thinking has strayed from the present—is in itself helpful since it makes the whole experience less confusing or frightening. Sally and Anna gave two excellent examples of the way in which we can either be in our heads or be in life. This led us to the question of who ‘me’ is and the freedom we can experience when we take ‘me’ a little less seriously.
Sandrine kicked off today’s conversation with a great example of the choices we begin to see when we get an inkling around where our experience is coming from. In a potential work drama, she spotted the option for non-drama and took it … then we pondered if not going into the drama makes life boring. We moved on to talk about the simplicity of doing the next thing that’s in front of you and the difference between the superficial connection that comes from swapping drama stories or gossip, and the deeper connection that’s available to all of us all of the time.
In essence, today’s call was about the difference in experience when you can spot the role thought is playing and when you can’t. Other examples were about self worth, uncertainty, and a thing we called participation energy. We finished up reflecting on how unbelievably grateful we are to have been introduced to this understanding and with Frank reading a beautiful poem called Coming Home by Sue Pettit.
This week life had thrown a few rocks in our paths (work conundrums, the prospect of a local lockdown, a boat accident, and dropping a phone in the sea, to name a few). We spoke about how reassuring it is to know that creative potential (a new experience of the same circumstance) is with us all of the time, even when we might feel distanced from it in the moment.
We went on to talk about ‘being in life’ or ‘letting life happen’ and how, when we’re ‘in’ life, rather than in our heads thinking about life, more often than not we know the next step to take. We also reflected on the way the Three Principles understanding is incremental—we see more by being in life and noticing what happens as we go through the natural cycles of getting caught up in our thinking, dropping thinking, and so on.
This led to some fun moments of clarity around the difference between focusing on what we want versus focusing on what is, and how, given that we are always experiencing whatever it is we’re paying attention to in each moment, a fresh experience is literally only ever a single thought away.
If you’re curious about the practitioners mentioned in this conversation, they were: Bill Pettit, Elsie Spittle, and Linda Pransky.
Today’s conversation was a fun one. We covered so many subjects, from judgement on the way we’re feeling, to having a different experience of the same circumstances, to throwing tea, to psychological freedom (free will). There was also a clear moment of some of us getting caught in thought.
We landed up talking about the unconscious, conditioned thinking we all have and what happens when we get curious about our experience. The conversation ended with Sandrine’s funny and brilliant hairy leg story — fresh experiences really can come in all shapes and sizes.