Getting into the Observer State

In our normal waking consciousness we think, and we feel. The way it appears to us is “I think X” and “I feel Y”, but we do not inspect it so dispassionately as to state it that concretely in words, we just experience the constantly flowing, constantly changes torrent of thoughts and feelings. We take it for granted that the words we hear in our minds, the unarticulated ideas that occur to us, our sudden shifts in mood and emotion, are all parts of ourselves. Not only “parts” but “intimate parts”, parts that others cannot see nor hear nor feel. And not only “intimate” to ourselves, but also the deepest and truest expression of who we are at that moment, the “real us”. They are my thoughts, my feelings, my ideas, my hunches, my memories, my sadness, my frustration, my anger, my fear, my elation. We automatically assume that own totally own these ephemera, and it seems weird to even bring this up.

Imagine for a moment that some people have psychic powers that they have trained to use effectively all the time, at will, and that such people could take over our minds without us realizing it, and give us the experience we always have of thinking and feeling, except that they are programming it, not us, and we can’t tell the difference.

If that were the case and these people were paramilitary spies from a hostile nation, our government would advise us to pay attention to our thoughts and feelings and question ourselves constantly whether these could be planted thoughts and feelings. In that scenario, if we followed the government’s instructions, we would learn how to get into the observer state.

There are much easier ways, although the “pretend psychic agent” game is one effective way to get into the observer state.

In the observer state, one witnesses what is going on inside, thoughts, feelings, images, memories, as a scientist, objectively trying to see and hear and sense as clearly as possible what is going on. Where a thought starts, where a feeling first arises. As if we are the psychic spy, watching and trying to learn something about someone else, someone we don’t know at all.

Whichever way you choose to try the experiment of getting into the observer state, what you will find at first is that it’s hard not to slip right back into identifying with the thoughts and feelings. It’s distracting when some emotion comes up and almost impossible at first not to get caught up in that emotion. You forget the experiment and are right back in the normal state of waking consciousness. Or if you get a great thought and want to concentrate on it, not on the experiment. That’s OK. Do whatever you want. What I do is write down a couple of words that I know will bring back that great idea and leave it like a marvelous piece of candy I can look forward to eating later. Then I go back into meditation.

Wait a second – where did that word “meditation” come from? I haven’t used that word yet on purpose, because by calling it the “observer state” I hoped to start with a clean sheet of paper, without preconceptions and associations about the word “meditation”. Meditation – this next is my hypothesis – was discovered as the way to become self-observant, to understand and manage oneself better, to identify one’s true goals and achieve them. It does all those things. That is one reason to learn how to get into the observer state.

The second reason to get into the observer state is that it is the launchpad for getting into the Zone also known as the Flow state. This is the state in which not only is one the observer while the bodymind is performing some action, the action one is observing is perfect. The experience is also different from normal waking consciousness in that everything is of one piece, you the observer, you the bodymind, and everything else around you, is all one connected whole doing itself perfectly.

This is a very strange experience but not at all frightening. It’s ecstatic. It’s easy to fall in love with.

If we practice these inward ways we eventually experience higher levels of the Flow state in which we sense a benevolent spiritual presence of which we are a part.

There is nothing boring about practicing watching your own mind, and it can be done all the time, not just for X minutes a day.

The first benefit is that it is calming. It automatically readjusts our fears, angers, sadnesses, depressions, frustrations so that we wind up studying causes and effects and making sense out of why we don’t feel happy and what we actually can do about it. It makes us more sensible, patient, accepting of what is, courageous, analytical, open-minded, creative, and gives us hope and new direction. As we get better at it, it also leads us to be more forgiving. It shifts us from problem-orientation to solution-orientation, as we realize that problem-orientation is incredibly time-wasting, and can even waste a whole lifetime.

My book Mind Magic is designed to automatically induce the observer state as you read, although it hardly ever mentions the observer state the way this article does. This article is abstract and descriptive, the book is intimate and experiential like one’s own moment to moment thoughts and feelings. Right now because of the pandemic you can get the book for free at the top right of this page. Hope you enjoy!

Best to all,

Bill

Let’s work together to reunite America.

Updated July 31, 2020

Let’s agree that this is a mission worthy of our collective focus and best efforts. In the current confusion and fear, armed groups are forming, some to defend against a coup d’etat in November, some to assist it, and others with widely varying notions. One Civil War was enough. As in a good marriage that winds up on rough seas, it’s worth it to work toward repair rather than dissolution. We’ve got a good thing going here. Awesome people set it up for us and we’ve built it up into the hope of the world, many of us have died for it, we owe it all of them to bring us back together.

There is rich value in our dynamic differences

Our individual and largescale best move would be to first acknowledge the feelings and disparity that exists on so many issues we are facing, and then seek new creative ways to formulate compromise concepts and action programs that can bring all of us together to effect authentic change.  If we just begin the dialogue together and quickly wind down the negativity, we can pull together toward creativity and compromise.

Creativity is one thing that has still been missing on the real issues at hand. Mostly we hear variations on ancient themes, not inspiring new ideas. Exactly the opposite of what is needed. Look at the world around us — it is full of amazing surprises in technology, lifestyles, and new ideas in every field except politics when it comes to some of the most serious societal issues that we face. The American people want creativity in public policy and in healing the serious societal riffs that still fester. Here’s just one example to illustrate my point: https://www.billharveyconsulting.com/pdf/Schooling-in-Pandemic.pdf?d4

We all need to retrain ourselves to think, stripping away everything and starting from fresh sheets of paper or blank screens, reinventing anew. Let’s think the unthinkable. Pour out ideas without regard for taking credit, resolving to work together as one team, for the greater good. We have real challenges, and we must together devise the real new solutions that lie just beyond barriers of our own making. We are in need of leaders, those who will propose new, positive and healing solutions as we move forward.

There is rich value in our dynamic differences. Respect for those whose views or backgrounds differ from our own is the mother from which invention of new creative re-bonding ideas springs. Lack of such respect is an infertile ground for creativity and healing. If we open ourselves up and consider other’s perspectives, there can be real inspiration in our own creative ideas that might succeed in bringing us together. Let’s all share in the creative process and bubble up grassroots ideas for leaders to build upon.

In this spirit of America, let’s all step up to heal the rifts that divide us with ideas that can solve the challenges the human race has created for itself.

We invite you to embrace healing in your own life so that it may radiate out — as from pebbles rippling in a vast pond.

My Best to All!

Bill

Here is my latest post at my media blog, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers .

Originally posted 2015-07-07 11:52:54. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Hardest Game Worth Playing

Originally posted June 23, 2015

Happiness is the meaning of life

Staying happy in every moment is the hardest game worth playing. Maybe a million years from now, or even in a couple of hundred thousand years, it will not be so.

But we can’t wait.

We need to develop methods and tools to advance ourselves mentally and emotionally that far into the future, now. The actual survival of the human race may well be at stake, but more importantly, our own individual happiness — yours and mine, and that of the people we love and those around us — is at stake for sure.

Happiness cannot remain up the trail somewhere, an elusive thing we are working toward. That’s an outdated idea. It’s time for the new idea. Happiness now, in every moment. Now. And now. And now. Happiness all the time, internally controlled, internally generated, by an act of will. Infernally difficult but we cannot abandon this game, believing it’s just too difficult and out of our reach. Now is the time to face it — fight it — and win. And keep winning, because the game is not won once but continuously. That’s what makes it so hard.

As you go through your day, keep coming back to your birthright to be happy, right now, and use your focus, your will, and your creativity to bring about your happiness each moment. Let inner impulses float downstream if they are not conducive to your happiness in this moment. Allow such unhelpful thoughts and feelings to occur, and then watch them float away without holding onto them.

An impulse to be unhappy is one such feeling. The typical reaction is to get stuck in it. Instead, practice allowing that unhappy impulse to float away. Perhaps as it goes you might realize where it came from, or not. But you can choose not to listen to it, obey it, or be taken over by it. It was just a thought, you can let it go.

Take notes on stuff you let float away if you feel it is worth coming back to later, but let it go in the moment. This is remarkably conducive to Flow state. There is a perceptible drag on Flow state caused by looking backward at the supposed imperfections of what you did a moment ago. In martial arts, one is trained to not gloat or sulk over one’s own last (good or bad) move. It’s a good practice for all of us. Let go of everything downstream of this moment, now.

In some version of this universe, it’s natural to be happy doing whatever we are doing at the moment, or not doing anything but just being. By an act of will and focus we can indeed learn practices that allow us some degree of control over our mental and emotional state.*

Keep working at this most difficult and most vital game, become conscious of it, keep coming back to these practices.

Beyond our own individual lives, I feel we all have a duty to posterity to spread awareness of how consciousness works, and how to make it work better. We need to start using and teaching methods such as “float downstream” in the upbringing of our children, in school curricula at all levels, and in our workplaces. That’s our mission and this blog is one of our means to that end.

My best to all,

Bill

*Chemical imbalances at the root of e.g. clinical depression need to be treated properly, and we are not suggesting we can “think away” such imbalances.

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Originally posted 2015-06-23 12:19:17. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Are you balancing activity and stillness?

Updated July 17, 2020

If we are always pushing toward our goals, we are inadvertently setting ourselves back from reaching them. I know that many of you are nowadays in back to back Zooms almost all day, which means that in the remaining time you are besieged by emails, texts, calls, Linked-In, and actual deadline work on top of all that. The opportunity to take a breather and let your mind relax can wind up being postponed until evening. That isn’t conducive to optimal performance.

There is a stage in the creative process in which it is wise to turn away from the challenge and do other things, for it is during this turned-away phase that the Aha! moment comes.

not creating may be essential to creativity

Certain batteries get recharged when we take ourselves temporarily off the wheel that is always driving us. This can happen when we are entertained — on our screen devices, reading, watching stage or other performances, spectator sports, vacations, making love, being with family and/or friends.

The subtlest batteries, however, only get recharged when we are alone with ourselves. This can take the form of sitting meditation but it doesn’t have to. We can be alone in nature, alone at home, alone on an airplane, anywhere. As long as we are not working down the TO DO list, there is a greater chance that we will slip into the Observer state (the precursor to Flow state) effortlessly.

To help bring on Observer state — a mindset in which you are able to simultaneously observe and analyze your emotional reactions to situations somewhat impassively — this works for me:

  • Look more closely at the place from which thoughts/feelings arise.
  • Don’t add to what you observe inwardly/outwardly, i.e. stop interpreting everything.

If we spend too much time doing, our conscious mind will block the functioning of our subconscious mind, and we’ll interfere with the stream of consciousness. If we spend too much time not doing, we will under-actualize our own goals. The movement associated with creative energy is a good thing, but stillness in body and mind is also valuable.

Balancing movement and stillness is optimal for maximizing effectiveness toward all our goals in life for love, creativity, and ultimately spiritual fullness, intuitively knowing and feeling connected with all beings and all things.

Strive to achieve the right balance between times spent doing versus time spent not doing.

L’chaim! (Hebrew toast “to life”)

Best to all,

Bill

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Originally posted 2015-06-16 14:04:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Trying to Move a Boulder?

Updated July 10, 2020

Be aware that everyone including you are is hair-trigger. There is a sense of being in a constant life-or-death matter. We are compressed as in  jail, with a dose of daily sameness that feels weird. You may at the same time have more tasks to juggle than ever before. When you turn to your own passion work, does this bring you up and out of all that? Or are you feeling blocked? Have you run up against a challenge that is worrying you and bringing you down? Here’s another of the tools I keep handy when I run up against a boulder that frustrates me, casting a dim light or even fog over the achievability of my goals and priorities. I find these tools can also be used proactively even during times of smooth sailing to notch my game up a bit.

Image by Pedro Fernandez*

Imagine that you can feel the muscles in your head relaxing while you go blank and stop gnawing whatever bone has your mind obsessed at the moment. Don’t let yourself revive that conversation in your head for a while. Let it go, for now, and steer yourself into thinking or feeling about some different subject, for at least several minutes. If timing permits, it’s ideal to do this for up to three days.

Step away. Get out in nature alone, even when it’s cold or cloudy. Sit in it, hear it, smell it and see it. Pay attention to nature all around you, up and down, above and below you. (This works in the streets of big cities too although not as powerfully, so nearby parks are a plus, the less city-like the better.) This makes room for the inner messages that come from our feelings and intuitions, and the outer messages we get from our five senses.

Like trying to remember a word that’s on the tip of your tongue, you have to stop trying to remember it. You are going into the wrong file drawers in your mind, which blocks you from relaxing into the right file drawer where suddenly the word just pops into your mind in the midst of some completely different conversation.

Turning away from a problem allows the subconscious mind with its far greater resources to approach the problem from new directions. If we persist in trying the ingrained approach we are stuck in and can’t see beyond, it will just take longer to get to a solution, making us miserable and less effective in everything else we do in the meantime.

Try this approach next time you have a boulder to move. It works for me.

Best to all,

Bill

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*text added to original

Originally posted 2015-06-09 12:17:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Transforming Our Emotions

Updated July 2, 2020

Today our lives are lived in a pressure cooker as never before. Our movements are constrained, we are both cut off from social behaviors we need, and also often cut off from the alone time crucial to our sanity and effectiveness. In the complex accelerated culture in which we live (we call it Acceleritis™), self-mastery of our inner space, or even awareness of what is going on in there, is extremely complicated. Neuroses can arise like biocomputer viruses, and spread through society by intercommunication between people, through our thoughts and ideas and through moods upon which neuroses depend.

Be the masters of our emotions

Two recurring neurotic themes most of us can relate to involve money and frustration. Our culture is set up to cause most of us to worry excessively about money. Money is often the leading indicator of our feelings of self-worth, belonging, achievement, status, freedom, wellness, potency and security. I’m probably leaving some things out.

Frustration can mount, for example, in the workplace when co-workers and bosses don’t go along with the inspiring ideas we have about how to do our job better. Or when society does not encourage (or recognize) an inborn skill or talent and instead of channeling us into a career we love, we find ourselves doing work we can tolerate but that may do little to bring out those inborn talents.

Over time the mix of frustration and money fear can turn to a growing anger, often bottled up inside where when left to simmer and build it can become one of the causes of illnesses of the mind and body. We fall into a counterproductive cycle. We become blocked from getting into the Zone, where ideas, action solutions and clever ways to break through would lead us to create a path to more money, security and happiness.

With the emotions as a wrapper around our whole mental experience, thoughts flit along the surface of the mind. Emotions program thoughts and vice versa. Everything affects everything else in there.

We can ignite the start of a new cycle by seizing the control point where the avalanche starts — our emotional mood. Becoming aware of our emotional state and then working mindfully to take back control of the emotive space around our psyche is key. Detachment from outcome is the core of heroism. A sense of humor gives perspective. Willingness to face the worst with confidence in oneself (and for many, confidence in God/the Universe/a Higher Power) confers a courageous fatalism that has been rediscovered by all of the heroes in history.

In order to (re-)program our emotional wrapper, detachment is not enough. We are emotional beings, hardwired to have some emotional drama going on in the background at all times. Getting into the Zone aka Flow state requires awareness and management of that background emotional mood. If we are not proactively programming it in alignment with our intentions, it will continue to program itself.

Each of us needs then to work to transform negative emotion, the nemesis of the Zone, into positive emotion — which means remembering all we have to be grateful for, and all there is to look forward to and be excited about.

We may experience challenging (even heartbreaking) trials but we need to be able to shift our focus to see them as opportunities that reveal what we are really made of.

Happy Independence Day!

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog contribution, In Terms of ROI at MediaVillage.comHere is the link to my latest post.

Originally posted 2015-06-02 11:12:13. Republished by Blog Post Promoter