Tag Archives: Observer State

The Second Cornerstone: Mindfulness

Originally posted March 24, 2015

First you must still the mind - Bill Harvey

In last week’s post, we made the point that better decision-making and higher performance is achieved mainly through Positive Thinking and Mindfulness. We included tools to increase Positive Thinking, which we also call Solution Orientation. We promised to investigate the nature of Mindfulness in this post.

Mindfulness is a form of attention control.

The need to be master of one’s own attention has gotten progressively greater over the centuries as a result of information overload and its distractive effects. We have given this condition the name Acceleritis™, the vast increase in the amount of information needing to be processed by our brains each day. ADD, ADHD, and a fairly obvious reduction in the general population’s ability to stay focused on one problem long enough to solve it, have been the result.

Watch a video about the cure for Acceleritis.

The need for Mindfulness has never been greater.

The Vedas, some of the earliest writings on the planet, recommend three yogic mental/ emotional methods to achieve the conscious and willful control of our attention.

  • Concentration is the focus of the mind on a single object.
  • Contemplation is the focus of the mind on a single subject.
  • Meditation is the contemplation of the Self.

What then is Mindfulness?

We define Mindfulness as the optimal allocation of attention for maximum effectiveness. When one is mindful, attention optimally allocates both inwardly and outwardly at the same time. This helps us understand our own motivations in the moment, to consider not only our needs but the needs and probable responses of others, and to greatly improve what fighter pilots call situational awareness. This is in sharp distinction from our typical behavior, which is to allocate virtually all attention outwardly whenever the eyes are open.

It takes attention and effort to be mindful, but practicing persistent mindfulness not only allows us to be more present in each moment, it also allows us to shift into a higher state of consciousness to reach the Observer state more often and launch into the Zone or Flow state, the highest known state of consciousness in which right actions seem to do themselves effortlessly.

Mindfulness and Positive Thinking with a solution orientation — overleaping the focus on the problem once it is defined and going right to the focus on the solution — are the cornerstones of what I practice to achieve superior decisions, highest effectiveness, and creative innovation in all aspects of my life. Try this approach for yourself to see if it works for you.

Best to all,

Bill

Read the latest post at my media blog, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com

Originally posted 2015-03-24 12:35:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Improve the Creative Result by Goofing Off

Originally posted February 24, 2015

In our present culture in which multiple jobs are held by most people just to keep up with their latest Jones, and in which Acceleritis™ necessitates massive multitasking, the creative process tends to become shortened into a two-step process of absorbing information (never enough), and implementation. In other words, no Aha! Moment.

Pfeiffer Beach at sunset in California courtesy of Craig Colvin Photography

Take a break, a mini-vacation at the right moments in your creative process, and the Aha! Moment reveals itself. 

The absorbing of information part was easier before the Internet. One saw the logic of not going too far because it would cost too much time. Now one can keep drilling down further and further without an apparent end in sight.

Finding information however, continues to be the major complaint of executives and their teams. You know you have it somewhere and you can go searching for it but it is so boring and annoying given the time pressure. Give me a dashboard where I don’t even have to remember what it is called and yet can still find it in a second. Until then, just send that thing to me again, please.

When you break down how much time goes into the absorption (including searching) and other aspects of the process, the two middle stages — turning away (“sleeping on it”), then the Aha! Moment — take almost no time compared with absorbing and implementing. And yet those two middle processes account for the quality of the outcome or creative result. With only the bookends and no middle the result may be passable but it does not rock. Are we here just to do stuff that’s passable, without the satisfaction of Flow state-level outcomes? No way — makes no sense. Life is about living large, not just robotically coping.

Are you letting your mind go wherever it wants?

The creative process goes through four stages: absorbing information, turning away, the Aha! Moment, and implementation.

A third of a second before the Aha! Moment — a type of Flow state experience happens. Daniel Goleman explains it as a burst of gamma activity, signifying the rapid creation of a new network of neural connections in the neocortical right temporal cortex of the brain. Simply put, the Aha! Moment is a scientifically measurable event, i.e. it’s real.

However, this only occurs if your mind is in a certain state receptive to the sense of Aha! That state can be described as the indirect observation of undirected mentation. Let’s break it down.

Undirected mentation is when you let your mind go wherever it wants. Indirect observation is (by my definition) the alert watching of something as if seeing it for the first time.

So you get the Aha! to the degree your mind can do whatever it wants to do with no pressure to perform or achieve anything, while a very alert part of you is watching your own mind, as if from outside.

When you do this, the tendency is for the Observer state part of yourself to go to sleep. That is, your point of view tends to get reabsorbed into the part of the mind that is just playing and you forget to look at it from the detached Observer point of view. You get caught up in some attachment motivation, some feeling/emotion, which identifies you with the relaxing, playing, wandering mind. This may feel wonderful; however, it doesn’t help you if the objective is Observer and then Flow states. “Identification with” leaves the attachment turned on. “Detachment from” is the goal. Stay in, or keep returning to the detached Observer state.

So how do you increase the Aha! Moments and improve the creative outcome? Take a break, a mini-vacation at the right moments in your creative process, and the Aha! reveals itself. Trust that if you remain the scientist, the objective observer when goofing off, Aha! Moments WILL come more often.

Best to all,

Bill

Photo credit: “Pfeiffer Beach” courtesy of Craig Colvin Photography

Read the latest post at my media blog  “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com.

Originally posted 2015-02-24 12:20:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Rediscovering that Ancient Territory: Your Own Mind — Revisited

Originally posted February 10, 2015

All of us are naturally curious about our own selves. When someone who knew us when, someone older, tells us a story about something we did when we were too young to remember it, we are raptly attentive.

Looking inward at oneself is the first step toward clarity.

If it were not for the culturally ubiquitous time pressure, we would have the same curiosity if offered a searchlight method to see more deeply into our own mind than ever before. Here we offer just such a searchlight.

This posting is a brief exploration into the architecture of inner experience and offers tools to look into your inner Self, through observation and experience. Why bother? Because in order to get into the two higher, most effective states of consciousness — the Observer State, where we can really see what is going on inside ourselves rather than being puppeteered by software in our heads, and the Flow state (Zone), where we are spontaneously doing everything just right — we need to become experts in the empirical study of our own minds and inner life.

What Is the Architecture of Our Inner Life?

Carl Jung defined the four functions of consciousness as perception, feelings, intellect and intuition — the latter referred to in day-to-day life as “hunches”. These are four kinds of events that can go on in consciousness.

Within consciousness, what we experience first is something inside that motivates us and moves us toward or away from something. Those are feelings. Instincts — hardwired genetic carryovers inherited before birth — are partly responsible for some or all of our feelings. The rest arise from motivations we accumulated during our lives, stuff we learned or decided to want or not want as a result of our experiences since birth.

So what are these things you call your thoughts, your feelings, your hunches, your perceptions? Consider, or reconsider, all of the experiences you have had of your own mind, your own inner life.

When I watch what goes on inside of me, it often starts with a feeling that is also somehow an image at the same time. Another part of me then takes that feeling/image and interprets it as a conscious thought — putting names, categorizations, and other specific recognizable details onto the original amorphous feeling/image.

I think that’s what a thought is. An interpreted feeling/image. Diverging from Jung, I posit that thoughts and feelings are the same thing, at different stages of development.

Thoughts add details to feelings/images, turning them into specifications, bringing out additional information that had somehow been packed into the feeling/image.

Possibly feelings are the most substantial and primary actor, coming out of our most intimate connection with our self, and arising to be transmuted into intuitions and/or thoughts and/or emotions and/or images/visions.

Perceptions coming in from the “outside” accompanied by an equal stream of feelings from “inside” suggests that feelings are another sense, like seeing and hearing. In which case, we simply perceive, and the rest of the functions are what evolves from our perceptions. In other words, feelings are inner perceptions, and what we call sense perceptions are outer perceptions. Inner and outer perceptions are the raw stuff of experience, and as we turn them over in our minds, those perceptions turn into thoughts and/or intuitions.

I suggest that perceptions evolve into what Jung classified as thoughts (intellect) and/or hunches (intuition). Outer perceptions — the five physical senses — are what Jung called “perceptions” — and the inner perceptions are what Jung called “feelings”. In my own experience, the raw stuff of my inner life is comprised of feeling/image arisings that I then articulate internally as thoughts, with either words or not, or observe as hunches, without inner words.

Intellect and intuition have always been seen as similar functions. Intellect reaches new conclusions step by effortful step. Intuition gets there in one leap, involuntarily, all by itself. Sometimes when the intuition or hunch is particularly credible and important and came out of nowhere, we call it inspiration, suggesting help from some outside invisible source.

The Searchlight to Our Inner Self

We need maps to study consciousness. We also need meditation to concentrate on seeing what really goes on inside by understanding the basic building blocks of all inner experience — thoughts, feelings, intuitions, and perceptions.

Try this. Find five minutes when you can’t be interrupted and there is nothing dragging you away like a deadline. You might not find time to try this until the weekend, so leave yourself a note somewhere you’ll see it Saturday or Sunday morning.

Sit with your eyes closed and back straight, with your head drawn up toward the ceiling. First, still the mind by experiencing your breath going in and out, without trying to control the breath in any way. After a half-dozen breath cycles or whenever you feel as if your mind is relatively still, begin the exercise.

Now simply watch for what happens at the very beginning of a thought or feeling. A thought or a feeling is going to arise. You are in a state of concentrated sharp attention and the game is to see that arising as quickly as possible, identify what it is, and be able to remember the experience of it as accurately as possible.

This is not as easy as it sounds because we tend to get so instantly caught up in the thought or feeling we forget that we are doing this exercise. That is, until through exercises like this, we find that we have gained true control of our minds in a gradual process that we get better and better at over time. By looking inside, we can begin to cut through dogma and other people’s beliefs, and see for ourselves who we are in our inner worlds.

Best to all,

Bill

Read the latest post at my media blog  “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com.

Originally posted 2015-02-10 12:51:34. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

You Are a World Changer — Part Three

Originally posted January 27, 2015

In the last two weeks you have begun committed work on a problem/challenge condition in your current situation. You started using the techniques and tools we presented beginning with trigger notes, then you created a table with problems and approach directions toward the solutions of each problem or challenge. Then you began to apply solutions from your plan to your situation, evolving the plan with changing circumstances and new information. And you began to practice being unpredictable. All with the overarching goal of transforming your current situation into one that affords you more power to do good.

Let’s face it, the world needs changing.

World problems need changing

We see world-class threats at all levels — military, economic, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, environmental… In my 9-5 life, I see the first solution in 50 years to make companies more profitable — yet it can only in the most brilliantly-led companies make it quickly through the thicket of confusion and lack of communication. This is all due to Acceleritis™. Changing the world means tackling Acceleritis, the pandemic shock reaction to unprecedented information overload that has most of us in its grips.

Tools for Clearer Thinking

Getting people to think more clearly and to reach the right decisions more quickly, scraping aside the emotional historical perceptual baggage, requires releasing people from Emergency Oversimplification Procedure (EOP) so they can spend more time in the Observer state, where they can slip through into Flow.

Perhaps you want to change the world in ways that seemingly have nothing to do with changing people’s effectiveness levels, but I submit that your desired change will occur all the more easily if your audience of co-workers is at a higher level. If they are in EOP, scared to come out of the meeting having lost something, good luck getting the best decisions.

How do you get your colleagues out of EOP? One on one. Take them to lunch or coffee or drinks and just talk — but mostly listen. You’ll find out what they really want and what you have that can help them. You’ll also see how certain of your ideas are not yet covered on some particular flank, which is pivotally helpful. Are you doing enough reconnaissance? Are you doing it in the right spirit — nurturing, guiding, mentoring, listening, being a friend and/or ally?

The number one thing everyone is feeling is fear.

One of the biggest fears is that the game is going too fast to keep up effectively. This is a rational fear, because it is true that the game is going too fast. That’s Acceleritis for you.

However it is not rational to hold onto that fear. Fear is an alarm clock, and you turn off the alarm clock once you get its message. Move on from fear to dealing with the challenge slope such as it is. Fear only degrades your performance on that slope. Rationality therefore dictates removing the fear as a preliminary step to functioning at all.

A contemplation for burning out fear is to dwell on it until you hit bottom. Since this doesn’t usually happen overnight, schedule times for this contemplation over the course of days, preferably when you are alone. Visualize the worst possible outcome in the most complete detail possible, actually feel it as if it is happening. When the “so what?” feeling comes over you, you know you have burned out that circuit. If the feared scenario ever happens that way, you won’t seem to care as you simply deal with it, and you will have a great chance of turning the whole thing around just by your state of being in that moment.

You won’t be able to talk to all of your associates about the inner life, as some will not be ready. Follow your intuition. You don’t have to address these subjects directly to communicate the essence of attitude adjustment — people see it in you. Just hanging out and being a friend is more than enough to get the entire process to work perfectly.

You certainly don’t want to become manipulative and try to brainwash people. That’s what got us here. We’re trying to go the other way now.

Ultimately you want everyone to make up their own mind. You just want them to do it in the Flow State.

As we all work together to change the world, one situation at a time.

Best to all,

Bill

Read more. Read more about Acceleritis™.

Watch the video Watch a video on Acceleritis™ on my YouTube Channel.

Follow my regular blog contribution at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers called “In Terms of ROI“. 

Originally posted 2015-01-27 13:09:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Rising Above Negativity

Original post November 17, 2015

Most of us assume there is nothing we can do about negative emotions — they come as they will, and we must just suffer through them. However, we all know someone we’ve seen rise above these feelings. With the world facing so many unprecedented challenges, it is vital that we increase our ability to rise to the occasion and surmount negative feelings.

Rise Above Negative Feelings

It’s difficult if not impossible to overcome negative feelings while remaining in our everyday “waking” state of consciousness. We can say, “I am going to put those emotions aside and get down to the business at hand”, but many of us don’t seem to have the willpower to do it. The trick is to rise out of the “waking” state of consciousness and move into the Observer state, where we are able to more easily turn off unproductive feelings.

The first step is to turn down all distractions. Create an alone space where you can’t be interrupted, where you can’t hear voices in the next room, where there isn’t a TV or some other device playing, where you’re not under time pressure. Have writing tools handy, or a sound recorder. Begin to try to understand why you are in a negative state. Be patient and wait. Once your mind knows you are focused on just one thing, which is to diagnose why you feel the way you do, it will soon start to give up answers to the question. They may be obvious or not-so-obvious. You may find yourself writing down the not-so-obvious aspects or simple phrases that are now suddenly more revealing and meaningful than you expected, which cast new light or simply state things you already knew but in much sharper and more useful language than you had access to before.

What you are doing is called contemplation.  You are flying higher, getting above the weather, so whatever weather disturbance or turbulence you experience must be rejected. Put aside whatever feeling or thought is familiar, like you have been there before. Reject ordinary thinking and feeling. Say to yourself, “That’s not constructive, it’s not getting me anywhere, and it doesn’t lead to a solution. I need something NEW.”

Strip it away as it arises and see what is underneath.

Where is it coming from?

Where did the whole pattern start?

What did I want that led me to this negative mindset?

What is really happening?

What is IT trying to teach me?

How can this situation possibly be something that can make me better and stronger?

Get creative. Generate out-of-the-box ideas. Visualize what someone you look up to would do. Come up with ideas that will not engender resistance, where you go with the flow and not against it. In Taoism it is called getting into the rhythm of the Tao, linking into the underlying force of the universe.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog, In Terms of ROI at Media Village. Here is the link to my latest post.

Originally posted 2015-11-17 10:06:51. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Freedom from Fear

Originally posted October 6, 2015.

Today many of us live in fear of losing our job, and maybe we’re also fearful about our health and the health of our family and friends. And with a daily news diet of horrific acts of violence seemingly happening everywhere, many of us may be fearful about our safety and the safety of our loved ones.

Some of us are afraid because we’re constantly trying to prove ourselves to our mother, father, spouse, critic or rival sibling, or to one of the people who has been unknowingly cast into taking over one of those roles. These “critics” become internalized as hidden senators in our mind, playing the taped and aped voices of others.

Cultivate Freedom from Fear

Our fears are often hidden, even to ourselves. Cultivating a state of being the Observer can help to remove the hidden blockages within, empowering us to be more present in the moment. The Observer state can be used to detect flashes of fear that come and go so fast that we aren’t usually aware of them in our normal waking consciousness state. In Observer state, one is actually observing the mental function of repression taking place, which can feel quite amazing.

Here’s one method to help you get into Observer state. Give yourself some alone space. Whether it’s outside in nature or in a room with the door closed, the idea is to remove yourself from all distraction. (Eventually you’ll be able to create this “alone space” mentally, even in a crowded airplane.) Concentrate on your breath, just letting it flow in and out, and keep your eyes on whatever is in front of you. For the moment, you are concentrating on what you see and experience subtly.

What you may see is that in one moment you were in a pretty normal state of mind and in the next moment your mind is naturally quiet and your senses are highly attuned. You are not easily distracted, you feel centered and aware, balanced and unafraid. Your attention is on everything around you and there is no obsessive stream of internal dialog. You are making no effort toward this whatsoever, you are not striving. It is doing itself naturally. When ideas pop into your mind while you’re in this state, you may notice that they are unusually insightful and self-evidently important to your life. With practice, you’ll experience this more often.

Use the Observer state to root out things you are hiding even from yourself, and make a deal with yourself to expunge all negative emotion — including fear. Through this doorway lies the Flow state of consciousness, the ecstasy of simply being, with freedom in place of fear.

In Flow state, inspirations keep popping even in the middle of a sentence and you incorporate them easefully because you are not afraid you might say or do the wrong thing. Not because doing or saying the wrong thing is impossible in Flow but because it is irrelevant. If you are communicating in a state of Flow, the object is not being right but instead collectively reaching truth and right action — as Socrates pioneered.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog contribution, In Terms of ROI at Media Village, Myers new site. Here is the link to my latest post, Identifying the Ethical Limits of Persuasion in Advertising.

Originally posted 2015-10-06 12:03:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter