Television interview with John Eaton

Here is a television appearance by me on the Chicago Channel – Never Not Here. Interviewed by Richard Miller.

Despite the title I talk about a lot more than Reverse Therapy: resilience, stress, how people get ill,  the changing conditions of modern society, emotional intelligence and how it works, and the difference between Bodymind and the Conscious Mind.

Mind control

Mind parasites

This is the third in a series of articles that teach you a new method on how abolish worry, anxiety, obsessions, OCD, and addictive thinking patterns. In  fact, any kind of repetitive, boring, disturbing thought pattern that keeps you enslaved to the Chatterbox inside your Head.

To recap: the four steps in this new method are:

  1. Change Position
  2. Change Attitude
  3. Change Focus
  4. Practice Mindfulness

I have before written a similar article on this subject called Do You Control Your Mind Or Does It Control You?

In this post I am focusing on Step 1 in the four steps: Change Position

In this step your job is to distance yourself from your thoughts. However ‘real’ they might seem negative thoughts do not in fact belong to you. They have their origin somewhere else – in the conscious mind – ‘Headmind’ – in fact. And Headmind is stuffed full of ideas it has adopted fron other, mostly, dysfunctional, people as well as from mistakes it makes about everyday life and past experiences which it refuses to relearn.

I covered most of these mistakes in my previous article in this series: How to Stop Worrying. But the basic mistake Headmind makes when faced with any challenging situation is to replay old, unhelpful, stories from the past which give you the idea that you are a complete mess. These ‘Headmind tapes’ are like a record stuck on the groove that tell you over and over again that you are facing disaster.

The Change Position step encourages you to see that the tapes are coming from IT rather from you. YOU are not your MIND. Instead, YOU are a sentient, living, emotional person grounded in the moment who needs have no fear of what your mind is trying to do to you.

To make this step work you first need to identify the content of the Headmind tape and I refer you to the previous article in this series in order to get some more help on this. Once you have identified some destructive thinking patterns you are in a good position to identify the tape contents.

These ‘tapes’ are repetitive, conscious, or semi-conscious, ideas which trigger anxiety. You will know they are running because you will suddenly notice that you are getting uptight, frightened, obsessed, panicky or worried. Your job now is to analyse the tape.

This may take some practice and the fourth step, which relates to practising Awareness, is crucial here. I will elaborate more on that step when I get to it but here is a previous article on the subject here. Be aware that these ‘ideas’ may not be thoughts as such. Instead they might take the form of images or self-dialogue which you hadn’t realised (until you practised Awareness) were there at all.

Some common ‘tapes’ include:

  1. An image of something terrible happening to you
  2. The thought that you cannot bear what is ‘about’ to happen
  3. The idea that you are going to ‘pay’ for past mistakes
  4. Self-talk that you are useless, worthless or otherwise fucked-up
  5. Flash-backs to past traumas
  6. Injunctions to ‘get it right or else…’

Once you have identified the crap that Headmind is relaying on to you the next step is simple. And that is change position; to distance yourself from it, treating as something alien to you. A good way to do that is to engage in some self-dialogue:

  1. The Chatterbox is working overtime today…
  2. Those stupid tapes are playing up…
  3. The Control freak is off on one…
  4. There it goes again…

This step is immediately followed by the next step: Change Attitude, which is closely linked. More on that in the next article.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four main causes of depression – and what to do about them

Wispy

The first month of 2011 has come and gone and the statistics show that January is the most ‘depressing’ month, in that more people will seek help for depression than at any other time of the year. As it happens, I have been more than usually busy with depressed clients since the New Year came on; a fact which prompts me to write this article.

First, lets be clear about what clinical depression really is.

In my view, many of the people who are diagnosed by their GP as having depression are not, in fact, clinically depressed at all. Instead, they could be sad, fed up with life, or unhappy. This is one reason why anti-depressants don’t work for the majority. Anti-depressant drugs such as the SSRIs – which increase the amount of serotonin in circulation in the brain – will only work, obviously, if the patient has serotonin depletion, which will only be the case if they actually have clinical depression.

Whether you are depressed, sad, fed up, or unhappy, this article will still apply to you.

Here are the four main causes:

1. Prolonged anxiety caused by negative Headmind thinking.

If you are a habitual worrier, perfectionist, or guilt-tripper then, on a daily basis, your body will become accustomed to very high anxiety levels. Since Bodymind cannot tolerate over-arousal for too long, it will seek to reduce the problem by damping down the system. Typically, this means reducing serotonin (which elevates mood), which leads to the symptoms of clinical depression. In this respect it has been estimated that over 70% of depressed people also have high anxiety levels.

The solution is to change the way Headmind works.

2. The person has developed a ‘hopeless’ mind-set

This problem is typically developed by over-conscientious people who have not learnt how to say ‘No’ or recognise their limitations. The result is that they take on far too many burdens, obligations and responsibilities. Or else they forget to take time out for themselves and keep that crucial work-life balance. One result is burnout.

Depression occurs when personal Headmind reacts to overload by just giving up (a slightly weird response, given that it was faulty thinking that gave rise to the problem in the first place). A common outcome is that the person turns into a victim of some kind.

The most common Headmind defect here is ‘Failure thinking’, which ignores realistic solutions on what to do about overload and, instead, magnifies problems, concludes that there is nothing that can be done about them, and triggers anxiety with the thought that disaster is inevitable. This leads to first anxiety and then to the ‘damping down’ response I described in the previous item.

The solution is to develop a solution-focused, or problem-solving approach to problems. I am in the middle of writing a series on this so please check back for articles on ‘success thinking’.

3. The person has lost her passion for life.

People who have become disillusioned do so as a result of trauma of some kind: the death of someone close, break-up, or departure. Or betrayal, or rejection, by someone they once trusted. Or the usual disasters which befall all of us from time to time but which setbacks the ego will not accept.

In other cases, the depressed person has simply got confused and lost his way. This could be because he has become addicted to trivialities – newspapers, games, television,  the social round, internet-surfing, etc. Or is stuck in routine in which one day is more or less like the next, and which becomes a kind of living death. Once Bodymind sees what is happening here it starts to release copious amounts of the emotions known as boredom and frustration. But here is what is strange: when some people notice they are bored they don’t do anything about it. Instead, they read boredom as another sign that life is hopeless. So they stagnate, more and more.

The solution is to reconnect to Bodymind and your passion.

4. Headmind is blocking the release of strong emotions, such as anger and sadness.

A  build-up of unexpressed or unresolved emotion leads to a similar effect as chronic anxiety: a dangerous level of over-arousal. Once again, Bodymind tends to counter-act this problem by reducing serotonin.

The solution is to find a way to release those emotions.

If you are not depressed right now but you think you might be going that way, then you can find out more about how to stay out of depression here.

Contrary to common belief many people do find a way to improve their mental health without needing to consult a psychotherapist and some of my articles show you how to do just that. But if you do need assistance then you can contact me over on the psychotherapy website.

Image by pinksherbet

How Reverse Therapy became a cure for Psoriasis

I received this report from a regular reader of this blog the other week who would like to share his experience of Reverse Therapy with other readers:Hands

“Everyone likes a scratch but on the evening of December 18th 2008, my scratching became so bad my legs started to bleed.

Like many busy people stuck in Headmind I put off dealing with my health problems and hoped they would go away of their own accord. I left the next day for a two-week vacation in the Middle East but when I got back the itching had spread and my legs were covered in sores. I went to the GP who informed me that I had Psoriasis. I had heard of it but did not know much about it. He explained that it was caused by the body replacing the skin cells in days rather than weeks, leaving red sores and silvery skin flakes behind. He gave me a prescription for some cream but it was not effective and, over the next few months, the psoriasis spread to other parts of my body.

I went back to the doctor and explained that the condition was worse and he prescribed a stronger cream. Over the four months I had been unwell I had made some notes which I relayed on to him. I said: ‘I notice that when I am barefoot at home at the weekends the problem is not as bad’. The GP said: ‘Yes, try leaving your feet exposed to the fresh air’. I said:  ‘I also notice that using the sun bed helps’. He said:  ‘Yes, even though we normally don’t recommend use of sun beds in your case it could help’. I said: ‘I also notice that when I exercise on a regular basis it tends to be less of a problem’. He said: ‘Yes, exercise is a good idea’. I sat there for a few seconds and my first thought was: ‘why is he just repeating my ideas back to me?’ My second thought was: ‘And if this is correct, then why didn’t he tell me four months ago?’. At any rate, I paid no further visits to that quarter.

Hands1 The new cream failed to work and, by now, the psoriasis was visible to other people. It showed on my hands, my arms, my upper body and even on my face. It was so bad I was having difficulty sleeping because it itched so much, and then it bled so badly that it became ugly to look at. It created piles of white, flakey, dust; the dead skin that was being shed at an ever-faster rate each day. I felt terrible about having this illness and it made me quite depressed. The worse it got the more worried I became and when I read reports on the internet about people who had had it all their lives I started to despair that I would never get rid of it.

I had been familiar with Reverse Therapy for a few years, as I had studied it under John Eaton in 2006, although I have never practiced. Neither had I connected my knowledge of Bodymind to the causes of my own condition. And nor had I realised that the cure had been in my own hands all the time.

A good friend of mine, a practitioner of Reverse Therapy, gave me the wake-up call, when she told me:

‘Have you worked out, yet, what your body is trying to warn you about when it  creates those symptoms in your skin?’

In that moment, I instantly knew the answer to that question. But it was not an answer I particularly liked admitting to myself.

Two years before I formed a relationship with what I thought was a very sweet woman with a beautiful 2-year old daughter. I quickly fell in love with her and formed a very strong connection with the child.

My partner told me that she was separated and awaiting a divorce. Later on, I found out that this was not true; that her husband was, in fact, away working in the United States and she was in regular contact with him and there were no real plans to get a divorce. Later, I was told that he had ‘not been nice to her’ and had deserted her and the baby.

I was reluctant to get involved in such a complex situation but found myself drawn in. I felt great compassion for the woman and her little girl, who seemed to be the innocent parties in this, and set about helping them. Her economic situation was very bad, as she was effectively a single mother and had no job, with the additional burden of looking after a child on her own, without help or financial support from anyone. For a while we were happy and my partner and the little girl lived with with me for part of the week.

All this came to a sudden end when her husband came back from the United States and told her he wanted to resume the marriage. She decided to go back to him. The main reason, she told me, was that the little girl needed to be with her father. This was very distressing for me, as I learnt, also, that I would be unable to have contact with her daughter any more. I told her that, under those conditions, it was too painful for me to have any further contact with her and I should be left in peace to get on with my life.

From there on, I received regular emails, texts and phone calls from her pleading for money. It turned out the husband was out of work (I discovered this had been the case for years) and was, in fact a kind of play-boy. She would beg me for money for food, gas, electricity, petrol, baby clothes and, even, spending money. Feeling sorry for her and the child, I regularly gave in although I knew, at some level, that much of that money was going into her husband’s pockets.

During all the months that this went on my Psoriasis appeared. I had failed to connect to my emotions over the way in which I was being used, and my frustration at being caught in a trap: feeling responsible for the child and yet being manipulated.

The Psoriasis symptoms were my body’s way of alerting me to the fact that I needed to disengage from the banana about having to be a martyr; re-assert the boundaries around me; and change the way in which I was helping the child. But my personal Headmind had ignored these emotions and possibilities because it was over-involved with the ego-position of ‘powerful man’ and ‘helper’ (I am an Enneagram 8 doing quite a lot of work on the 2 position).

Once I gave up communicating from the ego, relinquished the banana about having to be a saviour, and stopped being a victim, things started to change for the better. I told my ex-partner not to contact me any more. I told her I would pay for the child’s nursery fees and this would come direct from my bank account. The money she saved on nursery fees she could use to feed and clothe her. But I would not be responsible for either her or her husband.

Within days the pain had gone and, slowly, my skin went back to normal; without any medication whatever. But, just as I was thinking I was over the worse, a test of my new-found integrity came the following week when my ex-partner called to ask if she could borrow my car as she wanted to take her husband on holiday. I refused point blank.

Seven days after that the psoriasis disappeared completely. My close family and friends were astounded at the speed at which it disappeared knowing, as they did, the history of my condition and how I was using an alternative to medicine to treat it.

If it were not for Reverse Therapy I would still be suffering from this terrible disease. It is possible that my personal Bodymind might have used yet more symptoms in order to force me to change. In looking back at the temporary relief I experienced when I used the cream or the sun-bed I now realise that this was the equivalent of painting over a crack in the ceiling when water was gushing in from upstairs. It was only when I addressed the deeper cause, saw through the Headmind camouflage about my motives, dared to connect to my emotions, and acted on the symptom-message that I achieved the break-through. In doing so I felt, intuitively, that Bodymind was relieved that I had ‘gotten it’ and, with one small exception (see below) I have not received any further symptoms over the past two years.

Post Script.

A few weeks ago I again ran into my ex-partner by chance in the street. I was polite and chatty and must have given her the wrong impression as she started texting me again, giving out heavy hints that she would soon be needing more ‘help’. A few days after digesting these messages, I noticed that my legs had started itching again: a signal for me to tell her (politely) not to text me any more. Bodymind is ever vigilant and will be quick to remind me to protect myself against people who seek to take advantage of my generosity. Naturally, this experience has taught me a lot more about how Bodymind works, and how Headmind and the Ego lead me astray. I am very fortunate that Reverse Therapy saved me from years of pain and I tell this story in order to help other people avoid the same fate.”

Banishing pain with awareness

Book This will be the first (and probably) the only time I review a book on this blog.

That book is: Teach Us To Sit Still by Tim Parks.

Not only is this book written with great power and emotion (I came close to tears at some points; it also echoes most of the work we are doing in Reverse Therapy.

Tim Parks is an award-winning English novelist who lives in Verona. But this book is not a novel. It is a personal story with the subtitle: ‘A sceptic’s search for health and healing’.

Tim Parks suffered excruciating pain in the pelvis, as well as a urinary disorder, for twenty years, for a problem which none of his doctors were able to diagnose accurately, or to provide a cure. Sometimes his problem was called Prostatitis; at other times Pelvic Floor Pain Syndrome. Whatever it was, Tim Parks spent years in pain and embarrassment, slowly getting more and more frustrated and demoralised by the failure of medical science to solve the problem. At one point he was offered drastic surgery for removal of the prostate gland: an option he wisely refused since, as it turned out, this would have achieved absolutely nothing except mutilation and the loss of his sex drive.

Tim Parks is funny, sad, highly intelligent, and ruthlessly honest. He describes himself as something of a Headmind-dominated person: ‘a worrisome, dissatisfied individual’: intellectual, sceptical and a control-freak, living most of his life spinning around words in his head.

After years of pain and useless advice (two doctors advised him to masturbate twice a day in order to relieve congestion in the prostate gland) Tim Parks turned to alternative medicine. He consulted an Ayurvedic practitioner in Delhi who shocked him:

‘This is a problem you will never get over, Mr Parks, until you confront the profound contradictions in your character.’

This is the clue which leads him to seek a non-medical solution. Interestingly, he describes how he resisted what he saw as a ‘psychosomatic’ explanation for his pain before coming to realise that the term ‘psychosomatic’ is nonsensical; the mind is not separate from the body and people can suffer from real, painful, symptoms (as in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, M.E, and Fibromyalgia) simply because the connection between the conscious mind and Bodymind has broken down. Or, to use my terminology, because Bodymind is at war with Headmind.

Incidentally, it is high time that we replaced the term ‘psychosomatic’ with the phrase ‘HPA Disorder’ (or something similar), as I have written before in other articles and in some of my books.

The solution Tim Parks discovered came from reading A Headache in your Pelvis, by David Wise and Rodney Anderson, in which he learnt how to use Paradoxical Relaxation. In this technique he learned not to resist the pain but to exercise Awareness on it. Simply, to let the pain be, without trying to interfere with it. Doing this twice a day he discovered that the pain simply disappeared. As Bodymind noticed that he was paying attention the pain switched off. Within months he was ‘cured’.

I have written about Awareness elsewhere on this blog and in Reverse Therapy we have long noticed the effect of exercising awareness, not resisting them, just letting them be, and simply ‘listening to them’. It is surprising, in this respect, how many of my clients have told me that just doing this can banish fatigue, pain, tension, and many other symptoms besides.

Zen things

Dukkha Whenever I study Zen I am reminded of the saying (invented by me) that ‘Life is so ridiculously simple that a child of five could get it.’

And the fundamental point of Zen, it seems to me, is that Headmind over-complicates life. With worries, self-pity, guilt, unsatisfied expectations, perfectionism, inertia, over-analysis, as well as a variety of bananas. And, in doing so, it creates unhappiness and prevents us from seeing things as they really are, in the moment.

In the sermon on the Four Noble Truths, the Buddha (Gautama) refers to the human tendency to view reality as ‘Dukka’. In the original Pali (the language spoken by Gautama) ‘dukka’ means a bent, or incomplete, wheel (see the Buddhist picture on the right). In English ‘dukka; is usually translated as suffering, but it doesn’t really mean that. What it means is the way in which Headmind is constantly looking for the perfect wheel: but disastified, discontented, worried and oppressed by actual experience. That is is always looking for things to be ‘just right’: contented, happy, and at peace. But never finding peace of mind because – even when glimpsed – Headmind always looks for something more.

There is a story told by the Buddha (Gautama) meant as an analogy for the human condition. It concerns a man who is shot by an arrow who, instead of seeing his pain and doing something about it in the moment, insists on talking about the arrow – where it came from, who shot it, why it had to be him of all people, etc etc. Thinking doesn’t make you aware and it sometimes just makes you stupid. In the Four Noble Truths, the Buddha encourages us to release Dukka by seeing through this Junkmind tendency.

Zen Buddhism is a systematic attempt to get back to the original teachings of the Buddha, using a variety of exercises and meditational forms on the path to enlightenment. One such form is to meditate on a koan. A koan is an impossible question; one that can never be answered by ordinary ways of thinking. For example:

Maitre “The master placed a vase of water on the ground and asked: ‘Who can show what this is without saying it’s name?’

(The correct answer: The Zen monk kicks over the vase with his foot and walks out).

Zen koans are designed to help people bypass Headmind. When you see that there is no answer to the absurd question ‘What is the sound of one hand clapping’ you are enlightened in that moment because you have seen through the tricks that language (and Headmind) plays on you. You have realised that stupid thoughts get you nowhere. By implication, you may also realise that Headmind perceptions are not reality. And, if you get that, you sometimes also get a glimpse of what reality looks like when you are not thinking about it.

I once, briefly, had such an experience a few years ago while I was looking at my back garden on a glorious sunny day. Maybe because I was surprised by the beauty of what I saw, my intellectual mind stopped chattering for a couple of minutes. And I caught a glimpse of just how ok the world was when left to itself: without words, without worries, and without instant judgments about the way things ‘ought’ to look like. Absent of dukka, in fact.

Because Reverse Therapy favours Bodymind over Headmind (because that is the route through which the person begins to understand the meaning of symptoms instead of resisting them) we spend quite a bit of time teaching our clients what Zen teachers call ‘zazen’ (mindfulness) – just sitting quietly, focusing attention on what goes on in the hera and now, in the body. And, on the way, letting Headmind chatter die down.

Death? No worries

Afterlife As a child Death terrified me.

When I was six years old the kind old lady next door who used to give me sweets died. I asked my father what had happened to her. Reluctantly he mumbled that she had gone and wouldn’t be coming back (Dad was never very good at the metaphysical stuff).

‘Well, where is she now?”, I asked.

‘Up there’ he said, his finger pointing to the ceiling.

Even at six-and-a-half years old I was smart enough to realise that living in the clouds wasn’t an obvious life-choice. So I persisted with the interrogation.

‘Does everyone die, Daddy?’.

‘Yes – everyone. Everyone.’ He looked embarrassed, as he always did when he couldn’t give complete explanations. For me the fact that he didn’t KNOW the answer scared me a lot – it was my first realisation that adults were as clueless about the Universe as I was.

From then, for quite a few years, I thought about it a lot. How could people just vanish? It seemed ridiculous. I would walk home from school and look at all the grave-stones in the cemetery. Here someone’s ‘dearly beloved’ had expired in 1887. Over there a ‘wonderful father’ had ‘gone to join Jesus’ in 1956, the year I was born. Another grave, surmounted by a huge, sorrowing angel, announced that the loved one was awaiting the ‘last trumpet’.

Once they had lived and breathed and walked as I was doing now. But – now – nothing. Later on, in my teens, I found my thoughts echoed by the poet, Philip Larkin:

I work all day, and get half drunk at night.

Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.

In time the curtain edges will grow light.

Till then I see what’s really always there:

Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,

Making all thought impossible but how

And where and when I shall myself die.

Arid interrogation: yet the dread

Of dying, and being dead,

Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.

The mind blanks at the glare. 

Not in remorse 
- The good not used, the love not given, time


Torn off unused – nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb


Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never:


But at the total emptiness forever,
 The sure extinction that we travel to


And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
 Not to be anywhere,


And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

Yet the dread of death is entirely created by the Ego. It’s real worry is that this unique, ‘special’, person that I am will cease to be. That it is frightening to think that this world existed for eternity before I was born and will continue to exist for an eternity without me (let us leave aside the after-life for, as the Buddha once told us, we can know nothing about it. And, in any case, even Souls will be extinguished eventually, as the Hindus teach).

The solution: the way to let go of this dread of Death is to recognise that:

a) it is a hallucination created in Headmind

b) and that Present Moment Awareness dissolves it

The hallucination is easy to explain if you have been following my previous posts on how Headmind works. In this case Headmind (Larkin’s included) is making up a story-line which goes something like this:

I – this special person I am, is indispensable – I must not die – But I will die – Then there is Nothing.

At this point Headmind will typically come up with nightmarish images of this ‘Nothing’ in future time – darkness; a void; an emptiness; pictures of infinite space, etc. This image, because it does not include the self, seems to wipe everything out, to make existence meaningless. And because Headmind imagines that our Ego is the most important thing in the Universe it whispers to us: ‘Nothing more terrible, nothing more true…”

Tolstoy, in his melodramatic short story, The Death Of Ivan Ilyich, gives a good description of this kind of thinking. Essentially, Ivan Ilyich, tortures himself about his impending death by continually worrying about the mistakes he has made in the past, and that he cannot control what is about to happen to him. But – at the point of death – he learns to let go of the delusion:

“At that very moment Ivan Ilych fell through and caught sight of the light, and it was revealed to him that though his life had not been what it should have been, this could still be rectified. He asked himself, “What *is* the right thing?” and grew still, listening. Then he felt that someone was kissing his hand. He opened his eyes, looked at his son, and felt sorry for him. His wife camp up to him and he glanced at her. She was gazing at him open-mouthed, with undried tears on her nose and cheek and a despairing look on her face. He felt sorry for her too.

“Yes, I am making them wretched,” he thought. “They are sorry, but it will be better for them when I die.” He wished to say this but had not the strength to utter it. “Besides, why speak? I must act,” he thought. with a look at his wife he indicated his son and said: “Take him away…sorry for him…sorry for you too….” He tried to add, “Forgive me,” but said “Forego” and waved his hand, knowing that He whose understanding mattered would understand.

And suddenly it grew clear to him that what had been oppressing him and would not leave his was all dropping away at once from two sides, from ten sides, and from all sides. He was sorry for them, he must act so as not to hurt them: release them and free himself from these sufferings. “How good and how simple!” he thought. “And the pain?” he asked himself. “What has become of it? Where are you, pain?”

He turned his attention to it.

“Yes, here it is. Well, what of it? Let the pain be.”

“And death…where is it?”

He sought his former accustomed fear of death and did not find it. “Where is it? What death?” There was no fear because there was no death.

In place of death there was light.

“So that’s what it is!” he suddenly exclaimed aloud. “What joy!”

In the story Ivan Ilyich finds comfort from one of his servants, the peasant Geryasim, a ‘simple soul’, who radiates calm, compassion, and an ability to live in the moment. Which brings us to the second solution.

Present Moment Awareness is the aim of meditation, as well as Reverse Therapy. When you are in this state of Awareness you cannot, by definition, be frightened of death – even if you have a dangerous illness. Living in the moment means you are not living in Headmind. Which, in turn, means, you are living in the only reality that exists. When we are truly alive – right now – nothing disturbs us. We are at peace. And, in such experiences we know – through Bodymind – that something very powerful works in, and for, and through, us. And that something never dies.

Only Headmind, and the Ego, dies.

‘Nothing burns in hell except self-will.’

Theologia Germanica


How to crush perfectionism

Grabit Perfectionism is a great example of the way in which Headmind can push us into anxiety and illness. And it also reveals a lot about the way Headmind is set up. Namely, that it doesn’t belong to us and does not have our personal interests at heart. That it works through a ‘pushy’, inner voice that acts like an impersonal control freak. Always compelling us to spend more time on tasks than is really warranted.

My readers will understand that, for these reasons, I kept putting off and putting off writing this article in case I got it all wrong and made myself look like an idiot…….

But seriously, perfectionism can get at people in different ways. And these styles are closely related to what I have called bananas elsewhere in this blog.

  1. Bananas about failure
  2. Bananas about approval
  3. Bananas about weight/appearance
  4. Bananas about power
  5. Bananas about being sexy

And many other things besides.

The first thing to get clear about is that Perfectionism is a type of obsession. An obsession comes about because Headmind is worried about something. In the case of perfectionism the worry is that the person can never get it right and will therefore be criticised, rejected and hurt. The basis for this problem is conditioning. Somewhere along the way the child’s Headmind picked up the script ‘No matter how hard you try you will never be good enough’.

A lot of people blame Parents for scripts like these although, in my experience, Teachers and Priests are often the usual culprits. The pity of it all is that there is absolutely no need for anyone to worry about having to get it all right. If you are out of your depth on something then Bodymind will trigger the fear signal to tell you to go and ask a few questions or get some help.

But this move is is disallowed by Headmind – the Perfectionist cannot ask for help because that would be to admit failure – imperfection. So he has to do it all by himself. In later life Headmind keeps playing these scripts every time a new challenge comes up. So each time the person settles down to do some work Headmind triggers the worry first, and then the obsession with ‘getting it all right’. With the sub-script – ‘work harder, you miserable failure’. That can get very scary. But each time Fear is created to remind us to get some help that is interpreted by Headmind as fresh evidence that the person is ‘imperfect’ triggering the script all over again.

Now, if you spend too long doing the same thing over and over again then Bodymind is going to create the emotion known as frustration. That will be prompting you to give yourself a break. But when Headmind notices frustration coming up, it misinterprets that as fresh evidence of failure. So the script gets triggered again, and again and again. I will write more about the solution to perfectionism and other obsessional states in a later blog. But the first step towards breaking free of the trap is to disobey the script, own up to being ‘a failure’ and go and have some fun instead.

How to regain control over your mind

Dayen Here is a fascinating article sent to me by the Guru of Creative Thinking Mark McGuinness.

Here is that article. You might wish to read it first before you read the rest of my comments.

That misery called meditation – What seven days of silence did to my head

It’s about a journalist who goes on a 7-day Buddhist silent meditation retreat which does his head in. After just one day he thought he was going insane. Symptoms: intense boredom, aching, agitation, restlessness, escapism. All the signs, in fact, of a Headmind that was about to explode with frustration.

Interestingly, his Headmind adopted a very familiar tactic in such situations: which was to chatter about what other people on the retreat might be doing: making up fantasies about who was sleeping with who on the retreat. Everything you would expect, in fact, from a Headmind which would do anything at all to escape from living in the now.

But after the fourth day Bodymind takes over once more and he ends up in a much better place.

Reminds me a lot of the Teachings of Gurdjieff, on which I have written before in this blog. That, in turn, advocated that we human beings need to do a lot of work on escaping our enslavement to Headmind. But that can be difficult to do because Headmind is crafty in feeding the idea that what it thinks is ‘reality’. And then feeding the further idea that escape from that is impossible…

To remind you, Headmind hates:

Silence

Living in the present moment

Being ignored

Raw emotion

The desert (nothing to worry about or do there! – which is why Christ so frequently visited it).

But, as the article demonstrates, when you force Headmind to give up what it habitually likes to do: watch TV, read newspapers, crawl the internet, worry, fantasize, make up stories about the past, chatter about the future, then eventually it just shuts the fuck up.

And then you end up in a very nice place indeed, a place of ‘mindless salvation’; a place of overwhelming peace, happiness and fascination with the world we live in; just as if you were seeing it (again) for the very first time.

How the body ‘thinks’

 

Skeleton Since the Greeks started writing about it intelligence has generally been assumed to be in the head. But one of the great advances last century – thanks to MRI scanners which enable us to look inside the Brain, as well as the neuro-endocrine systems, we have a much more informed picture. Which tells us that intelligence is distributed over the whole body. In fact we are now able to identify several ‘brains’ throughout the body:

1 The solar plexus (often called the ‘second brain’) controls the Autonomic nervous system. Which, in turn, governs, heart rate, digestion, muscular function, as well as creating the physical sensations that form the basis of emotion.

2 The endocrine system – which includes the pituitary, pineal, thyroid, pancreas, thymus, adrenal and sexual glands – is controlled by the Hypothalamus. Since each of the glands use hormones to control such diverse functions as energy transfer, metabolism, sleep, growth, protection against infection, and temperature control, we can see that the Hypothalamus is a brain inside the Brain

3 The Immune system itself is another centre of intelligence. There are approximately 2 trillion immune cells in the body. Some of these track invading cells and ‘remember’ what they look like. Others hunt them down, while others kill them. Meanwhile other cells keep a watchful eye on rogue cells which split away from the rest and become cancerous. Still more cells float up and down to the brain and provide updates on the current state of play.

4. Candace Pert – one of our best writers on this subject – tells us that each and every cell in the body is not only intelligent, but conscious too, in the sense that it can independently make decisions on the communications it sends to other cells. There are approximately 10 trillion cells in the body. Yet each of those cells signals, on average, to at least 10,000 other cells every day. Which means that your body created 10,000,000,000 messages today (that’s one hundred thousand trillion pieces of information).

So what does the main brain actually do if most of the ‘thinking’ is going on either elsewhere in the body or in response to decisions taken by the cells. Mostly it is Headmind stuff. Making up stories about what happened to you after Bodymind took the decision for you. Or analyzing, checking, worrying, doing guilt while living as if Bodymind didn’t exist!

Meanwhile, Bodymind goes on ‘thinking’ without much reference to you.

Here are some examples of the way in which Bodymind thinking works in practice:

• The body can ‘read’ other people and simulate an emotion that person is having so that you or I can empathize with them. In that way a mother can quickly tell what mood her child is in. This is also the basis for the human quality of compassion for others, even animals. Our intuitions about other people work in a similar way. Using sensory information, the brain picks up signals from the other person’s body language and – using a process that works in less than a tenth of a second – pattern-matches those signals against information stored from past experiences. That is why we can have a gut feeling that someone is not trustworthy within two minutes of meeting her without knowing why. The body is using coded signals to alert us to a potential problem.

• In collaboration with the thinking centers the brain can decide what is important or not important. If something is important to us we might get an adrenalin rush. If it is not we will feel nothing at all. Research into people with damage to the frontal areas of the brain (which decode emotion) show that they are unable to make decisions because they don’t have a good or bad feeling that tells them the right decision to make. Knowing what is important also helps Bodymind conserve energy. We can go without sleep if we are trying to achieve something really important. Conversely, if there is little for us to do, Bodymind can send us to sleep early. Or it could turn on the emotion of boredom to signal that it’s time to do something more interesting.

• The body can strengthen a relationship by releasing hormones – such as oxytocin – connected to love. Sometimes this is automatic, as when a a child is born. Sometimes it comes with time as we learn more about the other person. The emotions of love are, as almost all of us know, powerful and sometimes overwhelming.

• The brain uses sleep time to organize memories from the day just gone. It stores what is important and deletes the rest. It also creates dreaming states in order to work through the emotions that come with different experiences. This is one reason why insomniacs have poor concentration – they are overloaded with undigested experiences.

• Bodymind grounds us to life. It does this firstly through our moods. At any given moment the body is monitoring where we are, who we are with and what we are doing, and providing us with a running commentary on our relationship with the environment. Moods aren’t emotions but they are feeling states which work closely with our thoughts. The most well-known mood is the depressed state, which goes with discouragement and sadness. But others include exhilaration, calm, determination, discontent and the feeling of being ‘under pressure’. Most often, moods are hardly noticeable and form a kind of background hum which is constantly shifting as we go through the flow of the day.

Bodymind uses symptoms of various kinds to warn, guide and protect us from harm. This point is more clearly explained by Reverse Therapy.

• Another way the body grounds us to life is through the sense of awe: we are connected to nature, to the divine, and to life itself by the unspeakable sense that we are serving a purpose higher than ourselves. In that way Bodymind intelligently motivates us to make the best we can of our abilities and to serve others. It fosters your Personal Genius.